In January 2020, Dr. Kevin Montgomery retired after 30 years in medicine!
Dr. Montgomery founded Northwest Weight Loss Surgery (now Northwest Weight & Wellness Center) with his surgeon partner, Dr. Brad Watkins, over 15 years ago. They initially started the bariatric surgery program at EvergreenHealth Medical Center before transitioning into their private practice. They were pioneers in the field offering gastric banding surgery in an ambulatory surgery center instead of a hospital setting. Over time, Dr. Montgomery brought Dr. Michaelson and Dr. Chock on board and they expanded the practice to include gastric bypass, sleeve gastrectomy, revisional surgeries, and medical weight loss.
Before his career in medicine began, Dr. Montgomery was a talented ballet dancer! He danced for several ballet companies, including Idaho, Boston and Hartford. He moved to New York City and worked as a massage therapist for ballet companies. An orthopedic surgeon, who shared several mutual clients with Dr. Montgomery, invited him to observe surgery so he could learn more about the muscles and tissues of dancers. It didn’t take long until Dr. Montgomery was assisting in the operating room weekly and developing the foundation of his future surgical career.
Now that he’ll have some spare time, Dr. Montgomery is excited to spend more time with his horses. He owns two reining horses which he rides and shows and he manages a riding stable with nearly 50 horses. His girlfriend, who also enjoys dancing, might even be able to get him back on the dance floor.
Dr. Montgomery has been instrumental in transforming thousands of lives and we are deeply grateful for his contributions. Please join us in wishing him the best in this next chapter of his life.
“It really does change people’s lives. So many medical problems get better with one surgery. You can treat all those conditions with one laparoscopic surgery. It’s phenomenal. That was always the big inspiration.” – Dr. Kevin Montgomery
Personal Life: Joelle was born in Edmonds and has lived in Washington her entire life. Her parents and four siblings live in Washington as well. At home, she lives with roommates and several furry family members: dogs Luna and Nala, cat Salem, and rat Onyx. While working full-time, she is completing her Associate’s degree.
Life Before NWWC: Joelle has had a variety of office roles prior to joining our team. She worked for commercial landscaping companies doing estimations and bidding for projects and was a benefits administrator for an actuarial firm with a large hospital as her client.
A Day in Her Job: Joelle joined NWWC as an insurance verification specialist and has been promoted to the insurance coordinator role. She calls insurance companies or visits their online portals to gather details about benefits, exclusions, deductibles, out-of-pocket costs, and all of the confusing insurance information needed to navigate coverage for surgery. You might have spoken with her over the phone about these exciting things! She also completes all of the submissions to get people approved for surgery, including appeals. This involves record gathering, completing insurance forms, writing letters of medical necessity, and lots of faxing. While her average submission is 30 pages, she is working on a complicated one right now that is nearly 200 pages. “I advocate for patients to their insurance company. I have to help someone in the insurance company, who has no idea what bariatric surgery is, understand that it is medically necessary for our patients.”
What Else to Know about Joelle:
In the last few months, Joelle started her own health journey. “I made a push to get healthier and get in better shape to spend time in nature and not be out of breath. I’ve found a lot of confidence in exercising and focusing on what I’m putting in my body.” Her greatest athletic accomplishment so far? Reaching a full hour on the stair climber for a whopping 161 flights!
In May 2020, Joelle is embarking upon her first international excursion with a trip to Ireland and Scotland. “I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland for as long as I can remember. The goal is to meet an attractive Irish man, fall in love, and get married.” 😉 She’ll be visiting Dublin, Cork, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Her only reserve is being apart from her furry family. Since rescuing her dogs, she has never spent more than 24 hours away from them.
By the time you’re reading this, Joelle will have some new ink on her calf. She is planning a tattoo of a tall tree with crystals entwined in the roots in honor of the Washington state trees that develop quartz and amethyst gems in their root systems.
Role: Registered Nurse – Ambulatory Surgery Center
Joined NWWC: September 2018
Personal Life: Marian was born & raised in Somalia. When the civil war started, her family had to separate and evacuate. “We lost everything.” Marian arrived in Italy as a teenager; she worked as a maid and was not able to go to school. Her older sister’s husband was an athlete so he and her sister were sponsored to come to the United States. In 1992, they brought Marian to the US but she didn’t have legal paperwork so she had to move to Canada. In Canada, she received her high school diploma, met her husband, had two children, and went to college to become a nurse. She moved to Washington in 2016 and has also lived in Austin, Texas.
Life Before NWWC: Marian has been working in healthcare since 1998. Before becoming a nurse, she was a Certified Nursing Assistant. She worked at the Veterans Affairs (VA) Canada medical center. After becoming a nurse, Marian worked as a unit manager in bariatrics and orthopedics at St. David’s Healthcare in Austin and Stevens Hospital in Edmonds. The CMSRN after her name stands for Certified Medical-Surgical Registered Nurse.
A Day in Her Job: Marian typically works the afternoon to evening shift. She helps patients recover from bariatric, plastic, and general surgeries performed in our surgery center. For the first hour after surgery, also called phase 1, Marian is by the patient’s side nonstop. Once they advance to phase 2, she supports them with walking, drinking fluids, pain management, and emotional support. She completes the discharge educations and protocols for patients who are having day surgeries. She also helps with surgery center projects and coordinating anesthesia consults. When the regular night nurse is not available, Marian covers overnight shifts.
“I take my job very seriously because it involves human beings. I care for my patients sometimes way more than I care for myself. When I see how much they trust me, I truly appreciate it. It humbles me a lot.” She enjoys working in bariatrics because “they are mostly people who are healthy and are on a journey psychologically. Helping them, encouraging them, pushing them… I love that part.”
What Else to Know about Marian:
She’s a hard-working lady! In addition to her job at NWWC, she works for Molina Healthcare doing chart audits and works as a per diem cardiac nurse for Providence on the weekends. “That’s how I put my kids through college. I didn’t want my kids to do what I had to do – borrowing and having too much debt.”
She sponsors six children in Africa. Two are from Somalia and four are from the refugee camp in Kenya where her mother and siblings lived after leaving Somalia. Each month, she sends hundreds of dollars to pay for their food, clothing, education, and healthcare. “I never forget where I come from and how hard it is.” This past summer, she and her two birth children traveled to Africa and met the four sponsored children in Kenya. She is pictured her with her children on a stop in Dubai during their trip to Africa.
She loves training new nurses and helping them build their competency and compassion in nursing. “For me, being an immigrant and having English as 3rd language, I faced so much discrimination. Now, I’m the work mom. Always right there standing by them. Supporting them. I tell them, ‘there’s nothing you can’t do.’”
JoAnn had a sleeve gastrectomy at NWWC in October 2017.
What is the best part about this journey?
How great I feel about myself! My blood pressure is down. I feel ten years younger. My sleep apnea is better. I am off acid reflux medicine. I can walk up and down stairs without huffing and puffing. My ankles and knees don’t hurt anymore. I can fold my arms across my chest and cross my legs easily. Sex is better!! So much better. I can drive my car more comfortably since my belly doesn’t hit the steering wheel. I can paint my toes again. I can use any bath towel in the house; before I had to use those giant bath towels and we only had a couple. I can scratch any part of my back by myself. Since I am not stressing about my weight and appearance anymore, I can use my brain energy to think of other more creative things. I literally have more time to think and focus.
I feel amazing. I have so much energy. I feel like “JoAnn” again.
What has been the hardest part?
The hardest part of my journey was making the decision to do it. I had taken every pill and done every fad diet. When I tried so many times to lose weight and was unsuccessful, I blamed myself. I thought I just hadn’t tried hard enough, I wasn’t strong enough, I had no will power, and I was destined to spend the rest of my life with obesity. I thought if that if I couldn’t do it myself, then surgery would be like a cop-out, like cheating. I thought people would judge me. I thought, “Wow, this is SO drastic. They will be cutting one of my organs and it’s permanent.” I was worried about how painful it would be… would it really work… can I take time off work… how much will this cost me… there are so many appointments… My excuses went on and on.
Getting the support from my family and friends was scary. I thought they would all make fun of me or tell me I was copping out or taking the easy way out. But they backed me and that was comforting. They said, “If you decide to do this, we support you 100%.” I wish I would have done it 10 years earlier. I wasted 10 years because I was so unhappy with myself.
What goals did you set for yourself? Have you made progress towards those goals?
JoAnn gets a wedding day lift from her boys
A few years ago, I wrote my “dream list” in the back of a notebook. I tried to use positive affirmations in hopes that my dreams would come true someday. Well, recently I found that notebook. I had forgotten about this list although I had dreamed of those things often. My “dream list” was:
A crimson Ford Explorer
The house of my dreams
For my twin boys to go to college
To be fit and thin again
To marry the man of my dreams
As I read the list, a tear came to my eye and I got goosebumps.
In my driveway sits a crimson Ford Explorer.
We bought the house of our dreams last November. I got the keys on my birthday.
My twins are in their 3rd year of college at UW & Western.
I lost over 100 pounds and feel better than I have in 20 years.
After spending 12 years together, I got married to the love of my life on August 24th
I got everything I dreamed of and didn’t even realize it until I read the list. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. My two older children have great jobs and homes and I am so proud of them as well. Life is GOOD!!! Everything is better. I could go on and on. I need to make a new list!
What advice would you give those who want to pursue weight loss surgery?
JUST DO IT! Making the decision is the hardest part. I listened to a lot of testimonials before doing this. When they got too negative, I would turn them off. I was terrified. But why be ashamed to help yourself? Why not get surgery to help your heart, your breathing, your health? Once you decide to do it, just think positively and do everything your doctor tells you to do. You will be brand new again!
I was sitting in the waiting room one day and had almost reached my goal weight. A lady in the waiting room asked me, “Why are you here?” I told her that I had had surgery. She said, “You don’t look like you were ever fat. I’m too afraid to do the surgery so I’m getting a diet plan.” I told her, “Just do it. It’s the best thing I did. You’ve tried everything. It’s not a cop-out.”
I see people and I know how they feel. I wish they could feel as good as me right now. There’s a lovely person inside there that’s suffering. I just want to help them. It’s so worth it.
Thanksgiving is arguably the biggest food holiday in this country. People are encouraged to eat to the point of needing to sleep. How do you enjoy the holiday after surgery when your relationship with food has changed?
First of all, food doesn’t need to be everything. Enjoy time with family and friends with non-food activities. Participate in a “turkey trot” walk or jog. Turn up the music and dance with your kids, grandkids, nieces, or nephews. Pull out the board games. Watch old family videos. There are lots of ways to spend your day without the focus on food. But eventually, you will be seated around the table for the big meal.
Turkey – Enjoy this protein-based food! Each ounce of turkey has 7 grams of protein and even the dark meat is relatively low in fat. The dark meat (legs, wings, and thighs) is more moist than the light meat so you may tolerate the dark meat best. Keep the skin on the turkey while it’s cooking to lock in the moisture. If you deep-fry or pan-fry your turkey, avoid eating the skin soaks up the oil and may feel too greasy for your stomach.
Gravy – Gravy is a condiment. Just like salad dressings, you can put some on the side and dip each bite of turkey into it. If you are sensitive to high-fat foods, gravy will likely be too rich for your stomach. Trader Joe’s makes boxed turkey gravy that is low in fat and still has good flavor.
Potatoes – The nutrition profile really changes based on how your potatoes are prepared – mashed, baked, roasted, twice-baked. Potatoes are a starchy vegetable and they contain many nutrients in their skins. Sweet potatoes are very high in vitamin A, which is how they get their orange color, but they are still a starchy vegetable. Because of their dense, starchy texture, they may feel heavy in your stomach. You can slim down mashed potatoes by using skim milk or plain Greek yogurt to add creaminess in place of butter or cream. You can also swap cauliflower in place of potatoes for a dish lower in calories and carbohydrates that feels lighter on your stomach.
Stuffing – This staple of the Thanksgiving plate might not feel good in your stomach since it is bread-based. Bread products tend to swell up in the stomach and make you feel uncomfortably full. You can try a small amount of the real deal or experiment with reducing the bread and adding more vegetables. Eggplant, butternut squash, mushrooms, and chickpeas can add bulk to a stuffing in place of bread.
Green Beans – The casserole version with cream of mushroom soup and fried onions will likely be too rich for your stomach. How about roasting your green beans and topping with good quality Parmesan cheese? Or sautéing with some garlic and olive oil? These are great cooking methods for any Thanksgiving vegetable including Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and carrots.
Dessert – Sweet foods can be as problematic for the stomach as high-fat foods. They can cause dumping syndrome in extreme cases, or nausea in more mild cases. For many people, a couple small bites are all they need to feel satisfied with sweets after surgery. If that’s your situation, have some of the real deal and savor each small bite. If you are looking for a slightly larger quantity, there are lots of bariatric-friendly dessert ideas, including protein shake ice cream, sugar-free pudding “cheesecakes”, and protein balls.
My favorite bariatric food resource is The World According to Eggface blog: http://theworldaccordingtoeggface.blogspot.com . Shelly has been blogging about delicious bariatric-friendly recipes for 13 years. Use the ‘Search’ function to find Thanksgiving recipes that will delight everyone at your table, whether or not they’ve had surgery. Happy Thanksgiving!