- Name: Chandra A.
- Username: SweetMsRE
- Location: Nashville, TN, USA
- Member Since: 1/9/2007
- BMI: 25.0
- Hoping to have surgery
- Surgery Type: RNY (05/19/08)
- Surgeon: Hugh Houston
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Surgeon TestimonialHugh HoustonI believe Dr. Houston to be a very competent surgeon. Even though my BMI was very high he was still able to do my RNY laproscopically. Dr. Houston is a \"to the point\" kind of doctor. He tells it like it is and I am very OK with that. He did a great job on my surgery and that's all a patient can ask for because everything else is up to me using the tool he provided. His office staff are friendly and very prompt about getting answers and returning phone calls. I have nothing negative to say about Dr. Houston or his staff. They did an excellent job.
- Family & Friends - My best friend Kitty... we are one soul in 2 bodies.
- Cats - Garfield is just as contrary as the one in the comics. Go figure!
- Movies - I love ALL movies and watch about 4 new ones a week. Thanks Netflix!
- Music - I am a singer trapped in a body that is tone deaf. American Idol look out!
- Shopping, Bargain Hunting & Auctions - If it can't be found on clearance then I don't need it. I love a good deal!
- Cooking & Baking - You don't get this big and not know how to throw down in the kitchen.
- Camping - My best memories as a child was camping. Nothing like sitting by a campfire.
- Philosophy - I love a good debate. It's as necessary to living for me as air.
- Dancing - I LOVE to dance! Do a lot of seat dancing in the car.
My New Birthday! on May 27, 2008 10:05 pm
At 5:30am on Monday, May 19th, I went to Centennial hospital in Nashville TN and turned my life over to the hands of Dr. Hugh Houston. When I got to the hospital the front desk persons were not even there yet. I was the first one in the waiting room. I saw a couple other ladies come in holding over night bags. I noticed a couple of them were carrying some extra pounds like myself and would later find out that they were on the same journey as myself. The first thing was a urine test which I was surprised I could actually pee in a cup considering I hadn't drank anything since midnight. After that, I was taken back to a room where I was given my "gown" and my vitals were taken. They then made sure I had no jewelry on so I had to take out my nose ring. The nurse then asked a few general questions and told me that they would be in shortly to take me to get my IV. She wasn't kidding when she said shortly either. No sooner had she left than here they (or he rather) came in and wheeled me away. Shortly after that, the anesthesiologist came in and introduced himself. They put an IV in the underside of my forearm as well as gave a "concoction" through that IV to sedate me so that they could put the IV in my neck. Let me tell you, that I was feeling no pain when they put that one in my neck. Not long after that, I was wheeled to the surgery suite. I can remember laying on the bed and it moving and looking up at the florescent light panels flash by... and I was smiling. Not only because the anesthesia concoction made me loopy but because I knew that my life was about to change in the best way. I was so darn happy! I grinned from the time I left my home until I faded to sleep from the anesthesia. When I woke up, I was in recovery. They monitored my vitals and then after about 30 minutes they moved me up to my room. I was not allowed to drink up to 24 hours after surgery. But, the nurse got me up to walk 4 hours after surgery. I really did not mind walking. I was sore but it was a tolerable pain. Then again, I was hitting the morphine button every chance I got. I walked a lot while I was in the hospital. The first two days, I walked about 6 times a day and my nurses were so impressed. Getting up and down was painful. My surgeon said it was because the biggest incision (one out of 6) was about 1 1/2 inch long on my left side because they had to pass the stapler through that one and that he sutured through the muscled under it to prevent a hernia. I will not sugar coat it. It hurt so very bad when I got up and down. It did not hurt laying still or siting. But, any movement would darn near make me cry. No matter how much you try not to use your stomach muscles, inevitably you will use them and it will hurt. During the time I could not drink, I could use moistened mouth swabs to rub around my mouth which helped. What I really liked them for was getting the dried skin off my lips. Ewww! My throat was kind of sore from the breathing tube but that wasn't too bad really. I didn't have much of a voice for a couple days. On day 2 they started me on clear liquids. Three times a day they'd bring a tray that would have two 8 oz cups of tea or sugar free drink, a popsicle, chicken broth and jello. I only ate the jello once and that was about 2 bites. I always drank the tea but rarely the other drink. I never ate the popsicle and only a couple times took a few spoons of broth. I just absolutely didn't want to consume anything at all. By the second day, I was spending most of the day sitting in a chair when I wasn't walking or sleeping. I was allowed to go home Thursday around noon. The ride home was rough. Every little bump hurt. The next couple days at home were not pleasant at all. I was in so much pain. I could not get comfortable and every movement hurt. By Sunday I felt considerably better and by Tuesday (one week and one day after surgery) I felt VERY good. The body's ability to heal is amazing. I couldn't believe the difference a couple days made in how I felt. During the worst pain, I did what most do and wondered if I'd made the right decision. Today, feeling so good, I know I did. On Thursday, I will have my follow up with my surgeon and I'm so excited. I've already noticed changes. My ankles used to swell badly. They would get so swollen and they would hurt so bad after minimal walking. Since surgery, I have not had swelling in my ankles and for the first time in along time can actually see the veins in my feet. It's amazing! I wish I would have made this decision much earlier but I'm glad that I made it.
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Journey to Approval on April 12, 2008 7:16 pm
I had full intent to post regularly but ehhh that didn't happen. I think I was scared that I would go through all the work to meet insurance requirments and then get denied. So, I guess I was just holding my breath all this time. It's taken me a year and 3 months to get here. That may seem like a really long time and I suppose it is but I paced myself. A lady I work with who had WLS blessed me when she told me about OH. She was a veteran and I turned to her for advice and guidance. One of the things she told me that was invaluable is that it took over a year for her to get approved as well. She said that though at the time she wanted time to pass faster, in hindsight she was thankful for the time because it allowed her to prepar mentally. So, that is the way I approached it. Just a slow and steady pace. I knew what I had to do and I did it.
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I suppose that while going through the 6 month doctor supervised diet I could have gotten other things out of the way like the psych evaluation. But, in all honesty, the psych evaluation was $295 and I knew I wouldn't have the money until Jan 08 when money was put into my medical spending account. Because of that, I spent 07 concentrating on the documented diet. I met with a nutrionist through my PCP. I really didn't like the nutrionist. It had nothing to do with nutrional information but rather with his demeanor. Before I met with him, we spoke on the phone and he was vague about how I'd be billed and went on to say that he would work with my insurance if there was any issue with him being covered. But, once I got there, all of a sudden he didn't remember our conversation. He rushed through the consultation and went on to lecture me about what insurance would and wouldn't cover. However, he knew very little about my insurance requirements. I made sure to tell my PCP at my next follow up appt.
I then started on my 6 month diet. I was my PCP's first patient to try to get gastric bypass but he and his office was very supportive. I knew that I had to have 6 month of documented diet. My policy did not say it had to be consecutive but Centennial said it was best for it to be so that they could not come back later and deny me for that reason. I found through all of this how important it is to surround yourself with those who are knowledgeable. I primarily used OH to research hospitals and surgeons. Now let me preface this by saying that in no way am I demeaning other surgeons or hospitals. But, when I read reviews of area hospitals, Centennial consistantly came out on top. While the facility is important, to me the staff was as much so if not more. I've never had major surgery or be in the hospital overnight.
So, I tried very hard to maintain the diet and made sure I went in and weighed every month. This went from Feb 07 until Sept 07. I gained then I lost. At the end, I was 1 lb less then when I started. Frustrating, but just further went to show why I "needed" this. Once the new year started, I had funds in my medical spending acct to have the psych evaluation done. I had my psych eval done on Jan 18 08. I then began gathering my medical records. This took longer than I would have liked because I had to get a medical release form mailed from my prior PCP out of state. I got her records faxed to my current PCP. I faxed over the packet/ forms that Centennial gave me the prior year at the seminar to Centennial. I had my PCP do the "letter of support". Once all of the medical records were together they were faxed to Centennial on March 10th. Centennial called me back and asked for lab work to be done and to schedule a nutrional evaluation with them. I went into my PCP on March 14th for the lab work and the nutrional eval was done on March 24th
At the nutrional eval, I met with Centennial's nutrionist and she went over a packet detailing my diet after WLS. It was very informational and I have wore it out already reading and re-reading. And highlighting. Centennial faxed my paper work to BCBS of NY (Excellus) on March 27th.
At this point, after burning the diet packet into my brain, I started thinking about a few things. I had seen a post on the OH TN board about soda after WLS. And, I got to really thinking. Soda has always been a huge addiction for me. And, I must tell on myself. Because food is an addiction like alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. There were times that I would run out of coke and frankly be too lazy to drive to the grocery. So, I would order delivery pizza just to get a 2 litre of Coke. In hindsight, it was overly ridiculous. But, that has been one of the ugly things about my diet or lack there of. I'm ashamed when I think about that. I could put away a 2 litre in a couple hours. I could come home from work and easily drink 6 cans of soda. Very stupid on my part considering the high calorie and sugar content.
But, now I know that I'm getting ready to make probably the biggest life altering choice I will ever make. I got to thinking that if I'm going to be really dedicated to this, I needed to go ahead and get on with it. On March 28th, I started weening myself off of soda. I guess it's kind of funny now. Once I set my mind to it, it wasn't as hard as I thought it would be. Yet again, I paced myself. I just didn't bring the same amount into the house. I bought a big case of bottled of water and bought cold brew tea. Now for the first week I was still making tea with granulated sugar. But, I replaced the majority of soda with water or tea. After the first week, I then cut back the coke more and replaced sugar with a Wal Mart knock off of Splenda. Now, I had heard mixed reviews on the "fake" sugar. I've heard some say it tastes bad because of an after taste. Being a southern woman who's drunk sweet tea my whole life, I have to tell you that I think it's OK. I don't find it offensive to the palette. I actually think it's pretty good for the fake stuff. I'm find more and more than soda is not tasting as good to me. Who'd thunk that would have ever happened.
I want to be fully ready the day of my surgery when I walk into the hospital. I want to know that I'm going to be OK mentally that I can't drink soda anymore. Right now, I am OK with that. My next thing is to get the carbs out. So, over the next couple weeks I'll be weening myself off of bread, pasta and potatoes. I'm really don't crave those kind of foods much. So, I hope that process will be painless.
On March 31st Centennial called to say that BCBS is requesting additional information on my diet. BCBS wanted "information on the last 6 months of diet". Huh? I hadn't been on a documented diet during that timeframe. Centennial suggested I just work up a food journal as best as I could for the last 6 months. I decided to do double duty. I went back to Feb 07 through current just to make sure they couldn't come back and say what I gave them wasn't what they wanted. I faxed that to Centennial on April 4th and they faxed it then to BCBS. I called BCBS on April 7th just to make sure that what I sent was acceptable. I spoke with a frontline claims rep who really wasn't very helpful. He said he could not yet see the document I faxed and that it takes 5 days for it to be in their system to be reviewed. Well OK. I asked if there was someone assigned to my claim and he could not answer that. He said there is a dept who reviews claims. OK, then can I speak to them? "Ma'am, I can't even speak to them." Well, OK. He said to give it until April 14th. I called Centennial and they assured me everything is OK and not to worry. This is normal. So, I thought to myself, I'll make my next call on the 14th.
On April 9th, I was at work and was wallking outside on my first break. I had my cell phone in my hand and it began to ring. I flipped it open and looked at the display and realized from the prefix that it is coming from the area of Centennial.
"May I speak with Chandra?" I said "This is she". "This is Holly from Dr. Houston's office and I was just calling to tell you that you are approved and to set up your consultation appt." I stopped dead where I was standing. My legs went weak and I thought they were about to go out from under neath me. I started shaking and I tried to talk but I was choked up and my voice caught in my throat. I started to cry. I was not crying over how long it had taken to get there. I was not crying because I got scared of having my guts sliced and diced. I cried from relief. I cried from joy. I cried for the past 13 yrs that I've been overweight. I cried for the blessing I just received and how blessed I felt in that very moment.
Holly asked if I was OK and if she needed to call me back. Well, I dried them tears up real quick and told her that wasn't necessary. I wanted to get this ball rolling. My appt for my consultation with Dr. Houston is set for April 21st. It is now just 8 days away and I couldn't be more excited. This is the rest of my life. I know that this will add years where as the weight was taking years away. I cannot wait for all the changes to happen and for me to have a chance to be more proactive at a better life.
For all the people who may read this, and wonder "Will I ever get where she is?". You will. Be determined. Don't give up. Don't get frustrated over how long it takes to meet insurance requirements. We didn't become obese over night. For the years we spent doing the wrong things then 6 months or a year to do the right thing is pocket change.
I was once where you are. Watching folks get approved. Watching them go through the joy of losing weight and having that better life that I dream of. Let them, us, be your inspiration and motivation. May God give you strength to continue on your journey to surgery and beyond surgery. Be blessed!
Seminare at Centennial Today on February 6, 2007 7:48 pm
I got up early today because I had to go to my PCP for follow up lab work because I had gotten a letter in the mail a few days ago that labwork came back and my glucose levels were high and they think I'm in the first stages of diabetes. That's something I've feared for a long time because of the PCOS (Polycystic Ovarium Syndrome) increasing the chances of it and of course being overweight doesn't help matters any.
So, I went to my PCP and had them weigh me while I was there. But, I didn't want them to say the number out loud. I told my doctor just to write it down. I have not know my exact weight since I was 20 and 145 pounds. At that time, I was walking and jogging a couple miles a day. But, I went on birth control and they tell you that you may gain "a few pounds" but they don't tell you what can really happen. In a year's time my weight doubled and my blood pressure sky rocketed. The weight came on with such a fury that it was so hard on my body that I couldn't excercise the way I once did. Even then I didn't know my exact weight. I only knew that I went from wearing 8/10 to 24's. It was heart breaking.
When I left the doctor's office and got out to my car I pulled out the slip of paper he wrote my weight on. While I would love to say I was shocked I really wasn't. I knew my weight had gotten completely out of control and I was way past chunky. I had been guessing 350 and I was close. I weight 365. That is so hard to admit and come to terms with. I'm the size of 3 people.
But, I also rode a high all day long because of the seminar this evening. I'm so glad I've chosen Centennial. They are very comprehensive. Dr. Dyer gave the presentation about the surgery and Lisa (insurance specialist) and Debbie (RN) presented regarding insurance requirements. They were all so very thorough and so willing to answer questions. They really let you know what you are getting into. They place as much emphasis on the risks as the benefits. I feel very confident in their ability to aid me in my journey.
Centennial is a huge medical complex. I would suggest to anyone to leave early if it's your first time there. I got turned around about 3 times trying to find it and then got my fair share of exercise in trying to find my car in the parking garage when I was leaving. But, the facility is absolutely beautiful. Not at all the typical hospital vibe. It was very clean and aesthetic.
Now, I have to start a 6 month doctor supervised diet. But you know how things go with age, time just flies by and I'm sure the next 6 months will. I plan to do a lot of camping, swimming and sun tanning over the summer so that will help move things along. Hopefully with summer coming and me being more active outside will help the diet along it's path and maybe shed a few pounds to make my surgery go a little easier.
I also want to quit smoking before then. It's such a hard habit to break. My PCP did write a prescription for Chantix (smoking cessation) but I've just been very stressed lately. I know I'm using that as an excuse and there will always be stress in varying amounts. I just have to pull up my big girl panties and do what I need to do.
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The Journey Begins on January 30, 2007 1:27 pm
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I had been doing some research through OH and looked at review for doctors and hospitals. I decided to have the WLS done by Dr. Houston at Centennial. I called Dr. Houston's office last week and was advised that before I could make my initial appointment that I had to go to a seminar. I have schedule to attend the seminar on Feb. 6th from 6-9PM. Wow! Three hours! Though I'm not shocked by the length of time the seminar takes because this is a HUGE decision. But, I'm prepared for this journey and this is the first step.
The same day I called Dr. Houston's office I also called my insurance company BCBS of NY. I had called them last year (2006) to just get a little bit of information about coverage. The had advised me then that the surgery is covered with a letter of medical necessity. Considering how overweight I am and the toll it's taking on my body I figure that letter should be the easy part.
As of Jan. 1st, 2007 I had my coverage with BCBS changed to 100% coverage so I called BCBS again about coverage. They informed me that to this date no one has been denied for the WLS under this plan. They again told me about the letter of medical necessity and a psych evaluation. Again, that I think is the easy part.
So, I'm getting excited about attending the seminar and I know that from here on out each thing I do is just another step closer to living my life the way I want to live it without the fat rolls tagging along for the ride. I was told that at the seminar is when I will name Dr. Houston as the surgeon and that they will assign a financial advisor. I'm not quite sure how much advising they will do because I am covered 100% and there is no deductible because Dr. Houston and Centennial are both in network. I was advised to check on the anethesia group to make sure that they are also in network.
So, as questions are coming up I am going to the message boards. I think this site is really what helped me to make the final decision. There is so much information here for research and the members know exactly every high and low you could possibly go through because they've been there.
I'm getting so ramped up and excited. I'm prepared to take 2 weeks off of work for recovery. I know that I can use FMLA through work to cover any attendance issue and protect my job while I'm off. Now, I'm just working on building up the paid time off so that financially I'll be OK. I think that is a fair and reasonable expectation. I work an office job and no physical labor and don't foresee going back to work to be an issue. I've heard some people say that a week recovery may be all I need. But, I'd rather be over prepared than under prepared. Plus, I need a vacation LOL The only difference is that my couch or bed will take place of a lounge chair and a protein drink the place of a fruity alchoholic beverage with a little umbrella. Well, I don't know that I'll have a cabana boy at my beck and call but I don't think I'd know what to do with him during recovery anyhow.
I'm feeling so blessed right now. I have faith that all will go well!
I've been contemplating WLS for the last five years and it is probably one of the hardest decisions I've ever made or will make. Emotionally the weight has been difficult for me because I was not always "big". I was always a little heavier then other children but toned up in my late teens until I started taking birth control and then my weight doubled in a year's time and with it came many female health issues. So, for the last 12 years I've been struggling through female issues as well as the effects that the weight takes on a person's body. I have finally gotten to the point that enough is enough.
So, now I'm on my journey to a better me. I know that God will guide me through this as He has to this point.