Until last year, Peabody resident Jonathan Sheldon, 34, never denied his appetite for unhealthy foods. “I have always loved fried foods, sweets and lots of other things I probably shouldn’t have been eating,” he says. The long hours associated with his job as an owner of a busy IT engineering business didn’t help matters either, leading him to grab fast food meals on the run. Over time, he began to put on weight.
“Obesity runs in my family but I never viewed my weight as a real problem,” says Sheldon. It wasn’t until he topped 300 pounds and started to have weight-related health issues like high cholesterol and a racing heartbeat that he realized he needed to take action. On the advice of his cardiologist, Mark Anderson, M.D., Sheldon enrolled in the NSMC Cardiovascular Risk Reduction Program, a 12-week course designed to educate patients on how-to prevent the development and progression of heart disease. While he was participating in this program, one of the counselors suggested that he might be a good candidate for weight loss surgery.
A consultation with NSMC’s director of bariatric (weight loss) surgery, Bernard Benedetto, M.D., followed and, after discussing all of his options, Sheldon decided on having sleeve gastrectomy surgery. His wife, Meredith, 33, had undergone this same procedure at North Shore Medical Center in January of 2012 and lost a life-changing 100 pounds.
Jonathan and Meredith's story, in their own words:
“The sleeve gastrectomy is a minimally invasive procedure in which we remove about 85 percent of the stomach through small incisions made in the patient’s abdomen,” says Dr. Benedetto. “The remaining portion of the stomach is then stapled together in a vertical manner giving it a sleeve shape that remains connected to the intestines. One potential benefit of this procedure is that, although it restricts the amount of food the patient is able to eat, it does not involve re-routing the intestine and may have fewer long-term side effects than traditional gastric bypass.”
Since his surgery in June 2012, Sheldon has lost an impressive 80 pounds and has never felt healthier. Both he and his wife took full advantage of NSMC’s comprehensive post-operative program, which includes medically supervised cardiac risk reduction, nutrition and psychological counseling, exercise, general education and peer support. “I like to describe the surgery itself as being the starting bell,” says Dr. Benedetto. “Once a patient recovers from surgery, that’s when the real work begins. This is where our program excels because we make sure the patient is closely monitored, cared for and supported to ensure long term success.”
The Sheldon learned their lessons well, dramatically changing their eating and exercise habits and embracing an all-around healthier lifestyle. The couple has even hired a personal trainer to help them take their exercise up a notch and are talking about starting a family.
“Before the surgery, I limited my physical activities because I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable,” says Sheldon. “But now I am feeling stronger and healthier than ever and doing more and more every day.