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In March 2010, Bob Ellis had a severe reaction to an insect bite that put him into septic shock. His goddaughter found him on his bedroom floor, where he had been lying for three days. When the paramedics came to his home, Bob was so out of it that it took them over four hours to convince him he needed to go to the hospital.
One year later
In March 2011, I was coming up on the one-year anniversary of that near-death experience and weighed about 715 pounds. I was dealing with high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation and lymphedema. I had heard about the
Weight and Wellness Center
at Tufts Medical Center and decided it was time to check it out. All of the male members of my family developed serious health issues (mostly heart-related) around 60 years old and passed away from those issues. As I was getting older, I knew I wanted to cut that chain. I sat at the back of the auditorium at three information sessions and listened to all of the patient speakers. I saw how good everyone looked and how surgery changed their lives. The lightbulb went off in my head and I said, “I’m going to do this.”
I called my primary care physician and asked for a referral. Three days later, I was sitting in an exam room at Tufts MC and starting the process. I had meetings with the psychologist and nutritionist and finally the date of my surgery with
Sajani Shah, MD
, was scheduled for the end of October that year.
My emotions on the day of surgery were running high. I couldn’t believe I’m finally doing this. I had previously tried every kind of weight loss program there is and nothing worked for me. I had heard horror stories about complications from weight loss surgery so I was hesitant to do it for so long. But those thoughts soon disappeared.
After weight loss surgery
For the first month after surgery, it was really hard. Anything I ate or drank tasted sour. But at my first post-op visit two weeks after surgery, I had lost 50-55 pounds. The staff couldn’t believe it. They recalibrated the scale because they thought it was wrong. But I wasn’t surprised - I noticed that getting around was easier and I was a lot more energetic.
Before surgery, my mobility was non-existent. I could go from my apartment to my car to work and home. Now, I walk from my house to the clinic – over three miles round trip. After one appointment at Tufts MC, I ran errands before heading home and walked almost six miles. I feel so much better – physically and emotionally.
The journey continues
It’s been a little over nine years since my surgery and I’ve lost over 400 pounds. But I’m not stopping until I hit my goal weight. And even then, maintaining a healthy weight is a life-long journey. It’s something I’ll always have to work on. But what makes it a little easier is the feedback I get from family and friends. It’s been amazing and is part of what keeps me going. I run into people on the street – kids I grew up with – who don’t recognize me at first. Everyone has been very supportive and encouraging.
This has been one of the best experiences I’ve had in my life. Looking back at everything I’ve gone through to get to this point, I would do it all over again. Even though I may have been a bit stubborn along the way, the doctors and staff in the Weight and Wellness Center have stuck with me. I’m so grateful for everything they’ve done.