Age: 23 years
Occupation: Warehouse Clerk/ Volunteer Fireman
After using the abiliti system for one year, Johannes had lost 34 kg and reduced his BMI to 24.5. In his second year with the system, Johannes continues to lose weight and has reduced his BMI so far to 23.6. Before implantation of the abiliti system, Johannes weighed 117 kg and today weighs 80 kg. In this interview, he explains his experience with the operation, changes in lifestyle and feelings about the weight loss.
Q: How did you come to find out about the abiliti system?
A: When I was about 17 years old, I considered getting a gastric band, but my health insurance company didn't cover the procedure. So I tried everything else, including many diets and a 6-week residential weight loss program. But I only lost 5.6 kg and I came to the realization that I would never get down to my ideal weight without more help.
Three years later, I received a letter from the Universitätsklinik Würzburg. The letter invited me to participate in a clinical study of a different, and perhaps better, alternative to the gastric band. This alternative was the abiliti system. I responded immediately, as I was very interested and hopeful that I might get the help I needed.
Q: What convinced you to participate?
A: At my first meeting, the doctor explained the new therapy in detail and assured me that my health was the most important issue. I left feeling confident in the doctors and the therapy. I was convinced that by participating in the study, I could help make the therapy available to people like myself.
Q: What was the procedure like?
A: It took a while to get used to having the stimulator implanted in my body. At first, it was slightly painful and I felt some discomfort under my ribs. Obviously I had to get use to this "foreign object" in my body, but after about two weeks I hardly noticed it.
Q: What does the gastric stimulation feel like?
A: I could always feel when the abiliti system stimulator was active. As soon as I felt it, a slow and steady feeling of fullness spread throughout my stomach. Sometimes the sensation was an easy, stretching pressure. Sometimes it was a light pinching sensation. But it was never painful. I got used to it quickly. It also reminded me to eat healthier.
Q: How did you lose the weight?
A: At first, it was by following the doctor's advice to stick to the diet plan and my mealtimes. The stimulator supported it by making me feel full fairly early in a meal.
By the time I got down to about 99 kg, I began to stop myself when I had eaten enough. And the more weight I lost, the better I became at this. Obviously it was still very good that the stimulator continued to reinforce what my body was feeling.
Another thing that helped was that I began to really and truly pay attention to my diet. I have always known how many calories were in my food. But I always ate irregularly and too much at once. The weight loss therapy changed that.
Q: When did you notice a change?
A: After about three months, I had to start tightening my belt. Every three months after that I had to punch new holes in my belt. Then, I had to buy new clothes.
I feel better and more energetic, too. As an active volunteer fireman, I notice that my stamina and strength during strenuous physical activity has increased tremendously as a result of the weight loss. Now, I don't get out of breath so easily. And when I do lose my breath, it doesn't take so long to recover.
Q: Have the people around you noticed?
A: I didn't tell my acquaintances at work about the gastric stimulator at first. When they saw me becoming thinner each week and my clothes becoming too big, they started asking questions. So, I told them about it. They were all very positive and praised me for taking action.
My employers also looked positively on my weight loss. Their encouraging words have strengthened my resolve to continue with the gastric stimulator.