Lisa’s Story: Four Doctors, Three Years, One Happy Patient

Lisa took her last insulin shot the night before weight loss surgery and is no longer considered diabetic.

Read Lisa's story about Roux-en-Y gastric bypass.

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It took a team of dedicated Premier Health physicians — and a lot of determination — to get Lisa Rue to the healthy, happy person she is today.

Lisa’s journey began in fall 2015, when she was 45 years old. She couldn’t explain the severe pain in her shoulders, neck and head during a morning walk around her Vandalia neighborhood with her daughter. The pain subsided when the walk ended, but came back during a walk the next day.

Eventually she realized the pain typically occurred when she was exerting herself, so she took her concerns to her longtime Premier Health family physician Robert Harrington, MD, at Family Medicine of Huber Heights. “Dr. Harrington was concerned and referred me to Dr. Mukul Chandra at Premier Cardiovascular Institute.” Harrington, Dr. Chandra also was worried. “He suspected I had a serious blockage in the main artery of my heart, and told his staff to find room on the schedule for a stress test the next day.” Lisa won’t forget that test. “Let me tell you, I thought I was dying right there on the treadmill.” A heart catheterization confirmed Dr. Chandra’s suspicion. Lisa’s left anterior descending artery, also known as the widow-maker, was 95 percent blocked. After a stent was placed in the artery, she remembers feeling better almost instantly.

A year later, Lisa returned to Dr. Chandra with the same pain in her shoulders, neck and head. After trying different medications and not getting the results expected, Dr. Chandra scheduled Lisa for another heart catheterization. Exactly one year and one month after he placed her stent, Dr. Chandra found that it was again 95 percent blocked. “He needed to place a stent inside my original stent to open the artery again,” Lisa explains.

Believing her heart issue was now behind her, it was time for Lisa to face another battle. Over the years, her weight had slowly crept to 273 pounds. She had tried lots of diets and lost lots of weight. But it never stayed off. “I had been warned that if I didn’t get my weight down, I could take 20 years off my life,” Lisa admits. She needed a permanent solution and hoped a free seminar at Premier Weight Loss Solutions would provide answers. Following the seminar, Lisa met privately with bariatric surgeon Joe Northup, MD, who carefully reviewed her family history and health issues. “He was so thorough and so compassionate. Because I had several co-morbidities associated with obesity, he agreed that the extra weight could shorten my life,” Lisa says.

Lisa was a prime candidate for bariatric surgery, Dr. Northup told her. Eager to lose weight once and for all, Lisa agreed, and with the help of Dr. Northup’s staff, began six months of preparation required by her insurance company. “I was mentally prepared and so eager to begin my permanent weight loss journey,” she says. But weeks before her surgery date, during pre-op testing, Lisa’s blood sugar registered off the charts. “I was doing everything to get mentally prepared, but still hadn’t done the work to get my diabetes under control.” This was a game-changer. The surgery was off.

“When Dr. Northup cancelled the surgery, I was devastated. I thought, ‘I need this surgery to survive and you won’t let me have it?’ But in reality, he was looking out for me. He and his team wanted me to be in the best health possible before surgery, which would improve my chances of a successful outcome. In their eyes, I was much more than a dollar sign.”

Twelve years prior, Lisa had been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. She had never done the work to get it under control. “I hadn’t been following my doctor’s orders, checking my blood sugar or taking the medications. I had my reasons, but it was a mistake. I was only hurting myself. And when Dr. Northup cancelled the surgery, it was the kick I needed to turn things around,” she says.

That’s when Lisa added a fourth Premier Health physician to her medical team. At her first meeting with endocrinologist Malcolm Steiner, MD, of Middletown Medical Group, she pleaded. “I begged him to help me get my blood sugar under control so that Dr. Northup would let me have the weight loss surgery.” Her A1C needed to be 8.6 before the surgery could be rescheduled. Lisa’s was over 11. With Lisa’s input, Dr. Steiner developed a plan, but it was up to Lisa to take control. It was during her visits with Dr. Steiner that Lisa learned her diabetes wasn’t just keeping her from weight loss surgery. “Dr. Steiner explained that the uncontrolled diabetes was also was the reason for my heart problem. I had no one to blame but me.”

Well on her way to proper management of her diabetes thanks to Dr. Steiner’s help, in late 2017 Dr. Northup and the staff at Premier Weight Loss Solutions welcomed Lisa’s return. This time Lisa was both mentally and physically ready for surgery. “To be safe, Dr. Chandra planned for one more heart catheterization to verify my heart artery was still clear!” Lisa says. Thankfully, it was, and Lisa finally had Roux-en-Y gastric bypass in January 2018. No longer non-compliant, Lisa woke from surgery eager to follow the rules that would restore her health.

Nine months later, more than 100 pounds lighter and no longer diabetic, Lisa enjoys life with her husband and grandchildren. Trips to the grocery or shopping are not dreaded and painful. Knee, hip and back pain no longer dictate what she can and cannot do. Together with their three grandchildren, the couple has enjoyed recent trips to the Columbus Zoo, a waterpark, and the beach, all thanks to Lisa’s newfound energy. She feels so good, “I want to share my story with anyone who doubts that working towards better health isn’t worth the effort. That’s a notion I once believed, but not anymore.”

Looking back, Lisa marvels at her determination to finally get healthy, and at the expertise and compassion of the four Premier Health physicians who got her to where she is today. “All of these doctors and their staffs were working together on my behalf. It’s hard to express how grateful I am that they cared so much.”