My battle with weight began at a very early age. I was a large child with an even larger stature. While growing up being taller than most kids, there was a stigma that I was just “big.” The perception of society for “big” kids references not only refers to height, but also weight. I have come to realize that most people in conversations don’t differentiate between the two—being "big" has become a polite way of saying fat. Hearing this most of my childhood, I began to associate my “big” size with acceptance. Phrases like, “He’s just big” or “You’re a big boy” shaped my self-image of my size and created a tolerable attitude to being overweight.
The increase in weight made everything much more difficult. I realized my quality of life was deteriorating in almost every aspect. From a medical perspective, I began taking medication for increased blood pressure. I had to consult with a pain management doctor to attempt to alleviate back pain, with little success. I experienced turmoil sleeping as I had sleep apnea and snored constantly throughout the night. My doctors ran tests and determined that I was a pre-diabetic and would soon need diabetes management. I began getting unexplained migraines that made it impossible to function. The scariest experience I have had was when I developed a massive blood clot in my leg. The doctors were not able to contribute the cause to anything other than weight. The blood clot turned into a pulmonary embolism resulting in constant shortness of breath, and I couldn’t take more than two steps without sweating. I was afraid I was going to die. Another significant realization was that medical equipment couldn’t accommodate my size. Although I had signs of a pulmonary embolism I was not able to fit inside a MRI machine to diagnose. I was angered, outraged, and hurt when it was suggested I may have to go use the “zoo’s” medical equipment due to my size.
A year later after my surgery, I have lost more than 200 pounds! My successes have been challenging and slow at times. I never understood (or was taught) that to change the way people viewed me required dedication to losing weight, which has always (and still does at times) created internal battles. I have learned that the surgery in itself is not a cure all. The surgery is the tool and the way to drastically lose weight, but the process is much more than that. After the surgery, you don't just face different eating habits but a dramatic lifestyle change.
The surgery for me was fairly non-eventful and my recovery time was rather quick. I did not experience much nausea and, overall, my body tolerated the changes well. I have not encountered physical complications related to the surgery and have been overly pleased with the outcome. I am not the picture perfect weight loss success story. At times I still struggle with issues that arise. I haven't always followed the rules, I occasionally eat things that aren't suggested, and I don't always make time to exercise. However, I continue to make small changes in my lifestyle and my mental and emotional processes to be successful post-surgery. I have developed healthier eating habits, including portion sizes. I am grateful for the opportunities that the surgery has given to me and my relationships. I enjoy watching my kids grow and can actively be involved in their interests and the activities we do together. I have begun to be more successful at maintaining exercise habits, although still limited at times. I’m no longer on blood pressure medication and many others. I have maintained employment and can finally say my weight is not a limiting factor in my abilities to perform. I currently weigh 315 pounds and I'm still losing weight. The benefits from my surgery well outweigh the lifelong struggles. I feel great and think I look that way, too!
JT was always considered a large-boned child. By the time he reached high school, he weighed approximately 300 pounds. JT disregarded his size because he was an athlete and he needed to be big for his sport. After graduating from college and getting married, his weight continued to climb as he and his wife socialized and indulged in food-centric activities. At his heaviest, JT weighed in at 420 pounds, a weight that prevented him from engaging in almost any physical activity.
The first time JT visited The Woodlands Hospital Bariatric Surgery, he reported taking seven medications, three times a day. Additionally, JT suffered from polycystic kidney disease (PKD) and was told by his nephrologist that he would require dialysis within two years and a kidney transplant within four years. On March 26, 2015, JT had laparoscopic gastric sleeve surgery. He responded well to surgery and was able to return home within two days. Less than a year later, JT has lost 155 pounds, weighing 265 pounds with a goal weight of 250 pounds. The transformation has been amazing and his energy and stamina have skyrocketed. He reports working on a tractor, clearing trees, and doing manual labor for 10 hours a day, something he would never have dreamed he could do just two years ago. He feels like he has a new lease on life.