Stewart Heri Aaron would wake up exhausted and would even sleep behind the wheel if traffic stopped for a minute or two. “At times I would be startled by angry motorists hooting as I had dozed off due to exhaustion,” explains Stewart. As far as he could remember, he had always been a big kid but in his 30s, the weight was literally getting in his way of enjoying a quality life. Having been born with an above-average birth-weight of 4.8kg, Steward continued to be big throughout his childhood and adulthood, which gave him the name, ‘Big Poppa’ among his peers.
“I remember being teased by the other children, which really got to my nerves but I didn’t feel there was anything I would do about my weight so I just let it be. I, however, felt sad that I could not join my brothers playing football and all I could do was sit down and watch them play,” he reminisces.
Stewart confesses to taking soda every morning and could not get enough of junk food. He kept eating and had an insatiable desire for food. “Any time was eating time,” he says. Meanwhile, he kept getting bigger and bigger. His efforts to lose weight bore no fruit. I tried out everything from dieting to exercising but nothing worked for me, he says.
At 216kg, Stewart was like a walking time bomb. “I had a doctor friend who always cautioned me about my weight. He kept telling me that I was courting hypertension and diabetes and if I did not change my lifestyle urgently, I would definitely get sick,” explains Stewart. “He was so sure that I would get sick that he told me he would quit his career if I did not!” says Stewart. When he got a wound on his leg that took a year to treat, his doctor friend suggested that he gets tested for diabetes. “And as sure as the sun rises from east and sets in the West, what the doctor kept warning me about came to pass,” explains Stewart. In his mid-30s, he was diagnosed with diabetes and had to inject himself with insulin shots on a daily basis.
Steward was beginning to get scared now. “Thoughts of dying and leaving my wife a young widow with a son to raise filled my mind. How would they carry on without me?” As fate would have it, his other leg also got a wound and his doctor friend cautioned him that if he did not make a drastic lifestyle change, both legs would be amputated. Around the same time, he was experiencing daily headaches, which turned out to be a result of hypertension.
“I was lucky to meet Big Ted, a friend, and Khadija Iman who had gone through bariatric surgery to cut weight. I also met Dr. Theophillus Wangata, who was very positive about the procedure,” he explains. “I figured that if this was going to be my saving grace, I would embrace it and started researching about bariatric surgery on the Internet. I also talked to about six people who had gone through the procedure. Six months later, I was wiser and well informed and I opted for the mini gastric bypass procedure, which was done in India. I was fortunate since Viva Serenity took away the headache of looking for doctors and a hospital to have the procedure done. They took care of all the necessary documentation and booking of flights.
Two months after I had bariatric surgery in India, the wounds on my legs dried up. I have not also used the insulin jab or hypertension medication since he says. “Today at 42, I weigh 98kg and I go to the gym every day like clockwork. I also eat healthily and I quit alcohol. I have adopted a healthy lifestyle and I run 6km every day and 12km during the weekend. I would recommend bariatric surgery any time as it saved my life,” he says.