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Patient Stories


The physicians and staff associated with Dignity Health's Weight Loss Surgery Program at Mercy Hospital Southwest are committed to helping each patient begin a new life—a life of improved health, activity, and longevity. For the three patients who share their “After Story” below, changing their lives for the better began with the decision to undergo weight loss surgery.

Brad Ochsenbein’s Story of Better Health

“I decided to have the surgery because of my health,” said Brad. “I have two kids and a wife, and I want to be around to take care of them.”

Brad has lost 210 pounds since undergoing weight loss surgery at  Mercy Southwest. “My legs and my feet were always hurting, and it was because of the extra weight,” said Brad. “I was on pain medication and medication for high blood pressure and diabetes. Now all I take is vitamins. I was hurting all the time, but now I can move around. I can walk, run, and ride a bike without pain.

Today, Brad can shop off the rack instead of special ordering clothes. “The biggest change is in the little things,” he said. “As heavy as I was, I couldn’t go to a movie theater and sit in a regular chair, but now I can. I hadn’t been able to wear a seatbelt for years, and I can get in a little compact car now instead of always driving my big truck. Now I can do the little things that everybody thinks are simple, but they weren’t simple for me."

Tina Carmona’s Story of Memory Making

“I wouldn’t sit with my children at school functions,” said Tina. “I didn’t want them to be embarrassed by me, and I didn’t want anyone to know I was their mother. But in April of this year, I sat with my youngest for freshman orientation.” Tina cherishes the memories she is making with her family. For her, undergoing weight loss surgery at Mercy Southwest means more than going from a size 32 to a size 16.                                                                                            

“I have lots of pictures of my family, but I’m not in a single one because I was too embarrassed,” said Tina. “If something were to have happened to me, my children wouldn’t have had any pictures to remember me by.” Tina choked up at the thought, but the smile quickly returned to her voice. “Now I’m in all the pictures with my family doing the things we enjoy together. For Valentine’s Day, my whole family got together and did family pictures.”

Tina thanks God for her beautiful family and for giving her a blessed and active life at home and at work. “I created a program at Aera Energy where I work,“ said Tina. “Employees can check out bikes to ride to lunch. Even though I created it, I’d never been on a bike because I couldn’t.” Each year during Bike Share Week, Aera Energy hosts a 5-day event with employees biking to a different location each day. “I always drove my car with the excuse that I had to take things to set up,” she said. “But for our last event, I had someone else drive and set up, and I rode a bike with my colleagues.” Tina will always remember the joy of that milestone.

Robert Pipkin’s Story of Lifted Weight

“When I was a much larger man – weighing 465 pounds – I was always very jovial, comedic, and upbeat,” said Robert. “But I realized after losing this weight that I was doing things to hide my inner pain. You don’t realize how miserable you are in that setting until you are taken out of it. You don’t realize your mental health is suffering. Then you realize this weight is lifted from you—both literally and figuratively.”

Robert had been diagnosed with double bigeminy palpitation. “When the heart condition kicks in, it’s like a heart attack mixed with an anxiety attack,” said Robert. “I was in the hospital overnight for treatment, and it dawned on me that construction workers use hammers to drive nails and drills to drive screws. Why had I been avoiding the help of surgery? I realized surgery was just a tool. I wouldn’t be where I am today without this tool.”

Robert and his wife discussed having surgery together, and decided Robert would lead the way. “The first week after surgery is the hardest mentally and physically,” he said. “After my wife saw my recovery, she said she wasn’t going to do it. But after that first week, she saw the change happening quickly because of my drive and determination.” Now Robert’s wife sees the benefits. “I want anybody to know they can do it if they have the drive,” he said. Robert recently completed a marathon with his wife and a friend—something he never could have done without weight loss surgery. “If I could change just one person’s mind about having surgery and help save a life, it’s worth it to me to share my story.”

Enjoy the life you were meant to have. Find out if bariatric surgery is right for you.

The physical, emotional, and health benefits of weight loss surgery can put life on a whole new path. It is a big decision, but of those who commit, no one ever wishes they’d waited longer. Our experienced surgeons, nurses and counselors support and prepare patients for success every step of the way.

If you feel like all else has failed, we invite you to attend an informational event or take our free online assessment to help determine if bariatric surgery is right for you. It could be the first day of your happily ever after.

For more information, please call 661.663.6765.