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Joliet man cured of sleep apnea after losing more than 150 pounds in one year at Silver Cross Hospital

Phil Martinez had success with weight loss in the past, but found it very difficult to stay on track. Over time, he reached 360 pounds; a far cry from the 179 pounds he weighed when he married his wife in 1989.

 The 55-year-old Joliet psychotherapist decided he needed to take more drastic action in order to be there for his wife, Sarah, and two daughters, Rachel and Marin.

“I never had serious issues until my mid-30s. That’s when I started to put on some weight,” he said. “The next thing I knew, I weighed 300 pounds.”

At that point he decided to try dieting, and lost nearly 100 pounds through the Atkins diet. He kept the weight off for over a year, however, he found sustaining it was difficult. Phil didn’t take weight loss surgery lightly. At first, the thought of laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy gastric sleeve surgery was a little scary to him because it is irreversible. In fact, he researched several practices that specialized in weight loss surgery, including BMI Surgery. It wasn’t until a friend from his church, who had the surgery with BMI at Silver Cross Hospital, shared her experience with him that he decided to go through with it.

“She told me her experience was great. So I thought, ‘I’m desperate and I need to do something.’ So I went to the informational seminars, and I liked what I heard. I finally made the choice and decided to do it,” Martinez said.

Making a change for his family

One reason he chose to go forward with the surgery is because his quality of life was suffering. Phil lost control over his eating and suffered from sleep apnea and exhaustion. He was treated for sleep apnea including getting a CPAP machine and even having surgery to remove his tonsils, but nothing worked. He couldn’t take long road trips or drive the 5.5 hours to visit his daughter in college because he would fall asleep at the wheel.

“I was used to sleeping in one hour bursts. I was walking around in a daze. I really was the walking dead. If I would sit down during the day, I would nod off. It didn’t matter where I was. So it really was affecting relationships, work, and everything in my life,” he said.

After attending one of BMI’s weekly informational sessions he was officially sold. At the time of his surgery in April 2016, Martinez weighed 328 pounds, and he had a goal weight in mind once he recovered from the procedure. “My pipe dream was to lose 120 pounds total.”

The first week after surgery, he was able to stop taking his blood pressure medication after experiencing light headedness. After the first month, he dropped 70 pounds and started keeping a journal of his weight loss. 

Quality of life improvement

By August 2016, Phil had reached his “pipe dream” goal of losing 120 pounds, and six months after surgery he was at 199 pounds. This past April, when he came in for his yearly visit, he was down to 179 pounds; the same as when he got married nearly 28 years ago. He’s now down a total of 159 pounds since his surgery. In July, his weight was down to 169 pounds.

“My quality of life has changed 180 degrees. My wife used to worry about me. I don’t have sleep apnea anymore, and I sleep a solid 7 hours a night. Now we actually joke that she worries because I’m so silent that she can’t hear me,” he said. Cooking has also become a fun activity for Martinez and his family. While he stays away from the fast food, he’s able to enjoy a lot of different foods, and likes to challenge himself on different recipes he sees online.

Dr. Lahmann said Phil has exceeded even his expectations, and he continues to improve his overall health. The core morbidities such as pre-diabetes and morbid obesity aren’t factors anymore. “Phil has done an amazing job in his weight loss journey. I’m very excited for him, and for the future with his family.”

While Phil didn’t exercise as much as he would’ve liked, he did stay active throughout the year after the procedure. He was able to play 90 holes of golf over four days. Normally he’d struggle to get through 9 holes in a day. But the biggest difference he says is being with his family more.

 “I’m way more present. I can attend my daughter, Marin’s plays, and I can drive down to visit my other daughter, Rachel, at college and drive home all in one day. I’m not sleeping my life away anymore. My wife says she has her old husband back.”

BMI Surgery has changed the lives of over 5,000 patients with life-changing surgeries including laparoscopic gastric bypass, laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, ReShape, and Lap-Band® and REALIZE® gastric band systems at Silver Cross Hospital. Board certified laparoscopic and bariatric surgeons  Brian Lahmann, M.D., and Christopher Joyce, M.D., are dedicated to helping patients win their personal battles with obesity and enjoy healthier lives. Their office is located on the Silver Cross Hospital campus at I-355 and Route 6 in New Lenox. BMI Surgery at Silver Cross Hospital has been named a MBSAQIP accredited center – Comprehensive.  BMI Surgery is also a Blue Distinction Center for Bariatric Surgery.

To find out more about the bariatric surgery program at Silver Cross Hospital, attend a free informational session on both traditional and laparoscopic surgery on any Wednesday at  5:45 p.m. at BMI Surgery at 1890 Silver Cross Blvd., Suite 260, New Lenox.  Register to attend at

Located at 1900 Silver Cross Blvd., New Lenox, IL 60451   Main Phone (815) 300-1100

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Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care.  These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.