Shane Gray, 39, has always had a lot on his plate.
He’s a youth pastor at Dutton Baptist Church in Dutton, Alabama, and is extremely passionate about his work. And as a single father of two teen daughters who is also helping raise his niece and nephew, Shane's busy schedule and list of responsibilities meant he routinely put himself – and his health – last on the priority list.
“The pain I was experiencing was different than anything I’d had before, and my stomach was bulging out. The cramping was so bad, that I knew it was serious,” says Shane. “It felt like two fists were bulging out of my belly button.”
Because of his size, several doctors felt they couldn’t operate on Shane, and he was running out of options. He had a decision to make – should he go to Birmingham or Chattanooga to seek care? After praying with his senior pastor, he felt led to go to Chattanooga. He was rushed by ambulance to CHI Memorial, a facility that was equipped to provide care for someone his size. There he encountered Dr. Heath Giles, general surgeon at University Surgical Associates, who Shane believes is the reason he’s alive today.
“They told me that my intestines were strangulated and cut off for over 12 hours. Normally one hour is all a person can take before they might die, but there I was,” remembers Shane. “Dr. Giles immediately said he could help me.”
Compassion and Concern Make a Difference
Dr. Giles took time to listen to Shane and connect with him in a way the many previous doctors before hadn’t taken time to do. But he did share with Shane that the hernia repair surgery would only be a temporary fix if he didn’t make the corresponding lifestyle changes and lose the weight.
“I’ve been told for years that I’m just fat. But I really put my life on hold to raise my daughters, and I put their needs first,” says Shane. “I used to be a kickboxing instructor and ran three miles every day. But the weight came on slowly and depression about my weight made it hard to come off.”
Dr. Giles was very encouraging to Shane and told him, “I believe in you, and I believe you can get back to your old self.”
“I have nothing but awesome praise for Dr. Giles and his staff who treated me with kindness, concern and care,” says Shane. “He treated me like a real person, and I’m grateful to be under his care.”