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Patient Testimonials

Patient Testimonial: Terri Atwell

Terri Atwell faced a critical decision. At nearly 300 pounds and on a host of medications for everything from mental health conditions to high blood pressure and utilizing a CPAP machine for sleep apnea, the now 35-year-old married mother of two knew she needed to make a change. So, in early 2017, she decided to undergo gastric sleeve surgery at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport.

Now after following Memorial’s bariatric program for 18 months, Terri has lost more than 105 pounds and is off all medications except one for a thyroid condition. Her greatest improvement, however, has been her ability to accomplish the basics of life with greater ease, including running with her daughter and performing her job as a surgical technician at Memorial.

“I love just being able to do things and not feel bad while doing them,” she says.

Another victory involved participating in a Warrior Dash in April 2018. Warrior Dashes are 5K races with mud and obstacle courses that are popular around the country. Terri raced with a cousin who had also undergone weight loss surgery in Louisiana. Terri plans to compete in another one.

“It was great—it was so much fun!” she says.

In addition to another Warrior Dash, Terri would also like fly somewhere. She’s never left the country and avoided flying while overweight. She plans to continue working hard to be comfortable in her skin and as healthy as she can be.

She maintains a nutritious, low-carb diet and abstains from soda. Weight loss surgery patients are encouraged to avoid sodas as they can cause cramping and bloating, as well as a dietary complication known as dumping syndrome caused when sugar enters the small intestine at an abnormally fast rate, potentially resulting in symptoms like weakness, nausea, cold sweat, paleness, pounding heartbeat and diarrhea.

While exercise remains a tough hill to climb, Terri sticks to her regimen.

“I don’t really like it. Once I do it, I enjoy it, but I’m definitely happy when I’m done,” she says.

When asked why she decided to have her surgery at Memorial, Terri explains, “I chose Memorial because I work there, and I feel safe there. I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else.”

Patient Testimonial: Willie Miller  

Willie Miller displays the size 56 jeans he wore before weight loss surgery at Memorial Hospital.

With hard work and weight loss surgery, Willie Miller is ready to take on new challenges. After undergoing gastric sleeve surgery at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport, Miller shed about 90 pounds in 12 weeks and gained a new lease on life. Eight months after surgery, he's surpassed his goal weight and has lost more than 150 pounds. The 39-year old former University of Nebraska fullback has thrown his unflinching commitment into his new, healthier lifestyle; that’s what it takes, he says, to be successful.

Already, he’s enjoying solid improvements in his overall health: better blood pressure, fewer medications, better mobility; plus, simple acts of daily functioning that are now much easier.

“I can stand and walk for a longer period of time without having to take several breaks and sit down. I can actually tie my own shoes. I just feel better about myself.”

Gastric sleeve surgery is a procedure in which a portion of the stomach is removed, and a small, banana-shaped pouch is left behind. In conjunction with a healthy diet and exercise, patients can lose excess weight and improve health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Gastric sleeve surgery is part of the weight loss program at Memorial. When Miller made his decision to have the surgery, he chose Memorial because his research convinced him this program best suited his needs.

He has nothing but praise for the medical skill of his physician, Dr. Derek Ware, Memorial General Surgeon. He also finds Dr. Ware’s attitude empowering.

“What I really appreciated about Dr. Ware is he doesn’t sugarcoat anything … he tells you not to get the surgery if you’re not willing to put in work because he’s not going to babysit you when you’re not doing what you need to do.”

His excess weight began to creep on as he advanced in a pharmaceutical sales career. The pressure to keep up with new products and sales quotas, along with lunch and dinner meetings, took a heavy toll on his physical and mental health.

Miller weighed 400 pounds when he became ultimately motivated to act; he needed disc replacement surgery, and his neurosurgeon stipulated bringing his weight down to around 265 before they could proceed. Miller underwent his back procedure in December 2017 and is fully enjoying an active lifestyle.

Reflecting on his experience so far, he offers his best advice to someone who might be considering the procedure: “What I found is if you are willing to do what you’re instructed to do, it is not hard at all.”

Patient Testimonial: Mandy Pannell

"Love Dr. Carter and am very pleased with my procedure thus far! From initial consult to post-op follow ups, this program has been thorough and helpful unlike many of the horror stories you hear from other patients all before making it to procedure day. This has been an opportunity to achieve a better, healthier me and for that I will forever thankful." - From Facebook