The genetic cards were stacked against Houseal, a big man with a big, outgoing personality. He weighed 120 pounds in first grade. He’d put on another hundred by the time he left high school and then more as the stresses of adult life piled up. As a young, 6-foot-2 man, he felt “invincible.” As an older one, he lost — and regained — 20 or 30 pounds countless times. He’s had diabetes for at least 20 years. He would have had weight-loss surgery 10 years ago if his insurance covered it.
Now 64, he is recovering from his second amputation: He’s lost two toes to the disease.