Ryan Woods had always been athletic; he played football in college and was an avid gym-goer and runner. In 2006 he was diagnosed with gout, a complex form of arthritis that causes pain, inflammation, and swelling in the joints so severe that some say it feels like their body is on fire. His diagnosis made it nearly impossible for him to stay active. And while medical treatment was necessary, it also came with a number of negative side effects, including weight gain. By the end of 2017, the steady stream of steroids Ryan needed to control his disease caused him to gain nearly 80 pounds.
"The steroids caused me to put on weight, but as my weight went up, the medicine became less effective," Ryan said. "It was a bad, vicious cycle."
Weight loss surgery presented a solution. Ryan didn't have to think twice about where to go, since his wife had undergone bariatric surgery at Saint Agnes Hospital a few years prior, successfully losing and keeping off 150 pounds. At 341 pounds, he turned to bariatric surgeon Isam Hamdallah, MD, the same doctor who performed his wife's operation and ultimately underwent sleeve gastrectomy surgery in July 2018. Within two months, he had lost 40 pounds. At his six-month milestone, he was down 100 pounds.
"Weight loss has eliminated much of the pressure and pain that I was feeling; in fact, I haven't had any gout flare-ups at all since my surgery." "It's changed everything about my life."
Getting his health back in check has allowed Ryan to once again pursue his life passions. His running shoes are laced back up, and he's training for a series of road races in 2019, ranging in distance from 5Ks to half marathons. In fact, he and his wife are training together for the Baltimore Half Marathon in October. Ryan's weight loss has also positively impacted his ability to do his job as a high school coach and assistant athletic director.
"It's hard to be taken seriously in my field when you are overweight," said Ryan, currently weighing in and comfortable at about 240 pounds. "People notice that I've lost a lot of weight, and that is great, but what is most important is that they now see someone who is happy and healthy … because I am."
Ryan is also looking forward to summertime when he and his wife plan to visit several amusement parks. Their mutual love for roller coasters is something they abandoned for years, in fear that they wouldn't be able to fit into the seats or would need belt extenders in order to ride.
"We didn't have the energy to walk through the parks, and we didn't want to be embarrassed, so it was easier to just not go," said Ryan. "But we love roller coasters and now we can get on every ride we want. It's a great feeling."