On Facebook I noticed one of by friends’ post a picture of a huge burger, covered in cheese and wrapped in lettuce in lieu of a bun. I thought for sure this was a fellow low carber, but it was someone who had a type of weight loss surgery. I was confounded. Why the surgery? I could eat this way every day and lose weight and remain fit.
Why allow a surgeon to unnecessarily compromise your body?
Why take the risks associated with any surgery?
Why do any of it when getting fit is easy?
Back in 2005 my life seemed to be on a great track. I had a good marriage, my business was successful and I had announced my intent to run for Congress. The only drawback was that I was carrying around too much weight. So, I resumed my low carb eating, started working out and was going to get back in shape. Then in August of that year something happened to change everything — it was a day that changed my life. My then wife and I were eating out and I began to choke on my food. In a panic, I ran outside to the parking lot desperately attempting to dislodge the the chunk of meat stuck in my throat. Eventually the food broke free and I was fine.
For several days I was cautious about eating anything too solid. Eventually I tried to eat again and there was a sensation that something was stuck in my throat. This occurred several times before I decided to get checked out. I went to an ear, nose and throat doctor close to my office and he diagnosed me with acid reflux.
Acid reflux? I wasn’t too sure. I didn’t have any signs or symptoms, but he assured me because he saw redness in my throat. He put me on the little purple pill.
For the next few weeks my condition continued to worsen, to the point that I couldn’t eat anything other than ice cream. Not exactly low carb, but it was really the closest thing to solid food I could eat without experiencing a choking sensation.
I returned to the E.N.T several times and was given the run around. I guess because I was concerned about my health, I believe I was labeled a problem patient. I later found out it was that they thought the problem was in my head. They eventually had a gastroenterologist consult and did an upper endoscopy. The upper endoscopy did NOT show any signs of acid reflux. I had a copy of the report sent to my office and the G.I. doctor basically stated that my problem was in my head.
I was infuriated. This had been going on for months. I was not improving and much in my life was beginning to suffer. I took matters into my own hands and ordered a scan of my throat and did a blood work including an IG profile. Sure enough there was an abnormality. I had unilateral tonsillitis secondary to mononucleosis. The opening in my throat was reduced to seven (7) millimeters.
The cause was found. You would think that would be the end of the story.
I went to Philadelphia because the presentation indicated a small chance of cancer. I had the surgery the week before Thanksgiving and I was on the mend. Then on Thanksgiving morning I had a small bleed. I had it checked and all seemed okay. Yet, three weeks after surgery I was still unable to eat. Another issue was that I had been consistently running a 102 degree fever. I had it under control and I informed my doctor by phone and he said it probably wasn’t anything to worry about. I went back to the Philadelphia and the E.N.T. doctor stated that all was good and the full throat feeling was in my head. I asked him about the fever that was still present. Even though he did NOT take my temperature, he told me he believed it was psychosomatic.
I was so tired and malnourished at that point that I listened to what I was told and made an appointment with the trauma Psychiatrist who diagnosed me with, are you ready for this one —- post traumatic stress disorder. I was put on a combination of Paxil and Xanax. At this point there was conflict in my marriage and my business was beginning to fall apart; a situation which, to this day, has not recovered.
After about a month on this concoction of psycho-pharmaceuticals I was no better off. Finally, I had enough. I stopped the medications and ordered another scan of my throat. The good news was that I now had thirty one (31) millimeter opening. The bad news; my swollen, inflamed and enlarged uvula was hanging all the way down to my larynx giving the sensation that I was choking. My friend took my temperature and you guessed it — 102. He looked in my throat and noted the redness and swelling. He asked me how long I had the fever. I told him since Thanksgiving, it was now February. He told me I had sepsis and his next words I will never forget, Joseph, why aren’t you dead?
He made sure I got appropriate care and within a week I was back to eating normal foods. Unfortunately, these events were the precipitating factor in a downward spiral. I was unable to raise any significant money for my campaign and the money I had set aside was being eaten up keeping my practice afloat. Not being a quitter I hung in the race but that meant reduced focus on my business. I was wracked with anger and anxiety, so much so that eventually my marriage fell apart.
My life had spiraled out of control and I turned to food for comfort and insulation. I cared for little more than taking care of my patients and eating and eating and eating. One day in March 2008, I took stock in what I had allowed to happen to my person. I stopped the excuses and took a good hard look at myself.
I was obese, slovenly and out of shape. I had fought so hard not to die from what had happened, that I had begun to slowly kill myself with food and inactivity.
All of this stemmed from a medical chain of errors, culminating with a post-op infection, from what is regarded as a relatively minor surgical procedure. Why would anyone willingly put themselves through a procedure with much greater risk, potential life altering side effects and after going through all that, still has a rate of recidivism?
Take control of you own personal life. You can control what you eat. You can control how much exercise you get. The benefits of discipline and self-control far outweigh the risks of surgical procedures.
You can do it; the first step is to believe that you can!
Dr. Joe Leonardi is the author of the life changing book; Fat Then Fit Now; A life beyond wight loss.
- Why Weight Loss Surgery? (fatthenfitnow.wordpress.com)