Arthur Pope, MD, PhD, works on the front lines of the COVID-19 global pandemic as an emergency room doctor at the University of Chicago Medicine.
“Working with patients who may have COVID, and don’t know it yet, is really hard—they are usually shocked,” explains Dr. Pope. “I was working with one patient who needed to be admitted to the hospital, and was of course, really scared. You have to reassure them that they are in the right place, and that they are going to get the care they need, and hopefully everything will be fine.”
But Pope also is a patient at University of Chicago Medicine, and grateful to Christopher Chapman, MD, of the Digestive Diseases Center. Pope credits his recent weight loss surgery for allowing him to perform his critical work at a healthier weight.
Arthur Pope started considering weight loss options in medical school, when he added 50 pounds to his already larger frame, reaching 290 pounds. He researched a procedure known as endoscopic sleeve gastroplasty, or ESG, in which sutures are place on the inside of the stomach to reduce the size and volume of the stomach by sixty to seventy percent.
In 2018, he was ready to make a change. Dr. Chapman reviewed his case and recommended ESG. Dr. Pope was happy to learn that his insurance would cover the cost of the procedure, and that the recovery time would be just a few days—very important given his demanding school and on-call schedule. After a short recovery, he was back at the hospital, and a few weeks later, he began to see the weight come off. Following the surgery, Pope met with Dr. Chapman regularly, and also with dietitian Courtney Schuchmann who provided nutrition advice to help support his weight loss and overall health. Dr. Pope ultimately lost around 60 pounds, and has kept it off for two years.
Pope explains, “I was just happy to be able to get on a bike and ride without my knees hurting. It feels good to be able to walk around and not have the extra weight on me. That’s been great. And it felt good to do something now, when I’m in my thirties, to help me stay healthy for as long as I can, because I know it’s not going to get any easier.”
Next year, Pope will travel to Philadelphia to start work as an attending physician in emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Pope is happy to be doing what he loves—taking care of patients. Says Pope of his surgery, “I think it just gave me a new confidence and a new lease on life. It has taught me how to eat better and take care of myself. I’m really happy I did it.”
Dr. Pope is more than willing to discuss his experiences with ESG, explaining, “Healthy means something different to everyone. I think, as a physician, it’s important for me to say, this is nothing to be ashamed of. Sometimes everyone needs a little help, and that’s okay.”