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A Chance Reunion

Maureen Randles has an interesting job for a 52-year-old woman. She is part of an environmental hazard clean up crew in the oil fields of North Dakota. She spends her days climbing and cleaning gas plant compressors. It is a physically demanding job, and Maureen loves it.

“I really enjoy my work,” says Maureen. “I get to do something where I am active and kept busy. I climb up on those machines, and I can pretty much do anything.”

But Maureen didn’t always have such an adventurous lifestyle. After she had her first child, Maureen had trouble losing the baby weight. As the years went on, she continued to feel not quite right.

“I just felt off-balance,” remembers Maureen. “It was like I was too tall or too big for my body.”

The added weight not only affected Maureen’s balance, but her health suffered drastically.

“I had diabetes and was on insulin,” says Maureen. “I had a lot of problems and never felt good.”

Decision time

After trying several different ways to drop the weight, Maureen made the choice to pursue weight-loss surgery. Living in Washington state at the time, Maureen made an appointment with one of the top bariatric surgeons in the country, Steven Bock, MD, now a surgeon at Sanford Health in Bismarck.

“I just wanted to feel better,” explains Maureen. “I wanted to be able to play with my grandkids and not huff and puff.”

The process to have the surgery was a long one for Maureen. Between meeting insurance requirements, the need for additional testing to evaluate her overall health and improving the control of her obesity-related diabetes, it took nearly three years before she was able to meet the requirements for gastric bypass surgery.

“I almost thought I would give up,” says Maureen.

After the first meeting with Dr. Bock, her surgery was delayed for a short time to improve diabetes control, but at her next check-up, Maureen was cleared for surgery.

“There is a certain degree of patient responsibility when it comes to surgery, and she did what she needed to do,” states Dr. Bock. “I helped Maureen get her diabetes under control, and by doing do, the risks of surgery were decreased.”

After a problem-free surgery, Maureen’s life started to change in a big way.

A 1,000 miles and a crazy coincidence

“They tell you not to make any big life choices right after surgery,” laughs Maureen. “But I didn’t listen.”

Maureen packed her bags and moved the 1,100 miles to Watford City, N.D., to join her husband and son who had already moved to work in the oil fields. In a new city and state and only a year out of surgery, Maureen knew she needed to find a physician to help her post-surgery.

“It is so essential to have both short and long-term follow-ups,” says Dr. Bock. “Patients need to get that support during the initial weight loss period and also when they are most at risk for weight gain.”

“I knew I needed to make an appointment for a check-up,” says Maureen. “I was flipping through the paper and there was an ad for Dr. Bock! I just couldn’t believe it.”

Unbeknownst to her, Dr. Bock had also left the Pacific Northwest for the Midwest to take a position at Sanford Bismarck.

“I had probably been there less than a month,” remembers Dr. Bock. “And I saw her name on my list. It was very nice to see her again.”

The strange coincidence allowed Maureen to continue her weight-loss journey with the doctor who helped her start it.

“I just can’t say enough good things about Dr. Bock,” says Maureen. “You aren’t just a another patient to him; you’re a person.”

The team of nurses and support staff at Sanford Bismarck also contributed to Maureen’s comfort level.

“I still saw myself as a fat girl, and I was always on guard for people to look at me differently,” confides Maureen. “But not once did I ever experience that at Sanford. The whole crew was absolutely wonderful.”

Going from 368 at her heaviest down to just over 200 pounds, Maureen is a new woman living a life she couldn’t have imagined before surgery.

“I have so much energy!” exclaims Maureen. “I feel like this is a whole new world for me.”

To learn more about weight-loss surgery at Sanford Bismarck, call (701) 323-5300 or visit bismarck.sanfordhealth.org/weightlosssurgery. You can also attend a monthly weight-loss surgery information session. Visit the above website for more dates, locations and additional details.

Posted Date: January 2014