Mike’s Story

I was contacted by Abby of Dr. O’Neill’s office about my story and experience with their office. I was glad to hear from them and give my feedback. Their questions and my answers/feedback are below.

Who were you and what did you do?

For the first 32 years of my adult life I was a workaholic and saw my weight go unchecked. I would balloon in weight to 300 pounds and then lose some pounds only to see the weight return. I did this time and time again from age 20 to the age of 52 years and 10 months. I literally lost a ton of weight during this period of my life!
I was able to positively deal with many ‘life’ issues during this time but could not see my way to manage my workaholic tendencies and my stress eating with addiction to food. I helped many people with their personal and work issues during my 28 years in Operations Management with the SC Ports Authority and 3 1/2 years as Executive Director of a local nonprofit. While working to save this nonprofit from January 2005 to June 2008 I went from 290 pounds to 360 pounds! I worked 70 hour weeks for 3 1/2 years to stabilize and grow the nonprofit I lead. That work was my single focus for those years. I am proud of the work I did there but I am not happy that I neglected ME and neglected many other areas of my life.

During my career with the Ports Authority I was able to go ‘all-in’ for periods of time and then create some balance in my life for periods. I would take over a new Terminal Operation or set of Departments and go ‘all-in’ for 10-12 months retooling and enhancing the operation and then add balance back to my life for a year or so. It was not perfect but it seemed to work. This all added to my yo-yo weight loss and gain. BUT, the years from 2005-2008 almost killed ME! In hindsight, the years of yo-yo behavior set me up for the 3 1/2 years of totally neglected ME and other important things in my life.

By 2008 I was on 7 different medications for acid reflux, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, migraines, and asthma. I was also using a CPAP machine for Sleep Apnea. All of these ailments were weight related. I was as unhealthy as I had ever been and felt horrible. The picture of me in February of 2009 is the picture of a man that felt horrible and looked old.

What event sparked or encouraged you to make the change in your life?

You would think I had enough medical issues going on in my life to decide to make a change in the right direction. You would think a reasonably bright person would assess the situation and make the change to stop the downward spiral. I could not see my way out of my situation. I could only think of things like “if you reach 30 it will be hard to take the weight off; if you reach 40 it will be hard to take the weight off; if you reach 50 it will be really hard to take the weight off!” Well Heck, I was 52 going on 53 years old. I was done for! The other negative thought in my mind was ” I could quit drinking alcohol (1984), I could quit smoking cigarettes (1986), but I could not quit eating! NOT A GOOD MINDSET!

Around the date February 12, 2009 three things happened.

My wife and I attended a Wando HS production of 42nd Street that my niece/Godchild was in with her classmates. The before picture is of us that night. I was pushing 360 pounds and felt horrible. My health was spiraling out of control and I could barely fit in the seats in the theater. I could not really enjoy the time with family watching my niece perform because I felt so bad.
My wife, Polly, was thinking “just how big are you going to get”? She did not discuss this with me at the time but I could almost feel it. We did not discuss this topic until I was well on my way to losing weight and taking care of ME.
Polly told me the story that saved my life. During the second week of February 2009 Polly attended a Community Emergency Response Team meeting for Charleston County. During this meeting a Fire Fighting Expert asked, “if you are in a building that is on fire with the President of the US, the Governor, the Mayor, you husband, your parents, and other key people in your life, who is the most important person in the building”? Polly came home after the meeting and told me about the meeting and this question. I asked, “well who is it”? She said, ” I am the most important person, because if I cannot figure out how to get out of the fire, I cannot help anyone else”. I found this to be a good and important story. I did not realize just how important this story would be until March 2, 2009. On this morning, I saw Polly off to work and this story hit me like a ton of bricks. It was the missing piece of the puzzle that got me moving in the right direction, a healthy/fit direction. I thought to myself, “If I cannot take care of ME, I sure cannot help anyone else”. You see I had always enjoyed helping others whether it was professionally, personally, or in my volunteer work. But, in February of 2009 I could not help ME and felt like I could not help anyone else. My journey to health/fitness and ME started that morning. I would start helping ME.
What do you do now?

Polly’s story caused me to take a hard look at ME. I started a spreadsheet that morning in March 2009 that I continue to log on to this day. I ended up saving that document as FatGuyDiary. I looked in the mirror and identified my problem as being a Fat Guy and I knew I needed to log my journey, hence Diary. Below is the first entry on my journey. All of the rest can be found at fatguydiary.com

3/2/2009 351 lbs. Starting my weight loss program today. I am trying the 7 day weight loss diet to get moving. Today I am eating just fruit to get started. I need to lose weight for my health and quality of life. I do not know the final destination, but I do know I need to start the journey! I want and need to be more positive about myself and my future even with the things that are happening in the world and the economy. I need to take care of me so I can best help my family and community.
From March 2, 2009 to February 27, 2010 I lost 150 pounds. I did set a goal in the first few months of my journey to lose 150 pounds, I just did not plan for it to happen in 363 days! I did it researching better eating and exercise habits, but my journey was about keeping my heart, mind, and soul on track. That is what has meant the most to me. I used my years of helping and advising others to help ME.

From February 27, 2010 till now I have worked on maintaining my weight and health. I have worked on strategies to keep ME on track and looked at ways to help others with my journey.
I now describe myself as TheFatGuy. I am presently 55 years old and in the best shape of my life. I am off of the 7 medications and stopped using the CPAP machine. My primary care doctor loves what I have done. And, yes, Polly is very happy about my journey to ME.

I cannot put into words how much better I feel. I truly am healthier and feel better now than I did in my twenties. If you take the difference you see in my before and after pictures and multiply that times 3, that is how much better I feel and how much healthier I am today!

When did you decide plastic surgery was the next step in reaching your goal?

About the time I was losing my 150th pound I was at Dr. Melissa Hunter’s office (my primary care physician). I talked to her about the fact that I was proud of what I had done with diet and exercise to transform my body and health. I told her if I had a concern it was my lower abdomen where I had lost almost 22 inches in my waist. I had a good bit of skin loose and hanging there and was not sure if I could do anything about it. She recommended I consult with Dr. O’Neill. Polly and I went to Doctor O’Neill shortly after that time in March 2010. Polly wanted me to get the Abdominoplasty done since I had worked so hard to lose the weight. She supported me then and in all that I have done. We scheduled the procedure for April of 2010.

Why did you choose us?

I ended up choosing Dr. O’Neill because Dr. Hunter recommended him and because he and his staff were so helpful with questions and follow up information. They were very professional and thorough from a business standpoint.

How was your overall experience throughout the surgical process?

The experience was great! Dr. O’Neill and all of the staff were very responsive to me. I remember telling doctor O’Neill that if he had to cut into my core muscles not to do the surgery. I told him I would continue to work out and strengthen my core, if needed. He told me my core was in good shape and he would just need to remove the excess skin. I reminded him of this right before they put me under for my surgery and he assured me of what he would do. We laughed about it and I felt good. The post procedure follow-up, direction and coaching were all well planned and delivered with a personal touch.

Would you recommend us to others?

I would definitely recommend O’Neill Plastic Surgery to anyone! They approached Polly and ME as individuals and not as some number or random procedure. Their attention to me as an individual is what meant the most to me.

TheFatGuy gives them 2 thumbs up!