180-Degree Turn on Life 

The Sterling Bariatric Center in Moultrie, Georgia, essentially reshapes individual’s lives through gastric sleeve surgery in which a majority of the stomach is surgically cut and removed. Matthew Cavin, a 32-year-old systems administrator at Colquitt Regional Medical Center, was one of those individuals whose life was changed by the decision to do the procedure. Dr. Howard Melton was the physician on the case, and Cavin had no doubts of where he wanted his surgery done.

“I work with the physicians of Sterling Bariatrics day in and day out and trust Dr. Melton whole heartily,” he said. “I have seen his dedication to his patients and quality of care.” Because of his rising health issues, Cavin did not have much of a choice when it came to ultimately deciding how to best treat his weight problem.

“At 30 years old, after years of neglecting my health, it caught up with me with cardiac issues that basically had me hospitalized for five months,” Cavin said. “Once I got on the other side of that, I decided I needed to tackle my health head-on.”

Cardiac issues were not the only health problems on Cav- in’s plate, however. He was on medications for blood pressure, swelling, and arrhythmia. He was pre-diabetic, suffered from arthritis and joint pain, and also had plantar fasciitis that prevented him from even walking some mornings. At that point Cavin was taking up to 17 pills a day to combat these issues, and that’s excluding daily vitamins.

After deciding he wanted the gastric sleeve surgery, Cavin’s next step was to meet with a dietician and have a psychological evaluation in order to meet the health qualifications for the procedure. Once those were completed, he was able to meet with Dr. Melton to discuss and schedule the surgery for January of 2017.

Cavin had the usual worries for a major surgery.

“Obviously there is always the worries and concerns for anyone who’s about to have a major organ in their body mostly removed,” he said. “It’s a bit scary to think about in those terms. I also went through the irrational fears of ‘Oh, man, I won’t be able to eat *insert food here* again.’ It’s amazing how as an obese individual my body was so focused mentally on food even though I didn’t really realize I was.”

While the surgery itself sounds pretty tough, the recovery process can be considered even tougher. There are strict dietary restrictions that have to be kept in order for the surgery to be successful. This includes one week of clear liquids, one week of full liquids, one week of pureed, one week of soft foods, and then on to low carb foods.

Cavin’s recovery took eight weeks compared to the usual five because he wanted to ensure that these dietary restrictions had the best effect possible on his body and mind.

“I used this as my opportunity to completely reprogram my way of thinking, eating, and the mental addiction to food that I had to break for myself to feel like I could be successful,” he said.

After those initial eight weeks, Cavin was able to completely break those mental food addictions and embrace a new lifestyle of clean, healthy eating. He now sticks to a mixture of keto and Mediterranean diets. He is no longer taking medication for cardiac issues, arthritis, or swelling. His blood pressure and sugar are at normal levels. His joints no longer hurt, and his painful plantar fasciitis is gone. Cavin now runs an entire tower of stairs multiple times a day. Even more impressive is that eight months after his initial surgery he ran a 5K.

“I am healthy for the first time in my adult life,” he said. “I am active, I am eating great, and I am loving life.”

Starting out at 470 pounds, Cavin weighs 220 pounds today. It is safe to say that the gastric sleeve did a 180-degree turn on his life.

“This surgery literally gave me my life back,” he said. “Eighteen months later, 250 pounds later, and two surgeries to remove a ridiculous amount of skin, I am finally learning to love myself again. I am building confidence and self-esteem. Don’t waste your life being unhappy. I spent literally my entire adult life obese and unhappy. Now all I do is look back and ask why I didn’t look at this sooner. Life is short; it’s even shorter when you are fat.”

4 Stages of Post-Surgery Diet

Clear Liquid with Protein

Introduce Pureed Food

Introduce Soft food

Introduce Low Carb, Low Fat, Low Sugar, and High Protein

Written by: Alex Dunn

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