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Don Taylor staying the course during bariatric surgery journey

After receiving a difficult medical diagnosis and then losing his wife, Don Taylor began a journey that he would be on for the rest of his life. The responsibility he felt for his two daughters led him to undergo bariatric surgery and start on a pathway to a life without limits. 

Making a change 

At 46 years old in 2014, Taylor was diagnosed with severe atrial fibrillation (A-fib), a type of abnormal heartbeat. The Claremore resident managed it with medicine and exercise until around 2018 but started to gain a significant amount of weight. 

“I started feeling worse and worse,” said Taylor. “And then in 2020, my wife Bridget got sick. When she passed in November, a big part of me died that day, too. I was lost and adrift.” 

Taylor’s two daughters became the reason he woke up in the morning. He said he continued to feel worse with his heart issue and continued to gain weight, despite his best efforts.  

“I had frankly given up to the point that I didn't think I would ever be any type of decent dad to my girls again,” said Taylor. “I got home from vacation, and I went to my bedroom and frankly, lost it. I knew I had to do something, or I was going to die.” 

In July 2022, he made an appointment with Bailey Bariatrics. 

A new start 

The now 57 year old quickly started completing Bailey Bariatrics’ pre-operation process. He met with Allie Wood, RD/LD, CDCES, who is a family friend. Wood worked with Taylor on his pre-op diet and other requirements, which led to him dropping 35 pounds before the surgery. 

“Don went from 515 down to about 480 on his own just by following our pre-op diet and nutrition changes that we recommend to every patient,” said Wood. “He never strayed from those instructions.” 

“Allie would shoot me a message on Facebook just to follow up with me while she’s at home,” said Taylor. “That’s just the kind of person she is.” 

Taylor is also a patient of Brooke Hunt, APRN-CNP, who helped him get on track and prepare for surgery. 

“Brooke is just fabulous,” said Taylor. “She’s always been very supportive, helping me down this path. Everyone that I’ve dealt with in the program has been exemplary in my opinion.”  

In February 2023, Taylor was cleared for surgery. He had a Roux-en-Y gastric bypass on March 1, performed by Dr. Christopher Cole. Wood now helps Taylor closely monitor his diet, especially focusing on his protein intake. 

“With the Roux-en-Y bypass and the duodenal switch surgeries, patients are more likely to experience malabsorption, meaning there are more vitamins and minerals that they may become deficient in,” said Wood. “Since Don is a taller male, making sure he gets adequate protein is a challenge. He really depends on protein shakes since his stomach volume is now limited. This can be a hard thing to achieve post-op, but he had minimal muscle mass loss after his surgery.”  

“Don is absolutely a poster child for following post-op care. He takes his supplements, he goes to the gym consistently, he gets his protein in,” said Hunt. “He’s been plugged in the whole time and has stayed plugged in.” 

His primary care provider at Utica Park Clinic in Owasso, Taylore Kusel, APRN-CNP, said Taylor’s A-fib has started to improve post-surgery. She said he’s been successful in continuing his new healthy lifestyle with the goal of losing more weight. 

“Don is a very motivated patient, and the bariatric program is very comprehensive,” said Kusel. “Patients that have been through the bariatric program see an overall improvement in not only physical health but also their mental health.  The program provides patients with insight and motivation to continue to make healthy choices.” 

Kusel works with Taylor’s bariatric providers to give Taylor the most holistic care possible. 

“Having a close relationship with the bariatric providers allows us to provide a comprehensive approach to weight loss and promote a patient’s overall health,” said Kusel. 


Staying the course 

Taylor’s providers say he is a model patient, always listening to their guidance and following it exactly. 

“He took whatever we told him and implemented it,” said Wood. “He’s very motivated, he has a big motivational factor in his kids. He’s a very self-disciplined man; he can stick to it.” 

“I tell my patients that this is a lifetime, long-term commitment and lifestyle change,” said Hunt. “We really try to get them to focus on what their lives will look like permanently after this procedure.” 

“They set you up to succeed in this program,” said Taylor. “If you fail, it’s because of you, not because of them.” 

In the months since his surgery, Taylor exercises at least three days a week in the gym. He can now attend events like Tulsa Drillers baseball games and comfortably do chores like mowing his lawn. 

“I just wanted to be able to do basic life things again,” said Taylor. “To go to the grocery store, and not have to rely on the pick-up service. Be able to go on vacation or get back in my boat or go to Silver Dollar City and not just sit and watch people.” 

Taylor recognizes that his bariatric surgery is a tool he must use to maintain his weight-loss success. Since starting his bariatric journey with Bailey Bariatrics, he’s lost more than 160 pounds. 

“Don told me that we saved his life, but I told him that we didn’t save his life, we helped him save his life,” said Hunt. “We don’t save our patients; we help them get their lives back.” 

“The surgery’s not a miracle. Inside your mind is the miracle. I have learned though that success is not necessarily about what the scale says,” said Taylor. “It's about having the courage to finally stand up and say enough is enough and take my life back. Every day is a challenge, but with the help of my inner corps, it's just the beginning of a long but great journey.” 

Most importantly, Taylor hopes his wife is watching. 

“It’s what I think about every day when I wake up. It’s why I’ve done what I’ve done. Bridget, I hope you're proud of me.” 


To learn more about the weight loss surgeries and other services offered at Bailey Bariatrics, visit this link or call 918-376-8410.