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Victory for Team Thompson

Becki places her hand on Steve's forearm as he tells what it was like to deer hunt when he weighed 363 pounds. "I was exhausted, out of breath, embarrassed," he says. His path to obesity began in college, when he discovered beer, pizza and a sedentary life.

Steve never takes his eyes off Becki as she tells what it was like to be "the big girl" as far back as second grade. "I was always very self-conscious," she says. "I ate a lot of emotions over the years." Despite trying every diet in the book, she reached 300 pounds.

The burden of obesity combined with failed weight-loss attempts prompted them to pursue a new avenue: weight-loss surgery. And they pursued it as a couple. "We're Team Thompson," says Steve.

The team's number-one motivation? Their 7-year-old son Kyle. Says Becki: "I wanted to be a fun, healthy mom for him – the kind of mom who'd throw on a swimsuit without asking a hundred questions about who'd see her and what they'd think. I really felt like I was missing out. And I was very concerned about heart issues. My dad died from a sudden heart attack."

Says Steve: "I wanted to be here to see Kyle graduate from high school. Maybe even enjoy Kyle's kids someday."

A game plan

The Thompsons love living in Oakes, a town of 1,975 in southeastern North Dakota. But they knew travel would be required to access a weight-loss surgery program. They chose Sanford in Fargo for three reasons:

  • A lengthy history of safety and success in weight-loss surgery, including data. "Sanford Health had the numbers that reflected success," says Steve. Sanford is also a nationally designated Bariatric Center of Excellence.
  • A positive impression of Dr. Matthew Fabian, one of three board-certified weight-loss surgeons at Sanford. "We'd had a previous surgical experience with Dr. Fabian and we saw what an attentive, caring, straightforward doctor he was," says Becki. "He made us feel comfortable and treated us as people, not just patients."
  • A complete weight-loss surgery program including extensive education, preparation and follow-up support. "The care coordination was excellent," says Becki. "It helped minimize our trips to Fargo."

A winning combination

The months leading up to surgery involved physical as well as mental preparation. "You have to wrap your mind around the fact that surgery is not the easy way out," says Steve. "It's a tool – a pretty big tool – that requires commitment and a lot of hard work. But if you do the work and follow the rules, you'll get fantastic results."

Steve's successful surgery took place on Feb. 11, 2009, followed by Becki's three weeks later. Both qualified for laparoscopic (minimally invasive) gastric bypass surgery – one of four surgical options offered at Sanford.

Becki's recovery went smoothly, but Steve had temporary trouble digesting dairy products. "We were grateful for the extra help from Dr. Fabian and the nutritionists," says Steve. "They were just a phone call away whenever we had questions."

Within two weeks, both were able to return to their busy lives. Becki is the local hospital's comptroller. Steve teaches high school students computer technology and emergency medical technician classes at a local career and technology center. He also works part-time as a paramedic.

Taking score

Almost a year later, Team Thompson chalked up a combined weight loss of 284 pounds. Steve now weighs 199 and Becki weighs 180.

"But it's a lot more than numbers," says Becki. "We feel wonderful!"

Steve no longer has sleep apnea. Becki doesn't have knee pain. Blood pressure has dropped to a healthy level and both have more energy and self confidence.

Today's steps toward success include working out every other day, small portions, nutritious food choices, daily vitamins and ongoing support.

"One of the best things about doing this as a couple is you have a built-in support group," says Steve. "We share experiences, talk things over and keep each other on track. It's great!"

And their best strategy for stress management? "We do fun, active things with Kyle – and we all love that," says Becki. Kyle snuggles up to his parents and beams.

See the possibilities!

Does obesity affect your health? Does it hold you back from enjoying life? Come to a free no-obligation informational seminar to learn more about Sanford's world-class weight-loss surgery program.

"It's amazing to look at your future and see possibilities!" says Becki.

Posted Date: January 2011