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Published on May 29, 2018

Weight Loss Surgery - Reversing trends: Mom becomes a role model

Weight-loss Surgery

“My doctor at Cone Health told me that over time, losing and gaining weight causes the body to fight you, and the result is sometimes gaining more weight,” says Kimberley Thompson-Hairston, 41, of Eden, NC. After attempts to lose weight with various diets, her short-lived successes had resulted in more and more weight. She gained 35 pounds with her first child. “And the weight kept piling on top of that,” she says, even during the time she tried yet another weight loss program.

The effects on her health were definite, she says. Blood tests showed greater and greater risk for diabetes (which runs in her family) and sciatica (a pinched nerve that causes shooting pain from the back down to the leg). Even with cortisone shots every three or four months, sciatica made walking and exercising harder than before.

Perhaps even more important to Kimberley was the impact of her weight and health on her kids. “I could never pick up my kids,” she says of McKinley, now 6, and Reagan, 3½. “I weighed 240 pounds and my BMI (body mass index) reached 40. It was ridiculous.”

“I didn’t want to let my bad eating habits impact my kids, to sabotage them now as kids and later as teens,” she says. “I wanted to be healthy for them and for my husband, and I’d finally had enough.”

Kimberley had noticed a friend at work, at Morehead Early College High School, who seemed to have found something that helped her lose weight. That’s how she found out about Cone Health’s bariatric program. “I finally said, ‘I’m done with dieting,’” and she made the call.

“At my first consultation with Dr. (Eric) Wilson, I knew I didn’t need to speak to anyone else,” she says. “He took the time to answer my questions and gave me all the information I needed to learn about my options for surgery.”

With a full-time job, caring for two small children and living 45 minutes away from where Cone Health holds the free informational sessions, Dr. Wilson signed Kimberley up for the online class. She viewed instructional videos the team gave her, and followed that up with a series of meetings with Cone Health’s bariatric nutrition experts.

“I have a background in science education,” she says. “But I learned a lot from the nutrition folks. All that counseling was amazing, and they customized it for me. I felt so prepared. The whole program really sets patients up to be successful.”

Weight Loss SurgeryIn the Fall of 2016, Kimberley had bariatric surgery at Cone Health. Then, she was 280 lbs. Today, she’s 146 lbs. But that’s not her only win. Kimberley’s new lifestyle affects every facet of her life.

“I’m sleeping better; I no longer fear diabetes; and I don’t need cortisone shots for back pain,” she says. “My energy is limitless. I can go-go-go!”

With a new lifestyle, new outlook and tools she learned from the bariatric team at Cone Health, Kimberley is excited about what the future holds. She has the energy to finish the steps to complete the school administrator license so she can become a school principal, and she’s starting a doctoral program next fall.

“The team at Cone Health showed me that to succeed with the bariatric program, and I know you have to view it as a lifestyle, not a diet,” she says. And she likes her new lifestyle. “I can enjoy my family and my job in a way I couldn’t do when I was overweight.”

And her kids get it, too. Her oldest has even been known to help Mom count carbs.

“I want to eat healthy, just like my Mom!” McKinley says.

That statement is a deserved point of pride for Kimberley. Her family was a huge motivator for her changes, and today, her success is a motivation for them.

Patient Stories