Learning to Live: A Patient Story

By Sarah Senn

Everyone needs to eat to live, but what happens when you live to eat? Yehuda Greenwald, a husband, father of four and industrial equipment salesman from New York, struggled with this question all of his life.

After years of dieting and countless hours spent working out, Yehuda continued to experience the literal ups and downs of weight loss. Despite his efforts, he kept gaining weight and his medical complications worsened. After exhausting all other treatment options, Yehuda’s endocrinologist decided that it was in his best interest to pursue a more drastic measure – bariatric surgery.

Before his surgery, Yehuda actively worked with his endocrinologist and a nutritionist to manage his condition through balanced nutrition and physical activity. For nearly 5 years, Yehuda took medication to help suppress his appetite. While he was able to lose more than 35 lbs with this treatment, after he stopped taking the medication, his weight started to rise again. Even after restricting his calorie intake and exercising at least three to four times per week, Yehuda still gained at least 2 lbs per month.

“Everyday I would come home from work, and have to lie down immediately because of pure exhaustion,” he remembers. “I felt so drained.”

Yehuda visited his endocrinologist for a routine check-up and blood tests. Those tests revealed that he had type 2 diabetes. In just months, Yehuda had gained 30 lbs and was taking high doses of insulin along with 14 other daily medications. Unfortunately, his diabetes was spiraling out of control. It was at this point that Yehuda realized how much his quality of life was diminishing because of his weight.

“As I was getting older, given the way things were going, it was only a matter of time before I had other complications,” he says.

On January 6, 2009, Yehuda underwent surgery to put in a LAP-BAND®, which limits the amount of food that can enter the stomach. As with most bariatric surgery patients, Yehuda spent many hours in counseling with a dietitian learning to understand the physical effects of the surgery on his body. He had to adopt new eating habits and learn when he was full. In just a few short weeks, Yehuda began to see the results of the surgery and his health improved.

Before the surgery, Yehuda weighed 287 lbs. As of November 2009, he had lost 78 lbs. Now at 209 lbs., Yehuda is not only looking different, but he feels different too. As Yehuda continues to lose weight, he recognizes it’s still a work in progress. Yehuda recently went to a buffet and loaded his plate full of food out of habit only to realize that he wouldn’t be able to eat it all.

“It’s okay to walk away with food on the plate,” he admits.

Since the surgery, Yehuda has more energy and enjoys spending time with his family. He no longer snores and is able to be more active with his children. However, the most profound change that Yehuda has experienced apart from the physical weight loss is that his diabetes is under control and he only takes a few medications each day.

“I’m a regular person again,” Yehuda boasts. “The way I look at food now is that I eat food to live instead of living to eat food.