Brian Dargitz - Edmore, MI
"Everything is easier now. I don't hesitate to climb a ladder or go up a tree stand – I can do anything I want to now."
He Lost 200 Pounds Thanks to Determination and Bariatric Surgery
Brian Dargitz has been an outdoorsman for most of his life. An avid hunter, he took full advantage of Michigan's game seasons and didn't let his weight stop him. "Even at more than 400 pounds, I still hunted," he said.
In November 2015, however, things changed. "I was going deer hunting and had to ride a four-wheeler to get to the deer blind," he said. "I thought to myself, 'Enough.'"
Like many other people, Brian started his weight loss journey by attending a free informational seminar about bariatric surgery. Once he made the decision to have a procedure, he was determined to do whatever was necessary to succeed. "I weighed 464 pounds and before they would even consider doing surgery, they told me I had to lose 30 pounds," he said. "I lost 42."
To lose the initial required weight, Brian said he severely restricted his carbohydrates and eliminated carbonated beverages.
On June 28, 2016, Brian underwent a sleeve gastrectomy. General and Bariatric Surgeon Jeffrey Bonacci, M.D., performed the procedure at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma. A sleeve gastrectomy maintains the basic function of the stomach; however, the volume the stomach can handle is significantly less. Patients who undergo sleeve gastrectomy feel full quickly and consume less food at each meal. On average, patients lose about half of their excess body weight in 12 months.
Brian said his experience at MyMichigan Medical Center Alma was very good. "The nurses were a bit baffled because I got up so quickly and walked a lot longer than they expected," he said. "I had no post-op issues and no pain to speak of. The only pain I remember is when they pulled out the drainage tube."
After surgery, Brian's resolve never dimmed. "I did exactly what I was supposed to do," he said. "Post-surgery, you're on a liquid diet for weeks. I admit I got tired of it, but I did it. I walked twice a day, every day, as well."
His tenacity paid off; over the course of a year, Brian lost 220 pounds. "I feel great!" he said. "Compared to where I was two years ago, I'm 1,000 percent better."
Brian has maintained his healthier eating habits and exercises every day. "I walk 45 minutes a day during lunch and usually log another two miles in the course of a work day." He feels fortunate that he is able to eat what he likes and wants, just in smaller quantities. "I use a saucer for meals instead of a dinner plate and I still use sugar substitutes."
Brian said he doesn't feel restricted or deprived and is satisfied with a sample instead of a serving. "If I get a craving for something my mom bakes, I'll have a few bites or I'll have a few sugar-free chocolates," he said. "The only thing I totally gave up was carbonation. I haven't had pop since before surgery."
Now, Brian carries 244 pounds on his 6-foot, 1-inch frame. In ways big and small, his life has changed for the better. "Everything is easier now," he said. "I don't hesitate to climb a ladder or go up a tree stand – I can do anything I want to now. My joints feel better, I can shop for clothes anywhere and I can get down on the floor and play with my grandchild. I really believe the surgery added years to my life."
He found there is a new world to experience. Brian likes to work on older cars, including a race car that belongs to a friend of his. "It's a 1300 HP, '66 Chevelle," he said. "I used to think, 'one of these days, I'm going to get in that thing,' and after losing weight I did!" Next, he wants to sky dive and explore under the sea with scuba diving.
Losing more than 200 pounds wasn’t easy. While bariatric surgery was an essential factor, the true key to Brian's long-term success is his determination. "I had my mind set that I was going to do this and be successful," he said. "I'd tell anyone considering bariatric surgery to go for it and give it 110 percent. I know it will make their life better, too."
MyMichigan Health offers bariatric surgery in both Alma and Midland. Those who would like more information about surgical weight management may register for a free in-person information seminar at www.mymichigan.org/bariatricseminars or watch MyMichigan's online seminar video series at www.mymichigan.org/bariatriconlineseminar.