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Kim's Story

‘I love the person I've become.'

Kim Washington

When it comes to weight loss, Kim Washington feels like she has “climbed to the mountain top and can see where I came from and where I need to go to stay healthy.”

At nearly 270 pounds and a size 24 before undergoing a bariatric “sleeve” operation, the 57-year-old Johnstown resident was taking two blood pressure medications and a cholesterol pill daily. Now, four years after the operation by Conemaugh surgeon Dr. D’Arcy Duke, she weighs about 175 pounds, wears a size 14 dress and “I’m off the meds and my blood pressure is perfect,” she said. “And I aim to keep it that way.”

After struggling with weight for most of her adult life, Kim noticed a friend who lost weight and looked great. “I said, ‘Hey girl, what’s your secret,’” said Washington, who is a nurse’s aide at the Conemaugh system’s Crichton Center.

“She told me about her weight-loss surgery. I took it to heart, contacted Conemaugh’s weight-management center, and began a great journey.” Having the bariatric sleeve operation “was the best decision I’ve ever made,” Washington said.

“I’m no longer tired all the time. I have a lot more energy and confidence. I’m able to get out and around so much more,” said the mother of four and grandmother of 11. “There’s a lot less pressure on my back and knees. I can ride bikes with my grandkids and do so much more. I really feel like a new person.

“The only downfall is I have to spend a lot of money on new clothes,” she said with a laugh. “But that’s great.”

Some people claim weight-loss surgery is the easy way out. “But they’re mistaken. It’s not a quick fix. It’s not once and done,” she said. “I did this to improve my health and extend my life. I love the person I’ve become.”

Kim Washington with Dr. DukeAfter the surgery by Dr. Duke, “a whole new world opened to me. But the surgery is just the beginning. You need a dedicated, positive mindset. It takes a massive lifestyle change. You must make the right choices or else you risk slipping into old habits and the weight will creep back on. Keep a positive attitude and never ever give up.” According to Kim, Dr. Duke and her team “were amazing in preparing me – physically and mentally – for the operation. They answered every question and concern that I had. They made me feel very comfortable and provided great support.”

Kim’s glowing attitude, determination and commitment “are keys to her excellent post-operation success,” Dr. Duke said. “Her energy, enthusiasm and mental toughness are inspirational to other patients.” Kim recognizes that many overweight people encounter long, lonely struggles before deciding to change their lives and lifestyles – whether it be through a bariatric operations or medical/non-surgical treatment. “My advice is not to be afraid to seek help. Go to support meetings at Conemaugh’s weight-management office. Talk with the people who’ve beat it and learn from them. They’ve been where you are now.” Her goal this year is to get back into a size 12 dress and to hike the famous “Thousand Steps” in Huntington County.

“I feel like I’ve already climbed one mountain,” she said. “And I want to climb this one just for the fun of it. As a celebration of how far I’ve come.”

Learn More About Gastric Sleeve Surgery

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