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An athlete until he blew out his knee in college, Ed Pikna saw his weight slowly creep up over the years. As the pounds piled on, the high school track coach and special education teacher did more sitting and less of the activities he loved — hunting, fishing, golfing, and bowling. He tried dieting, but it never lasted; he soon reverted back to eating fast food, sodas, and candy.
By the time he topped out at 476 pounds, Ed was miserable. “I hated what I’d turned into. Just getting the mail or going up the steps left me winded,” he says. “My knees hurt, my ankles hurt, my back hurt.”
On his 49th birthday in 2014, Ed went to his doctor with a leg infection. Despite his overall good health, his doctor warned him it was just a matter of time before his obesity caught up with him. “I decided enough was enough,” says Ed, who made an appointment with bariatric surgeon Christopher J. Myers, MD, at UPMC Horizon. “I wanted to be able to enjoy my future: grandchildren, retirement, and traveling with my wife.”
Ed went through six months of preoperative meetings, dietary counseling and support groups. He eliminated junk food, candy, and sugary drinks. By the time of his gastric bypass surgery at UPMC Horizon–Greenville in June 2015, he had lost 100 pounds. By the New Year, he dropped another 120 pounds.
“I’m a new man,” says Ed. “Dr. Myers and his entire office saved my life."
Despite his weight loss and a waist size that has decreased from 58/60 to 44, Ed still plans on losing another 21 pounds to reach his 235-pound weight goal. “By then, I will have lost half my weight,” he says.
Ed’s daily routine includes a 30-minute walk in the morning and 30 minutes of exercise on a recumbent bicycle in the evening. He also resumed hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities. Although his blood pressure was never bad, it has now dropped to 110 over 70.
“I haven’t felt this good in decades. I feel like a 22-year-old!” says Ed. “My energy is unbelievable. I’m no longer huffing and puffing; I’m even cutting and splitting firewood. Bariatric surgery improved every facet of my life.”