My Personal Journey

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Hi! My name is Dannelle, and I had my life-changing RnY surgery on March 1, 2018. So far, I have lost just over 150 pounds, have reversed diabetes, lowered my blood pressure, increased my energy, and have taken on the world!

Here is my personal journey…

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Hernia Doctor…

It was the fall of 2016, and I was having a blast at my kickboxing class! I was planking, doing push-ups, boxing, and working up a sweat until one morning that I noticed that my belly button was an “outie”. After 48 years of having an “innie,” I figured there might be something wrong.

I made an appointment with my doctor and did the “Google” thing beforehand.

Umbilical Hernia?

Yup – that is what my doc said. He then referred me to a surgeon.

Umbilical Hernia?

Yup – that is what my surgeon said…but then when on to say that I was a poor candidate for surgery. Being a plus-size lady meant that the hernia would likely come back.

Does anyone out there hate hearing “if you only lost a little weight…..”?


“You have acid reflux? That wouldn’t have happened if you had only lost a little weight…”

“You stubbed your toe? That wouldn’t have happened if you had only lost a little weight…”

“You have the flu? That wouldn’t have happened if you’d only lost a little weight..”

Again, ugh.

Then, the good doctor hands me a folder full of stuff and goes on to share that his real specialty is weight loss surgery. Had I ever considered it?

Um, no.

He explains a little to me, and then that was the end of my appointment.

At home, I read through the information and slept on it. I chatted with the family and decided that it might be a good idea, so I started to fill out the forms.

Then life happened…

I didn’t get back to the forms as my Father-In-Law had finally gotten too blind to still live on his own. He had a great run, though; he was 94! It was time to move him in and then clean out his house. Let’s just say that it took almost ten months, and at the end? He was in a nursing home with the early stages of dementia.

It was time to find the forms and finish filling them out.

Do I Have Multiple Personalities?

So, I handed in my paperwork for the Gastric Bypass surgery and was accepted into the program! The first day, I had FOUR appointments, back to back: Dietician, Psychologist, Surgeon, and Lab work. The first step was being led to a room and having nine more forms to fill out — all questions about me!

One form had 300 questions. and many of them asked the same thing, but in a different way. Here were a few that I was stuck on:

Do you consider yourself famous? / Do you have delusions of grandeur?

Yes. (?)

I had to explain that one — but after blogging for ten years, all the public speaking and financial lectures I have given or participated in and all the TV segments I have done? People stop me at the grocery store to talk to me. People come up and hug me. People email me all the time with questions. I now have people come up to me with one of my books and ask for me to sign them.

I think that means I can consider myself famous?

Do You Have Multiple Personalities? / Do you feel like you are more than one person?

Yes (?)

Another explanation (sigh). I am a writer and have published MANY books under different pen names. When I was Senior Editor for Wisconsin Parent, I had over ten pages pop up when my name was Googled. I was writing adult romance novels and didn’t want it to pop up “oh, and she writes smut too….” (snort)! So, I have several pen names! Danielle Gray (I know, a real stretch there) is what I used for Historical Romances. Think 1890’s Western Frontier. Think Little House on the Prairie but with more heat.

Marie Fraser was for the romance stories that included Animal Shifters and Paranormal. (think dragon shifters, wolves and bears). Currently, I am wrapping up a series on Santa’s Reindeer. Mrs. Clause feels that it is time the boys settle down, so she created a dating agency – just for them!

There is also Sara Burdette, Claire Violante, etc.

I actually THINK like them when I am writing. One does military romance, and one does contemporary detective stories, etc. I was driving down the road one day and had Wisconsin Public Radio on. The announcer said, “Wisconsin Wolf population is up 5% with approximately 925 wolves reported. They do their counts in Winter before the spring pups are born, so this may be off a little. There have been 15 counts of wolf attacks so far, mostly Farm livestock, and one was a dog. The state of Wisconsin pays out when they have wolf attacks….”

That jump-started my Wolves of Wisconsin 5 book series for Marie!

I am a shrink’s nightmare but wasn’t kicked out of the program. Take that Freud!

I’ve Got Class

Once you are in the weight loss surgery program, you get to take class when they say you are ready for them. You have passed tests, labs, your psych evaluation, and it is now time to learn what to expect from this process. Significant life changes are coming your way and, a good program wants to make sure you are as educated as you can possibly be for it.

I got a massive binder at the first of the three classes. It is full of what to expect before, during, and after the actual surgery. What kind of diet changes and exercise should one do to prepare? What kind of habits do you need to change now to make your post-surgery life easier? What will your eating schedule be like while you are recovering from surgery, and your body is healing? Why is it the easiest to lose weight the first year post-surgery than it will ever be?

All of that was answered, with accompanying homework and reviews.

We talked about recipe ideas, dinner tips, how to keep your head in the game for the long run win. It was worth the time invested and reassured me that this was the right team to be working with for this major change in my life. This surgery is simply a TOOL to change a life, and these people were dedicated to making sure we all knew how to use it to the best of our abilities.


There is one more class to take, but it is after my surgery date is set. It has all the final details and hospital information too – I find out Wednesday when I get my invite to “class D”.

Until then?

I am sipping my water in between meals. I am listening to my hunger cues. I am balancing protein and carbs. I am working out in the health club I just joined. I am drinking my protein shakes. I am waiting…

I’m a Pill Popper

One of the reasons I chose to go through the weight loss surgery process was to be able to stop taking a lot of the pills that I was on. My arthritis won’t bother me as much when I weigh less. My acid reflux won’t be as big a problem. I won’t take medicine for blood sugars. I won’t have high blood pressure medicine to help with my migraines. I won’t even need my C-pap machine! It turns out that still, I’m a Pill Popper.

Most of the pills I am currently on, I will be off of before my actual surgery. Having less of a stomach means I will have a few issues absorbing nutrients from my food so I will have supplements for the rest of my life.

  • Chewable multivitamins, twice a day.
  • Vitamin B12 dissolvable.
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium with Vitamin D.
  • Ursodiol for six months to prevent gall stones.
  • ooh – and Benefiber.

Any pill I take will now have to be small, no larger than an eraser on a pencil. If I have to take a capsule, it will have to be pulled apart and mixed with water or added to pureed food. After 4-6 weeks of my surgery, I can go back to “normal” sized pills.

Vitamin D is much better for me than Celebrex (a NSAID medication), so I have to look at the upside of things. Yes, I will always have to take pills from now on, but they are vitamins instead of medications that treat the symptoms of an issue. I will be fixing the problems themselves!

And I Pee All the Time

Ladies, do you ever feel like you have to pee all the time? Think the last month or two of a pregnancy where you sit down and almost instantly have to get up to go back to the bathroom. Well, the countdown is on! My big surgery is less than two weeks away, and I am on my liquid diet. I pee all the time…

Here is an example of my day:

8:00 AM – protein shake

9:30 AM – sugar-free Jell-O with 8 ounces of water

10:30 AM – protein shake

noon – 16 ounces of water

1:00 PM – protein shake

2:30 PM – cup of low sodium broth and 8 ounces of water

3:30 PM – protein shake

5:00 PM – 16 ounces of water

6:30 PM – protein shake

8:00 PM – cup of low sodium broth and 16 ounces of water

That is around my busy schedule of working out at 8:30 AM and going to bed at 9:00 PM.

120 ounces of liquid a day – now you know why I pee all the time!

This is to help get my stomach ready for the post-surgery diet of liquids, then soft foods, then pureed foods…whoever said this was the “easy way” to lose weight had no idea what they were talking about!

I would love to share more this week, but I think I should buy some short term stock in Angel Soft toilet paper…

Lather, Rinse, Repeat 

Here is yet another fun thing about my weight loss surgery journey. Being uber clean before surgery. I actually had an appointment to set through where I learned this all. The Lather, Rinse, Repeat method.

The night before surgery, I have to take a shower. Then, get out of the shower and use this on my chest and belly. I was informed repeatedly that I was not to use it on my face or groin area. (I assume that this means that people HAVE and that is why they frequently say not to…) Then, I get a clean, fresh towel and dry off. It can’t be a clean towel from the linen closet; it has to be just out of the washer and dryer.

Next comes clean and fresh jammies or nightgown. Again, not out of a drawer, but out of a washer and dryer.

Time for bed? I have to crawl into clean and fresh sheets and blankets. Again, not out of a drawer, but out of a washer and dryer.

The next morning?

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

I have to take a shower. Then, get out of the shower and use this on my chest and belly.

Again, I was informed repeatedly that I was not to use it on my face or groin area. (Some people serve as warnings to others…)

Then, I get a clean, fresh towel and dry off. It can’t be a clean towel from the linen closet; it has to be just out of the washer and dryer.

Next comes clean and fresh clothes. Again, not out of a drawer, but out of a washer and dryer.

Then, I can work my way to the hospital before my surgery, as I down a large Gatorade. (more on that later).

That, my dears, is the Lather, Rinse, Repeat method.

I am pretty sure that they will disinfect me while I am under anesthesia as they get ready for my incisions. This process is to help prevent infections during surgery and the healing process. I just have to remember – not use it on my face or groin area.

It’s Just a Little Prick…

Let me preface this with the fact that I am looking in the humor in this. I totally bonded with Chrissy, she made me super comfortable, and I think she wants to adopt my daughter. I really appreciate her NOT trying to give me an IV when she thought she wouldn’t be able to do it.

If it is one thing I hate more than anything else in all the world, it is getting an IV. Here I am, getting ready to go under the knife for my surgery and all comfy in my purple insulated gown that has a hose pumping warm air into it. It might be the first time in a few weeks that I wasn’t cold, hence the big smile. Here, my nurse shares her good news with me: It’s Just A Little Prick.

Now, I don’t want to come out and tell her she is a liar to her face. I know it is more than “Just A Little Prick” as I was almost fifty and had been on the receiving end of attempted IVs a few times. Chrissy, that angel of mercy (who turned out to be a liar) said she was the master of the stick! It would be over in no time!

Did I say liar yet?

I don’t want to be too mean, after all, look at the stylish socks she gave me! They are the ultimate in “I am still groggy and have to walk around carrying my pole with me but don’t want to slip” chic. I will not verify if I am still wearing them right now, as I type this all up….

Sadly, I have never been an “easy stick” and know I am in trouble when I see small heating pads come at me, and my arm is already numb from the rubber tourniquet. I hated having IV therapy for migraines and am much happier in the world of intermuscular shots!

I will give Chrissy credit for being a coward: she didn’t want to try her hand with my hand. She got the big guy: Dr. Ford. Just in case you run across him, he thinks he is funny and likes to instigate trouble with his team. Watch out for that one. At least he married well: a nurse, and they have six kids. I heard they figured out what they were doing by the time number six came around…those medical degrees finally put to use!

Seriously, Dr. Ford has the gift of gab and puts you totally at ease. The blend of BS and understated knowledgeable skill catch you off guard, and he is done before you know he started. It is the first time anyone ever used a topical numbing agent on my skin first!

Ta-dah – It’s Just A Little Prick

I had it in less than 48 hours as I went home the next afternoon, but two weeks later?

You can still see the bruises on my delicate skin.

Muscle Memory

Every Sunday, we snuck a quick donut hole or two at church before service. Muscle Memory had me going to the bowl, even though I had just started my liquid diet, and Miss Sarah “caught me” before I ate one.

Muscle Memory. I was just so used to going to the bowl of donut holes and grabbing one it was just habit.

I did have my “ah ha” moment after Miss Sarah called me out on in.

I was not trying to cheat on my liquid diet; it was simply Muscle Memory.

Miss Sarah was delighted to have her donut holes still and then breathe on me so I could “enjoy” them.

Have I ever told you that she is a brat?


I am sure I will come across other things that were just habit, but I will now be on the lookout for them. This was simply an eye-opener for me, and I will be better equipped in the future not only to notice those moments but to handle them.

Thanks to Miss Sarah for catching it and helping me out – she really is a gem who is helping to support me on this journey even if she is a brat occasionally.

No More Hole-y Shirts For This Gal

When I was younger, we used to joke that we had a new “church shirt” if we had a hole pop up in one of them. You could wear it to church because it was “hole-y”. Of course, my mother would never let us actually WEAR them to church, but it was a family joke. Well, No More Hole-y Shirts For This Gal!

This is pretty much just a pudgy person problem: holes in your shirts. It’s easy enough to see how they are created as they line up perfectly with the button (or rivet) on our jeans. When trying to slide into a snug space between a booth seat and a table, that button rubs against the table. It wears out the fabric and creates the hole.

Ta-dah! A “hole-y” shirt has been born.

It really sucks because it is hard to hide a hole that is right in front of your body, on a shirt. If the shirt is a light color, then the dark jeans show through. If you have a pattern, the pattern now has a giant disconnect.

It sucks.

One thing losing the weight has done is to make a large gap between the edge of that table and my tummy. I can slide into a booth like the best of them and have no fear of killing another item of clothing.

No More Holey Shirts For This Gal!

Goodbye Suite Life

If you are a chubby person (I refuse to refer to myself as being FAT), then you tend to find the standard sized bathroom stalls a bit on the cramped side. Now that I have been dropping the weight from my Gastric Bypass surgery? It’s time to say Goodbye Suite Life.

So the other day I, used a public restroom and did not take the suite. You all know what the suite is, it’s the larger room that a family of five could live in. It has those decorative railings along the wall that looks like they could almost be a grab bar. It has additional room for a sleeping toddler if you pull the bed down from the wall. It has coat hooks, purse hooks, and often, a sink! How thoughtful of them to provide fresh water for your visit – right?

Anyway, 70 lbs less and the non-suite stall was very comfortable. It’s not like I could have people over, but it is nice when your legs don’t brush up against the walls. It’s nice not having the toilet paper dispenser jab me in the thigh. I like not having that on-the-floor trash can snuggling up to my hiney.

If you are skinny, you will never understand how we have to enter the stall, straddle the toilet, just to be able to turn around and close the door.


I don’t miss any of that.

It’s the little things in life people the little things…like being able to say Goodbye Suite Life!

Holy Mother of Migraines

In my pre-surgery life, I had an issue with migraines. Seriously, for over thirty years, I have dealt with them. I did ask my surgical team how they might change post-surgery, and no one had an answer.

I have the answer now: they are worse.

The first year or so, they increased dramatically. It turns out that women kick off extra estrogen when they lose weight rapidly. Estrogen can be a migraine trigger – and if you are sensitive to that hormone change? You will be like me and have an increase in painful events.

I am allergic to most migraine meds and treatments, so I take morphine. My primary doc was able to get me liquid morphine to take at home instead of the pills I used to take. Most tablets are harder to digest before we pass them, and the liquid works really well for me. It is better than hitting the urgent care twice a week for a “rescue shot.”

They DID end up tapering off a bit after about fourteen months of fun but are still up from where they were pre-surgery.

If you get migraines? Have a chat with your doctor and make a back-up plan for that first year of surgery.

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