Patient Has New Lease on Life after Hernia Surgery
There are plenty of ways to reduce the size of your belly. None of them were working for Gloria Stofflet of Crossville.
With lots of exercise and trying her best to stick to a healthy diet, she wasn’t sure why her belly bulge wouldn’t budge. “I had this big stomach where it looked like I was pregnant,” Stofflet says. “I thought it was just fat.”
It was particularly frustrating because Stofflet, a woman of great faith, had been trying to live by a Bible verse that refers to the physical body as a dwelling place for the Lord. “I was trying to clean it up,” Stofflet says. “I was trying to make it worthy to be called God’s temple.”
Stofflet, 71, decided age was probably to blame for her lack of progress in toning her tummy. It wasn’t until she went to see a doctor about a completely unrelated illness that she found out it was something more.
With a persistent illness that mimicked the flu, Stofflet paid a visit to her local hospital emergency room last winter. The doctor there determined that a hernia Stofflet had previously had recurred.
She’d had a total of five hernia surgeries in the past, so she made an appointment with the surgeon who had performed her most recent procedures. He felt it was time to take her case to the next level, and referred her to Kristopher Williams, MD, a general surgeon at Parkwest Medical Center who specializes in complex hernia repair.
Dr. Williams’ advanced training included research in hernia repair and other surgical diseases, as well as clinical applications of the research. In addition to traditional hernia surgery, he performs reconstruction of the abdominal wall. Stofflet had no abdominal wall left, just a very thin layer of skin and fat covering her protruding intra-abdominal organs. Dr. Williams says a failed hernia repair like hers can be best explained by visualizing an over‐ packed suitcase.
“If you have too much in the suitcase and you put too much tension on the buckles of the suitcase, eventually those buckles are going to fail,” Dr. Williams says. “It’s the same thing with a hernia repair. If you force the abdominal wall to close and sew it back together, or put a piece of mesh there and it’s under too much tension, eventually that closure will fail.”
Because of the complicated nature of the case, Dr. Williams was assisted by Joel Bradley, MD, a general surgeon at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center. The two surgeons have specialized training in repairing the release of abdominal musculature, bringing the muscular components of the abdominal wall back together in abdominal wall reconstruction for a more secure and lasting hernia repair
Stofflet had surgery at Parkwest Medical Center in January 2017. “When I walked out of there I was so amazed at the transformation in my body,” Stofflet says. “I feel more confident.” When Stofflet returned to her exercise class at the gym, everyone took notice, wondering what kind of weight loss trick Stofflet had tried. With a leaner look and energy to spare, Stofflet brings her vivacious personality to worship services at
Cumberland Fellowship in Crossville, and is fully enjoying her life. Saying God’s hand was in it all the time, she’s also encouraging others who may be experiencing the effects of a complex hernia to make the call for help and healing.
“They were just so awesome,” Stofflet says of Dr. Williams and the team at Parkwest Medical Center. “I felt they did their best to take care of me, and I felt well taken care of. It was just an experience I never want to forget.”