Bariatric surgery cures more than weight problem

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Patty MacArthur, of Dyer, before her surgery at Midwest Bariatric Institute at Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Dyer. | Supplied photo

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Patricia MacArthur had Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. She was getting to the point where medications alone didn’t work and she would have to begin taking insulin to control the diabetes.

“And I didn’t want to have to take insulin,” the 46-year-old Dyer woman said.

So she took another course of action: In October 2011, MacArthur had gastric bypass surgery through The Midwest Bariatric Institute at Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Dyer.

The results were dramatic. She has lost about 120 pounds, her cholesterol and blood pressure were lowered, she went down a shoe size, and, best of all, while still in the hospital she discovered she no longer was a diabetic.

“I can do a lot more than I could do before and I want to do a lot more than I did before. I didn’t realize I was hiding, but I was,” MacArthur said.

More than just losing weight

Kathy O’Donnell, nurse manager of the institute, said curing diabetes is just one of the exciting rewards of bariatric surgery.

“People don’t come to us because they don’t want to look a certain way. They come to us because they don’t want to live a certain way. They’re tired of sleep apnea, diabetes, high blood pressure. They want to get off medications. This surgery helps cure those,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said when having surgery done at the Midwest Bariatric Institute, patients get an entire team of professionals who take them through what should be a lifelong relationship, beginning with a weight-loss physician who helps prepare them for surgery, and behavior counselors, who help patients understand the reasons why some people turn to food for support. Other team members include bariatric-trained registered nurses, certified support group instructors, the surgeon and his assistant, a registered dietitian, insurance specialists and fitness experts.

The surgery itself is done by Dr. Gerald Cahill, who O’Donnell said is among an elite group of bariatric surgeons in the nation to receive quality and volume recognition from the manufacturer of the daVinci Si Robotic Surgical System, used in doing the gastric bypass surgery. Cahill has performed more than 3,500 bariatric procedures over 13 years.

“When you have only one surgeon doing the procedure, everyone is on the same page,” O’Donnell said.

O’Donnell said while Dr. Cahill performs all types of bariatric surgeries, depending on his consultations with the patient, he mostly does gastric bypass surgeries, which referred to as the gold standard of bariatric surgery. In gastric bypass surgery, the doctor divides the stomach into two “pouches” and re-arranges the small intestine to connect to both.

O’Donnell said the Franciscan sisters not only are committed to bariatric surgery, but to a lifetime relationship with the patient as well, with regular yearly visits after the healing process is complete.

‘There’s a fix’

MacArthur said she was in some pain for a couple weeks after the surgery itself, all on her left side.

“I had some aches and pains from the weight loss, in my hips and shoulder, but it’s fine now,” she said.

Sometimes her blood pressure gets a bit too low, but she said it is a small price to pay for all the benefits she has received.

And while the team definitely prepared her for the surgery, MacArthur said there was still a shock factor afterward.

“You wonder, what do I eat now, she said. “I follow the rules, but I did have a piece of cake on my birthday and the world didn’t come to an end. It was fine.”

In retrospect, she said she wishes she’d had the surgery years ago.

“When I see a very overweight person struggling, I want to tell them, there’s a fix. You can get better. It’s really a great thing,” Mac Arthur said.

More information is at or (219) 852-2518.