Patricia Alvarenga of Kings Park vividly remembers what a struggle it was to simply get through her day without feeling completely exhausted. Her husband, Manuel, tells a similar tale, saying that he needed to go home for a nap at lunchtime to get enough energy to finish his day of work. Daughter Amber, a high school athlete whose weight rose to 245 pounds during college, says that she just couldn’t find a weight loss plan that worked.
“Once you get to a certain point with obesity, it’s like a mountain that’s just too hard to climb,” explains Patricia. “The weight just keeps you down and you just don’t have enough energy to do the work you need to lose it.”
Inspired by an uncle who had success after bariatric surgery, Amber, accompanied by her parents, attended an informational seminar of the Bariatric Center of Excellence at Mather Hospital. There, she heard Program Director Arif Ahmad, MD explain how bariatric surgery can be a tool to help her regain her health and active lifestyle.
“Bariatric surgery provides patients with an effective weapon in the fight against obesity,” says Ahmad, who has performed more than 3,000 bariatric procedures, mainly at Mather Hospital. “It provides them with the tools to correct their health problems themselves. It can really change a person’s quality of life.”
Although it was Amber who initially sought out the information, her parents acted first. On the same day in February 2013, Patricia and Manuel underwent bariatric surgery, a sleeve gastrectomy and gastric bypass, respectively. Amber had her sleeve gastrectomy 10 months later.
Today, they are a family with energy to burn and each of them has lost at least 100 pounds. Amber is preparing to lace up for a half marathon this March. Manuel works out as much as he can and Patricia says she feels like she’s “turned back the hands of time.”
“I tell everyone who is thinking about bariatric surgery not to waste another day,” she says. “It really was the best decision we ever made.”