From the time Richard Maronde, Prophetstown, IL, was about 8 years old, he was on a diet. Always trying something new - from a high protein liquid diet to a candy supplement promising to promote weight loss - he and his mom would support each other in their quest to lose weight once and for all.
It never worked. With every diet he would lose a few pounds and then gain a few more back. By the time his mother died 18 years ago, he was well on his way to weighing 460 pounds.
Needing a different solution, Richard contacted Trinity's Bariatric Center and was put in touch with their support group. Members provided help with insurance issues, information about bariatric surgery itself and first-hand experience with post-surgery issues.
Helping each other succeed
"I went to the support group for months before my surgery," Richard says. "Since then, the members have been so helpful to me. Someone usually has experienced whatever I have questions about. And now I can help newcomers as well."
Trinity Bariatric Program Administrator Sara A. Neyens BSN, RN, CGRN, says helping one another is one of the most important functions of the support group.
"Patients are required to attend one meeting prior to surgery, after that they are hooked. Our patients continue to attend after their surgery as they establish new lifestyle habits," she says. "But what makes the group really special is the bonding that occurs among the members. They know they are not alone."
In addition to fellowship, the group invites speakers to address different topics. Richard's surgeon, Dr. Melinda Hass, spoke to the group recently.
"Bariatric surgery patients benefit greatly from this group," she says. "They have to work through many issues as they recover from the surgery and begin to lose significant amounts of weight. This is a wonderful place to share experience and gain important information."
200 pounds later
In seven months, Richard has lost nearly 200 pounds and has gone from size 60 to size 34 pants.
"My doctor had been after me for years to have the surgery, but it wasn't until I saw people my age passing away that I decided to go ahead with it," Richard, now 50, says. "I didn't want to follow in my mom's footsteps and die at an early age. I had found the love of my life just six years ago, and want to spend as much time as possible with her. And I want to see our 13 grandchildren grow up. It's definitely been worth it."