Well, while I generally don’t blog about day-in-day-0ut life, but I’ve decided that as a therapeutic exercise, I’m going to write about my upcoming gastric bypass surgery.
Yep, the ‘big guy’ will be big no more. While there are plenty of blogs which allow readers to take the journey through this life changing process of Weight Loss Surgery (WLS), most of them are written by women. No offense to the ladies, but there aren’t enough which help describe a man’s perspective on the process, and since I really don’t foresee talking about this with close friends on an intimate basis, I feel the distance between me and the internet is far enough that I can be candid, coy and even funny sometimes.
This may branch to a new subdomain dedicated blog about WLS to provide a division between the two topics, but for now, I’m going to start here. Take you on the ride. While the title of this post is “My Journey Begins,” the truth is the journey began some time ago. Around August of last year I decided that I had had enough. While I smile when I think about my great grandfather telling my parents I would be over 300 pounds, over 6 feet tall and wear a size 13 shoe, I’m not sure it’s the healthiest path at this point in my life.
This year I’ll turn 45 and it’s a big year. I’m nearly at 50, and wow, there was a time when I really thought that was old — and now I realize we are pretty much the same people we’ve always been, just a few years later. My weight contributes to other issues including my asthma, which I have been riddled with since a premature baby, as well as aches, pains, lack of physical activity, social activities and more. Plus, my sugar is borderline for diabetes, my blood pressure is creeping up — and I think I’m going to need bifocals soon.
While I don’t think my vision will be corrected as an outcome of this procedure, I do believe I will be able to see myself and life in a whole new light. One which I have shielded myself from behind the weight, staying home — and eating some of that time too!
So, in August I started to research gastric bypass surgery. It was something I never really considered before — I had considered plastic surgery to remove a lot of my weight, and really, it was a life changing moment. Not something that was easily decided. So after doing my research about the surgery, I then did research on doctors in my area. In the end I contacted the University of Miami Bariatric Center of Excellence, and specifically Dr. Nelson de la Cruz-Munoz. He has a practice in Doral, a NW suburb of Miami and close to my office, so it was a good fit. After making my initial consultation appointment, they also scheduled me to attend a meeting to learn about the procedures, risks and benefits, etc as part of the required disclosure process of the procedure.
So, I go to the meeting and learn about each of the types of surgeries, I decided Lapland was too much with the “adjustments” required post-surgery, plus, it seems a little bit like just sewing your lips partially shut. They had some post-op patients from the WLS support group who also got up and spoke to the attendees, one showing her scars upon one audience member request. It was good to hear from these people and see how they were. One man was over 20 years post-op and still going strong — and looking good! During this presentation they said, “and if you didn’t already know, you WILL be required to participate in a six month nutritional program before you can have your procedure or be approved for the surgery by your insurance company.
I almost fell on the floor. While sitting in a room with 50% of them far from obese, under the age of 18 or more concerned about “how many holes you gonna put in me?” instead of how they can achieve the best surgical outcome. Some of them needed to go home and grow out of their ‘pudgy phase.’ Others were being paid for by Medicare. They don’t require a nutritional program. Figures. Well, I was freaking out. What do you mean I have to try for ANOTHER six months to lose weight? It nearly had me in tears. There was no way I was able to do it — I’ve tried my whole life, right?
So, I went online, searching through the information on the AETNA website. I finally found that entire document of what is required for gastric bypass, or any WLS surgery for that matter. Ends up AETNA, or at least my plan, has an option for the 3 month “multi-disciplinary pre-surgical regimen” which cut the whole 6 month thing time in half. I guess I can do thatâ€¦ So I met with the nutritional guy, then got setup with a personal trainer.
Yep, two sessions a week — at $55 a pop. Not cheap, but worth it to get where I’m going. I mean, I only have to GO, I don’t have to really do anything do I? Well, it ends up that I DID have to work when I went to the sessions. My trainer is amazing, and he keeps me going. Even when I whine and complain, he gently gets me back on track.
Well, after the three months, AETNA denied me. They said they didn’t have proof that I was a fatty for over two years. RUFKM? Can I send them baby pictures? Well, I was able to get records from the urgent care center that I visited on a regular basis for a while while I was “swearing off doctors.” But, they came in handy for this. My prior doctors had already destroyed my records. I didn’t even know they did that. I wondered where they all went to dieâ€¦.. If only they were electronicâ€¦. But, then it was because the doctor didn’t provide something else. So the doctor appealed, and they said, okay, we know you’ve always been a fat bitch, but you didn’t have enough collaboration during the 3 month program and such documented in the medical record.
RUFKM again? Now I’m mad. I don’t know who to lash out against, I was pissed. Went to meet with the doctor and he was stuck in surgery. I was so pissed I couldn’t see straight, but them the Dr. sent another letter to the insurance company. Bing, bam, boom — I got APPROVED! Scheduled it a month out, for March 15, and all is good in the world.
Then, I remember two very important things: 1) I have to drink shakes for two weeks prior to surgery. Nothing else. Can’t be too bad, can it? (There is a NEW Snickers?) and 2) I have to stop smoking or they won’t have my surgery. Now, we have a problem Houston.
Well, it ends up that I got sick last week, and my smoking has dropped down to about half of what it used to be — about half a pack a day. Plus, I am looking forward to the long-term gain to be had here. I mean, I don’t HAVE to stop smoking FOREVER. So, right now I have about 48 hours left to smoke for about a month. I’m sure I will be able to do it,and if I’m lucky, I won’t start smoking again after the recovery period.
Then, there are the shakes. They are 160 calorie shakes and I have to drink 5 a day. I am also allowed water, Crystal Light and sugar free Jello. I also was able to have the doctor tell me I can have coffee in the morning. I had headaches the first day and thought I was going to scream. I mean, how many vices do I have to give up at once? Today is day 5 on the shakes, and can I tell you — it’s not bad at all. I’m not hungry, just a little tired at the end of the day. I