Larry Wassmann

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Obesity & Me

Describe your behavioral and emotional battle with weight control before learning about bariatric surgery.

FIRST OF ALL PLEASE VISIT MY BOG AT TO GET MORE DETAILS ABOUT MY JOURNEY THAT ARE NOT COVERED HERE. THANK YOU FOR READING THIS AND LEAVE ANY COMMENTS YOU MAY HAVE. I have been on all the popular weight-loss programs from Weight Watchers, Ginny Craig, even things like hypnosis. I have no problem losing weight and it is really easy for me. I am always the star of any weight loss class I am in, and lose many many pounds per week. But I always gain it back and I don't really know how or when I started gaining back. I weigh very often but all of a sudden I start going up and I reevaluate my plan and try to go back but it seems like no matter what I do it is a study march back to the weight I was. I worked in a Law Enforcement environment most of my working life. I was working on a project at a police academy and the dietitians there knew I had life long weight problems and asked me if I would participate in a two week project. I agreed as I could not leave the academy not even on weekends for that time. Another law enforcement person of normal wight and I were stationed together and fed the exact same food each day. There was no way I could get anymore food unless someone smuggled me some, which did not happen. We both had the same physical activity which included a little basketball and pool. To make the story short, the other fellow lost some weight and I gained 8 pounds. The dietitians just shook their heads. This is typical. For me to loose weight I have to live a Spartan life with much heavy exerciser, and eating almost starvation portions. For instance, when I was on Ginny Craig, I lost weight but soon could not loose weight after the first few weeks, even being very strict and exercising each day very hard, like I said up to 6 miles a day running. What I did was, divide each meal with my wife and then I did loose wight. I did reach my goal which was almost 200 pounds and paid $5,000 for a tummy tuck but again I found myself back to over 300 pounds. That is when I found out about WLS and set myself up to have the surgery.

What was (is) the worst thing about being overweight?

I developed diabetes, very bad and was on Insulin and heart medications. I had high cholesterol , and had to take medications for high blood pressure. I had sleep apnea very bad and had to be hooked up to a machine each night. I seldom had a good nights sleep. My bones especially in my legs, feet and knees were failing. I had already had to have both of my knees undergo surgery and even with that I could hardly walk. I was always out of breath and my heart would race and beat very hard just doing normal tasks around the house. I was slowly dying and I am my doctors knew it was just a matter of time. I could not live a life that I really enjoyed. I found myself becoming more and more reclusive and withdrawn from society in general. I did not want family and friends to see me in such a state. I lost all interest in taking care of myself and had resolved to enjoy what I could for as long as I lived and of course this attitude included eating anything I felt I wanted. The weight was just going up and up and I had no real idea or inspiration to stop the trend. A friend of mine told me he was going to have gastric bypass surgery and was in the pre-operation diet phase. He had the same health insurance as I and told me they were now covering the surgery and I should apply. I did just that and was approved an on the way in about 5 months. This time included all the tests and training before the surgery. On May 9, 2012 I had the surgery and it went very well with little pain or complications at all.

If you have had weight loss surgery already, what things do you most enjoy doing now that you weren't able to do before?

In the past 6 months I have lost over 120 pounds. I have adjusted my eating to the plan I was given and find it completely satisfying. I am eating just about anything I want to eat with of course not having foods that caused me problems in the past. I would never have thought I could eat so little and still be satisfied. Now I just love the fact that I can exercise and my body does not feel like I am going to fall apart. I have so much more energy and even look for things to do around the house. I can swim, walk without having my heart rate go up much at all. My diabetes is gone, and I no longer have to take any medications other than the dietary supplements recommended by my surgery team. Before surgery my pants size was 54 inches around the waste. Now I am into a lose 34. That is right down 20 inches. I went from a size 3XXX in T shirts to a large now and they are really big on me, but I like them like that. I know what to dress up and look good. My social life has become so much better and I love going out with friends and family. I am now looking forward to life. My doctors feel as good about what I have done as I feel. They say, it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself, and I agree.

How did you first find out about bariatric surgery and what were your initial impressions of it?

As I said, I was trying to lose a little weigh and had enrolled in an aerobic swimming class for senior people. One of the guys I swam with was preparing to have WLS and told me about the operation. I had tried years before to have the surgery but was turned down. My friend told me that they were now allowing it and that I should contact my doctor and see if I could have the surgery and I did do just that. After some discussion with my doctor I was approved for the surgery.

Describe your experience with getting insurance approval for surgery. What advice, if any, do you have for other people in this stage?

My insurance costs were shared by the health clinic I went to and Medicare. I am over 65 and Medicare picks up most of the costs. The insurance company will pay their share as long as my primary care doctor agrees that the surgery was necessary and proper for me. My doctor submitted the paperwork and I was approved because of all the other physical health problems I was having that my doctor felt would be improved by the surgery. Approval was very fast and painless for me.

What was your first visit with your surgeon like? How can people get the most out of this meeting?

My first visit with my surgeon was at a seminar held at the clinic for people scheduled to have the operation. The clinic had a 4 hour question and answer session where we were giving all the details of what to expect and a plan on what we needed to do and in what time frame. During that seminar I met the actual surgeon who was going to do the surgery at the hospital. His name was Dr. Landers and was very nice and answered all the questions I had about the surgery.

What made you finally decide to have the surgery?

I felt and my doctors told me I would have little time to live without some kind of intervention. They felt that in my case WLS was the best way for me to lose a lot of weight and get myself to a health state where I and they could work with me to regain my health.

How did you decide which proceedure to have?

I decided to have RNY because it would allow the best chance to not have diabetes anymore. There was no guarantee that it would go away as many people who have had diabetes for over 10 years do not have it go away completely but at least the effects were normally lessoned by RNY. In my case happily, my diabetes after the fist 4 months of cutting down on the medications like Insulin, I am now in full remission and my surgeon feels that I will be free of it for the rest of my life. I am very happy about that and would have had the surgery if that was the only benefit. My doctor recommended RNY for that reason and I agreed.

What fears did you have about having complications or even dying from from the surgery, and what would you tell other people having the same fears now?

One of my fears was that when I closed my eyes going into the operating room that would be the last time I saw my wife and kids. The surgeons told me that in 14 years of doing this surgery they had never lost one patient on the table and to put that out of my mind. I have told this story to others at support groups and it is apparently, a common fear and makes them as it did me feel much better about the surgery. I was 70 years old and thought at my age and poor health that I would not survive the operation and would be under a lot of pain and it would take me a long time to recover. All these assumptions were wrong. It was no worse than having a few teeth pulled which I had to have done, or the knee operations I had, just before the RNY. I had very little pain, no nausea at all and I feel if I was still working I could have gone back to work within 2 weeks. I hate to use the term, but it really was a piece of cake for me and nothing to worry about at all. If this is the worst thing you have to go through in life, well you must have had a very easy life.

How did your family and friends react to your decision? Would you have communicated anything differently if you could now? How supportive were they after your surgery?

My family and friends were very supportive, and knew how important this surgery was to me. My wife could not have done more for me and was there with me all the way.

What was your stay in the hospital like? How long where you there? What things are most important to bring?

I was in the hospital for 2 nights and my stay was just great the staff treated me like a king and saw to everything I needed.

Did you have any complications from the surgery? If so, how did you deal with them?

No complications form the surgery at all.

What was your actvity level in the days and weeks after surgery?

I started swimming again 3 weeks after the surgery. I could walk and do just about anything I wanted to do.

Please describe any plateau experiences you have had since surgery.

I have lost weight every week. No plateaus or stalls at all. At 6 months it is slow but I don't care I am just a few pounds from my goal and expected it to get like this anyway.

Do you notice people treating you any differently now?

Yeas I see a lot more respect in the eyes of people I interface with now that before I did not see at all.But I am a lot more outgoing and sure of myself and that helps a lot.
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Before & After
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