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Home | -- Inspiration | Lap Band Success Stories: Chaz Story . . .

Lap Band Success Stories: Chaz' Story

Chaz's Corner - LapBANDED Living From The Male Perspective
By: Chaz
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What can I life had spun out of control somehow?   How could this happen to me?   I wish I knew.  But in retrospect I think I can tell you there were a number of contributing factors.

Chaz just after surgery.
Chaz just after surgery.
I had battled my weight all of my life...from childhood until I was about 19 years old.  I was always teased, taunted, and picked on as a kid.  It hurt, and I had no friends.  At 19 years old I decided that I had enough and was going to change my life.  I would not turn 21 and be fat any longer.  I had been on multiple diets from childhood, including diet pills.  But I saw my life slipping away.  I knew I did not have the kind of life other people had.  So at 21 years old, by literally starving myself, and the help of amphetamine pills, I took off about 120 pounds and turned from the 'proverbial ugly duckling' into the virtual 'swan'.  I was even 'discovered' and approached to do fashion modeling and advertising.  I was suddenly popular, and was pursuing my dream of being a singer and actor.  It was like a dream come true.  The only problem was...I wasn't happy. 

My head had not had a chance to catch up to my new body and the attention I was getting from everywhere.  I didn't know how to respond appropriately to all the new changes in my life.  As a result, some old insecurities and self destructive behaviors started to creep slowly back into my life.  After a few years I started to pack on the pounds again.  Like so many others, I tried every diet, weight loss programs, diet drugs, and every fad known to mankind in order to lose and hopefully maintain my weight.  But this time it was to no avail.  It was too late.  The die was cast.  And I ended up gaining all the weight I had another 100+ pounds.  I became depressed, sullen, and increasingly isolated.  Previous to that time despite my weight issues I had always had a happy and positive outlook on life.  I had turned from a positive thinking individual, into someone who hid from the world, and had to secretly go weigh myself on a cargo scale at an airline where a friend of mine worked...because traditional scales couldn't hold me.  It was humiliating.

Then things really began to spiral out of control.  I was fired from an entertainment job for the very first time in my life, because I had basically 'eaten myself' out of the position.  I was no longer 'attractive enough'.  Financial problems ensued.  Then my younger brother died very suddenly, relationships went sour, and to top it all off, my wonderful mother, the light in my life, suffered a couple of debilitating strokes.  I had to make the choice to give up my career, sell my home, leaving everything that was familiar to me, and at 48 years old move to Florida to become a full time caregiver to my elderly mother.  I had no idea what I was in for.

I had always promised my Mom that I would never put her in a nursing facility as long as I was physically able to care for her.  But when I moved in to care for her I found out in short order that at 435 pounds, plus the kind of physical problems and co-morbidities I was experiencing, that I was not going to be able to fulfill that promise.  THIS was my moment of truth.  That is when I knew that without some kind of surgical intervention I knew that I was going to die, and leave my dear and vulnerable mother alone.  I simply could not allow that to happen.

I had been checking into weight loss surgery for some time and I somehow just knew that Gastric Banding was the right choice for me.  I realized that it was a 'tool', and not the 'easy way out' that some people would like to paint it as.  And frankly, I was not the success story I wanted to be in the beginning.  I was not the most 'compliant' patient at first.  But I persevered.  And miraculously the weight started coming off...and STAYING off...for the first time in my life.  And just as miraculously, my health, confidence, and self esteem began to return again after nearly 20 years.  It took losing 215 pounds to finally rediscover the 'old me' again.  I was a new person, a more pleasant person to be around, and after almost 8 years of caring for my Mom I was gratefully able to fulfill my commitment to stay with her and hold her in my arms till her last breath.

Chaz minus 215 pounds.
Chaz minus 215 pounds.
Since then life has only gotten better for me.  I am in a wonderful, healthy, committed relationship.  I was able to start entertaining again.  And I even developed a whole new career when my very own Bariatric surgeon, Dr.  Tiffany Jessee, ask me to come and work for her in her practice.  This is something I would have never even dreamed possible only a few short years ago.  Life is good!

As I see every new patient come into our office, I identify with each and every one of them and what they have gone through.  There is an instant bond when they know my story, and I consider it a privilege and blessing to help guide and mentor them through their weight loss journey. 

In Sept of 2010 I was also extremely proud to be among 12 people chosen from across the United States to go to Capitol Hill and speak to members of congress and the media on the growing epidemic of obesity, as well as prevention and treatment.  I remain an advocate and will work tirelessly to help be a voice for those who have lost theirs.  I cannot think of a better or more appropriate legacy.  My life has completely changed...all for the better as a result of Bariatric surgery.  It has been an incredible journey, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

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 Chaz Merkel
Chaz Merkel

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