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Inspirational Quilt: Heartwarming Story and Photo Gallery

Bariatric Patients Fashion Inspirational Quilt

By Rhonda Mann
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Staff

View the quilt photo gallery >>

When a patient climbs on the scale in the Bariatric Clinic at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, their eyes nervously wander down to take in the all important number. But then, their gaze lifts upward. On the wall in front of them hangs a colorful 10'x 10' tapestry-an inspirational quilt-motivation to continue to work toward their weight loss goal.

"Scales are for fish," says Linda Trainor, Bariatric Nurse Coordinator at Beth Israel Deaconess. "This quilt is meant to take the focus off a number and instead help people take a look at how the quality of life has changed for so many patients."

Trainor had the idea to create the quilt in a sense to, "weave together the success of our patients." She asked dozens of patients to write down what they feel they can do now that they have experienced extreme weight loss.

"The quilt helps patients share with each other in a personal and profound way and when they do that, this becomes a clinic without walls," she says.

The quilt was designed by two bariatric patients. Karen Swindell, an artist and quilter, lost 80 pounds after her surgery in January of 2008.

"I felt so indebted to the team for their help. When they asked for volunteers to put together a quilt, I thought it was the least I could do," says Swindell. She had the surgery just before turning 50, wanting to eliminate health issues like sleep apnea, high cholesterol, hypertension and back pain.

"I identified with so many things people said," notes Swindell. "Being able to tie my shoes, being able to sit on an airplane. Bringing all the thoughts together was challenging but fun."

The border of the quilt reads, "I Think I CAN, I Know I CAN, NOW I CAN." The patient sayings range from "Now I can wear my skinny sister's clothing," to "I can sit in a seat at parent's night for my child."

"I didn't realize how much I avoided shopping," says Nikki Baldwin, who had surgery in July of 2008 and lost 165 pounds in a year and a half. "Lots of people mentioned how they can now buy clothes and have fun."

Baldwin jump-started the quilt project by selecting materials and cutting fabric.

"The quilt displays the eagerness these patients have to share the little bit of themselves they got back after surgery," she says.

Perhaps the most telling part of the quilt is actually what is written on the back. It reads "This quilt is dedicated to the brave men and women who have empowered themselves through the BIDMC weight loss program. Let this inspire change…"

"No one can look at a heavy person and see who they really are," Baldwin says. "The work this program does revolutionized my life. I hope this quilt shows others that there really is hope."

View Quilt Photo Gallery

To view a photo gallery of the quilt, click here.

Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.

Posted January 2010

Contact Information

Weight Loss Surgery Center
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Shapiro Clinical Center, 3rd Floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215