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Surgeon TestimonialGeorge Mueller, MDDr Mueller is awesome! He is personable, confident and straightforward. He is a wealth of knowledge and has no problem sitting down with you and answering all your questions (no matter how long that might take). His staff is also absolutely FABULOUS! I've worked with other great doctors who have had poor staff, which made the overall experience a bad one - but not with Dr Mueller!! I can't say enough good things about Leti (the insurance coordinator, and in my case, my personal insurance hand-holder) and Laura (the nutritionist).
After surgery, I woke up from my sleeve gastrectomy surgery with no pain. Both Dr Mueller and his staff took an active role in overseeing my rescovery and my progress. I was really afraid that after surgery I would have been our on my own, but that is definitely NOT the case. I really have nothing bad to say about Dr Mueller at all. He rocks!!
The only thing that I didn't like as much was the hospital (Sharp Memorial). It wasn't a bad experience, but the nursing staff left a bit to be desired. But the overall hospital experience has improved quite a bit since I last stayed at Sharp Memorial a few years ago for a gallbladder surgery in 2008.
3 Week Post-Op & Surgery Story on August 30, 2011 12:11 pm
So it’s been 3 weeks since my VSG surgery. And can I tell you, WHAT a 3 weeks it’s been. I feel like a completely new person!!! I have energy, I willingly take my kids swimming (in a bathing suit… gasp!) and I look forward to the gym.
Now for the (impressive, if I do say so myself) weight loss stats: I have lost a total of 22 lbs in 3 weeks!! I have stalled for the last week or so, but I’ve lost inches, so I’m not super concerned. In fact, I’ve more than 4 INCHES off of my waist in 3 weeks. So yeah, awesome to say the least!!! And I've experienced literally ZERO hunger since surgery. Food just isn't exciting to me anymore.
Since my previous post, I did the 2 week pre-op diet, had surgery and had to modify my eating after surgery and I had to deal with my husband and other family members. I’ll go ahead and describe each of those items in a bit of detail.
First, the pre-op diet: I had a strict 3-4 protein shake menu, plus 1 small “Lean Cuisine” type meal per day. All in all, my diet is less than 1,000 calories per day. Since I had done the HMR diet in years past, which was surprisingly easy for me, I just went ahead and did that diet again – 5 shakes and 1 small pre-packaged meal. Very easy. I’m not saying that I never got hungry or had cravings, but with the volume of protein that I was ingesting, it was hard to stay hungry for long. And I had a big goal in mind – my surgery date of 8/8/11.
Right after starting the pre-op diet, I attended the pre-op class. It was ALL DAY and went through blood tests, hospital check in, the post-diet surgery, the hospital stay and all post-op prescriptions. It was very thorough and thankfully they gave me a binder with all the info in it, because there was a guy in my class who (I kid you not) was the most annoying person on earth. He interrupted the doctor and nurse about every other minute with some personal concern (I knew his entire life history after this class), and he asked the same question multiple times. Now, I GET wanting to get your questions answered, but I made sure that I had asked all my personal questions ALONE with my doctor during my individual appointment. Anyway, it was hard to listen to what they were saying when that guy kept talking – I sort of stopped listening. But when I got home, I made sure to review the binder in detail.
The day before surgery, I was allowed to eat a REAL breakfast but only liquids after that. I was too nervous to eat honestly, so I just had my normal protein shake day but I skipped the “real food” dinner that night. I also had to shower the night before with Hibicleanse antibacterial soap, sleep on clean (washed in super hot water) sheets and PJ’s, and then take another Hibicleanse shower the next morning. They weren’t taking any chances with infections, thank goodness.
I was scheduled for surgery at 8 am the following morning and I had to arrive at the hospital at 5:30 am. I ended up having a coworker drive me to the hospital and drop me off (she’s totally awesome, like an older sister that I never had). My husband had to get our 2 little girls ready for preschool that morning, so he was going to come to the hospital when I was still in surgery. So, I arrive at the Sharp Memorial Hospital at 5:30 am and I’m called back to the “S.P.A.” area to get prepped. Basically, I took off my clothing, they made me take another pregnancy test and they hooked up my IV. Then I sat and waiting for another hour or 2. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me. Now, the one thing I made SURE to do was to tell him that during my last (and only) other surgery, I felt awful for about a day afterward because the anesthesia had made me so nauseated. Like I couldn’t walk without barfing – think seasickness or morning sickness times a thousand. And with a surgery on my stomach, I imagined that throwing up was NOT a good thing. And thank goodness I did that – no nausea at ALL after surgery. It was night and day different from my last surgical experience! Then my doctor came in, made sure I had no questions, and we were off to the operating room. I then moved over to the new bed in the room and the doctor told me he was giving me something to make me calm down a bit. Boy did it ever! I felt a bit drunk for about 2 minutes…. Then I woke up in recovery!
Recovery: Now this was weird. I knew where I was and what was going on, I could hear everyone talking (nurses and doctors) and my brain felt like it was working OK… but I couldn’t open my eyes. Very weird! I lay like that for a few minutes before I was finally able to open my eyes. Then I got some pain medication, even though I wasn’t in pain, and fell asleep again. I woke up while being moved to my new room. And let me tell you, my room was AWESOME! Totally private and in the new wing of the hospital, and it was a corner room with ceiling to floor windows that overlooked pretty much all of San Diego. I totally lucked out with the room! My nurses were great, too. I was up and walking within an hour or so of getting to my room, and I had little to no pain. It was very surprising and, like I said before, a completely different experience from when I had my gallbladder removed 2 years prior. I had 5 very small incisions that really didn’t hurt. I was able to suck on ice chips for the first day with no problems, and then I was moved to Propel water the next day. I did manage to disconnect my IV line (there was a connection in the middle of the line from the bag to the needle in my arm) while in the bathroom. I didn’t notice until I saw blood everywhere on the floor. That was a bit scary! But the nurse came right away (like within 10 seconds) reconnected me without having to run a new IV and I was as good as new. I was discharged the next day.
OK, now for the family drama. I didn’t tell anyone about the surgery with the exception of a few people – my husband, my awesome coworker, my boss and my Aunt who has gastric bypass a year ago. That was it. I didn’t tell people because of my husband’s reaction. He was 100% completely and TOTALLY against the surgery. We fought about it for over 6 months, and he went so far as to schedule a shoulder surgery the WEEK before my surgery in an attempt to get me to cancel. (A side note, he’s needed shoulder surgery for years, but he decided to do it right before mine at the very last minute). Poor guy – not only did I not cancel, but he was left taking care of 2 preschool girls with one arm in a sling. That backfired for him badly. Anyway, now that the surgery is over and I’m not dead (that was his big concern obviously) and he can now see how great I feel, how much more energy I have (especially for certain “things” that I didn’t have much interest in before.. wink, wink) and how much better that I look, he’s much better about the whole thing. He’s turned from 100% NOT supportive, to completely supportive. Thank GOD! The other family drama that I had was with my Aunt. She knew I wasn’t telling anyone – I made it a point to tell her right off the bat that I wasn’t sharing with ANYONE until I was ready- but what does she do?? She calls my SISTER and tells her. So my sister was frantically trying to reach my husband to find out what’s going on with me, how I’m doing, etc. So now the cat’s out of the bag. My sister is very supportive, and I was going to tell her, but I wanted to do so on my own time, and I kinda wanted to surprise everyone in a few months with the “new” me. Now I also have to tell my parents because they would be devastated if they found out second hand. But, whatever… nothing I can do about it now.
Anyway, that’s my story in a nutshell. I really can’t believe I’ve done it, and it was SO incredibly easy for me. I was excepting some problem, some complication or lots of pain, but I got nothing. No energy loss, pain, nausea, nothing. I was back to work a week early (after only a week) and I actually worked from home starting on the Thursday after my Monday surgery (I was bored and I’m a bit of a workaholic). This whole process has been a dream. I just wish that this DAMN 3 week stall would let up!!!
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Approved!!!!! on June 23, 2011 10:26 am
I finally received my approval for surgery. Thank GOD! I did end up having to complete the remaining 3 months of dieting, which sucks, but was necessary. And honestly, it wasn't a big deal. I did end up gaining back about 6 pounds that I had lost in the first 3 months, but I'm back on the wagon now.
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So the plan now is to start the 2 week pre-op diet on July 25th, attend a mandatory all day pre-surgery class on July 27th and I'm scheduled for surgery on August 8th. I could have scheduled surgery for earlier - mid July - but I have a business trip at the end of July. So during my 2 week diet I will also be on a business trip that historically is one big booze/beer and food fest. Yeah... that's going to SUCK. But it will be worth it and I'm DETERMINED not to cheat.
Wish me luck!!!
Insurance Denial - WTF????!!! on March 22, 2011 9:39 am
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So I have been officially denied. This really sucks! Here is a little background. BCBS of IL had a 3 month diet requirement, which I met. They changed their policy on 3/15 to require a 6 month diet. I completed the 3 months and submitted to insurance in early March, well before the 15th policy change. BCBS of IL then denied me yesterday (3/21) because I didn't meet the new policy requirements.
According to the insurance rep, BCBS looks at the active policy requirements from the date of approval or denial, not from the date of submission, so even though I completed and submitted the 3 months of Doctor supervised visits AND I send in the paperwork before the 15th of March when they changed the policy, they are STILL making me adhere to the new policy. I'm trying to decide if this is worth appealing or if I should just do the remaining 3 months of dieting. What do you think?
I'm just pissed off! What was to stop them from holding onto my paperwork for as long as possible so that the decision hadn't been made by the time the policy changed, so that I would be automatically denied according to the terms of the new policy? What if they decide in 2 more months to change the diet requirements to 12 months? Like I said, I'm furious! What would you do if you were me?
Final Weigh In, Insurance Submission and Breast... on March 9, 2011 10:11 am
Today I finish my (hopefully) final weigh in and the doctors will submit for insurance this week. I am down another 10 pounds from last month, for a grand total of 28 pounds since beginning my journey in January. I am SO excited, nervous and scared all at once. I have never simultaneously both looked forward to and dreaded an event more. Even giving birth to my children didn’t have quite this level of mixed feelings. But I’m ready. I need to call the insurance coordinator this afternoon to ensure that they have everything that they need to submit to insurance, but hopefully this is the home stretch.
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On a side note, I had an abnormal mammogram a few weeks ago. I was sent for additional testing, including an MRI. It was terrifying – not so much because of the test (although the test was not pleasant) but because of the waiting and the possibility of something being wrong. I just remember lying on my stomach in the MRI machine crying, trying not to move while the tests were being run. I was picturing leaving my 2 little girls without a mom and my husband without a wife. I remember what it was like for me losing my mom at 9 years old – I couldn’t imagine what it might be like for my 4 year old and 2 year old daughters. It was probably one of the single worst moments of my life. But, every dark cloud has a silver lining – everything was clear. And I can now move forward knowing that I have had the most sensitive test for breast cancer currently known to man and it came back clear. So no more dread in the back of my mind that I will die of the same disease, at the exact same age, that took my own mother from me. Only blue skies from here….
Pre-Op Testing - DONE!!!.... And a Health Scare on February 22, 2011 8:30 am
2/18/11 - Yesterday I was able to get in with my primary doctor to complete the final tests needed for approval for the surgery.
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First, let me step back and say that I hadn’t actually talked with my doctor about doing the surgery because 1) it’s hard to get an appointment with her for anything less than an immediate medical concern and 2) because she is very gung-ho about losing weight the traditional way. I know, I know – I was being a HUGE chicken! I made my appointment with my PCP right after I had the initial consult with the surgeon, but it took over a month to get me in.
But to my surprise, when I went in with all of the pre-op paperwork my doctor was BEYOND supportive. She got teary-eyed (we go way back to when she had just joined her practice out of her residency and I was still in college. Our kids are about the same age and our kids go to the same preschool) and she was SO proud of me for taking this step. At our last appointment before starting down the VSG trail she threatened to put me on blood pressure medication (I’m borderline) and cholesterol medication (again… borderline) unless I lost the weight. That did it for me. It was one of the biggest reasons why I started this journey. I’m just SO happy to have her approval and her help going forward. It just helps me to solidify what a good decision that I’m making for myself.
All in all, the process was EASY. My doctor did the EKG in the office, she gave me a referral to get a chest X-ray and to get the blood draw for all the blood tests. I was able to run downstairs and get BOTH the blood draw and the chest X-ray completed within an hour. Cool, huh? I finally feel like I’m getting into the home stretch (or at least the 6th inning).
Now for the health scare. Last week you may remember that I had a mammogram done. I’m only 32 years old (I’ll be 33 in 2 months) but I was referred for a mammogram because my mother died at age 33 of breast cancer. My maternal grandmother also had breast cancer, albeit much later in life. So I know I have a high risk. To be proactive, my doctor had me go in for a baseline mammogram at 23 years old. My latest mammogram found an abnormality – although it is most likely benign, it scared the living $h!t out of me – for obvious reasons. I have only 2 months to go until I’m the same age my mom was when she died. So, in the midst of getting all the VSG testing done yesterday, I was sent for a breast ultrasound. Luckily everything came back looking normal, but to be proactive I have a follow-up MRI scheduled. You can’t be too careful and it’s better to err on the side of caution. I just hope that my insurance company feels the same
I am a 32 year old woman living in San Diego, CA. I am the mother of 2 precocious little girls, ages 2 and 4. I work full time at a job that I love, but I am also a full-time mom and full-time wife. This lifestyle has left little room for exercise, eating healthy and just generally taking time for ME. I wanted to start this blog to chronicle my weight loss surgery odyssey – my own journey to the end of the rainbow. I am starting my journey at a BMI of 41, and a weight of 273 – my highest weight EVER.
I have battled my weight for much of my life, starting at around age 10. My mother died of breast cancer when I was 9 years old, which lead to quite a bit of comfort eating. I was never really “fat” growing up – just “big boned”. I was tall (5’9”) and athletic. I was a champion swimmer and I swam from elementary school through college competitively. The swimming helped to keep my weight in check. But I was never skinny. I had a constant battle with food, but I was active enough to not have weighed more than 160 pounds while swimming.
After graduating from college, I found myself in the high-stress world of Corporate Sales. I am very good at my job, but much of it involves work behind a desk, long hours, a lot of travel and taking clients out to dinner. Much of my job revolves around food and alcohol – and I took full advantage. Over the last 10 years I have gained over 110 pounds.
And now, my journey over the rainbow begins….