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Gene and Heather's Story Gastric Sleeve Surgery

When Gene and Heather got married, they wanted to enjoy an active life together. They chose to have gastric sleeve surgery together at the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Bariatric Center — the only Bariatric Center of Excellence in Southeast Texas. Today, they’re 230 lbs lighter.

The Jannises struggled with weight for years, and by early 2014, Gene and Heather, parents of four, each weighed 320 pounds. “I developed diabetes and sleep problems, including narcolepsy and sleep apnea,” says Gene, a network administrator/IT coordinator at the Lower Neches Valley Authority. “I had trouble staying awake during the day. I had no energy.” As an electrical technician at a local Goodyear facility, Heather often struggled with the active nature of her job.

“When I was overweight, it was difficult to get to equipment in tight places and climb ladders,” Heather says. “Gene and I love to fish, but I used to be scared of falling out of the boat because I couldn’t have gotten back in if I’d gone overboard.”

Seeking a Surgical Solution

The Jannises tried dieting and had success, but the weight eventually returned. When Gene’s endocrinologist suggested he have weight-loss surgery, Heather began researching the procedure for her and her husband.

“We do everything together,” Heather says. “I’m a firm believer that if one spouse is dieting or trying to get healthy and the other isn’t, it’s not going to work.”

In December 2013, Gene and Heather met with Jerome Schrapps, M.D., medical director of the CHRISTUS Southeast Texas Bariatric Center, to begin the weight-loss surgery process. During two months of preparation for their sleeve gastrectomy procedures, the couple received plenty of support from the center’s medical team.

“We follow guidelines established by the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery,” Dr. Schrapps says. “These include preoperative evaluations by a dietitian, mental health professional, primary care physician and bariatric surgeon.”

Energy to Spare

Heather and Gene had their surgeries on the same day in February 2014. Afterward, the bariatric team was always there for them as they adjusted to exercising regularly and eating small, healthful portions.

“The center had educated us on what and how much to eat after the operations, so we felt pretty prepared,” Gene says. “However, anytime we encountered a problem, all we had to do was call the center and speak with someone.” The couple has experienced fantastic results: Gene has lost 102 pounds, no longer takes medication for diabetes and has no more trouble with chronic fatigue. Heather has lost 143 pounds and stopped taking blood pressure medication. Now, they motivate each other to go to the gym. “I have enough energy to keep up at work, play with the kids and fish all day without being exhausted when I come home,” Heather says. "Everything - my health and quality of life - has improved."