Columbus, OH,
15:00 PM

From associate to patient: A journey toward health

It’s the little things — buying a new outfit, going for a run or eating your favorite ice cream.

For Kim Gepper, executive assistant to Lisa Biegler, chief nursing officer, OhioHealth Dublin Methodist Hospital and OhioHealth Grady Memorial Hospital, the “little” things were no longer possible. At 50 years old, five-feet-tall Kim was overweight and it had impacted every aspect of her life.

“I was struggling to find a diet. Nothing was inspiring me,” says Kim.

With an admitted food addiction, Kim found it hard to commit to healthy eating. That is, until Kim’s father went into the hospital. As she stood by his side, she realized it was time to do something about her weight. She vowed to find a solution that would lead her to a healthier lifestyle.

Kim's friend, Jill Nolan, nurse navigator with the OhioHealth Weight Management program, suggested bariatric surgery and for the first time, she felt hopeful — and scared.

As she began her health journey in April 2014, Kim was required to visit with many physicians.

“My insurance required four nutrition appointments, two psychiatrist appointments and many medical tests to ensure I could handle the surgery,” she says.

In addition, Kim had to mentally prepare for what would ultimately become a healthier lifestyle.

In December, she arrived at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital for surgery to be performed by Thomas Sonnanstine, MD, medical director for Bariatric Surgery with OhioHealth Surgical and Medical Weight Management.

“The first day, you have nothing at all to eat. The second day, you have small sips of water,” says Kim, who basically was on a liquid diet for the next two weeks.

“Nothing I ate could be thicker than the consistency of milk,” she says. “After that, you progress to pureed foods, and eventually, start eating normally. But the amount you eat has drastically changed.”

The first year after surgery, the majority of the weight came right off. But now, Kim explains, all of the work is on her, and she has committed to yet one more aspect of her health: a steady workout program.

Today, when Kim eats, she knows to slow down and allow her body to feel full. Her current, healthier lifestyle has once again impacted all aspects of her life — at work and at home. As of January 2016, Kim had lost 96 pounds.

It’s also changed her perspective. While before her surgery she knew of the wonderful work our physicians and nurses do every day, she now has experienced firsthand the dedication and care they give all of their patients.

“It’s always fun to see people I’ve not seen in a while,” she says. “The first question they ask is, ‘Is that really you?’ ”

In addition to wanting to lose 25 more pounds, Kim has one more goal: go shopping to buy an outfit for her son’s July wedding that fits her as it should, rather than wearing something because it’s her only option.

“This has been quite a journey, but it has been an unbelievable blessing.”