‘There’s a Breaking Point’ – Couple Finds Life is Better after Weight Loss Surgery

Steve and Nashia Fife

When Steven and Nashia Fife met while serving in the military, they were very much the outdoorsy types. They later took their children to all the sites, hiking their way through nature.

At some point, that changed.

“We were watching nature documentaries instead of going out into the woods,” Steven said.

That wasn’t the only thing that changed. On a family trip to Disney World, Steven noticed his feet were swollen. Nashia said they’d have to go back to the hotel to rest and change clothes because the walking and the heat really got to them.

Over the years, the 10-15 pound weight gain annually took its toll. “It just felt gross,” Nashia said. “I didn’t like the way I looked, the way I felt.”

“There’s a breaking point,” Steven chimes in. “You realize, ‘I have to fix this.’”

The couple had tried “so many bad diets,” and while they may have worked short-term, the weight “comes back with a vengeance,” Steven said.

Nashia talked with a friend who had weight loss surgery and had lost a significant amount of weight. “The more I talked to her, the more I realized this was possible and might be what I needed,” she said.

She researched all the centers in Kentucky and landed on Saint Joseph East. “The Bariatric Center of Excellence was a real selling point,” Steven said.

The couple scheduled a seminar and did as much research as possible. The seminar answered a lot of questions for them and weight loss surgery went from vague concept to a point that they realized, “We can really do this.”

Through the lengthy pre-op period, the Fifes realized they needed to change a few bad habits. One of them was giving up soda, which, Nashia said, boosted her confidence. “I thought, if I can give up soda, surgery is going to be a breeze,” she said. For his part, Steven admitted never thinking surgery was going to be a breeze.

Nashia went first. Her surgery was Dec. 21, 2017. Steven asked if she really wanted to have the surgery right before Christmas. “She said, ‘that’s old thinking that I have to put this off because of food,” Steven said.

She spent the night in the hospital and had a few days of discomfort, which she countered by walking. Steven had surgery April 5, 2018. Since their surgeries, Nashia has lost 85 pounds and Steven has lost 120 pounds.

Bariatric surgery patients Steve and Nashia Fife

But the nonscale victories have been just as important and every bit as life-changing. Nashia, an adjunct faculty member at Morehead State University, found the confidence to ask for a full-time teaching assignment. She is now part of the full-time faculty, teaching all the introduction to psychology classes, at Morehead.

“It was a dream come true,” she said. “Everything kind of fell into place.”

Steven defended his master’s thesis this summer and is looking to the future with more confidence. “Once you see you can lose weight, everything else becomes possible,” he said. “This is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.”

The couple has a blog, life love and losing weight, where they share their story. They know from experience that seeing the success of others can serve as a motivation.

“My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner,” Nashia said.

For more information, visit CHI Saint Joseph Health Weight Loss Surgery and learn more about upcoming seminars.

Sleep Disorders Are Dangerous to Overall Health and Wellness

Sleep disorders

More than one-third of adults in Kentucky reported that they don’t get enough sleep. And, up to 50 percent of children in the United States will experience a sleeping problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In addition to impacting a person’s mood and ability to function normally day-to-day, a consistent lack of sleep has been linked to a number of chronic illnesses. Therefore, it’s important to treat any problems with sleeping right away to protect your overall health and wellness.

Common sleep disorders

Sleep disorders involve problems with the quality, timing and amount of sleep a person receives. The most common sleep disorders include:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Insomnia
  • Restless leg syndrome

Symptoms of these sleep disorders include snoring and frequent awakening, daytime sleepiness or fatigue, difficulty falling asleep, and increased movement during sleep, respectively.

Many health problems are associated with sleep disorders in adults and children. Researchers have found that those suffering from sleep disorders are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and coronary heart disease. They are also at a higher risk for diabetes, obesity and depression.

Sleep disorders in children

In children, sleep disorders have been shown to intensify irritability, behavioral problems, learning disabilities and poor academic performance. Shorter sleep durations can cause harmful metabolic changes, which are associated with excess body weight in children.

Diagnosing and treating sleep disorders in children right away is especially important, as sleep is crucial to a child’s mental and physical development.

Sleep disorder diagnoses and treatment

To diagnose a sleep disorder, a physician may want to observe a patient overnight and monitor for symptoms. In some cases, a diagnosis can be made simply by examining a patient’s medical history and physical health.

Most sleep disorders can be treated with lifestyle changes and other forms of therapy.

A doctor may recommend a device to keep the airway open while sleeping called a CPAP, cognitive behavioral therapy or positional therapy, as well as lifestyle changes like weight loss, wearing an oral or dental appliance, or a variety of other treatments depending on the type and severity of the sleep disorder. In very severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the disorder.

In people of all ages, having a consistent sleep schedule and making changes to your sleep habits can improve your overall sleep health. This can include sleeping in a dark, relaxing environment, abstaining from electronic devices before bedtime, and avoiding large meals and caffeine prior to sleeping.

Sleep is a basic human necessity that is crucial to health and wellness. If you or a loved one are experiencing issues falling asleep or staying asleep, visit CHI Saint Joseph Health – Sleep Care.


Pell Ann Wardrop, MD

Pell Ann Wardrop, MD, FAASM, DAAO-HNS

Dr. Wardrop is with the Sleep Wellness Center at Saint Joseph East.

Weight Loss Surgery Brings New Level of Confidence, Happiness

Laura Pollard

Laura Pollard of Elizabethtown had contemplated weight loss surgery for 10 years or more, but something always stopped her from doing it.

Finally, she convinced herself she was happy. “I thought, ‘I love me. My family loves me. My friends love me,’” she said.

She didn’t have any weight-related health issues, although she did have high blood pressure during her pregnancy. But she reached her breaking point when she could not fasten her bra. “I’m 43 years old. I do not want my kids to have to dress me,” she remembered thinking. “I think I reached the point where I was done with life the way it was.”

Learning about weight loss surgery

That was Christmas time when her weight had reached 355 pounds. She had never been to Flaget Memorial Hospital before, but decided to attend a weight loss surgery seminar there the following March.

Everything fell into place. Her insurance would cover the procedure. The surgeon recommended the gastric sleeve instead of the band, which is what many of her friends had done and most of them haven’t kept the weight off.

She lost 36 pounds between the seminar and her surgery on July 30, 2018. Over the course of the following year, she dropped more than 170 pounds. But the non-scale victories are just as big as the one shown on the scale.

“I’m way more comfortable in my skin,” Pollard said. “I’m more outgoing … just completely way more confident.”

That new level of confidence paid off in an interview for a new job, which she started in March 2019.

“It’s a whole mental game,” she said of carrying the extra pounds. “I knew that, but I don’t think I realized how much pressure I had put on myself. I would find myself looking around to see if I’m the biggest person in the room (before). Now, not only do I not do that, I realize that was unhealthy.

“I can see the changes. I can feel the changes.”

Enjoying the unexpected

She’s a lot more active. She walks two to three miles every day and watches what she eats. She’s able to ride rides at amusement parks. She’s gone hiking. She’d like to go skydiving. When she flew to Mexico with a friend, she didn’t have to have a seat belt extender on the plane.

“There were so many things I didn’t expect,” she said. “I expected the numbers to go down to be able to wear smaller clothes. But my whole outlook has changed.”

She’ll often look at photos of herself and wonder, “how did I ever let myself get there?” While she’s philosophical about the timing – that “everything works out the way it’s supposed to, when it’s supposed to” – she laments, “My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.”

For more information about Weight Loss Surgery, attend an upcoming Weight Loss Surgery seminar at one of our locations.

Vaccines Protect Against Deadly, Preventable Diseases

vaccines protect against deadly, preventable diseases

Vaccines are the safest, proven method of preventing adults and children from contracting a wide variety of potentially deadly diseases. Recently, some parents have decided to delay or refuse vaccinating their children due to misinformation about the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. However, research and real-world examples prove that it’s imperative to get vaccinated, for your own health and the health of others you come into contact with on a regular basis.

The recent resurgence of measles in the United States is just one example of how serious the consequences of being unvaccinated against these diseases can be.

Due to a decline in children being vaccinated, more than 1,000 cases of measles have been reported in the U.S. so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How does the measles virus spread?

The measles virus spreads through coughing and sneezing. A high fever is the first symptom of the virus, followed by coughing, a runny nose and red eyes. The infected person then develops a rash of tiny, red spots starting at the head and spreading down the body. The virus causes severe illness and can lead to death.

There is no treatment that can cure a patient with an established measles infection and it’s an extremely contagious virus.

It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the people in close proximity to an infected person will also become infected if they have not been vaccinated. The only way to prevent contracting measles is getting the MMR vaccine. 

When a virus invades the body, it attacks and multiplies. This invasion is called an infection, and this infection results in an illness. The immune system must fight off the infection, then antibodies catalog the signs and symptoms of the infection to recognize and fight it in the future.

Vaccines do not cause illnesses, but help the body develop an immunity to the illness by imitating infections. The vaccine trains the body to develop the same responses as it would if the infection were real. This allows the immune system to recognize and fight vaccine-preventable diseases in the future without being exposed to them.

Early vaccination, and staying current with the vaccines, is especially important in children and infants. There are currently vaccines available for children, and people of all ages, to prevent a number of diseases, including diphtheria, hepatitis A and B, influenza, measles, mumps, whooping cough, pneumococcal disease, polio, rubella, tetanus, rotavirus and chickenpox.

Most new parents have never seen the destructive results that vaccine-preventable diseases have on a family or community, which could be a reason why some choose not to have their children vaccinated.

If you or a loved one have not been vaccinated, make an appointment with a physician right away to protect yourself and others from vaccine-preventable diseases.

STEMI Alert

STEMI alert

Imagine holding your breath underwater. Now imagine that you couldn’t return to the surface. This is similar to what the heart experiences during an ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI).

STEMI is a type of heart attack that prevents a large portion of the heart muscle from receiving blood due to a blocked coronary artery. At a certain point, the lack of blood and oxygen will cause parts of the heart muscle to die.

“The longer the heart is starved for oxygen, the more muscle will be affected by the heart attack,” said Paula Fox, director of heart and vascular care at CHI Saint Joseph Health.

Quick treatment for STEMI to unblock arteries can help prevent lasting damage to the heart and result in better outcomes for patients. That’s why CHI Saint Joseph Health took part in the Regional Systems Accelerator II Project, led by Duke Clinical Research Institute and the American Heart Association.

Minutes matter

As part of the project, CHI Saint Joseph Health implemented a STEMI alert system that helped streamline the process for recognizing and treating STEMI cases. It also required extra training for emergency medical services providers so they could administer care during ambulance rides to the hospital.

Since the system was implemented, the average time for patients to complete treatment has decreased from 78 minutes after arriving at the hospital to only 43 minutes after arriving.

Education initiatives have also helped the community recognize signs of heart attack, the importance of calling an ambulance and how to administer hands-free CPR during emergencies.

To learn more, visit CHI Saint Joseph Health Heart & Vascular Care.

“There’s not a single aspect of life that isn’t better”

At 417 pounds, life was becoming difficult for Chris Rogers of Paris.

“Everyday tasks were becoming a struggle – getting dressed, tying shoes, going out to eat,” he said. “Luckily, I didn’t have too many medical problems.”

But he was uncomfortable, and Rogers could tell the extra weight was interfering with his everyday tasks and he knew it could eventually lead to health problems.

Years ago, he had attended a weight loss surgery seminar but it wasn’t a priority for him.

That changed when Annabelle Leigh Rogers came along. When she was 2, Chris was unable to go on a field trip with her to a pumpkin patch due to having to work.

“One of the things that struck me was that one of the chaperones took my daughter down the slide. If I had gone as a chaperone, I couldn’t have done that because of my weight,” he said. “I decided she would never miss out on something because of me and my weight issues.”

So he attended another seminar at the Center for Weight Loss Surgery at Saint Joseph East and, this time, it was a priority for him.

The team, Rogers says, “gives you every tool you need and the steps to follow to lose weight.”

Rogers after weight loss surgery

He went from 417 pounds at his peak and lost 37 pounds before surgery in June 2018. By June 2019, he had lost 201 pounds.

“Life is amazing,” Chris said. “There’s not a single aspect of life that isn’t better because of my weight loss.”

He rides bicycles with his daughter. They walk. They run. She sits on his shoulders now.

“She’s not missed out on a single thing yet,” he said. “We really enjoy the quality time. We still spend the same amount of time together, but the activities are different.

“It’s a game-changer.”

Everything has changed. When dining out, he and his family are able to sit in a booth again – he was so heavy before, the family had to wait for a table when dining out. He can sit two people to a golf cart. His bowling game is better.

He and wife Emily are looking forward to vacation with Annabelle this year.

“I haven’t been to a theme park in years and I want to ride roller coasters this year,” he said. “I’m excited about going to the beach and being able to walk around the beach.”

At work as a social service aide in Bourbon County, he has more confidence. In fact, he was the 2019 nominee for the Boni M. Frederick Social Services Aide Award for the Northern Bluegrass Service Region.

“My only regret is waiting so long to do it,” Rogers said of weight loss surgery.

He said there was a little pain, but “I recovered super-fast. It’s worth the money. It’s worth the pain.”

For more information, visit CHI Saint Joseph Health Weight Loss Surgery and learn more about upcoming seminars.

Just Keep Swimming

child in swimming pool with goggles

Otitis externa can turn a day at the pool into a doctor’s visit, but you can keep swimming all summer long with the right prevention and treatment tips.

Better known as swimmer’s ear, otitis externa is an infection that can develop when water becomes trapped in your outer ear canal after swimming.

“The moist environment enables bacteria to grow,” said Jessica Pennington, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Berea. “You can also get swimmer’s ear by placing foreign objects in your ear canal, such as cotton swabs or hearing aids.”

Swimmer’s ear occurs more often in children and can cause itching, redness and a clear, odorless drainage. Pulling or touching the outer ear can also be painful for people with swimmer’s ear.

Child ear exam

To avoid this condition, clean ears with a warm cloth after taking a dip. This helps clear water, bacteria and fungi from your ear canals. Drying the outer ear thoroughly after cleaning also helps prevent swimmer’s ear.

Despite your best efforts, it’s not unusual to develop swimmer’s ear every once in a while, especially if you love the water.

“Swimmer’s ear shouldn’t prohibit you from having fun,” Dr. Pennington said. “It’s easily treatable with ear drops and antibiotics, if necessary.”

If you have swimmer’s ear, call 859.313.2255 to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider.

Jackie Shares Cancer Treatment and Care at Flaget Memorial Hospital

wayne and martha spalding

Pictured: Wayne and Martha Spalding

When Jackie Spalding’s husband Wayne chose CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget Memorial Hospital for his treatment, she knew that opened the door to high quality medicine and fast appointments.

She also knew that would give Wayne, who had late-stage gallbladder cancer, a sense of normalcy.

“When you’re a cancer patient, you want to live as normal as you can,” said Jackie, a nurse at Flaget Memorial Hospital, where she’s worked for 35 years. “That normalcy is hard to come by. Your life is so directed by treatments.”

The cancer center was just a quick drive from home, and Jackie was able to both work and be by her husband’s side during his appointments.

Being at Flaget Memorial Hospital also meant that if Wayne needed fluids, they wouldn’t have to face the downtown Louisville traffic and parking. “If you can get a bag of fluids in four hours as opposed to 12 hours, that’s a big deal,” Jackie said.

Choosing the cancer center also meant that Wayne could get treatment alongside his mother Martha, who was being treated for colon cancer.

“Chemo day was a party,” Jackie said. The family would gather around, laugh and tell stories.

The nurses and volunteers joined in, too, Jackie said. “They’d always get me to laugh, even on bad days.”  

After about nine months of battling the disease, Wayne passed away on August 3, 2018.

Jackie said she’ll always remember the warmth and love that they received at Flaget Memorial Hospital’s cancer care center.  

Being there “felt like going home,” she said.

Learn more about the CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center at Flaget Memorial Hospital. For more information on how you can help today, visit Flaget Memorial Hospital Foundation’s Project Hope.

Health From the Outside In

sunscreen

Summer is the season of sunshine, but basking in the warm rays may put you at risk for developing skin cancer, the most common type of cancer affecting Americans.

“When we lay out to tan, we increase our chances of developing skin cancer, especially if we are already at high risk,” said Monte E. Martin, MD, medical director, CHI Saint Joseph Health – Cancer Care Center in Bardstown. “If you have light skin, blue or green eyes, blonde or red hair, freckles, large moles, or a history of cancer yourself or in your family, protecting your skin is especially important.”

A plan for prevention

woman gardening

To help your skin stay as healthy as possible:

Cover up. Choose lightweight clothing that covers your arms and legs and a hat to protect your face and head when you are outside.

Have a check up. Talk with your primary care provider about regular skin cancer screenings.

Lather your skin. Opt for broad-spectrum sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) 30 or higher. Reapply throughout the day, especially after sweating or swimming.

Seek shade. Stay out of the sun during peak hours in the midday, or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Keep an eye out. If you notice a spot or growth on your skin that is new or has changed in color, size or texture, see your primary care provider.

Wear sunglasses. This favorite summer accessory can block out ultraviolet A and B rays.

To schedule a skin cancer screening, call 859.313.2255.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.

Get a Jump Start on the School Year

Get a jump on the school year

Summer reading? Check. School supplies? Check. Your child’s health? Check.

With school starting soon, many parents find themselves busy helping prepare their children for the new academic year. One vital to-do is your child’s yearly wellness exam.

“It’s always a good idea to see your child’s pediatrician yearly to make sure he or she is staying healthy,” said Clair Palley, MD, CHI Saint Joseph Medical Group – Primary Care in Lexington. “Scheduling children’s exams while they are out of school is not only more convenient for parents but also helps keep children healthy in the upcoming year.”

During a back-to-school visit, your child’s pediatrician will check his or her development and growth, and you can address any concerns you may have about your child’s health.

“These wellness visits aren’t just for physical wellness,” Dr. Palley said. “Doctors address children’s mental and emotional health during this visit, as well.”

Community immunity

During yearly wellness visits, Dr. Palley also recommends using this opportunity to ensure your child receives all vaccinations on time.

“Vaccines not only help protect the people getting them but also the people around them from getting sick,” she said. “There are some people who cannot receive vaccines, such as those who are allergic to the ingredients. Vaccinating yourself helps keep you from spreading diseases to other people.”

As best as you can, adhere to your child’s recommended immunization schedule. Staying up to date on vaccinations promotes wellness in both your child and community.

Growing together

wellness visit

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children receive care at a facility from a provider who knows their full medical history and maintains a relationship with them as they grow. Back-to-school visits are an excellent way to help your child build that relationship with his or her pediatrician and will also lead to better care later in life.

“Physicians call that kind of facility a medical home,” Dr. Palley said. “It’s important to me to provide that for my patients. Keeping children healthy allows them to participate fully in life, and having their regular checkups helps them do so in a happy, healthy way.”

Athlete awareness

Does your child play a sport, or want to in the upcoming school year? Many schools require sports physicals before the season begins.

During a sports physical, your child’s provider will take a medical history and perform a physical exam. The provider can address any health concerns that may affect his or her ability to play and offer advice on how to prevent sickness or injury during the season.

Even if your school does not require a physical before your child can play sports, the Nemours Foundation recommends your child receive a sports-specific physical in addition to a yearly physical.

Need to schedule an appointment with a pediatrician? Call 859.313.2255 or visit our online provider directory to schedule an appointment near you.

This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.