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April 10, 2008
Date of Surgery April 26, 2004
It’s hard to believe where I have been and where I am now. I never thought I would live to my present age. You see, I once weighed 489 pounds (326 kilos.) My BMI was 68;. I had type II diabetes and was on medication for that; and I also had high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, acid reflux disease, and onset kidney disease. I had trouble getting into a booth at a restaurant, driving a car (couldn’t get the seat belt on), flying in an airplane or just walking. I feared running into children the most. They would point at me and/or whisper to their parents. I always knew what they were saying even though I could not read their lips—“He’s so FAT mommy.” I could see the look of disgust on peoples’ faces when they saw me for the first time. I learned to ignore them but I could never get that "look" out of my mind. I had tried every diet known to man and failed every time. Weight Watchers™, Overeater’s Anonymous™, liquid protein, Medifast™, and many more, all with the same result—failure. I had lost all hope.
Then I met Dr. Ren. After many months of preparation I had gastric band surgery and I now weigh 285 pounds (123 kilos) and my BMI is now 40. I am still classified as obese but I hope to be just “overweight” shortly. A year or so from now I expect to be at, or near, my “normal” weight. I know I will have to face the issue of excess skin at some point, as I have about 40 pounds of skin to contend with, but that is a minor issue right now. I have not taken a single diabetes medication since my gastric banding operation in April of 2004. My A1c now hovers around 5.5 to 5.7, which is where it should be for a non-diabetic. My pressure is now almost normal. I still have to take Ace-inhibitors (Analapril) because of onset kidney disease in order to keep my kidneys stable and Zetia for my cholesterol. Other than that, I have no major medical issues. One of my greatest achievements, as silly as it may sound, was when I was able to wear underclothes for the first time in many years. When I proudly told this to Dr. Ren she smiled because she knew how far I had come. And, of course, I always get a big "rush" whenever I put on an old pair of pants. When I do, I can't believe I was actually that big. Success is measured by many small victories like this.
That is not how I measure progress however. I now fit in everywhere—cars, airplanes, and seat booths. People no longer point their finger at me and whisper. I have no problem walking, even great distances. I enjoy my life now. I write and I work. Writing things like this, for example, gives me inspiration to go even further. Whenever I see people in the condition I was in, I want to talk to them. I want to tell them what I have gone through. I want to tell them there is hope, not fake hope, but real hope. Sometimes I did talk to them and, like my earlier attempts at losing weight, I always failed. I then realized the cause of my failure. All of these people were in a constant state of denial, much like drug addicts or alcoholics. Something or someone else was always responsible for their condition, not they themselves. They did not want to face the truth or were not prepared to do so. Now I have come to understand that they have to take the first step in order to be successful. I cannot do it for them. Nobody can. I think the term for this understanding is called wisdom.
If you are reading this, or have attended one of Dr. Ren’s seminars, you may have already taken that necessary step of facing up to the truth. I know that this is a difficult step. I say may, because you probably have questions and are not sure that this is the right thing to do. I can only speak for myself of course, but it was the best thing I have ever done. If you are morbidly obese; if every diet you have ever tried failed or, after a successful diet you have regained all of the lost weight and perhaps more; and, if you have serious medical problems, let me assure you that it is the right thing to do. You may hear “horror” stories about bariatric surgery. I know I did. Most, if not all of these stories, are associated with bypass surgery. Gastric banding surgery is different. It is safer by far, with less complications and it can be reversed. Bypass surgery can almost never be reversed. That is not to say that there are no problems and/or no fatalities with the gastric band. There are. Every operation, even the simplest of procedures, carries with it some element of risk. The question you must ask yourself is this: “What will happen if I don’t get the operation?” In most cases, the answer is, very simply, that you will die, many years before you should. You must weigh the certainty of this happening against the possible risks you may face during and after gastric banding. In almost every case the answer is a no-brainer.
However, most of the problems associated with gastric banding are self-inflicted. You must be committed to following your medical team’s instructions and see them on a regular basis. And, NEVER be afraid to see them if you are having problems. In most cases, you will not even need an appointment. Some of you will try “to eat around” the gastric band. Let me assure you that it doesn’t work. It is like having a nagging wife that is always watching you and, unless you like throwing up or still want to gain weight, I don’t suggest you do it. Above all, you must associate yourself with surgeons whose record of success speaks for itself. Drs. Ren and Fielding’s record in this field (no pun intended)is outstanding. Dr. Fielding is himself a bit unusual because he is a gastric banding patient, as well as a bariatric surgeon.
I hope this has helped and inspired you. Always keep in the back of your mind that the operation is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. It is NOT a miracle cure although it may seem to be to you right now. It will take hard work and committment (there's that word again.) You may have setbacks and/or problems. Do not let that deter you. Always keep your goal in mind. You may fall down, but there is no known law of nature or physics that says you cannot pick yourself up and start again.You can only fail if you give up.
If you need additional help you can get it on Dr. Ren’s web site, from your surgeon and from various support groups. I wish I could speak with each and every one of you and answer your questions. Since that is not possible, this is the next best thing.