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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?


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