Like many people, Allen Drummond, of Felton, had tried all kinds of diets, exercise plans, and gimmicks to lose weight, but nothing had worked. Each day, he took 18 different medications to manage the high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and heart problems he faced as a result of being overweight.
“My cardiologist finally told me that if I didn’t lose weight, I would die,” Drummond said. “My wife has Parkinson’s Disease, and I’m her caregiver. That did it. I didn’t care about myself, but I love my wife.”
Drummond began investigating gastric band surgery, also known as “Lap Band,” and medical providers in his area. He reviewed thousands of webpages in an effort to learn as much as he could, not only about the surgery, but about post-surgical counseling, support groups, and other patients who had been successful. Eventually, he made an appointment with Thomas Barnett, M.D., F.A.C.S, of Surgical Associates, P.A., in the Eden Hill Medical Center, Dover.
“Everything about my life was going to change,” Drummond said. “I chose Dr. Barnett’s office because I believed they would be able to support me through the entire process—surgery, follow-ups, and long-term.”
Once Drummond visited Dr. Barnett’s office, he began pre-surgical evaluation and a battery of tests to determine his fit for gastric band surgery. Typically performed laparoscopically through several incisions in the patient’s abdomen, this procedure allows the surgeon to secure a gastric band around the upper part of the stomach, creating a smaller stomach pouch. The band limits the amount of food that can be consumed and passed to the lower stomach for digestion.
Drummond checked in for surgery at Milford Memorial Hospital in the morning and returned home that afternoon. The next day, he felt ready to resume normal activity.
Since his surgery on March 9, 2012, Drummond has lost about 100 pounds and dropped six clothing sizes. But the major improvements, he said, aren’t cosmetic.
“Last summer, my wife and I walked miles on the beach. I swam in the surf. I hadn’t been able to do that in years. I repaired a boat and took my grandsons fishing, something I never thought I’d be able to do.”
Drummond planted a vegetable garden and canned over 50 quarts of tomatoes and peaches, bounty that he and his wife are enjoying through the winter. His medication load is a fraction of what it was a year ago—5 instead of 18—with ambitions to reduce that number even more in 2013.
Patty Baynocky, RN, BSN, CNOR, Bayhealth Bariatric Program Coordinator, explained that many people pursue bariatric surgery not only to lose weight, but to treat co-morbid conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, and joint pain. Without treatment, these conditions worsen over time and severely limit quality of life.
“Bariatric weight loss is not a diet. This is a commitment to a major lifestyle change that has the potential to offer improvements in health, reduction of medication, and the opportunity to become physically active,” Baynocky said.
Although many may view weight loss surgery as an easy solution for people too weak to change their diet and exercise, Baynocky challenged that assumption.
“Our patients undergo a 3-, 6-, or 12-month work-up in preparation for surgery, and many of them remain with us for support groups well after their procedures. They learn to make permanent changes and adhere to a new way of life. Change is hard, and these patients are committed.”
Allen Drummond agrees. He has attended every Bariatric Support Group meeting since his surgery and plans to continue.
“My team at Dr. Barnett’s office is my accountability factor. They keep the support groups in motion,” Drummond commented. “I know that with their help, I will achieve my goals.”
Bayhealth offers several bariatric procedures at Kent General and Milford Memorial Hospitals: Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Band (Lap-Band®); Laparoscopic Roux en Y Gastric Bypass; Laparoscopic Sleeve Gastrectomy.
To learn more, visit www.bayhealth.org/bariatrics