When bariatric surgeon Dr. Robert Michaelson noticed Joyce and Dan Tucker at an informational seminar about weight loss surgery, he couldn’t have predicted how well they’d do: that they’d collectively lose nearly 300 pounds and completely change their lives. And, if Dr. Michaelson is proud and thrilled, just imagine how Dan and Joyce feel.
Joyce, 54, and Dan, 65, of Arlington, have been married 15 years. “I’d been obese since I was 8,” Joyce says. “Weight Watchers, exercise classes – I tried it all. I lost and gained. When I was 32, I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I tried to control it with diet and medication, but eventually needed insulin. My health was really falling apart.”
Dan’s story is much the same. “I was in ‘husky’ sizes at age 10. High school sports helped me keep my weight down. But, after the season, I’d gain. I lost a lot in the military, then gained when I got out. Up and down.”
Then came a turning point. “I told Dan we had to do something,” Joyce says. “I weighed 310 pounds. I was worried about us. It had to change.”
The First Step
Joyce and Dan saw a news story about weight loss surgery. It led them to that life-changing seminar in early 2011. They didn’t think they’d both be able to afford surgery and decided only Joyce would have the procedure. But, as it turned out, their insurance covered it. They only had to cover copayments. And so it began.
Joyce had surgery in April 2011. She’s lost 149 pounds so far. Dan followed a few weeks later. He’s down 140 pounds. They hope to lose a few pounds more.
“We were told in advance that this was a tool, not a cure,” Dan says. “We made huge lifestyle changes. No more chicken nuggets, burritos and frozen pizza. Today we eat high-quality protein and fresh vegetables in smaller portions. We eat to nourish our bodies, not to fill our stomachs. To be honest, it wasn’t such a hard transition. We wanted this.”
Treating the Root of the Problem
Dr. Michaelson is board certified by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Obesity Medicine. He performed surgery for Joyce and Dan and says their experience illustrates that weight loss surgery can be a life-saving step for people who struggle with obesity and its related diseases – particularly diabetes.
“There’s a pervasive misconception in our society that obesity is caused by weakness, that it’s a character flaw,” Dr. Michaelson says. “This thinking is completely wrong and harmful. Obesity is a serious disease that tends to run in families. And, its effects are catastrophic.”
Diseases that accompany obesity – diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, joint degeneration and asthma, among others – seriously degrade a person’s overall health.
“The approach to obesity must change. Obesity is a disease in and of itself. When we treat it that way, we are better able to manage these obesity-related co-morbidities,” he says. “With even a small amount of weight loss, people begin to see rapid health improvements. As we treat the disease process, the underlying problem, these co-morbidities can be improved or even eliminated.”
“Weight loss surgery should not be considered a cosmetic or unnecessary procedure,” he says. “Once a certain level of obesity is reached, surgery is the only treatment with proven, durable results.”
Better Health, Better Life
Joyce is stunned by the improvements she’s achieved. “I’m off blood pressure medication,” she says. “My insulin was reduced from 180 units to seven. I may not need it at all if I lose a bit more weight. I’m almost off the CPAP machine that helps keep my lungs open at night. It’s nothing short of amazing.”
Today, Joyce and Dan regularly share their story at seminars like the one they attended. They’re delighted with their new life and eager to help others who want the same thing.
“I wish I’d done this 15 years ago,” Joyce says. “Today, I feel like I’m running on high-octane fuel.”
Attend a Free Informational Seminar
Providence Regional Medical Center offers weight loss surgery at its Colby Campus. To learn more, visit www.Providence.org/WeightLossSurgery or attend a free informational seminar:
- Monday, September 15, in Monroe
- Thursday, October 9, in Burlington
- Monday, October 27, in Mill Creek
- Thursday, November 13, in Everett
The seminars are free, but registration is required. For more information or to register, call (425) 404-5502 or register online.