High school referee: Weight-loss surgery a ‘good call’

Matt Reese (pictured left) has always been active. He's worked as an EMT, and he has been a high school football and basketball referee and a softball and baseball umpire.

Yet, in 2013 he found himself overweight and his doctor was starting to see some warning signs. "My health was a mess. I was borderline diabetic, had hypertension, and my joints were constantly sore. I was short of breath with little exertion. I was simply miserable," Reese said.

Reese says his weight started to hinder his sports officiating.

"I gave up calling basketball about 10 years ago because I couldn't keep up with the players and the pace of the game. I stayed with the other sports, but I felt I was always out of position to make the call," he explained.

"I finally chose to do something to better myself in my personal and professional life."

Reese went to an informational meeting about bariatric surgery at Carle. After talking with Blair Rowitz, MD, medical director of surgical services, he decided to see if bariatric surgery was right for him.

"Dr. Rowitz told me there was a six-month process I would have to complete before my insurance would approve my surgery. That process included trying different diets and monthly visits with my primary care physician," he said.

After six months, Reese met with Dr. Rowitz again. Both agreed to move forward with gastric bypass surgery. Dr. Rowitz performed surgery on Reese on December 16, 2013.

"The surgery went as expected with no problems, and Dr. Rowitz was amazing. I was in the hospital for a few days and walked the wax finish off the floor to relieve the pain. But, it was all worth it," Reese said.

How much was it worth to Reese?

"I am no longer borderline diabetic and no longer take medicine to control my hypertension," Reese said.

Dr. Rowitz said, "Research shows that many times after bariatric surgery, diabetes and hypertension problems go away. Matt's testimony is just one of many patient success stories.

“The whole award-winning bariatric team loves to work with patients before and after surgery and help them live well."

120 pounds lighter, Reese now flies around the football field making calls, and he started calling basketball games again.

"I feel that I'm in as good of shape as or better than many of the athletes I officiate. I feel like I can do my job and look professional, as well," Reese said.

Reese has some helpful and straightforward advice for those who wonder if surgery is right for them.

"I would tell anyone who considers bariatric surgery to talk to their doctor and go to an informational meeting. It's not the easy way out. It's a lot of work, and people need support from family and friends," he said.

"There's occasional pain, tears and moments when you might wonder if it is worth it. But remember the end result—happiness and health!"