Joyel returns to active lifestyle thanks to UPHS – Marquette Bariatric Center

After a gastric sleeve surgery at UPHS – Marquette, Joyel has lost over 80 pounds.

MARQUETTE — Everything felt like a task for Joyel Brule. Her mobility was lacking, she didn’t want to do anything, and her lethargic attitude wasn’t allowing her to take part in many of her hobbies. Joyel’s battles with her weight even made walking across the street to get the mail a major chore. 

“I was miserable,” she said. “I didn’t do anything, didn’t want to go anywhere, and I was so depressed.”

Joyel had a gastric band procedure in 2008 in Green Bay, but complications from the surgery created issues for her over the next 10 years. But, on July 9, 2018, Joyel had her gastric band removed and underwent a vertical sleeve gastroectomy with Dr. Paul Kemmeter of UPHS – Marquette and Joyel’s issues were finally resolved. Her recovery went smoothly and she’s lost over 80 pounds while getting her life back on track in the process. 

“I can’t speak highly enough of the people at the UPHS – Marquette Bariatric Center,” Joyel said. “They have been absolutely wonderful. They supported me, and if you have a problem and call them, they call you back and get you all the help you need. There’s never been a time when you feel alone. You’re able to talk to anyone at any time.”

Joyel’s patient experience with UPHS was a welcoming one after having issues with her first gastric procedure in 2008. After the surgery, she didn’t lose any weight and began experiencing troubles with heartburn. Joyel visited UPHS – Marquette and Michelle Lexmond, PA, and it was discovered she had an excess amount of fluid inside of her gastric band and she would need to have her fluid removed. Having the fluid removed caused her weight to balloon from 180 to 248 pounds. While all this was happening, Joyel was battling with her insurance company to approve her for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy to get her weight under control, but after one unsuccessful surgery, the company was hesitant to do so.

Joyel, first from left, before undergoing surgery at UPHS – Marquette.

“I tried different things to fix my weight, like pills, but nothing worked,” she said. “In June of 2018 I decided I wanted to just pay for the surgery myself. I had enough of this, didn’t want to fight the insurance company anymore. Everything happened real fast after I said that.”

Joyel started her pre-operative diet on June 25 and kept to it for two weeks. The surgery went off without any issues, and Joyel stayed in the hospital overnight before returning home. She didn’t experience any extensive pain and went back to see Michelle for a check-up while staying on her post-operative diet. 

In addition to a successful surgery, Joyel’s insurance company eventually came around, too.

Paul Kemmeter, MD

“I had the surgery and my insurance company ended up paying for it,” Joyel said. “I made up my mind that once I thought I was going to pay it myself, I wasn’t fooling around. This time I was going to do what I have to do. Everything Dr. Kemmeter, Michelle and Amanda Bivins (UPHS – Marquette Bariatric Coordinator) told me, I listened.”

Through it all, Joyel treated the experience as a second opportunity to turn her life around. 

“I knew what I had to do because I failed gastric surgery before, and I knew this time was my last chance. If this didn’t work, then there was nothing more from me,” she said. “I had so much support from the people at Marquette. They were working with me, put so much effort into helping me and made me realize this was a commitment. I don’t think I could have done it without their support.”

Joyel’s family has noticed a change in her mood as well. Her mom is ecstatic for her and no longer has to worry about seeing her daughter miserable and overweight. Joyel’s husband is glad to see her buy the clothes she likes and fit into them better.

Michelle Lexmond, PA

She’s also gotten back to the hobbies she enjoys, such as going on walks or riding her bike, and when she goes shopping with friends, she’s no longer running out of breath. The past feelings of depression and sadness have been replaced by a renewed joy and sense of appreciation for life.

“It feels effortless,” she said. “It feels so good not to have that weight around. I look at things differently, too. I don’t have a relationship with food where it’s my enemy. I eat three times a day and limit my snacking.”

Today, Joyel isn’t shy about telling her success story to others. She’s ready to be an example of how others can change their lives through successful bariatric surgery, but she also warns of the importance of self-discipline. 

“If you want to have a sleeve, you have to be committed,” Joyel said. “A lot of people don’t want to commit to how you have to change your lifestyle. You have to be willing to go through counseling and keep to it yourself.

“But the Bariatric Center at UPHS – Marquette is fantastic and everybody who works there will go out of their way to help you. I was never so satisfied as I was up there. Go up and have a consultation and see what they say. Work with them, because they’ll work with you.”

For more information about UP Health System — Marquette’s Bariatric Medicine Services, click here or call (906) 449.1460.

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