In 2012, Christine Haeger’s doctors found that her weight—289
pounds at the time—was dramatically affecting her ability to manage
her type 2 diabetes. Despite taking four diabetic medications, Haeger’s
blood sugar often spiked, making her feel ill. When it dropped, she felt
nauseous, sweaty and lethargic. One of her physicians was even considering
adding a fifth diabetic drug to Haeger’s regimen.
But by this point Haeger was simply tired of feeling bad—and ready
to talk about how surgery might help. “
Dr. [Aileen] Takahashi presented surgery options, and at first she had planned on gastric bypass,”
explains Haeger, now 65. Together, doctor and patient eventually decided on the
gastric sleeve (aka sleeve gastrectomy) as the best choice.
“Deciding which procedure to go with was not an easy choice, but
in the end the doctor and I opted for the gastric sleeve as the least
invasive but still with a high probability of a positive effect on my
diabetes,” says Haeger.
bariatric surgery patients at Torrance Memorial, Haeger attended pre-surgery sessions at
the diabetes center to learn about the procedure and what she’d
need to do afterward. The experience, she says, re-taught her how to eat.
“The nutritionists want you to eat protein first, then vegetables
and then starch, and I used to do the opposite,” says Haeger.
“This approach is designed to get in the most important nutrients
before a person who has had bariatric surgery becomes satiated,”
explains Dani Rodriguez-Brindicci, MS, RD, a clinical/outpatient dietitian
at the Torrance Memorial Specialty Center.
Haeger had gastric sleeve surgery in March 2013. “I was in the hospital
overnight, and the recovery period was pretty quick, except that I had
to drink just liquids for a long period of time after surgery,”
she remembers. (This is necessary to prepare the body for solids, says
Soon after, Haeger was able to stop taking three of the diabetes medications,
and by October 2013 she had stopped all the drugs she was taking for diabetes.
Her glucose levels were back to normal for the first time in more than 15 years.
These days, says Haeger, “I’m eating less of things that aren’t
good for me, and I don’t miss them—my energy is so much higher.
I go on five-mile walks a couple of times a week with my sisters and other
family members. And when I work out I just feel like I want to keep moving.
Before, I was more of a slug and just wanted to sit there,” she
explains. “I would highly recommend the surgery and the doctor.
It’s made a huge change in my life; I never thought I’d be
rid of my diabetes.”