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updated: 7/21/2011 6:03 AM

Local bariatric patients celebrate new lifestyle

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  • Dietitian Dana White, left, chats with Adrienne Wojcik of Downers Grove at Good Samaritan Hospital's third annual Bariatric Reunion Wednesday evening.

       Dietitian Dana White, left, chats with Adrienne Wojcik of Downers Grove at Good Samaritan Hospital's third annual Bariatric Reunion Wednesday evening.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • Adrienne Wojcik of Downers Grove chats with Dr. Allen Mikhail at Good Samaritan Hospital's third annual Bariatric Reunion Wednesday evening. She met the doctor last spring when she attended a seminar. She had a sleeve gastrectomy in November and has dropped six clothing sizes.

       Adrienne Wojcik of Downers Grove chats with Dr. Allen Mikhail at Good Samaritan Hospital's third annual Bariatric Reunion Wednesday evening. She met the doctor last spring when she attended a seminar. She had a sleeve gastrectomy in November and has dropped six clothing sizes.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

 
By Megan Bannister

Last summer it would have been difficult for Downers Grove resident Adrienne Wojcik and her husband Greg to go for a leisurely bike ride.

The couple certainly never dreamed they would go zip lining in Alaska less than a year later.

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"I've given my whole life to my kids and my family and let myself go," Adrienne said. "It was always everyone else first."

So last year after a "little eye-opening epiphany," she decided to do something for herself: get bariatric surgery.

Adrienne celebrated her accomplishment Wednesday evening, seven months after her surgery, with more than 100 fellow bariatric patients and their families at Good Samaritan Hospital's Bariatric Reunion.

"We do it kind of to celebrate everybody's accomplishments," said Dr. Allen Mikhail, a LifeWeigh bariatric surgeon.

Patients in all stages of their bariatric procedures were invited to the third annual event to meet each other and share experiences.

For more than five months, Adrienne kept her bariatric preparations a secret from family and friends.

"I really wanted this decision to be mine," she said.

At the end of September when she revealed her plans, Greg was initially skeptical.

"I was a little bit concerned that maybe it was too severe or drastic," he said.

Greg is not alone in his concerns, as the public often views gastrectomy as "the easy way out."

"I think there is a stigma that goes with bariatrics," Mikhail said. "I think a lot of people view it as a cure for obesity and it's not."

Instead, Mikhail says the procedure helps patients by "reinforcing good eating habits."

Adrienne echoes that sentiment. The surgery, she says, has directed her diet toward "the common sense eating you should know how to do."

The Good Samaritan Hospital's LifeWeigh Bariatric center is one of eight Center of Excellence facilities in Illinois, an accreditation Adrienne found reassuring.

"When you're so overweight, you feel like everyone is just watching you," Adrienne said. "They never made me feel that way."

On Nov. 30 Adrienne had a sleeve gastrectomy, which removed between 75 to 80 percent of her stomach, reducing it to roughly the size of a pickle.

Despite any reservations, Greg says now the procedure was the "right decision at the right time."

Adrienne regularly attends the health club and is careful about her eating habits but most importantly has become a participant in family activities rather than an observer.

Since her surgery she has dropped six clothing sizes, though she doesn't care to share the exact numbers.

"I can tell you one thing she isn't shy about," Greg said. "She has a whole new wardrobe."

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