While reflecting on what life was like prior to her bariatric surgery, Michelle Hockett says: “I had the thought, ‘I’m not even living anymore’.”
To hear Michelle look back on the journey she’s been on with her weight is a patchwork of emotions: sometimes sad, moments of triumph, and altogether inspiring.
Her surgery, a biliopancreatic diversion with a duodenal switch (BPD-DS), is one of the more complex operations performed by bariatric surgeons – which she underwent in March 2019. And Michelle is first to say, there’s no final destination in mind. “They talk about non-scale victories, and I don’t have a [goal weight].”
Fast forward to today, and she says she doesn’t want to give people the wrong impression. “I’m still a work in progress… and I’m okay with that.”
From talking to her, one gets the sense that arriving to a place of self-acceptance took Michelle a lot of work.
“I had this thought comparing my journey to everyone else’s, including recovery time and how much weight I was going to lose,” Michelle says. Her post-op period was “a bit slower recovery than I had anticipated.” Ultimately, seeking out self-acceptance became an exercise in reclaiming what was hers to begin with. “This journey was mine,” Michelle said. ‘This is how it’s going to look.”
Michelle, a Trinity Bariatrics patient who underwent her BPD-DS procedure in March 2019.
A photo Michelle had taken of herself before her weight loss surgery.
Mind, Body, and Spirit
Initially, Michelle says she was “adamantly opposed” to bariatric surgery. “The perception I had was that the stomach gets smaller, you throw up if you eat too much,” she says. “it’s wrong, but that was the perception I had.”
Her lightbulb moment? The understanding that bariatric surgery is making changes to your metabolism, not just changes to the body. “I had no idea there was a chemical aspect with surgery. It was the extra piece I needed,” Michelle says.
She’s passionate about the degree to which her mentality affected the outcome. When it comes to surgically-assisted weight loss, “you have to be in the right headspace,” Michelle says. “It’s not a cure, it’s a tool. And if you’re not preparing to use the tool properly, you’re not going to be successful. You have to be prepared to make changes.”
Michelle felt supported by the Trinity Bariatrics team and the Sisters Metabolic Center in her preparations: “I could not have asked for a better experience. I was comfortable with Dr. Bala, the surgeon I had chosen. All the nurses, the PAs, answered all of my questions. Everyone introduced themselves and told me exactly what they were doing.”
Her takeaways don’t seem to hinge on having gone through major surgery, and her story seems to mean something to those who have struggled with their weight just as it does for those who have endured other challenges in their lives: “I know myself, and I know what I’m capable of, and holding myself to anything more than that is sabotage,” Michelle shares.
Bala Thatigotla, MD
Bariatric & General Surgeon