Kenneth (not his real name) has been in the security business for 18 years. He has a great career and a loving family. The one thing he has always struggled with is his weight.
He could eat all the time and not feel full. He tried many different diets, including Atkins and Paleo, but nothing helped to keep the weight off.
In 2019, he got a wake-up call when he did his annual employee health screening. His lab results pegged him as obese at 111kg and 170cm. He had high blood pressure and cholesterol, and he was diabetic.
Kenneth decided he did not want to be 40 years old with such an unhealthy lifestyle. He reached out to a bariatric surgeon to discuss the different types of bariatric surgery.
It was decided that laparoscopic gastrectomy – more commonly known as gastric sleeve surgery – was the best option for him. The surgeon would remove part of Kenneth’s stomach, leaving a small sleeve-shaped tube that would limit his food intake.
Before he had the surgery, Kenneth had to undergo a number of different tests, a psychological evaluation and nutritional counselling. He had additional blood tests, a chest X-ray and an ECG to make sure he was fit enough.
The psychology screening was important because it was a major lifestyle change and the doctor wanted to make sure that he was mentally prepared.
A new way of eating
Kenneth met with a nutritionist prior to surgery and learnt how to eat healthily. They talked about eating smaller meals throughout the day and what his healthy plate should look like. The surgery would shrink his stomach to the size of a cup, so he had to learn a completely new way of eating.
It all went well. He was walking around after a few hours’ rest as he had been taught the importance of moving after surgery. The procedure involved four sites on his stomach, which didn’t hurt as much as a big incision. He was out of the hospital after a day of observation.
At home, he had some discomfort which was easily controlled with ibuprofen. He moved around and sipped fluids every hour as instructed. He was back at work within a fortnight.
For two weeks after the surgery, he had to be on a liquid diet of protein shakes. After that, he slowly introduced soft food for another two weeks. Eventually, he started incorporating solid foods back into his diet.
Before the surgery, he could eat four slices of pizza in one sitting. After the surgery, his stomach was smaller and he physically could not eat that much. Now Kenneth only eats one slice of vegetarian pizza or half a brown-bread sandwich. He eats small meals throughout the day.
He still enjoys food and can basically eat anything he wants, just in smaller portions. Kenneth is not depriving himself of anything. He feels great, is not tired anymore, and his back does not hurt.
It has been slightly more than two years since his surgery and he now weighs 66kg. He has gone from size 3XL to XL. His blood tests have improved tremendously, and his doctor was able to reduce his hypertension and diabetes medication about a month after surgery.
This year Kenneth was able to put on his swimming trunks while on vacation with his family in Port Dickson, never once covering up or hiding behind a towel. It felt incredible.
He says bariatric surgery is not cheap but it has changed his life for the better. This is the happiest and healthiest Kenneth has been, and he finally feels good in his own skin.
TELEME Healing Life Stories is a collection of inspirational stories of how ordinary people triumph over their health conditions and recover to lead a healthier life. Email [email protected] to share your story.