When your weight equals a quarter of a ton, day-to-day living is a lot of work. Jonathan Ward, a 46-year-old from Cleveland, Tennessee, was constantly considering how far he could walk while enduring the pain in his knees and how much space he would need anywhere he was going. Basic self-care required special tools. He couldn’t put his socks on without help. Today, Ward spends less time planning his days and more time enjoying them. Ward has lost 300 pounds, the last 128 after a weight loss procedure through the Parkwest Center for Bariatric
Surgery. He says it was the tool that helped him finally reach his ultimate goals and make the weight loss permanent. “It’s improved my quality of life and my ability to get out and enjoy life a thousandfold,” Ward says. “It’s amazing the difference in everything I do.”
The Moment that Changed Everything
In late summer of 2019, Ward’s father passed away fol- lowing years of health problems that were made worse by extra weight. It forced Ward to take a hard look at his own health. “It was so traumatic in my mind, spirit and soul that I made up my mind – I was going to make that change,” Ward says. Stepping on the scales at his physician’s office, Ward came face-to-face with the reality that his weight had topped 500 pounds. When he expressed his desire to get serious about changing that number, the doctor was all in, helping Ward develop a diet and exercise plan.
The pounds began to fall off, but after a while progress stalled. Logging food every day was becoming tiresome, and so was repeating the same meals. Ward fell into old habits and his weight started to yo-yo, much the same as it had done when he had dieted so many times in the past. Depression began to settle in. The wake-up call came when his doctor said, “You’re not going to waste all your hard work and head the other way, are you?” Having always been open to the option of weight-loss surgery, Ward decided it was time for on- line research to find the right person for the job.
K. Robert Williams, MD, specializes in minimally invasive general surgery procedures at Parkwest, including weight-loss surgeries that have been radically changing lives for years. Ward liked what he read about Dr. Williams, especially the many positive reviews from former patients. “I decided to go to an informational session where he laid out everything – all the procedures he does, the negatives and positives of each of them,” Ward says. “After that, I had my consultation with him.”
Together, the two decided a biliary-pancreatic diversion with duodenal switch (BPD/DS) was the right choice for Ward. Dr. Williams says BPD/DS combines a gastric bypass and a limited sleeve gastrectomy. “It’s an operation that involves a greater change to the intestinal tract, separating food and digestive juice while also restricting how much someone can eat,” Dr. Williams says. The procedure was performed in July of 2020. In April, 2021, Ward returned to his physician’s office in Cleveland and stepped on the scales. His weight was 200.6 pounds. “I never thought I would be able to lose all this weight,” Ward says. “I never thought I would be 200 pounds again.”
He plays golf, hikes in the Smoky Mountains and goes for long walks. Ward no longer carries the burden of being limited by his weight. With the support the weight- loss program offers post-surgery, Ward’s been able to stay on course even on difficult days. The sacrifices he’s made along the way are bringing him a better quality of life. “I wasn’t going to be able to live much retirement – if I made it to retirement – if I didn’t do something immediately,” Ward says. “Weight-loss surgery was the tool to help me not only lose weight, but keep it off as well.”
Aware that so many people are struggling with weight loss the way he was, Ward offers encouragement. “Don’t wait for the wake-up call, for a lost family member, and don’t give up hope,” Ward . “If I can do it, anyone can.”
Weight-Loss Surgery at Parkwest: If you’re considering it, here are some things you need to know.
Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery is led by K. Robert Williams, MD, who is board certified in bariatric surgery. After performing more than 1,500 bariatric procedures in the past decade, he sets the record straight.
It’s Not Just About Weight
Bariatric procedures at Parkwest don’t just change the way patients look on the outside. They can change and even save lives. Dr. Williams explains that people who carry a lot of extra weight often carry troubling health issues, too. “Weight-loss surgery has a big impact on metabolic diseases – diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, reflux and even mechanical issues such as arthritis, back pain and stress incontinence,” Dr. Williams says. Patients who come into his office often have trouble with the most basic life skill – breathing.
“Many suffer from hypoventilation syndrome, meaning they can’t move enough air because the diaphragm is pressing on the lungs,” Dr. Williams explains. These health problems, referred to as “comorbidities,” have resulted in bariatric surgery frequently being covered by insurance.
It’s Not Easy
Williams says weight-loss surgery isn’t a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. But for a person who is willing to follow a doctor’s orders and put in the work, it can be a tool for successful and permanent weight loss where all others have failed.“People who accuse bariatric surgery patients of taking the easy way out are totally wrong,” Dr. Williams says. “It’s not the easy way out. It’s sometimes the only way out.” In some cases it’s harder psychologically than physically because dramatic weight loss brings such a dramatic lifestyle change. Parkwest offers a support group and follow-ups with a dietitian and exercise physiologist to help. This support system is one of the reasons patients at Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery are successful for the long term.
There is Hope for a Better Life
Hiking a mountain trail. Riding a roller coaster. Booking a flight. Dancing the night away. For many people who are over- weight, these things seem like unrealistic, fanciful dreams.
But dreams can come true with commitment to goals and the right support. Parkwest Center for Bariatric Surgery can help. “It’s very rewarding,” says Dr. Williams. “One of the best things is seeing folks six months to a year later when their medical problems are going away and to see them being able todo things they haven’t been able to do.”
The Information is Free
The first step to weight-loss surgery is becoming well-informed. The Center for Bariatric Surgery hosts free seminars online and in person at Parkwest to explain procedures and answer questions. “At that point, they’re obligation-free. The cost is zero for that seminar. They don’t have to invest any resources,” Dr. Williams says. “If they decide they want to go forward, that’s when they come in for an office appointment and we begin the process.”
To learn about bariatric surgery options at Parkwest Me Medical Center or to sign up for a free informational seminar, visit TreatedWell.com/Bariatrics.