Traffic Alert: On Monday, May 30, access to The Valley Hospital from the Linwood end of North Van Dien Avenue will be restricted from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. to allow for the Ridgewood Run 5K and 10K. Everyone coming to the hospital during that period should enter North Van Dien from East Glen Avenue.
Brian Peters’ life was out of control. It was 2008, and he was working for a company on Long Island where he worked 10-hour days along with a six-hour commute. He was eating poorly, spending lots of time in his car and not exercising. By 2013, Brian, 54, was overweight, suffering from depression, and full of anxiety.
"I didn't want to go anywhere because I felt uncomfortable in my own body, I knew I looked like a fat slob,” explained Brian. “I was on two blood pressure medicines, cholesterol medicine, anxiety and depression medications and sleeping pills. I had developed sleep apnea and had to use a CPAP for sleeping. My back and knees always hurt so I couldn't exercise because everything hurt. Finally my blood work started heading toward the diabetic range. I was a mess mentally and physically, and was not going to last much longer living in that manner."
Time for a Change
It wasn’t until his dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack in 2017 that Brian, weighing 326 pounds, realized he had to do something. He met with his doctor, and after reviewing his bloodwork and talking to his doctor’s daughter, who had weight-loss surgery, he was convinced surgery was the right next move. "My physician’s daughter had surgery by Valley's bariatric surgeon who leads Valley’s Center for Bariatric Surgery and Weight-Loss Management, so if he trusted that doctor for his daughter, I knew she was the right one for me. I looked at him and said, 'let's do this,' and the decision was made."
The Surgery that Saved Him
On October 10, 2017, Brian underwent gastric bypass surgery. He was released from the hospital two days later. "The bariatric surgery team, along with other staff at the hospital, was tremendous,” he said. “They kept me informed, comfortable and answered any questions I had. From the doctors to the person who cleaned my room, they all truly care about the patients"
Brian was between jobs when he had surgery and spent the next two months recuperating and focusing on him, learning to eat again and getting healthy. "I could have gone back to work in a week from a physical standpoint, but that time off really let me concentrate on the food process of learning to eat again."
A New Outlook on Life
"I am now down to 170 pounds and have leveled out here, and have been maintaining that weight (pound up or pound down weekly) for about eight weeks,” he added. “I don't think I can describe in words how much my life has changed. I have a much better attitude on life ... I want to LIVE. I want to do things. I walk the dogs all the time. I do work around the house. We bought kayaks, we hike, and we go bike riding. I bought a Peleton and use that during the bad weather to get exercise. I walk everywhere now. I take stairs instead of elevators because I can. I guess in my head, I know I wasted so many years of my life that I don't want to waste any more."
Brian is also off every medication. He went from averaging seven prescriptions daily to zero, other than the supplements which he has to take for dietary reasons due to the surgery. His back and knees no longer bother him, his bloodwork is perfect and he has had no serious complications from the surgery.
Brian does see a therapist for counseling to help keep him on track. "I need to make sure that my head is on straight, as I am going through huge life changes with everything. I was never a person to feel that seeing someone like that was worth it, but I think that has made the biggest difference to my success. She is awesome, and is a valuable resource to me. I think that has been number one on my list of things that has helped me on this journey pre- and post-surgery.
He has also had to learn how to eat all over again. "I make smart choices and I love to cook. I don't eat any processed foods. If we are going to be going to a restaurant that I haven't been to before, I look at the menu the day before to make sure there are things I can eat. If not, I eat before I go out with my own food, and then just eat something very light for dinner and just enjoy everyone's company."
Brian added that the bariatric surgeon and staff are always around to answer questions that might come up. "I use the patient portal all the time to ask questions, and they always get right back to me. They give you all the tools to succeed and they follow up and make sure you are using them."