By Dustin Hartman
My name is Dustin Hartman and I’m 28 years old. Dr. Edward Lin performed my gastric bypass surgery on December 1, 2009. Since my surgery, I have become (literally) half the man I used to be – I’m down 150 pounds from my top weight of 300. Before gastric bypass surgery, I had several co-morbidities. Food was a comfort mechanism and brought real joy to my life, but at the expense of being physically unable to live the life I wanted. Now after the surgery and weight loss, I have no weight-related medical conditions and am so full of energy and life. My physical and emotional well-being has increased dramatically as I find happiness in activities other than eating.
My family history is fairly common; my entire family on both sides for several generations is morbidly obese. Growing up, I was proud that I was always the biggest kid in my class. I have several physical disabilities due to birth defects and as a result, I walk with a severe limp. Being the biggest kid during school was actually an advantage for me because the kids were afraid to pick on my disabilities since I was bigger than all of them. I weighed 225 pounds in the 9th grade. For me, my weight was never an issue – it was how I identified myself, and in some ways I was proud of being “the big kid.”
The way I felt about my weight slowly changed as I grew older. I became more aware of my physical limitations due to obesity: roller coasters were tight, people asked me why I was out of breath all the time, and I didn’t have any energy. When I was in my early twenties, I began having medical complications. I developed sleep apnea, which meant I had to wear a dreaded CPAP mask every night. Because weight loss surgery is such a serious decision, I tried more conventional weight loss methods, first. I did Weight Watchers, Atkins, low calorie diets, weight loss medication and even starvation diets. All of these diets worked while I was on them, but inevitably I would quit the diet and gain the weight back…usually more than what I started with. After several years of yo-yo dieting, I decided I needed surgical intervention in order to manage my weight.
Next post: My weight loss surgery experience.