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A Second Chance for a Long & Healthy Life: A Mr. Mom's Gastric Bypass Story
The Surgery Story (Before & After Pictures)

As I struggled with my weight throughout 2001, I bumped into a stranger in a grocery store.  His first words to me were, "I hope I don't offend  you but . . ." (which, I might interject, is never good way to start a conversation with a stranger) "I had gastric bypass surgery and it saved my life.  Have you ever considered it?"  I was stunned and a little dumbfounded (after all, my shirt wasn't tucked into my pants and I thought that the blousey look minimized my hips).  I muttered that I had thought about it.  I tried to explain that I feared being laid up because I was the primary caregiver for my two daughters (who at the time were 3 and 4).  He asked me if I thought that not being around for their high school graduations was worth avoiding the temporary inconvenience that would result while recovering from gastric bypass surgery.  Well, this stranger gave me his card, told me the names of his primary care physician and surgeon and provided me information about the support group he attended.  Of course, not willing to admit that I had a problem, I kind of ignored the life-saving advice that he had given me.   

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Me at about 440 pounds

At my biggest, I wore a size 70 pants and 6x shirt
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I heard of a local surgeon named Ralph Crum who was performing laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery and who had training in critical care.  At my initial consultation, I was amazed at the good doctor's brutal honesty: that the surgery was not a magic pill but was merely a tool that would require my constant vigilence.  When another patient cancelled her surgey seven days before it was to be conducted, Dr. Crum's office called me and asked if I could be ready in a week.  My wife said that she would do whatever it took to help me and her employer was very accommodating; my sisters-in-law called to say that they would take time off from work to help me with our daughters when my wife returned to work, my parents agreed to travel from Boston to help and all of our new neighbors (we had only moved into the area a few months earlier) all volunteered to help. 

 

I was blessed-- seeing the sacrifices that so many people were willing to make for me made me appreciate the wonderful opportunity that I was being given.  A skilled and dedicated surgeon standing over me, supportive family and friends waiting to help me and a loving God watching over me brought me through the surgery and recovery with barely a minor issue arising. 

And now, I'm lighter than I've been since 1989  and healthier too-- my aches and pains are gone, my blood pressure is normal and not dependent upon medication, I sleep through the night and I am beating the demons that fueled my addiction to food.  Best of all, by being healthy, I can be a better father, husband, friend and neighbor-- all roles that I enjoy defining me.

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As my weight climbed to 500 pounds

Well, fate (not wanting me to die young) intervened and brought this stranger back into my midst a few months later.  He gently reminded me that the sooner I got serious about addressing my morbid obesity the quicker the recovery would be.  By this time, I was increasingly frustrated by my lack of energy, my need to nap every afternoon and the near constant pain I felt in my knees, feet and hips.  And, as my daughter would be starting kindergarten in the fall, I was fearful of her having to defend the fat father that the other kids would surely mock.  In short, I was hitting rock bottom-- I asked God to forgive me for what I had done to the strong and heatlhy body He had given me and I prayed that He would give me the strength so that I could forgive myself for allowing my weight (and, in turn, my life) to get so out of control.
 
So, I made my primary care appointment with the stranger's doctor and started to seriously investigate where I could have gastric bypass surgery.

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By August of 2003, I was at nearly half of my starting weight. [Photo by Don LeRoi.]