"I was always worried about being judged and I never felt that at all, everyone was very compassionate and just wanted to help me reach my goals.”
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It’s Never Too Late to Change the Road You’re On
Cuyahoga Falls resident Thom Ellis, 43, always looked forward to summers at camp where he served as counselor. When he fell in the shower on the second day, injuring his leg and ending a much-anticipated week of fun, it hit him that it was time to reevaluate his life.
“I had reached my maximum weight of 477 pounds,” said Thom. “The weight was slowly robbing me of everything I loved, I wouldn’t have even been in the handicap shower if I hadn’t let my weight get so out of control.”
A talented musician, Thom played in pain each Sunday on stage with his family and fellow churchgoers.
“I play bass guitar at my church, and for the last several years have been relegated to sitting on a stool because my back couldn’t handle the weight of my own body.”
After a series of family illnesses and challenges, Thom realized he had spent years consumed with stress and taking care of others.
“I was trapped in a depression. I was trapped inside my body and my head. You get so heavy that you can’t do things and then you start accepting life as it is, and it starts to become very small. I reached out to my primary care physician and explained that my body was killing me in more ways than one - I needed to do something and get healthy.”
“The weight was slowly robbing me of everything I loved, I wouldn’t have even been in the handicap shower if I hadn’t let my weight get so out of control.”
— Thom Ellis
A Different Path
With high blood pressure and leg swelling with pitted edema, congestive heart failure and diabetes were right around the corner. Since his BMI was so high, Thom’s physician indicated that traditional weight loss programs offered about a 10% chance of success. However, he cited a study that boasted between a 70-90% success rate with bariatric surgery.
Soon after, Thom met with the staff at St. Vincent Medical Center to begin the process of a sleeve gastrectomy.
“Everyone there was just awesome. A big thing for me was that I was always worried about being judged and I never felt that at all, everyone was very compassionate and just wanted to help me reach my goals.”
“I was trapped in a depression. I was trapped inside my body and my head. You get so heavy that you can’t do things and then you start accepting life as it is, and it starts to become very small."
— Thom Ellis
Playing a Different Tune
In just five months out, Thom lost 84 pounds, losing a total of 145 to date.
“Last year at this time I couldn't even stand with my bass, but now, I’m standing tall. The stage used to move whenever I stepped on it, now it’s steady and I’m able to play through the whole set pain free!”
Recently, Thom and his daughter went to a Summit County Metroparks trail that his Grandmother used to take him walking on after a picnic lunch as a child.
“It’s about a mile and a half with lots of hills so I hadn’t been able to walk it for years and in my depression I had resigned to the idea that I would never be able to go see that again…I’d never be able to go where my grandma and I had gone…and I accepted it.”
That day, equipped with a new outlook and the ability to move in the direction he wanted, Thom and his daughter embarked on that trial.
“We got to where the hills start kicking up and my daughter looked at me and asked what was wrong, with tears in my eyes I told her that I never thought I’d be able to walk this again, and here I am and I’m not even tired.”
Victories like this keep coming for Thom, from being able to sit back comfortably in an auditorium seat at his children’s school events to walking the length of Cedar Point with excitement about the opportunity to enjoy the thrill of a roller coaster in the future. Life has only grown for him and his family.
“One of the big things about me is I want to be the best dad I can be, I have a phenomenal relationship with my kids, they are amazing. I can’t do that if I can’t move. Now, I can, and not even just with my biological kids, this Fall I started leading the youth group at church where I can help influence a whole group of kids by setting a good example to get out there and start living!”
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