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Man Loses 500 Pounds


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Half-Ton Man Loses More Than 500 Pounds



The Associated Press

Wednesday, May 25, 2005; 11:00 AM


VALENTINE, Neb. -- Patrick Deuel is half the man he used to be _ and proud of it.


Deuel weighed 1,072 pounds when he was admitted to a Sioux Falls, S.D., hospital last June after being housebound for seven years. He was down to 530 at his weigh-in five weeks ago.


The 43-year-old former restaurant manager says he has come a long way, yet he knows he has a long way to go before he is considered a healthy man. His goal is to someday weigh 230 pounds.


As he greeted visitors to his apartment on a recent afternoon, Deuel was in a jovial mood.


"I was going past a mirror this morning and glanced over and said, 'Whoo, lookin' good,'" he said with a laugh.


Deuel was near death when he was taken to Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls last June 9. Without treatment for his morbid obesity, Deuel said, he certainly would be dead.


Now, as he approaches the one-year mark of what he calls his "journey," Deuel says his heart is "strong as an ox" and he's planning to live another 50 years.


Deuel's wife, Edie, and his mother, Betty Deuel of Grand Island, aren't betting against that.


Edie said Patrick is now the lightest he's been in the 10 years they've been married.


Betty said she had faith her son could survive and be successful once Dr. Fred Harris agreed to treat him.


"I'm expecting to see more improvement. I just keep asking and praying," Betty said.


Harris, who performed gastric bypass surgery on Deuel, said he was pleased to see him lose more than 100 pounds in the 70 days after his hospital discharge in January. Harris said he doesn't expect Deuel to lose weight as rapidly in the months ahead.


"He's doing as well as can be expected, all things considered," Harris said.


During an interview in his cluttered living room, Deuel sat in his love seat and talked while munching on cold shrimp and cocktail sauce and a can of green beans. In an hour's time, he downed three cans of Diet Dr. Pepper and smoked three cigarettes.


He said he's mostly winging it with his diet. He consults a handwritten chart on the wall that lists foods he can and can't, or should and shouldn't, eat. Those foods were determined by trial and error. Some foods he simply can't keep down as a result of the gastric-bypass surgery.


No, Deuel isn't counting calories.


"I really don't know, and I really don't care," he said when asked what would be his ideal caloric intake.


Harris said he's not big on calorie counting, either.


"I'm big on the results," he said. "This shows the operation does what it's supposed to do. He's living proof of that. Life is good."


A telltale sign of Deuel's progress is the giant maroon polo shirt he wears around his apartment. The size 12-X shirt drapes over him, with the end of the sleeves nearly down to his wrists.


"I'm going to have to get me some clothes. This is a short-sleeved shirt, and it's not short-sleeved anymore," he said.


He said his mobility is the best it's been in years. He demonstrated his ability to walk around his apartment, albeit slowly and with the aid of a walker, and he said he occasionally takes short walks outside.


Most of his waking hours are spent on the love seat with a pillow propped behind his back. In front of him is a computer on which he corresponds with friends, family and well-wishers and plays Internet games.


Deuel said he does exercises with bar bells and leg weights twice a day while lying on his bed, which, like the love seat, is supported not by legs but by cement blocks.


Always within reach are his Summit cigarettes. Deuel said he smokes between a half and full pack a day, down from his two-and-a-half-pack-a-day habit he had for 20 years.


"Everybody frowns on it," he said, "and I really don't care. I'm going to smoke until I feel I need to quit."


Harris said Deuel is making a poor choice by continuing to smoke.


"On the other hand, it is a full-blown, honest-to-goodness addiction," Harris said. "Patrick's over the age of 21 and so far as I know a free citizen, and he can do what he wants to do. It's not what I'd choose for him."


Though Deuel said he has enjoyed lots of support, much of it from people he has never met, he also has taken criticism for his weight getting so out of hand.


His mother points out that he has a genetic predisposition to being overweight, and he has had a lifelong problem with fluid retention.


"This isn't just about some guy who overate," Betty Deuel said of her only child.


But she acknowledges that her son did have poor eating habits.


"He had a healthy appetite, and I'm sure that contributed to it," she said. "The fact he was that way from the time he was small indicated to me there was something wrong from the beginning."


Patrick is not shy about telling his story. He said he wants to give hope to other people who are morbidly obese.


Once he's able, he said, he figures he could make a six-figure income from motivational speaking. He has banked enough money from documentaries done by British, German and Japanese broadcast companies to buy a van for him and his wife.


"As it is now, I'm not getting rich," he said.


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Wow, that's amazing, but at 530 pounds he's still very fat.


But I guess when you wiegh so much it's easy to lose weight...


To even weigh 500 pounds is a big deal, but to lose 500 pounds is an even bigger thing!


BTW-Are there any picture of him when he weighed over 1,000 pounds? He probably looked disgustingly fat, but I'm just curious to see a picture of him then, and if possible, now as well.

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