Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center
Charleston’s First Bariatric Patient
By Jennifer Lovett
William McCracken is the first bariatric patient at the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center. He is 5’4 and weighs just over 220 pounds. In the realm of obesity, he is not that big. However, his body mass index is 38, which is considered morbidly obese. He has diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep apnea. Even though he lost 90 pounds, he kept putting it back on.
It was not until he joined the MOVE program that he was able to lose 5 percent of his body weight as well as 30 pounds and keep it off.
“I walk around Colonial Lake four days a week. It took me 11 months, but I [lost the weight],” said McCracken, a Vietnam Veteran who served four years in the U.S Marine Corps. “I think the MOVE program is one of the best things to happen at the VA.”
His goals with the bariatric surgery are to lower is blood pressure and blood sugar as well as try to curb his sleep apnea.
“I’m having the surgery for my health. I’ve learned a lot from [the bariatric surgery team],” he said. “They showed me what to eat, which wasn’t too hard because I was already on a diet.”
Losing that weight was a requirement to be considered a candidate for the bariatric surgery program.
Since the surgery, McCracken continues to walk the lake four days a week and says he feels better than he has in years. He now weighs 27 pounds less than before the surgery and is losing weight every day.
“My knees don’t hurt, my back doesn’t hurt. I’m sleeping better,” he said. “I am sticking to my diet and I feel great.”