It took two.
Diane and John McHutchison had tried a number of things to lose weight — various diets, exercise — all the “normal” things. After varying levels of success, they had more-or-less resigned to being ‘heavier’ rather than ‘healthier.’
Then John decided to change his primary care doctor. John’s new primary doctor explained that he was morbidly obese (BMI greater than 35) and suggested that he think about weight loss surgery. John was also diagnosed with an umbilical hernia and his new physician recommended he consult with Dr. Seun Sowemimo, a bariatric, laparoscopic and general surgeon with an office in Freehold.
A Couple with a History of Family Health Issues
John’s dad had had heart problems and his mother’s blood pressure likely damaged her kidneys. There was a great potential for stroke, heart attack and a pacemaker in his future, if his genes had anything to say about it. Diane’s family tree has many of the same risks — heart attacks from her Dad’s side, high blood pressure from her Mom.
Meeting Dr. Seun
Dr. Seun and John discussed both the hernia surgery and weight loss surgery and John was surprised to learn they could be done at the same time. Meanwhile, Diane was taking notes and asked if she needed to schedule a consultation of her own.
After reviewing the variety of available weight loss surgeries, Dr. Seun and the couple agreed the gastric sleeve was the right choice for them and they were scheduled for surgery about a month apart.
John’s surgery was scheduled for mid-September 2014. Diane’s was scheduled to follow a month later in October. Both had relatively uneventful hospital stays and came home the day following surgery.
Understanding the Integral Role of a Bariatric Support Group
The evening of Diane’s surgery, John went downstairs at CentraState Hospital to attend the regular meeting of the Prime Surgicare Bariatric Support Group, sponsored by Dr. Seun and his team. This was John’s first meeting following his surgery and the group was glad to see him.
Both Diane and John quickly realized the support group meetings were extremely important and very informative. The meetings often had guest speakers providing information about bariatric-related issues like plastic surgery or exercise, while other meetings were open forums where group members shared their concerns, ideas or questions. The couple agree that there is nothing that can substitute the experiences of others who are on the same lifelong journey.
At the same time, Diane and John are their own support group at home. They provide encouragement for each other, nudging toward exercise or the gym when necessary, and frequently remind each other how much progress they’ve achieved.
Learning to cook a wide variety of high protein, high flavor and healthy meals has been one of the fun challenges that has come post-bariatric surgery.
While still not a gym rat like John, Diane does get to the gym several days a week and swims, uses the Nordic Trak at home and walks regularly just to change things up now and then.
Bariatric Surgery is Not “The Easy Way Out”
For anyone considering weight loss surgery, both Diane and John are quick to point out this is not “the easy way out.” The surgery is a tool, coupled with diet, exercise and a whole new way of looking at food and exercise. The brain needs to be trained to understand that small bites of food, along with vitamin and mineral supplements, plenty of water and daily exercise, is what is essential. It needs to understand that food is to sustain life — it isn’t the purpose of life.
Understandably, it takes time and energy to shift from bad eating habits — “…let’s just go grab a pizza” — to consuming healthy, protein-rich meals ready to go, especially on busy evenings. However, Diane and John are committed to work at it every day. As they move down from one clothing size to the next, the too-large clothes have been donated to various charities.
Today, John has been told by his doctors to discontinue all of his blood pressure medications; his last cardiology check-up was excellent; he stopped using his CPAP machine since he no longer has to deal with sleep apnea, a common obesity-related, chronic medical condition.
Diane has also significantly reduced her blood pressure medications. Her lung function/volume has increased, and she has stopped using her CPAP as well.
Taking this bariatric journey together has not only changed their lives for the better and made them healthier, but it has greatly improved their chances at being around to annoy each other for a good, long time!
About Dr. Seun Sowemimo, MD, FACS
Dr. Seun is a top NJ bariatric surgeon and the medical director at Prime Surgicare, with offices in Freehold serving Monmouth and Ocean counties. He is board-certified, Columbia and Yale University fellowship-trained in advanced laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgery.
To learn more, visit his YouTube channel or call Prime Surgicare at (732)-982-2002.