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Daryl Davidson

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Meet Daryl Davidson

My Story:

I had my weight loss surgery in November 1998. This operation was the turning point in my life. I have gone from a very miserable existence to where I am now: Healthier, Happier, and more Socially Acceptable. This is a very good thing!

There are many reasons for my choosing to undergo this most serious option for weight loss. Yet weight loss was not the only reason for choosing WLS. I would like to try to describe what has brought me to where I am today.

At the time of my Weight Loss Surgery I was a 43 year old male who was not a childhood fatty. I was not even a fat teenager. I lived and played in the rough country side of the Mississippi River Bluffs. I was not much into athletics, but I was very much into the outdoors: hunting, camping and tramping through the woods in search of adventure. As a matter of fact I still look upon pictures of me in my late teens with amazement. I was muscular and even had a washboard stomach. With a full head of hair and a strong body, I looked pretty good.

Here is a list of the most remarkable changes:

Cured: Obstructive Sleep Apnea
No more: Heart Tachy periods
No more: Frequent Brady episodes
No more: Diabetes resulting in high blood sugar levels
No more: Diabetes Rx: Prior to WLS 220 units of Insulin daily
No more: Blurred Vision due to High blood sugar levels
No more: Diabetic caused Acanthosis of my legs
No more: Diabetic related nerve damage in my legs
No more: Extreme Swelling of lower portion of legs and feet
No more: Frequent Blood Clots in limbs
No more: Lower Back pain
No more: Pain in joints
No more: Dangerously High Cholesterol readings
Controlled: Hypertension with only 1 Rx.

All of the above mentioned ailments have either become nonevident or are no longer a problem. I now take NO medication for diabetes and only one prescription for Hypertension.

In my late twenties I began to relax my efforts with body building and my muscle definition began to fade. My weight began to increase and I was on my way toward obesity. At first I thought that it was just temporary and that I could cut back on what I was eating and loose the extra pounds. Not so easy... I found that I couldnt loose the extra pounds by just cutting back. Now I believed that I was going to have to go on a structured diet because I could see that I was not going to be able to do this alone.

Dieting gave me temporary success. I did loose some of the extra pounds, but shortly afterwards, the weight I lost came back and more! As soon as I relaxed the diet ritual -- Wham! The weight loss became, weight gain. Then I began to see myself as a failure. This caused me to start eating to console myself. What a vicious cycle, I was getting fatter so I would get depressed. Then I would go get some food and after eating I would feel better. As a side effect of this little eating binge, I would gain more weight! Then depression and I would want to go get more food.... The cycle had begun!

Depression in many different forms, seems to be a big part of being over weight. Getting depressed about the failures of weight control and the failures from dieting and not being able to keep the weight off. This only seemed to drive me to want more food which caused me to become fatter and fatter. Now the pattern had become a ritual. Start a new diet, obtain limited success, a good feeling of accomplishment would come over me, then I get a little bored of the diet regime, now the cheating starts, then weight gain. As my weight starts to increase, there came a realization of another failure and then more depression. Then more weight gain. By now I was getting very heavy and I was looking for the "Magic Bullet" that would take this burden away from me.

After trying many diets I found one that was different. This diet made Me money. This was a great motivation. I started living the diet business and even became a motivational speaker. I learned about nutrition and the physiology of the body. I traveled around the country talking to people about diet and nutrition. Discussing how nutrition or lack of, affected their bodies. At this time it was still a common belief that being over weight was a personal problem related to a lack of self control. The belief that a simple balanced diet and self control could cure obesity ruled the public opinion. I used this belief to be the basis of my business as well as my life. I dieted with a serious dedication. I had to, because I could not step up on that stage and tell hundreds of people about dieting to cure obesity if I was heavier than the last time they had seen me on the same stage!

For several years I was able to loose some weight. But mostly, I was just glad that I was not gaining weight. But then it all started to fall apart -- I started to gain weight and I just could not stop it. I starved, I suffered and I gained. I tried tailored clothes, I tried baggy clothes, I tried everything and I failed. It became increasingly more difficult to promote a diet that did not work for me. I had to give up the diet business.

At this point I decided to join the US Navy. Here, for the first time I really saw how self destructive obesity can be in your life, because I was just barely accepted into the Navy. My weight was the problem. The doctor who had the final decision of whether I was allowed in or not, ask me, "How bad do you want to join? You are just slightly overweight for the Armed Service but I can make an exception if you really want it." I wanted it, he signed the papers and I got in the Navy.

Boot Camp succeeded in getting a lot of the weight off! But after several years of military training schools and then four years on the ship, I started getting heavy again. I even heard my ship mates talking about, if the ship got into trouble they wanted to be first up through the escape hatches because they feared I might get stuck in one. Escape hatches on my ship were only 18 inches in diameter! After more than six years in the Navy I had put on so much weight that I could no longer find uniforms large enough to fit me. I was on my way out because, I was getting seriously overweight.

But the Navy didnt give up on me right away. I was sent to a Weight Camp, kinda like another Boot Camp. The results were not good, six weeks intensive physical training and restricted diet -- and I gained weight! I was not allowed to reenlist when my present hitch was up. The Navy and I parted ways.

Now as a civilian, with an obvious weight problem I tried the diet routine again, and again failure. But now some new products had come out on the market. I had high hopes for success and tried these new prescription drugs with a new determination. Short lived success was all I got. Now the weight was causing me to develop other medical problems. Hypertension developed and resulted in a stroke as my blood pressure got too high. The pressure just got so high a vessel blew out on the left temporal lobe of my brain.

My weight continued to increase. Then Diabetes jumped up and grabbed me. I was in a class room at the local university listening to a lecture. When suddenly I started to have difficulty seeing the black board. My vision was getting fuzzy, I couldnt even see my own page of notes right in front of me. At the University Clinic a nurse did a finger stick and my blood sugar level was over 600, above the upper limit of the tester. Well, what do you know, I had become a diabetic and was now blinded by high sugar levels. Over the next several weeks on a sliding insulin scale my vision slowly came back. I now wear a different type of prescription glasses and my vision is stable with only slight irreversible damage.

My weight continued to increase. I developed breathing difficulties including Obstructive Sleep Apnea. I had to undergo a terrible surgical procedure, the UPPP sometimes called the UP3. The surgery was a total waste of time, sleep lab testing showed no reduction of the sleep apnea. Next the doctor wanted to give me a permanent Tracheostomy - I said, NO. Then after several years the condition worsened and finally I got a CPAP machine. In the mean time one of the side effects of uncontrolled Sleep Apnea is weight gain -- and weight gain I did.

As my size continued to increase I started to develop circulation problems. Then pain in weight bearing joints, pain that became so intense it was debilitating. My weight began to give me so much difficulty, when I would try to get out and about -- there was so much pain and difficulty that I stopped trying. I was becoming a recluse. To avoid the pain (both socially and physically) I refused to go anywhere. At this point I was gaining weight at a rate near 6 to 10 pounds a month. Each month I was larger and heavier. As my doctor explained to me it would have been better for me if I had been fat all along. By being heavy all my life, my body would be more adjusted to the overweight condition and morbid obesity would not have been as serious a life threatening condition for me. It would have been a gradually worsening condition that the body would not have noticed as dramatically. As I said earlier, I was not a fat child nor a fat adolescent, and not even a fat teenager. I started getting fat just before turning thirty years old. Then by my late thirties I was extremely overweight. On my fortieth birthday I noticed that in a little more than ten years my weight had gone up and down and up again from 190 pounds to over 300 pounds. And in the next year and a half I weighed over 360 pounds. The doctor said that my weight was increasing faster than my body could adapt and that is why I started having so many medical problems and so much discomfort. It was like I had a death wish and would kill myself with obesity.

My blood pressure had gotten so high the doctor was constantly increasing the dosage or changing the medication. But it would only work temporally. Then it would get out of control again. My sleep apnea was getting worse and my CPAP machine was having to be boosted up to higher pressures regularly. Joint and muscle pain was getting so bad that I could no longer go shopping with my wife because I couldn't make it from the truck to the bench in the mall. My diabetes was out of control again and I was starting to lose the feelings in my fingers, legs, and feet... Now my heart was hurting. You know, sadness? Even now as I write this to you I am reminded of how sick I was and how much pain I felt on a regular basis. I knew I would not live much longer. Or I did not want to live like this much longer, with the shame and humiliation for both my family and myself. So on came the depression. The more things that I found I could not do, the more sadness I felt. There were more problems but I just can't write about it any more now and I do not think it would be constructive to go on and on. The bottom line is that I had seriously shorten my life expectancy, and I couldnt help it. My body was out of control

My primary care physician told me that he could see that by the way my health was collapsing I might not live long enough to see my next birthday. I laughed, he frowned. Then in a low tone he told me he was not kidding around, I needed to think very seriously about what he had just told me. I needed to do something to drastically reduce my body fat quickly. He ask me if I had considered Weight Loss Surgery? I replied that I had not considered it because I was not that fat. He took me into a treatment room that had on one wall a big mirror from the floor to the ceiling. He ask me to get on the examination table. I did and then I looked into the mirror to see a gigantic man in the mirror siting on an exam table. I felt that it was a trick mirror but I was the only one who looked so big the doctor still looked normal! For that moment I had to admit I was bigger than I thought I was.

I went to another physician and did not tell him anything that my PCP had told me I just said I wanted a physical. I was surprised when I came back to his office the next day to get the results of all the test he had done. He laid the papers down and looked at me very seriously and said, You are in a sad situation. Your obesity is killing you. You need to do something drastic to loose weight or you will not live much longer. I was shocked, and partially in disbelief. I went back to my PCP and he gave me a referral to Dr. George Cowan, Jr. a doctor he described as a leader in the field of bariatrics.

When Dr. Cowan examined me he said that without surgical intervention I might possibly fail to see my next birthday. But not to worry, he could help me. I can now proudly exclaim that in November of 1998, I underwent a surgical procedure that is the reason I now have a chance to have a normal life without the problems of obesity and its related comorbidities. After one year I have lost 177 pounds and I am now at my goal weight.

I now breathe without problems, either awake or asleep. The Obstructive Sleep Apnea is, as stated in my last sleep lab after loosing only 100 pounds, ...reduced to the degree that sleep habits are near normal... I do not use the CPAP machine any longer. I do not snore or exhibit the habits of someone with sleep apnea. My heart and circulation are back to normal and there are no indicators of any residual problems in this area. As for the diabetes, it is non existent. I take no insulin and no other medication for diabetes. By manor of an Oral Glucose Tolerance Test my blood sugar never went out of normal limits. Diabetes is no longer a health problem. My average blood sugar reading now is 72, Im cured! The hypertension is now controlled through one simple prescription. Before the surgery I was taking four different prescription drugs at the same time and still my blood pressure would get out of control. Now I regularly record a blood pressure of 110/70. And what about the pain in my joints and back? Gone, just as simple as that. I feel Great. This is a good thing!

My life is so much better now. I know this WLS is not the easy way out. I have had to make more adjustments in my lifestyle as a result of this surgery than with any diet I ever used. So I would say that the surgical intervention became the tool of my weight loss and the mechanism of my success. But I did have to conform to the new needs of my body in order for this to work.

I know that Dr. George Cowan and his skilled hands guided by God saved my life and I know that he is my Guardian Angel. But my personal Angel is my wife, Diane, who was at my side through the whole ordeal. She was my support and strength through the time at the hospital and at home while I recovered. Even now she helps me with my meal planning and support when I feel down. I thank God for her love and support. When I think what she went through and what Dr. Cowan and Dr. Hiller went through to bring me to this point in my life I am humbled to their combined greatness.