"They saved my life"

Nick Anderson, before and after

Nick Anderson reached his lowest weight since junior high after having bariatric surgery at Palmdale Regional Medical Center. He shares his story:

"All of my life I have been a rather heavy individual. I was always made fun of for being fat and out of shape. At some point, I had decided to just stop listening to everyone and just let myself go, and by let myself go, I mean I shut down and fell into a deep dark depression. I had too many people, including family, tell me I was too overweight. I had doctors tell me I was having medical issues because of being as heavy as I was. In high school, I was in weightlifting and was doing rather well, and decided to try and enlist as a Marine. The recruiter told me I was too fat to join because I was 40 pounds overweight at the time.

On July 5, 2005, I was coming home from work when a person in an SUV ran a red light and t-boned my car, and sent myself and my car rolling three and a half times causing a compound fracture in my right leg, which was said to have made it impossible for me to ever walk again. I was forced to lay in bed, on my back, looking at the ceiling in my room for three long, mentally destroying years. At the time, there was no mental help for me, and I wasn't given the option of physical therapy. So by laying there, and doing nothing, I started to gain even more weight.

I started watching a new reality show called The Biggest Loser and a man on there, who happened to be a doctor, had weighed in excess of 500 pounds. He decided to try and do something about his weight for his family and his patients. It inspired me to get up and say enough is enough. I'm going to walk again. Two years later and I had done it. I taught myself to walk again. Life had gone on, and I had still been in the same depressed state as before my accident because when I went to go back to the gym to try and workout and get in shape, they wouldn't help me because of my leg. I felt worthless and quit trying.

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I had met some new friends who showed me how to be comfortable with who I was and it didn't matter that I was as big as I was. At the time, I had no clue how heavy I was because my doctor never weighed me when he saw me. He just told me I was healthy and he would see me in a year or so.

Fast forward to 2010. I am now living on SSI, renting a room, and doing nothing with my life other than playing World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons and other video games with the same friends who made me comfortable with being who I was. I had met a woman who seemed to really need someone to talk to about her own issues, and we were both rather large so I felt safe. We later ended up getting married, and decided to have kids. We tried and tried and not long after I had decided to talk to a new doctor, who tested me and said I needed testosterone because my counts were too low. After about six months of treatment, I lost about 65 pounds and our first daughter was born. We both wanted two kids, so a year after our first, we tried for a second and ran into some major hurdles. I found out I was 415 pounds and it was causing me to not be able to produce. I forced myself onto a strict diet and dropped down to 350 pounds but found out I was now a diabetic because I lost weight too fast.

I had gotten down to 295 pounds. I plateaued for six months and gave up. I was angry. I went back up to 375 pounds. They told me I was no longer diabetic, but now I needed to lose weight or it was going to cause me to have a heart attack. One night, I had a rather terrifying dream about my children being teenagers and visiting my gravesite wishing I had lost the weight so they could have spent time with me. That was it. I made an appointment and my doctor sent me to see a specialist who started me on some weight management classes. I followed their instructions and learned a lot more than I honestly thought I would. After doing so, they saw I had lost the required amount of weight and they sent me on to Dr. Yadegar. He and Adrienne put me on a high protein diet, and wouldn't you know it, I dropped below 295 pounds.

About eight months before my surgery date, we had taken my mother-in-law on a cross-country road trip to visit family, and during this trip, my second daughter was conceived. It was when we got back and learned of this, that I decided to make sure I would be around for both of my kids so they had a father to grow up with and know instead of a headstone to talk to. My children became my inspiration and remain to be just that. After surgery, I had dropped to my lowest weight since I was in junior high, which was 195 pounds. I was happy to be at 200. The dieting and special eating and re-learning and training my body to eat again after surgery was worse than anything I can remember. It wasn't easy at all for those first four months, and even after that, it was still hard cause I was wanting to eat just about everything I could try. I had to tell myself NO, because I didn't want to fall into old habits and ruin myself.

All in all, this experience has been a rough one, but an amazing one. If I had to do it all over again, I would do it in a heartbeat. I have honestly been asked this question many times and my answer has always been the same. I thank God for Doctor Yadegar and Adrienne every day because they saved my life. Yes, it's cliche, but it's true. They gave me a way to get over a major obstacle and showed me it was possible."