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A New, Healthier Focus

Five-year-old Jayden Yanzick reaches his arms wide, standing on the side of the pool.

“Catch me! Catch me!” he yells, adjusting his bright green goggles before leaping into the air.

His dad, Paul, is right there, grasping his son tightly before he splashes under the surface.

“I got you!” he says, scooping his son up into a hug before the next jump.

For the 36-year-old Sioux Falls man, there was a time when splashing in the pool with his two young sons would have been nearly impossible.

The Sanford Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Program helped him lose 160 pounds through weight loss surgery. The procedure restored his health and rescued him from what certainly would have been an early death from diabetes and hypertension, he says.

“I knew it was time to do something,” says Paul, who weighed 380 pounds at his heaviest. “I needed a tool to help me lose the weight.”

A family issue

Paul had struggled with weight gain since junior high. He had tried several methods to lose weight, but nothing seemed to get him lasting results. He’d lose the pounds temporarily, only to have them return.

Both of his parents had issues with their weight and had diabetes. In fact, both have died of complications related to diabetes within the last decade.

With that family history, it wasn’t a surprise to Paul when he too was diagnosed with diabetes several years ago. Soon he was on oral medication to try to control his blood sugar and medicine for high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and nothing seemed to help.

“Soon the pills weren’t handling it and I had to take insulin shots,” says Paul. “The amount just kept creeping up and up.”

The software development manager said he could see the writing on the wall. If he didn’t do something soon, he might not be around to see his boys, ages 2 and 5, grow up. And he wanted a different kind of life for them right now.

“There were so many times when I didn’t have the energy to do things, when I’d watch instead of play,” says Paul, splashing in the pool with two-year-old Tanner. “There’s no way you would have gotten me into the water.”

Looking for change

Paul asked his endocrinologist if weight loss surgery might be a good option. He got an enthusiastic referral to weight loss surgeon, Dr. Dennis Glatt, who walked him through his options.

Together they decided the best option for Paul would be laparoscopic gastric bypass surgery, a procedure that would reduce the size of his stomach and bypass part of the small intestine. Not only would the minimally invasive surgery help Paul lose weight, but also studies have shown it could also end his diabetes almost immediately.

“I would walk out of the hospital with no more diabetes,” says Paul. “No more insulin shots, no more pills.”

In December 2011, Paul had the surgery and soon was back to his normal schedule. His eating habits, however, were drastically different and the weight dropped quickly.

His commitment

Paul started exercising right after surgery, which helped him lose the weight and he soon felt and looked even better.

His health improved so quickly that it was a bit of an adjustment. He had to quit taking the blood pressure and high cholesterol medication he had used for years because his body no longer needed it.

“I felt better and I had a self confidence that I had never experienced before,” says Paul.

The surgery wasn’t the solution to his problems. It was the tool he used to get the results he needed. He has been able to maintain his weight loss through hard work and a commitment to change, he says.

Playing with his children in the pool, Paul says he hopes to teach his children through example how important healthy eating and exercise can be. He hopes to end the cycle of weight gain and diabetes that has hurt his family in the past.

“I hope they never have to go through what I had to go through,” says Paul, as he watches his happy toddler splash in the water. “It’s something you keep working at because it’s so important.”

To learn more about surgical options for weight loss at Sanford Health, attend a weight loss surgery event.

Posted Date: December 2013