- HEALTH TRACKER
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I, like many of you reading this, did not originally plan to go to Mexico to have surgery. My journey started out with the knowledge that the path I was on was not helping me to be successful in losing weight and becoming healthy. I knew WLS was a good option for people like me, so I started tentatively looking into it.
Then, one late night I stumbled across a You Tube video of someone who had WLS called the Gastric Sleeve (VSG). I liked that it was a restrictive operation and not a malabsorbtive (did I spell that right?) one. I looked into surgeons here in my area (outside DC there are ALWAYS options) and checked into my insurance. The insurance is where I hit a road block. My insurance coverage was minimum, required numerous hoops to jump through (that were not covered), and was likely to not cover the VSG in particular. I could not afford to pay what amounts to 15-20K out of pocket for surgery in this area.
However the idea of having the surgery stuck in my head, so I continued to troll the internet and You Tube for videos of people who had the VSG done. In this process, a number of people had mentioned Dr. Alvarez, and I found his videos as well, offering some really helpful information on all kinds of topics about the surgery, as well as before and after. So I researched Dr. Alvarez in Mexico, and I liked his personality and his background and training. I talked to a number of former patients, and even did a background search on him. I was nothing if not complete in my research… and I honestly wonder if I would have done the same amount of research on a US doctor. What I found was expert training, excellent patient care, complete and continued subject knowledge and superior experience. Dr. Alvarez is conservative with his patient care and surgical techniques, all in an effort to create the absolute best outcome for his patients. The small hospital, though older and still being updated, was clean and the staff well trained. The location in Mexico was quiet, and really similar to other small towns around the US. His entire team was wonderful, from phone conversations with Susan, who worked with me and answered all of my questions, to Rosy his driver, his patient coordinators in the hospital who spoke English, everyone was wonderful. My hand was held the entire time, and though I had someone with me, I feel confident I could have done this on my own.
Going to Mexico is not without it's drawbacks. The biggest issue in all of this was finding aftercare in the US. However I found a nutritionist covered by my insurance, a support group for WLS patients, and my GP (who is familar with WLS patients) agreed to support my medical needs, should any arise. I advise anyone considering going to Mexico to set these things up IN ADVANCE, so you are not wondering what to do after the surgery. Many US bariatric surgeons will not support aftercare if you have the surgery done in another country.
Though I chose to go across the border because I am what amounted to a mostly self pay patient (in Mexico I can pay less than half of what it would cost me in the US just for out of pocket costs for the surgery), in the end it is less about cost, and more about the doctor you choose… and I felt confident that Dr. Alvarez was the best doctor I could have chosen. I had my surgery over a month ago, and I have had ZERO problems! Thanks Dr. A!
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I am a wife, mother, professional, currently a student, and I am fat – crept into that Morbidly Obese category in the last 5 years and despite my efforts to change (every diet known to man I think), I am back, again, to just under 300lbs. (I am 5'9") I was over 300lbs I think, about a year after my son was born (just after ending breastfeeding him, but still eating like I was), but I kind of regulated out to about 293 or so. I have been considering WLS for those 5 years, but I just wanted to try something else before I did it, thinking it would be admitting failing. I did not want to get a Gastric Bypass because I did not want to be unable to absorb all of the nutrients from my food. I also did not like the band because it was not as effective, and re-operative rate for the band looks to be about 90% after 5 years. Then, one late night a few months ago I stumbled across someone who had WLS called the Gastric Sleeve. I liked that it was a restrictive operation and not a malabsorbtive (did I spell that right?) one. I looked into surgeons here in my area (outside DC there are ALWAYS options) and checked into my insurance. The insurance is where I hit a road block. My insurance pays only 50%, after deductable ($2500) and only up to 10K max, for anything and everything associated with the surgery (i.e. the pre-op testing, nutritionist, any therapy or psych evals). Then, in addition, it requires you to complete a 3 month multi-disciplinary diet program (which it will not cover) before they will approve you. I have done 5 years of various different multi-disciplinary weight loss programs – and I do not want to pay what amounts to 15-20K out of pocket. So I researched and researched and researched and found Dr. Alvarez in Mexico, and I liked his personality and his background, and talked with former patients and got in contact with Susan. I chose to go across the border because I am what amounts to a mostly self pay patient. In Mexico I can pay less than half of what it would cost me for out of pocket costs for the surgery, for what I feel are Doctors who are just as good as those in the US. I am still going to go to therapy on my own, cause I know my problems with food are mental, less than hunger related. However, all of these, the surgery and the therapy are tools I feel strongly now will help me succeed. So, I shared this with my mother, my rock, the woman who has supported me (literally) through thick and thin, the person who I have gone to any time I felt like I needed help. She has similar problems with weight, as well as high blood pressure and diabetes, and her and I have commiserated over our physical and emotional struggle. At first, again, she supported me, even offering to loan me money to pay for the surgery. Then, within days, before she actually gave me the money, she had a complete turn around. I can understand the money side of it, she is having some financial problems so she cannot offer the additional funds. No problem. She is also now freaking out about me doing the surgery in the first place, much less in another country. She tried to prevent me from doing this by saying she will not be going with me, and thinking that I would not be able to get the funds from other sources. I was so disappointed, not in the money, but that she would so adamantly state she could not and would not support my decision. I know this is fear talking as well as lack of knowledge. She has always been so vehement about the fact that she would support me no matter what, if she agrees with me or not. Guess she did not mean that. I will say this however – my husband, though he has his own concerns, is supporting me 100%. He will not be able to go with me to Mexico unfortunately, because he just started a new job, and we need someone home to take care of the kids, but he would be with me in a heartbeat. He is such a wonderful man, and has made so clear to me that he loves me now, and will always love me no matter what size I am. I feel so blessed to have found such a great guy! (I found him on the internet too!!) SO here I am, facing a momentous decision, with the potential for life long change. I have done some soul searching, as I do not want to make a decision in haste. We all know, obesity is a big social ill – its just not acceptable to be fat. I have experienced some of this in looks and whispers people did not know I could hear... especially in places where I might be ordering food. This decision is not about making myself acceptable to others... its about how I FEEL. Yes, I know you can be fat and healthy and skinny and unhealthy, but I am trying to be comfortable and healthy, only because I feel like my weight is holding me back from what I want to do and how I want to be. I feel that I am held back in my career, not because of deliberate actions of people, but because I do not feel comfortable or as confident as I want to be. I want to get out and run and take my kids to the amusement park to ride roller coasters, but I feel so tired all the time and I do not fit into the seats. Hell, I barely fit into the car comfortably. When you are told that you are MORBIDLY OBESE... and you need to lose weight or you will begin to have some serious health problems, and when you see your mother have those same health issues and craziness about food... you become a bit warped emotionally about your weight and health. I want to focus on both outcomes, the weight loss and the improved health, and my concern is that I am not doing myself any favors with this yo-yo back and forth I have been doing over the last 5 years or so I have been really trying to lose weight. I do not want to try again only to fail again. I keep feeling like this will be the last diet, I can do it, and then I hit that wall... I am not sure what else to call it, but it’s at about 40-45lbs, where my body just goes WHOA NELLY. Everything screeches to a halt and I start feeling like I am STARVING. My sugar cravings go through the roof and next thing I know, here I am again. You know when alcoholics or drug addicts hit bottom - they finally come to the realization that they cannot do this on their own and they need help or they will be right back on the drugs or alcohol? I have hit my proverbial bottom - AGAIN I am within single digit pounds of hitting 300 - and I promised myself I would not go there. So here I am. Making a decision for me, about me.