At age 35, a man has his whole life ahead of him. But when Ivan McClendon turned 35, his prognosis was not good.
Ivan weighed 470 pounds. His weight made walking difficult, and he was exhausted after five minutes of physical activity. “It was like a big anchor,” he recalled.
And the weight was taking its toll on his overall health. He had uncontrollable diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. He had seen his father suffer with diabetes as well, having both legs amputated and numerous eye surgeries, and he knew he didn‘t want that to happen to him.
Ivan became a patient of Medical College of Wisconsin internist Mohan S. Dhariwal, DO, PhD, who specializes in hypertension and diabetes care. Dr. Dhariwal talked to him about bariatric surgery. (Bariatrics is the field of medicine that deals with the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity.) Theresa Brosnan, APNP, a nurse practitioner at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin, also encouraged him to consider having the surgery, as did a relative who is an endocrinologist (a physician who specializes in the glands and hormones of the body). “Too many people were suggesting it for me to not look into it,” Ivan said.
Bariatric surgery involves reducing the size of the stomach by creating a small pouch that can hold only a small amount of food at one time. To accomplish this, the stomach is stapled or banded to create the small pouch. Afterwards, a person requires much less food to feel full.
Ivan made an appointment to talk with Medical College of Wisconsin surgeon James R. Wallace, MD, PhD. Dr. Wallace is the director of the Bariatric Surgery Program at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin. After learning about the benefits, risks and lifestyle changes involved with the surgery, Ivan heard the words that “clinched it” for him. “They said the diabetes would be gone,” he said.
But before he could have the surgery, Ivan was counseled about the important lifestyle changes he would have to make. He would have to eat much smaller amounts of food to accommodate his smaller stomach. He was told that if he ate too much food, or ate too quickly, he would have intense abdominal pain. Also, he would have to stick to a regular exercise routine.
Ivan met with the Bariatric Surgery Program team, including a dietitian, psychologist and Dr. Wallace. When the team was satisfied that Ivan was committed to making the necessary changes, he was approved for the surgery.
On March 28, 2006, Ivan underwent Roux Y gastric bypass surgery. Dr. Wallace made several small incisions in Ivan’s abdomen and inserted laparoscopic instruments to staple his stomach and reconnect his small intestine to the new stomach pouch, bypassing the larger portion of the stomach.
For a few days after the surgery, Ivan’s meals consisted of two ounces of pureed foods. “Luckily that didn’t last long,” he recalled. He graduated to soft foods, such as fish and potatoes.
His typical menu now is eggs, yogurt or cottage cheese for breakfast; salmon or a sandwich for lunch; and grilled meats such as chicken, pork or steak for dinner. Fresh fruits and vegetables round out his diet.
“I’m glad I can still eat steak!” Ivan said with a smile.
Ivan slowly built up his exercise routine. When he first returned to his job as a mainframe computer analyst, he spent part of his lunch break walking around the parking lot. The weight started coming off, and he soon found he could make a loop around the industrial park. He joined a health club, and now works out five days a week on weights and an elliptical trainer, which combines the exercise motions of a treadmill, stair climber, exercise cycle and ski machine.
Since his surgery, Ivan has lost 15 to 20 pounds a month. As the doctors had predicted, he no longer has diabetes, and his blood pressure is normal.
Currently at 250 pounds, Ivan beams when he talks about his transformation. “I’m happy that I can live my life again,” he said. “I can do sports. I’m able to walk. I’m a lot happier. I can breathe easier.
“I look and feel like a kid!”
Ivan is gratified that his weight loss serves as an inspiration to others. “It’s caused some people at work to change their habits,” he noted.
Froedtert’s Bariatric Surgery program is unique in offering intensive, lifelong follow-up care. In the first six months after surgery, patients have monthly visits with nurse practitioner Deborah Andris, MSN, APNP. Patients receive ongoing education and are able to discuss any difficulties they may have adjusting to a healthier diet and lifestyle. They are monitored for any changes in their health, such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies.
Ivan will be visiting the bariatric clinic every year to make sure he remains on course. “It’s a major lifestyle change. You have to be willing to work at it,“ Ivan said. “But I have no complaints about what I’ve had to give up to get this result.“
Last Review Date: July 6, 2007
Online Editor(s): Christopher Sadler