James was not always unable to do things. When his future wife Ioana met him, he fit her preference for stronger, bigger men.
“He could lift me on his shoulders like a sack,” she says. “I love him very much. I could see he was perfect.”
What she did not know was that during her life with him, she would eventually have to help lift him off the couch because his legs would not support his body to stand up.
James Kintzer, 60, says he was always on the heavy side, with his weight averaging between 200 and 300 pounds. He weighed about 400 pounds when he was run over by a tractor-trailer in 2011, leaving him immobile while he recovered.
“He was eating a lot, but then he got stuck in the house and was eating the same but didn’t move. He didn’t want to do anything at all,” Ioana says. “He gained weight. I gained weight.”
James knew he was not healthy. He had high blood pressure and diabetes and was on medication for both.
“It got out of control,” he says. “I couldn’t get out of a chair; I was so heavy. I thought I should go on a diet, but it never happened.”
However, he also got tired of his wife having to do everything for him, from helping him to the bathroom to completing all household tasks.
Ioana was also worried, and finally told him, “You aren’t dying in my house.”
Finally Exploring Bariatric Surgery
His urologist told him about a neighbor who was a bariatric surgeon, so James went to see him at his peak weight of 654 pounds.
That doctor was Dr. Moses Shieh, founder of Surgical Healing Arts, which specializes in medical and surgical weight loss, or bariatric surgery.
“For some people, weight loss, or bariatric surgery is the best way to improve health and lose weight,” Shieh says. “People who have a significant amount of weight to lose have only about 5% chance of losing weight and keeping it off with diet and exercise. However, with bariatric surgery, chances increase to 80% of successfully keeping weight off long term.”
James had laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy in April of 2016, and after about a year and a half of adjusting to the diet and exercise regimen required to live a healthy lifestyle after bariatric surgery, he got down to his current weight of 164 pounds. By helping him with the post-surgical dietary requirements, Ioana also lost about 100 pounds.
“Bariatric surgery helps get the weight-loss process started, but even sustainable weight loss from surgery requires changes in diet, behavior and understanding of nutrition for long-lasting results,” Shieh says.
Life After Bariatric Surgery
James limits carbohydrates, avoids soda and sugar, reads labels and sticks to a high protein diet. Occasionally he will splurge on a burger when dining out, but he does not eat the bun.
“I didn’t find anything hard about it,” James says about the lifestyle adjustments. “Dr. Shieh said the surgery was a tool, and you’ve got to use it. I didn’t cheat.”
For exercise, he sometimes walks on the treadmill or does cardio exercises at the gym, but mostly he walks a few blocks in his neighborhood.
“The important thing has been to get up and move,” he says, noting that movement is something he really appreciates after not being able to move much at all.
He also volunteers at his church to feed homeless residents, travels and plays with his grandchildren. He can drive a car. He is able to be helpful around the house.
“He’s busy all the time,” Ioana says. “Before, he couldn’t bend over to pull weeds. Now he helps with everything. We have traveled to every single state. He’s a normal guy.”
James does not take blood pressure or diabetes medication, and his blood pressure is on the low side.
“I can get out and talk to people and socialize,” he said. “I was missing so much stuff. I couldn’t fly to see my grandchildren because I was too big for the plane, and I couldn’t drive. Now we go to see them; we fly and travel a lot. I’m so happy in life.”
He says he thanks Shieh for saving his life every time he sees him.
Ioana adds, “We are very happy and hope his story will help other people.”
How to Get Help
At Surgical Healing Arts, our team works with patients to make sure they continue to be successful with their health goals, long after surgery. Support groups exercise tips, nutrition supplements and more provide ongoing support. Patients (and others) can find support through the weight management video series.
If you would like to learn about how bariatric surgery can help improve your life, register for a free seminar.