Steve Laney - Midland, MI
"I'd just tell people not to be scared...I'd recommend it to anybody."
After Bariatric Surgery, He Can Keep Up with His Busy Lifestyle
The energy requirement for Steve Laney's lifestyle is high. The 52-year-old Midland resident and his girlfriend have seven kids between them, as well a number of grandchildren to keep up with. On top of that, he's a busy working at a local equipment rental store. As a result, day-to-day life can be quite physically demanding.
When Laney's weight began having an impact on his well-being, it wore on him quickly. Previously able to ride his bike long distances, he found himself only able to ride or walk a couple of miles at a time. He soon became tired of feeling tired all the time.
Even more concerning, Laney developed other health complications due to his weight gain. Like many other overweight individuals, he developed diabetes and his blood pressure rose to dangerous levels, requiring him to start taking medications. Unfortunately, as many people have experienced, diet restriction on its own proved to be a great challenge.
Laney began thinking about taking a more direct approach to getting his weight under control. A buddy of his had recently had bariatric surgery at MidMichigan Medical Center - Midland and was quite pleased with the results. Curious, Laney attended one of MidMichigan's informational seminars on the procedure.
There, Laney learned about a minimally-invasive type of bariatric surgery performed by specialists at MidMichigan Health, called sleeve gastrectomy. During this operation, only a small opening is made to access the stomach. The surgeon staples the stomach into two different sections, then removes the larger one. The small, sleeve-shaped stomach remaining can still stretch and expand, but keeps the patient from overeating.
Intrigued, Laney attended a consultation. Once it was determined that he'd be a good candidate, he began preparing for the procedure under the guidance of the surgical weight management team. Experienced staff taught him how to eat healthier, and showed him techniques he would need to know after the surgery, such as chewing his food more thoroughly before swallowing. He also began attending MidMichigan's free bariatric surgery support group sessions, where he had a chance to talk to other patients who had already undergone the procedure.
Overcoming some typical last-minute jitters, Laney had the surgery on March 1, 2017. Any fears he may have had proved to be unfounded, and he got through the surgery very well. The surgical team, led by Bariatric Surgeon Ernest Cudjoe, M.D., monitored Laney closely during the operation to make sure there were no complications due to his high blood pressure.
That very night, a few hours after coming out of surgery, they had him up and walking around his room. After leaving the hospital the next day, he went to the mall and was able to walk around for half a mile. "You wouldn't know I'd had it done," he said.
Despite the nature of the surgery, Laney felt relatively unhindered during his recovery. As expected, it was a bit painful getting up out of bed or in and out of the shower for the first three days. "Other than that, there were no problems," he recalls. "I felt like going back to work on Friday," just two days after the operation. However, he followed his instructions and waited until the next week to return to work, and avoided heavy lifting for a few weeks.
About six to eight weeks after the surgery, Laney slowly started feeling its long-term effects. "You first notice you can walk more," he said.
Indeed, Laney admits that it can sometimes be a challenge with his new eating limitations. The feeling of being full gets much more intense than it did before the surgery. "Sometimes, you just want that extra bite, but you can't," he said. Having a supportive team at the Surgical Weight Management Office helped provide him the tools he needed to deal with such challenges. "They're so positive about everything," he said. "The nurses were great, everybody was phenomenal." He is now experienced in post-surgical eating, which fortunately has not been as restrictive as he originally feared. "You can still eat what you want, just not every day," he explains.
A year and a half later, the positive effects of the surgery have become much more pronounced. Most obviously, he has lost a significant amount of weight - a total of 140 lbs since the surgery. "I'm back to the size I was at 18 years old," he said happily. As an added bonus, he is also no longer diabetic, and has been able to go off of his blood pressure medication.
Now, Laney is finding that he doesn't even mind doing laborious tasks like mowing the lawn, a feat that many in top health still have trouble with. "I've got more energy," he said. He is also very happy to have the energy and agility again to chase his grandkids and play with them on their trampoline. "Ever since I had the surgery, I just want to go go go!" He's spent so much time out and moving around lately that his girlfriend had to tell him, mostly jokingly, "Would you sit down?!"
Reflecting on the ease of his operation and the extent of his success afterward, Laney hopes others will be encouraged to seek similar treatment if they need it. Already, a coworker has followed his lead and had bariatric surgery as well. "I'd just tell them not to be scared," Laney advises. "I'd recommend it to anyone… It just changed my life."
MidMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like to watch an information video or take a free weight loss assessment may visit www.midmichigan.org/weightloss.