Jim and Iris Gandy have been married for almost 15 years and have struggled
with weight issues for even longer. But with the help of their friends
and family and the Southeast Georgia Health System
Bariatric Care team, they underwent bariatric surgery on the same day. Two months after
surgery, they were already living happier, healthier lives.
Ms. Gandy’s health issues began when she gained weight after her
last child. She tried many different diets, and each time she would lose
some weight, only to put it back on a few months later. The weight gain
caused thyroid problems; chronic pain in her legs, feet and back; and
other health issues.
Mr. Gandy’s weight-associated health problems included high blood
pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, and issues with his gallbladder
and thyroid. Like his wife, he tried many different diets and struggled
to maintain them. When his diabetes spiraled so out of control that he
was nearly hospitalized, he made the decision to do whatever it took to
regain good health — for himself, his wife and their family.
“We have nine grandkids who are full of energy,” says Ms. Gandy.
“Being overweight, we had a hard time doing things with them. We
just weren’t able to enjoy life as much as we wanted to.”
Mr. Gandy’s doctor prescribed an appetite suppressant, which helped
him lose about 50 pounds. His diabetes and blood pressure improved, and
he stopped his diabetes medication completely. But the appetite suppressant
was causing heart problems, and despite sticking to a strict diet and
exercise regimen, his weight loss plateaued after the first 50 pounds.
It was then that the couple began seriously looking into bariatric surgery.
“Losing 50 pounds made me feel a lot better, but I was still overweight,”
says Mr. Gandy. “I had set my goal at 100 pounds and was determined
to make it.”
The couple began researching their options and after meeting with
J. William Tsai, M.D., decided the bariatric program at Southeast Georgia Health System was
right for them. A board-certified surgeon at
Southeast Georgia Physician Associates–Glynn General & Vascular Surgery, Dr. Tsai specializes in gastric sleeve procedures using advanced, minimally
invasive laparoscopic techniques and has performed several hundred bariatric
“What makes Southeast Georgia Health System unique is the six-month
program you go through before the surgery,” says Ms. Gandy. “You’re
required to start logging your calories, start losing weight, and attend
classes and counseling sessions. The program helps you change your lifestyle
and your relationship with food, and it shows that you’re serious
about losing weight.”
Dr. Tsai had performed bariatric surgery on several couples before, but
he usually recommends that they have the procedure at least six weeks
apart. Physical activity is restricted while recovering from surgery to
ensure that patients heal completely, so staggering the surgeries allows
one person to support the other during this recovery period.
“We weren’t supposed to lift more than 10 pounds at first,
so we couldn’t do everyday chores like getting groceries or taking
out the trash,” explains Mr. Gandy. “The Bariatric Care team
actually made sure we would have the help we needed before they would
sign off on the simultaneous surgery. We were able to go through this
journey together because we have such supportive friends and family.”
Just two months after their gastric sleeve procedures, Ms. Gandy had already
lost 75 pounds, and Mr. Gandy had lost another 50 pounds, reaching his
100-pound goal. His diabetes and sleep apnea have been cured, and neither
of them take medications for weight-related health issues.
“We have so much more energy now,” says Ms. Gandy. “We’re
more mobile, more social, and we can do a lot more with our grandkids,
like riding bikes and swimming in the pool.”
“We can also afford to eat at nicer restaurants because we eat less,
and we have more clothing options because we don’t have to shop
in big and tall stores,” adds Mr. Gandy. “There are lots of
little things we couldn’t do before that we can now, and we still
experience small victories every day. The surgery was truly a life-changing