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Jeffrey A. Hunter
I only felt like I had a real, personal chat with Dr. Hunter when I met him for my first post-op visit. Don't get me wrong, he was pleasant enough the first time I met him but that was just 10 days before surgery and he was all business. On that occasion, he was trying to establish whether I had done my homework...I think. He queried why I had chosen this surgery and I responded by asking whether he wanted to know why I had opted for weightloss surgery in general or the vertical sleeve gastrectomy in particular. He pointed to the latter but I got the sense that he was trying to suss out my state of mind rather than the particulars of the different surgery options. As I belted out my response, he either nodded in agreement or corrected any misconceptions of mine. I was very satisfied that he was a consumate professional who knew his craft. That was by far the most important criterion by which I assessed the man who was going to perform intricate surgery on me. That meeting lasted all of 10 minutes.
During my hospital stay, my perception changed a little. As I was being prepped for surgery in a very little, impersonal stall, like a plane waiting for take-off, Dr. Hunter popped his head in and his beaming smile showed a different side of him. We made small talk about my trip from Canada the previous day and then he said he'd see me in the theatre. That didn't materialise because I was knocked out no sooner was I wheeled into theatre.
We did meet post-op in the ward and during the barium test and, once again, Dr. Hunter was all business. He managed a wry smile once but his general seriousness made me wonder whether something had gone wrong.
Cut to our first follow-up meeting and he was a different man, attentive but jovial. He had lots of good information for me about diet and dealing with acid reflux. He was very careful to emphasise his availability to discuss any problems that I might have and invited me to correspond by phone or e-mail whenever I wanted.
The staff in general at Virginia Mason is outstanding, equally so Dr. Hunter's. I dealt with his nurse, Steve Geary who was very caring and extremely efficient at walking me through the various hurdles necessary to get to surgery.
Both Dr. Hunter and his staff have a clinical, almost robotic way of informing you of the risks of surgery. It wasn't quite the way the advertisers of pharmaceuticals on television reel off the side effects of their products, but you got the sense that this was a mandatory, legal commitment and there was no bullshitting around it. I'm a professional and didn't mind it but people who require more molly coddling might find it a bit impersonal.
Aside from the first follow-up, there's no structured after-care other than a three-, six- and 12-month follow-up, then annually thereafter. You're also invited to attend the monthly support group meetings and info sessions. They tend to cover all the bases and leave you a bit of slack to see where you slot in.
Overall, Dr. Hunter is one of the best medical practitioners I have ever encountered and would recommend him to my own family.
If you would like to see the end result of Dr. Hunter's work, please feel free to follow my progress via. my blog on Obesityhelp.com or visit my personal one at www.neevensoodyall.blogspot.com.
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