I'm Polarbear Mike. I have been banded since
May 8, 2003, by the fabulous Dr Kuri of Tijuana, BC, Mexico. I was
427 pounds when I started researching weight loss surgery and had
gone for a consult with Dr Scott Cunneen at Cedars-Sinai in LA, who
told me "I don't think the RNY is the right surgery for you; have
you thought about the lap band?"
I hadn't even heard about it, much less thought
about it, so he spent an hour and a half with me explaining the
differences and why he thought it was better for me. Dr Cuneen's
reasons for his preference of the lap band in my case were pretty
direct. I was a super-obese male. My BMI was 53 and I was 53 years
old in a physically demanding, very active job. I was quite close to
having a heart attack. I think the fact that I am a sole provider
of income for my family and the ease of recovery from the surgery
may have had something to do with it. I was only out
of work for 3 days,
then on light duty for 2 weeks. He emphasized the slower weight loss
which for me was a better option because it would be less stressful
to my body, my health, and especially my heart.
I then spent a fruitless year fighting my
insurance company. I utilized the services of Walter Lindstrom, the
weight loss surgery advocate and attorney. My insurance company
denied my original pre op certification, and denied 4 subsequent
appeals. The denials were based on the fact that at that time the
band was relatively new in this country, having only been approved
by the FDA on June 5, 2001, and the specific denial was:
"Experimental in nature, the efficacy and efficiency of which has
not been determined."
I was finally banded May 8, 2003, by Dr Kuri. I
owe Dr Cunneen a lot, though, for making me aware of the lap band!
At the time of my surgery, I had lost down to
378 pounds - 49 pounds gone! And I did it by living the bandster
lifestyle and following all the bandster rules very faithfully for
about 8 months. Pre op I used my "mental band" which shows that this
band works even when you donít have one!!!
My BMI at my consultation was 53, and at surgery
it was 50. I was inches from a heart attack or stroke and
desperately needed to get the weight off. Since banding, I have
lost 130 pounds. I'm now 249 pounds which, with the pre surgery
loss, puts me at 178 pounds less than my all time high, and with a
current BMI of 34.
I've had four fills, which are band
adjustments, and am currently very well restricted at 2.4cc. My
exercise is mostly in the form of my average daily work. I'm a Land
Surveyor for the California Department of Transportation. and do a
lot of walking, standing, lifting, carrying, climbing hills, etc
I'm lucky to have such a great job, where I can
work outdoors everyday! In addition to that, I have taken up Yoga in
an effort to get more limber and add some strength. I feel great! I
have more energy, strength, endurance and stamina than I have had
since I retired from the Air Force in 1987. My health is greatly
improved. I'm off most of my medications now, and coming off what's
left slowly, except for my thyroid medications, which I will need
I belong to the original Southern California Bandsters
Support Group, and have found in them the best bunch of
people I have ever known! As far as the procedure itself, I was one
of the luckiest ones; surgery was very easy, recovery was
surprisingly easy, and losing with the band has been extremely easy.
I wish everyone could have had my experience with it.
I see I have gotten horribly long winded and
probably bored everyone to tears (HEY, You, in the back row, WAKE
UP!!) but it pretty well sums up my band experience to date.
Mike Reed (Polarbear),