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  • Jane Wheeler

My Courageous Husband

One year ago today my husband did a very courageous thing!

He stepped way out of his comfort zone to deal with an issue that he was not winning

the war over, his weight.

They say that nothing in life will change unless you find the courage to change yourself first.

Change can be scary, walking into the unknown, sometimes the what we have is familiar and we are not so interested in rocking the boat, so we stay right where we are.

We had encountered a number of people (like 9) over the past few years that have had radical success with weight loss surgery. Brian also had a hernia which compounded his problem.

Brian had gone to the local doctors and was basically placed into a cycle of defeat regarding his weight. Unfortunately (very tongue in cheek), he was an extremely health big guy and there was no need for medical intervention. He had had more than one doctor say they wanted his blood pressure! Doctors would not touch his hernia unless he lost weight. He could not seem to lose weight which affected the hernia and it and he simply got bigger.

After meeting a lady in Costco one day, a former weight loss patient, he came home and asked me to go online with him and look over the papers and info for surgery in Mexico. He applied that night for a chance to go. The Doctors in Mexico wanted pictures of various angles of his hernia before he was accepted to the program.

That was a Friday, by Tuesday we were accepted for surgery and even had a surgery date for July 16, a Pre-op diet that had to be followed and we were scrambling to find seat sale prices for airfare to Tijuana.

The Pre-op diet was to be followed for the 5 weeks before the surgery. It was a diet to deal with “fatty liver” as it is a fact that larger, obese people do have a larger, fattier livers. We were told that if Brian did not adhere to the diet and the Doctor opened him up to find that Brian had not done the diet and his liver was too large and had too much fat on it, he would close him up and send him home, no refunds.

Brian lost 40 pounds in the 5 weeks before the surgery following the fatty liver diet.

We flew to San Diego and were picked up right at the airport by an English speaking lady who drove us the 30 minute drive to the hospital in Tijuana where we needed to go. Nervously at the hospital we were getting more and more anxious when we could not speak Spanish and the admin and staff could not speak English back to us. We at this point had wondered exactly what we had signed up for. Brian was getting more and more nervous and when a nurse took him in the back room for some preliminary exams and tests and all he could make out was that she wanted him to take all his clothes off, he almost bolted.

It was at this point that Rosa entered the hospital. Rosa was our “concierge” for the remainder of the trip. She was Mexican but spoke fluent English, she had been late to come see us as she had been with another patient who needed some attention. Rosa had walked this journey with hundreds of weight loss patients from all over who had come to Tijuana for surgery. Rosa was our driver, our tour guide and meal chaperon so we (I) never had to go anywhere alone.

Our Doctor was a very well known and respected surgeon in the weight loss world and one of the top weight loss surgeons in Mexico, he had an impeccable reputation.

We were ushered into Brian’s and my hospital room. The rooms were equipped with a hospital bed for him, a bed for me and a huge and lovely washroom for the both of us.

Monday morning Brian was taken down to surgery and by noon he was only getting back in his room, I had been told he would be back by 10:30 so by noon I was praying like crazy and a little anxious. Brian came back a little cranky and tired but the doctor said the surgery went well. The doctor later explained that Brian’s hernia had indeed caused some grief with the enormity of it on the inside, but he assured us that he had taken care of it and done the stomach sleeve operation for the weight loss surgery. He said everything went very well other than mentioning Brian was incredibly strong.

His words to Brian were, “you almost killed my guy.”

I guess Brian when he was asleep jerked his arm out and almost cold clocked a fellow in the surgery room, he did it twice.

The nurses had Brian up and walking that afternoon, albeit he was not happy about it, but he did not complain and did his hallway laps regularly. The more walking the better the outcome and the less gas. Brian walked.

By Wednesday we were taken over to a 5 star resort where Brian could convalesce, get room service and I could shop, sit by the pool or take great naps, and again, all in a 5 star resort! I marvelled that this country had seen the economic value in pulling together to provide above standard medical care for patients.

People came from all over the world for weight loss surgery, plastic surgery, dental surgery and more and this whole city benefited from the medical profession. The doctors and nurses, the hospital and clinics, the hotels with the patients and caregivers, the tour companies, the taxi and uber drivers, the restaurants that cater to the care givers, the hired conceirge’s that took care of all the patients and caregivers needs all made a complete package that made the experience absolutely wonderful. The whole city was systematically fed by the medical system and the patients who came from all over.

The medical care we experienced there was outstanding. If Brian needed anything, they were there, if he rang his buzzer someone arrived immediately. They were continuously checking on him to make sure he was okay and comfortable. The doctors, nutritionists, nurses all came to the hotel to check on him, to take out his staples, change the dressing, it was totally awesome!

Most of us know when you are in the hospital, it is hard to sleep, there is a lot of noise, checking and interrupted sleep. Brian responded so much better when he could lie in a king size bed, order room service if he wanted anything and have peace and quiet to truly rest. I wish our province and country would learn this valuable lesson that benefits both the economy and the patients! We took a few extra days to allow Brian more healing time before we flew home and my extra time at a 5 star resort was not difficult to endure.

So today, one year later I asked Brian, “would you do it all over again?”

His answer was, “Yes, I wish I had done it sooner.”

He cautions that the surgery is only a tool, it is not the final step in the struggle with weight, changing your lifestyle to be more active, changing your food choices and portions are also utmost “key” components as well. We were horrified to over hear other patients within days of their surgery at the clinic talk about Dunkin Donuts, Cheeseburgers and fries all waiting for them to come and get them.

We realize that together we have had to change up our eating. We rarely have bread or potatoes anymore and we have switched to small plates instead of the large ones to help us regulate portions. We still struggle with the getting more active part but we are working on it. We have not become fanatical and Brians stomach reminds him very quickly if he eats a wrong food or eats too much.

This will be a struggle for the rest of our lives, this fighting with making good life choices, but in reality, is that not the same with everything we face in life? Life is always a complex chain of decisions and choices.

So here we are one year later and 150 lbs lighter, not having people comment at how "big" he is, weight jokes, and endless stares of rude people, We can shop off the rack (well almost he still is 6’5”), not having to check out how sturdy furniture is before you sit on it or remain standing because you are not sure all the chairs in the room will hold you. Choosing to take the stairs because you can actually climb them now instead of wonder if your heart will give out before you get to the top.

We did not make the decision without prayer and asking for divine guidance, we believe that God directed us to this clinic and doctor and used them to help Brian in this journey to better health. God provided the means, the way and the who, we simply showed up. We are so grateful to everyone who helped us with this section of our journey and the support and prayers of so many.

I am so proud of the decision my husband made to better his health and ultimately to improve our lifestyle, our marriage and free us up to do things some of the cool things that we want to do. (he wants to purchase his own kayak - he can fit one now).

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