Health scare and HMR diet save life of Tomahawk man
Kurt Harry is a retired businessman from Tomahawk. As a former athlete, state wrestling champion and a Wisconsin All-State football player, Harry didn't want to admit that, over the years, he had let his weight get up to 350 pounds and he was not healthy.
Read Cheryl's story of weight loss success.
Physically, he felt terrible, but never went to a doctor unless there was an emergency.
That emergency came about a year ago when he developed a urinary infection that resulted in a trip to the emergency department.
While he was in the E.D., the physicians conducted a number of tests and told him the urinary infection was the least of his problems. His blood pressure was off the charts, he had hypertension and diabetes, his kidneys were failing and he had multiple aneurysms.
"That was a wake-up call for sure," Harry said.
From that moment, a team of Marshfield Clinic Health System doctors stepped in to address the large scale medical concerns and save his life.
He was put on 13 medications and spent nine days in the hospital to stabilize his conditions and prepare for surgery for the aneurysm.
After that, his doctor told him there was little more they could do, and he would likely not survive long unless he lost weight and developed a healthier lifestyle.
His doctor pointed to the Health System's HMR Weight Management program poster on the wall of the exam room and said, "You have a choice to make – if you want to live, you need to get on this program."
"I had done all the things in life that are bad for you, and it caught up with me," Harry said. "This wake-up call was God and the doctors asking me to decide if I wanted to live or not go on. My wife and I went directly from the doctor's office to the HMR Weight Management program and signed up. We met with Renee Trapp, health educator, who teaches the program. She assured us the program was proven and does work."
"Kurt was in pretty bad shape and at that point he was lucky to be alive," Trapp said. "He was facing more surgeries for the additional aneurysms and was potentially going to need dialysis for his failing kidneys."
He started the program, his weight went down and he soon felt well enough to start walking. He took small steps to increase his activity and then started running.
He now runs five miles in the morning and five miles in the evening – a transformation for the guy who landed in the E.D. and hospital less than a year before. To date, he has lost over 70 pounds, his blood pressure and cholesterol are under control, he is no longer diabetic, his kidney function has restored and he may no longer need the surgery for the remaining aneurysms.
"I wanted to share my story to help people," Harry said. "I have family and friends, men who were also athletes who have lost their health over the years. Many struggle with their weight and health when they are no longer in athletics. We just don't want to admit we are out of shape. I want everyone to know they can get their health back.
"The program is so simple," Trapp said. "You don't have to buy food, weigh or measure – there are no decisions to make. It's laid out for you."
Now the Harry family cooks and grills together, with an emphasis on vegetables, low fat sauces and Harry's own homemade healthy salsa. He has replaced his stashes of candy bars with apples, oranges or bananas and takes the program with him when he and his wife go to Arizona for the winter.
"We have a new grandchild coming and now I'm going to be here for that," he said.