Knoxville couple take bariatric route to healthier life
He said he wanted “a second chance at life.” She said she wanted a family.
Together, Caleb and Danielle Neeley are on their way after surgeries by Jonathan Ray, MD, a bariatric surgeon at Fort Sanders Center for Bariatric Surgery. Since her gastric sleeve surgery in May 2016 Danielle has shed 100 of her 250 pounds. Caleb lost 230 of his 470 pounds through a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass almost six months after his wife’s procedure.
“It came up in conversation one day, and I decided I wanted to do it,” said Danielle, a 26-year-old who had tachycardia (abnormally rapid heart rate), high cholesterol and high blood pressure. “I told Caleb I would like to do it as a couple, and he agreed.”
“Even as big as I was, I didn’t really have health problems like she did,” said Caleb, a 29-year-old who stands 6-foot-8. “She had a whole list of stuff bringing her down. If we wanted to start a family, we couldn’t without risking that we’d lose the baby or lose her.”
Dr. Ray says he’s seeing more couples in his office these days. “Usually the wife does it and then the husband follows,” he said. “The wife has more energy, and the husband wants to keep up with her. They can both become half the person they were.”
Married five years, the Neeleys tried diet pills and fad eating plans, but nothing worked until they took the bariatric route.
“It was hard mentally sometime to keep going,” said Danielle. “I had to pick myself up and say, ‘OK, I’ve got to do this. I have to do this for myself, for my future family, for me and my husband.’ It’s not easy to do on your own – it’s not even easy to do as a couple. You have to have outside help.”
She and Caleb found help through parents and the bariatric support group at FSRMC. Now they are giving back by joining the hospital’s volunteer team that supports other bariatric patients.
“People in the bariatric community know all the struggles, and I wanted to give back to that program because it’s changed our lives for the better,” said Danielle. She said she and Caleb plan on becoming active hikers and she even wants to zip line now that she is no longer over the required weight limit.
The Neeleys each credit Dr. Ray for giving them motivation, and the bariatric staff and floor nurses for “amazing” care “I love Dr. Ray!” said Danielle, adding that he prayed for her before the surgery. “That made my day because I had never had any kind of big surgery before. That made everything better.”
If you are struggling to lose weight, bariatric surgery may be an option that can also provide benefits to overall health. For more information or to register for a bariatric seminar, call (865) 331-BAR1 (2271) or visit fsregional.com/bariatrics.