Jim Paras was elated when he learned that he and his wife were expecting their first child. Now, the 35-year-old proud parent of a nine-month old daughter looks back on that time and remembers how their joy was tempered by fear and uncertainty due to his unhealthy weight.
“Soon after we found out my wife was pregnant, my doctor asked if I wanted to see my child grow up,” Paras recalls. At the time, Paras weighed nearly 400-pounds and suffered from high blood pressure, pre-diabetes and arthritis. He would sometimes have to miss work because of his blood pressure and he was often sick. Paras had tried any number of diets but after a little success the weight would always come back greater than before.
He had heard about bariatric surgery and visited a free Ascension Saint Agnes Bariatric Seminar before speaking with his doctor, but after that conversation about his child’s future, Paras knew it was time to make a change.
At the recommendation of his primary care doctor, Paras sought out more information about bariatric surgery and chose to work with Dr. Andrew Averbach at Ascension Saint Agnes Hospital. Paras explains, “I wanted to go to the best program in Maryland.”
With the support of his wife, his parents and grandfather, Paras underwent a minimally invasive procedure in April of 2014. Dr. Averbach and Ascension Saint Agnes associates took time to explain the procedure, the outcomes and the next steps with this wife. “Dr. Averbach made us feel relaxed before my procedure,” says Paras.
Before being discharged from the hospital, Paras was already off his blood pressure medication. Within two weeks, he could feel his energy levels increasing and no longer needed to nap every day. In the next month, the weight began to come down and his joints no longer ached. After three months Paras said he felt like a whole new person. “People wouldn’t recognize me at work meetings,” he shares. “Even the staff at my doctor’s office couldn’t believe that I no longer had to take blood pressure medication.” In total, Paras lost 200 pounds.
Four months after his surgery, Paras and his wife took a vacation to Disney World. “It was the first time in years that I could walk for a long time without hurting,” he said. “I could just keep going.”
When Paras looks back at this decision he wonders that, “If I hadn’t made the decision to have bariatric surgery, I might not be here with my daughter today.” The decision he made was a big commitment but he tells others, “If you commit to making that change in your life, it will be the best decision you ever make.”