It has been two and half years since Matt Seymour began what he calls "a long, but good journey."
At 30 years old, Mr. Seymour fluctuated between 650 to 700 pounds. He had mounting health problems directly linked to weight—high blood pressure, borderline diabetes, breathing and back problems and sleep apnea. He had to special order clothes and couldn't fit into booths at restaurants. Mr. Seymour couldn't walk 15 to 20 feet without stopping to catch his breath or ease his cramping back. "Everyday was a challenge; taking a shower and getting dressed was a task," he said. "When I saw my mother cry as she watched me struggle to walk up stairs, I knew I had to do something."
Mr. Seymour began to research his options for weight loss. He diligently looked at Web sites for information about gastric bypass and for physicians who perform the surgery. After meeting with Joseph Afram, MD, bariatric surgeon, and talking with him extensively, he decided that gastric bypass was right for him. "I understood the risks I was taking, but I knew the risk of not having surgery." Mr. Seymour said. "The alternative was death, and I was not willing to let that happen." He underwent open gastric bypass, or the Roux-en-Y procedure.
Mr. Seymour said, "Keeping a sense of humor and laughing helped me get through those initial couple of tough weeks. I had to think about two, four, six months down the rode when I knew I would see my body changing." He was back to work within five weeks and his body changed quickly. He dropped an average of 30 pounds a month, and regularly had to buy new pairs of pants. He keeps a pair of pre-surgery pants in his closet as a reminder of how far he has come. Mr. Seymour now weighs 300 pounds and has gone from a 70-inch waist to a 44-inch waist.
It's the little things that put a smile on his face, like being able to slide right into a restaurant booth when he's out with his friends or not having to use a seatbelt extension in his car. "I can't wait to get on an airplane, knowing I won't have to ask for a second seat," Mr. Seymour said. His social life has improved as well —he is no longer embarrassed to ask a woman out on a date.
When he looks back at what he used to eat, it boggles his mind. Slowly but surely he has become acclimated to the new amount of food he can eat. "I had to learn a new life. I had to train my brain not to eat the old amount," Mr. Seymour said. "I have to take my time eating and take smaller bites." Now he can eat anything he wants, but he has to watch how much he eats. When he goes to a Redskins game, he will treat himself to one hotdog instead of four like he did before the surgery.
Mr. Seymour advises those contemplating gastric bypass to get all the information they can, pick a doctor they are comfortable with and make sure the surgery is the right fit for them. They need to understand that it is a drastic step and dramatic life-changing event. "It is a difficult, tiring process—physically and emotionally. But if you have it done, it will be the greatest and most positive change. It's like seeing the sun come up in a whole new way."