Page ContentSulphur Springs resident Daniel Farmer was overweight for most of his adult life. After years of trying with no success, he had accepted his size as a fact of life. When diabetes and other health problems began taking over, Daniel decided it was time to make a change—for good.
Out of control
It took more than 20 prescription pills each day to keep Daniel Farmer’s health under control—if you could call it that. In addition to his medication, unmanaged diabetes left him taking in
almost 100 units of insulin twice a day. High cholesterol and high blood pressure rounded out his list of ailments, not to mention arthritis and back pain.
In short, he was barely getting by and most likely close to a serious health event—such as a heart attack or stroke—at the young age of 42.
“I was a walking stroke. The doctor couldn’t tell me when the heart attack or stroke that I was going to have would happen, of course, but it was going to be the big one,” said Daniel.
Aware of how serious his health problems had become, Daniel even called his wife to say goodbye after his diabetes diagnosis landed him in the hospital several years ago.
“I don’t even want to say it, but I was dying,” said Daniel.
Weight is a big factor when deciding to have weight loss surgery. But so are many other health factors. By the time he reached 380 pounds, Daniel’s weight was impacting his sleep and his relationships. His sleep apnea and snoring had become so severe, he and his wife were no longer able to sleep in the same room.
With health hazards controlling his life, Daniel’s primary care physician, Dr. Bridgette Coker, suggested he visit Hunt Regional Medical Partners Surgical Associates
for a bariatric surgery consultation. It was there that he met bariatric surgeon, Dr. Viet Phuong
Preparing for surgery
Dr. Phuong wasn’t the first bariatric surgeon Daniel met with. He had attended consultations before, and had even spent money attending seminars.
“I was skeptical,” said Daniel.
“The other doctor was charging for seminars and classes. It was several hundred dollars that the insurance didn’t cover,” he said.
To Daniel’s surprise, there were no strings attached when he attended Dr. Phuong’s informational session. Only a doctor who wanted to help.
Before undergoing bariatric surgery
, patients must undergo a series of tests to confirm that they are ready, including nutrition counseling and mental health screening.
“They run you through a mental test. I knew who I was before and I wanted to be that person again, so I was ready. I passed the screening with flying colors. I wanted to be that small guy who was going to live,” said Daniel.
Prepared for the challenges of recovery and ready to begin his new life, Daniel underwent gastric bypass surgery in August 2017—a decision that would change his life forever.
A lifestyle change
After only two days of recovery in the hospital, Daniel was ready to start his weight loss journey.
But once at home, he was forced to make changes that were completely different than his previous way of life.
“We’d go to McDonald’s and sit down and eat. I’d eat six cheeseburgers. I was so used to that eating. My mindset was set on that way of eating,” said Daniel.
But after surgery, Daniel’s body could no longer tolerate his previous habits.
To help retrain his body, Daniel attended nutrition counseling with Sally Rhodes
, Hunt Regional’s registered dietitian for bariatric surgery and diabetes patients.
“Learning what to eat and what not to eat is a big help, like protein. Knowing I need protein has helped a lot,” said Daniel.
“Sally is brilliant when it comes to food. She knows what she’s talking about,” he said.
After learning how to nourish his body properly, Daniel’s weight began to fall dramatically.
Before his surgery, Dr. Phuong asked Daniel to set a realistic goal weight which they agreed was 230 pounds. At his sixth month follow-up appointment, Daniel was already down to 250 pounds.
Seeing the benefits
When Daniel first saw his primary care physician following his surgery, she was in tears from his appearance.
“It floored her, the difference I’d made,” said Daniel.
But her tears were not just from his weight loss. They were also due to the dramatic changes in his health. Once out of control, Daniel’s diabetes is now gone. And his cholesterol is back within a healthy range.
“Before surgery, my A1C was so high it didn’t register. Their scale goes to 14 and mine was off the charts. Now it’s at 4.8,” said Daniel, overjoyed with the improvement in his diabetes levels.
“My cholesterol is perfect, better than I was when I was 15 years old. It’s been amazing,” he said.
For his five children and grandson, Daniel’s weight loss has meant getting back the dad and grandfather that had been sidelined for so long.
“It has made things a lot better. I’m trying to show everybody I’m a different person. I wasn’t quite the parent I wanted to be being that big. But now we have a grandson and I’m going to be active and a big part of his life,” said Daniel, adding that he also has a second grandchild on the way who he plans to treasure just as much.
One unexpected side effect from Daniel’s surgery and weight loss has been a distinct decrease in his depression.
“Before, I never went anywhere. I was scared to talk to people,” said Daniel, who was on medication to treat his depression until March of 2018.
“Just by myself, I quit taking it. I told my wife I was done. I didn’t need it, I was too happy,” said Daniel.
Now a year out from surgery, Daniel weighs 180 pounds—200 pounds less than he did before.
“I recommend it to anybody. It is life-changing,” said Daniel.
He says that he owes it all to God and Dr. Phuong. In fact, he is so thrilled with his results, he has even found himself marketing for Dr. Phuong whenever he has the opportunity.
“He and his team are amazing. I bet I took 100 cards and I gave them all out,” said Daniel.
As for what the future holds, Daniel has long passed his goal weight and is now focused on maintaining his newfound health.
“Being this healthy again is a miracle. It truly is a miracle,” said Daniel.
“I’ve got a beautiful wife I get to spend the rest of my life—my long life—with now. Not just a little bit longer. I get to watch my grandkids grow up,” he said.