Before & After DS with Theresa and Rodney, losing 385 pounds!October 17, 2017
Why We Decided to Have WLS
Life before surgery seems like a lifetime ago for both my wife and I. Being extremely overweight is not only a burden on your general health but a burden on your lifestyle in general. You have the awful label of being called obese, or morbidly obese. This is such a wonderful word that makes you feel as if you have been judged a misfit in society.
We were both overweight all of our lives and had done all of the diets known on the planet throughout the years. Some worked a little, some not at all and we always found ourselves back to where we were before and usually larger than that. The main focus though as we were getting older was our health.
For Theresa, it was very difficult. Along with being over 400 pounds, she had a severe case of asthma which caused her to have episodes where she felt she was going to suffocate. She also had very little muscle mass which made it very difficult to get up and down from seating or lying positions.
Theresa had her weight loss surgery in February of 2014 and not a moment too soon. If she had not done anything, there is a good chance that she was facing a horribly short future. She also has a slight heart murmur which did not bode well for a person with her weight. Theresa did not have diabetes (thank goodness!) but her A1C was on the rise as was her blood pressure. She did have sleep apnea as well and had to have a CPAP machine.
I was also severely overweight, my highest weight was nearly 400 pounds and on the day of my surgery, I weighed 355 pounds.
I was also under the illusion that I had more control over my weight and that when Theresa had her surgery, I would just be able to diet and exercise my way to a healthy weight. I was able to do this in my younger years to a certain extent and I was naive enough to think I could continue to do so. How wrong I was. I had found that no matter how much diet and exercise I did my weight would drop a bit at first but then stall and I would have to essentially starve to lose any weight and, of course, that just makes for a bad outcome.
My A1C shot up to 7.6 and this was with 1000mg of Metformin a day! My blood pressure was very high with both numbers over 100, well over 100. This reading was with a high dose of BP meds. I had a severe case of sleep apnea and could not even consider sleeping without a CPAP machine with a high pressure.
I have an artificial hip that was being burdened by my 350-pound plus frame and would probably need to be replaced sooner rather than later. My future was not looking good. Dying before I was 60 seemed like a reality for me and that is not the future I was hoping for. Deciding on the surgery for the both of us was tough.
Of course, you hear the naysayers spouting about what a cop out it is and it’s the easy way out! We were told "You are just weak and just simply need to not eat hamburgers, French fries, and donuts. Just stick with non-fat and low calories and you will reach the promised land." What a load of BS!
Once you wrap your head around the fact that your body is wired in such a way that it will always seek the higher weight no matter how much you lose it is time to consider the type of bariatric surgery to have.
Everyone has heard of the Gastric Bypass and that seemed to be the path at the time of Theresa’s surgery. The thing about Theresa, and what I admire very much, is her persistence and her ability to research to the point where a decision that is ultimately made is spot on.
She looked at all of the four possible surgeries and quickly realized that the Duodenal Switch was a no-brainer. It had the greatest measure of success in the long-term as well as short-term. Reading about the process and talking to others who have had the surgery it became clear that it was the right choice. Finding out where to go and have the surgery was a real challenge. We were lucky to find the surgeon we did and have the ability to travel to his location to have the surgery.
Before & After DS with Theresa and Rodney
Total weight loss: 215 pounds
Surgery date: February 3, 2014
Surgery type: Duodenal Switch
Surgeon: Dr. Ara Keshishian
Total weight loss: 170 pounds
Surgery date: May 25, 2016
Surgery type: Duodenal Switch
Surgeon: Dr. Ara Keshishian
Our DS Surgeries and Post-Op Lives
Life after surgery is an amazing series of challenges, changes, and a journey that transforms your life in a huge way. For Theresa, it was freedom. Freedom from the overbearing weight she was carrying that kept her from essentially moving or doing anything other than staying at home. We did very little outside of the house except for the necessities of shopping and keeping up the house on the inside and out. Even that was difficult and went by the wayside all too often.
Of course, eating out was easier than going to the grocery store and that made the weight just go higher. Theresa began to lose weight and you could see day by day the changes with her. After the first month, you could see a dramatic change not only in her appearance but the fact that she was moving again! She had dropped 35 pounds in that first month and it made a huge difference.
As the weight kept coming off over the next few months we began doing things we have not done before. We started to do a lot of walking and a lot more things around the house that needed to be done. Shopping became a breeze and we ate out a lot less. The dramatic change was in Theresa's health. A number of changes for the better were happening on that front. The main one and a huge relief was Theresa's asthma. It simply was no longer there. She was no longer short of breath and was simply out moving me! I could barely keep up with her.
Theresa also had a bad case of psoriasis which before surgery she could do nothing about. Since the surgery, it has disappeared. It might be due to the increased in vitamins, particularly vitamin D. Her sleep apnea went away and now she is healthy and happy. It is almost difficult to describe the changes until you see them for yourself. When you look at the before and after, it is hard to even remember what it was like before. For Theresa, it has been a life-changing experience that has transformed the both of us in ways we never imagined. Theresa eats a normal diet and after 3 ½ years post-op, she fluctuates about five pounds either way. It is amazing.
For me, it was not what I expected. What I mean by that is, learning to eat is a challenge. With the DS, you are not only eating less but what you eat is tremendously important to the success of the transformation. With the other surgeries, Lap Band, Gastric Bypass, and Sleeve, you do not have the malabsorption aspect as much. You simply eat less and you lose weight, but you are still essentially “on a diet”.
With the DS, you have to consider the malabsorption and think protein first and for most. Once you get past the first month of eating very little and what you can while your innards heal, you are faced with the question of what to eat and is it enough protein. You are also contending with the fact that you have an aversion to a lot of the food you ate before. I could not even eat cheese and chicken. It simply made me want to vomit.
Other foods had the same affect so it limited my choices for protein. I pretty much lived on scallops, crab, shrimp and protein drinks for the first three months. Nuts were also a good source of protein. This does change and things go back to normal as far as your tastes but it takes a few months so you want to be prepared.
The weight in that first month pretty much peeled off. I was dropping a pound a day. It was incredible. You think that this is going to be a breeze and you will drop it all in no time! Then that 4 weeks somewhat of a stall occurs. From what I can tell everyone experiences it in one form or another. I never actually stalled to where I lost nothing, but I did have a week or so where it was maybe a 1 pound loss.
It freaks you out because you start to think about the past where you would work your butt off and either gain or drop an ounce or two. Discouraging. But I was lucky. My wife had gone through it two years before me so she was there to explain that it was normal. The whole “this is a journey thing”, and she was right!
At the time though I was listening to the negative voice in my head from the past. That is where the support from the many groups come in. You see that pretty much everyone has the same ups and downs and then your body gives up the farm and you drop a bunch of weight in a week's time and all is right with the world again.
There is really a lot of science behind it, and researching and reading about this particular surgery and how it works will benefit you while you go through the process. The weight will come off and you will and can reach the goal you had hoped for.
Another challenge we face with this surgery is the necessity of vitamins. Thank goodness for my wife and the DS groups and, of course, my surgeon.
You will not be without knowledge if you actively join the different groups and do your research on vitamins. I am still learning about what my body needs and am looking forward to my labs in the next month to see where I may be deficient if I am.
I have also come to realize the importance of drinking water. I never used to drink it much before the DS, but since the surgery I find it aids heavily in the success if you drink it and drink a lot of it. Dehydration is no fun and it makes you feel horrible and you want to avoid a trip to the ER by drinking at least the 64 ounces a day, but in my opinion, 80 ounces or more is recommended.
To conclude this has been a journey and one I wish I could have done a lot sooner in life, but it is never too late.
Our Milestones From Having the DS
Today, Theresa and I are at weights that we are happy with and our bodies are happy with. We are more active than we have ever been before together. No more days idly sitting in front of the television with large amounts of fast foods and drinks. That is what we used to look forward to. Not now! Now, we cannot wait until we go out and do something. We are not running marathons or anything but we are active and enjoy being so.
We no longer have the ailments we had before surgery. Theresa’s asthma is practically nonexistent, living in the northwest with fires in the summer she may have one or two. Nothing even close to what she has before and a simple inhale and it is gone.
Both of us no longer need a CPAP! The freedom to simply lay your head on the pillow and sleep is amazing and wonderful. All of the medication we had prescribed for us is no more as well. My A1C was 5 on my last set of labs and 5.3 on the one before that. Theresa’s is the same and has been for three years. BP is normal and my hip is holding steady.
Oh, and another cool thing is you can actually shop for clothes anywhere! Your sizes will shrink but we have found we have become quite the clothes horses since losing all this weight. It makes it fun to be able to fit into a size you haven’t seen since who knows when.
Life is always a challenge for many reasons but to remove the burden of the weight simplifies things just a bit. It is a decision we will never regret and wished we had made a long time ago. We both owe our lives firstly, to having this particular surgery. Secondly, and most important - was in seeking out the best surgeon we could find, and that was without a doubt, Dr. Ara Keshishian.
As a surgeon he is thorough, meticulous, constantly learning and keeping up on the latest research; as a person, he is easy to talk to, very approachable, and genuinely cares about his patients before, during and after the surgery process. We could not imagine choosing anyone else.
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