Kyle Harris
OAC Community Member living in Texas

Kyle Harris sits next to wife before having bariatric surgery in 2015I struggled with my weight for years and years. I watched the scale slowly creep to more than 300 pounds and then more than 400 pounds. From childhood, I watched my father struggle with his weight for years. I developed obesity-related conditions such as Sleep Apnea, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. I couldn’t bend over to tie my own shoes without getting dizzy and/or out of breath. I couldn’t walk 100 feet without running out of breath. Enjoying outdoor activities was out of the question because I would get overheated quickly. I couldn’t play with my granddaughter the way I wanted to.

I made allowances for my obesity. I would drive around a parking lot looking for the closest spot to the entrance so I wouldn’t have to walk so far. I always requested a table at a restaurant because I didn’t fit in a booth. I would eat small amounts and take the rest with me to be consumed as soon as I got back home.

As my job required me to travel almost weekly, I factored in extra time to walk through an airport, having to sit and catch my breath every few gates. I went out of my way to find a car that would accommodate my size. I requested hotel rooms closer to the elevator. I required a seat belt extension. Moreover, I hated the arm rest between seats because it was yet another reminder of my size. I watched as people boarded the plane and looked at me, either glad that they weren’t sitting next to me or upset that they were.

I researched bariatric surgeries off and on for a couple of years. For a lay person to decipher the medical jargon was tough, but I could see that there were benefits to having a bariatric surgery procedure. But I also saw a lot of horror stories claiming bad results. However, I soon realized that the bad results were often a result of people who expected surgery to fix their problem and were not willing to make the changes necessary to be successful. Still, I was afraid to undergo surgery.

Finding a New Path

After having bariatric surgery in 2015, Kyle has experienced renewed health and happinessThen a friend of mine came into town and told me of a mutual friend who had been through bariatric surgery and was having good results. I called and talked to our mutual friend and he put me at ease and made me realize I was fighting a unique battle that I alone couldn’t win. Still, the decision to have surgery would be tough. As I mentioned, I travel for work so I knew that I would need to take time for my body to adjust and to be comfortable in eating out every meal four to five days a week.

Thankfully, I was given a long-term assignment near my home. I told myself this was the perfect opportunity to have bariatric surgery. I consulted with my insurance which thankfully covered bariatric surgery since I had a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 50 with co-morbidities. I visited with the insurance-approved surgeon. We discussed different surgeries available and agreed that I was a good candidate for a vertical sleeve gastrectomy (VSG). I talked with my family. I knew this was the thing I needed to do for ME.

I made the decision to have surgery in August of 2015, but scheduled my surgery for the week before Thanksgiving that year. I knew that in order for me to be successful, I would need to slowly integrate necessary lifestyle changes. I started eating smaller portions five to six times each day. I started walking more regardless of how I felt – just a few more steps every day. I had goodbye meals once a week for foods that I would not eat again (by choice). I started cooking and grocery shopping, and I told my wife that I would not ask her to accommodate my needs when I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. Plus, I actually enjoy cooking!

A New Beginning

I had my surgery in November of 2015. From a heaviest recorded weight of 412 pounds, but likely 20 – 25 pounds heavier, I lost close to 50 pounds before surgery. Since then, I have lost about 200 pounds and now weigh-in at 225 pounds. I have maintained this weight and progress for almost two years now.

I am happy with my weight but more importantly, I am happy with how I look and feel. I am healthier than I have been in years. Luckily, my family and friends have all had my back and are a great support system. I am traveling for work again and eating healthy and exercising when I am on the road. I look forward to working out! I participate (walk) in 5k’s in my area. Most importantly, I WILL tell anyone that I INDEED had bariatric surgery.

Words of Wisdom

Finally, I want everyone to know that having bariatric surgery is not an easy solution, nor is it going to fix any food-related issues. I’m sure that everyone has heard time after time that bariatric surgery is only a tool for successful weight-loss. I will tell you that it’s an important tool for a lifestyle change but that change requires hard work. But I will promise you one thing: the end result of finding improved health is worth it all.