A man checking his weight on a scale.

How Gastric Bypass Surgery Changed Melvin’s Life

Nov 8 2019

Melvin Phillips, now 57, has been fighting weight issues since he was in middle school. Even throughout his 22 years in the Navy, he had to fight to keep the weight off so he could keep his job.

For over eight years, Melvin toyed with the idea of gastric bypass surgery. He was experiencing high blood pressure, psoriasis, lymphedema (swelling) in his hands and sleep apnea. When he and his wife Beth would travel, he had to miss out on fun activities like horseback riding or riding rollercoasters. When they went parasailing, other couples got to sail together, but he and Beth had to sail separately.

Sick of missing out and being sick, Melvin went to see Dr. Gregory Adams at Bon Secours, the doctor his primary care physician had suggested.

“What an awesome guy,” Melvin says. “He explained everything. I can’t say enough about Dr. Adams and his staff. I just want to go see them without even an appointment, that is how much I like them.”

Before he had the surgery, Melvin had to go through a months-long process to get approved. He had to lose weight on his own, start changing up his diet, and commit to a huge lifestyle change.

“When my wife saw what I was willing to do, she got on board with it,” Melvin says. “There is no magic involved—there is work involved. When I made the decision that I wanted to do this, I had it in my head that it is a life-changing event. It is not the magic pill. It’s something you have to do for the rest of your life.”

With Beth’s support, Melvin received surgery on December 15, 2015. His weight on his day of surgery was 355 pounds. A year later, Melvin hit his goal weight of just 205 pounds.

“It has completely changed my life,” Melvin says. “I don’t have to take any medicines. The psoriasis is gone. The lymphedema is gone. My sleep apnea is gone. It is a life-changing event and a whole process.”

Melvin and Beth worked together throughout that year. She continued to plan meals and buy healthy foods for their family. She purchased bowls to help him measure his food and kept him following the doctor’s orders.

Meanwhile, Melvin got moving. He began walking a mile or two each day. As he lost weight and gained energy, he added more and more miles, more laps around his neighborhood. He’s even participated in a few charity races in Hampton Roads.

“You can’t just sit there and do nothing,” Melvin says. “You’ve got to exercise. You can’t do nothing and expect great results from surgery.”

Melvin says you have to watch what you eat, too, to ensure you don’t hurt yourself after surgery. His nutritionist suggested he look at all food labels and avoid eating anything that had more than 3 grams of fat or 3 grams of sugar.

“Things we thought were healthy, we’d look at and go, ‘Wow. This is horrible!’” Melvin says. “You have to look at what’s in your food.”

Melvin encourages others who are considering weight loss surgery to see a physician and ensure they are starting the journey for the right reasons.

“It’s not for everybody,” Melvin says. “You have to do it for yourself. I was tired of living in the body that I had created and I couldn’t get rid of. I wanted to be around for my wife and my kids and my grandkids.”

At his new weight, Melvin is enjoying all the activities he couldn’t do before. He and his wife continue to travel and tackle any adventure.

“I wanted to extend my life,” Melvin says. “There’s a lot out here to do, to see and enjoy. I wanted to change my life and not be that big guy in the crowd that everyone stares at. I wanted a new me, and I knew he was in there.”

Learn more about the bariatrics services and weight loss solutions we offer at Bon Secours. 

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