Tommy's Biography

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When I turned 10 years old I began to have a problem with my weight. I had always been very skinny as a child. You could see all my bones and everything. At 10 I began to pack on the pounds. By the time I was in 8th grade I was sort of big. I went on a diet before 9th grade and lost some weight as you can see in the pictures below. That was short lived and slowly the weight crept back up until I got to 260 pounds by my senior year in 1996.

Tommy 8 years old 1985

Tommy 10 years old 1987

Tommy at 8 years old

Tommy 10 years old 1987

After High school I did not try to lose weight anymore for a few years. I figured that I was just destined to be fat and to live with it. In 1998 when I started working at USlabel in Greensboro I was around 280 pounds. I did not have any health problems as of yet but it was only a matter of time. Less than a block away from USlabel was a health club called Sport time health and fitness center. I decided to join and go before work. This turned into an obsession to me. I then started taking the Twin Labs Diet fuel and Hydroxycut in hopes that it would help me loose the weight. I started dropping rapidly. Fueled by my desire to lose even more I quit eating regular meals. I was eating very small amounts and that speeded up the weight loss. Within 5 months I had lost down to 199 pounds. The problem with this was I had to take 6-8 Diet Fuel pills at a time 4-6 times a day so that it would be effective. This stuff was a mix of caffeine, ephedria, and aspirin. I was soar all the time and cranky with people at work to the point that I decided that I would rather be fat than have to feel like that. I decided to quit the diet, the supplements, and the 2-3 hours per day at the gym. I cut back to 3 time a week at the gym and began to eat healthier amounts of food. Without the supplements I started to regain weight and got up to around 220 pounds and stayed there for a few months.

Tommy 9th Grade 1993

Tommy at USLABEL 1999

Tommy 9th grade 1993

Tommy at USLABEL 1999

Tommy Christmas 2000

Tommy and family Christmas 2000

Tommy at Christmas 2000

Tommy Christmas 2000 with Mom and Grandaddy

In 2000, I quit USlabel, and went back to school to get another degree.

I got a part time job at MEDTOX in June 2000 as an MIS assistant. The weight started to creep back up because I was no longer going to the gym on a regular basis due to the gym being 30 miles away and the fact that time was scarce. I rapidly got back up to 260 pounds by the end of 2001.

I decided to go to a place called " The Bariatric Clinic" in my hometown of Graham. This was supposed to be physicians assisted weight loss. All they did for me was burn a hole in my wallet and scold me once a month if I did not lose any weight. Also their answer was more pills. This after a year got old and I decided that I had only gained weight on this program.

Then I tried Weight Watchers online but I never could follow the program without being ravished with hunger by the end of the day.

By this time I was burning up all the time, my feet were in constant pain, my back hurt, and worst of all I developed severe High Blood Pressure. That was a new symptom because before, in 1998 when I weighed 280, my blood pressure was always 110 over 70. Now it sometimes reached 190 over 110 in a resting position. I had constant headaches and looked and felt awful. My primary care physician had me on a fluid pill for severe edema in my legs and a blood pressure pill. I was also on prevacid for severe acid reflux disease. My dentist told me that my teeth were dissolving in the back of my mouth due to the reflux.


Tommy Christmas 2001, the beginning of the health problems.

Tommy Christmas 2001

During this timeframe my grandfather  of  the  home  suffered a heart attack and was confined to the bed. Everyone on his side of the family has High blood Pressure or heart trouble of some kind. Also diabetes is prevalent in his family as well.

After his heart attack we cared for him at home for 3 years. He developed Peripheral Vascular Disease in both of his legs during this time. You see, Granddaddy had a triple bypass in 1992 and was put on high power fluid pills for his swelling. These pills make you constantly go to the bathroom. He did not have a functioning hip on his right side due to osteoarthritis and multiple hip replacements that became infected and susequently had to be removed permanently. This made it impossible for him to make it to the bathroom in time to prevent an accident. He choose not to take the pills. The swelling for 8 years damaged the blood vessels in his legs to the point that they constantly wept fluid out of the skin. After he had the heart attack they hooked him to a catheter and gave him high powered fluid pills to get rid of the fluid. He lost 28 pounds in 2 days. When he came home we had to take care of him like a newborn baby. His body was so damaged that he could barely move. It was so bad that if we sat him up on the side of the bed his legs would turn black within 30 seconds from lack of circulation. He eventually had to have both legs amputated 6 inches from the pelvis. He only lived 6 days after the surgery before he passed away.

Watching all of this concerned me because I knew that he never got above 220 pounds in his adult life and he had all those heart problems. Here I was weighing  between  290 - 315 and only 27 with wheezing, and severe swelling in my lower legs, which was how his started. I knew that I had to do something, and soon.

Tommy at work 2003

Tommy at work 2003

I began to search for more options for weight loss and discovered Gastric bypass as an option in November of 2003. I began to research a Dr. Rutledge, who did the surgery. I dropped this Idea when I met a person who had had the Mini-Gastric  Bypass  with this doctor and within a year had stretched the new stomach.   Then she had regained all the weight back. Shortly after I began My research I got a call during the first week of December 2003 from my Dad. He told me that he was having Roux-En-Y Gastric bypass on December 9th 2003 at Durham Regional hospital. At this time he was around 410 pounds. Anyway he had the surgery and rapidly started loosing the weight. When I saw this I was ready for surgery. By this time I was up to 315 and miserable. I could not stop eating no matter what I did.

Tommy at 315     2 pictures

Tommy at work 2004

Tommy 2 days before RNY Gastric Bypass

I waited until July to go to the first Seminar at Durham Regional. This was an eye opener for me and I decided then and there that this was the solution. I turned in my application that day and then made the appointment with my primary Doctor. I had the list of all the tests that I needed in hand for that appointment. He immediately started me on the process. I had the Barium test, Arterial Blood Gas, Lung function, hormones, and the others that I have forgot to mention done in record time and sent to Durham. I had all the group therapy meetings with the psychiatrist and the other doctors and after my insurance cleared I finally got the date of September 23rd 2004.

In the two weeks leading up to my surgery I went on a 2 week vacation to the beach. When I came back on the 19th I worked the 20th - 22nd and had the surgery on the 23rd which was a Thursday. I weighed 315 in the hospital that day. I was discharged on Sunday September 26th. I had been at home 2 weeks to the day and was doing great. The surgical pain was almost gone by this time. I went to bed at 9:30 that night and was about to fall asleep when I started hurting on my right side. At first I thought it was just more gas because that is common after this type of surgery. Anyway the pain became so bad I could only crawl and scream. I felt like I was dying it hurt so bad. I had my neighbor take my to the hospital where they diagnosed me with having a huge Kidney stone that was lodged in the urethra as it exited the kidney. The hospital doctors immediately said that the Gastric bypass was the reason. I did not believe them because common sense tells you that it takes longer than 2 weeks for a stone to form. I had the stone busted up with lithotripsy the following week and I have been doing good ever since.

I currently as of 11-10-2005 weigh 170. This would make it exactly 145 pounds in 13.5 months. This is amazing to me. For any one who reads this I highly recommend this surgery only as a last resort solution. Mind you, This is a VERY SERIOUS OPERATION. My paternal Grandmother DIED after she had it done. My cousin had her stomach pouch rupture after she had hers. My Dad and myself have been lucky.



Before Surgery September 21, 2004

8 months after Surgery May 31, 2005

Tommy 2 days Pre-Op Tommy 8 months post-op

Now after loosing the weight I am healthy as can be. From what the doctors say, all my Lab work is now normal. I have normal cholesterol and triglycerides, All the swelling and wheezing is gone. I still have fatigue and muscle pain but I hope this is a side effect from the surgery and not something else.

Tommy in January 2006

Tommy In January 2006