- HEALTH TRACKER
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Dieter Pohl, M.D.
Dr Pohl was the first surgeon to agree to take me on as a patient after a few in Boston and another in Providence flat out refused to treat me due to liver issues & low platelets...after the seminar in January 2010, I spoke with him briefly explaining my situation, I made an appointment to see him and his response was "CIGNA is NOT covering the VSG right now, it's true you would not qualify for the bypass, but you may qualify for the band and I would recommend that, but let's put you through the process & see what CIGNA says...perhaps they'll be approving the VSG by the time you get through the 6-moth waiting/testing period..." I had my mind set on VSG...9/26/10 the approval letter was issued, I received it 10/15/10...
Through all my testing and talking with others, as soon as I'd say Dr Pohl...hospital technicians, customers at my work, friends and others all said..."You have the right Doctor...he's amazing"...I gotta say I agree! Both he & Dr Giovanni marry their patients...you're a patient for life...they care and they'll let you know when you're screwing up (not that I have, I just know from others...LOL). I had him take care of a hernia Friday 7/1/11...I was at work Sunday 7/3...luckily I had Monday the 4th of July off! He's also consistently on the Top Doctors list published by RI Monthly.
I'm now the VSG Spokesperson at their Monthly Seminar (2nd Wednesday of the month) at Roger Williams Hospital. Funny thing...after I was refused at Miriam Hospital, I went onto CIGNA's website & Dr Pohl & Roger Williams Medical Center were the preferred providers...and at the time the ONLY Practice & Hospital designated as a Center of Excellence...they got that right!
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When I lived in LA 89-92 I was bounced between 205-215, 92-94 in ATL was more 210-220...when I moved back up north to New England...I went from a career in F&B Mgmgnt working 60-72 hrs/week running my ass off to a 40-hr desk job...I put on 30 #s in 5 weeks...and slowly but surely I topped out at 389 last year in Nov/Dec...I scared myself...I recently got a new digital scale & discovered I was actually 393-394.Soooo....I'm on a 'let's get James healthy & in shape' mission....I'm pursuing/considering gastric weight loss surgery, have started seeing a nutritionist and since Jan, I've gone from 379 to 347 in April...32 down & 42 from my peak...basically counting calories......had my 4th nutritionist appt the 1st week in May and weighed in at 337....57# and today I clock in at 219-222#....70-75#!! Mom can grasp her hands when she wraps around me...at my biggest she could only touch the tips of her middle fingers...she'd display that by flipping me a double 'bird' LOL I'd love to get back to LA weight & shape...I used to be able to pull off a thong at Venice Beach! LOL Don't worry, that won't ever happen again! LOL
Cigna requires a 6-month waiting period to complete tests (cardiology, sleep apnea ,EGD, 6 mos nutritional counseling/non-surg weight loss planning, monthly visits w/pcp, psych eval) to show the probability that people will have and sustain a lifestyle change...some ins co's approve the procedure & people are under the knife in 3 months b4 having a chance to make changes...I don't actually think I'll be approved due to some other issues (liver), but am using this time to get my mindset & body headed in the right direction...cardiologist gave me a clean bill..no lack of blood flow, no obstructions, strong heart, not enlarged...got a CPAP Machine for my very mild case of sleep apnea (not really using it now), just had EGD second week in August (was scheduled for one this year anyway w/gastro in Boston), psych eval fine, and obviously the nutritional counseling is working....I'm tracking everything that goes into my mouth in intricate detail on line w/a food log on fitday.com...it would take 3635 calories/day to sustain my old body @380...so I had cut down my intake to 2800 cal/day or less...the weight was falling off...now I'm down to 2500 or less...I've not given anything up, I'm just aware of what and how much I'm eating now...I have a line in my online profiles on the various sites: "My old idea of dieting is getting 4 servings out of a pint of ice cream as opposed to the one serving we all know it really is!"...well, I no longer NEED a 12-16oz mug stuffed 2" high w/ice cream...my Edy's/Dryer's Slow-Churned Half the fat 4oz scoop actually DOES satisfy the craving...imagine that! And you know those Entennman's cakes & danish strips...you can actually get 8 servings out of one...I always only got about 3! LOL
I definitely don't qualify for bypass due to liver issues...I would not want bypass anyway...restriction & mal-absorption and a lifetime of supplements...I may qualify for the band but am not too keen about a foreign artificial body in my body...the newest procedure is a gastric sleeve where they do staple off, but also remove a portion of the stomach...not all insurance companies are covering it yet but they are starting to. When I met w/Dr Pohl (surgeon), he had just had dinner w/the Doc from FL that has done the majority of this newer surgery in this country...he will actually be coming up to do the first few w/Dr Pohl when they start doing them at Roger Williams Med Ctr...I've spoke w/a few people on-line that had the sleeve, who had spent a lot of time researching, had many friends do either band or bypass and they all are glad they opted for the sleeve...and they had to pay out of pocket for it...it's restriction like the band, but you still gain or don't loose the absorption functions that you do with the bypass.... If I do qualify for any, that would be the one I'd want to do...and if Cigna doesn't cover it by the end of the year, I'm certainly going to keep on track with what I'm doing now...I may not be approved anyway due to cirrhosis & low platelet counts, but I don't think I'm going to need it in the end anyway...what I'm doing is working, I just need to start and aggressively step up with an exercise regimen to keep it all going....
I met w/my Gastroenterologist/Liver Dr in Boston in May...he'd rather I get the band...he was THRILLED w/my progress...we've had an ongoing battle w/my need to lose weight...one of the first appts I had with him 8 or so years ago he said "I need you to lose weight...if you need a liver transplant, we won't do it at your size, it's too risky..." I stood up, reached over his desk & poked him in the belly...."Dr Afdhal, when you start losing, I'll start losing! Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?" Both he & his research assistant sat there w/jaws dropped...she said "I don't believe you just did that to Dr Afdhal!" I cracked another joke & got them to lighten up...and he followed up with "But James...I don't have liver issues...you do!" touche'! We've had that bantering relationship for some time...he always walks in the exam room not knowing what to exactly expect from me...LOL Thank god I didn't throw/give away all my old skinny clothes...I'm getting back into them, 2" at a time!
I took Aron my ex out for his b-day dinner last month...I hadn't seen his partner Randy since the holidays...I walked into their kitchen, he turned around and just WOW...Holy shit James, you look fantastic! After I started talking about my 'adventure' he stopped me short in the middle of a sentence, cocked his head and said..."James, this is going to sound weird, but I can hear you're thinner in your voice....when you would get on a roll w/a story, you would wheeze...you're not wheezing right now...I can hear you're thinner in your damn voice" It was a new revelation...blew me away...the more people I've mentioned this to, agree...but never noticed it cuz they see & hear me everyday...I hadn't seen Randy in 7 months...