This testimonial is offered to encourage and inspire anyone who may be struggling with obesity and its related health problems and is considering weight loss surgery. The author endorses Dr. Kurt Sprunger with confidence and appreciation.
Food has always been a major part of my life. As a child I learned quickly that mealtime was an event that was shared by the entire family without exceptions. This was a special time where we took turns saying the blessing and there were rules to be observed: no singing or whistling, no elbows on the table, no phone calls or watching television and we always asked permission to be excused before leaving the table. This mealtime conduct was respected as an important part of our way of life that contributed to the development of good manners and an appreciation for family, all of which, my parents felt, enhanced character. There was also a sense of structure and order since activities often revolved around meal planning.
At the same time, meals were a time when we laughed, talked about our days and took an interest in each other’s lives. Many of my fondest memories growing up were of family gatherings where food was the focal point around which we delighted in each other’s company. Eating was for the enjoyment of receiving nourishment with loved ones in a celebrated fashion, to be remembered as natural, healthy and happy.
My parents were born into humble circumstances and grew up during the Great Depression when food was scarce, which greatly influenced their culture and lifestyle. Consequently, food was not taken for granted and the attitude of respect and appreciation for it was passed on to my generation, as were the cooking habits. Throughout their lives, my folks retained their country ways and family recipes that they referred to as “Home Cookin.” I grew to love these “comfort foods.”
What I didn’t love as a boy was being called, “heavy-set” or “husky.” I used to wonder why I was the round one and my siblings were “normal.” I never got used to the name-calling that was a common occurrence in school. This humiliation ultimately shaped a poor self-image and lowered my self-esteem, but at home, I was surrounded by acceptance and love and, of course, comforted by food. Beginning in the seventh grade, I worked hard every year to control my weight in order to gain acceptance and play sports. This did not sit well with my parents who thought it unnatural to avoid eating. It was so difficult having to sit at the dinner table with my family, depriving myself of the food I loved, while at the same time, feeling guilty for not eating what my mother had prepared.
As an adult, my weight fluctuated and increased. Every year, my desired “ideal” weight increased by ten pounds. By the time I was forty, I was pushing 300 pounds. I was obsessed with food and the events it accompanied. After all, how can anyone go to a party and not eat? What would Sunday football be like without lots of food? There was always food at holidays, birthdays, weddings, and even funerals. This mindset toward food developed from a tradition of my family and culture that had gotten out of control. I began to realize that I needed to teach my children a different way, but I didn’t even know how to teach myself.
I tried numerous diets with some short term success, but it seemed illogical to be able to remain on a diet for the rest of my life. I was always hungry and the more I tried to control my eating, the more I craved food. I always slipped back into my comfort zone of lifelong habits. When I ballooned to 355 pounds, I knew that my life was unmanageable. My knees ached and my back had weakened causing shooting pains down my legs. Meanwhile, my cousins were being treated for high blood pressure, depression, insomnia and sleep apnea, and some had passed away from heart attacks or strokes. My mother and her six siblings were all suffering from advanced stages of diabetes. My mother was overweight her entire life and eventually died of complications of her diabetes at age 65. By this time, I had reached 378 pounds on a 5’11” frame and I was convinced that I did not want to suffer the same fate as many of my relatives.
The first thing I did was contact Dr. Kurt Sprunger, which was the wisest decision I have made in years. I immediately felt at ease and reassured by Dr. Sprunger’s compassion as he explained my condition in terms that made sense to me. During the process of preparing for the procedure, I really appreciated Dr. Sprunger’s open door policy. All questions and concerns are addressed immediately and this personal relationship has continued now for all the months since I made my choice to live. I had my gastric bypass October 30, 2012 and in a little over 3 months, I have already lost 53 pounds. My target weight is 185. Years ago, that would have seemed like an impossible dream, but with gastric bypass, unlike dieting, it is realistic goal.
For the first time ever, I’m excited about my future. Now, I don’t feel controlled by food. I still love to eat, but now, I decide when, what, and how much to eat. I’m back to structure, balance and regularity in my everyday schedule. I respect food now just like I was taught when I was that little round boy. These are family traditions that I am proud of and have reclaimed.