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Surgeon TestimonialRobert G. Martindale, M.D., Ph.D.
I recently emailed Dr. Martindale to see how he's doing. He was so nice as always. This man is amazing. I can't even imagine someone so thoughtful and passionate about a field like this, but he his truly devoted to helping those people like myself who have lost all hope of living anymore. I just hope he know's what a difference he's made in so many people's lives.
I went to see Dr. Martindale for the last time before he leaves for his new job in Oregon. I will miss him so much. I gave him a heart shaped box filled with Hersey kisses. I told him at this point I had lost 250 pounds. I had counted out the kisses and give him one for each pound I had lost. This man is amazing. He's been such an inspiration in all that he does for other. He took on my case when no one else would do it and for that I can't thank him enough. He's saved my life and my husbands. I can't ever repay someone for doing something so special for me. Dr. Martindale will be grately missed at MCG. What a shame to lose such a special surgeon.
I will have to tell you. I've been to now going on my fourth surgeon. Up to this point I was not 100% impressed with the ones that I had gone to. There was something about each one of them that held me back from wanting them to do surgery. I feel extremely BLESSED to have Dr. Martindale as my soon to be surgeon. This man is HIGHLY educated in this field. When we came in to meet me he was very friendly and kind. I felt like he was concerned about me. You could tell from the way that he talked about this that it was a passion for him to help people. He gave time for me to ask questions and did so very wonderfully. He made me feel very good knowing he deals with many patients that are over 500 pounds and has a true concern for those super obese. There are NOT many in this field that will even do surgery on someone these sizes, yet he takes the chance and helps us. What a man! Just to tell you some pluses. He takes the gallbladder out during surgery, he said it only take 3 minutes while your there. I said what about insurance, he said he doesn't charge them for it. He's done over 500 bariatric surgeries dealing with mostly high risk patients. He said to keep in mind he also does other surgeries such as hernia repairs, and other gastrointestinal surgeries, as well as be a professor, and he goes to other countries donating his time to help the less fortunate. He's done maybe 50 patients under 500 pounds the rest where over 500 pounds. He said the average BMI is 60, whereas most are around 45. I felt a huge relief that he's so experienced with high weights. The highest weight he did was over 900 pounds. I asked him about deaths. He has not had a patient die on the OR table. He has however lost 7 patients and he went into full details of each one, he said that patients had died anywhere between 8weeks to a year for various reason. He's only had 3 leaks. I asked him about certain patients and he remembered each one of them. That said a lot. Anyway I spent an hour and a half with him. He also knows and understands about my lymphedema. He felt that I would lose a good bit of weight from therapy. I could tell how he spoke that this was a passion. He said he does this surgery to save people's lives and give them life back. I fell in love with him. While he was talking to me I could see a glow around him. It was the most amazing experience, when we left I KNEW it was right and had major relief. I fully trust him and would put my life in his hands.
I orginally went to Dr. Gooden in Augusta. He said that he didn't have an OR table big enough for me. Dr. Goodens staff was fine, I just wish someone there would have asked prior about my weight instead of waisting my time and the surgeons time. I was disappointed. This is just my opinion I would not recommend some to go to this surgeon. I was not impressed with his office or how his program was set up for the obese. I am now going to see Dr Burrowes in Atlanta on the 29th of October.
I went to a Siminar for Dr. Duncan. I will say that I was quite impressed with this man. He is very smart, and had great dry humor! I would recommend him to anyone. His program is very well set up and he took the time after the siminar to talk with me personally. He only now does the Lap RNY. He does however have associates that do the open percedure too. I sent my packet to them and I'm suppose to go see him on November 20th. Provided I pick him to do the surgery.
Dr. Burrowes was a very informative, and smart man. The longer I sat and spoke to him the more I understood that he does this surgery for the soul reason to give someone their life back. His office was very nice. You can park on the 3rd level in the parking garage and go across the cross walk into the office building. Take the elevators to the 5th floor. It's not very far to walk. His office had chair with and with out arms. As a very comfortable couch. His staff was very kind and took their time with me. Once I got in the office I didn't wait to long. I was then taken back to get weighed and also they take your picture with some measurements. They had no problems with my husband accompanying me back there. We then watched a couple of videos. Dr. Burrowes is a huge fan of the Fobi pouch, which was designed by a surgeon in California (Mathias A. L. Fobi). (http://www.cstobesity.com) I knew going in that he was liked this percedure over the others. If you want to have that done you will have to pay out of pocket $4500. I told him that I could not get the funding for that and would prefer just the RNY without the Fobi. He had NO PROBLEM doing that. Infact he does SIX percedures. RNY, VBG, LAP-BAND, D/S DUODENAL SWITCH, and FOBI POUCH. He said that most insurance will only pay or allow the VBG and RNY. Any other would be out of pocket expense involved. My overall view of Dr. Burrowes was very impressed. He's definately on the HIGH end of the scale. His death rate is very low and he had done over 1000 of this surgery. He took the time to answer all my questions. He doesn't want an answer that day. He told me again all the risks involved. I got a very thick aftercare booklet that explained what I will be able to eat, things to expect, a long list of potential problems that can be resolved by the patient to cut down on calls to his office. It listed ideas for meals. I was extremely impressed. It also described what to expect 1-4 days. I guess what I most impressed about is how he does the percedure. He does it open with an incision of 2-3 inches long!! I know that he is a very skilled surgeon and feel this will be the one for me.
Well, I decided to go see Dr. Duncan today. Just wanted to feel him out too. I was very disappointed. I knew before I went that he doesn't want you to gain weight, but he wants you to do that for 90 days supervised BEFORE he will do surgery. I understand him wanting to shink the liver, but when I've been trying to diet since May this made me somewhat upset. I've been doing all I can. Not to meantion I was told on the phone that Dr. Duncan would be there. NOPE! He had an associate take a look at all of us. I was told one on one and I'm very upset that I went 150 miles to not ever see the surgeon. Total waste of my time. The staff is friendly, but people need to be told before hand the truth.
Boy it isn't easy! May 13, 2011 5:27 am
It has been awhile since I posted anything. I have to tell you, that since I lost being apart of my support group and with the loss of my parents last year, it has been so hard not to fall into old habits. I have found myself grazing at night mostly. I just want to eat anything I can. There is no reason. I guess stress, depression, who knows. It is hard though. This month will be 7 years since my surgery, I truly cannot believe that. I know in some ways since gaining some weight back that I feel like a failure simply because I allowed myself to get into a routine of such deep depression. I still have major issues with my previous jobs. The last two jobs I had just put too much on me. It wasn't worth all that I endured. So many hurtful people and for what, nothing. I was dealing with all that while attending to both my dying parents. I don't think anyone can even begin to imagine the pain and separation I have felt over these past few years. I still cannot seem to understand the harsh treatment or nastiness I have had to face. It only makes me go into a hiding mode. That is what has happened. I don't even want to see people anymore or do things. It is like my life is diverting back into something I hated. I need to stop it now before I cannot get out of this cycle again. I have found it so much easier to not have friends because I have major issues with trust even more now after being stabbed in the back over and over. Gosh, I have to figure out how to combat this. I know what I need to do, but it is easier to feel safe and not worry about being hurt.
Those who have asked, you can find me on Facebook facebook.com/amylhwilliams
I am a lot more picky on who I'll allow on my list, so if I don't know you, please shoot me a message when requesting to be friends.
Also, I'm still not able to reply on OH to private messages because OH has blocked me, if you have sent a message and I do not reply, that is why. You either need to email me directly [email protected]
or sign up on my facebook page. Like I mentioned in my last blog, I don't come here often at all anymore...
I'm leaving this quote for anyone reading to ponder, and it might help you to understand how I am feeling at this moment.
"Choose to align yourself with people who are like-minded in their search for simplified inspiration. Give those who find fault or who are confrontational a silent blessing and remove yourself from their energy as quickly as possible. Your life is simplified enormously when you don’t have to defend yourself to anyone, and when you receive support rather than criticism." - Dr. Wayne Dyer
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The pain is getting better January 15, 2011 12:49 am
Well, it has been awhile since I updated my blog. There have been a lot of people that have wondered what I've been up to. Kenneth and I are still out on the road. It has been quite an adventure. We love being able to make money while traveling. When we use to drive years ago, it was different. Now with all the technical gadgets life on the road is much different. I'm able to stay connected on the road all the time to the internet via Mifi from verizon. It is really nice to go down the road and still be able to get online to communicate with people. I stay on facebook for the most part now. So, you can look me up there. I've posted some photos on there of our truck. I'll post one here.
It was one year ago just a few weeks ago that my dad left us. I'm very shocked at the time lapse. It seems like yesterday and I feel like I have been in a dream this entire year. It is a feeling of like you are just wandering around almost floating in life. I have slowly started to heal from all the pain I have endured this past year. I went from losing my parents, to losing the support system I loved so much. It has been a very difficult journey for me to overcome the pain. It is still there. I miss the support group I created from the ground up. I have no will to start another one. I devoted a lot of time and energy into something that let me down. I'm disappointed in the outcome and the people I thought were friends. It seems once you stop working for someone you are no longer important to them or your co-workers that seemed to care before. Again, a lot of pain this has caused me. I still have times I want to cry about the whole thing. The tears are less, but I'm not sure when the walls around my heart will ever go away. I just think about how I was beginning to feel like I could trust again and then that happened. I have little trust in people again and I find myself becoming less and less interactive with people. I have found myself not wanting to have friends because I'm tired of the pain they cause me. You are less likely to get hurt when you have no one there to do it. Do not get my wrong I would LOVE to have one of those BFFs, but the ones who were there are now gone. Passed away, for that I am sad. I don't mean to be a downer. I have had good times. I really enjoy being out on the road. It gives you time to really reflect on things, clear your mind. I'm with the man I love, so I cannot ask for anything better than that! I'll try to update more often. As for my weight, I'm still holding on. I cannot say it has been easy this past year with eating. I've had times of what you might call a "relapse", but I'm only human. After almost 7 years since my surgery, I'm still glad everyday that I had it done. If I had not, I would not have been able to get the life lessons I have nor care for my parents in their last days. I'm very glad that before they passed on that they knew I was happy. I have a wonderful husband who has been so kind and tender throughout this process of grief.
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Where do I begin? July 29, 2010 11:23 am
Well, it has been a long time since I have posted anything and decided that it is probably the best time to do an update. A lot has been going on with me. I just finished up my externship at Margaret J. Weston Medical Center last week. They offered me a job, but I had to decline. Kenneth and I have decided to start our own business. We are taking a huge leap into this. We are going to be doing heavy haul freight movement for the military, along with many other types of heavy equipment like those huge windmills, excavators, combines, ect. We just finalized the paperwork to purchase our truck and trailer. I have been working hard to get everything in order for the company. All kinds of stuff has to be done, like the incorporation paperwork and all the regulations that go along with the trucking industry. I know most of you are probably wondering why we decided to do this being I am just about a week from completing my associates degree in Medical Office Management. I determined that at this point in my life I needed to do something else. I want to be able to spend time with my husband. When I was working with my last job I realized after I left that I missed out on so much, like spending more time with my parents, laughing more, just having a good time. I was so tied up in the job that I forgot about me and those around me suffered. I cannot continue to devote all my life to a job. Although I loved working with the bariatric community all these years, it is time to move on. I'm still around though, just need to do something I want to do for once.
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Some good news April 23, 2010 2:19 am
I hope you are enjoying the wonderful spring time weather. I have been having a blast with this great weather. I’ve been busy planting a flower garden. I still have several other plants and trees to get to complete everything. In the past I have not had the time to do things like planting a flower garden. Since my parents passed away I have found a huge void in my time and not working right now I am finally finding the time I have missed for years. In fact because I was so busy all the time I just found myself so tired that I did not even have time to exercise like I had wanted to. I have moved back to my childhood home and the great thing is the neighborhood is quiet and have nice roads to be able to walk. I have a path now that is over a mile that I have been walking each day, plus more roads to add to the walk later on. I was not doing this to lose any weight, just to do some toning and go look at the beautiful flowers all around. I have lost 6 pounds from just the walking and did not even intend to do that. I am still attending my college classes, I am into the 5th week, just 5 more weeks to go. Then I’ll be doing my clinical starting around June. I am very excited to get it done and graduate! I never thought I would be this far already. Just wanted to let everyone know how I was doing.
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Why I won't be there..... March 28, 2010 5:06 am
I wasn't going to say anything, but I think those people who I have supported throughout their weight loss journey have a right to know why you won't be seeing my face at support groups. I have been told to not attend since my leaving the program. I wrote a personal email to the COE of the hospital and this is the response I received. I will put out a portion of his letter back to me.
"As you are aware, there are several other support groups in the CSRA and I would think it would be more comfortable for you to attend one of them. I do not feel you and/ or your husband attending the Trinity Bariatric Support Group at this time would be productive. Once our new Support Group Leader is comfortable, and or time has passed, I may reconsider our decision."
Basically they are concerned that other people will still get the impression that I work for the bariatric center or am still the support group leader. I am very disappointed in the hospital's decision. I just wanted to make sure everyone out there who attends knows why I will not be attending. I am in the process of finding or starting another support group outside of the hospital. Thanks for all the support from those who truly care. This is certainly the time I needed support the most, but as you can see I have been kicked to the curb when I needed it most. I cannot be silent about this.
I just wanted to add that the past several months have been probably the hardest I have ever dealt with and then this happens. My heart hurts and I am so disappointed.
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Double Whammy March 8, 2010 8:22 am
My goodness. Where do I begin? The past several months feel like a whirl wind. In fact the past several years have felt like a whirl wind. I feel like I have been just floating around existing and not really living. You think that after surgery you will just immediately be able to put your focus on yourself, but that is not the case. Both of my parents over the years became very sick. My dad had battled cancer since 2000 when they removed a huge mass. It went into somewhat remission if you can call it that in 2004, then returning in 2006. He had a bowel obstruction and things just went downhill from there. All along he was searching all over for someone, anyone to get him a "life saving surgery". It never happened, but we all got more time with him and I feel furtunate that we had several more years, some people only get months, weeks to live with cancer. My mom then developed uterine cancer. She was unable to have a hysterectomy because of her heart condition. She had congestive heart failure and a pulmonary embolism in 1998. She never fully recovered and for years was unable to walk because she had approximately 25% of her heart function. She lived it and overcame. She was able to get around the house and out in the public with the use of a power scooter. I am extremely proud of have had the parents I did. They were inspirations to me. Even after such trials in their lives they always managed to live life. They enjoyed going to the YMCA when they were both able and would dance around in the swimming pool. That was the only way my mom was able to walk (well float) and feel like she was able to walk. They were magical together. This year would have been 35 years of marriage. When I was born they gave me the middle name "love" because they told me i was conceived in love. What a blessing to know that you were wanted and planned.
My mom the last few months was struggling very hard to not lose her leg because of PAD (pulmonary artery diesease). This is such a deadly condition and you think that people who experience amputations are mainly diabetic. I was so wrong. The older a person gets and the problems you have had over the years with circulation can contribute to this condition. Her right foot (toes) started to turn black and before we knew it she was losing the skin layers and it quickly went into gangrene. They did an amputation below knee and after several weeks in ICU the infections would not let up, even after so many strong antibotics. She also lost the love of her life (my dad) during all of this and they say people who love each other so much just struggle living without them. My grandparents were good examples as well, married almost 65 years and died within 10 months of each other. I never imagined my mom would leave so soon, but I know she is in a much better place and once again with my dad. She passed away on February 23rd. Just a few short weeks after my dad.
This photo was taken in 2005, 7 months after my surgery. My mom did not like to take photos, so this is one of the few I have of us together.
Since all of this went down with losing both my parents. I decided to stop working full time for the bariatric program I was working for. I am going to go back to school full time to finish my degree. I am extremely close to finishing it and then have an externship to complete. I managed in the midst of all this to not put myself first because I was so focused on my parents as a caregiver. They say that people who are caregivers do not lookout for themselves and I have realized I was doing this. I have since had a great release of stress in making these decisions and I am grateful I decided to put myself first. I have a high GPA that I have maintained and want to continue to maintain until graduation. I am on the president's list and I made a promise to my dad that I would finish my school. One of the last moments we had together he told me how proud he was of all I had accomplished and the people I have helped over the years. He wanted me to go good things. He wanted me to finish school and continue to work in the medical field. Where the journey goes from here, I do not know.... but I know my parents will be smiling down on whatever I decided to do. I miss them both dearly.
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Bariatric Ball January 17, 2010 1:09 pm
Things have continued to be busy. I just started two new classes at school and work is busy. It has kept my mind busy, which is good because it makes me really sad to think about my dad.
We had out First Bariatric Ball here in Augusta last night. We had a blast! I loved seeing all the patients who have changed their lives. They looked amazing!! It was nice to dress up. Kenneth even put on his tux and matching bow tie. I don't have a photo just yet of us together without out jackets. I'll post that one once I have it. In the meantime here is a photo. Kenneth was so sweet, he request "Lady in Red" and we danced. I just loved the moment. He is a wonderful husband. Everything that has been going on we finally had a moment to get out and have some time together. We had a blast.
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Heavy Heart January 3, 2010 7:24 am
Today was to be a joyous day, it is my husband (Kenneth) and mine's 15th wedding anniversary. I'm grateful that I have him in my life, especially right now. For this past year my dad has been really fighting his cancer. He was lucky because he first was diagnosed in 2000. Dr. Frizi at Eisenhower removed a huge basketball area in his colon. He was left having to have a ileostomy bag, but was always very happy and cheerful even in the worst circumstances. He went on to keep fighting this for many years and then was diagnosed with cancer in the bladder, but because it was colon cancer first, it was still considered colon cancer. The cancer then turned into a mess between his bladder and what little intestine was left. This caused what is called a fistula. This made both urine and stool to pass both ways. In doing this my dad was unable to eat and has been on TPN for 2 years. The fistula caused major problems in terms of infection because stool is not suppose to be in the bladder. For the past 2 year since this fistula developed he has been in and out of the hospital, many times near death, but he survived. He wanted so badly to have the fistula fixed and we saw many surgeons in the hopes it would be fixed. Dr. Chasen was willing to take the risk and on December 4th he was set to have exploratory surgery and possibly undergo a major operation. Unfortunately my mother became very sick during that time and he decided along with Dr. Chasen and my family that this would be too much of a burden to go through right now. My dad again several weeks ago become very sick again with an infection and this time his body just could not take it anymore. My dad has had multiple CT scans and because of his stomach size it has been hard to determine about any masses. The last scan he had Dr. Chasen pretty much confirmed along with the radiologist that there was some type of mass. This was going into the kidney and liver. My dads kidney's started last week to fail along with his liver. Today my dad passed away after a long battle, but he was a survivor. He went home to be with the Lord and I know he is in a better place now. I have a very heavy heart, but I have peace and comfort in knowing he is without pain now.
I needed to express my gratefulness to Dr. Chasen. He has been there this whole time, never giving up on my dad. He took the time to comfort me when I needed it and was there today with open arms while I was crying over my dad's bed. I also cannot say enough about the great people I work with, they have been there throughout these last few weeks of pain, all with open arms, along with many of your emails, calls, and hugs. It has made this easier, but it is still quite painful. I know each day will get better. The hardest part at this time is my mom. She is devastated about this and it is hard to be a rock when you want to fall apart yourself.
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Stronger than I think July 21, 2009 11:46 am
It seems that life never does get easier, but it certainly delivers the hardest things you can imagine. I often wonder to myself if someone can really endure heartache and pain long term. Everyone's pain and feelings are important to them. These past few weeks have been probably some of the most intense I have endured in a long time and now that some of it has passed I breath a sigh of relief and look back wondering. How did I do it??? How do we ever do it? The end results are always what makes us proud of ourself.
Last week everything in my world seemed to be falling apart, my mother-in-law took a horrible fall, which resulted in a compound fracture, they had to do emergency surgery. Here Kenneth and I are waiting for the surgeon to come out with good or bad news. Thankfully they were able to do something with her leg, it was the same leg that her knee replacements went bad. They had just told her that morning she would be good to go in about 3 weeks to have the replacements put back in, then she fell that day. My dad is still having a hard time. He was not hisself and found out his kidneys were not functioning. They have been doing dialysis for the past 3 days now, he is getting better. Then to top everything off, my beloved "surgery" cat, Luffa, had to be put asleep because he went into kidney failure and had multiple stones blocking him. It was horrible and I am sad. Over 5 years ago I went to visit my mother-in-law, she had that wild kitten outside that needed a home. Of course Kenneth and her had to let me see him, after that we just had to take him home. The poor little guy was sick for many months from a "cold" that would not go away, was taken to the vet many times, finally was able to get over it, but it was a long time and lots of vet bills. Thankfully he survived. I called him my surgery cat because I got him right after my weight loss surgery. I'm so heart broken and so are the other 3 cats. Everyone misses him so much. Rest in peace my dear kitty, we will meet again on Rainbow Bridge.
On a positive note, my term is over. I made A's in both classes. Took my finals tonight and passed! That's the part I have to ask myself, how did I pass with all this other stuff going on. That old saying that God does not give us more than we can handle is true....
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Update June 23, 2009 1:26 pm
Life has been busy! Workng a lot and going to school. It seems the weekends roll into the weekdays now. I will be happy when I am finished with school, but I still have about 40 credit hours left. Then I might keep going on. I am still trying to figure out exactly what I want accomplish with my degree plan long term. Ultimate goal I think I would enjoy being a physician's assistant. We are talking a lot more school for that! We shall see. I am entirely motivated. I must be going to school nearly full time and working full time. I never imagined I would be doing this!
The wonderful bariatric program I work with was recently in the southeast region Ladies Home Journal. We had an updated photo, but still missing a member of our team, Carla. It is great to see our program growing. I love working with the patients, and nothing makes my job anymore enjoyable!
(Left to Right) Dr. Chasen, Cathie, Connie, Tosca, Bryn, me & Dr. Blaney (missing Carla!)
This past month I had a wow moment! I shared it with my support group and wanted to share it here. I took CPR. One thing that worried me was how I would get on the floor with my lymphedema. Plus, I don't just get down on the floor! Well the time came and the instructor asked if anyone has issues with their legs or knees that they could not do the training all day on the floor. I thought about raising my hand, but before I did that, I wanted to see what I could do. I got down on the floor, I was like WOW! I can do this, then I started the training, got on my knees. I was like I can do this! Then came the part I did not think about! How in the world am I going to get up??? Before I could give it a 2nd thought I was up! I'm now certified in CPR and using an AED. I had a great time and was so proud of myself. I'm doing things I never dreamed of!
Only have about 4 more weeks of this term and on to the next. I'm excited!
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