FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Darcy Sliger is a devoted mother, who places the lives of her three children above all else. After the birth of her daughter in 2009, she realized that in order to take care of her children, she needed to take care of herself.

At five feet five inches tall and 284.8 pounds, Sliger was considered morbidly obese and vulnerable to the many health conditions that come with being overweight.

"I just want to be healthy," said Sliger when discussing her decision to undergo gastric bypass surgery to help her lose weight. "I have three kids that I want to see through the facts of life. I've had back problems since I was 13 years old. I need this to help take care of them and to help me take care of me."

In July 2009, Sliger took the first step toward transforming her life by attending a bariatric surgery orientation at Womack Army Medical Center.

The program is intense, requiring patients to undergo a variety of physical and psychological screenings as well as educational classes and support groups to determine if they are acceptable candidates for the procedure. They must also prove that they are willing and able to change their unhealthy habits by losing at least 10 pounds before surgery. By the beginning of September, Sliger lost eight.

"It has actually been pretty easy so far," said Sliger at one of the mandatory nutrition education classes she had to attend before surgery. "I actually got a letter saying they were going to postpone my surgery three months because I was going on vacation. Doctor Corkins (the bariatric surgery psychologist) said that most people usually gain weight on vacation. I told her nope, that I am committed and sticking to it. I don't want to jeopardize everything that I've been working toward."

Sliger went against the statistical data and lost six pounds while on vacation. She said that she owed her success to the support of her Family, changing her eating habits and exercising more.
After losing the required 10 pounds and meeting all her prescreening requirements, Sliger just had to wait for a surgery date.

"It sucks waiting. I know it is all part of the process, but I feel like I am sitting on pins and needles because I am so anxious," she said.

Her waiting paid off and she arrived for gastric bypass surgery at WAMC Oct. 6. By Dec. 4, Sliger had lost almost 50 pounds.

"The hardest part has been the kids wanting to go to McDonalds and me having to get it for them and wanting a Big Mac," she said. "I'm surprised big time by giving up soda and how much I want a Pepsi."

Today Sliger weighs 207.8 pounds. She's lost 77 pounds and went down five clothing sizes since surgery. The bariatric department's lending closet has helped Sliger augment her wardrobe as her clothing size continues to rapidly change. She said she actually enjoys clothing shopping now and has been treating herself to one of the gift cards her husband gave her each time she goes down a size.

Sliger said she still misses soda and chocolate, but that giving it up has been worth it for the changes she's seen.

"Sometimes when I walk down the stairs, my daughter looks up and says 'Mommy, you're so skinny,'' said Sliger. "I need that though because when I look in the mirror I still see myself as heavy."

She said realization hits when she tries on some of her old clothes.

"The jacket I'm wearing used to be tight on me and hard to zip up. Now, I am not only able to zip it up, but my daughter can fit in here with me," Sliger said.

Her advice to others contemplating undergoing a surgical weight loss procedure is to fully commit to everything the doctors and staff ask of you.

"What they tell you in all the meetings is true - it is a huge lifestyle change. You can't go back to the old habits you had and live the same way you did. If that's what you want, then there is no sense in getting the surgery," she said.

Sliger said what she is looking forward to most is seeing her husband when he returns from Iraq next month.

"I can't wait for him to see the difference," she said.

(Editor's note: This is part two in a series of three about Fort Bragg Family member Darcy Sliger's journey back to health and the Womack Army Medical Center's bariatric surgery team.)