Vikky Donaldson, RN, has worked in health care with Johns Hopkins University at the Center for American Indian Health for 14 years. More than just caring for patients, through her work in pediatric vaccine research, she has been able to affect the health of people around the world. “It is a very rewarding and exciting job,” she says. Yet, when it came to her own health, Vikky admits she has struggled with her weight her entire life. “I’m a very good dieter. I would lose weight, but gain it back – get back into the old habits I had before.”
Though she may not have realized it at the time, Vikky committed on a whole new level to losing weight for good when she talked to her husband of 16 years. “I told him this is something I really wanted,” she shares. “He has watched me go up and down for years.” The mother of four began researching weight loss surgery online. “I really didn’t know what I was getting into.”
Vikky found Lovelace Bariatrics and called to register for an upcoming free seminar. At 238 pounds, she wanted to find a permanent solution, but told herself she would just go to the seminar to see if it was a right fit. “I fell in love with Dr. V,” Vikky says of Lovelace Bariatrics Director Dr. Duc Vuong. “He’s not like other surgeons I’ve worked with.” That night Vikky scheduled her first appointment.
Motivated and excited for a big change in her life, Vikky says she thought all she would have to do would be to go to a few appointments and get scheduled for surgery – “the magic bullet.” However, she discovered the program at Lovelace Bariatrics is not only more involved than a few appointments, but it requires true commitment. “I didn’t realize there would be a long-term relationship with the staff, Dr. V. and the other patients. I thought, ‘Wow, this is not going to be as easy as I thought it was going to be.’ I had to lose 10 percent of my weight before surgery.”
Vikky met with everyone in the program, including the dietitian, and began her pre-surgery journey to losing weight. This time, she made the decision to stay committed. Along the way, she learned of other patients’ success stories and found support through Facebook, as well as support group meetings. She was willing to make the three-hour drive to Albuquerque. “What people need to know is that you have to be committed to doing your part. You have to stick to the diet and eliminate junk food.”
Losing 23 pounds by her surgery date – October 20, 2014 – Vikky showed not only Dr. Vuong and the bariatric staff she was committed, but herself as well. She had four good reasons. “I wanted to get healthy for not just me, but for my kids.”
To celebrate Dr. Vuong’s birthday in September, Vikky stopped by his office with a gift. Since she was in town and near her one-year follow up appointment, she went ahead and stepped on the scale. “My goal was 135 pounds,” she says. “I was so excited! I hit my goal weight on Dr. V.’s birthday!”
Today, Vikky is sticking to her part – eating right and exercising every day. Although she would grimace in pain exercising at more than 200 pounds, she says now she enjoys becoming better, faster and stronger. “It took me 15 minutes to run my first mile,” she recalls. “Now I’m under ten minutes. I never used to care about time before, but now I’m watching it.” Down the road, Vikky says she would like to train for a half-marathon or even a full. In the meantime, the greatest joy is being outside and staying active with the entire family. “It used to always be just Dad. Now Mom can jump in!”
For more information on Lovelace Bariatrics and an upcoming seminar, click here.