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Sue Dohnim


I changed surgeons a few months ago; we moved to a community north of Austin in March, and the drive downtown was killing me (never mind parking, ugh!), so I asked to be reassigned to a different surgeon in the clinic that's in Round Rock (I'm north of RR, too, but it's a lot closer than downtown Austin!). NB: I didn't change surgeons because I didn't like him - no, I adore Dr Faulkenberry. I already drive over 100 miles a day just to get stuff done, and to add a trip to downtown Austin was more than I could stand. I love Dr Acheson, too - just as nice, and we have a great connection re football (he's a former college QB!). 

So I saw Dr A on June 16th. He was very happy with my progress. He nodded along with my long tale about my umpteen doctors regarding my anemia and my hypothyroidism - "as long as you're following up with it and staying on top of it, I'm not going to worry too much." Believe me, I want this other crap over and done with and stabilized so I can move on with life.

He looked at my weight and smiled: "As of today's visit, your BMI [34.6] is no longer in the morbidly obese range." And: "Your weight is great - you're at 202; I bet it will feel great to be under 200 here shortly!" Yeah, baby!

I've been busy with a zillion things since that day, including a blood transfusion and the beginning of a second set of ten iron infusions (yeah, I was/am walking dead anemic, have been for a long time). My son's school year ended, and I've been trying to keep him busy, including a month's camp. 


Today, I finally got into an endocrinologist, Dr Singh. I have to say, I love her... and, as I said to my better half, I love all my Texas doctors. I've gotten more accomplished in the 18 months we've been here than all that time in Phoenix. My docs are no-nonsense, Dr Singh included. She popped me on Synthroid immediately with samples, before she fired off my prescription to the pharmacy. Now THAT'S progress!

But as of today, officially at the endocrinologist's office, I weigh 197. 197! 

I AM IN ONEDERLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Sue Dohnim

I have lost a bit over 100 pounds - Century Club! Well, how do you like that? I wasn't even paying attention; Dr F told me about it at my six month checkup yesterday. And even better, I'm 11 pounds away from Onederland!!! B*tchin' A!!! WOOHOO!!!!!


The Doc is super happy about my progress. Liver and kidney function is perfect, sugars and proteins are where they need to be, and the rate of weight loss is beautiful. Can't ask for more than that. The only stick in the mud is my persistent anemia - "you've had enough iron treatments to kill a horse," said he, and my levels still suck. However, I'm under the care of a specialist for it - they're happy with the slow upward trend. Very slow, but upward. I've put my IV iron on hiatus until the move to our new house is done. I cannot burn entire mornings right now. As soon as the move is done, I'll schedule them again. 

The bummer is that I told Dr F I need a referral for a doctor further north - we've built a new house about 25 miles north of our current abode, which would make the drive to downtown Austin a living hell (plus paying for parking!!) for a ten minute checkup where Dr F basically makes the sign of the cross over me and moves along. So he's bumping me to one of his partners in Round Rock. It sucks - I really like Dr F, but my drive time is already insane and I can't add to it. 

Ah yes, moving house - I could NOT do this at this time last year. I think I really was ill and sliding downhill last March. There is no way I could do the interminable runs up to the new town, carry stuff in the house and put it away, and so forth. I actually moved the filing cabinet by myself! That's a hell of a milestone (almost putting me back to my old self that used to move a baby grand piano by myself at my parents' house). I also put in waterbars the other day (and will put in more tomorrow) because the stupid landscapers don't know how to grade a slope, and I have to do something before a big storm system moves in this weekend; I don't want the erosion to undermine the driveway. Here again, something I could NOT have done last year in my crummy state of health.

I had my first episode of insta-puking - not sure what it was I did, but holy cow did I feel awful. All that came up (sorry, TMI) was a bit of water and tiny bits of vegetable - not a full-on puke. It's like my sleeve said "Nope, just enough to be too much, get out of here." The lead-up to the puke was the worst; I thought I was going to die. So when someone tells you "You'll know when you eat too much," it's true, very very true. It's unmistakable. It's flippin' miserable. Ugh.

Hair loss has slowed tremendously and it's starting to grow back in... but my hair is now limp and unhappy. Hate it. Gotta talk to my stylist about that.

I can pretty much eat anything except sugar substitutes, as they make me dump. I avoid pasta and bread (indulging in one crouton in a salad here and there). The bad thing is that I discovered I can eat regular ice cream and Skinny Cow i.c. sandwiches, and they must be banned from my presence permanently. I also have learned that I can eat popcorn like no tomorrow, but HEB has these mini bags of their organic popcorn and I'll eat that. They're not that salty at all, though all microwave popcorn with the palm oil isn't all that great for anyone. I have an aversion to protein drinks, which is bad; I think I'm having problems with whey protein (sour aftertaste) so I need to get some soy or veg powder and play with that after the move. I can't have deep fried anything - I don't dump, or puke, but it sure doesn't feel good going down. I tried eating chicken strips - the chicken was of fantastic quality and very tasty, but the inherent oil/grease because of the cooking method killed it for me. Boo. It also knocks out tortilla chips with salsa and that really sucks. I don't miss a lot of other deep fried things I used to eat, but with these two, it's hard. /sadpanda

I have been very lucky and blessed - I have a supportive spouse and a selective circle in the know, I had an uncomplicated surgery and recovery, and not a lot of post-operative sensitivities or issues. That said, it's still not an easy road. It's easy to slip off the wagon, and easy to skip meals when you're super busy - both of these things are bad, mmmkay? Don't be a Mr Bungle.

(nothing like mixed metaphors/memes/references, eh?)

But I'm not done. I have a goal once I'm in Onederland: horsemanship lessons. I always wanted to do that, and the heavier I got, the further away it seemed. Now it's so close I can taste it. Once the move is done and everyone's settled, I can look into that. I'm so very excited!! I also want to start tai-chi to help with my balance and flexibility, and our new city offers it at their community center. I'm thinking eventually I'll get into Crossfit or something, but not yet - I don't think I'm ready to put my bad knees through that yet.

Thank you all for your support! See you on the board!


Sue Dohnim

On the Fifth Day...

No, not Christmas yet. Just a rundown on how things have gone.

Thursday, 9/10, Surgery Day: got in 15 minutes late, no biggie, waited in waiting area for about 15 minutes, then was called back. Went through the usual Q&A, bloodwork and pee test, and I think I told one nurse my birthdate 20 times. My surgeon comes in amid the flurry and says, "Anesthesia doesn't like your iron numbers. They'll be here in a bit - but it'll be up to them if things are a go." I have severe anemia, and I'd been doing some iron replacement therapy, but you can only do so much in ten days. I said okay, but inside I was a bit rocked - No! This is perfectly timed! Everything's set up! We can't reschedule this! - Aunt C, my husband's godmother who came out for moral support, and who is also a retired surgical assistant, reassured me that in all her years, she's never seen a surgery cancelled because of anemia. And she was right - the gas docs came in, expressed their concerns, and asked me again (I'd already signed the permissions) if I'd OK a transfusion if necessary; "Of course," I said. That's just practical.

Bullet dodged.

Things moved fast from there. IV set up (damn that thing smarted going in), pre-op body wipe from neck to feet, prepped and pressed and off we went. Down a couple of halls, and into the OR - the first time I'd ever seen the inside of an OR in all my life - move from gurney to table, answered a couple of questions, and... BOOM, out.

My next memory was moaning in recovery, swimming up from the surgery... then out. Then up again, then out, etc. I couldn't get out of the sleepiness. They couldn't release me until I could stay awake enough to go home. Apparently, they'd given me too much of the narcotics and my breathing took a dive. Also, when I dozed, my O2 alarm would go off because I'd desat. I'd wake up, be okay, then doze off and the alarm would go off. It suuuuucked. And of course, you can't take walks in the recovery ward, and that sucked too. I wound up being admitted for overnight observation. Boo.

So upstairs I went. They did let me walk once I was established there, which helped. The stupid breathing exercise thing was frustrating, because of the gas against my diaphragm; I just looked at it in general dislike. They also let me move to the recliner at about 1am, which was great - thanks to the narcotic mishaps, I'd been on my back for about 5 hours and in bed for about 8. Lucky me, I had a good nurse and a good CNA and they made me very comfortable.

General Status on the night of Operation Day: woozy here and there and bloated like a whale. The gas pumped into the abdomen made my diaphragm sore. Pain management was done well. Did get some sleep.

Friday, 9/11, Day 1: At 4am I was a freaking ice cube because the a/c was cranked down and aimed right on the recliner; that cold went right through my three blankets. So the nurse helps me out, and I do a short circuit to the hallway and back, go to the bathroom, and get back into the bed. I doze off, and the phlebotomist comes in and pokes a hole. After that, the nurse makes his final rounds and I give up on sleep. The morning is a round of looking warily at queasy pseudo-jello, dodgy tea, and sticking to my water and ice chips; insisting on walks but can only go with someone there, so I can't walk as much as I need to; taking one look through the channels on the TV and snapping it back off; them pumping me with God knows what in the IV. Hubs and Auntie show up at 10, so I can walk more. The shift floor supervisor chatted me up as I walked - I really liked her - and she would be instrumental later.

Dr F pops in at about 11 or so. "So, would you like to go home?" And I replied in rather piteous voice, "Yes, please." Everyone thought that was funny for some reason. I was just done. "Well, let me write it up and we'll get you home." Awesome. Instantly my spirits rose - whose wouldn't? - but my silly hubs and silly aunt jump into action and get my personal items and start laying things out like I'm being sprung that moment, and I eventually bark at them to knock it off. I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, goofy and sooo done. They retreated to the cafeteria downstairs. The best part was that I could as of that moment walk by myself, and I did. I had waves of goofiness, the dregs of the narcotics still in my system, but I kept walking when I could because it helped. Did a lot of rinsing my mouth out because it tasted terrible.

When Hubs came back with Auntie, he started watching the clock because our son got out of school at 2:30. He didn't want to go all the way up there, come back to the hospital, and allll the way back to the house. He went and talked to some person who bumped it up the chain, and the floor supervisor I talked about previously expedited things, hallelujah.

I dozed in the back of the car on the way home. Once there (just before 2pm), I went to the shower, cleaned the hospital yuckies off of me, and went to bed for a couple of hours. Later, the best thing about being home was that I could walk all I wanted and not be tethered to the IV tree. Spent a dopey evening sipping nothing but water v e r r r y  s l l l l o w w w l l l y.

General Status, end of Day One: home! Still bloated and uncomfortable, though not painful. Incisions let me know if I pushed too hard or went the wrong way. Very tired. Good news - self-care was not a problem (toileting, etc).

Saturday, 9/12, Day Two: Up a couple times overnight because mouth was leathery and couldn't create enough spit to wet it, so I went to the recliner and would sip, doze, sip, doze in the dark until I could keep spit in my mouth and not feel so dessicated. And they are TINY SIPS - they are not kidding. And I remembered to BURP to minimize discomfort. Dozed some more. Pretty much kept a low profile all day, staying in my nice loose nightshirt after taking my usual shower (being careful to not get any sort of direct stream on my abdomen. Homebound, obviously. Walked a circuit of the house when it struck me, tried to increase my distance every time. In the course of the day, I took three doses of the hydrocodone - low doses, but it didn't matter, because it would knock me right out. Did a lot of sleeping. No attention span. Difficult to stay hydrated, but my pee kept staying lighter in color which told me I was going in the right direction. I didn't bother with protein this day - hydration was more important. One more dose - pretty much gagged it down, so very gross - and off to beddy bye.

General Status, Day Two: Housebound. Hydration was the priority, and walking to get me moving and the gas moving. Used pain management quite a bit, even if low doses. Diaphragm felt better but tender. No problem with incisions other than the expected twinge here and there. Self care doing well. No complications so far.

Sunday, 9/13, Day Three: Up twice for overnight hydration (sip-doze-sip-doze in recliner). Goals for today were to try and stay within a relatively normal routine as stamina permitted, and to avoid hydrocodone until bedtime. I actually succeeded pretty well. Still housebound, again staying in my loose nightshirt so as not to irritate the incisions, still dozing at various intervals. Back in the hospital I was told that barring problems, I could start protein drinks today, so I took a large cup of Sonic ice and dumped a Premier chocolate shake into it (something that was tolerable in the pre-op diet), and sipped that sucker over the course of hours as much as I could until I just couldn't bear another sip. I didn't bother with measuring, but I got protein in today. Passing good amounts of gas. I also attempted Jello (wonderful SF black cherry, woke my taste buds up) - I got maybe three teaspoons in before I had to abandon it - and about a third of a popsicle later in the day. No problem with anything I drank today, nothing came back up. I was pretty fried by halftime of the frustrating as **** Dallas Cowboys game, so I took a very small dose of pain meds (to keep me comfortable as I turned in my sleep) and off to bed I went.

General Status, Day Three: Much, much better day. Got protein in, but still concentrated on hydration, falling far short of the 64oz - but pee still light colored, so I'm okay. Good walking, still in-house; got some alternate items in (popsicle, jello), no problems.  Oh, and I have no problems sleeping on my sides, or getting up, except for that shifting feeling when I do move, probably gas - once the 'shifting' is done, I'm comfortable. Diaphragm less noticeable. Still bloaty, but starting to have gas move, taking the pressure out of the abdomen. Feel better.

Monday, 9/14, Day Four: Had one hydration session overnight. Got up at 6, took shower, got partially dressed and helped Mr D with getting our son ready for school. After they left, I finished dressing, and got brave: I went on my first out of house foray to the store. Had half a thought about using the powered cart, but no, dammit, I'm not an invalid. Plus, my pride, you know? I caved and got some Miralax because I'd not had a BM since... two days before the surgery?... and things needed to move, pronto. But before I resorted to that, I had one trick up my sleeve - I went to my fave non-Starbucks coffee place and got a small SF mocha. My stomach sure surely didn't like whatever they use for their SF syrup pre-op, so I figured it'd do the trick post-op (coffee is not the issue here, but it didn't hurt). I carefully sipped that sucker, only getting about a fourth of it down, and dontcha know? It worked. Threw the rest away. Thank God. I don't like chemical laxatives like Miralax, and I don't want my body getting used to that chemical signal. But just in case, it stays in my arsenal.

Experimented: 1/3 of a bottle of orange Isopure in a large cup of Sonic ice, let it melt and dilute. Very successful, but it wound up being the only protein I could stand all day. I did try to do a Pure Protein shake before bedtime, maybe got about two ounces down. It stayed down, no problem there, but just couldn't handle any more, so I didn't push it. Water was still the mainstay.

Energy is up. I pretty much made it all day. Got tired by 4-5pm.

General Status, Day Four: Yay! I pooped! Lots of gas out, too, and the pressure is down a lot. Got some protein down, including milk based. No problems. More energy, feel better. Able to take more, slightly larger sips today, too, meaning I was pretty well hydrated at bedtime.

Tuesday, 9/15, Day Five (today): it was the first night that I didn't have to have a hydration session, but instead got a charlie horse at 430 am. Took a few sips and dozed back off until 6. Had BM at usual pre-op am time without intervention - yay! Sort of dawdled after husband and son left. Got a 16oz bottle of water, and started in: I finished it in about 90 minutes. WOW! It was like the internal swelling backed off overnight. Once I logged that little victory, I got my butt going, because I was on a mission. After two days of sweet-sweet-sweet, I was jonesing for miso soup. And happy day, I found some without MSG. I know the salt content is thought the roof, but dang it, I was happy to find it. Armed with my Isopure in Sonic ice, I went to my appointment for iron replacement therapy, burned two hours there, and then home to the best tasting miso soup I've ever had. Of course I didn't eat the solids (seaweed, green onion, tofu), but who cared? It was great. I also had a SF popsicle. I later experimented with pudding with no problem, but I decided not to push it. Pick up son, tie in with home help (lifting restriction, of course), and ran out of gas at 430. Didn't sleep, just rested in bed with phone. Drinking as much water as I can before bed.

General Status, Day Five: Feeling more like myself. Can tolerate milk-based things (yay!), and miso! Pretty darn good day.


So, there's the update. No, I'm not measuring, logging or weighing. Water is my priority this week. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.

Sue Dohnim


A question that is asked by the surgeon and almost everyone concerned with the process is "Why?" Why do I want to do this? What's my motivation?

Not in any particular order... more of a stream of consciousness thing:

I want to stop feeling like crud. I’m tired of the sugar crashes after noshing on half a package of Oreos with milk, or drinking a lovely large hot mocha in a mug at my favorite non-Starbucks coffee house but nothing else for breakfast. It’s also chronic severe anemia that I’m finally getting addressed because my WLS surgeon said “Hematologist! Now!” – instead of all the other doctors before this playing around with it and just fruitlessly jacking up my dosages.

I want to stop stuffing my face, mindlessly. It’s the shame of just wanting to go loll somewhere in a half-coma after eating far too much of my favorite foods. I’m tired of quick-fix food to shut my stomach up when I’m on the run, and then feeling run down an hour later.

I want to have energy to care for my son. Tired of not being able to care for my son. Part of the increase in my bad food habits/comfort eating in the last five years came from the devastation of learning of his condition when he was nine months old. I had prayed so long and so hard to become a parent, and to have a terrible string of Greek-based words outlining his condition and basically stealing all sense of normalcy for the rest of our lives. His care, naturally (as his dad works in an executive environment), falls to me. Twenty-two out of twenty-four hours a day fall to me. Get therapies set up and attended? Me. Doctors and specialists? Me. Sick in the middle of the night? Me. Find a summer program so my boy isn’t languishing around the house bored? Me. It all falls to me. And the heavier I've gotten, and the bigger he's grown, the harder it has become to do transfers because I’d be so winded by the time I got him where he needed to be that I needed a break right afterward. And oh, the embarrassment of not being able to get up off the floor when playing with him, with the added mortification when I realized I couldn’t even sit with him on the floor because my flexibility was shot, was a red flag: I’m too young for this. My 75-year old father-in-law can sit Indian-style on the floor with him… and I can’t. Nuh-uh, not okay.

I want to wear nice, pretty clothes again. I'm tired of crummy looking, expensive clothes! While I’m a chronic tomboy who lives in shorts and tees, I do like to occasionally dress up. And I do have good taste. But lately, that’s all I can wear comfortably. When I have to find something for a dinner, or go shopping for an event, all I see are ugly, ugly clothes that cost far too much. When you are a large woman, you are punished for it by having to pay a lot of money for clothes your fashion-blind Great Aunt Edna wouldn’t touch. I recoil at seeing something somewhat nice – like a nicely decorated tee shirt – then looking at the tag and seeing it costs $58. FIFTY EIGHT BUCKS for a shirt with a screen print. It’s depressing and demoralizing. And if I need something for, say, my husband’s corporate events, I wonder if the buyers of clothes for the shops out there think that because you’re fat, you have no sartorial taste. It makes me mad. And don’t get me started on three-quarter sleeves!

I want to wear jeans and not look like a stuffed sausage that’s been dyed blue – and be able to breathe AND sit down without a warning horn that something might give, too. I want to see a cute sundress in May and be able not only to not gag at the price, but be able to wear it. I want to wear my snow gear without worrying it’s going to rip. I want to wear things and not think about or worry if it’s going to cover my ‘pooch’ or my butt. I want to wear kicky khaki shorts and a cute top again without people cringing that my fat rolls are showing.

I want to stop being the indirect recipient of the side-eye. Anyone who is not at least average-sized in this ridiculously judgmental society gets it. I, like most, try to, or pretend to, ignore it, but we all know it’s there as soon as you’re out of earshot. You know it happens in public – the kids snickering as you puff by in the mall or the store or at a venue, your friends tsk-tsking amongst themselves when you leave for the bathroom, and even your family with the double-edged “helpful advice” to your face (and some family that makes snide, sotto voce remarks all the time) that devolves into flat-out backstabbing when you leave the room. Oh yes. I’m tired of it.

I want my body back, I want my life back. while a lot of this is covered under the topic of caring for my son, it’s also a general thing. I ask myself how I went from hiking hills and chasing fire for a living to someone who can hardly get through the house or walk to the car without stopping to catch my breath. It was a spiral that started when I came home from my erstwhile fire career just full of emotional baggage and anger, back into my parents’ house with all the old crap and passive-aggressiveness, but also discovering the joys of endless beer and wings with our friends that one can only get away with when you’re in your early and mid-twenties… by the time one hits thirty, and there’s now a marriage and a career in an office (rather than outdoors) to maintain, and attending night school too, and eating horribly when you can… my body couldn’t discard those unholy calories anymore. The problem was, I ignored it and kept going. Then came the depression that comes along with caring for a parent during a five-year goodbye, feeling low because life is in the sewer and you can’t seem to get ahead, and I ate and ate and ate never took a walk, let alone those old hikes that not only were good for me, but shed a lot of stress and frustration, too. Over the years, it caught up with me, and put me where I am now.

NO!!!! – IT didn’t do it… ***I did it to me***. Me! I did this to myself, and I need to fix it before I have major health problems. I want to walk and hike and bike again and go back to my once-intensive love of gardening, and my goal is when I hit ONEderland is to look into something I’ve always wanted to do but never pursued: horseback riding.

I want to get the pressure and grinding off my knees. I blew my right knee out in high school and had it scoped about twelve years ago, but they both now have cartilage floaters, and they’re grinding, popping, and sore. I’m too young for a knee replacement (Shudder! Shiver! The thought!), and it’s really stupid to go to the orthopedic surgeon to get them scoped when the excessive weight is just going to shred them right back up again. I probably will never run the mile again, or play basketball as I had years ago, but I can do a hell of a lot of other things when I don’t have to think about popping painkillers or dreading the soreness/pain/swelling to come. Hell, at the very least, I’ll be able to walk the zoo without going at a very slow pace just to make it through.

I want my relationship with my husband back, before I pretty much lost my libido and interest and started hating my body. Poor Mr D! He’s been so patient, such an angel. I want him to have a wife he can show off, not one he has to mentally cringe about in his head – in the corporate world, image is everything.

I want my son and our future child(ren, if we’re lucky) to have an active mommy that can have fun with them. I want to be able to walk in the snow without nearly passing out after fifty feet, want to go on the tubing slides, and be with my husband and son in the happiness of playing in the snow. Or, in the summers, I want to go to the pool and feel and look great, swim for an hour, play with my son, and do all the fun water stuff out there.

I want to go back to the gym and kick booty like I used to, not slink shamefully to a corner where I can jiggle and wheeze in solitude. I’m going to ease my way towards Crossfit – a hearkening back to my extreme physical activity, but with less dirt and smoke!


It’s so mortifying.

I want to go into a room and keep my chin up, not sneak in and try and blend with the wall.

I want to enjoy our new house on an acre and not shy away from taking care of it because I’d pretty much use up all my reserves just to mow part of the lawn, and doing all the creative gardening like I used to.

I want to be able to look at myself in pictures, and don’t want to hate how I look in photos, or have to hide behind others in a picture when there was no choice – hard to do when you’re sailing past 300 on a 5’4” frame – I want to stand tall and smile.

I don’t want to be a prisoner to my weight anymore – I see my old classmates, all the ones who weren’t anything near being athletes like I was, doing mudders and 5Ks and stuff like that, and I’m doing what? Hiding. I don’t want to be that person anymore.

That's a lot of pluses in the DO IT and DO IT WELL columns, don't you think?

Sue Dohnim

Ten Days to Go

Well, August is pretty much done. Tomorrow is September 1, with surgery on the 10th. I’m getting everything paid for tomorrow, and I’ve scheduled my pre-op hospital visit for Friday. Yikes!

On Wednesday, I have an appointment with a hematologist for my extremely low iron (I’ve had anemia for years), and wouldn’t be surprised if the doctor schedules me for a pre-op iron boost. In the meantime, I took the advice of someone here in a thread I can’t remember and got some Ferrett’s liquid iron – I had to smile ruefully last night as I bolted a dose down before bed: strawberry flavor, my fanny! Blech. And it looks just like iodine.

I’ve been on the NUT’s diet for about ten days already, with a couple of minor food funerals. Neither were worth it. Today I pretty much blew my levels (70g protein/30g carbs) at lunch but it was healthy eating at a locavore* restaurant - lovely, tender, locally sourced beef skirt steak in a garlic-heavy marinade, cilantro, lettuce, and limes made into street tacos with tiny (4 inch?) corn tortillas, with a few tiny forkfuls of their awesome rice on the side. I felt so bad, physically, that I knew I needed more than just the hardboiled egg and protein drinks I had earlier in the day. I was really disciplined at breakfast and mid-morning, and again in the evening tonight, but I had to. My body thanked me with a surge of energy and not feeling crappy. I think I'm too far under a certain caloric level, or my body simply is not liking this.

I will say that this pre-op thing suuuuuucks. I feel like crap most of the time; it’s probably sugar withdrawals and the reduced caloric intake. The good thing is that I’m definitely in ketosis with that atrocious taste in the mouth you get when you hit it. However, the upside is that I’m not even tempted by the cookie and cracker and chip aisles at the store. Not. Even. Tempted.

We went out last night in the little downtown area near our house. My smoked wings with a touch of buffalo sauce were nearly inedible, as they’d been smoked too long and pretty leathery – the levels of flavor were fantastic. I did take a tiny fingernail-sized piece off of my husband’s house-made potato chips last night and declared it good. The coal-fired cheese pizza for my son looked grand (husband declared it awesome), but I didn’t dare. I’ve been breadless for about 10 days now and I want it to stay that way.

That’s a wake-up call, too: at some point, I will naturally be going out with family or friends after surgery and I’ll have to say no to whatever’s being served. It’s just as well – restaurant food is inherently inferior to home cooked.

I think the hardest habit that will need to be broken is the 30/30 not drinking with food rule. Having something to drink with your food is ingrained from toddlerhood. It will have to be a very conscious effort to take any drinks off the table and adhere to it. I'm conscious of drinking my tea during a meal now, and know I'm going to have to get it all out of sight later.

There’s a pretty lively discussion on the boards about who people told pre and post op. My husband asked what he should say to the office – I said to tell them I’m having hernia surgery, which isn’t a lie… it’s just not the whole story. Otherwise, only he knows the entire truth on either side of the family.

My family… well, you can call them artisans of tearing people down. It's all they do. I don’t need the judgment, the toxicity, the commentary, and the half-assed “advice” from the peanut gallery. His family is nosy, pretentious, and judgmental, and he has been forbidden to tell his parents at all.

Other than my husband, I have told two people who have gone through similar procedures: T, who has a band, and M, who was supposed to get a sleeve but wound up with a bypass. T has been absent. M has been a doll, albeit from out of state. Better some than none.

I’ve set up the first of my counseling sessions. Because we’re so new in town, we don’t have the network we did back in AZ, so I want to make sure I have some sort of support net, even if it’s just a professional one.

Here we go!


*locavore: the trend of having locally sourced food in restaurants

Sue Dohnim

Dallas was great, except that my sinus infection, complete with bronchitis, decided to come roaring back the day we drove up there. I told the Mr that I don't care if he has to wheel me on a gurney, I'm going on that tour. And I did. I loved it. Once I waded through the Jerry Jones hiney-kissing fest our tour guide indulged in, I appreciated the technological, architectural and engineering marvel that the stadium is. The downside was that 1) I hacked my way through it sounding like a TB patient, and 2) my son got a sniff of popcorn just as we started off on the tour (11am, so the windows weren't open yet) and he went bonkers about it the whole time. Oh well. I made it, and I can cross it off my Bucket List.

The next time I'm here, I thought, I'll be able to run laps. It was a very satisfying thought.

This last week, I've just been reassuring myself. Yes, this is what I need to do. This and that is getting set up, I have almost all of the appropriate liquid/chewable supplements. Need to pay everyone, though.

I've been saying to myself "Welp, this is the last time I'll have this for a long time, if ever" this week. Some of it's relatively innocuous, mostly about things I won't miss, but I sure as heck am going to miss my mochas, hot or cold. I'm not addicted to them, really - I didn't really miss them over four days in Dallas - but I love the taste. I've cut down a lot; it's my one achilles. Tomorrow's my last one.

Technically, my two week pre-op diet starts Wednesday, but I'm slowly gearing up for it. Did you know that chocolate Premier protein shakes are much more tolerable in a big cup full of Sonic ice (I'm a terrible person, an ice chewer, and I adore Sonic ice)? They get reaaaallly cold and they get nicely diluted over time. Yeah, baby! I need to find some SF coffee-flavored syrup for the vanilla shakes - they're far too sweet. I bought a can of Tera's Whey but have been too chicken to try it yet. I don't want preconceived notions, I don't want to get used to a flavor or overlay and then not being able to tolerate it with a changed taste perception post-op. I actually like the individual Jay Robb whey powder packets, but my local store runs out of them so fast, and I don't want to buy a canister.

I need to make a GNC run - I saw someone posted about a lemonade flavor Isopure. I want to try that.

I'm glad that I love unsweetened iced tea (much to my Southern friends' horror) and I can have it post-op.

I've started the process to have someone with me at the house between when I bring my son home from school post-op and when the Mr gets home from work. Bright Star is really responsive, and I hope it works out. I've told the hippotherapy folks about my restrictions from 9/10 on, and they're fine with it - now I just need to tell everyone else.I hope I'm one of those people who can get back to "normal" pretty quickly. I hate losing that independence, but I'm gaining so much more in the end.

And? I'm scared as h-e-double hockey sticks. Help.

Sue Dohnim

Sunday Thoughts

On Tuesday, we're driving up to Dallas to get out of town for a few days. It will be nice, and it will be the last trip until we head back home for Christmas (and that's only because our new house won't be done). One of the best things about moving to Texas is that I'm three hours from Dallas and I will be able to catch the occasional Cowboys game! While we're in Dallas, we'll be doing the stadium tour. I am really excited about that. There will be lots of pictures, and I know I'm going to blow a lot of money in the gift shop. :) Now, if I could just run into Aikman, Staubach or Emmitt Smith , that would be great. Ha! Sadly, there's no chance of the current team, they're in CA for the first week of preseason vs the Chargers.

It will also be my last excursion before the surgery. I'm apprehensive because there will be a lot of walking, and I know that on the next day, my knees will hurt like gangbusters. I look at it as incentive: the next time I'm in Dallas, I will be able to walk and not run for the Advil as soon as I get home.


I'm 'flittery' - calm one minute, but my brain shorts out the next. I'll be all focused and analytical as I re-review my instructions and paperwork, then I want to run out and go for a long calm drive in the Texas twilight and watch the cattle graze to settle my nerves.

For me, this is a lonely journey - can't tell my sister (no help for one, it's fire season and she's not available anyway, but I also don't need her Judgey McJudgerson crud), my friends are all out of state and unavailable, and no way in hell I want my high-maintenance, obnoxious in-laws in on this. They'll drive me batty during an already intensely stressful time. I am having my husband's godmother out for a couple of days on both sides of the surgery - moral support and a medical person in-house for me, moral support for hubby - and am working on getting paid support for my son.

That's the biggest worry right now - getting help where my boy is concerned. He has CP, is non-ambulatory and therefore there's a lot of lifting, transfers and carrying. He's almost 6 and around 50 pounds. I can have Mr D get him in the truck for school and move our boy around when he gets home, and I know I can get help getting him in and out of the truck at school and at his therapies. It's when we get home that's the problem - getting him in the house, in/out of bed, or getting him on the table to change him, or to the chair in the kitchen to eat. We're in that transition time, too - school starts in a few weeks and his therapy times are going to be moving around, so it's hard to say WHEN I need help. I have a posting on Care.com and we'll look further afield for other help, too. So there's my big logistics challenge.

Big, deep breath..........

Sue Dohnim

I had a big ol' thing typed out in Word, but you know, nobody wants to hear it.

Suffice it to say that moving from an intensely physical job to office work did a number, then add my mother's long illness and passing that left all sorts of damaging emotional litter, dealing with infertility, then the unexpected diagnosis of our son (which finally broke my heart, I think), then Dad's slide and farewell... it and more all took its toll. I'll dump it on the counselor, not on whoever reads this.

At the time of our marriage in 2002, I was hovering around 180. The successive personal hits listed above sent me into a spiral, and my weight shot through the roof. And oh, I did Atkins, and South Beach, and all the trends. I even contemplated the Skinny B***h diet until I got to the demeaning chapter about how evil you are if you eat meat - no. Rude. I don't have a problem with anyone choosing to be a vegetarian, but as I respect your right to do so, respect mine to eat my tasty meat. Anyway, as a last resort about 18 months ago, I tried the latest incarnation of Phen-Fen - lost 30 pounds, plateaued, then lost interest when they treated me like a dollar sign. Naturally, I gained it all back.

And that's where I was when I walked into the door of the seminar last year: discouraged, frustrated, and very tired of it. I wanted my body back. I wanted my life back. I wanted my knees to not scream, I want to hike and bike and walk and garden again, I want to go play with my son and do things with my husband, and I wanted to go horseback riding.

And I knew I needed help.

* * *

So, back to the point where everything comes to a screeching halt because of the job situation last fall... there just wasn't any choice in the matter. It had to be shelved. I knew there was no way I could do abdominal surgery and do a move in a few short months. That was a moment, though, where I wished I'd done it earlier so I could be more functional for the move - by the time we left town, I could hardly walk. All the extra weight I carry around was finally restricting my movement and efficiency.

But there was a silver lining: I got to watch my friend "T" struggle with the Lap-Band from then to now. She lost something like 130 pounds, almost to the point where it looked like too much. I've known T for 30-odd years, and her face looked too thin. But she was happy, so I had to be.

I saw the glaring problems with the band over the last year. They had to go in and unbuckle because of slippage, or erosion, or because she stretched her pouch (the story changes), so she stuffed her face while she was unrestricted. She then complained in recent months that she gained back 40 pounds. I pointed out to her that the ultimate goal was to change her eating habits whether the band was there or not, and she didn't want to hear it. I understand wanting to indulge, but when you have control issues, indulging is a luxury you have to think really hard about.

And I think that it's always going to be that way for her - she's going to eat the way she wants no matter what, so she's going to continue to have problems. I hope that she doesn't revise to a sleeve because then she's going to have really big problems - the solution won't be as "easy" as unbuckling it for a few weeks/months.

Her lack of moderation is a major heads-up for me. *I* must change. I *must* change. I cannot pretend that I'm going to mindlessly eat crap and all sorts of wonderful things like greasy tacos, a package of Oreos, or ice cream. I *have* to, I *must* change. That's the lesson I take away from her behaviors and struggles.

What also changed my mind from band to sleeve... I swear, at least two to three times a year they have to go in, adjust or unbuckle or whatever. She's completely out of commission for a minimum of ten days every time she does that. I realized that I can't afford that - I have a non-ambulatory special needs son who relies on me and I *cannot* be out of commission that often or that long.

That was when I turned my eye from the band to VSG.

Stay tuned.

Sue Dohnim

Dipping My Toe In

Well, I’m really doing this. Here’s some back story of how I got here:

My oldest friend showed up to my son’s third birthday dinner in 2012 and blindsided me at the table with the fact that she’d been banded about 12 weeks before. She looked fantastic. The problem was that it was all she could talk about – she even flashed her scars at some people at the table (which blew me away) – but I was mad that she made my son’s birthday all about her. So, while I was resentful about that, the thought later crossed my mind that ‘well, maybe…’ and it rolled around in my head for awhile.

But some weeks later, we went out, and we talked. Her banding came about a result of a botched knee surgery and she had to get the weight off or eventually be left unable to walk. And as we talked, the idea pulled me in more and more.

About a year ago or so, I was finally getting around to starting the seminar portion for the Lap-Band. I never realized how much courage it would take to walk in that door. It means that I finally admitted that I have a big (no pun intended) problem and I acknowledge it, and I’m going to act on it.

And that’s an important thing. Without that open admission that I need help, this is just a very expensive experiment. So I went on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

I was sort of amazed at that little informational seminar – the ignorance in that room blew me away. “That means I can’t eat Doritos/In-N-Out/beer???” or whatever blew me away. It wasn't just one person, either. What’s the point if you’re not going to change your ways? In this internet age, how can people not know? But they don’t. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to change – they just want to be down to their high school weight again and eat as they want. It doesn’t work that way.

My initiation process stopped when it became a possibility that my husband was going to be let go, and with it the insurance. Then he got a job possibility out of state that did come to fruition, and we moved to Austin after the new year. Now that my son’s stuff is finally getting going, and my husband’s settled into the job, and we’re semi-settled in our rental with a new house a-building, it’s time.

It's now or never.


I am not a lifelong fat person - just someone who has a genetic tendency to get fat when I'm lazy. Once I hit puberty I got hips and boobs, and it became apparent that my great-grandmother’s pudgy, hippy, booby, heavy body had jumped generations to smack me. However, athletics in junior high and high school kept most of it at bay. I blew my right knee out my junior year in a game, gained weight, played my senior year. I think I was at 180 at the highest point, but it was that “healthy fat” thing, where I could run and jump and play and such. Then I graduated, and began my first season as a wildland firefighter in the Forest Service.

I was a hotshot that first season, one of a twenty-person crew that cuts fireline. I went from suburban high school kid to Pulaski-wielding wilderness woman, and by the time I got home at the end of the season, I lost the baby fat and looked great. Lots of muscle, great tone, better eating habits, but I still had a bum knee. That got resolved the following spring with an ACL reconstruction, but it meant I lost the 1991 season, so I gained again. I was never as heavy as I’d been in high school, but sat perhaps at 170-75.

From 1992 to 1995, my summers on the initial attack modules, my “fighting weight” was 165. During the winters, it was easy to get into the lazy end of things and my weight would slide upwards. So I did step aerobics, climbed the hose-pack hills, and got my butt running. I’d still have to knock off the last five to ten at the beginning of the season with the training, but by the time fire season kicked in I’d be okay.

After the end of the 1995 season, I jumped on the Phen-Fen bandwagon. Mindful that it was simply legalized speed, I was wary of its use, and only did it in the off-season (I can’t imagine being on that stuff on the fireline). Once the start of the 1996 season approached, I weaned off of it. I got down to 150, and that was perfect – that extra 15 pounds made a difference. I looked fantastic, and was kicking booty. I’m fortunate that I’ve had no lasting effects from that little jaunt.

I stayed between 150 and 155 for the last two seasons I was there. I ended my Forest Service mini-career back on the hotshots in 1997 when I was 25, and ended that season in the best shape of my life. I made a decision that had a thousand facets: while I loved the job, the bad politics and hostile work environment was untenable, so I returned to my home state after that final season. That would be the end of the extreme work environment stage that kept my weight issues at bay in my 20s.

Here’s where I’ll stop for the next installment later.