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A Second Chance

Jani Heringer knew something was wrong, but never expected to end up on a cold garage floor. She fainted one morning before going to work.

“I wasn’t panicked, but knew I needed to see my doctor,” she says. “With my high blood pressure and headaches, I worried about stroke.”

Jani’s worry didn’t materialize, but an exam that morning at Sanford Clinic Southpointe in Fargo led to a frank conversation about her overall health.

Dr. (Ron) Wiisanen had a gentle way of telling the truth. He looked at me and said he didn’t like where all this was leading. I was 48, had sky-high blood pressure and weighed 232 pounds. He asked me to consider weight-loss surgery -- to just think about it,” she says.

The idea wasn’t new to Jani, but she’d always rejected it. “I figured it would be like all the other diets I’d tried over the years -- I’d lose weight, but couldn’t keep it off,” she says. “Why would this be any different?”

But now her life was at stake. Besides high blood pressure, she had aching knees from excess weight, became easily winded and suffered clinical depression. She also had a family history of heart disease.

“I didn’t decide overnight. I researched options, asked questions, talked with my husband and prayed,” says Jani. “After a year I had my answer: I want a full, productive life.”

A three-part journey

Jani attended a free weight-loss surgery informational seminar at Sanford in Fargo. A nationally designated Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence, Sanford offers a highly qualified team, a complete program and proven results.

“They tell you all the pros and cons and don’t sugarcoat anything,” says Jani.

She discovered weight-loss surgery at Sanford is a three-part journey:
1. Preparing for surgery, including extensive nutrition education.
2. The surgical procedure, including a minimally invasive approach.
3. Lifelong maintenance, including support groups.

On Jan. 14, 2010, Jani underwent laparoscopic (minimally invasive) gastric bypass surgery performed by Dr. Timothy Monson, one of three board-certified weight loss surgeons. Within a week she was back to work at Arc of Cass County in Fargo.

Six months later? 100 pounds lighter. “Losing was the easy part,” she says. “Now I’m in maintenance -- and that’s forever. Surgery gave me this beautiful tool and it’s up to me to keep it working.”

Jani’s actions reflect seriousness. She keeps a food diary, walks an hour every day, takes daily vitamins, tracks protein intake and respects signals of fullness.

“Moderation was never possible before, but now it is,” she says. “I also recognize when I’m eating for reasons other than hunger. This surgery is a mind journey, too.”

A quote she’s posted at work and at home constantly reminds her of accountability:
“You cannot have it both ways… You cannot maintain your weight loss if you return to old behaviors … You cannot find your own victory if you always find excuses…”

Free to live

Today 50-year-old Jani moves effortlessly and confidently in her size 4 jeans and well-worn walking shoes. She’s on her third pair.

“I feel great!” she says. “And the most freeing part is knowing I’m healthy without medications -- no more blood pressure medication, no more anti-depressants.”

For Jani, life as a healthy person means big things: participating in her first 5K at the 2011 Fargo Marathon, swimming with her grandchildren and learning yoga.

It means little things, too: “I can navigate stairs without pain. I can walk at a brisk pace. I can even hop,” she says grinning.

And the greatest of all? "I have a second chance to live -- this time as a thinner, healthier person. Truly a blessing!"

Posted Date: March 2011