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For Texas Man, Bariatric Surgery Led to Diabetes-Free Life
Date:1/4/2013

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) -- Paul Garcia, 54, came from a family that loved to eat. "We always had a lot of food at home, and whenever we ate, it was like a feast," said Garcia.

And he said his family's food choices weren't always the healthiest either. "My eating habits were terrible," he said. "We'd have lots of flour tortillas, beans and rice."

Over the years, Garcia's weight ballooned -- to 430 pounds at his heaviest. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and put on insulin to bring down his blood sugar levels. But he had such a hard time controlling his blood sugar, he said, that he went into a coma more than once. He also had several heart attacks and lost sight in one eye. His triglycerides, a bad type of fat in the blood, were over 2,000. Doctors recommend those levels be below 150, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Garcia also came close to losing a foot. Though doctors told him that they might very well need to amputate his foot, the surgeons were able to save his foot but they did have to amputate two toes.

That proved to be a tipping point.

"I'd been diabetic for 15 years," Garcia said. "I didn't want to lose my feet. I knew I had to change or I would die."

Change wouldn't come easily, however. Garcia said that his doctor, who'd heard that gastric bypass surgery could successfully treat diabetes, initially suggested it. But first, to ensure that he was a good candidate for the drastic lifestyle changes required after the surgery, Garcia's doctors enrolled him in a six-month nutrition program to help people learn to control their eating. He had already lost some weight on his own and was down to 370 pounds when he started the nutrition program. After six months, he was down to 320 pounds -- a clear sign that he was making the necessary changes.

Besides the nutrition program, Garcia said, his health-care team also
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