“Life is good now. I have a life now.”
There was a time when Charles Wolfe couldn’t walk his beloved wire haired Jack Russell terrier, Isaiah, or take his trash can to the curb. There was a time when he weighed so much he didn’t think he’d make it much longer.
But those days, thankfully, have passed.
“I feel better, I’m healthier, and I’m getting even better. It’s a blessing I’m still here.”
Wolfe, 48, once weighed 740 pounds. Today he weighs half that.
“I didn’t have a life,” he said. “Basically, I went outside, sat in my chair and went back inside. At my heaviest I dreaded getting out of my chair to go to the bathroom or something like that.”
Like many people struggling with obesity, Wolfe said his feelings were hurt when people would stare at or talk about him. He didn’t want to go out in public or have photos taken of himself. The day he had to be weighed on Baptist East’s loading dock was particularly degrading.
“Do you know how crazy and embarrassing that was? That was one time I went to the (bariatric) doctor and didn’t weigh 700 pounds, I was only 500-something then.”
On September 14, 2010, Wolfe traveled to Birmingham by ambulance – a courtesy transport by Rural Metro in Alabama’s capitol city – to undergo gastric bypass surgery. It was the day his life changed for the better.
“Aw man, it’s like night and day.”
Wolfe is no longer a Type II diabetic, a disease often associated with obesity. He said he’s lucky that he doesn’t have heart or lung problems. His left knee bothers him every so often, but he’s planning to get it checked out soon.
Otherwise, he is working toward getting healthier and is enjoying his new-found freedom.
“There are so many things I can do for myself now, like going to the grocery store or going to the post office. I can put my socks on myself. All of these things poeple take for granted until they’re gone.”
Wolfe blames himself for his weight getting out of control.
He said he started getting “husky” in junior high school, but kept active through high school, playing sports and riding his bike. Being bigger than seniors as a freshman was an advantage, he said, but once he became a truck driver the tables turned.
Wolfe volunteered that most of his meals consisted of an overabundance of fast foods – two Big Mac meals, supersized, with pies or a large pizza and breadsticks – and instead of exercising he’d watch a movie or lie down to sleep before hitting the road again.
“I blame me, myself and I,” he said. “I could have went outside and walked around, but I didn’t do it. I did this to myself. I sit back and think, ‘Why did I do this to myself? Why was I killing myself?’”
Not only does Wolfe realize he was eating the wrong foods, he knows he was eating them at the wrong times and in excess.
Since his surgery he has changed his eating habits and is enjoying a new lease on life.
He still has 120 pounds to lose until he reaches his goal weight. The next step, he said, is to have surgery to remove excess skin, become healthy enough to re-enter the workforce and buy new clothes.
Physically, he’s half the man he once was. Mentally, he’s twice the Charles Wolfe he’s ever been.
“Everyone’s been talking about how my appearance has changed, but I’ve been focusing on how I feel. I feel good.”
Though Wolfe’s plight – his struggles with weight, getting the surgery and losing 370 pounds in two years – can be seen as motivation to others in a similar situation, he thinks he’s just an ordinary man.
“I’m just Charles Wolfe who wanted his life back.”
This article was published in The Leader on Feb. 28, 2013. Copyright © 2013 The Leader/Echo Day. Not to be republished without written consent.