After bariatric surgery, sometimes the simplest things bring the greatest pleasure to those who have the procedure.
“I can paint my toenails, girlfriend!” Tiara-Lady Wilson says with a laugh as she pulls her feet up into the chair to sit crosslegged. “And look what I can do now!”
Wilson is an energetic woman with an infectious laugh and a positive attitude. It’s the same attitude that has helped her succeed in life, even winning the title of Miss Tennessee State University in 1998.
It’s also the same attitude that has sustained her through years of medical problems that caused her to gain 100 pounds.
Wilson began taking medications for pain and weakness from musculoskeletal issues and after receiving a diagnosis as bipolar when she was in graduate school.
Later, she was found to have gestational diabetes during both of her pregnancies, but her blood sugar went back to normal until she was prescribed steroids for some fresh issues with pain. Steroids raised her blood sugar level, and diabetes reared its ugly head. Additional thyroid problems made a perfect storm for significant weight gain.
“The weight just ballooned,”she says. “I watched my body literally morph in front of me.” The woman in the mirror, once confident in her skin and comfortable with her size, became someone Wilson hardly recognized. “I describe it as ‘that other woman,’ and I didn’t like what I saw,” Wilson says.
It was particularly frustrating because Wilson was eating natural and healthy foods. Sure, she had occasional snacks, but she wasn’t one to overdo.
“I didn’t get it, because I wasn’t eating doughnuts, I wasn’t eating (chips), I wasn’t doing these things that you normally think people are doing when they’re gaining weight,” Wilson says.
In October of 2013 she stepped on the scales and weighed in at 313 pounds. She was mortified. “I was miserable, and when I looked in the mirror I wasn’t seeing who I knew God created me to be,” Wilson says.
On the inside, she could feel diabetes shutting her body down. “I was sticking myself 10 times a day to give myself insulin or to check my blood sugar,” Wilson says. “Being a diabetic was a job. I was over that.”
Wilson describes it as “dying a slow death,” with her children serving as witnesses. She decided she had to take action. “I want to be an active mother,” Wilson says, “I want to dance in the rain; I want to live!”
When Wilson decided to attend a weight loss seminar and heard from bariatric surgeon Jonathan Ray, MD, of Foothills Weight Loss Specialists, she had a great feeling about it. She learned the procedure was less expensive than she had previously thought, and the bonus was that the surgery would be performed at Fort Sanders Regional in Knoxville.
“I trust Covenant Health, and it made me comfortable that I was going to be at a hospital that I trust,” Wilson says, “and that they had partnered with doctors who would be of the same standard as the doctors I was used to in the Covenant system.”
By the day of her surgery, she had lost a total of 56 pounds on her own. While it was an accomplishment to be proud of, she still needed to lose more weight, and she still hadn’t conquered her diabetes.
Her surgery was performed in late 2015, and today Wilson has lost about an additional 100 pounds. And she’s most interested in living life and spreading positivity.
Wilson has been commissioned as a Stephen Minister at Fort Sanders Regional, providing spiritual care to patients and staff at the hospital where she was born, where she was once an employee, and where she had the surgery that changed her life.
“For me, this was such a blessing,” Wilson says. “I thank God for Dr. Ray because he gave me the opportunity to live again.”
To learn more about bariatric surgery with Foothills Weight Loss Specialists at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, attend one of our free monthly bariatric seminars. Call 865-984-341 or CLICK HERE to register.