Gastric sleeve surgery patient has new hope for a great life

“When I contacted Portneuf's Bariatrics program, I had very little hope of weight loss. However, after the very first visit, I left the office with a feeling that we can do this, and we did!”

Brent Ames, who turns 70 in November, spent 40 years as a laborer for FMC Corporation, the elemental phosphorous production plant just outside Pocatello.

As a laborer, Brent worked mostly in the furnace area. For a few years, he was a shift foreman but went back to his old job. “I’ll tell you what, being a laborer was a lot easier.”

“We heated phosphate rock with carbon and silica in a furnace,” explained Brent. “This produced phosphorous in a vapor, which was then collected and eventually used in making steel, fine china, detergents and even soft drinks,” he said.

Despite that hard, hot daily work, Brent still struggled to maintain a healthy weight. He tried different diets and healthy eating programs, but they never seemed to work for him.

Family Health Issues

Brent was also motivated by the health issues faced by his siblings. His twin sister Brenda recently passed away before she could have bariatric surgery. “She could have had the surgery before me because a lot of her health problems were due to her weight. I have an older brother and older sister, so it’s just the 3 of us now.”

So when he contacted Portneuf Medical Center’s bariatric program, he first met the program’s staff and with Alexa E. Roth, MD, a board-certified bariatric surgeon with Portneuf Medical Group. At the time, Brent weighed 349 pounds.

After consulting with them over a number of visits, Brent decided to undergo gastric sleeve surgery. “They asked me to lose some weight before the surgery, so I worked hard and lost over 50 pounds,” said Brent. “The day I went in for the surgery, I weighed 294.”

Gastric Sleeve Surgery

Gastric sleeve surgery involves the removal of 80% of the patient’s stomach. It keeps the stomach at the same length but with a much slimmer width, like a shirt sleeve. Since the space inside the stomach is much smaller, a patient feels full after eating less food.

“There were no complications during or after the surgery,” said Brent. “Matter of fact, I was up on my feet walking the halls sometimes during the night. It was just great.”

Brent joked that he also made a “big” impression on Dr. Roth and her staff. “They told me that I had the biggest belly – the largest section of the stomach they had ever seen removed during gastric sleeve surgery.”

Changing to a Healthy Lifestyle

Now just a few months after the surgery, he weighs 240 pounds. “It’s coming off steadily now. I may not be as active now as I was in my 40s, but I’ve got the ambition that I had in my 40s,” he said.

Besides walking, Brent exercises on his own by doing squats, lifting his legs and doing lots of stretching. “I stand at the sink because my 70-year-old balance is not that great. But I hold on to the sink and lift my leg to the side. I also reach down towards my toes. Once it gets cooler, I’m going back to the gym to work out.”

Brent also relies on the nutritional guide provided by the program. “I switched to a smaller plate, which has helped. I fill my plate with 25% proteins, 25% carbs and 50% vegetables and fruit.”

Brent still has some favorite foods that may not be on the recommended diet, but he knows that he can stop after just a couple of bites.

“That's the biggest thing I learned – know when you can and can’t eat certain things. You also have to learn how to push yourself away after a few bites. You can enjoy it, but don’t go overboard.”

Brent’s wife Brenda and their daughters have helped and supported Brent as he develops a healthier lifestyle. “Brenda and I have been married for 52 years and she's been great. I hear from all of them if I step away from the program. They would say, ‘Dad, do you need to do that?’ and I would answer, ‘No. Okay, I won’t do that.’”

Travel Plans

With his newfound energy and ambition, Brent and his wife are planning some trips. “We've already been to Virginia to visit our granddaughter who's in the Navy down there. We are also planning a trip down the coast of Oregon. We’re just going to drive down the coast and enjoy whatever we see.”

He is especially grateful to the team at Portneuf: Lisa, Krista, Jessica and Dr. Roth.

“They are great people – fantastic to be with and work with. They didn’t hold anything back and explained what I could do and what I shouldn’t do,” he said.

The surgery brought about such a big change in his life. “Now that I have the energy I had 30 years ago, I look forward to doing things every day,” Brent said. “It's not just great, it's Tony the Tiger ‘GREEAAATT!’”

For more information and to find out if you qualify for weight-loss surgery, visit our web page or call our office at 208-239-2620.