Quadriplegic Gets Gastric Sleeve Surgery to Shed Baby Weight

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Out of all the side effects that come with a spinal cord injury, one of the most frustrating is weight gain that no matter what you do, never seems to go away. That was the reality for Christa Cairus, a C6-7 quadriplegic who has had 4 babies since her injury. After trying countless diets and exercise regimens, she finally took the leap to undergo surgical intervention to make her weight loss dream a reality.

Injury, and Subsequent Babies

Life has an uncanny way of taking you on paths you never would’ve expected, and that is exactly what happened to Christa on June 27th, 2010, when she was t-boned by a firetruck. The accident resulted in her sustaining a C6-7 spinal cord injury at the age of 20, but Christa wasn’t ready to give up on her dreams of marriage and having children.

Four years later on November 28th, 2014, she was married, and the following year in 2015, her first son was born. “I think I’ve gained around 15 to 20 pounds with that pregnancy,” she says. “I was always fairly active and could lose a few pounds here and there but I could never get to my goal weight.” Over the next 12 years, Christa had three more children, gaining weight with each pregnancy. Her children are currently 13, 8, 5 and 1.

Over the years of having her children, Christa tried various diets all without success. “I tried the vegetarian diet twice, the Mediterranean/pescatarian, and the keto diet as well. I seemed to have a lot of luck with the keto diet because it focuses on more protein, but I struggled with the concepts of consuming more fats. High fat/protein diets can work great, but they can be difficult to follow.”

“The hardest part of losing weight is sticking with a plan when the scale isn’t moving,” she adds. “It’s hard to continue what you are doing when you don’t see very much progress.”

Opting for a Gastric Sleeve

Determined to not give up on her quest to lose her stubborn baby weight, Christa decided to explore surgical options. “I decided my next plan of action would be the gastric sleeve surgery after meeting with countless doctors nutritionists last year. Originally, the plan was to give Ozempic a try to see if it would help with weight loss, but insurance would not cover it and it was very expensive.”

Christa and her doctor next explored surgical options and agreed that gastric sleeve surgery would be appropriate for her, but only in conjunction with a high protein diet and high activity levels. Gastric sleeve surgery removes approximately 75% of the stomach, leaving a much smaller stomach that is the size of a sleeve or banana. This diet helps people feel fuller much quicker, and lasts throughout the day.

“My goal is to lose 97 pounds in total. My starting weight was 247 pounds and my goal weight is to reach 150, but I would be happy to be sitting at 160ish.” Christa adds, “I came to this number because that’s my per-pregnancy weight before I had all my babies and I feel this number would help make transfers much easier.”

She also consulted with 3 doctors and 2 nutritionists over the course of the last 2 years before undergoing the surgery last September. “Now that I am sleeved, I meet with my surgeon every 2 months and my nutritionist.” She is well on her way and 4 months later, she’s 42 pounds away from her goal. Christa says the easiest part of her gastric sleeve weight loss journey has been working out and staying active. “Fitness has always been something that I enjoy.” One of her favorite ways to work out is with Zumba. “It is very accommodating and fun!”

And her kids and husband have been her cheerleaders. “My family has been very supportive, especially knowing that I have to eat a very specialized diet compared to what everyone else is eating. My husband is good about helping me meal prep and finding new high protein recipes.”

“Lastly, I would say the most exciting benefit of this weight loss journey is actually seeing dramatic progress as a result of all of my hard work. My surgery was that little push that I really needed!”

— Follow Christa at https://www.instagram.com/roll_andsparkle/


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