Weight Loss Surgery Helps Monmouth Medical Center Pet Therapy Volunteer Lose the Weight for Good
For 63-year-old Fred West, a lifetime of struggling to lose weight only to inevitably regain it resulted in an expansive wardrobe, only outdone by his waistline. The Ocean, N.J. resident and retired high school assistant principal has a background in health and exercise physiology, but having the knowledge did not guarantee successful weight loss results.
“I remember my mom taking me to Fisch’s department store on the west side of Asbury Park in August of 1960 to get some school clothes,” remarks Fred. “When the salesman told Mom that ‘husky’ pants were a new offering, her joy was complete. At about the same time I began to realize that when my Aunt Rose referred to me as ‘butterball’ it was not really the loving compliment I thought it was. Born with a genetic predisposition to holding onto anything I ate became life altering. I belonged to a big Italian family where pasta and pastries were part of the home furnishings. I think I was overweight for my age by my sixth birthday,” said Fred, who tried to stay as active as possible throughout his life, even completing the New York City Marathon in 1978 at 200 pounds. A subsequent knee injury during a 10k run a week later put an end to his long distance running.
“Thereafter, I began to gain four or five pounds a year, resulting in my owning more husky trousers, while embracing the pendulum of losing a few and gaining back several. Denial, rationalization and evasion become my SOP (standard operating procedure). Subsequently, it reached a point where knee surgery forced me to ride in a golf cart while the rest of my foursome could walk the course. My weight had become a major threat to the quality of my life. Once you are retired, health issues are a frequent topic of conversation, even while lining-up a putt.”
Although he had heard of weight loss surgery, it wasn’t until Fred’s neighbor underwent a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG) procedure in February 2013 that he began to research the sleeve himself. “I was way heavier than my 40-something young neighbor, and became very interested in the procedure because he came through it so well. He was disappearing right before my eyes, until his bright green Crocs were the only thing I would see when he would emerge from his home. So I entered into my research mode and read and watched all the videos of the surgery, as well as studying the post-op patient forums online. When I understood that most of your stomach is removed and what’s left is a very small sleeve holding no more than 4 oz., I actually said out loud to myself, ‘now that’s portion control!’ I asked my neighbor where his procedure was done and reached out to that same practice. I made an appointment with Frank J. Borao, MD, FACS, FASMBS, the chief of minimally invasive surgery at Monmouth Medical Center.”
Fred was familiar with Monmouth Medical Center, as he volunteers twice a week there visiting patients with his Goldendoodle therapy dog, Quincy. “I’ve come to learn how friendly the staff is: reception personnel, security, transportation, cafeteria workers, radiology staff, physicians and particularly the saintly nursing staff. Truth be told, I think it was Quincy that encouraged them to be so friendly. Monmouth exudes a confidence that earns your trust. I knew it was the place where I would want to go if I made the decision to have weight loss surgery ,” remarked Fred, admitting it would be his first overnight stay in a hospital.
“Dr. Borao’s enthusiasm, experience and confidence assured me that this was the man and this was the place to have bariatric surgery. He explained everything in detail. His patience is remarkable; nothing is too much trouble for him or Nurse Debra LaRusso, program director for the Bariatric Surgery Center & the Center for Minimally Invasive Esophageal and Gastric Surgery at Monmouth Medical Center. You never feel rushed with them, and they are very busy,” said Fred, who became even more familiar with the hospital and staff while undergoing a six-month pre-surgical medical screening.
As part of that process, Fred attended a New Patient Lecture. “Two support group sessions are offered once a month; the 6 p.m. one is informational. Nurse LaRusso explains in detail the clinical and surgical processes involved in all three types of gastric bypasses to prospective patients. The later session includes only those patients who are pre- and post-op, where they share their experiences,” said Fred.
Once his surgery with Dr. Borao was scheduled with 10 weeks to go, Fred started increasing his frequency of exercise. He hoped that if he could improve his overall physical condition, it might result in a quicker recovery. He lost 10 pounds in nine weeks, bringing his pre-surgical weight to 286 pounds.
During surgery, Dr. Borao removed more than 80 percent of Fred’s stomach in a laparoscopic vertical sleeve gastrectromy procedure. By removing a majority of the stomach – including the part that sends hunger signals to the brain – the procedure enforces portion control, as the new, smaller stomach limits the amount of food a person can eat.
“After surgery, I had absolutely no pain. I was able to get up and around as much as I wanted; recovery was complication-free, quick and smooth. I am no longer a threat at a buffet. Dr. Borao lifted all my restrictions three weeks post-op, allowing me to resume physical activity,” said Fred, who, at just two-and-a-half months after surgery, has lost nearly 60 pounds and has significantly lowered his BMI and body fat percentage.
The procedure has also eliminated Fred’s knee and hip pain and greatly enhanced the quality of his life. “I look forward to exercise now, which makes it more enjoyable and therefore more sustainable,” said Fred. “With the sleeve controlling how much you can eat, forever, you have to lose weight. You are consuming less than 1,000 calories daily; it’s pure mathematics. It has been a life-altering experience with nothing but great results. Hopefully I can turn my 30-pack into a six-pack.”
“I have been blessed with a wonderfully loving wife and family and now an enhanced level of health and wellness thanks to the great work being done at Monmouth Medical Center by Dr. Frank Borao and his team.”
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