As the saying goes, “third time’s the charm,” but for Ginni Reisenberg, of West Chester, that “third time” saved her life.
The 62-year-old spent most of her adult years battling her weight; during the fall of 2012, she peaked at 245 pounds. The excess pounds eventually spiraled into the development of several co-morbid conditions, like high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, pulmonary fibrosis and type 2 diabetes. She’d also had triple bypass heart surgery. “I was a hot mess,” she laughs.
Like most people struggling with weight loss, Ginni tried everything – cutting out certain foods, Weight Watchers, weight loss pills, and an all-cereal diet – among others. You name it, Ginni tried it. She’d lose weight in spurts, only to gain it all back.
A Wake-Up Call Lead Ginni to Take Action
In October 2012, however, things changed. She read an article explaining how weight loss could potentially cure type 2 diabetes. A few weeks later, she heard Dr. Oz make the same reference during an episode of his show. Then, a few days later, she read another article making the same claims.
She scheduled an appointment with her primary care doctor, William Klein MD, of Health First – Mason, brought a copy of the article, and said she wanted to investigate weight loss surgery, so Dr. Klein referred her to George Kerlakian MD, of TriHealth Weight Management. Ginni had her initial meeting with Dr. Kerlakian in November 2012 and was scheduled for Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery on Jan. 28, 2013. “It was a whirlwind, but to me, life is that way. When you’re going in the right direction, it moves,” she says.
Ginni spent only two days in the hospital and admits her experience was better than expected, thanks, in part, to her attentive, compassionate care team. “They were very supportive and very kind,” she says. She also credits her high school sweetheart and husband, Fred, for always being by her side.
Initially, the Weight “Melted Off”
The first 50 pounds, as Ginni explains it, “melted off” within a matter of months. The rest of the weight, however, took work. Per strict recovery guidelines, she drinks at least 64 ounces of fluid every day, eats 60 grams of protein daily and has cut out carbonated beverages from her diet. She also stops eating when she feels full.
Weight loss aside (she’s lost more than 120 pounds), the quality of Ginni’s life has improved dramatically. She’s no longer on blood pressure or cholesterol medication, or pain management medicine for her fibromyalgia. She still takes Metformin to help manage her diabetes, but she’s no longer on insulin shots. About three months after surgery she retired the oxygen tank she used to carry for her pulmonary fibrosis. “My health is just 100 percent better now. I have a lot of energy,” she explains.
While Ginni’s health has gone full-circle, as a grandmother to seventeen, nothing compares to the gratification she felt after hearing a comment from her 7-year-old granddaughter. “About three or four months after I had surgery and was starting to feel better, she looked up at me and said, ‘You’re a much funner grandma now!’ It just melted my heart,” Ginni says, teary-eyed.
The Journey to Good Health: Where Ginni's at Now
Now, she's focused on maintaining her weight, which isn't always easy, she confesses. She still craves carbohydrates and candy bars, but fortunately, Ginni's found balance. She also walks her two Dachshunds every day and is back to volunteering as a receptionist at Hospice of Cincinnati, both of which keep her active – and thankful, as these abilities serves as a reminder of how far she's come. "I know I'm going to live at least 20 years longer," she says, matter-of-factly. "I was at the end of my rope there. I really was. I had given up."