Bob David - Midland, MI
"It really boosted my self-esteem. I feel good about myself and what I've accomplished."
He Lost 165 Pounds and Gained Hope for a Longer Life
Bob David credits his sister for introducing him to bariatric surgery. "Nanci encouraged me to look into it after she committed to the process," he said. "I had thought about it but that is all I had done. I didn't seriously consider surgery because I knew how much I'd have to give up. I love to cook and I love to eat."
However, pain and ill health eventually proved too much for him to ignore. "I was taking meds for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression and I had sleep apnea. I had such severe back pain, everything was a challenge physically," he said. "Then, back in 2014, my grandson was born. He changed everything. I want to be around to watch him grow up. I want to teach him to fish and take him camping. I could never do those things unless I did something about my weight."
Like many bariatric surgery patients, David began the journey by attending a free seminar sponsored by MidMichigan Health. "I went to a seminar in Midland and just listened to what they had to say," he said. "Then I went to another meeting and heard more from the doctor and from people who had the procedure done. That's when I realized I wanted to be part of it. I wanted to get the weight off."
In February 2015, after two months of prep work, David underwent a sleeve gastrectomy. General and Bariatric Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D., performed the procedure at MidMichigan Medical Center - Gratiot in Alma. A sleeve gastrectomy maintains the basic function of the stomach; however, the volume the stomach can handle is significantly less. Patients who undergo sleeve gastrectomy feel full quickly and consume less food at each meal. On average, patients lose about half of their excess body weight in 12 months.
"Dr. Bonacci and his staff are fantastic people," David said. "What a great group. They offered really good support."
David spent two nights at the Medical Center. "I did a lot of walking those two days," he said. "I knew going in that I needed to do that and I had made up my mind that I was going to do this right."
He did find the pre-surgery diet challenging. "It was very difficult for me to not eat much that last week before surgery," he said. "At home, after surgery, all I could have were liquids. That was the hardest part of all. I just had to keep thinking of the future reward."
Because the volume of food that the newly reshaped stomach can hold is so small, quality counts. Junk food could easily fill the stomach, but it doesn't feed the body, David said. Instead, he seeks nutrient-dense food and makes every bite count. "I can eat anything and everything but because the quantity that I can eat is small, I'm careful and try to be smart about what I eat," he said.
"I firmly believe that the surgery extended my life," David said. "That's number one. However, everything else that goes along with losing weight is wonderful. I can walk without pain, I can shop in regular stores, I can fit in a booth in a restaurant – I don't have to ask for a chair without arms. It's great."
The most remarkable benefit was the confidence David regained. "It really boosted my self-esteem," he said. "I feel good about myself and what I've accomplished."
David admits there is a tiny downside. "I lost part of the social element of sharing a big meal and long conversations with friends," he said. "For me, Thanksgiving dinner is over after a few bites of food."
On the other hand, he said, losing the ability to socialize over food is a small price to pay for what he gained when he lost weight. "Giving up big meals in exchange for my life now is a no-brainer. My only regret is that I didn't have the surgery sooner."
MidMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like more information about surgical weight management may register for a free in-person information seminar at www.midmichigan.org/bariatricseminars or watch MidMichigan’s online seminar video series at www.midmichigan.org/bariatriconlineseminar.