“I was always heavyset. But over the last several years, drinking a lot of coffee and eating lots of fast food – it all caught up.”
Donald is 68-years-old and lives in Sandusky, MI. He and wife Cheryl have grandchildren and a great grandchild.
Working in road construction, Donald’s job was physical and he spent a lot of time traveling between jobs. This usually resulted in a lot of fast food on the road. After more than 40 years, the last 31 with MDOT, it became so difficult walking around the job sight and doing the work that Donald decided to retire.
Both he and his wife are cancer survivors. Each year, Cheryl participates in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, an annual walking event to raise funds for cancer research. Donald has wanted to participate, but he could barely walk from the car to the information booth. He was exhausted and it was less than a quarter mile.
“The seminar was good. I had questions, but I knew as time progressed I would do something. My questions were answered and confirmed that I wanted to have bypass surgery.”
At his heaviest, Donald weighed 387 pounds. He tried dieting and over about 15 years he got down to about 280 pounds. Feeling miserable and deciding to do something about his weight, Donald saw his primary care physician, Dr. Sams, who referred him to a weight loss specialist. After talking with this specialist, he decided that he wanted to have gastric bypass surgery, but preferred having it in Port Huron. He was referred to Dr. Karen McFarlane, on staff at Port Huron Hospital Bariatric Center of Michigan. He originally met with Dr. McFarlane in Sandusky and talked about surgery options. He attended a bariatric surgery seminar the next day at Port Huron Hospital. After the seminar and further discussion with Dr. McFarlane, they decided on gastric bypass surgery over gastric banding or the sleeve.
May through October 2012
“I like to help others, but I can’t help others if I can’t help myself. There’s no point in sitting around vegetating when there is work I can do for other people.”
Donald’s insurance company requires participation in a physician supervised weight loss program for at least six months before surgery can be scheduled. During this time, Donald started eating a more healthy diet and walking two miles a day, getting ready for his surgery. By his surgery date, October 29, he’s down about 40 pounds.
October 29, 2012
"I'm doing this for me. I want to be with my wife for many more years to come."
Today is surgery day. Donald weighs 237 pounds. His goal is to lose about 80 - 90 pounds, to get down to 150 - 160 pounds. Surgery goes well and he is on his way to a healthier life and lifestyle. Donald is hoping that losing weight will help to alleviate some of his health problems: acid reflux, a hiatal hernia, diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
“I have so much more energy, even with only being down 40 pounds.”
Donald is down 40 pounds. He’s regularly walking two miles a day. He used to drive the quarter mile to take his trash to the dumpster. Now he carries it to the dumpster. He’s able to play with his grandchildren. He’s looking forward to warmer weather and yard work – working in the flower beds himself rather than hiring someone to do it. He’s also looking forward to outside activities like parades with his family. He’s also decided that he would like to help others in the process of losing weight and getting healthier.
“My friends have a nickname for me now…Slim!”
Down 80 pounds, Donald gets around even more now. He has taken on some odd jobs here and there helping out friends and family with painting and various household projects.
2 months post-op
“Dr. McFarlane is amazing. Her patients are her life. Before my surgery, she took my hand and prayed with me, that meant so much to me and still affects me today.”
Donald attends support group meetings every month. He is there for himself, but also to support others. He has become great friends with several of the members. His wife also attends with him, she is a great support for him during this journey. He sees the change in her eating habits as well. They are in this together.
As he looks back along this journey, he is very grateful for the decision he made. He knows that if he had stayed on the path he was on something bad would have happened. He would have bouts of depression because of his limitations due to weight. He didn’t feel like doing anything, never had any energy. Now, he never stops!
Prior to surgery, he had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, acid reflux, and was diabetic. Since surgery and losing so much weight he no longer has high blood pressure, high cholesterol or acid reflux. He is also no longer diabetic. He used to take 17 pills a day for the various ailments; now, nothing but a vitamin!
8 months post-op
“It’s been a good journey. I’ve enjoyed dealing with the doctors, nurses and all the staff at the bariatric center.”
This summer, Donald has kept very busy. He has built two decks, renovated his bathroom, installed new steps, and did various odd jobs for friends. He likes working with his hands, it makes him feel as if he is accomplishing something. Because he has lost the weight, he has more energy to do these projects.
Donald’s wife Cheryl was very excited to have him join her, for the first time, at the Independence Day parade in town. They had to walk about eight blocks from their car to the area where their family was sitting. Donald had no trouble with this distance. Before surgery, he never went to anything where there was a possibility of distance walking – he would get too tired.
He even goes shopping with Cheryl now. Before, he used to go, but would sit on the bench at the entrance and wait for her to finish. Now, they go a few times a week to get fresh fruit and vegetables, but they make a few trips around the store before making their purchase…just to get a few more steps in!
He has discovered that food can be tricky. New foods don’t always settle well. So, he tries things in moderation. He has found that chewing food as much as 30 times helps in the digestion process. Because his body make-up has changed with the surgery, he has to be aware that processing food is different, and chewing multiples times helps.
11 months post-op
"I feel great!"
Donald’s weight loss has slowed. It is something he expected as he nears his goal weight. He continues to exercise, just indoors now because of the cold weather. He looks forward to the warmer weather to get back outside, and working on projects for neighbors. Because now, he has so much energy!