- HEALTH TRACKER
Joseph Caruana, M.D.
Dr. Caruana upon first impression was kind, friendly, attentive, and very knowledgeable. Over time, my impression of him has remained the same, and I feel I was in very good hands during surgery. I have yet to meet with him for my initial post-op visit, so I cannot comment on that yet. I guess the onlt thing that I could complain about is the wait time to get an appointment, and the lengthy process. Synergy will not even allow you to meet with Dr.C for a consult until you have a letter of referral for insurance by your PCP and psychiatry consult, as well as any additional specialists you may see regularly, such as a cardiologist. Also, Synergy will not schedule your surgery until your insurance has paid for your first appointment at their office- even if they'ce already approved the surgery. It took an additional 2 1/2 weeks for Synergy to receive the payment from BCBS so that delayed getting a surgery date. The staff at Synergy Bariatrics is professional, compassionate, and very knowledgeable. You can tell upon first appointment that everyone there really cares, and loves what they are doing. Aftercare is very structured, and expected. There are follow up appointments at 10 days, 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 1 year, and annually after that. They do labs at a every visit. They have a full equipped fitness club in their office, complete with professional trainers and classes, which a 3 month free membership is included in your post-op aftercare. Dr. Caruana was very thorough at addressing the risks of surgery, as well as his own track record of complications and how they were resolved. He spent a great deal of time with me at consult answering a ton of questions, and really getting to know me personally. he was very thorough on physical exam as well. Overall, I would rate Dr.C a 9 out of 10, being that I believe there is always room for improvement, but he comes pretty close to a 10. He has done over 4000 open rny to date, and his track record is excellent. He is rated in the top 5% in the country. I believe his surical competence is excellent, he is able to complete his procedures in just 45 minutes, with a very minimal long line incision, mine is only 3 inches long. His bedside is equally good, being very caring, attentive, and addressing any issues or concerns right away. The only complaint I would have about the office itself is that their phone and answering system could use some improvement. Because their office is so busy, unless you have an emergency, there really is no way to speak directly to a human, you will get a voicemail to leave a message at all other options/extensions, and then in most cases you get a call back in 24 hours, that is even for scheduling/rescheduling appointments, as I had that experience this week.
My name is Amy. I live in Amherst NY which is 15 minutes from both Buffalo and Niagara Falls. I am 36 years old, happily married, and have two boys aged 16 and 9.
I was very thin through high school, only 108 pounds at graduation, but I had to work at it, I ate like a bird, and walked/rode my bike everywhere I went. I was actually a vegetarian for about two years at that time, not on purpose, but because the smell of meat made me sick! I think that is why I got so thin, started at 130 pounds freshman year, and ended 108 pounds senior year. On a 5 feet 4 inch frame, that is just too thin. I was wearing size 6 at the time, and swimming in it.
In college, I met my husband, and a little while later we were pregnant with our first son. I gained 87 pounds while pregnant! Mainly because I had an OB/GYN who was old school, said it was okay to eat for two, have a snickers bar and pizza every day! I never dropped any of that weight, try as I might.
7 years later, along comes baby number two, only gained 35 pounds this time, because I was very careful to eat right, and walk every day. I dropped all 35 pounds from nursing, and walking, and eating well after he was born, but months later, it just came right back.
Over the years, I've tried strict diets with diligent exercise 4-5 days a week- speedwalking on treadmill, weight training, , Slimfast, Weightwatchers, Alli, but nothing makes a huge difference. The most I lost was 40 pounds in one year, and I killed myself at the gym and restricting my food to get there- and was still obese.
I've had a few health scares in between. I few years ago, I was sitting at my table eating lunch when half of my face went numb! It lasted about 15 minutes. After seeing my PCP I found out that I had a TIA/mini stroke. He sent me to a top notch neurologist the very next day, ran tons of tests, only to find out that I was born with a hole in my heart! They put me on bloodthinners to prevent clots and were running more tests, and before my next followup with my neuro, I had a full blown stroke. Lost some minor vision & hearing on my left side. I was very lucky. They finally got me on the right cocktail of meds to prevent it again, but in the meantime I found a wonderful cardiologist who specializes in my condition, and in March 2008 I had my hole closed up forever! It was a life changing experience for me. That is when I got really militant about eating right and exercising every day. Dropped 40+ pounds in about a year.
But then... a year later, I started to get these crippling pains in both of my hamstrings. I could barely walk. It would come and go, but eventually it got to the point where I couldn't exercise, I couldn't do much of anything. I got very depressed. My PCP was useless. He thought it was a potassium deficiency- NOPE.
Didn't really offer to go any farther with testing. But when I mentioned it to my incredible Neurologist, and asked him if it could be a neurological problem, he was right on it! He immediately sent me for xrays and MRI, only to find that I had spinal stenosis, and two cysts sitting on my spinal cord which were right at the nerve center for my legs! He got me to a phenomenal neurosurgeon, Dr.Roget at UB Neurosurgery, and within a month I was on the operating table. Surgery was a success, But, the recovery was way more than I bargained for. I was basically laid up for 6 weeks, not able to even bend, or pick anything up more than 5 pounds. I ended up with an infection in my incision that they had to drain twice, which was quite painful, and delayed my healing. My back was very tight afterwards from the muscles being cut. I have a 3-4 inch vertical incision. But, I was determined to get back to the gym and get my back stretched out and feeling better! So I did, for about a month. My back was fully recovered, my legs felt great, but when I got on that scale- OMG! I had gained back all the weight I lost in that year, in only a matter of about 4 months. I was so discouraged, lost all motivation. All that hard work out the window.
Months later, I would try cutting calories, fat, carbs, hoping to see the numbers on the scale drop- nothing. I ended up gaining even more weight. I was afraid to get on the scale, but I ended having to go up 1 size of clothing, which I knew was a bad sign.
We went to Disney World this past March, and we go every year, but this time around, I couldn't keep up with the boys and hubby as well, the ride seats were more snug, even the seat on the airplane was tight- I was almost afraid I wouldn't be able to close the seatbelt!
Then, about a month ago, my legs, ankles, and feet suddenly swelled up, I was a little short of breath- at rest- and I was getting really fatigued. And I thought to myself, come on! I am only 36, I have already had way too many issues for my age! I went to my cardiologist office. My blood pressure was 149/89, resting heart rate was 90, way high for me. Then I got on the scale...256 pounds! Way more than I have ever weighed in my life. So, My doc put me on Atenolol for the BP and Lasix for the swelling. It hit me right then and there- it's time.
I had thought about WLS many times throughout the years, and read up on it too. But it didn't "hit" me until now. It's like anything in life- you have to be "ready". This is a whole life change, and if you're not completely ready, mind body and soul, it won't work. I am so ready.
I had my follow up with my PCP, and the meds are working, my BP is down to 107/70, heart rate 60, and I lost 8 pounds of fluid from the swelling in my legs. Wow- that was a close one. We were so worried about heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, kidney or liver failure, but all my tests came through just fine. It's my weight, isn't it? I asked him. He just looked at me with that "you already know the answer" kind of look. I asked him if he'd had patients who'd gone through WLS, how successful it's been, and if he thought I was a good candidate. He said absolutely. He gave me a referral for Dr. Caruana at Synergy Bariatrics - in the top 5 in the country for WLS, he works out of Sisters Hospital in Buffalo, which has a Bariatric surgery wing, rated in the top 5 in the country as well. I would be in good hands with him, he said.
So, I got the ball rolling, went on their website, researched their credentials, read patient reviews from various sites. Looks good! On their site it goes through the steps they require for WLS. I was originally going to have Lapband, but after much research, I decided on Open RNY. Open vs Lap RNY for a number of reasons, but Dr. Caruana's open incisions tend to be only 2-3 inches long - so that's not bad at all!
I attended the online information seminar. Printed out the registration packed, filled it all out and got it in the mail right away. I have appointments in the next couple of weeks with PCP, Psych, and Cardio to get recommendation letters. Once I send those to Synergy, They will call me to set appt to meet Dr. Caruana. After that they send all the info to insurance for approval, which should take 2-3 weeks, this office is known to be very efficient with that- but Iwill be sure to stay on top of it. Once that is done, they will call me with a surgery date. And in the mean time, I will attend appt with NUT, fitness trainer, and 1 support group session to complete their process. Then it's just pre-op tests and off I go. WHen I called Synergy, they told me if every thing goes smoothly - cross my fingers- then I should have a surgery date some time in November!
So, here I sit, in wait, LOVING the OH boards, getting as much info as I can before the big day, and the rest of my life begins....
I am now 248 pounds, 5 feet 4 inches tall, 42.5 BMI, have co-morbidities of arthritis, depression, hypertension...I get short of breath and tired just from a trip to the grocery store, my joints hurt when I walk up and down the stairs- which makes me afraid I will fall, and my back hurts all the time...and it will only get worse if I don't get some help to drop this weight.