Twenty-six years old, overweight and unhealthy, Jose Calderas had reached a crossroads in his life. “I was fed up with myself,” he recalls. “My body was hurting every day. My knees hurt. I wanted to breathe better at night. I was tired of being a huge mass in the room.”
Calderas weighed 346 pounds as of February 2015. Thanks to frequent trips to the gym and careful monitoring of his diet, he got down to 266 pounds, but he knew he would have to take more drastic measures to reach his goal weight. With encouragement and support from friends and a much-admired cousin who herself had undergone bariatric surgery, Calderas turned to the NSMC Weight Management Program, the largest and most successful program of its kind on the North Shore.
The Lynn native began by attending an information session that outlined the pros and cons of weight loss surgery and provided an overview of various procedures. He went through medical and psychological tests to ensure he was a good candidate. Then, in consultation with Jaime Rivera, M.D., co-director of the NSMC Weight Management Program, Calderas opted for gastric-sleeve surgery. During the procedure, 75 to 80 percent of the stomach is removed and the remaining portion is turned into a skinny tube. The smaller size and shape of the stomach help limit portion size and calorie intake.
Fast forward to fall 2016. Just one year after surgery, Calderas has lost an additional 110 pounds.
“Now I can tie my shoes,” he says. “I can actually sit in an airplane seat and not have to worry about the other passengers having room or not. I breathe better at night. Even walking is so much easier for me.”
Jose tells his story. Watch:
Every step of the way, before and after surgery, Calderas has had the support of the NSMC Weight Management Program, which offers nutrition, wellness and exercise counseling, along with ongoing education and support-group sessions. “We teach patients that surgery is just part of the process,” Dr. Rivera says. “Motivation—a commitment to a healthy diet and exercise—is also key to a successful outcome.”
Calderas has found that weight loss has increased his energy level, which comes in particularly handy in his busy job as an elementary school liaison between teachers, students, and parents whose only language is Spanish. He also has more stamina when it comes to participating in one of his favorite pastimes—going to punk rock concerts. And much to Calderas’s surprise, running has become a new favorite activity.
When he was cleared to exercise after surgery, the best he could manage was 60 seconds of running followed by 90 seconds of resting. Today, he can run as far as 13 miles at a clip and has even started participating in road races.
After rattling off the long list of advantages that come with his thinner frame, Calderas grows quiet and insists on addressing one more aspect of his weight loss journey that often goes unmentioned. “Before my surgery, I spent a good amount of time dealing with depression,” he says. “It ate me up a lot, but now I’ve become a different person. I’m more positive and grateful. I’m also happier. It feels good to be doing something I never thought I’d be able to do.”
FREE INFO SESSIONS:
NSMC’s Surgical Weight Loss Program is now offering free information sessions at NSMC Salem Hospital and the Mass General/North Shore Center for Outpatient Care in Danvers. These sessions offer a great opportunity to learn more about weight loss surgery options and ask questions. Register online at nsmcweightloss.org or call us at 978-825-6505.