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After researching Lap-Band surgery and reading about the things that could possibly go wrong, I began to research having VSG surgery instead. While on my laptop late one night I began to read about having VSG surgery in Mexico. Since I would have to pay out of pocket for my surgery, I found the price of surgery in Mexico very appealing. I have health insurance but WLS is an exclusion on our policy. When I first thought of surgery across the border, I had some crazy thoughts of what that could be like. My daughter's boyfriend was raised in MX and as I spoke with him, he explained to me about medical tourism, how thousands of people cross the border each week to have dental work, medical treatments and surgeries.
As I began my research, I first thought of TJ because of the cost factor. For personal reasons, I decided that was not for me. That was when I found endobariatrics.com and Dr. Alvarez. I read every testimonial I could find about him. I knew in my heart, he was the right surgeon for me. He was closer to my home, I would not have to fly to California and back when I live in the Midwest. Piedras Negras is a safe border town, no worries about the safety of crossing there. When I read that they would transport my husband and I from San Antonio to Eagle Pass, TX and it was all included in the cost, I called Susan (the coordinator) and began the process of filling out the paperwork. Susan was so sweet and took the time to answer all my questions. I was approved for surgery within two or three days, Susan and I worked out the best time for me to make my trip and set the date.
I flew to San Antonio with my husband on 8/01, we called the hotel shuttle as soon as we arrived at the airport and they picked us up within 15 minutes. We went to the hotel, left our bags and decided to go to Walmart to get some things we forgot to pack. Called the shuttle and they took us back to hotel, my sleeve sister had arrived by then so we waited together in the lobby for Rosy to arrive to drive us to Eagle Pass.
Once we got there, Rosy checked us in to the hotel and told us what time to be ready the next morning. We went to our room for a nap, later walked down the road to Chop Chop and had a bowl of tasty egg drop soup for dinner. Back at the hotel, we sat by the pool and enjoyed a quiet evening.
Rosy picked us up the next morning at 7:20 and we took our ride across the border to the hospital. First we met Dr.Alvarez, he is the kindest man. He spoke with us individually and I felt completely at ease and confident that I had made the right choice. My husband said he felt the same way when we were in his office speaking with him. They take your "before" photos, weigh you in and then Jessica takes you upstairs to a room. The hospital is older, not fancy like the hospitals here, but do not let that scare you. It is CLEAN and the staff are very skilled and take really good care of you. Most of them do not speak English but Jessica interprets for them. Once in the room, you relax for a minute, then you are off to the lab and XRay. Once that is done, you go back to your room, get your gown on and wait for your IV. This is always the worst part of surgery for me! The nurse got it right the first time and I was so happy about that. It was about an hour, they came with the gurney and put me on it, they gave me something to "relax" me and I remember nothing else. That was about 10:30 AM, I woke up at 5:05 PM. I asked my husband first thing, did they not operate on me? I had NO pain. Seriously. I had imagined how painful this would be, I was so wrong! I got out of bed and went to the bathroom, in shock that I was not in severe pain. I had NO nausea, no severe gas pains, nothing. The first night, the staff are in and out so much it is hard to sleep so I walked the halls a couple of times during the night. My husband slept on a futon bed in my room and he slept well.
Day after surgery, you get ice chips. Yeah!! Your mouth is so dry, they taste so good! I did have some slight chest pressure when I was able to have ice, walking helped to ease that. Later in the day you get to sip room temp water. That caused a bit of heartburn, nothing bad though. They took my IV out that evening, gave me a sub lingual pain pill and a sleeping pill. I slept all night long.
Next morning, Dr.A and Dr. Gabe both come to see you, give you your instructions for home, your pain meds and antibiotics. You also get a yummy cup of grape juice for the drive back to San Antonio. After you say your good byes to the staff, Rosy loads you into the van and you begin the drive back across the border. There are 3 checkpoints crossing back in to the USA, the stops are very brief, they check your passports and they asked us our names. It was very quick and painless. The drive back to San Antonio is fairly bumpy, I would advise you to take a pain pill before you leave the hospital that morning. Rosy stops about half way at a small convenience type store so you can move around, use the restroom and get another drink. Once you get to the hotel at San Antonio you can go to Walmart on the shuttle for broth and jello. The rooms have microwave and mini fridge. The hotel shuttle took us to The Quarry so my husband could eat a meal and I could walk for a while. It feels good to move around after being in the van. The hotel is nice and the shuttle drivers were always so nice.
My husband and I flew home the next day. That was my hardest day, I think the air travel was stressful and I was so worn out by the time we got home that I had a low grade fever. I called Susan, She assured me it was from the stress of traveling and I would be fine. The next day I was!
I cannot express how grateful I am that I found Dr.Alvarez. Do not hesitate to go to him for this surgery, if you are considering surgery in Mexico. There are others that cost less but this is not about the money. He is a very skilled surgeon. He has many other patients that will tell you how good he is, not just me. My husband was totally impressed by him and that is something that never happens! Jessica took him out for lunch while i was in recovery, she even took him and I to the convenience store next door so I could get some candies for my daughter's boyfriend. I had a wonderful surgery experience, I cannot explain what it feels like to wake up and not feel pain immediately. His staff are all so kind and they take very good care of you. There is phone for patients to use to call your family while you are in the hospital. There is one of his staff at the hospital night and day that speaks English so you do not have to worry about that.
One month out from being sleeved, I have lost 21.5 pounds and many inches. My incisions are healed and I have had very little pain. Eating is a new experience! When he removed most of my stomach, he also removed my hunger. It is truly odd to cook for my family and not have the desire to eat. Every day gets easier, you learn what your new tummy likes and does not care for. I am looking forward to the months ahead. To no longer having to take meds for diabetes, cholesterol and blood pressure, no longer having pain in my joints. Being thinner is wonderful but leaving behind comorbities is awesome! Dr. Alvarez says he is changing lives, one sleeve at a time and that is true. He has changed my life for the better.
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