• Leigh Gerstenberger

The Surgery That Changed My Life


An Updated post I wrote for Summa Care Hospital.

Posted June 06, 2017 by Leigh Gerstenberger


I always knew I was carrying too much extra weight. Even though I worked out regularly and tried to stay active, I couldn’t ignore the fact that getting up off the floor after playing with my grandchildren was becoming a struggle. Additionally, I was winded after walking up a flight of stairs and had been diagnosed with sleep apnea. Dieting and exercise weren’t working for me, so I decided to investigate gastric bypass surgery.


Two friends of mine in the business community both had surgery at the Summa Health Bariatric Care Center in Akron, OH and only had positive comments about: the experience; Dr. John Zografraks and his team; and how the surgery had changed their lives. They both told me that the only regret they had post-surgery was that they hadn’t done it sooner…so I made an appointment.


When I first met with Dr. Zografrakis in November of 2015, he predicted that following surgery, if I followed all the post-operative instructions, I could lose 70-80% of my excess body weight. In my case this was about 100 pounds, so I began the qualification process.


I worked with Dr. Ken Wells, the Bariatric Center’s obesity medicine specialist, to lose some weight pre-surgery and spent time in group and individual counseling.


On May 23, 2016, I had the surgery. My experience at Summa Health was phenomenal. From the moment I got out of surgery my recovery was ahead of schedule.


At the beginning of this journey my weight had topped out at 302 pounds. Today, as I write this, just a year post-surgery, I weigh 207 pounds. My weight loss journey has been remarkable. I feel tremendous and my lifestyle has completely changed. People don’t recognize me. I frequently must reintroduce myself to people I’ve known for years!


One of the things I learned during this process is how people who struggle with their weight suffer every day both physically and mentally. During our group counseling sessions, I met patients who had to deal with things that never affected me, such as feeling ignored and disregarded by everyone around them. One of the beautiful, yet unintended consequences of this journey for me is the empathy I’ve developed for people who suffer from obesity.


I’m getting ready to retire in the next year and there’s no question that this surgery will make the next season of my life so much more enjoyable. For the first time in my life I’m optimistic about my long-term health. I have more energy, can now easily play on the floor with my grandkids and am filled with gratitude for the surgery that changed my life.


Feel free to reach out to me directly if you’d like to discuss any aspect of what I’ve shared.

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