LAP-BAND Success Story
Jason Swindler, July 2006
Jason Swindler researched various procedures for three years before deciding to have the lap-banding procedure at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in 2005. Having battled excess pounds as a child and in college, he had tried most of the popular diets, including Atkins and the Mayo Clinic diet. According to Jason, “I’d yo-yo up and down and usually gained it all back plus another 20 pounds after each diet.” This pattern continued until Jason’s weight reached 336 pounds.
By the time Jason reached his early 30’s, he had developed sleep apnea. In spite of the medication he took for the sleep disorder, he would wake up after a full night’s sleep feeling worse than when he went to bed. When his doctor recommended blood pressure medication, Jason decided to take his weight problem seriously. “I think I was pretty much in denial,” he stated. “My family has a history of being overweight and I could hide my weight because I’m pretty tall. I didn’t want to stay on high blood pressure meds for life and I really didn’t have enough energy to do much of anything but work.” Because his sleep apnea was severe, Jason’s insurance covered the lap-banding procedure.
Dr. Andrew Y. Reynolds, a general surgeon in practice at the Mitchell Bariatric Center and on staff at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital, conducted pre-planning, pre-scheduling, and the surgical procedure. Jason recalls, “Dr. Reynolds is personable and very concerned. He’s very good to work with. I went in on a Thursday and was out on Friday.
The surgery was easier than I thought it could possibly be.” He quickly added that the lap-banding procedure does require a lifelong commitment to exercise and a food plan. “I can eat out,” Jason smiled. “That’s what everyone usually asks first. Basically, I eat what I want…with some limitations…but, for me, it’s about portion sizes.”
Having lost 116 pounds and ten inches off his waist, Jason says the best improvement is in the level of energy he now enjoys, “I have fun with my kids and my wife and we do so much more. Before, I was just so fatigued.” His work as a pharmacy manager is much easier, too. “People will see my picture on the wall with my license and they’re just amazed! Sometimes I look at the photo just to give myself a little boost. When people tell me I look good now, it really helps me stay on track.”
Although Jason didn’t attend the support group for individuals who have had or are considering a surgical procedure for weight loss, he now attends to offer encouragement to others. “I enjoy telling the group about my experience. Sometimes you just need to know there are people out there who have gotten their lives back. I’m lucky because I had my own support group at home. Once she realized I was really serious about it, my wife really got behind me and now my kids help watch out for me…yeah, they remind me to eat slow!” The entire family has adapted to the new food plan. “I’m glad that my kids are learning how to eat right, too. Hopefully, they won’t have the same weight problems I had as a kid and when I was in college,” Jason noted.
Jason described the entire process by saying, “I found it really exciting! It was really easy for me and the weight came off pretty fast. That kept me motivated.” During the two weeks prior to the procedure, lap-band patients must adhere to a liquid diet that starts the weight loss, helps shrink the liver to make the surgery easier, and helps the patient get used to restricted amounts. A liquid diet is also administered for two to three days after the procedure; then patients are gradually moved up to solid foods.
“I followed the nutrition services guidelines and everything went fine,” Jason stated. A year following the procedure, Jason said he’s less rigid about eating, but he’s learned that “treats” are something special to be enjoyed now and then, not every day. “Yes, I like ice cream and once in awhile, I’ll have some, but I try to work it into my food plan. It’s not a regular thing. Actually, I feel better having salad and some protein.” He laughed, “I guess my life’s changed that way, for sure!”
When asked about current medications, Jason added, “I take a vitamin every morning and some calcium with breakfast and that’s it.” His first meal of the day often consists of wheat toast, half a banana, and reduced fat peanut butter. Lunch is likely to be chicken and rice, maybe a taco. “For dinner, we usually grill chicken or sometimes salmon and I’ll have a fresh vegetable like broccoli, maybe some wheat thins or something like that.” Snacking is practically a thing of the past although he might have a beef stick or some other kind of protein. “Nutrition has never been more important than now,” Jason shared. “I need to eat about every five hours and I make sure I get all the protein I need.”
In offering advice to individuals with over 100 pounds to lose, Jason said, “There’s an option available if you’re committed to changing your lifestyle. It really works and it isn’t scary. Do your homework! Remember there are people with successes that are ambassadors of this program - living proof - you can again live a normal life and do normal things. I think the biggest fear is that there will be so many restrictions. Yeah, there are some, but it’s all worth it and you can do it, too.” Jason shared, “I’m glad I decided to have the lap-banding now so I’ll be around to see my kids and grandkids. Before, well, I might not be here. I’m sure a lot more excited about the future!”
When asked about regrets Jason concluded, “Regrets? No, I don’t have a one. Oh wait! I really wish hadn’t waited so long. If I’d known I’d feel this good and have this much energy, I’d have had it done a long time ago.”
Jason and his wife, Dee, and their children Avery, 17; Sydney, 13; and Aidan, 10; reside in Mitchell.