“Don’t lose focus on yourself, it’s so important for the long range plans you have for your children, and your family.”
Unlike many people who turn to bariatric surgery for weight loss, Bernadette Tierney did not struggle with weight issues for most of her life. It was only over the last 17 years that she gained a significant amount of weight for the same reason many women do: she was so busy taking care of her family that she neglected her own needs.
“My son was diagnosed with autism,” Bernadette explains. “So I became this really great advocate for my son, and along the way I lost myself. I could manage his care and make sure he had the best providers, but I wasn’t so worried about whether I was still active.”
After a 3-year bout with Lyme’s Disease, which was misdiagnosed with serious health complications, Bernadette realized that her weight had ballooned, and this former competitive tennis player was using a cane to walk.
In October 2012, when Bernadette arrived at Saint Agnes for her gastric bypass surgery, she weighed 280 pounds. She came in using her cane, and was taking 15 medications for various health issues. Just over one year later, she has lost 115 pounds, is down to just two medications, and has long since thrown away the cane.
In her long recovery and transformation following surgery, Bernadette celebrates what she calls the “non-surgical victories” – such as riding in an airplane without a seat belt extender, or being able to use a normal size bathroom stall in a public restroom.
And her sights are set on reclaiming her athletic lifestyle. A few years ago she had received a tennis racket for her birthday, and she gave it away in the belief she would never play tennis again. “I am looking forward to purchasing a new tennis racket, and playing competitively again,” Bernadette says proudly.
She strongly advises all women, particularly mothers of special needs children, to never neglect their own health, even when they are caring for others. “Don’t lose focus on yourself,” Bernadette says. “It’s so important for the long range plans you have for your children, and your family.”