One middle aged girl's journey from fat to gastric bypass and beyond!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Stupid Tests

I just got home from my sleep study and I am pissed off. Just because I stop breathing a little during the night might actually postpone my surgery. I cannot believe that I got this close. My sleep tech said I had a "couple" of incidents during the night and the sleep doctor may either chose to just let it go or ask me to come back to try a night with a cpap (continuous positive airway pressure) to see if it helps. And since I know Dr. R - I am going to have to do this again!

Let me just tell you that all the testing prior to surgery sucks. The doctors automatically assume that because you are obese you have some undiscovered catastrophic illness that they alone will discover. Dr. R has you do some rigorous testing. I would love to tell you that it is his concern for my well being that he does this but I have to admit, I think it has to do with his numbers. I chose Dr. R. and his hospital 30 minutes away because of his low complication rate and the fact that he has never had a death. I thought he was just that good. He probably is that good but what makes his numbers outstanding is that he screens out a significant portion of his patients by having pretty strict standards. Think of it as thinning the herd. If you screen out all but the most healthy of individuals, you have less complications. Would you like to know what tests he requires?! Here is a list:

1. Surgeon Consult #1
2. Surgeon Consult #2
3. Nutrition Consult #1
4. Nutrition Consult #2
5. Pulmonary Consult
6. Pulmonary Function Test
7. Sleep Study (if pulmonologist deems it necessary - mine did not but Dr. R. said I needed one)
8. Psychiatric Consult
9. Cardiologist Consult
10. Stress Test
11. Pelvic Ultrasound
12. Abdominal Ultrasound
13. Upper GI
14. Mammogram
15. PAP Test
16. Colonoscopy
17. Chest Xray
In addition you need to attend 2 support group meetings and my insurance company (thank you, Cigna) requires 6 months of a doctor supervised diet and exercise program for which I need to see my Primary Care Physician monthly.

Scheduling these appointments are a nightmare. It seems as if the only time they have appointments are Monday through Friday 9 -3 with a lunch between 11 and 2. For a working individual, this presents a problem. Some of the receptionists I was able to schmooze. "I work in a school with students with Autism, I do not get much time off." It is not a lie but I still felt a little tawdry using my students as an excuse. Some did not care at all and I had to use precious sick days to go to the appointment. I started to try to make appointments in my hometown to make it easier to make the appointments but soon realized that was futile. Each hospital has their own network of physicians and it is way easier to deal with the physicians affiliated with the hospital you have your surgery at. It felt a little like nepotism to me but what do I know?!

Up next, I will detail those appointments and tests so if you ever decide to go this route, you know what you are up against. It will give me a much needed outlet about how medical science views obese people.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I Have a Date!

And it is not with my husband!! I will be having my gastric bypass on December 27, 2011. That is 80 days from now - not that I am counting or anything! I was very excited this week because I called my surgeon's office to check to see if they had everything they needed from me and to try to schedule my second consultation with the surgeon. I had to take a day off for my sleep study so I figured perhaps I could make an appointment with Dr. R the same day to try to conserve my days off for surgery. No such luck. I need to have all of my consultations complete (and the reports in) before I see Dr. R again. I mentioned that I needed a kind of specific date for my surgery because I work in a school and really want to have the surgery over Christmas break so I can use the time I would normally have off to recover. That way, I would only need to take three weeks away from my students instead of 4. Dr. R's office manager decided to set my surgery date right then and there. Woohoo! I was ecstatic - for about 20 minutes. Then, panic started to set in. What if something happens during surgery and I die? What if something happens during surgery and I have to live somehow compromised for the rest of my life? Will I be able to live without Coke and McDonald's? A funny thing started to happen....I started to think maybe I was making a mistake. I have been eating so well and exercising so maybe I could really do it on my own. Then I remembered. I have done this over and over and over again. I lose 10 pounds and I get all excited thinking I could, in fact, lose 150 pounds by myself. Then, I get hungry or stressed out and BAM - I am done and I end up gaining twice what I lost drowning my feelings of failure in a double cheeseburger or several king sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I cannot do this "the old fashioned way" because I have been since I could choose my own food. I need to do this but I feel like a bit of a failure. I don't have enough will power to overcome being fat. It makes me annoyed with myself. I go to a dark place when I get annoyed with myself. But this time it is going to be different. I am gathering boxes to pack up my summer clothes that I will never, ever wear again. That makes me feel hopeful. I cannot do this on my own, and that is ok. I need the help of a surgeon to make my stomach the size of a golf ball in order to be able to buy clothes at a regular store. I need to have a surgical procedure done so that I can go to an amusement park with my family and actually fit on a ride with them. So I am not watching everyone else do the fun stuff because I don't fit or I feel self conscious. I am tired of being the one who sits out. I am 37 years old and I would like my life back, please. I cannot do it by myself and that is ok. In 11 and a half weeks I will be given a helping hand and I cannot wait!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Beginning of the Journey

Up until the spring of 2011, I was dead set against having weight loss surgery. My father had a gastric bypass several years ago and it looks like someone deflated him. He lost 140 pounds but I suspect he did not eat enough protein to prevent muscle wasting. He also had a fairly long recovery time. I work full time in a school, I do not have a lot of time for recovery. Then a classmate of mine had a massive heart attack and was in a coma for what seemed like forever. He has two small children and a wife. I started thinking about my own family and I started to worry about leaving them. Thank goodness, my friend survived and is currently dropping weight through diet and exercise but the thought was still in the back of my head. Up until this point I felt invincible. I was rarely sick and I was healthy. I don't mean fat person healthy - I mean HEALTHY. My primary care doctor always jokes that I am the healthiest fat person she knows. My bloodwork is always stellar. My cholesterol is 175 with all my DLs where they are supposed to be. My blood pressure is always perfect. I have had a healthy pregnancy (despite my OB/GYN's predictions). I gave birth without complication to a beautiful (albeit small 5lb.15oz.) baby girl who is now a precocious three year old. I had no reason to go for such drastic measures. My father was pre-diabetic and needed several joints replaced when he had his gastric bypass. He needed to do it. I did not.
I have still been an active person although more limited recently. I re landscaped my entire yard by myself. My husband and I remodeled our home by ourselves. I enjoy hiking and the outdoors. I guess I never really considered myself FAT. I know that is ridiculous seeing how I have spent the years since college over 250 pounds. My weight has never really interfered with the things that I wanted to do until after I had my daughter. Even though I lost 25lbs. during my pregnancy, my post pregnancy body felt cumbersome. Things that I used to be able to do were more difficult for me to do. I started to shy away from being physical because it made me feel fat. That was NOT what I needed. In the three years after pregnancy, I gained 36 pounds. Everything I owned was tight. I refused to go up to a size 30 because in my head that was super fat.
I paid a visit to my primary care doctor around the time of my classmate's heart attack. and we talked. She is fabulous and we had a very frank conversation. She said she had let me try on my own long enough and felt like I should consider a gastric bypass. She gave me the name of a surgeon that was out of her "network" who did the surgery laproscopically which required less recovery time. We talked about although I am healthy right now, in the future, as I age, that might not be the case. I left that appointment feeling like shit - a fat shit. I went home to discuss it with my husband who said "absolutely not". We have known each other since high school and I don't really think he thinks of me as being as fat as I am either.
I called the surgeon's office the next day to schedule a consultation. I was told that before I could make an appointment I would need to attend an information session. Those information sessions are held one a month. Seriously?! Once a month?! That is a lot of fat people. I put my name down for the next one. I convinced my husband to come with me and to listen with an open mind. I finally let him in just how miserable I have been in my body. We listened to this doctor describe each surgery, go through his outcomes and looked at the lengthy list of consultations and tests I would need to qualify for surgery. I did not even know if I would qualify for surgery because I did not have any other health issues that would make my surgery medically necessary. Then he got to a slide in his Powerpoint that made me gasp. It was a breakdown of BMIs and what category they fit in. I fit into the "super morbidly obese" category that did not require another health condition to qualify for the sugery. Woah. I am that fat. I had made up my mind on that very slide. My husband was more concerned with the actual surgery and the potential for something going wrong. This surgeon's complication rate was less than the national average and he has never had a death. My husband agreed that if this is what I wanted, he would be supportive. That was that. I started making the myriad of consultation appointments the next day.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The History of a Fat Girl

I have been a fat girl my entire life. Well, except for a couple of years in high school. Even then, I was a very muscular size 12. My mother loves to tell me how my pediatrician told her when I was a toddler never to let me get fat because of the various diseases that graced both sides of my genetic code. I remember shopping in the "husky" department at Sears. I still remember the jerk in junior high school who slapped my thighs and called me thunder thighs. I could go on and on but I won't because every fat girl has the same story. The teasing and taunting made me who I am. I am a pretty tough woman and I have immense compassion for other people. Not to mention, let's face it, I did have a hand in being fat. But that is not what this blog is about. This blog is a way for me to document my journey through a gastric bypass. At the beginning of my journey I weighed a whopping 311 pounds, the most I have ever weighed in my life. I was busting out of my size 26/28 pants and felt like garbage. I have dieted many times over. I am not very good with willpower and the weight never came off fast enough to sustain my commitment. I like to be active but it has become harder as my weight ballooned. I will get to how I made the decision in a later post because it was not an easy decision to make. I hope you will come along. I am not a writer. I happen to love run on sentences. I am, however, honest. I feel like it is important for me to document my journey, not only for my own purposes but for others who are contemplating weight loss surgery.