Vickie's Weight Loss Journey: From Donuts in Darkness to New Self-Worth and Camping Adventures

Vickie Pickreign side by side photos, before the surgery and after, showing weight loss and body differences

Vickie Pickreign said she spent years using food as a source of comfort. She admitted she used to be a people-pleaser and often ate when feeling out of control, sad or disappointed. After a challenging divorce from a 30-year marriage, Vickie became depressed and began to eat more and put on weight.

“I was an emotional eater,” Vickie said. “I ate my feelings instead of choosing another way to deal with life’s challenges.” 

In 2019 Vickie began her journey to lose weight. She was 283 pounds at the time. After six months she went down to 258 but found herself at a standstill again. Then, she visited the Baptist Weight-Loss Center to discuss options. At first, she didn’t want to have surgery. So, she tried medication.

Vickie Pickreign before her weight loss surgery journey

 “I tried two different medications for a while,” Vickie said. “Both made me feel sick. Sometimes I vomited from it and from being on other medication for my high blood pressure. I visited a specialist with another group (not Baptist) and even looked at reconstructive options, but none were right for me. One individual made me feel so low that after our consultation, I spiraled into a three-day, deep depression where I sat in the dark, eating donuts and contemplating my life’s worth. Thankfully, after those three days, I emerged from that terrible fog and decided to choose a new way, a new beginning for myself.”

After that last episode and not wanting to continue the medication, Vickie revisited the surgery options at Baptist Weight-Loss Center. She met with the team there in June of 2023 and agreed to have sleeve gastrectomy surgery. Vickie’s surgery occurred on Sept. 26, 2023, at the new Baptist Hospital campus. She was 236 pounds on the day of surgery. Vickie was the first patient to have bariatric surgery on the new campus.

“It was so fitting that I was the first patient to have bariatric surgery on the new campus,” Vickie said. “It was the day I was beginning my new life and a path to better health.”

Vickie Pickreign on the day of her bariatric surgery in the new Baptist Hospital

Vickie said that she has gained self-respect and self-control in addition to losing pounds. Her goal weight was to be under 190, and she achieved that within four months of having surgery.

“I learned that I don’t have to be perfect, that I just need to be healthy,” Vickie said. “My self-worth is so much better now. I realized how little I thought of myself because I was overweight. Our society puts that in our brains and makes us think our worth is tied to our weight. But it’s up to us, and it was up to me to change my mind.”

Vickie said life has been more comfortable for her since surgery. She and her now husband, Eric, spend time camping and traveling in their RV. During previous trips, Vickie would be so uncomfortable sitting for long periods. Her legs would swell often. On some adventures, she needed oxygen because she had trouble breathing.

“Previously, my husband and I had to stop often for two reasons—because of me going to the bathroom frequently and my legs swelling,” Vickie said. “I would get so tired, and my body hurt often. Since the surgery, we may not need to stop at all. I can curl up my legs in my seat. My seatbelt doesn’t cut into my body anymore. I can sit with my legs crossed and be comfortable.”

Vickie and her husband have plans to visit all 17 military campgrounds in the U.S. after he retires a second time later this year. She looks forward to traveling adventures and even eating out now with family and friends. She jokes about how much money she’s saving by sharing meals with her husband and being able to eat less.

Vickie Pickreign after her bariatric surgery and close to her goal weight

Vickie said that the Baptist Weight-Loss Center staff and the care team members who helped her during and after her surgery left a lasting impression on her.

“The staff at Baptist was beyond awesome – beyond anything I could have imagined,” Vickie said. “Everybody – from the people who supported me at the Weight-Loss Center in the beginning to the post-surgery care team who brought me food, to the people who took out the trash, to the nurses who cleaned up after me – they were awesome and understood what I was going through. They were heartfelt, kind people and were with me every second. I could not have asked for nicer people during my surgery and my vulnerable moments after. I’m so appreciative of them. I recommend the weight-loss surgery 100%. It saved my life. I’m thankful every day.”

Vickie bought herself a post-bariatric surgery silver bracelet to wear daily. She often looks down at her wrist and its symbol as a reminder of her decision to choose health and empowerment.

Bariatric bracelet that Vickie wears explaining that she had the bariatric surgery, a symbol of knowledge and empowerment

Now, Vickie shares her experiences to help others and be a source of hope. “Take a chance and consider weight-loss surgery,” Vickie said. “You’re taking a chance with your life anyway by staying overweight and risking your health. So, bet on yourself and a better life.”

Contact the Baptist Weight-Loss Center to put more adventures in your life, as Vickie did. We’re here to support you and help you on your health journey.