Like many women, the pounds Melissa Dohse gained during pregnancy, never came off. Her pregnancy with her first child was difficult, and she gained one hundred pounds. Then she later had two more children over the course of three years, which to even more weight gain. The single mom of three children tried a wide variety of methods to lose weight, even losing 85 pounds once with Weight Watchers. Unfortunately, after every success she eventually gained more weight than she lost.
In June 2015 when Melissa saw her primary care provider, Karyn Harkins, MD, her physician encouraged her to join MultiCare’s medical weight loss program through the Center for Weight Loss & Wellness. At over 340 pounds, Melissa decided to give it a try and met with a dietitian and Dr. Harkins, who is now a full-time bariatrician working with the Center.
In Melissa's sessions with the dietitian, they focused on not just tracking calories but rather on increasing her nutrition knowledge and improving the quality of what she ate. In addition, Dr. Harkins prescribed her an appetite suppressant. These two things combined helped her lose weight, but then she had to stop using her appetite suppressant due to side effects.
Dr. Harkins had discussed the concept of bariatric surgery before with Melissa, but at first she was hesitant because of a family member’s bad experience several years ago. However, when she learned about the sleeve gastrectomy, which is a less invasive surgery than gastric bypass, she began to think that maybe bariatric surgery might be a good choice for her. Given her success in improving the nutrient content of her food, surgery could be the tool she needed to reign in her appetite and be successful with weight loss over the long-term.
In October 2015, she attended a weight loss surgery seminar given by Hanafy Hanafy, MD, one of the board-certified bariatric surgeons with MultiCare's Center for Weight Loss & Wellness. Her mother, who has been her biggest cheerleader, was there for support. The team included Nurse Manager, Jennene Wheeler, who also found weight-loss success after bariatric surgery. After seeing how the CWLW team was not just providing a surgery but rather helping patients achieve long-term success, Melissa decided that surgery was the best choice for her.
After the CWLW team checked her insurance benefits, Melissa discovered that her secondary insurance provider covered surgery and she had already met most of the requirements since she completed the medical weight loss program. Shortly after the seminar, she was laid off from her job of 11 years, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She was able to have surgery on Dec. 14, 2015, and recover, and she started a new job shortly after the new year.
“It just seemed like everything fell into place” she said.
After surgery, Melissa's biggest challenge was learning how to eat again and knowing the limits of her smaller stomach. She no longer felt hunger like she used to and began to eat by the clock.
The pounds came off quickly. On the day of surgery Melissa weighed 330 pounds. One year later she is 212 pounds. She is still losing weight although the pounds come off a bit more slowly now. She concentrates on eating her protein first, and avoiding trigger foods that can cause her to overindulge.
Melissa's life has undergone an amazing transformation in 2016. She feels better physically and mentally. She recently got engaged to a long-time friend and now is planning a wedding for December 2017. Her fiancé and family are inspired by her success, and they also are excited to learn more about nutrition and lead healthier lives.
Recently, Melissa's fiancé found an old pair of her jeans, and she could fit into a single leg. She even finds her teenage daughters stealing her clothes. She looks forward to continuing her weight loss journey and living a healthier, happier future.