Before & After VSG with Mark Paul, down 110 lbs!January 7, 2020
I’m a 53-year-old male who underwent a sleeve gastrectomy procedure back in January of 2019 with Dr. Jeffrey Baker at Ridgeview Medical Center in the Twin Cities. We all have events in our lives that change us forever, and this is one of those events for me.
Why I Decided to Have WLS
In my high school days, I would say that I was a bit chubby at certain times of my life. I typically weighed somewhere between 175 lbs and 190 lbs. I wasn’t very athletic, but I enjoyed some sports throughout my childhood and in my twenties.
I’m not sure when things started spiraling out of control with my weight, but by the time my children were in the 7-10-year-old range, I had doubled my high school weight and hit a peak of 345 lbs. I can recall barely being able to walk to see my children’s soccer games. My legs had swollen to the point of almost becoming immobile.
I knew that the writing was on the wall, and I took some steps to help. I had tried Weight Watchers and lost up to 40 lbs, and then I hit the wall and lost my motivation. I had gained it all back within a year or two, and I was back to my peak weight. I was blessed to have met a very kind lady at work who had conquered her weight issues by following a low carbohydrate diet and had maintained it for several years. Feeling motivated by her story, I had given this a try. I had some success and lost close to 80 lbs by following this plan along with exercise.
This kept me feeling better for a couple of years, but I slipped back into my old habits. The diet fads can be effective, but they are not sustainable. I had kept some of this weight off and lingered between 280 – 300 lbs for the next decade or so.
My neighbor was kind enough to share his journey with me about his bariatric procedure that had been performed by Dr. Baker’s father. I took the initial step to visit with his staff and had started down the road to the surgery several years ago. I had started to lose some weight before the surgery, and once I had lost some initial weight, I decided that I could do this on my own once again.
Over the course of the next several years, I bounced back and forth between several dieting attempts until I finally reached the point where I was scared that I was going die from my obesity. I landed in the hospital with a large blood clot in my leg along with a pulmonary embolism. Even though this scared me, I couldn’t find the ambition to conquer this. I also had high blood pressure and sleep apnea, and one would think that this would push me over the edge. I had simply had ran out of answers.
Finally, I had a blood test come back a little over a year back that showed that I had now reached an A1C level of type 2 diabetes. I knew that this was coming, and I had hoped that I could turn things around. I was looking for a second chance at health.
Then, something happened that I haven’t shared with very many people. I was on the train back from a Vikings’ football game when a guy had noticed that I was wearing a Chris Carter jersey. Being frustrated with the Vikings’ dismal performance that day, I commented that I would haul it out again in twenty years when they had a decent team again. His drunken response angered me beyond my imagination, and I was infuriated.
He told me that he had a newsflash for me….that I wasn’t going to be here in twenty years. As I was mentally preparing my harsh response, my thought process took a complete turn, and I started thinking about what he had said. It dawned on me that he was right. Folks, this is what it took for me to stare this in the face and take action.
Before & After VSG with Mark Paul, down 110 lbs!
My Surgery and Post-Op Life
Remembering my experience with the Baker surgical staff, I immediately researched to see if Dr. Baker was still performing procedures. I learned that the original doctor had retired, but that his son, Dr. Jeffrey Baker, was performing the procedures. I immediately found the website for Baker Bariatrics and made the call the following day. I knew that I was going to follow through this time. There was nothing that was going to deter me from losing weight once and for all.
When I walked into the doctor's visit that day, I knew that I had found the right medical crew to help me with my journey. I immediately felt like that Dr. Baker and his staff wanted to partner with me. It wasn’t the typical sterile doctor/patient relationship that I was expecting. It was so much more than I could have hoped for.
Dr. Baker took the time to explain the three procedures with me, along with the pros and cons of each one. He took the time to draw pictures of each along with an explanation of how each one worked behind the scenes. Being a creature of science, this was really important, and I immediately trusted him. He didn’t steer me, but I knew almost right away which procedure I would pursue just from the explanations.
He had immediately noted that I had a hiatal hernia diagnosed in the past, along with a lower than normal platelet count. Dr. Baker addressed all of this before I could move forward with a surgical plan. I knew that I was in great hands with a thorough surgeon.
My pre-surgical time flew by quickly, thanks to Kris Baker and the rest of the staff. Everyone from Maria, Dr. Baker’s Medical Assistant, Paul the psychologist, Anne the dietitian, and Sandy the exercise physiologist, treated me like I was family. They answered all of my questions and had me mentally and physically prepared for the surgery. I will be forever grateful for how comfortable I was throughout the entire process. The right medical staff can make a huge difference!
Now, we come to the easy part… the surgery itself. Dr. Baker had repaired my hiatal hernia while he had me on the operating table. I woke up feeling really good for what I had just gone through. I woke up the next morning and walked 1.75 miles before Dr. Baker came to visit me. I felt like I had done sit-ups for the first time the night before. Other than that, I had almost zero discomfort. I knew right then and there that I could do this. I was up to walking five miles by day three, and I was ready to take on the world.
Now that I’m one year out, I feel better than ever. Quite honestly, I don’t miss anything that I had prior to surgery. In retrospect, I traded large portions of food for larger portions of life.
In the past year, my high blood pressure is gone, my type 2 diabetes is gone, and I put my CPAP machine away after a new sleep study. I have lost 110 lbs, and my waist size has gone from 48” to 32”. My shirts have gone from 3X down to Medium or Large depending upon the brand. While these numbers are satisfying, that is just a small part of the story. I count my blessings by a system of firsts.
Special Milestone / Non-Scale victory
- In 2019, I walked nine miles for the first time. I was able to jog for the first time in several years.
- I climbed mountains in the Rockies for the first time.
- I rode on a mountain bike for approximately six miles for the first time in decades.
- I took a 2,000 round trip motorcycle ride for the first time.
- I joined a boxing gym to work out.
- I coached two youth soccer teams and was able to play alongside the kids for the first time.
- Finally, I can chase my granddaughter around and play fight with her for the first time.
These are the things that are priceless to me.
If I can offer any advice to others considering the surgery, talk to a surgeon sooner than later. I regret that I hadn’t done this 20 years ago. Research your medical staff. Hold them to your standards. My medical staff exceeded my expectations, and it made this journey so much easier. Once you have made the decision to move forward, work hard ahead of time. Start cutting down your portions and exercise to the best of your ability.
I am convinced that everything you do beforehand will pay you back several times over after your surgery.
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