Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Married couple has bariatric surgery together

Poughkeepsie, NY
Married couples do lots of things together.

Sometimes, that involves activities designed to get healthier, such as exercising and eating better.

Trish and Jeff Tryon decided to take that one step further: They had gastric bypass operations on the same day.

In Part Three of The Early Showseries "HeartScore" on Wednesday, correspondent Debbye Turner Bell introduced viewers to the couple from Poughkeepsie, in upstate New York, determined to lose large amounts of weight to improve their health and up their odds of living long lives.

It used to Jeff, a take volunteer firefighter, four minutes to get into his gear. Now, he can do in half that time.

Trish, an EMT instructor, also struggled. "I would walk down the hallway and I'd have to sit," she told Turner.

They were both morbidly obese, medically defined as more than 100 pounds overweight. Jeff was 440 pounds. Trish weighed in at 399.

For her, it was a life threatening situation. She suffered from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart problems.

After several failed diets, they explored weight loss surgery and decided to have gastric bypass procedures together.

"Without this operation," says Dr. Laura Choi, a surgeon at Danbury Hospital, in Connecticut, "it was very difficult for them to change their lifestyle."

An emotional Jeff recalled that Choi said, "You have a choice. Sign a contract to have the surgery and add 25 years to your life. Or sign a contract with a funeral home."

The Tryons had their operations in November. A small pouch was created in their stomachs, and their small intestines re-routed to the new, smaller stomachs. It's "worked out beautifully" for them, Choi says, because they have instant support with each other, and they both they recovered very quickly. "You can see it in their faces," she adds. "You can see how excited they are about shedding the pounds, being able to do those everyday things they love to do."

Since the surgery, they eat very small portions. No more sweets or fried foods.

In just three months, Trish has a hundred pounds and Jeff, 81.

His legs don't hurt anymore and now, when he drives the firehouse ambulance, he no longer worries about his belly getting in the way. And she can walk much better.

They've lost weight and gained a whole new life. "It made our love bond very close," Jeff says.

"I know now that I am going to be around to see my son get married and have kids," Trish said, beginning to cry, "and I didn't think I was going to do that before."

Before the surgery, she was taking 14 pills every day for the long list of health issues her weight was causing. She's now off all her medications.

"Contrary to what a lot of people believe about gastric bypass surgery and other types of surgery, it's not the easy way out," Choi observes. "The long-term success essentially depends on how well a person is able to change their lifestyle, and their outlook and relationship with food."

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March 18, 2009 3:38 AM  

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