THE WHOLE UNVARNISHED NAKED TRUTH
posted on 1/6/08 8:47 pm
June 24th 2007 I checked into the Huacuz Surgical Center. After what I thought was extensive research and a lot of consideration over Mexican surgeons I chose Dr. Huacuz. Why Mexico? Well My insurance would not pay for the VSG, called it experimental and after considering the RNY I was just not comfortable with the procedure, especially the various complications associated with it. I was convinced the VSG was for me and was even willing to pay the 17K the LAPSF doctors were asking for. Problem was I would have to wait, I began to investigate Mexico at that point. Puerto Vallarta, too far, did not want to go alone. San Antonio, more flying, and I did not like the schedule from place to place. Tijuana was drivable from my home (about 6 hours) and I liked all of the recovery time in his clinic, time to figure out that everything was ok. It all made sense to me. I have the procedure, goes fine. The night before I am to leave (about my 5th day there) Dr. H gives me all my meds to take home...he runs to the pharmacy that evening to pick them up. Liquid Pain meds, check...Liquid Antibiotic, check....Liquid Gas meds...negative, he hands me a capsule and tells me to dissolve it all in my mouth...what? Ok so I make my great attempt to let it dissolve, swallow down some extra water and then experience the most excruciating pain of my life. Doctor gets the morphine (which they do not use in Mexico...must be HIGHLY regulated). What ensues is one of the worst nights of my life. I am in pain most of the night, calling out to the nurses Dolar, dolar (that is pain in Spanish). We discover the next day I have a leak. Back to surgery to repair it. It is very tiny and he is unable to stitch it up, the tissue is too mushy. Six days later Dr. H brings in a Gastroenterologist and the trouble begins. They try to glue the leak, and then they take out the drainage tube...BIG MISTAKE. If I felt badly before I feel worse now.
Dr. H promises me we will have an X-Ray in about 4 days. Meantime I am beginning to pay attention to a lot of inconsistencies around me. First was the Duadenal Switch patient I met when I first arrived. She had been in his clinic for several months. She had major complications and had to go back to the OR multiple times. Next I hear about a Banded patient who came back for plastic surgeries at his clinic who had an infection that kept her there for over a month. (I personally met her). Next comes the story about the patient who did not follow the post-up instructions and had a leak. Then there was the husband of one of his employees who came in everyday with a nasal gastric tube which was feeding him. He had a leak, I was told it was caused by eating the wrong foods too quickly. He was going on about 2 or three months of daily follow up and was not getting better. This is all becoming strange to me...I see my life being spent in Mexico and I begin to panic.
I am awakened in my sleep a few days before the promised test. I had been praying, reading my bible faithfully and trying to hear from the Lord. I finally heard Him loud and clear..."If Dr. H does not give you the test he promised, you need to leave and go to San Diego." The day arrives and I am told by him that we need to wait. He is afraid to do the X Ray in case it opens up the leak. That was it, I told him I was leaving. He was upset, he tried to convince me to stay (as if going to San Diego was the worst medical decision I could have made). He even sends in his office girls to try to convince me to stay and let him take care of me. His once gracious and beautiful wife glares at me when she sees me. He even calls my husband and tries to have him talk me out of leaving!
His driver takes me to San Diego, Scripps Mercy Hillcrest. On the way out of Mexico I am now officially miserable. Acheing all over, abdomen distended and extremely uncomfortable. The man at the door of the hospital (like a porter) offers me a wheel chair I promptly say yes. The ER checks me in and puts me ahead of the other patients waiting. They send me for a cat scan, I am glad, finally some answers. ER doc says I need emergency surgery I am leaking and there is lots of fluid in my abdomen. I am told the surgeon on call is the best in the hospital (he also was the Chief of Surgery and a Bariatric surgeon_ Dr. George Zorn became my LIFESAVER). They give me Morphine I am knocked out and do not even wake up before surgery.
The Results: I am septic....this is an infection combined with lowered blood pressure...this will kill you. They open me up (I have a 7 inch scar down my abdomen), and remove TWO LITERS of puss out of my abdomen. The surgeon said once he opened me up I had a 50/50 chance of living. It is like removing spaghetti sauce from noodles. I am in the ICU for three and a half weeks fighting for my life. I am kept in a coma like state, sedated to keep me from removing all the tubes and given amnesiacs so I will not remember the Hell I went through.
My family and friends live 6 hours away, they come down over those weeks to see me, hold my hand, pray for me. I remember none of it. My husband runs his business during the day, church members watch our kids and at night he plays mom and dad. Weekends come he comes down to be by my side. I am in the woods for about two weeks till my temperature finally begins to lower and the five anti-biotics continually pumped into me begin to fight the infection effectively. I was intubated for two weeks, and then they put a trach in me, otherwise I would damage my vocal cords.
They begin to wake me up and I find out what has happened to me. I am one blessed woman to have made it through. The nurses and doctors continually tell me they are amazed that I made it, I must have a strong will to live, No I have a God who decided it was not time for my children to be without a mother, and I have people praying for me all over the country and the world.
I spend the next week and a half trying to get my strength up to be able to go home. It feels like five trucks have run over me. Everything is difficult and the leak is still there. They said it was an inch and a half long and would not close with sutures. It was at the top of my stomach. The pill did not cause the leak, but probably irritated it thus causing all the pain that led us to finding out that I had the leak. The surgeon assured me the leak could have happened anywhere, it was how they handled that was wrong. They should have not done endoscopy, that puts air in the stomach and probably made that tiny hole much larger, and they should have NEVER REMOVED THE DRAIN. The drain is what keeps the infection from becoming so bad (draining out the puss and stomach fluids).
They sent me home with a feeding tube, a drain in my side and the abdominal incision still healing from the inside out. Nothing to eat or drink. Basically I was on a three month fast! At home I could be with my children, but even that was difficult. I was exhausted. Showering made me tired. My niece came to take care of me and my children, I needed the help. It was a tough time but I made it through.
The drainage tube then lodged itself into my stomach...a mixed blessing because that meant it need to be removed and I could begin eating, even with the leak not completely healed. Dr. Zorn said it would close up eventually and the tube from the drain created a tunnel that the fluid from my stomach would travel out of until it eventually closed. September 12 or so I went back to SD, he took out the tube and the site did not completely heal till about the beginning of December. Five months for the whole thing to heal.
It is now the beginning of January and I feel just about normal...they told me It would take a full six months to get back to normal. I was also told that IF I HAD STAYED ONE MORE DAY IN MEXICO, I WOULD HAVE DIED. I don't think they were exaggerating.
I never received one phone call from Dr. Huacuz to see how I was doing. We called him recently to tell him all about it, he minimized everything we shared with him. If you are considering him for surgery please reconsider. He does his surgeries in the evenings after working at another hospital all day long. This defies conventional wisdom. Wouldn't you rather your surgeon be fresh from a good nights sleep? I saw him go into surgery about six at night and then perform five lap bands. Another guy went into surgery at about nine at night and had a lap band removed, the VSG done and several hernias repaired. He was in surgery for about six or seven hours! It was two in the morning before they came out, all these people had worked the entire day before. Is this safe medicine? You be the judge.
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