Finding my footing.


I’ve been writing this post in my head for a long time.

Months, even.

For a while the title was going to be “Reeling.”

Cause that’s what I was doing.

It’s been an interesting journey, this time since August 16th.

That was the day when my world was rocked more than a bit.

My last appointment with Dr. Halpin.

Since then I’ve been ruminating.

Sending a daughter 3,122 miles away to college.

Getting my youngest through bi-lateral knee surgery at Shriner’s. (And a couple of complications thereof since.)

Weathering the fall-out of my middle kid being assaulted by an adult bystander at a basketball game – resulting in facial fractures and many, many visits to specialists to determine if surgery and re-do of orthodontia would be necessary.

Getting both boys through the flu – twice!

I’ve also been coordinating a big project – essentially, trying to get one hand-crafted item into the hands of the 1600 plus homeless students in our school district – by Thanksgiving!

And working.

And doing dishes, and laundry, and gardening, and taking care of my chickens, and canning.

And living life.

And trying to figure out what to do with this new gut of mine.

…and freaking out every time I step on the scale.

…and missing meat.

…and hating throwing up.

…and trying to find clothes that fit.

…and mourning the loss of my DS.

When I came out of surgery February 2nd, Dr. Halpin found John and gave him the lo-down on what had transpired in my 8 plus hour surgery. She’d explained that the stomach had to go; that they’d lengthened my common channel to 100 cm’s – she’d been worried that I was too thin and thought I needed more absorption. That I would be okay.

While I was still in the hospital she explained the same to me. I was pretty out of it and could barely hold a conversation, much less form substantive conversation about my new gut.

I remember nodding my head as she told me stuff, thinking, “I barely have the energy to nod!”

Weeks later, when I saw her in her office for the first of many post-op appointments I asked her to describe to me my new configuration. I’m the gotta know what my gut looks like girl. Right?! Gotta understand what was done in there – cause there may come a day when you need to be able to intelligently discuss it, right?

It seemed like our discussions were vague.

I asked her to draw it.

It looked nothing like I thought it ought and said so. She said she thought maybe she just wasn’t very good at drawing it. I can get that – I’m not such a great artist.

Months passed, and finally – on August 16th, when I saw her for my 6 month post-op appointment – I brought a print-out of the DS and asked her to PLEASE mark it up, show me what my gut was like.

For a couple of reasons, really. Yes, you need to know what they do to your gut! But – frighteningly – I’d done nothing but GAIN weight since my February surgery – and it was freaking me out. (Particularly coupled with the knowledge that my metabolism is pretty wrecked! So surprising – NOT!)

AND – because I’d started to have issues with blood sugars. High fasting blood sugars. NOT okay.

So – she drew.

And she explained.

And she said, “And so I took down your DS.”

And she said, “And I ADDED 100 cm to your common channel.”

“Wait!” I said, the room tilting, “You TOOK DOWN MY DS?!” And then the next line reached my cognition, “You ADDED 100 cm to my common channel? I thought you lengthened it TO 100 cm.”

“No – I added 100 cm. And yeah – I took your DS down. Basically, you’ve got a RNY gut now.” She said.

“Wait!” I said, nearly hyperventilating. “That means I’m not switched at all?”

“No. You’re not switched at all. I took that down.”

“No wonder the blood sugars.” I whispered.

“What do you mean?” She asked.

“I was severely diabetic before my DS. Like – fasting blood sugars in the 200s and 300s with 5 oral medications daily.” I explained.

“Well, I don’t think your DS was the whole reason it went into remission.” She said.

“I don’t think you understand the power of being switched.” I told her. “Do you know that they are doing just the intestinal portion of the DS on non-morbidly obese patients with severe metabolic syndrome – with nearly 100% elimination?!” I told her – she looked dubious. “I know patients who are living that reality. It’s true.”

Yeah, she didn’t believe me, I’m pretty sure.

We talked further. She encouraged me to exercise more. I reminded her that I’m orthopedic nightmare girl – whose added weight is already hampering her mobility. She said, “Oh. That’s right.”

But honestly – I was pretty much in a haze the whole way home.

No more DS?



All I could think about was Susan and her vow to get a tattoo across her belly that read, “Don’t mess with my DS!”

I shouldda gotten one!


Why didn’t I get one?!

And so, for a while I’ve been reeling.

Okay – I’ll admit it – I revert to reeling fairly regularly. In fact, I could well go up there and change the title back to Reeling if I think about it too long.

But mostly, of late, I’ve been trying to find my footing.

And to be honest – my footing isn’t so stable – literally speaking. Because of the added weight (I’m now at 165 lbs – up 40 pounds since February 2nd.) my orthopedic stability has declined significantly. My pain has increased substantially as well. I’ve had several falls. I’m starting to wonder if this ankle rebuild will meet muster when assessed in the coming March – it’s not doing good things. Only, I’m no longer a candidate for surgical intervention. Why? I weigh too much.


I’m still trying to figure out how to eat with this lack of a stomach. Meat is still pretty much out. I can do some fish – if it’s light and tender and flakey and thinly filleted. But for the most part, I’ve gotta go with vegetarian options to get my protein in. I sneak as much shrimp in as I can – but being that I’m technically allergic to shellfish – and too much equals one big bad reaction – well, I can’t really count on it too much. And I’m getting in as many eggs as I possibly can – but again, allergic to egg whites, so – caution must be exercised.

Bread is still evil. I have found that Oroweat’s Winter Wheat is doable under certain conditions. I.e., open faced egg salad sandwich pretty much being that condition. I keep hoping that someday deli sandwiches will be back in my repertoire – but thus far, ain’t happening.

I’m trying to keep my calories less than 1000 a day. That’s hard. And it sucks. And I hate it. (Do I sound whiney enough yet?) The problem with this being when my blood sugars bottom out and I have to counter with sugars to get it where it needs to be. (My reality this very afternoon.) All I could find was a cookie. I don’t want to waste my calories on reactionary stuff, you know?! UGH! (Okay, now I’m feeling more mad than whiney. But – I will tell you – I’ve been that way lately!)

I’ve been talking to Dr. Baltasar. Trying to understand WHY this is where I would end up. Apparently, it’s the norm. There’s a certain belief that it’s non-defensible to remove a stomach and leave a DS configuration. There’s a vague sense that I’ve gotten from several surgeons I’ve talked to about this in the last couple of months that they’re afraid of where that would leave a patient nutritionally. To which I want to say shout remind:







I don’t want to be proud or haughty or rude – but if ever there were a DS post-op who understood what it takes to make the most of the care and keeping of a DS – HELLO?! – it’s ME!

I’ve asked Dr. B if it’s even possible to return the gut to a DS configuration. He has responded that we should just wait and see what the future brings.

Did I mention I’m reeling a bit?

And honestly – 165 pounds isn’t that bad. Right?! Yes, I’m clinically obese again.


Sorry – back to the thought… Yeah, so 165 isn’t that bad. I would have LOVED to have ended up there. I would be totally okay with staying here. The problem being this:


Is no one getting the trend here?

Are they not cluing in?

Yeah – no, pretty much, they’re not.

I can admit it. I’m afraid!

I know where I started.

I know where I could well be headed.

I’m sorry -but this current configuration SUCKS and I want my DS BACK – NOW!

Okay – not bad enough to go into surgery any time soon. Still a little PTSD going on here.


Yeah. I’m still grieving.

Do you know what I went through to GET my DS?

The loss of it is devastating.

I have lots of RNY/gastric bypass friends. I love them. I honor them. I know they had their choice to make, and I had mine. This is not meant to slam any person. This is about MY feelings and MY understanding of MY physiology.

The RNY is not good enough. Not for me, anyway.

I guess that’s part of the whole sense of being caught in a bad dream. How can I be going through this? How?

Yeah – I know. We’re back to my own stupid fault. Back to the too much ibuprofen thing.

Oh, to be able to turn back the clock some.

But that’s not real life.

And so – once again – I find myself needing to pull up my big girl panties and move on with my life.

I guess part of the reason I’ve not blogged here much – aside from my life being crazy busy, etc. – is that I feel like it’s a little fraudulent to blog under “Living the DS Life” – ’cause I’m not any more. And well – it makes me sad. (..and mad, and scared, and angry, and terrified, and…)

Okay – I’m going to shut up now.

I’m not giving up blogging here. I’m just still trying to figure out how to live this new life. Honestly – it’s exhausting, trying to figure it all out.

Comments? Let ’em fly. I’ll do my best to answer.


37 Comments Add yours

  1. Hope Garvey says:

    my heart aches for you Dina. If ever there was a person that deserves to stay “switched” it is you. Just know that this little DS buddy in North Mississippi loves you from afar………………xoxoxox Hope

    1. Dina says:

      Hope – you’re such a sweetheart! Thank you so much for being there for me! *smootch*

  2. Deb Evert Lincoln, NE says:

    Dina – my heart goes out to you – I too am an orthopedic nightmare. I had an RNY in 2002 – lost a ton – lost more when my dad died in 2007. Then the orthopedic nightmares popped up – and have totally overwhelmed my life too. I so so feel for you and wish that I had a magic wand…isn’t enough ENOUGH anymore? But – just a quick thought. Julian Bakery have awesome low low low carb breads. Like 1 – 2 carbs per slice. Good bread – homemade bread. They have many varieties and also gluten free. Its worth the cash to ship it here to Nebraska from there – Syracuse, NY. How terribly bizarre that I was originally from Syracuse NY. Irony… Hang in there please. We are all keeping you in our prayers – no matter how cobbled up your guts are. We are all here as friends, compatriots, soldiers in hurt in so many ways. God Bless. Deb

    1. Dina says:

      Deb, thanks for the tip. Unfortunately – functionally – bread just doesn’t go down. It gets stuck at my suture line and feels – roughly – like I’m having a heart attack – or, alternatively – sorta like I’m getting stabbed in the heart with an ice pick. The Winter Wheat is the only one I can get down without that junk going on.

      Thanks for your prayers, girlfriend! And I’m so sorry your world is filled with pain, too! 😦

  3. Bev Barrows says:

    OH MY GAWD, this is sooo wrong. But Dina, you are the bravest woman I’ve ever heard of. You can do this, you’ll figure out a way. You have all of us for support too, so keep the blogs coming. We will all be right here. My Lord, i don’t know how you manage it all….whew, I ‘ll be thinking of you everytime I start to complain about my problems. Btw, Im a Taurus too. πŸ™‚

    1. Dina says:

      Thanks so much for your support, Bev!

  4. Blackthorne says:

    Omigod I would be so pissed if someone took down my DS without my knowledge or permission. Enough I’d be considering suing for malpractice.

    There was no reason to perform that surgery (the take-down) nor did she have permission from either you or your husband. Seriously. That’s medical malpractice, and you should not take that lying down.

    1. Dina says:

      Essentially – no grounds. She *did* save my life. I was septic. I was going into surgery to try and patch my gut back together again. For having to take out all of the stomach, the spleen, part of the pancreas, part of the liver, part of the diaphragm, and a huge area of woody abscess – I’m fortunate to be alive. I know that.

      But doesn’t mean I’m not freaking out about the loss of my DS!

      1. Blackthorne says:

        Understandable – but what part of your small intestine was she “repairing” when she took down the DS? She had no business touching it *especially* with all of the other stuff she was dealing with – it was unnecessary and dangerous to create MORE open wounds when you had plenty of trauma to deal with all ready. The last thing you needed was for her to be operating on the ONE area of your digestive system that was still functioning properly.

      2. Dina says:

        Preach it! I totally agree. I still wonder how much time that would have shaved off of surgery time, hospitalization, complications, etc…

      3. Nicole says:

        OH MY LORD!!! I didn’t know that all of that happened!!!!

        Yes, it’s a blessing that you’re alive!


  5. Stevie says:

    Dearest Dina,

    I’m a huge follower of your excellent posts! So my heart goes out to you to encourage and remind you that God never brings us into a situation that we can’t handle! I am a firm believer that the bigger the problem the larger the ministry he is preparing you for…go for the GOLD!!!!!! (((hugs))) stevie

    1. Dina says:


      Thanks so much for your encouragement and prayers!


  6. Bennie says:

    Why did you have surgery? What was wrong with your stomach that it had “to go?” I was horrified to read your post. I can’t imagine how you feel. I am gaining weight 5 years out because I eat all the time. Without the DS, I’d weigh 260 again.

    I pray your weight stabilizes and your health is good. I’d be thinking of suing the doctor to cover the cost of another DS!

    1. Dina says:

      Bennie – long story sorta short – 3 years ago I had to have my right hip replaced. They had to make my right leg 5 mm longer. The change in leg length accelerated the degeneration of my left ankle, eventually requiring the March 2009 rebuild of my ankle (necrotic bone removed and filled with donor bone, all of the ligaments in my angle replaced with donor ligaments, an additional donor tendon added for stability, massive degeneration cleaned up – 5 suture sites). I thought it would be best if I got off of the pain meds, so asked to switch to ibuprofen for pain control. I buy the 600 mg ibuprofen when I’m in Spain. The doc said it was okay. I started with 600 mg every 4 to 6 hours. Wasn’t enough, so doubled it. Occasionally, I’d throw in a 3rd. 10 days later I’d burned 4 holes in my stomach from the ibuprofen. I got sick April 24, 2009. I was in the hospital in May, July, August, September, December/January, and February, had about 30 different procedures done, was on IV antibiotics for 5 months, was NPO for 4 months on TPN (iv nutrition), and then the two surgeries in February, as well as a pretty substantial pleural effusion, which required a chest tube to drain 700 ccs of fluid from my chest cavity – oh, and then my surgical incision got infected and had to be packed and dressed for 4 months. How’s that for a saga?!

      Thanks so much for your prayers, friend! *smootch*

  7. Tara Schmitz says:

    I’m so sorry you are dealing with this. My heart breaks for you. Please know that I am praying for the Lord to show you the way through this.

    1. Dina says:


      Thanks so much! I know that God knows every emotion my heart is facing – and cares, and understands – better than even I can fathom. That is a huge comfort. I’m definitely praying for lots of wisdom!

      1. Nancy Forman says:

        Dearest Dina,

        I had NO idea about your son’s injuries. I am so very sorry.

        Every time I think about what Dr Halpin did I have a little nagging feeling that her bias really showed through. I recognize she was doing a very difficult surgery as your infection was truly life threatening, but she has never been supportive of the DS. At the same time, being in the very middle of your gut and considering the concern that you might suffer long term nutritional deficiency could not have been a happy thought for her either. I can’t come up with anything to say that will make you feel better except that I am so sorry and can’t imagine how hard this must be.

        Please know that those of us who you have helped so willingly would do anything possible to help you. Wim and I send all good thoughts.
        Love, Nancy

      2. Dina says:


        Your thoughts – as always – are excellent. (I will never forget seeing your completely – unexpected – beautiful, and friendly face peering into my hospital room that day. What an encouragement you were!)

        I *get* what Halpin was thinking when she was elbow deep in my very complex gut. Not only did they have all of that rescue and repair to do – but they also had to pull out that full sheet of mesh – that – in and of itself – was a HUGE deal.

        Honestly – I’m thrilled to be alive! I’m thrilled to be this healthy! I’m thrilled that my inconveniences are just that – inconveniences. I think I must be monumentally spoiled, though, because I still want it ALL. I.e., everything fixed AND my DS! My seriously rocking, super primo, Baltasar DS.

        Yours and Wim’s support warm my heart to no end. You bless me!

  8. Grace says:

    OMG this is terrible. Will there be anther visit to Dr. Baltasar in the future?

    1. Dina says:

      Grace, we’ll see. Here’s the thing – every time you go tipping back through those tulips (i.e., the gut) the risk factor ratchets up substantially. Every single one of my abdominal surgeries have been extensive – from my emergency c-section 5 years before my DS on.

      I gotta tell you – I really don’t want anyone but Dr. Baltasar in that gut of mine, tho! You know what I mean?!

  9. Malin says:

    Oh, Dina! I won’t even pretend to comprehend what this must be like for you. You’ve been through so much! Here’s a pile of hugs anyway. I hope things will get better.

    1. Dina says:

      Malin – you are – and always have been – a complete sweetheart. I’ll hold out to collect those hugs in person one of these days! πŸ™‚ It’s been too long, hasn’t it?! (I’ve got to make it to Norway one of these days!) Thanks for being there, friend!

      1. Malin says:

        I would be so intensely happy to see you here in Norway, Dina! It’s been way too long since we met, indeed. When I get rich *fingers crossed for the lottery as always* and more healthy, I’ll head over your direction again, though. πŸ™‚ Thanks for being there yourself, friend! Peace & Love

  10. Pam, aka "Lowellian" says:

    I am REELING for you!! I cannot wrap my mind around your situation- including the crazy things life has thrown at you.
    Oh, ……Dina…..
    The one that ‘blazed the DS pioneer trail’ for all of us , who keeps us informed and in touch, who does so much for so many, and selflessly , candidly, courageously faces one trial after another AND STILL KEEPS US IN HER THOUGHTS even blogging about her journey so as to keep us informed and educated on the DS life……
    I am in awe of you.
    A lesser being would crumble and it’s a testament to your faith and inner strength that you are so upbuilding and empathetic to others while you yourself have sufferings we can’t imagine dealing with!
    I said a heartfelt prayer after reading this today and want you to know that I will continue to have you in my thoughts and heart every day……know that you are loved and respected by us all and if I can personally help in any way please don’t hesitate to ask! Hugs and Floers, and a little chocolate too…..Pam

    1. Dina says:

      Pam – thank you! πŸ™‚ Thanks for understanding, and feeling my panic – all of it! It just helps so much to know that people are there who care and “have my back” so to speak! Bless your heart!

  11. karen says:

    Dina, we were and always will be switch sisters. I read every post. I admired your dedication to us and your thoughtful and researched answers. I mourn the loss of your DS as well. I can only imagine after all you have been thru to go thru yet another waking nightmare. My heart and prayers are with you.

    1. Dina says:

      Thanks so much, Karen. Your support and prayers are precious to me!

  12. anne s says:

    I started at BMI 73. Lowest I got was BMI 50, before having my DS to DS Revision with Greenbaum this July 26th.

    Dr. Smith was my first DS surgeon, and on his Operative Notes, it shows he left my alimentary limb at 280cm, and my common channel at 75cm.

    I wondered why I had stopped losing weight, after a 140 pound loss. My stall started at 1 year out from the first DS, inthat I only lost another 15-20 pounds to month 18.

    Why? Because my metabolism is so incredibly broken. Like yours, Dina. If there is any opportunity available for my body to store a calorie, it will. I’ve trained it to do so from being on more than 45 diets (with and without exercise) for my lifetime.

    What is it about being so metabolically challenged that lets surgeons “do what they like” to us?

    Greenbaum said he found my guts were not the measurements Smith had claimed he’d made them. The 75cm common channel was actually 120 cm. The alimentary limb was something like 320(?) – I don’t have my notes in front of me, so I’m guessing here. No wonder I didn’t keep losing after 140 pounds. 140 pounds is a GREAT WEIGHT LOSS for people who START at a BMI of 40-50. Mine was 73. I needed (and may still need) a more aggressive surgical fix.

    At times I wish I’d gone to Baltasar. I look at Jill N.’s success, with her 65 common channel, and short alimentary limb, and only wish my DSes would have produced such a great result.

    All this to say, Dina, that I feel for you. I’m so sorry you’re living this again. The fear or being not only obese, but diabetic again. The fear of not getting and keeping the body size and health you once had is deplorable, and would send me reeling as well. (I’m reeling from an Operative Report that doesn’t reflect a Pathologists Report, but I’ll save that for a different time. Ongoing unknowns, and “time will tell” if I actually GOT the surgery I’ve been told I’ve got.)

    40 pounds since February is NORMAL for someone with a TOTALLY BROKEN METABOLISM. Another 40 isn’t out of the question, and is probably more NORMAL for YOUR METABOLISM than not. What a freaking NIGHTMARE to live through, Dina.

    Perhaps Baltasar is waiting for you to balloon up enough that it’s justified for him to cut again.

    I hope not. However, if you find yourself ballooning up, please know that you are still loved. No matter how much you think you’re losing it, reeling, getting out of control, whatever, you are still loved. And cared for. Baltasar won’t let your diabetes come back for long – I just don’t think that’s how he works in the world, and he knows his DS. Man, does he know it. (I keep looking at Jill. What a success story, right?)

    Love love love,
    anne s.

    1. Dina says:

      Anne – girlfriend – dang it all, you’ve been through it, too! I know you have. I remember your battle to get surgery, your hopes and dreams, and then having to go through your horrific hospital experience, and then heartbreaking surgical outcomes – and all of the crap in between, and on top of it all. Stink, girl! We need to find a nice tropical beach somewhere and just hang for a while, don’t you think?

      I honestly believe Dr. B is really just waiting to see what goes on in terms of the whole endocrine thing, you know? How bad will it get? How bad will the weight gain really be? He really believes in PREVENTING and being proactive – but he also just as strongly believes in DO NO HARM. He considers every patient a family member – and he simply would not go forward with a surgery he won’t do on his dearest loved one. I so appreciate his careful analysis of the entire situation – and well, I just honor and respect the guy so much. I mean – hello?! – I took my husband and son to him! I don’t want anyone else in this gut of mine, you know?

      And you’re right. He does just do the DS right. I am so thankful to be his patient, so deeply thankful to call him friend. Honored to have the privilege of having him at the top of the list of people to call if ever the need arises. Oh – amazing and deeply touching the many times in the past year plus that he’s gotten on the phone in at any time of the day or night to call and encourage me, or answer questions of the doctors and surgeons here.

      Love you, too, girl! *smootch*

  13. NancyBluEyes says:

    Dina ~ I am so heartbroken for you and your loss and the recent suffering in your family. I have learned so very much from you in terms of my own health and wellness. I love and preach my DS success as I learned from you and my other S/heroes on OH. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you forge through this battle.

    1. Dina says:

      Thanks so much, Nancy. You know – honestly – there’s lots to be thankful for, right? I’m alive! I’m healing up! I’m slowly regaining my strength and energy! It was a very real possibility – more than once – that those would not be true. I’m trying hard to keep perspective, but still be honest about it all, you know? Your support and care mean so much!

  14. Nicole says:

    Dina, I didn’t read the other comments, so forgive me for repeating.

    What happened to you is part of the DS life. You’re still living it.

    I feel like a foreigner in DS land. My side effects seem to be like no one else’s. Most others seem to be loving their DS’s and having a ball eating, drinking their shakes, getting in all their vites and slimming right down. Me, I picked up some nasty reflux and slow motility after surgery, problems I didn’t have before. Thank God my blood pressure is normal and the pressure on my knees is greatly reduced. I’m losing very nicely, but I spend much too much time either trying to hold back a puke, puking, or reeling from puking. I’m looking for the DS love myself. My problems are no where near what you describe, but I feel ya on some level.

    THANK YOU for sharing your feelings so openly and honestly, and thank you for all the fantastic posts to date. I look forward to more!

  15. kilaani says:

    Oh…Dina. I’m at a loss and cannot even express how I feel after reading your post. I love you. You are the reason I am where I am instead of a possibly horrible revision to an RNY. For many reasons I’ve been missing in action but think of you so often. I pray God keeps you in the shadow of his wing and comforts you with all comfort. The loss of my DS would be catastrophic and I … I’m speechless to hear what happened with you – reeling doesn’t even to begin to contain it, I’m sure. I’m so glad Dr. B. is in contact and you have the relationship you do with him.

  16. Janet P says:

    Dina — I’ll always consider you the DS expert and if anyone can overcome these issues, you can. Just simply can’t imagine a doctor doing what she did without your consent. I have another friend who went into surgery for a blockage and the surgeon (not her DS surgeon) reversed her DS. Same as you, she didn’t know except she just kept gaining weight. Finally got an explanation. What’s wrong with these doctors??

    Janet in Reston

  17. Em Gee says:

    Thank you for sharing the truth of your experience. I’ve followed your journey for a couple of years, and I too think you are still living a DS life. You are in my prayers.
    Em Gee

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