First-time visitors to Coastal Carolina Bariatric Center may not believe
that the petite woman who greets them once weighed 290. While she did
not save many of her “before” photos, Kim Brown, who now weighs
130, keeps one at her desk as proof.
Her experience with weight-loss surgery and the support she received from
Dr. Neil McDevitt and his staff made such an impact on her that Brown
recently joined them as a medical office specialist. Like many patients,
she tells a story of heartaches and celebrations.
“I was always very small in my high school days,” recalls the
43-year-old, who is 5-foot-3 inches tall. “Everybody kept saying,
‘You need to gain weight,’ and I did. And I kept gaining.”
She married at 23, and a year later, she became pregnant and gained close
to 60 pounds more, reaching a weight of 290. “It caused my blood
pressure to just go off the roof, and I was borderline diabetic.”
She developed pre-eclampsia, a dangerous condition for mother and baby,
and her placenta ruptured. After an emergency C-section, her daughter
was born with brain damage and died about two days later.
Brown sunk into depression. She had a miscarriage a year later, and while
she ultimately had a successful pregnancy with the birth of her son Alex
when she was 26, she struggled afterward to lose the weight she had gained
since high school. Her health got worse, and the hope of having another
child faded away.
“I was constantly sick with colds, and tired, and wound up having
sleep apnea.” Her oxygen levels were low enough that her doctor
considered putting her in the hospital.
“If you don’t do something, you are not going to see your son
graduate,” he said and referred her to Coastal Carolina Bariatric
Center at Summerville Medical Center (SMC).
In December 2012, she went to a seminar with Dr. McDevitt, and while she
doubted she could make the changes that he described, she started his
pre-surgery program, striving to eliminate bread, rice, pasta and sweet
tea from her diet while counting her steps with a pedometer, trying to
reach 10,000 a day.
“My goal is to get you healthy,” Dr. McDevitt told her.
She lost 30 pounds the first two months and was down to 250 at the time
of her gastric bypass surgery at SMC. The surgery rerouted the path her
food takes during digestion so fewer calories are absorbed, and also reduced
the size of her stomach, so that she felt full after only a few bites of food.
Over time, she dropped from a size 22 to a petite size 6 or 8. She no longer
needs blood pressure medication, glucose medication or her sleep apnea
machine. She no longer struggles to go upstairs and now walks 5Ks.
And she learned it was possible to have another baby, even in her early
40s. This time, she only gained 18 pounds during her pregnancy, and within
two weeks of the birth of her son Walker, “our miracle,” she
had it back off.
“A lot of people will tell you, ‘You took the easy way out
because you did surgery,’” she says. “It’s not
the easy way. The way I look at it, the only thing I cheated was death.”
Call Coastal Carolina Bariatric Center at 843-875-8994 to learn more.