Twenty-six years old, overweight and unhealthy, Jose Calderas had reached a crossroads in his life. “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. 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.
Since undergoing weight loss surgery at North Shore Medical Center in June 2015, Shannon has lost over 130 pounds and is continually amazed at all the things she is able to do and experience. For the Amesbury native, being able to keep up with her two young sons, ages five and seven, has been one of the best things about her transformation.
“Just being able to be super active with my boys has been great. We did a hike recently which was something I wasn’t able to do even a year ago.”
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When you talk to Marc Olbash about the results of his weight loss surgery at North Shore Medical Center, the numbers make a big impression. Since August 2015, his weight has dropped from 398 to 215 pounds. His pants size has gone from a 56 waist to a 34, and his shirt size, which was formerly 4XL, is now just plain XL. Even his shoe size went from a 13 to an 11.
“The surgery is an aid. It will work, but you have to stick with the program in order to be successful,” he is quick to point out.
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Melanie Bettencourt of Peabody was “very thin” as a child, as she describes it, but all that changed after she reached puberty. She started gaining weight, reaching over 300 pounds by the time she turned 30.
Over the years, she tried diets, hired personal trainers, and took other serious measures to get her weight under control, but “none of it was enough,” she explains. By the time her weight peaked, Melanie found that, except for going to work, she hardly left the house.
Back in 2012, Kirk Fortuna of Revere underwent gastric bypass surgery through North Shore Medical Center’s Weight Management Program and lost over 120 pounds as a result.
He has kept the weight off ever since, but all these years later, he is still surprised whenever he does laundry. “I look at the clothes and think, ‘whose are these?’” Kirk says. “Before my surgery, I was a size 44-46. To me, I’m still a fat guy.” That is, until he looks in the mirror.
Joyce Davidson of Danvers is a straight shooter who works as a traffic-control manager for U-Haul, and is used to being in charge.
Last winter, Davidson was diagnosed with intracranial hypertension, a condition brought on by increased pressure on the brain that can lead to severe headaches and vision loss. Davidson's weight was an exacerbating factor. To address her condition, Davidson was presented with two options: surgery to insert a shunt into her brain to relieve the pressure or significant weight loss.
Reinaldo Dasilva of Beverly, a 44-year-old father of four and US Postal Service clerk, gained more than 70 pounds in six years, and pain in his back and joints made even light exercise difficult.
Concerned about future health issues and committed to making a positive lifestyle change, Dasilva met with his primary care physician, who referred him to NSMC's Surgical Weight Loss Program. Working with a nutritionist in the program, he initially lost 15 pounds through improved diet, but his progress quickly hit a plateau. Hoping to build on his early success, Dasilva began exploring his surgical options.
Since his surgery in June 2012, Peabody resident Jonathan Sheldon, 34, has never felt healthier. Both he and his wife took full advantage of NSMC's comprehensive post-operative program, which includes nutrition and psychological counseling, exercise, general education and peer support.
"Once a patient recovers from surgery, that's when our program excels, because we make sure the patient is closely monitored, cared for and supported to ensure long term success," says the Sheldons' bariatric surgeon, Dr. Benedetto.
At 24, Danvers resident Erin James' life after college was on track, except for one thing. Although always confident in herself, she was feeling increasingly uncomfortable not only in clothes, but also in social situations.
"I was never depressed, but I just knew my weight was holding me back," explains James. In October 2008, she decided to have minimally invasive surgery at NSMC. "I liked the band better than gastric bypass because it's adjustable, could change with me and be removed if necessary," said James. Erin's story