It Made a Total Difference in My Life

Patient reflects on her bariatric surgery more than a dozen years ago

Barbara Johnson, 75, is grateful to be walking on her own two feet. “If I hadn’t had the surgery, I think I’d be in a wheelchair now,” she said.

Johnson is referring to bariatric surgery she had 12 years ago. After struggling with weight her entire life, she was tired of losing weight only to gain it all back. “Diets didn’t work. There was no way I could keep the weight off,” she recalled.

At that time, Johnson weighed 354 pounds and couldn’t get around very well. Her weight was affecting her knees, making it painful to walk.

Luckily, one of the women at her church had gone through bariatric surgery with Brian Gluck, MD, in Muskegon, and she encouraged Johnson to meet him.

“I thought he was tremendous…I liked Dr. Gluck from the very beginning,” she remembered. “I had a great experience all the way around with bariatric surgery. Dr. Gluck’s staff was great, and everyone at the hospital in Muskegon was wonderful when I had my surgery too.”

Before bariatric surgery is scheduled, patients who are candidates for the surgery must complete pre-operative “steps” to help determine if they will likely maintain their weight loss. Surgery alone will not determine success. Patients must be willing to make lifestyle changes.

“I lost 50 pounds before the surgery while on the liquid diet Dr. Gluck gave me. I also met with a psychologist and answered a 500-question form,” said Johnson. “The visit with the psychologist is to make sure you are committed to following the recommendations after surgery,” said Johnson.

With the support of her husband (although she is now widowed), Johnson did “everything Dr. Gluck told me to do.” During the first six months after surgery, she lost 50 more pounds.

Looking back, Johnson laughs about her initial weight loss. “Seven months after the surgery, I went to visit family in Kentucky. I didn’t tell them that I had had the surgery. When they saw me, they thought I was very ill because I had lost so much weight and looked so different,” she recalled.

Since 2007, Johnson has lost a total of 177 pounds! However, her remarkable weight loss is not the only incredible change she has experienced since her bariatric surgery.

“The first thing I noticed is that my stomach didn’t touch the steering wheel in my car,” she said with delight. “And I didn’t have to have an extender belt on the airplanes anymore. I could also put on my shoes and socks a lot easier than before.”

Bariatric surgery also improved Johnson’s overall health: She no longer has diabetes, and she no longer needs blood pressure medication.

Her weight loss has also affected her social life in positive ways.

“Before the surgery, I tried to blend into the background. I was shy,” she admitted. “I didn’t talk to a lot of people or draw attention to myself. Now I’m more outgoing…I seek out people to talk to them.”

Johnson loves the way Dr. Gluck’s team cares for patients, before, during and after the procedure. For about a year following the surgery, Johnson attended classes at Dr. Gluck’s office that taught her about nutrition.

“I’m not as hungry as I was before the surgery, but I continue to watch what I eat,” she added.

Her hard work is paying off. Johnson’s positive attitude and her understanding of how to avoid weight gain have served her well.

In addition, one particular wise saying in a book she read continues to motivate her: “Nothing tastes as good as being skinny feels!”

With 12 years of success and counting, who can argue with that?

Learn more about bariatric surgery at

Read another patient’s success story with long-term weight loss from bariatric surgery.

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