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  • Last modified 31 days ago (Sept. 20, 2018)

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Surgery gives woman new outlook

Staff writer

Vickie Jirak of Ramona was obese and had been contemplating stomach reduction surgery for years but was afraid of dying on the operating table. Then she realized she might die without it.

She was physically healthy and most of her children were grown, but she had a 13-year-old son, Elias, who needed her to be there for him.

“I became afraid that I would die if I didn’t do it,” she said. “My knees hurt when I was standing. I couldn’t stand and wash dishes.”

She had made attempts at weight loss in the past and experienced ups and downs, losing 100 pounds, gaining 150 pounds, losing 150 pounds, gaining 100 pounds.

She weighed 380 pounds in spring 2017 when she finally decided to have the surgery.

She prepared for it for four months, during which time she was evaluated and met with a nutritionist, life coach, and her primary doctor.

The gastric-sleeve surgery was done in June 2017 in Lenexa. Half of her stomach was removed.

“It’s been 15 months, and I’m down to 170 pounds,” Jirak said. “I can stand up and do my dishes. I can pick up my house. I feel like a normal person.”

She said she can eat most anything without experiencing stomach problems, but she’s learned a new way of eating.

She tries to avoid sugar, eats food that is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, and has eliminated snacking.

“I eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and that’s it,” she said. “I’m an addict, so I try to keep things structured.”

Jirak was slim and active in high school. She claims the record for most points scored in a Centre High School girls’ basketball game, 37 points in 1983.

She began gaining weight after she married her husband, Steve, and got pregnant. “That’s how it all started,” she said. “I couldn’t stop eating.”

She learned that her problem was more mental than physical.

“My life coach has been the biggest help,” she said. “I went to her before the surgery, and I think I might continue to see her. She helped me understand my eating disorder. I think I’m passed the ups and downs. I don’t have that anymore.”

Jirak walks two miles a day.

“My doctor says my weight is where it should be, but I would like to lose another 15 pounds to get out of the ‘overweight’ category on weight charts,” she said.

She is contemplating plastic surgery to remove excess skin, which could help her reach her goal.

“It was definitely worth it,” Jirak concluded. “People have to realize it could all come back. They say you have a honeymoon of one year, and by then, if you’ve adjusted to your new life, you can keep it off. That’s what I expect to do.”

Last modified Sept. 20, 2018

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