August 8, 2009
Woman sheds 130 pounds in bariatric program
Janice Tarter, who in May was uncertain if she would be able to walk again, now walks up and down stairs and back and forth to her room at Northwoods nursing center.
Tarter was the center’s first bariatric wellness program patient and is set to be released next week.
At slightly over 200 pounds now, Tarter has lost 132 pounds since her bariatric, or stomach stapling, surgery in December at University Hospital in Syracuse.
“I am happy to be up on my feet walking,” Tarter said Wednesday as she walked down the hall toward her room pushing her wheelchair in front of her.
Northwoods opened its bariatric wellness program May 19.
Besides Tarter, the program has helped three other patients recover from the bariatric surgery.
Bariatrics is a branch of medicine that treats obesity.
The surgery creates a bypass in the small intestine to decrease nutrient absorption and reduce hunger.
Tarter’s surgery had complications though. She developed a hernia in her small intestine which perforated and caused her to go into septic shock. Tarter’s doctors induced a coma for two weeks and when she awoke she could not walk.
That was when she chose to enroll in the program at Northwoods.
“I wanted good rehabilitation so I wanted to feel safe enough to trust in them and be able to get myself ready to walk,” Tarter said.
Tarter took her first steps about two months ago with her physical therapists guiding and watching her.
“I could feel they weren’t going to let me fall,” Tarter said.
“They asked me to take a step and I said can I take another and the next thing I knew I was at the end (of the exercise bar),” Tarter said.
Tarter’s daily routine involves morning and afternoon exercises in the center’s gym under constant supervision, three meals daily, which are about four teaspoons in size, and visiting with other patients and weekly cooking classes with the cafeteria’s chef.
“The best thing was when I could dress myself a month ago,” Tarter said.
Tarter can now shower herself and get around the kitchen on her own enough to be independent.
Her meals consist of vegetables, beans, mashed potatoes or meat that is cut very finely. Her breakfast may consist of cream of wheat cereal or oatmeal or scrambled egg whites and a slice of wheat toast.
Lori Satlawa, hospital liaison and licensed practical nurse at Northwoods, calls Tarter her success story.
“She is so enthusiastic and determined to do it and she is fun,” Satlawa said.
Satlawa said Tarter’s attitude makes all the difference in recovery.
Tarter said she knows she will face challenges when she goes home to Central Square to live independently for the first time in more than three months.
Tarter is still working on strengthening the left side of her body which has been weaker than her right side ever since her coma. Since Tarter is left-handed and worked in an electronics factory soldering parts together she must build the strength in her left hand to go back to work.
But Tarter is determined to keep up with her strengthening exercises, which involve weight lifts for her legs and working the muscles in her hands. She has found a good strengthening exercise for her hand is making pizza dough, something she loves to do.
Tarter said the most noticeable change is how much stronger she is both physically and mentally.
She plans to eventually weigh about 130 pounds and is confident she can do it.
“Where I am now, my mental state, and what I was before, I was doubtful about a lot of things in life. But it is up to you what road you choose and I wanted to be healthier,” Tarter said.
Tarter said in the future she would like to visit people in hospitals and encourage people on their road to recovery.
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