The weight that was lifted from Frank Gouveia Jr.’s body was more than just the 184 pounds he had lost. It was a significant emotional weight as well.
“When I was overweight, I felt like my world was collapsing, I felt like I had no control,” said Gouveia, a Captain Cook area resident, who at one point weighed 370 pounds and suffered from a host of medical problems including three prior strokes and a heart attack.
When Gouveia was at his heaviest and taking 11 medications, he realized something had to change. “I knew if I didn’t do anything, I may not be on this earth in three years.”
In August 2013, he committed to making diet and lifestyle changes and having gastric bypass surgery with Dr. Cedric Lorenzo and the Comprehensive Weight Management Program team at The Queen’s Medical Center.
“The surgery is a tool you can use,” Gouveia said. “You don’t just have the surgery to fix things; you first have to prove to the team that you’re ready to change and you gotta be 100 percent when you do this.”
Not only did he show them he was ready, he appreciated that the Queen’s staff was behind him as well. “They were always there, like an angel guiding me on the journey,” he said. “And you need it, because sometimes you do get frustrated. But they always encouraged and supported me.”
Today, Gouveia feels the surgery gave him a second chance at life. “I watch what I eat, exercise and no longer take medication.” His sleep apnea is gone. And his heart, which was working at only 25 percent capacity before, is now at 90 percent. “My heart doctor was blown away,” Gouveia said.
Gouveia finds himself doing a lot more smiling these days. “I make people laugh now because I’m so happy,” he said. “When I was big, I never smiled or talked to others because I was ashamed of myself. Now I say ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon’ and people start talking with me.”
Another wonderful change? When he returned from a trip, his granddaughter ran up to him and gave him a big hug. Then she said with great surprise, “Papa, I can reach around you!” She ran to her mom and happily told her, “My arms can fit around him!”
“She could hug me completely now,” says Gouveia. “And that was a gift to me to work harder and focus on my workouts. I want to be there for her and all my grandchildren.”