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New Beginning: Michelle’s Journey with Gastric Bypass Surgery

Posted in: Patient Stories

For Michelle Bowser, 2024 has been a year of transformation. The registered medical assistant at University of Michigan Health-West had struggled with her weight for years. Despite diet and exercise, reaching her target weight felt unattainable.

After months of research, she chose University of Michigan Health-West’s weight management program and opted for Roux-en-Y gastric bypass surgery. The procedure was conducted in Oct. 2023 by Dr. Derek Nagle of Grand Health Partners and has led Michelle to better health and improved confidence. 

Michelle says recovery hasn’t been without challenges. “I’m doing well, but still having some issues getting in all my protein, calories and water intake. My nutrition goal is 98 grams of protein daily; I’m still working to eat that much.”

But she’s making remarkable progress and has found strength from peers in a structured gastric bypass support group. “We meet weekly and people who have also had surgery help answer questions and concerns. I’ve learned a lot of people have issues with protein intake right away.”

Navigating the holiday season, with its food traditions, posed a unique challenge for Michelle. However, support from her family and friends helped her stay on track. 

“The holidays were different. Thanksgiving was a change. Instead of a full plate of food, I had just a few bites, but I knew this going into surgery,” she recalls.  “There were some yearly traditions I couldn’t do. The adjustment was hard at times, but everyone around me was supportive.” 

Now, six months post-operation, Michelle has lost more than 70 lbs., well on her way toward a goal of shedding 100 lbs. 

“I’m feeling energized for the most part after surgery. It hasn’t been easy as my nutrition and eating habits have changed— it takes time for the mind to adjust,” she said. “Instead of eating three large meals a day, I’m having six much smaller meals.”

Michelle says she’s noticed an improvement in other areas of her life. “I’m wearing clothes I haven’t worn in years. It feels better being on my feet again.” Each week after surgery brings new milestones. “Activities are becoming easier, like getting up off the floor or tying my shoe—little things I used to take for granted that became hard are easier now.”

To those contemplating weight loss surgery, Michelle offers this advice: “Be sure to mentally prepare. Take all the recommended classes. Ask questions, educate yourself.” 

Looking ahead, she envisions new possibilities. “I’m looking forward to the future—going to the gym again, getting on the treadmill, toning my body, and building some muscle.” She says her weight loss journey has given her a new outlook and hope. “My mood has improved significantly. I’m comfortable in my own skin now.”