POSTED: Sunday, May 13, 2012 - 4:23pm
UPDATED: Monday, June 18, 2012 - 10:02am
MCALLEN — "My high weight was 400 pounds. Definitely morbidly obese."
Meet 69-Year-Old Valley resident Tom Davidson. A former diabetic and gastric bypass patient.
"I was awfully tired of being referred to as morbidly obese," said Davidson.
A little more than a year ago doctors told Davidson he was suffering from high blood pressure and sleep apnea, because of his poor diet and lack of exercise. He had also been a diabetic for about four years.
"I had been overweight so long it was just I was use to it. I knew I don't do this because I get out of breath so I don't do that. And I won't do this because I won't like it because my knees hurt," said Davidson.
That's when Davidson met local doctor, Luis Reyes.
"He was having multiple medical problems. The main one was the diabetes," said Dr. Reyes.
After considering several options Davidson decided to have Dr. Reyes perform gastric bypass surgery as a way to help lower his weight and eliminate his disease.
"Surgery has proven to be effective on the resolution of this problem," said Dr. Reyes.
According to Dr. Reyes, gastric bypass is becoming a very popular treatment as a way of battling diabetes because the procedure is quick, minimally invasive, and offers a speedy recovery.
"I was wearing a 54 inch waist before the surgery and now I am down to a 38," said Davidson.
But it wasn't only Davidson's waist that started disappering. In less than two weeks after the surgery, his diabetes went into remission.
"Most patients we have will stop taking their medication within the first three months after the procedure," said Dr. Reyes.
"Since the surgery I no longer take my diabetic medicine. I no longer use the sleep machine. My blood pressure is well with in normal range. My cardiologist doesn't want to see me for another year and I exercise six days a week," said Davidson.
The Rio Grande Valley has the highest rate of adult diabetes in the United States, and the problem is becoming increasingly evindent in hospital operating rooms across South Texas.
In just the last 12 years, Dr. Reyes has performed more than 3,000 surgeries targeting weight loss.
"Even though statistics show that over 85% of the patients will resolve or will improve on their diabetic problems, in our practice we see closer to 90%," said Dr. Reyes.
But even after a successful surgery...most patients still need help adjusting to a healthier lifestyle.
"This is the old me and this is the new me," said Paula Kilgore.
Kilgore is the program director for the Weight Loss Surgery Center in Mcallen who deals with patiens like Davidson only a daily basis. But she also a former patient herself.
"I had gastric bypass it will be eight years this August," said Kilgore.
Now Kilgore oversees seminars and support groups for bariatric surgery patients. A job that allows her to influence their lives for the better.
"Our patients when they go in to go to surgery they may be a little ambivalent but they are excited because they know it is like the first day of the rest of their lives. It's like their birthday," said Kilgore.
Kathy Pratt received her surgery several years ago but says she still learns new tips during each session.
"No I don't want to miss them because I take away something from everyone one of them," said Pratt.
Pratt says she feels a connection with group leaders like Kilgore because they shares a common bond.
"They have been through this so they understand what you are going through and know how to cope with it....and when you have a question they can answer it because they've been there," said Pratt.
The center holds about two seminars every month and about 12 support group sessions a year, but Kilgore says her line is always open for questions.
"We are just a phone call away. We have patients that come to us from all over. They may live four hours away but they come to us because of the program support that we offer," said Kilgore.
While support groups like these are becoming more important as the need for these surgeries rises…patients like Davidson can reap the benefits.
great, i exercise i can sit in booths and cross my legs and do all kinds of disgustingly healthy things.