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rnDr Kemmeter is awesome. So nice and professional with a great bedside manner. His skill as a surgeon is unsurpassed. because of my high BMI at surgery, Dr Kemmeter wasn't sure he could insert the lap instruments into me and seriously considered waking me up and having me lose more weight than perform an open operation. In the end he was able to get them in and safely performed the procedure. I received my VSG on 3/21/07 due to Dr Kemmeter's skill and caring. Thanks Doc!rnI owe my life to you. A great surgeon and person.
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My name is Chris, and I'm from Grand Rapids, MI, via Quincy, Ill where I was born 46 years ago. I've lived in G.R. since 1982.
My story could go on like a novel, so I'll just hit the basics.
My weight struggles have been going on since 1980 or so, although I had problems going back to the late 70's. Believe or not, my birth weight was 4 pounds, 10 oz! I was very small, quite fragile and was baptized by a nurse shortly after I was born because there was a real chance I might not make it. But I did, and here I am!! And I gained weight too - about 400 pounds!!
However, I really didn't have a serious weight problem until high school. Up to then, I was a normal boy who might have been interested in food a little more than usual. After church, I was always the first in line for donuts and usually went back for many more. Any place or function I attended, I was always looking for something to eat. Food became an emotional crutch for a very, very shy boy which soon got out of control. I was taking money from my parents to go buy candy, chips, and other wonderful things. I was hiding food, or putting it in my bag to take to school. Soon my parents were forced to lock up most of the food, and everyone in the family had keys - except me! I soon got around that by figuring out combinations, making copies of keys, and in a act of desperation, unscrewed the hinges of the cabinet to get at food. My food of choice during this time (high school years) was a homemade batch of raw cookie dough with M & M's or chocolate chips. My parents soon discovered why the flour, brown sugar, etc was rapidly disappearing! If I couldn't make this, I would buy chips or candy which I would hide in my coat. Sometimes I would have to hide food in the bushes in the front yard, and sneak out in the middle of the night to retrieve them. It was bad, but I really didn't think I had a problem.
Fast forward to college in 1980. I was alone for the first time in my life and not real happy. I continued to overeat with some trips to the grocery store, but I exercised enough where I stayed under 200 pounds.
When my Dad retired in 1982, we moved to Grand Rapids and that's where my food addiction really kicked in. There was a 7-11 and a grocery store within a block of our home and I became a regular visitor to them both. Before you know it, I was 275 #'s and getting bigger. I went to Weight Watchers, lost some there but was really never into it. I did exercise but it was getting harder and harder.
In 1984, I went to live with my sister in Minneapolis to try to start a new life. I walked almost everyday around Lake of the Isles, and lost maybe 50 pounds over 3 months. But my experiences in Minneapolis wasn't a real good one, and I came home to Grand Rapids. Three months later, our beloved German Shepherd, Charlie passed away. A few months later, my Dad had a brain hemorrhage. He would recover (still going strong at 92!!), but these recent events caused my overeating to explode. Combine this with a poor self esteem problem, and the result was going from a heavy guy to a super morbid obese guy.
I returned to college and got a B.S. in Television Production. My experiences in college and the 6 month internship weren't really very positive: I ate a lot, gained weight, and took some hits in the self esteem category. As soon I graduated, I entered the optifast program through one of the local hospitals. I lost 125 pounds total over the 4 - 6 months or so. Of course, this really didn't take care of the problem, and I started to eat again, as Optifast didn't have the greatest aftercare program. It was really just a bunch of people sitting around a table talking how much they wish they could eat!
I found my current job in 1989 and have been with them ever since - a sporting goods retail company in the midwest.
At this point around 1990, I decided to join O.A., and participated in one form or another for almost 4 years. Again, it was really just a bunch of people sitting around a table, crying, talking, and looking at each other. I was a part of the men's meeting, and while I did get some insights out of it, our meetings ceased for one reason of another and I never returned to O.A. My addiction to food was not going away. But I was still small enough to travel, including a trip to London, and 2 WONDERFUL trips to Ireland. I love Ireland, and it's culture and want to return again soon!
So, it was time for counseling. I saw a few people over the course of the next couple of years, and again gained some insights into the cause of my overeating. But I never could quit. In January 1997, I started Weight Watchers, and stayed with them for another 4 or 5 years. I did lose some weight only to gain it back, and was on this roller coaster ride off and on. It was at this time that I went over 500 pounds, and was totally shocked when it happened. Since then, I've been a member of the 500 + club for the better part of 6 years.
Well, despite all this, it hasn't been a washout. I've had some wonderful times as well. I've been to Palm Springs, CA several times on extended vacations and had a great time. I wasn't really able to do much because my mobility is limited, but I was able to travel. In April 2006, I went to a great place called Structure House in Durham, NC. It's a residential weight loss facility, and I lost 40 pounds within 4 weeks. I also made some great friends and overall had a great time.
But back home, my old habits picked up again and I gained that 40 pounds back and then some. So, the logical step for me is WLS. I didn't want the RNY or DS, so it was lap band for me. My mind was made up, no one could change it. That is until I saw Dr. Kemmeter at Michigan Medical. He told me about the VSG, and while I was hesitant about the stomach removal, over a short time, I was sold. My wonderful PCP signed off on it, and convinced my poor family that it was safe. So I'm hoping to be a VSG loser. I really am convinced that this surgery will be the tool I need to STOP overeating, making food the center of my life, and begin to have a real life again. There are so many things I want to do. It's been a long time since I've had a real life. Sitting in my condo after work, completely and totally exhausted, not having enough energy to do anything doesn't cut it anymore! I've spent thousands and thousands of dollars on excess food over the years, with countless trips to the stores. I go despite the stares, comments from small children (and sometimes adults too) about my size, and whatever people might say behind my back. I have been living for food, medicating myself with it, and have tried to block those emotions, fears, and anxieties with it since I was a little boy. The result is what I am now. So I decided that I have to take a risk, have the surgery, lose the weight, and face life head on instead of trying to hide, feel sorry for myself, and avoid dealing with life's harder moments. It'll be tough, but life is too short to live the way I am now.
So that's my story - and I'm ready and willing to have this surgery to turn my life around. I am expecting great things from myself. I'm ready to make the changes in my life. If my story sounds like yours, please let me know. And know that I've been down that road as well! Maybe I can help you in some way.