At an office, co-workers often become a second family, celebrating both work and life achievements and supporting one another in difficult times. Many topics can swirl around the water cooler, but one common discussion is diet.
At a local medical billing office, Marcia Burk, Saundra Velez, Elisa Martinez and Guadalupe Denizad have stood there to share their ups and downs, both literal and figurative.
“We have offices weight loss challenges to see who could lose the most weight over a month,” says Saundra. “We’d weight in, pay if we gained a pound and cheer if we lost. We’ve tried liquid diets, point systems, cabbage soup, no carbs, protein-heavy... you name it, we’ve tried it.”
The weight would fall off and then slowly come back… usually more than what was lost.
Fed up, each one, when ready, decided to have surgical weight loss at Easton Hospital.
They call themselves the Sleevettes since they all had a sleeve gastrectomy, a procedure that removes a large portion of the stomach.
Each has lost about 90 pounds. What they gained is remarkable.
During lunch hour, they sat around a conference table to talk about their experience.
“I am so much more outgoing,” says Guadalupe. “I rarely went out before, not wanting to be seen or dress up. Now I am pushing my husband to do more because I don’t want to miss a thing.”
“I have a support system with each of you, our families and Easton Hospital that has kept my weight off for two years,” says Marcia.
“I feel so good in my skin,” says Saundra. “I’m off my sleep machine and blood pressure medicine.”
“Shopping is back,” says Elisa.
Saundra agrees. “I was scared to shop and kept wearing the same clothes after my surgery.”
“She looked ridiculous,” says Marcia. “So we bought her five outfits.”
“I was wearing a size 22 and didn’t want to be disappointed with my new size,” Saundra says. “When the size 12 fit, I cried.”
Guadalupe and Saundra who had surgery in the last year can still fear old habits, but remain confident.
“It takes a commitment and a schedule,” says Saundra. “I find time to exercise around work, life and kids.”
“Foods I ate before don’t taste good to me anymore,” says Marcia. “So there is no temptation.”
“I just eliminate the temptations,” says Guadalupe.
“That’s right,” says Saundra. “I repeat what Dr. Singhal says, ‘Don’t indulge, but don’t deprive.”
“I love him,” says Elisa. “He remembers every detail from my life and my surgery.”
“I was waiting years to meet that man,” says Saundra, who worked years ago in a bariatric surgery office but didn’t feel the time was right for surgery. “I met him and trusted him; he truly cares about you.”
Guadalupe remembers Dr. Singhal’s skill. “He found and removed a tumor in my stomach during the surgery,” she says. “I was so scared what the results might reveal as a mother of two young children. Dr. Singhal was so caring in that time.”
So was her family.
“My husband carried me during those difficult days,” she says.
In fact they all relied on strong family support.
“My daughter was with me on the day of surgery,” Marcia says. “Mandy Nyce, the program coordinator, reassured her throughout the operation and answered her questions.”
“Mandy is so amazing, her knowledge and care,” says Elisa.
“My family all went on the liquid diet with me before and after surgery,” Saundra says. “Even my sister-in-law who was stationed in Iraq. They all drank it with me.”
Her family has even played pranks with her scale, like rigging it to explode on April Fool’s Day.
The ladies laugh. They rave about the care they received at Easton Hospital.
“When I woke from surgery, there was this cute male nurse looking over me, and I turned to Dr. Singhal and thanked him,” says Saundra.
They all pipe in, remembering him.
“I called that nurse Ken,” Saundra adds. “His wife also worked on the unit, so I called her Barbie.”
“The care I got there was phenomenal,” says Marcia.
“It was great service and care,” says Guadalupe.
“Some people say not to go there,” says Saundra. “But it was like a corner suite at Trump Towers. The care was that awesome. They tucked me in at night and checked on me all the time.”
As their lunch hour comes to a close, they mention their pact.
“I’ve promised to say, ‘I don’t like what I’m seeing’ if one of us starts to put weight back on,” says Marcia.
“We have the tools and the know-how that we learned in the classes prior to surgery,” says Saundra. “So now we help each other not veer off track and inspire others as we sing the program’s praises.”
The Sleevettes would, no doubt, be at the top of the charts.
250 South 21st Street
Easton, PA 18042-3892