David Nielsen lost 20kg in two months in order to receive anaesthesia for much-needed shoulder surgery.
And in doing so he massively reduced his risk for complications.
The Kaipara local has decided to share his successful weight loss story in order to raise awareness for National Anaesthesia Day this month and to encourage others to get fit for surgery.
The theme for the day is, Preparing For Anaesthesia.
When Nielsen went to Whangārei Hospital to discuss his shoulder operation he was told that the table they perform surgery on could only take a maximum of 158.75kg.
This meant at 171.5kgs, he was too heavy and didn't meet the criteria to get on the surgical list.
Northland DHB consultant anaesthetist Dr Lucy Stone says preparing for a major operation is a bit like preparing for a half marathon. "The fitter you are, the easier the recovery will be.
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"Your body needs to repair itself after surgery – eating a healthy diet before and after your surgery can really help," said Stone.
National Anaesthesia Day spokesman Dr Nigel Robertson also says that improving physical activity translates into better early recovery, "so you have better muscle strength, can mobilise better and you'll be less likely to have complications.
Certainly for Nielsen - the thought of not being able to have the surgery was also an incentive.
"The whole concept of taking up exercise seemed quite daunting. Like most people waiting for surgery, I was in quite a lot of pain."
Hr said that he has always been heavy despite living an active life.
"When I was 15, I was a harrier and played rugby, but was 100kg, so I've always been big-boned. I was also a farmer, and when we moved into town, I did a lawn mowing round. Eventually, my knees gave in, and I got osteoarthritis which led me to sit more. That's when I got much bigger."
His surgeon gave him an appointment for two months later to have his weight reviewed. Then he met with the Hospital dietician to discuss how he could go about shedding 20kg. He was encouraged to walk to the end of the driveway or around the block daily to help him meet his target.
However Nielsen felt this was just too easy, "I didn't think just going down the drive would be enough of a challenge".
He and his wife Gloria decided to invest in a good quality treadmill from Trade Me so he could start his weight loss regime under his own roof.
Gloria says that their lounge now looks like a gymnasium, "but it was the best decision because David has gradually increased his time using it from three minutes a day to now spending at least half an hour at a time, every day".
For the first two months between appointments, he was on a strict diet, and together with his increased exercise, he reduced his weight to 150.6kg.
Nielsen believes that Valerie Adams has it right when she recommends to, "Move a little more, eat a bit better, take a moment." He adds, "It is hard to make a change, but it just takes one thing, and it's amazing what incentive does."
Gloria said that losing the weight was easy; keeping it off has been more challenging. Nielsen has managed to shed another 5kg and no longer has such a strict diet but has kept up the treadmill exercising.
Together they have reduced their plate size, which has helped them both lose weight. He says he has more stamina, feels much more agile, and plans to carry on exercising and watching his portion size even after surgery.
ANZCA National Anaesthesia Day is celebrated each year across Australia and New Zealand on October 16, the anniversary of the day in 1846 that ether anaesthetic was first demonstrated in Boston, Massachusetts.
Northland DHB will be celebrating Anaesthesia Day with a display manned by the anaesthesia team outside the outpatients department to talk to patients and staff about the benefits of healthy lifestyle choices when preparing for surgery from 8.30am–12.30pm.
Art gallery breathes new life into old information centre
Gone is the Kaipara region's only tourism visitor information centre and in its place is a funky little art gallery.
The new Dargaville gallery is showcasing the talents of its owners as well as locals alike.
Gallery owners Sue and Rick Taylor have gained a good reputation for their photography work over the years and have even had some of their works showcased on national television as well as in this newspaper.
"Because Rick and I love taking photos, for years now people have been telling us to put them on canvas and do something with them, so we did."
As well as showcasing their own artwork - the gallery displays the work of other artists as well, such as abstract artist Kim Johnson, photographer Brian Dean and husband and wife duo Joanne and Roger Perry.
She says the opening was a great success with people queueing to check out the art on display last weekend.
"It was very good, the weather was good and people were lining up to come through the gate."
"The feedback has all been positive too, they like the colour and the fact that it's different artworks to what's in town already."
She says the idea to put the art gallery in this space made perfect sense as it complements her husband's woodturning studio next door.
"It's not taking anything away from what is already here, it complements it and we're not in competition with anyone.
"The artists on display do not have their work on display anywhere else."
She said that eventually she would like to see an art trail in place in the region.
"We could all feed into each other as it's been done elsewhere successfully, I've been to the art trail in Manukau and it worked really well."
Motorists urged to avoid "failing" bridge
Visitors to Mangawhai are being urged to avoid the Tomarata/Insley street bridge as urgent work gets carried out.
Instead, they are being asked to use the Kaiwaka turn-off instead.
The bridge is failing due to the corrosion of concrete and damaged reinforcing steel, with four support beams under the bridge in need of replacement.
Kaipara District Council general manager for infrastructure Jim Sephton said the council was working with its contractor, affected residents, visitors and the nearby Mangawhai Beach School to minimise disruption during repairs.
"We understand the repairs will be inconvenient for some people during the repairs and we appreciate their understanding and patience," Sephton said.
"We'd prefer that visitors coming to Mangawhai from out of town should use the Kaiwaka turn-off to avoid the bridge."
"We'll complete the work as soon as possible, but it could take until March 2020 depending on how much corrosion contractors find in the structure once they break ground."
"We have a great team on the project but they are dealing with a lot of constraints. They are working over water and there isn't a lot of room underneath the bridge. We're not working at night because construction machinery can be noisy and disruptive for the community. We're striking the best balance we can between getting the job done quickly, ensuring everyone's safety, and minimising disruption."
Safety barriers and temporary support beams have been installed on the bridge while repairs take place, and there will be three 48-hour closures in mid-October, mid-December and late January. The bridge will be open at other times, but traffic management will be in place and motorists should expect delays.
During the closures, local light traffic will be diverted along Cames Rd. Security will be in place to ensure heavy vehicles do not use Cames Rd, and the council is improving the road's carriageway and drainage. Long-distance and heavy traffic will be diverted along State Highway 1 and the Kaiwaka-Mangawhai Rd, and the council is planning ahead with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to manage traffic flows during the busy summer period.
Pedestrians can cross the bridge but may occasionally have to be escorted for safety reasons.
Sephton said repairing the bridge was a better option than replacing it in terms of costs and timeframe.
"Repairing the bridge will cost around $2.5 million with an NZTA subsidy of 61 per cent. Replacing the bridge would have cost over twice this amount and with a lower chance of getting the funding subsidy. In addition, building a new bridge would have taken longer and caused more disruption for people who live along the diversion route than repairing the existing one," he said.
Download the Antenno app to be notified of disruptions to the bridge and road network.
Local author launches book
Jody Reynolds has taken the plunge and published her first book.
The Dargaville High School head of department for media studies teacher has written a novel called Taking The Plunge. She wrote the book in her spare time and says it is the culmination of three years work.
"It's set in Central Otago and it's a tragicomic tale of love lost and snowboarding."
The book launch will take place tomorrow at Whangārei Library from 10.30am.