Kim Blair underwent bariatric surgery on a Thursday. On Friday, she was discharged from the hospital. And on Saturday, just 48 hours after her time in the operating room, she and her husband Chris ventured out for a bit of shopping at Best Buy and Ulta.
“I had prepared myself for a difficult couple of days after surgery, and what I experienced was the exact opposite,” recalls Kim, who underwent the sleeve gastrectomy procedure with Andrew Averbach, MD, at Saint Agnes Hospital. “I had no pain. I literally couldn’t believe how great I felt.”
Kim was among the first to take part in the Extended Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program for bariatrics patients at Saint Agnes Hospital. The program, which launched on January 1, 2019, just two days before her surgery, requires that patients consume 12 to 14 ounces of Gatorade a few hours before surgery, and calls for a different mix of medications, after surgery, to control and manage pain. The expectations of this new protocol are that patients will experience much less, if any pain, will have the ability to consume small amounts of water fairly quickly after surgery, will be able to get up and begin walking within two to four hours after surgery, will be discharged from the hospital quicker, and will be able to resume normal, everyday activities, much sooner. All rang true for Kim.
“When Dr. Averbach explained the new protocol to me, admittedly, I was a little nervous about being one of the first,” said Kim. “But I trusted my doctor and all of the people who had helped me prepare for my surgery, completely. They assured me I would be really happy I’d done it this way because it would make my recovery process really simple. And they were right.”
Kim made the decision to undergo bariatric surgery after her weight peaked at 310 pounds, and her blood pressure skyrocketed to its highest point in May 2018. But it was not a decision she took lightly.
“This was a big, big decision for me,” said Kim. “For a long time, I was completely anti-surgery and convinced myself I could and would lose the weight and get healthy on my own. But nothing I tried worked. I’d lose some weight and then gain it right back. Seeing my blood pressure that high scared me; my dad had a stroke and passed away at the age of 63. I knew I needed to do something about it.”
Still on the fence about her best course of action, Kim attended a bariatric information session at Saint Agnes Hospital. It was at that meeting that her mindset about surgery began to shift. Shortly afterward, and with complete support from Chris, her husband of 22 years, she decided to forge ahead, spending the next six months preparing for surgery, physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“It’s about so much more than the decision to have the surgery,” said Kim. “I had to be ready to completely change the role food plays in my life. It could no longer be what I’d turn to for comfort. It could no longer be what was most important at family events or celebrations. I also knew I would need a lot of support from my family, and my husband was there and encouraging me, from day number one.”
Three months after surgery, Kim has lost 58 pounds, with a goal to eventually reach the 165-pound mark. She says with confidence that the changes she’s made to date are well worth it. She no longer finds herself out of breath when she climbs a flight of stairs. She has more energy today than she did 15 years ago. And she’s excited to go out kayaking and paddle boarding during the summer months in Ocean Pines, MD, where her family owns a vacation home. They are activities she’s never been able to consider doing, until now.
“I am starting to live my best life,” says Kim, mom to two sons, ages 17 and 19. “The decision I feared so much for so long ended up being the best one I ever made. I couldn’t be happier.”