Dan McFeely understands my dilemma with hanging skin
This Indianapolis Star story written by Dan McFeely gets into the reality of life after weight loss -- namely, hanging skin.
McFeely had gastric bypass surgery in 2003 which "saved my life," but is now contemplating surgery of another kind -- the abdominoplasty, or "tummy tuck."
He said he wants to have the $6500 procedure done to "look better and feel better about my body."
I can certainly relate. After losing over 180 pounds thanks to livin' la vida low-carb in 2004, the hanging skin is probably the only physical reminder left on my body that I have of the man I used to be. I share openly about this in Chapter 10 of my book "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb."
In a way it is good because I never want my belly to get that big again. But in another way it is that final piece of the puzzle in a happy story that has yet to be completed. Whenever I stare at that mesh of flesh in the mirror, it pains me that I have to look this way.
I'll NEVER go out in public without a shirt on until this gets taken care of, but I'm about to show you what hanging skin looks like (WARNING: Massive skin alert! For the first time ever, this is what my stomach looks like as November 27, 2005):
EWWWWW! I know, I know, it's pretty gross looking. But that's what I stare at day after day before I put on my shirt in the morning.
While it does make for an interesting freak show to entertain my wife with, it's not something that I want to live with for the rest of my life.
And lest anyone think I am ungrateful for my weight loss, don't get me wrong. I am VERY happy to be at the weight I am now compared with the 410 pounds I used to be. Even if I NEVER get the excessive skin taken care of, I know that I have done something VERY GOOD for my health and body by losing the weight.
However, with that said, people like McFeely and me are not alone. Over 100,000 people were able to have some sort of body sculpting procedures done last year which was a significant increase since 2000. In fact, my friend Roger Troy Wilson, who lose 230 pounds on his special diet plan, said getting the abdominoplasty surgery done "has made all the difference in the world how he sees himself when he looks in the mirror."
But a lot of us who want to have it done cannot afford to have it done.
As I have blogged about before, insurance companies so willingly pay for the gastric bypass surgery, but they don't give a flip about helping people who have hanging skin get the surgery to take care of that issue. Since I did my weight loss naturally, one would think they would at least pay for that considering all the money I will be saving them over the long term as a result of dealing with my obesity now before serious (and expensive!) health problems come in the future.
But nooooooooo! It's cosmetic and nothing more, they say. Unless I have a rash or bumps or some other idiotic nonsense, they're not paying a penny. Yadda yadda yadda.
So for now McFeely and I are stuck with what he calls the "flapper," which amounts to about 15-20 pounds of skin in my abdomen and inner thigh. My wife Christine calls it Play-Doh because of how squishy it is. I know, TMI, but it's true! My weight loss would be in excess of 200 pounds if all that skin were taken care of.
My doctor said the elasticity in my stomach is so far gone that doing 100 ab crunches a day won't do much to help with it. I tell people I've got a six-pack underneath all that skin! If you press on my stomach, it is solid as a rock. The only thing is your fingers feel like they are engulfed by marshmallows when you poke on my tummy to feel. Sigh.
McNeely went from a size 60 pants when he weighed 460 pounds down to a size 44 on his 268-pound body now. For me it was size 62 pants when I was 410 pounds down to a loose size 40 pants now at 225 pounds. We could both easily wear 2-4 pant sizes smaller if we had the "tummy tuck" surgery performed.
A clergy-friend of McNeely said getting this done for him would be "another step toward mentally removing myself from my old life."
WOW, what a great word illustration. And that's what I'm referring to about this being the final step in "the change" that has happened to me. I can then move on to the bigger and better things that life has in store for me after closing this chapter on my life for good.
While McNeely said the 2-5 hour abdominoplasty surgery will cost him $6500 to have done, I was quoted $12,000 PLUS missing three months of work while I healed from the incision. That's a HUGE sacrifice for people who are not as financially secure as others.
As for McNeely, he's still losing weight so it may not be a good idea for him to do it just yet. But for me, I don't see myself losing much more weight over the next year. This is a dream of mine to have done and I will not stop hoping that it will happen for me. I sent my weight loss story to Oprah and Maury and will never stop believing that I will be able to have that surgery done -- someday, someday.
You can e-mail Dan McFeely at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11-28-05 UPDATE: I got this GREAT e-mail back from Dan McFeely today:
Hey Jimmy ... thanks for the note and the blogging. Sounds like you have had an incredible journey yourself. Maybe some day you and I will win a lottery and be able to pay for twin tummy tucks!
Since I don't play the lottery, I doubt that'll ever happen. But maybe I can sell enough books to make it happen! :-) You can get it by clicking here. THANK YOU!!!