My Wonderful Surgical Team: Dr. Vadim Gritsus and Dean Mellas, P.A.
Check out Dr. Gritsus' new website (April 2, 2004) by clicking on his name!!
23 August 2003
I have decided to have gastric bypass surgery. I am 46 years old, married 21 years, no kids, American Indian (Navajo), 5'2" and 228 lbs with a BMI of 41.7. My community hospital is finally offering the surgery - Lap RNY - (Chilton Memorial Hospital). This is the WLS I desire and I have been researching it periodically for the past year. I have started my journey by signing up for an orientation meeting about the surgery. It was very informative. The speakers were Mary Meola, RN, Dr. Vera Bennett, and the surgeon, Dr. Vadim Gritsus. Also attending were Physician Assistant, Dean Mellas and Dr. Gritsus' Office Manager, Linda. I'm all for the surgery and my husband, Don, supports me in this. We attended together. I now have a big packet of paperwork to fill out. I never thought it would be this hard, but whatever it takes! I sent one info packet to Mary Meola, RN at Partners in Weight Control and she is dealing with the insurance (United HealthCare). I have an appointment with my PCP, Dr. Patrick DeMare, on the 29th and I am hoping he'll be receptive and will write my Letter of Medical Necessity. I have never discussed my desire to have gastric bypass surgery with him, so I hope that I can convince him that I am serious and am willing to change my lifestyle. I will see Mary and the psychiatrist on the 4th of September. I also will see the surgeon, Dr. Gritsus, on the 5th of September. So far, things look pretty good. I'm having some problems with getting a diet history and writing the letters, so if any of you read my profile and can help me out I'd REALLY appreciate it!! Thanks a bunch!
My comorbidities: morbid obesity, degenerative disc disease, achalasia (this is where the ring of muscle between my esophagus and stomach fails to relax - the food feels stuck), GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), dysphagia (trouble swallowing), dyspepsia (indigestion), have a couple herniated discs, hypercholesteremia (high cholesterol), hyperlipidemia (high blood lipids - fats), arthritis (in multiple weight-bearing joints), stress incontinence, diabetes Type II (controlled with oral medication), asthma, diverticulosis (disease condition of the intestine), chronic sinusitis, sleep apnea, seasonal allergies with numerous sinus and ear infections.
Have a list of doctors with their address, phone, fax, web, e-mail to carry with you to appointments
Also have a list of your operations, procedures, illness, hospitalizations with dates, doctors, hospitals and outcomes with you
Carry a list of all the medications you take with the dosage, when you take it and remember to include any vitamins, herbs, and all over the counter drugs
It is also good to have a list of all your ailments, when they were diagnosed, where they were diagnosed and by whom
Always bring your ID or driver's license and your insurance card to all appointments
Make sure you have the insurance's phone number, address, and effective date if possible
Know your employment information
If you have a spouse, significant other you will need their info too - insurance, employment phone, addresses, etc.
Also be sure to list all allergies - drugs, IV dyes/contrast, latex, environmental, anything
Since you are contemplating surgery, it would be a good idea to think about an advance directive so your family would know your wishes concerning your healthcare. Too often this is overlooked until the last minute and your family is left to make the decisions. You need to discuss your wishes with your family and there are easy fill-in-the-blank advance directive forms, so it is very easy to complete. Check with your hospital to get the form.
It really helps the approval process if you become an active advocate for yourself. By that, I mean go get your medical records yourself or write the necessary letters to get your records released to you. Have you ever read what is in your medical records? You might be surprised at what is documented. Take an active role in your insurance approval and call that number on the back of your card and ask about coverage for gastric bypass surgery. Find out the procedure codes and diagnosis codes beforehand and ask customer service if it is covered. Be sure to document the date, time, and person you talked to. Try to get a phone number, extension number or a fax number. Ask about any exclusions to your policy and if there are any special requirements needed for approval (letters from doctors, special tests, documented medically supervised diets, diet histories, etc.). Check with your Human Resources department and ask to see a current copy of your insurance and its exclusions. I really think it makes a difference when you make that call to the insurance. Make yourself heard!
It seems like a lot of stuff to carry with you on all your appointments, but if you have numerous specialists to see it will cut down on the time it takes to fill out the patient history forms. It is much easier to copy from your paper than it is to rely on your memory. Good luck guys!
29 August 2003
Today I went to my PCP (Dr. Patrick DeMare) and he is going to recommend me for weight loss surgery!!!! I had been worried all day long that he wouldn't want me to do it. We even discussed some of the benefits of the surgery. I told him Don and I had already gone to the orientation and was scheduled to meet with the surgeon. I typed up a sample letter of medical necessity and he reviewed it, made some changes and said he will have it ready tomorrow. I still can't believe it! I've been so excited ever since I got home! His office is also going to draw the labs for me so I can see my surgeon next Friday. Things are falling nicely into place. Yesterday I saw my new OB/GYN, Dr. Robert Montemurro, and he was a sweetheart. He fully supports me in WLS and he wants me to keep him informed when I get it done! He seemed very interested and we even sat in his office and talked about it before the physical examination. So if anyone needs help with their letter of medical neccesity, e-mail me and I'll send you the sample. Thanks to all of you for your support and for you guys helping me out with the diet history. AMOS rocks!!! Have a very nice Labor Day holiday!!!!!
Here is a sample of a Letter of Medical Necessity You can change it to fit your needs.
If you don't know if your primary care doctor will be supportive of WLS, you could write him a letter and state your case. It could help win him over and also show him that you are totally serious about seeking the surgery. Maybe he hasn't had any experience with the procedure and it would be helpful if you could tell him about it. Having a good relationship with your doctor is important for your well-being. Here is a sample of a Letter to My PCP
4 September 2003
Today I had my interview with the nurse. I saw Mary Meola, RN, and we had a good talk and thanks to reading the boards and profiles I was well-prepared for the interview. We discussed the surgery, diet (before and after), lifestyle changes, why I want the surgery, just general questions and any questions I wanted to ask of her. She has had WLS and is over 2 years out. She told me of her experience and I felt this is exactly what I want for myself. I just have a few more tests to go. Mary made me feel at ease and it was easy to talk to her. After her interview, I had my psych consult with Dr. Dwight Davidson and I think it went well. We talked about events in my life, family, marriage, jobs, hobbies, interests, why I want WLS, mental issues, drugs, drinking, just about everything. It was a very informal talk and when you walk into his office, you don't feel like it's a stuffy, sterile room. The lighting was soft and subdued. The chairs were big and comfortable. He greeted me with a big handshake and smile. I believe we really hit it off. I was really apprehensive when I came through the door to meet with the nurse and doctor, but they make you feel so comfortable. Fear and anxiety went out the door. The nursing pre-operative assessment by Mary was $125 and the psychological evaluation was $250. They are both out-of-network and the insurance doesn't pay for any of them. So it's good to have a credit card when you go to these appointments. They do provide you with the necessary documentation to seek reimbursement from your carrier. They also tell you that fees incurred regarding weight loss may be tax deductible according to federal tax laws. So now that these evaluations are completed, my results will be forwarded to Dr. Gritsus.
5 September 2003
I have my consult with the surgeon, Dr. Vadim Gritsus today. I started my first interview with the Physician's Assistant, Dean Mellas. My husband, Dean and I went over my personal history together. Did I tell you the medical history form was 8 pages long? I worked on it for a few days prior to the appointment. Dean left his office and had a conference with Dr. Gritsus. Then we had a consult with the doctor. He took the time to explain how the surgery works and answered questions. Bring a list of all your concerns about the surgery to this appointment. He and Dean are very easy to talk to and you don't feel like you've asked a dumb question. They both want you and your family to feel comfortable with this life changing decision. They encourage participation of the family so bring them along for this visit. Dr. Gritsus is a very caring man and I would recommend him to anyone considering the surgery. I feel that he is really interested in his patients. Dr. Gritsus and Dean told us if we have any more questions or concerns that we didn't cover to just call. Let me tell you, I haven't been treated that well by a doctor in quite some time. Usually, the visits are based on that 15 minute time block and you're moved along like cattle. Assembly-line medicine. These guys have no problem spending the time with you. I really appreciate that. I feel like I'm being heard and not blown-off or poo-pooed. Even the smallest concern, they are willing to address. Such genuine concern for the patient can only produce a positive outcome. Now on to the nutrition consult, sleep study and cardiology consult. This visit was $350 and is out-of-network and is not covered by the insurance.
6 September 2003
The good old chest x-ray at Chilton Memorial was done. 1-2-3 no problem.
8 September 2003
I had my dietician consult today. I met with Patricia Davidson, RD and we talked about my diet today and past diet history. She gave me some diabetic teaching and planned out a diet for me to try before the surgery. We talked about the good 'ol food pyramid. She wants me to give up diet soda - that's going to be hard, but I'll do it. I can drink up to two 2 liter bottles of diet soda a day. The caffeine in it isn't good for me. It also causes a diuretic effect and after surgery you have to stay hydrated. Very, very important to get a minimum of 64 oz. of fluid in daily. She gave me a good lesson on nutrition and how to keep my blood sugars at a constant level. She wants 3 meals a day and small snacks in between. I learned a lot from her and I have a diet plan to follow until I see her next visit. She took time to answer my questions and gave the reasons why the diet is the way it is. I have never had any formal diabetic teaching and she opened my eyes. I left her office with new knowledge. She went step-by-step over some changes I could make right now to help me with the surgery. Also, the reason for the pre-op diet was to see if I was really committed to making changes in my dietary habits. If I balked and refused it might show her that the surgery might fail, because of my unwillingness to change. I know by eating better, healthy foods, taking vitamins and exercising it will lessen my chances of complications after surgery. I will see her one more time in October for a post-op diet consult. In the meantime, I am supposed to read the diet plan for the post-op patient and be able to teach her about the diet. She wants to make sure that I know what I can eat as a post-op and what better way than for me to tell her how to do it. I can't cheat and say I read it when I didn't. I can't just sit there and nod my head up and down as I listen to her. She expects me to take an active role. I didn't think I would have homework! So I'll hit the books! Hope the old memory is still working! This visit was for my dietary evaluation and teaching for post-operative nutrition management and it cost - $125. She had me sign a paper to say that I would come back for one more visit to go over the post-op nutrition. This time it was for pre-op teaching only, because she said that it was too much information to go over for just one visit and it was a lot of info. We spent an hour just going over my eating habits and talking about good nutrition. We didn't even really touch on the post-op part, because time ran out. So I don't feel like I'm being scammed, but it would have been nice if I was told up front that I'd require another visit and I hope it's not $125. My insurance will not pay any for this visit because it is out-of-network.
10 September 2003
Tonight I have a sleep study at Chilton Memorial. Much thanks goes to the lady (sorry I didn't get her name) who got me scheduled on such short notice. I called last Friday and she gave me today. She said the slot was reserved for Dr. Gritsus' patients and was very nice. She told me about the procedure, where to go, and what time to show up. Got to the sleep lab and the guys hooked me up for the night. They had me sit in a chair and then they proceeded to glue little electrodes to my head. It felt funny as they parted my hair, cleaned the spot and stuck the pads on. I have hair down to the middle of my back, so it took a while to get hooked up. I know tomorrow morning I'm going to have a hell of a rat's nest up there. It's not going to be pretty. Now, it's time for the pads on the face only this time when they cleaned the spot it felt like they were using a Brillo pad. OOoooh, don't scrub so hard! I know my face scrunched up everytime they rubbed. There were even pads on my legs to check for movement. I had a small microphone placed on my throat for snoring. Boy, I hope they keep the volume down tonight! Now, comes the bungie cords that go around my chest and the other one around my belly. The last monitor was a little tickler thing that goes in your nose. I had 2 prongs on it and fit sort of like an 02 nasal cannula. If you moved your head just right, it would make you sneeze. Just what I need, now I'll have nose juice all over the thing. Heh heh heh! As they worked, they told me about sleep apnea and how the body reacts when it is deprived of oxygen. They explained what the monitors would show and if I needed to be hooked up to a CPAP they would do it tonight. They really took the time to explain everything to me and, of course, I had some more paperwork to fill out. I am being video taped as I can see the camera mounted on the wall. I'm also rigged for sound and I'm thinking - "you know maybe I shouldn't have had that second bowl of chili tonight." How lovely! Now they may even have me farting on record. Ahhh, don't you just love those bodily functions! I had a nice bedroom with table, chairs, dresser, TV, remote, private bathroom, bedside lamp and double bed. The last thing they told me before letting me try to get some sleep was I have to try to sleep on my back with a minimum of one pillow or if possible no pillow. Now, I have slept for the last nine years propped up on a bunch of pillows. It is the only way I can sleep comfortably and breathe. Also, with the GERD and achalasia I tend to throw up at night if I sleep flat. I told them about my problem, but I was willing to try to sleep flat and if I happen to puke - you were forewarned guys! I didnt think I would be able to sleep with all the electrodes and belts, but I turned off the TV and was asleep before Friends came on at 11 pm (EST). I woke up a couple times and then at 1:30 am, they came in and said I was getting a CPAP for the rest of the night. At this time, I had a headache. I usually have one every morning or later on in the morning. Now I know that headache is one of the symptoms of sleep apnea. When I first had the mask on I felt a panic fall over me. I thought I was suffocating! I wanted to rip that thing off me face, but I kept chanting to myself "Whatever it takes, whatever it takes." That is my new mantra. It worked and even though I felt like I couldn't sleep, I did. I even had some dreams and the guys came in to wake me up at 6 am. I felt like I could sleep longer, but I didn't feel so tired like I usually do in the morning. I still have a headache, but it's not so bad. I guess my numbers were much better with the CPAP. My PCP (Dr. Patrick DeMare) will have the results in about 10 days and then his office will make the arrangements for me to have a portable CPAP machine at home. My experience at the sleep lab was very positive. John and his partner, Darryl, were very patient and explained every step of the way. They explained sleep apnea and encouraged me on my decision to have gastric bypass surgery. They were very positive. We even had a few laughs and I'm so glad I had the test done. In the back of my mind, I've known for a long time that there was a problem with my sleeping patterns, but I kept putting it off and didn't push for further tesing. I'm glad to know that there is a reason for the headaches and the daytime sleepiness. As a parting gift, I have a questionnaire to fill out about the sleep lab. Now I can add sleep apnea to my list of comorbidities. So, I'm headed home to take a shower and get the goop out of my hair and off my face. My insurance paid for this test.
11 September 2003
Today is my pulmonary consult with Dr. Arshad Javed. He is the director of the Sleep Lab at Chilton. I filled out another info form - surprise! It was a short one. I met the Dr., another really nice man, who took the time to sit and talk with me - no rush! I told him about my medical history, meds, surgeries, and the sleep study last night. He called the hospital for the results. He examined me, lung sounds, reflexes, BP, TPR, examined neck, throat,etc. He said I had a small throat and what was happening at night was it was collapsing on itself. The extra fat in my neck is part of the cause. I do have a thick neck and a couple extra chins. We discussed the CPAP machine and that I would need to use it every night. His office will make the arrrangements with a medical supply company and I should have it sometime next week. The company will show me how to use and clean my machine. I will follow up with him on the 24th. He felt the surgery would help me to breathe better and improve the quality of life. Another positive experience with this doctor and his staff. The receptionist, Diane, was very nice to me and we had a nice talk before I saw the doctor. She is going to nursing school. I wish her the best - it's not an easy job.
12 September 2003
Now if I didn't have enough stress in my life with collecting medical records, remembering all the dates, doctors, diets, phone numbers, etc., tonight is my graduation ceremony. I graduated in May from Berdan Institute, Medical Office Administration. In June, I completed my externship. Last Tuesday I got a call from the evening supervisor to tell me I was the valedictorian for the MOA class. YAY! I was happy about that!! Now here's the kicker - I also have to give a speech. Oh my God, I hate to speak in public. It was hard enough in class with my friends and now, complete strangers and a room full at that. So now I have three days to stew over this. I finally got my speech together today - nothing like the last minute! Got to the Wayne Manor and we waited to be sorted by class. We had to walk down a long flight of stairs and I kept thinking to myself, "Oh no, I just know I'm going to fall down and I'll be known as the grad who fell and broke her ass!" Well, I didn't. The intros and welcomes were done and now to the valedictorian speeches. I was promised that I wouldn't have to go first. By now, my heart was pounding in my chest and that fear was coming over me. I was the third one called. I got up and looked over the crowd and just thought, "Oh, my God!" I just started talking and then I was okay. After the speeches, we received our certificates and pins. Kimmie, Don, Laura and myself went out for dinner at the Longhorn Steakhouse and had a very nice time. Yummy steak! Medium, bloody with sweet potato. Of course, the steak was charbroiled! Good food and good company! What a great way to end an evening! Now I feel like a ton of bricks has been lifted off my shoulders. After the surgery, it will be time to look for a job and start life anew.
17 September 2003
Today I have my final appointment with Dr. Gritsus. As usual, he was smiling, shook my hand and welcomed me. I told him about the sleep study and that I didn't have the results yet. He said he knew about the low 02 sats because he was called at home. I asked how low and he said, "52!" Can you say "respiratory stat?!" Get your laryngoscope and open up that intubation tray!! I guess it's a good thing that I am getting that CPAP. My husband, Don, Dean, PA, the Dr. and myself sat down for another conference. We discussed what would happen from my arrival to the hospital to discharge. There were consent forms to be signed and we discussed what would happen if he had to change the operation from laprascopic to an open one. I told him if that happened (and I know it won't) to not wake me up, just do whatever he has to do. Everything was again explained in detail and if this was the time to back out you could do so - Not me, Hell no! It's a done deal! Any questions I had were answered. When you sit with your Dr. and he asks you if you have any questions, it's like buying a new car, you have to kick the tires and look under the hood. Don't be afraid to ask anything. You have to be comfortable with your surgeon and his assistant. If you talk to Dr. Gritsus, you can tell that he is very passionate about his work because he seems so excited to show and tell you about the procedure. That's the kind of surgeon I want. We talked about meds, pre-op, post op and that damn Foley catheter. Can you believe I'm more worried about that Foley than about the surgery! Surgery is a piece of cake. You go in, get knocked out and wake up. I had asked Dr. Gritsus for something pre-op for anxiety and nerves - now I'm really glad I did! We discussed the diet, supplements, when I get the Foley out, when I can get out of bed, etc. Can you see that I'm already obsessing about that catheter! I'm psyched!! All my friends know I'm having surgery and most of them work at Chilton. I know my way around the hospital and am very comfortable there. After working there for 9 years I should be. It was another informative meeting. Today I also met his office manager, Linda. Another really nice team member who knows the insurance game in and out. She is so easy to talk to and will help you in any way. She is dedicated to help you get your approval from your insurance company. I noticed that she always wears the smartest looking suits. What struck me first about meeting Dr. Gritsus, was his smile and his handshake. The smile was big and friendly, the handshake was solid and strong, not like the smirk and wet noodle handshakes (or no facial expression or handshake) I've received in the past. He has very positive energy as well as his staff.
Questions for the Doctor:
These are just some questions for you to think about and you can ask your doctor too! You should be totally informed on your surgery day. You should feel completely at ease going into the OR. Hopefully, most of your fears will be alleviated and youll be ready for your new life to begin! Good luck and the only stupid question is the one not asked!
How many surgeries have you performed?
What have been some of the complications youve encountered with your patients?
Have you had any patients expire from the surgery?
Can I speak to some of your post-op patients?
Have you had any patients who have been dissatisfied with the surgery?
Is the surgery reversible?
How long will I be in the OR?
Does this surgery require a blood transfusion?
How much weight can I expect to lose? Do you have a weight goal for me? Will I ever regain my weight?
Does anyone not lose weight after gastric bypass?
What kind of follow up care do you provide? Do you have a support group?
Will you continue to see me periodically after the surgery?
If Im having problems with my diet do you have someone I can see for nutritional counseling?
If Im having problems coping with the life changes due to the surgery do you have someone I can see for counseling? Will I become depressed?
I dont exercise on a regular basis do you have someone who will help me with an exercise routine?
Do you draw the lab work in your office or will I have to find a lab? Will you follow my lab work and order future labs?
Do you have a written diet plan for me to follow?
What can I do to prepare myself for surgery?
Should I try to diet before surgery? Should I start an exercise program before surgery?
Ive had previous abdominal surgery, will I be able to have a lap RNY or will you perform the open procedure?
Will I need additional surgeries after this procedure?
After I lose weight will my skin sag and will I need to have a tummy tuck and other plastic surgery?
Is there any way to prevent hanging skin after weight loss?
What is dumping and will I have it?
Can you drink alcohol or smoke after surgery?
Do I have to take vitamins and supplements for the rest of my life?
What happens if I dont take my vitamins and supplements?
I normally take medicines. Should I crush them or stop taking them after surgery?
Is hair loss common? Is there anything I can do to prevent hair loss?
How soon can I have sex after surgery? Will my sex drive change?
Will I be able to get pregnant after surgery? When will it be safe to get pregnant? Should I be on birth control?
I know I have adhesions from previous surgeries will you lysis the adhesions?
Im quite nervous. Will I be given any medications pre-op for anxiety?
Will I be able to have someone pray with me before surgery?
Do you video tape or record the operation?
Do you allow other people to observe the operation?
Do you have another doctor assist you with the surgery? Who is he/she? Will I get to meet him/her?
Will I meet with my anesthesiologist before going into the OR?
I have a problem with post-op projectile vomiting. What meds will you give me?
Will I be given any antibiotics? If so, which one?
Will I be given any blood thinners? If so, which one?
Do you only staple the stomach or do you transect it completely?
Will my lap/open RNY be proximal or distal?
What is the risk of staple disruption?
How big are the incisions? Is there anything I can do to reduce the appearance of the scar/scars?
Will I have an NG tube? If so, when will you insert it? When will you discontinue it?
Will I have a Foley catheter? If so, when will you insert it? When will you discontinue it?
Will I have a drain? What kind? When will it be removed?
Will I have to wear TED stockings? Will I have to wear sequential TEDs? How long will I have to wear them?
What kind of pain medication will I have post-op? If the pain meds make me nauseous or vomit what medicine will you give me?
Can I have ice chips post-op or will I be NPO after surgery? How will I relieve my dry mouth?
Will I have to have a barium swallow for a leak check?
When will I be able to get out of bed? Will I need an abdominal binder?
I have a hard time sleeping. Will you order a sleeping pill?
How can I get rid of the gas pain from surgery?
Can I read my chart?
If I have repeated vomiting will my pouch and stoma stretch? How will you treat it?
If I get a stricture, how will you treat it?
I believe I will have problems taking care of myself at home. Do you have someone I can talk with about my physical limitations?
How long is the recovery from surgery?
When can I start a workout routine or go to the gym?
When can I work out with weights?
When can I go back to work?
If I have questions can I call your office? Will your staff see that you get my message?
What do you listen to in the OR?
Are you left-handed or right-handed?
My prediction for Dr. Gritsus and his practice: In one year he will see his practice boom. As more and more people hear of him, he will have a huge waiting list. I also see that the size of his office could accommodate more than one doctor - hmm, so we'll see. Dean will be interviewing away. Linda will be swamped with paperwork. If they continue to give the superb care that they have given me, they will be blessed with a flourishing practice and an excellent reputation.
19 September 2003
Well, today I am following up on my CPAP machine. I haven't received it yet or heard from the medical supply company. I called the pulmonary doctor and Joanne, office manager, said she would do some checking and would give me an answer this afternoon. Joanne called and the CPAP will be here in the AM, but the results of the sleep study weren't back yet. This is my last night of snoring!
20 September 2003
The respiratory therapist from the medical supply company called and will be here soon. He showed me the machine and punched in the settings for me. Then he demonstrated how the machine, mask, headgear, strap, humidifier and accessories work. WOW! What a contraption. Looks like I am gearing up for chemical warfare or something. The mask is much nicer that the one I had in the hospital. I hope I can wear it and not freak out. We'll see soon enough!
21 September 2003
Last night I had the CPAP on and I felt like I was suffocating, but I calmed myself down and it wasn't too bad. I slept for an hour or so and then woke myself up because it felt like I was suffocating again and had to remove the mask. Then the mask went back on and I repeated the cycle all night. The mask and I fought each other all night long. I think the mask won as I don't think I got much sleep! Tomorrow will be better. I don't think I had time to snore!
22 September 2003
The nightly struggle goes on with the CPAP. Tonight I had dreams of the movie "Aliens" where the guy is looking into the flower-like pods and the thing jumps out and is sucking his face. Kinda like that cute mask I have to wear, but I can sleep with it longer now. When the seal of the mask is broken it wakes me up with a whooshing noise. No more snoring! I guess the next door neighbors are sleeping better these days!!
24 September 2003
I have an appointment with Dr. Javed (sleep Dr./pulmonary) and he checked me out again. He was very concerned that I hadn't received my CPAP until last Saturday. He went over the test results and said that I was confirmed with sleep apnea. We talked some more about the effects and dangers of sleep apnea and how the CPAP machine will improve my health. He's very concerned that I get better before surgery. Again, the doctor and the staff were very nice to me. I had a $20 co-pay for this visit.
25 September 2003
Today I have my regular appointment with Dr. DeMare (PCP). I get my fasting bloodwork done, foot check, BP, fingerstick, lung sounds, heart sounds, weight check, spirometry test, and urinalysis done. He asked about when I would have the surgery and I said it was still in the insurance approval process and I was waiting for an answer. Everytime I go to his office, I feel like he really cares about my health and will go to great lengths to see that it improves, but I also have to show him that I am willing to help improve it also. One way is in the labs and slowly they are changing for the better. My cholesterol is coming down and so is my fasting blood sugar. Just a quick thank you to his office staff - they are so kind, friendly and they have always been so accommodating when I request copies of reports or ask to change an appointment. Those of you who are trying to get approval know that you always need copies of reports. They make me feel so comfortable when I come to the office and by that I mean, it's like family. I only wish that I could have come to this office sooner. I so appreciate Chatty (Gabby) Kathy, Marie (LPN), Margie and other staff (sorry but I don't know all your names yet). Dr. DeMare takes great pride in his practice and his patients. You can see that by the way my health is taking a turn for the better! Today's visit had a $20 co-pay.
26 September 2003
I just got a call from Linda at Dr. Gritsus'(surgeon) office. She said the insurance (United HealthCare) had just requested my records and she has faxed them over. It might be good news if the insurance is asking for them. I feel excited, but scared. It's such a head game these insurances play with you. They dangle the carrot in front of your nose and then sometimes jerk it away. A cat-and-mouse game and I'm eating the cheese!
29 September 2003
This is my last doctor's appointment. I see Dr. Lawrence Blitz, cardiologist. I walked into the office and guess what???? One more form to fill out. Big Surprise!!! I already had my insurance card, ID and copay to hand to the nurse. Another Surprise! Now I wait to be called in. This office has three or four doctors, so the nurses and medical assistants are all moving at a fast pace - they are literally running from room to room - it's just that busy. I was called early into an exam room and the waiting begins. The MA told me to change into a gown and the doc would be in soon. Dr. Blitz came in and he apologized for being late - I looked at my watch and it was only 5 minutes. I love offices that are on time and 5 minutes is nothing. He went over my medical history and asked me some questions, took my BP, checked my lungs, heart, and carotids. He then had his MA come to do my EKG. He read it and said a copy of the report would be forwarded to the doctors. My EKG was OK, so now I'm done with the testing phase. Again, it was a positive experience with the doctor and his staff. So far, I've seen doctors associated with Chilton Memorial Hospital and they have been very supportive of the WLS and they have even wished me luck on getting approval. I didn't meet any disapproving looks or hear anything in the least bit negative about the surgery. It really gives a patient hope when doctors believe in the procedure. So the wait begins.... Today's visit was a $20 co-pay.
30 September 2003
Today I'm seeing another doctor, but this is for a different reason. Last week Dr. Ali, from Berdan Institute, called and asked me to speak to one of his morning classes about my experience at the school. It was good to go back to the school. I was welcomed by the administration and Mr. Thacker (head guy) who showed me my picture on the wall giving my speech. There was a collage of pictures of the graduation ceremony. Dr. Ali and I laughed and talked and we sat in the teacher's lounge until his next class. The class was large (28 students). My class was only 16 to start and when I graduated it was 8. I just talked about myself and Berdan and then opened the floor to questions. As scared as I was at giving my speech, this was a piece of cake. I had fun and I hope I helped the students. Most of the students were new, so I know how they feel. Sometimes it is so overwhelming, but as time goes on and you change your study habits it is easier. I stayed for an hour and said my goodbyes. It was really fun! When I got home today I had a message on my phone from Linda (Dr. Gritsus). It was too late to call her today, so I'll call first thing tomorrow morning. I have a feeling it is about the insurance approval and it's not good. The tone in her voice is different. It seemed concerned and sad. She is usually bubbly and happy. As soon as I heard the message I had a bad feeling come over me.....my whole body feels bad....there's a big knot in the pit of my stomach...
1 October 2003
I called Linda just after the office opened. She said that the insurance called (Samuel from UnitedHealthcare) and they had denied my request. I wasn't surprised because day before yesterday I had a bad feeling that this would happen. In a way I was already prepared for the news. You might ask how did I know this - well, sometimes I just know things are going to happen before they happen or I can finish the sentences of people or sometimes I can say the exact thing you were going to say. Weird, but that's me. I usually don't know what's going to happen to me. I am very disappointed - I can't lie, but now I have to keep my wits about me to continue the appeal process. So, since the insurance is through my husband's employer I called him to talk to Human Resouces and see what they say. Don was in the office for an hour trying to get answers. The bottom line: I was denied because of the type of policy the company has purchased and because there is a written exclusion that excludes any type of WLS, including WLS for morbid obesity. It doesn't matter that I had called the insurance three times before I even started with the medical tests and had customer service tell me that it would be approved. I also had Don's Human Resource guy call and ask twice for me just to be sure. He was told that it would be approved. I had given the insurance company the procedure codes and diagnosis codes and had even read the exclusion part of the policy to them and still they said it would be approved, but believe me you have to take everything the insurance company says with a grain of salt. It doesn't matter that I have co-morbidities out the butt and have a medical necessity for WLS. So, I will be given a chance to appeal to the insurance. I have to call them and say that I wish to appeal and then write a letter stating that I wish to appeal. I then have to have my doctors write a letter stating why I should have the surgery. I will have 60 days to appeal the decision. So now, things are on hold. In anticipation of a denial, I already drafted an appeal letter so that part is done. This afternoon I'm writing letters to all my doctors asking for a letter in support of the surgery and how WLS will improve my many medical conditions. I just talked to Linda and she said she already received the insurance denial letter and that I should be receiving one today or tomorrow. That letter will tell me what I have to do to make an appeal to the insurance. The doctor and his office staff are so disappointed and Linda told me to call her if she can help me with the insurance appeal. Now I have to decide exactly what I'm going to do for my appeal, so I'm just going to write my letters and calm down and then see which course to take. Right now, I'm just mad as hell! I feel like punching a wall! So wish me luck in the appeal nightmare. Here is a sample of the Letter of Appeal You can change it to suit your circumstance.
2 October 2003
I have been so upset and pissed off about this denial that my husband took his vacation time and we are off to Maine. We need to get away from this insurance hell and regroup. I love Maine and we want to see the leaves change and go to the PASS car racing in Wisscasset. Bangor is our home base and we just went on daytrips from there. Bar Harbor was very nice and everything in the shops was discounted, because it is the end of the season. We even took a bus tour of the island and the scenery and views were breathtaking. Of course, we ate lobster, clam chowder, and shrimps - and the sushi was great too. Even though I'm having fun, I still think of the denial everyday - it's always on my mind. I'm still planning stategies in my head. I've noticed that my legs are edematous everyday and sometimes the swelling is almost up to my knees and I've been short of breath whenever I have to walk somewhere. I'm not sure what is happening. I usually have swollen feet and ankles at the end of the day, but now the fluid is creeping up my legs. When I walk, my legs feel like they weigh a ton, but "Hey, I'm on vacation and I'm determined to have fun!" I use the CPAP every night but, usually end up having to pull it off my face after a couple of hours because I feel like I can't breath. Sleeping is hard because the mask goes on and the mask goes off. Then my nose has started to get stuffed up and I can't wear the mask at all. Just a vicious cycle I'm on. I hope I can get used to using the CPAP, but one good thing I can say is that the morning headaches are almost completely gone. So I have received some benefit from the CPAP and I know my liver is grateful for a break from all the Advil and Excedrin. Now if the stress doesn't kill me.....
20 October 2003
Today I was supposed to see Tricia, my dietitian, about my post-op diet, but I cancelled because of the insurance denial. I'll see her later on down the road.
22 October 2003
Well, I've been getting ready to start my appeal, when I got a call from my husband to tell me that his company is changing insurance from United HealthCare to Aetna. All my tests were done and the results were back for the surgery - the only thing I needed was to have my blood typed and cross-matched. Now, it looks like I'm going to have to start all over again and this time Aetna requires a 26-week medically supervised weight-loss diet. Is it any wonder that people get depressed and just give up? With the best intentions, you can still get shot down. So, it looks like I'll be on another diet for 6 months and then see what tricks the insurance wants me to perform. I think I could do a good rabid dog imitation and bite your ass!! I'll resubmit all my medical records, tests and letters. If everything goes as planned, maybe I'll have surgery in June or July of 2004. It seems like an eternity, but I'll just take it one day at a time. This whole business of getting approval has been a nightmare. Not to mention, the complete disclosure of everything about yourself physically and emotionally and basically just laying your soul bare for all to see. I suppose we are all a very special, determined group to put up with all the testing and questioning we are subjected to, but I'll let the insurance company in on a little secret - our numbers are growing daily and in time WE will be a force to be reckoned with. WE are a minority now, but will one day be a majority and able to make some changes. With the way some of the insurance policies are written, we are like cattle going to the slaughter, we just go on to wherever we are told to go. I have never had to go through so much to get a background check for a security clearance. Well, here I go again - time to lock and load and get ready for another fight!!!
22 October 2003
I'm seeing Dr. Javed, pulmonary, today for a follow-up visit. I have been having a lot of leg edema (pitting edema), some shortness of breath and chest pain that starts in the center of my chest and travels up into my jaw. The nurse weighed me and it was 242. I have never weighed that much before, so I know that something is wrong. I asked Dr. Javed about my symptoms and he checked me over and said I needed to see my PCP and a pulmonary specialist ASAP and if the chest pain got worse to go to the ER. With my symptoms, the first thing that I thought of was CHF (congestive heart failure), but I had no wheezing and I didn't feel like I had any fluid in my lungs. Dr. Javed said my lungs were clear. I also had trouble with my sinuses and I couldn't tolerate my CPAP for the whole night and he gave me a sample of Flonase nasal spray to help me breathe. It could be the start of a sinus infection as I've had so many before. I went home, put my legs up and wait for morning to call my PCP.
23 October 2003
Was having chest pain again and I called Dr. DeMare. I described my symptoms to his nurse and she got my chart and Dr. DeMare got on the line. After talking to him, he told me to go to the ER and get checked out. He said it was the safe thing to do, especially with the chest pain radiating up into my jaw. I called my husband, who was at work in Mahwah, to take me to the ER. I relayed to him the info I got from Dr. DeMare. I told him not to freak out and drive like a mad man, but I think he did anyway. I know he's worried about me and feels helpless, because he can't fix it. Surprisingly, I felt calm. I think because I was going to Chilton and I'm very comfortable there, I wasn't worried. Just in case this was something cardiac (heart attack), I took my aspirin. While my husband was enroute, I called Dr. Javed and Dr. Gritsus to tell them I was going to the ER per speaking to Dr. DeMare. Before I left the house, I grabbed my medical history forms and medication list. I just happened to have this as I made copies for when I have to see another Dr. for an exam. At the hospital,I was checked in fast and I just handed them the history and medication list. I was put in a private ER room and we waited. I saw the ER doctor (Dr. Grossman), did the history thing, showed where the pain was and he ordered labs, EKG, chest x-ray, monitoring, IV access, etc. From the x-ray results, I found out that there was an old, healed left rib fracture - an old war wound from the NJ Veteran's Home. The guys there were quite fiesty! The nurse who started my IV, Merle, was working 11-7 when I knew him. He was good with the IV. Now to wait for the test results. Do you know that Dr. Gritsus took time out of his busy day to come see me in the ER? I must say this thoughtful gesture made me feel much better and I think Don felt better too. You know Dr. Gritsus really cares about his patients when he comes to check up on you in the ER. Later, I was told that he had come down to the ER looking for me before I arrived at the hospital. I was truly touched by his kindness. A cardiologist was called in and I saw Dr. Mark Rosenthal. He is in the same group as Dr. Lawrence BLitz and he pulled up my medical info from the computer. More questions and I was told the EKG was normal and the labs were normal. He suggested that a stress test be done and wanted to know if I could walk on a treadmill. Well, I can get on a treadmill, just don't turn it on!! It won't be a pretty sight when I fall down and break my ass!! Then if I can't get up, you're not going to be too happy getting my big ass up off the floor. I told him about my bad back, arthritis, edematous legs, shortness of breath and that I didn't really think that I could go very far without stopping, so he said that he would do a dobutamine (chemical) stress test in the AM. He told me, "Now you've bought yourself a night in the hospital and a test in the morning." He said he'd be there for the test and would see me then. I am waiting on my luxurious suite on the 5th floor, but before I leave the ER I have another bout of chest pain. My nurse, Paul, gave Maalox and after a few minutes the pain wasn't so bad. As I was waiting to go upstairs, I was given Dr. Gritsus' card so I could get a hold of him later. Not very many doctors have that kind of dedication to their patients. I don't even have my insurance approval yet and have only had one consult with him and he's concerned about me. I hope that Chilton realizes just how lucky they are to have him on their medical staff. I was escorted upstairs by two nice gentlemen (nurse Paul and transport aide). For once I didn't get the stretcher from ShopRite, you know the one with the broken, crazy wheel that just doesn't go straight. Everytime you push the cart the wheel jiggles, wants to go the opposite direction and makes a horrible grinding noise. Wacka! Wacka! Wacka! I was checked in upstairs and asked more questions, had another EKG, and was hooked up to a monitor. I finally got something to eat - the last thing I had was breakfast and that was some watermelon. I was starved and I had a terrible headache. Don stayed until visiting hours were over (8 PM) and then he went home. I got my meds and then the nurse came in to give me two injections in my belly (blood thinners). It was a preventative measure and thank God, she gave good shots. I had another chest pain episode and the nurse gave me more Maalox. If this is GERD, I have never had such terrible pain from it. I couldn't sleep so I flipped channels between regular TV and the Yankee/Marlin game. Jo, my tech, stopped by to ask the score. She was running all over, it must be very busy. Finally, I felt sleepy and put my CPAP on and went to sleep for a little while. I woke up to some one trying to get my BP a couple of times during the night and then the nurse coming in to check it. Come to find out it was low (88/50) and I told the nurse that sometimes it does that. Now back to sleep...
24 October 2003
I woke up this time to someone patting my hand and calling my name. Wow, it's 5:30 AM and time to get blood drawn for my morning labs. Ouch! It hurt as the tech took it from my hand, but it was quick. Can't sleep so I watched TV. Day shift nurse, Marcie, came to see me and told me I was (nothing by mouth) for the stress test. Shoot! I was looking forward to hospital cuisine! I was thinking about a charbroiled steak (medium/bloody center), two eggs (over easy, don't you dare break those yolks), toast with butter (real butter, not the imitation crap) and fries! A tech from the x-ray dept. came up with their little metal box (it has a radiation sticker on the side - I wonder what's inside!) to give me the injection for the scan. Don't turn out the lights, I may glow in the dark! Now I wait till x-ray calls for me. The scan only took about 15 minutes, but it was so painful for me with my bad back. I felt like they put me on a long French loaf pan and stuck me in the oven. Thank God the scan was an open scan and I wasn't completely enclosed like the MRI. OK out of the oven and out of the pan and we go to Cardio/Resp for the stress test. The respiratory therapists (Carol and Carol) explained everything that was going to happen. Seems like there are people who freak out during the test because the meds make your heart race and you don't feel well. So, Dr. Rosanthal with the respiratory staff start the test. I just happen to be positioned so that I can see the monitor, too. They pushed the dobutamine into my vein and it didn't get my heart rate up high enough or my BP. I saw the heart rate start going down. So now they pushed the atropine in and that did it. I could feel my heart going a mile a minute and some weird tingling feelings in the pit of my stomach, and along the back of my legs and back. Then I suddenly felt nauseous and yup, the stuff made me sick. I am so thankful that I had nothing to eat. The test proved to be normal, but I still had to go to x-ray for more pics. You know before and after shots. Got on the loaf pan and into the oven a second time and finally back to my room. Don called the desk and was on his way to the hospital from work. As soon as we get the stress test results, I can go home, but first, a last parting meal. All of the test results came back negative and reports would be forwarded to my doctors and I was told to just follow up with my PCP. Got home and went to bed to get some sleep. Don followed up with phone calls to doctors and friends telling them I was home and that all tests were negative. What a sweetheart! He has supported me through all the doctor appointments, gives me encouragement everyday and deals with the stress of seeing my sick. It's no wonder that we have been married for 21 years and we are still best friends!!!!! I'm so lucky!!! He is truly my soulmate!!! There is no other like him!!! I love him with all my heart and soul!!!
27 October 2003
I feel back to normal and now it's time to move on with the new insurance company (Aetna). I'm so thankful for Mary Meola, RN, who knows about the insurance requirements. She is sending me a list of what is required for the 26-week medically supervised diet. Since I've already completed some of the appointments with the psychologist, dietician, and nurse and had my weigh-ins documented, the program will start in September 2003. Even though I feel bad about the denial, I'm glad that I have already started the process and have about 2 months done - just 4 more to go. Now, I just have to keep my appointments and get my weight checked and documented each month. So, I'm on the pathway to my lap RNY surgery. I can play this insurance game, too. Just one more obstacle to overcome. My chant is, "Whatever it takes, whatever it takes."
28 October 2003
I have to thank Linda at Dr. Gritsus' office. She has been such a big help to me with the insurance. She's a real go-getter and like me doesn't like to take no for an answer. She always has time for me and like Dr. Gritsus, you know that her concern is genuine. She believes in the practice and surgery and Dr. Gritsus is very lucky to have her. She is an insurance whiz. I always look forward to going to their office. When I leave the office I always feel good!! You have that warm feeling of true concern! I've gone there just to say hi when I have another doctor's appointment and I still leave with the same feeling. It's contagious and I need my fix!!!
30 October 2003
This morning I will see Dr. Zangara (GI) for a follow up. I told him about my admission to Chilton and that the tests were all negative. It is thought that the pain was caused by severe GERD. He discussed with me that if I had more trouble swallowing that he could perform a test to check the pressures in the esophagus. I told him that since discharge from the hospital, I was having rectal bleeding again, but that it wasn't bothersome or painful. I just wanted him to know that it was happening. He said if it continued he would call in a prescription for a steroid-containing suppository. Also, we talked about the lap RNY procedure and he thought I would receive benefit from it. So, I asked him if he would write me a letter saying so. Yay! He said yes and would send it to Dr. Gritsus. He said that he had just met Dr. Gritsus and that he liked him. It sure is nice to find another doctor on your side that supports your efforts for RNY surgery.
It's a busy doctor day because this afternoon I have an appointment with my PCP. Dr. DeMare checked everything because I had been in the hospital. This office visit will be 45 minutes to an hour. I told him about the negative test results and that they would be sent to him. He checked my legs for edema and it was still there - it wasn't as bad as it was, but you still could leave fingerprints in my legs. I had bloodwork, fingerstick, EKG, wt. check and I'm down from 242 to 236 lbs. Checked lungs, feet, had flu and pneumonia shot. We went over the criteria for the 26-week medically supervised diet and the documentation required. We talked about the insurance denial and I told him basically I was lied to about being approved by United HealthCare. Now I have to start all over with Aetna and this diet thing. I am really lucky to have him for my PCP because he, too, really cares about his patients. If you show him that you will work on improving your medical conditions, he will do all he can to help you out. He is also in favor of the surgery and I know that I can count on him and his staff. He has already told me that he'll gladly follow me with labs, B-12 injections, etc. following surgery. I also surprised his office and Dr. Gritsus by making miniature chocolate cupcakes with chocolate chips. Yeah, the double chocolate whammy! For good luck each cake had 7 chocolate chips in them. Next appointment is 4 Dec 03 for the weight check. This visit had a $20 co-pay.
31 October 2003
Kathy called from Dr. DeMare's office. My labs were elevated - cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting blood sugar and Hemoglobin A1C was 7.3. So he wants me to try to lose 5 lbs by the next visit or he will have to increase my diabetic meds. It's funny because I haven't had any soda, Dunkin' donuts, Krispy Kremes, chips, no fast food since the second week in September and still the weight is there. I have been making an effort to cut out the crap food and replacing it with more healthy stuff. It's really hard to do!!
3 November 2003
Our new insurance went into effect on 1 Nov 03. Today I called member services at Aetna to ask them questions about the surgery and their requirements for approval. I got through to Ken at the Pittsburgh Center. He told me that is covered if it is medically necessary and have a psych, dietican, nurse evaluations. I told him about all of my comorbities. I asked him about the requirement for the 26-week medically supervised diet and the documentation required. He told me to go the Aetna site and do a search for clinical policy bulletin no. (0157). It tells you about what is required. I printed it out and it looks like the only thing that I don't have is the diet. So now I go on from here. I've already made my appointments to see the psychologist, dietician, and exercise specialist. I have to learn about behavior modification, better diet habits, and how to set up my exercise program. I will see these people later this month. I sent my new insurance information to my PCP and Dr. Gritsus.
4 November 2003
I talked to Linda (Dr. Gritsus) today. She thanked me for the cake and we talked insurance. I told her about the conversation with Ken yesterday and the 26-week diet. The diet will end in March 2004. I found out that Dr. Gritsus has started his support group for his post-op patients. Things are already happening for his practice. Linda now has help with all her paperwork. The newest staff member is Kathy. I wonder what else will be new for them!!!
5 November 2003
Tonight is the CMA Awards and I heard this song and it so much describes me, but too bad I didn't get all the words:
I will not back down
If you push me to the wall
Expecting me to fall
I will not give in
I'm not afraid to fight
For what I believe is right
I can only take so much
It's not in my blood to back down
I will not back down
I just think about all that I have been through with the insurance and I can't imagine how some of you have waited for your approval for years sometimes. It just goes to show you what kind of strength you find when you refuse to give up. In the old days, I would dance my war dance and pray to the Great Spirit for a swift victory and defeat of my enemy. I would paint my face and favorite horse, take up my shield, my bow & arrows for today I ride into battle and only one is coming back alive. I shall be victorious. I am strong. I shall prevail - victory is mine! I am a warrior!
6 November 2003
Just got a message from Linda at Dr. Gritsus' office and she sounded excited and said she had good news. Well, the phone was upstairs and I almost broke my ass trying to get up the stairs. It seems today I put on my clown shoes!! I was so excited that I couldn't get the phone to work right (the phone was in perfect working condition, it was the operator who had a major malfunction) and I only had a couple of minutes before she went home. I grabbed another phone and I caught her before she left the office and she said that she talked to the insurance and I was approved!!! Praise and thanks goes to God!! All we need is the authorization number. She gave me a tentative surgery date of 15 Dec 03. You know if she said, "Could you come in tomorrow?" The answer would be, "What time? I'm there!" Maybe it is a little premature to do the happy dance, but screw that - I've been doin' one every since she called!!! Can't help it!!!! I thank Dr. Gritsus' and his wonderful staff for all their help!!! I'm so happy!!!! Happy dance!!! Happy dance!!!
10 November 2003
Today I got my hard copy of my surgery approval in the mail!!! Happy dance!!!! 35 more days until surgery and a new life!! I now have proof in my hot little hands that says I am having WLS!! The only way you're getting it, is when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers!!! I think I'm going to frame that puppy when this whole thing is over!!! Thousands of man hours went into that piece of paper!!! Oh no, the Happy Dance is starting again!! OK, you can dance, too!!!
12 November 2003
Tonight I have an appointment with Fitness Trainer. Her name is Olympia and we spent the hour going over a program that is tailored to me. I have a weight training routine with some light weights, some marching in place to get the muscles warmed up, and stretching exercises. She gave me exercises to do that will not hurt my bad back/joints and as I progress I'll be able to do more. I told her I couldn't walk very far and she told me to just do as much as I can tolerate and then as I feel better to just increase it. It's not a race and to just start slow. So she will fax the program to PWC and they will mail my program to me. She also said she would send me some pictures of the exercises, some exercise tips and her e-mail in case I have any questions. She said she would continue to work with me after surgery if I so desired. I especially asked her for exercises for the upper body as I will have to be able to push myself up and off the hospital bed after surgery and some exercises for the lower body so I can get up from the chair, bed and toilet. Tomorrow I will start my program. I am very pleased with Olympia and my exercise routine. I feel it will help me post op and I will do really well. She told me to check out e-bay for exercise equipment and exercise tapes. Just do a search and type in "exercise equipment" or "exercise tapes." There's usually a few pages there and some are quite reasonable. I have also found equipment in Target, WalMart, K-Mart, Modell's, Sports Authority and in want ads and garage sales. You don't have to break the bank!!! Just do some shopping around! The bargains are out there!
I am also seeing Tricia the dietician tonight. We went over the post-op diet. We went over the changes I had made over the last few weeks and portion control. I have made many changes to my diet since last September and I feel ready to have the surgery. We went over the post-op diet page by page and she wrote down some notes for me. Just to be sure that I am on the right path, I told Tricia I would like one more session just to touch on everything before the surgery. 33 more days until surgery!! These two appointments were out-of-pocket expenses. The personal trainer was $80 and dietician was $50. They are out-of-network professionals and I have to pay.
19 November 2003
Today I saw Dr. Javed, sleep doctor, for a follow-up visit. I talked with Lorna, RN, about the surgery and she is happy for me. She is very nice and is fun to talk to. She is very positive about WLS and wants to now how I'm doing after the surgery. Everything is a go for the surgery! He is happy that I can use my CPAP and my 02 sats are good. Lungs are clear and the edema in the legs is almost gone. 26 days until surgery!! He gives me the "thumbs up" and wishes me the best of luck! I have received positive energy from everyone!!
27 November 2003
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!!!! My husband and brother-in-law are making dinner!!!!! I get to sit and watch TV while they cook!! Aren't they darlings!! The feast was great!! They are no strangers to the kitchen!! Emeril watch out! BAM! They can take it up a notch, too!!! Too much turkey, have to go to sleep now!! 18 days until surgery!!! Buh-bye....Nite Nite....ZZZZzzzzz....
1 December 2003
Today I am going for my medical clearance from Dr. DeMare, PCP. I got the works - EKG, checked my feet and pulses, checked eyes, ears, mouth and nose, checked my belly, checked carotid pulses, checked lung sounds, checked weight, labs, spirometry test, urinalysis, chest x-ray, fingerstick for blood sugar, rectal exam for occult blood, BP, TPR, plus he checked all the body systems - very thorough exam. We talked about my meds and what can and cannot be crushed. We also talked about my care after the surgery. He told me he would be following up on labs and if I required a B-12 shot he would give it. I must say he is a very concerned doctor. I am so happy that I go to him and his staff is great. I did some baking today and I gave his office and Dr. Gritsus' office a plate of blueberry muffins. You wonder how I can bake and not sample the goods?? Well, the secret is to bake when you have to go for fasting bloodwork!! 14 more days until surgery!!!!! The office will send the results to Dr. Gritsus' office and that's it for the doctor visits. I have finally come to the end!!!! Next time I see a doctor it will be for a follow up appointment. As I have pursued WLS, I have met so many kind doctors. Most of them are new and I have never met them before and they treated me with the utmost respect. They were patient with me in answering questions and had the time to explain tests results and meds. They have all supported me in seeking WLS and no one had a negative word on the subject. I'm so grateful for these medical professionals. I'm very lucky!!!! I'm blessed!!
2 December 2003
Dr. Gritsus' office called and wanted to know if I wanted to change the surgery date to the 9th or 10th of Dec. YES!!!! So now my surgery date is 9 Dec at 1 pm at Chilton Memorial Hospital. I have to be at the hospital at 10:30 am. I am so psyched!!! More happy dancing!!!! I just can't believe my good fortune!!! 7 more days until surgery!! Pinch me!!! Is this all a dream!!!!! You know there'll be no sleep tonight!!! Have to call all my friends!!! Have to send out some e-mails!!! I'm so wired!!! I must remember to thank Dean for this, because I had mentioned to him that I was unemployed and just waiting for surgery. I dropped a hint and said if there is an opening anytime I am ready to go. Well, now that has happened and it is such a wonderful surprise. All the disappointment of the denial is completely gone with this great news!!! I'm smiling from ear to ear and I'll probably sleep with this shit-eating grin. My face will be sore and in spasms tomorrow, but who cares!!!! Not me!!!! I'm having WLS in 7 days!!!!!! I'm driving my family crazy now with my excitement!!! I don't care!!!! Happy dance!!!!
5 December 2003
Today I went to Chilton Memorial to get my blood typed and cross-matched for surgery on the 9th. I also have to complete my pre-admission testing with the nurse, Dottie. We went over more questions about my medical history, meds, and what to expect while in the hospital. It was very thorough and she told me about someone she knew who had the surgery and is doing really well. It seems quite a few employees of Chilton have taken the plunge and are now losers. Good for them!! Our numbers are growing everyday. Dottie and I really hit it off and we were laughing and talking. I feel good about having the surgery and with such positive feedback, I can't go wrong. Dottie said I would be well-taken care of and I would be fine. I believe this also. Don waited outside the office for me and he could hear us laughing. He later asked me if we were having a party! Dottie told me he could have come into the exam if he wanted to, but we've been to so many appointments that I think he is worn out by all the same questions. I think he thought if I went in alone that I wouldn't be long. Well....Dottie was a lot of fun and it took longer. I have everything done, complete. Surgery is the final step and I am soooo ready! Bring it on!!!
6 December 2003
Tonight I am starting my liquid diet for surgery. Dr. Gritsus requires that you start 24 hours before surgery, but I'm anal and cautious when it comes to my intestines. I've heard enough things about E. coli and infection and after all, he'll be cutting my intestines in two and then reattaching them. So supper tonight is egg drop soup. You know lots of people have to have their last supper and really pig out, but I have always ate what I wanted when I wanted it and I figure after surgery it will be pretty much the same - just smaller portions. So no last suppers for me. Besides it has snowed here in NJ and we can't go out to eat anyway. We ordered Chinese takeout for supper. I'm still so excited I can't stand it!! Sleeping at night is almost nonexistent!! My mind is racing and I can't settle down!! Time is dragging by soooo slowly!!!
7 December 2003
Still on the liquids - mostly soups and trying to get those 64 ounces of fluid in.
What I'm taking to the hospital:
toothbrush and toothpaste
wear sweats to the hospital and wear home
baby lotion (the smell of it is very soothing)
antibacterial hand cleaner
scrunchie for hair
sandals with velcro fasteners (I hate slippers) or thongs
sleeping socks (I like my tootsies warm)
pair of shorts to wear when the foley comes out pull-over shirt that I modified with snaps down both sides (I don't like wearing hospital gowns)
chapstick or lip balm (post-op your mouth will feel full of sand and lips will be very dry)
The Enquirer and other rag mags
your eye glasses and case
notebook and pen
child's sippy cup
CPAP machine (if you use one)
a few dollars for the phone and TV deposit
address book with all my phone numbers
ladies bring sanitary protection or if you forget the hospital will supply you with pads, but they won't have the sticky strip to keep them in place
if you think you'll have a hard time wiping yourself after surgery, you can go to a dollar store and invest in a pair of tongs or a large wooden spoon to wrap the toilet paper around. It might save you an embarrassing moment with the nurses. It inexpensive and later you can just chuck it
if you are always too hot, check beforehand to see if you can bring a portable fan or if the hospital will provide one for you
I brought a disposable camera so I could take before pictures and after
I also made up a paper to give the nursing staff when I'm taken to the floor. You'll be asked to give those medical history questions again so I gave them this:
It has my name, age, BMI, DOB, SSAN, height, weight, address, home/fax/cell/work phone, work address, e-mail, religion, blood type
Spouse info: name, work title, work address, home/fax/cell/work phone, e-mail
List of all my doctors: Primary care, bariatric surgeon, gastroenterology, pulmonologist, cardiologist, ob/gyn, ophthmalmologist, otolaryngologist, orthopedic. Include all addresses and phone/fax numbers
List all of your medical conditions
List all drug/latex/tape/food/dye/seasonal allergies
List all current medications, what dosage, when you take your pills and on your surgery day annotate what drug you took and when you took it
List all your over-the-counter (prn) medications and any vitamins and herbs you take:
List you surgical history: Type of surgery, date of surgery, surgeon(s), place of surgery
Other hospitalizations: Reason for admission, date of admission, place of admission
Immunizations: List any you have had, date of immunizations
Childhood diseases: List which disease, date of disease
List recent diagnostic test: Type of test, date of test, who performed test and place of test
List other diagnostic tests: Type of test, date of test, who performed test and place of test
Other: List if using a CPAP machine and its setting. You will have to bring it to the hospital
Very last entry in big bold letters: I HAVE AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE
That should save you a lot of question answering and the nurse can get on with getting you ready for surgery.
8 December 2003
This is the day before surgery and now I'm on a clear liquid diet. I'm really hungry now, but I'll make it through these last 24 hours. I'm so excited about tomorrow!! My day has finally come!! I have all my protein supplements, vitamins, dishes, measuring spoons, plates, bowls, scale, everything is in place and just waiting to be used. My bags have been packed for three weeks and I psyched. Tonight I know I won't get much sleep - I'm too wound up. I know surgery will go fine. I've prayed to ask God for a great outcome, but I also believe in the human spirit and in positive thinking. It's also a matter of trust in your doctors and in the strength of your support system. Even if no one believed in me having the surgery, I would go through with it because I know it's what I want and I know I'll be all right. I'm doing this for ME and to improve MY quality of life. I also believe in guardian angels and in the spirits of my ancestors. I'm Navajo and I believe in talismans and energy transference between objects and the person holding it. I have such a talisman for my doctors. My outcome can only be excellent. I'll accept nothing else. Plus I have many people praying for me - people from this site, friends and family. I know that others who have passed on from this world will be watching over me as I go into surgery. If by that very slim chance that God calls me home, I have my advance directive in place - but that ain't happenin' this time buddy! My mind is focused, my energy positive, no worries mate!!
I plan on documenting my food intake, exercise, tracking protein grams, calories, fluids, carbohydrates on a computer program called FitDay. You can download it to your computer for about $20 or you can register and use the free program by going to FitDay You will be able to see if you are on target or if you are slipping up and need to work at your diet and exercise. It keeps me honest, because I try to document everything that goes into my mouth! I've come too far to fail!! To fill help you with the food counts I use this book with the FitDay program: The Complete Book of Food Counts by Corrine T. Netzerf, 6th Edition. It's about $8 in paperback. You can get it at Barnes & Noble, Borders or on Amazon. If you go out to eat you will need to know the food counts and I've used this site: Fast Food Counts It lists about 209 restaurants. Good luck in staying on track!!
Before you go out and buy a lot of protein drinks, you could try out some samples after surgery and then decide which ones you can tolerate. Surgery may change your tastes and what tasted good before, may taste horrible now. It would be a shame to pay big bucks for a container of protein that turns your stomach.
You can order a big variety of samples from Susan Marie Leach. She has had WLS, samples all her products, has variety, most taste really good, has fast shipping, sends a free sample, and hand writes a note to you on the invoice. Her site is: BariatricEating The samples are about $1.75 each. She also has a book coming out soon!!
The next site is for Unjury products. I haven't used these, but I have heard they are very good, have fast shipping and you can purchase samples for $1.75. The site is: Unjury
This site is for Whey Fruity and will send you two free samples with no shipping charge for just registering online. The one tastes like tropical punch (Hawaiian Punch), the Lemonade one is pretty good too. The site is: MolecularNutrition
This site offers 7 free samples. You just have to pay for the shipping - $4.95. The site is: Gourmet Protein
I haven't tried this site either, but they offer samples for $1.99 each + shipping & handling. Shipping is based on what you order, check the fee schedule VitaLady
This site offers samples from $1.50-$11 + shipping & handling. I haven't tried this site. Shipping is based on what you order, check the fee schedule. TxWLS
I hope this will save you some money and you will find a palatable protein drink.
These are my favorite protein drinks:
Nature's Best Isopure Zero Carb Creamy Vanilla, Dutch Chocolate
Dymatize Elite Whey Protein - Cafe Mocha, Chocolate Mint, Gourmet Vanilla, Smooth Banana, Chocolate
Labrada ProPlete Gold - Banana Creme, Chocolate Ice Cream, Vanilla Pineapple
Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey Protein - Chocolate Mint, Double Rich Chocolate, Vanilla
I especially like vanilla as you can add it to cereal, yogurt, pudding, cottage cheese when you can have these foods. It's a good all-around flavor and for me, my favorite! You can change the flavor by using sugar free syrups!
9 December 2003
These are my preop measurements and weight. Date: December 9, 2003
My BMI is: 41.7 Morbidly Obese
Weight 228 pounds Height: 5 2
Bust/Chest: 48 inches Waist: 52 inches
Hips: 58 inches Neck: 18 inches
Left upper arm: 16 inches Right upper arm: 16 ½ inches
Left thigh: 24 ½ inches Right thigh: 24 inches
Left calf: 17 inches Right calf: 17 ½ inches
Blood sugar: 120
Today is the day!! It's finally here!! All the waiting and calling insurance companies is over. Today my life changes forever!! I e-mailed my friends and told them I was headed for the hospital. I have to be there at 10 am. I was taken to my private room on 4 East. I saw an old friend, Tania, and we quickly chatted and laughed. Everyone is wishing me luck and praying for me. I changed my clothes and surprise the gown actually covers my butt. All the bariatric patients go to this floor. I wait for the nurse and she starts my IV and she was very good as it didn't hurt a bit and she got it the first time. Now more waiting - it's only 10:45 am. I turned the TV on and got the phone on. My husband, Don, is with me and will wait for me while I'm in surgery. We're laughing and watching TV. I'm so excited, I think I'm going crazy! Surgery is scheduled for 1 pm. I heard the microwaves go beep, signaling that lunch is being served. Now I'm hungry. Finally, it's time to go to the OR. A couple of ladies from the OR come to get me, bed and all. Bumpity bump we go down the hall and into the elevators. The OR is on the first floor. Out the back elevator and down the hall to the OR holding area. Here I greeted by my OR nurse and another old friend, Rose. I feel so good knowing that I am in good hands. My friend, Rose, fixed my hair for my hat, wished me luck and then I talked to the OR nurse. She told me what was going to happen and asked a few questions. Dr. Gritsus came to say hi and told us that they would be starting soon. It was very comforting to see him. Then anesthesia came to see me. It wasn't the Dr. I was told it would be, but this Dr. was so nice and I trust him, Dr. Rapacon. He also explained what would be happening in the OR and he noticed that I knew some of the OR staff and he said he knew I'd be fine. We even joked a little. He said he would take good care of me. So I kissed Don and told him I would see him in a little while. I never saw good-bye, just see you later. I know he's scared for me even though he hasn't said it. I know I'll be fine. Down the hallway, around the bend and into the OR. Since I had to surrender my glasses to Don I am now blind. I'm near-sighted (20/200). Everything is a blur. What a happy OR staff! They are all talking to me and we are laughing. One is strapping on the B/P cuff, another is sticking the heart monitors on, one is wrapping my legs in sequential TEDS, others are fixing my gown and IV. Everyone is a buzz around me. It's cold in the OR and they ask if I need a blanket and I say, "It feels good in here." I'm always hot. It doesn't matter, I still got a warm blanket on my legs. More laughing and Dr. Gritsus pops in and asks if I'm ready. Yup, there's no going back. Dr. Rapacon is seated above my head and asks if I feel anything and I say no. I'm getting a sedative and I don't feel anything. I feel very safe in Dr. Rapacon's hands and I know he'll take care of his little manook (chicken).The OR nurse asks me where my happy place is and I say Maine. Then everyone chimes in all at once "BAR HARBOR!" We're laughing again and everyone wishes me a happy trip and then the lights go out. Next thing I remember is waking up in my room. I don't remember the recovery room at all. I got back to my room around 6:30 pm. I remember seeing Dr. Gritsus and him saying everything went great, but it was real blurring. I knew everything went well. I just had a hard time waking up in recovery and I was down there for a longer time. Well, I hadn't hardly slept for a week because I was so exicted about getting my surgery moved up a week. I was in pain and my stomach felt like it was on fire. The burning sensation was terrible. I'm sure it was very angry at what I had done to it and it was payback time. I have a PCA (patient controlled analgesia) machine. Just push the button and get some morphine. It's a great invention! Can I get one to go?? Now the pain isn't so bad. Another old friend, Teri, is working on the floor tonight and she came to say hi and to tell me that my best friend, Kimmie, is on the phone. She is in Ft. Smith, Arkansas on vacation. I know that she felt bad because she couldn't be there with me, but we had no idea that the surgery would be moved up. Now everyone is coming for vital signs, wound check, fingersticks, hook me up to 02 and monitors, giving me a shot of heparin, strapping on the sequential TEDS, giving me insulin. I'm so tired and drowsy. Beat is a better word! Don is by my side and I'm happy. I keep falling asleep and Don left at 8 pm when visiting hours end. I was zonked and he didn't want to wake me. I finally snapped out of it at 10 pm. Now I'm wide awake and looking for everyone. Hey! Where did everyone go?? I thought it was only around 6pm. The evening nurse comes in and said that since I was sleeping they just let me sleep, but that I should be getting up out of bed soon. I said OK. I watched TV and at 12 mid the night shift came in to help me up. I got out of bed without any help and sat in a chair. They were impressed that I was doing so well. I went back to bed around 3 am. Sore, but not that bad. I just have to remember to use the PCA. I have a Foley catheter and I have to careful of that. I also have a JP (Jackson Pratt) drain. It dangles against my belly. I had my gown changed somewhere down the line and it's a smaller size and my ass hangs out. It's almost like I went to a party, passed out and then woke up with someone else's clothes on. Back to bed, but no sleeping, I'm not sleepy anymore. I watched TV til morning. My mouth is so dry and my throat is scratchy. I croak out my words. Ribbet-Ribbet!
FYI: Just so you know, the night shift will be in and out of your room all night long to monitor you. Sure you have the monitor for your heart and 02 saturation, but your other vital signs need to be monitored and they must see your wounds so it can be documented in your chart. Please don't be cross with the staff for they are only doing their jobs and if you didn't need to be monitored, you wouldn't be in the hospital. Right? I used to work at Chilton on the night shift and I can't remember all the times I got yelled at for waking someone up to get their vital signs. So just be thankful that you are getting such good care and when you go home, then you can rest. As for the floor noise, that can't be helped as the hospital is open 24/7. Be thankful that you have a private room. What's 2 days anyway! You're done, you made it, you're on the other side. LOSER!!!
10 December 2003
Wow!! First day post-op. Just sore, no biggie! What is very painful is my back. I have a bad back (degenerative disc disease with a couple herniated discs) and so it's no surprise. Thank God for the PCA. My Foley is taken out this morning and now I can get out of bed. I'm free of my Gucci (Foley) bag. The tech came in to give me AM care and I told her just to leave me the stuff and I can do it myself. She seemed surprised and told me to ring if I need any help. She was also very sweet to give me a gown that fit. Sometime this morning, I have to go down for a barium swallow and leak test my pouch. Finally, around 11:30 am we go to x-ray. What do you know I saw another old friend there, Janie, and we talked and she wished me luck. I drank the nasty stuff and the pictures were taken. I passed and now I can start drinking (sipping) fluids. Soon my sandpaper mouth will be gone. While I was gone the tech fixed my bed and linens. I tore up the bed when I was sleeping last night. Now to get this hospital gown off and into my shirt and shorts. That's much better. I spent most of the day in the chair. The nurse brought me my tray of clear liquids and showed me how much I could drink - 1 oz. an hour. I started drinking and no problems. Everything is fine. I talked for a while to my friends and I received some beautiful flower arrangements. I can hardly wait to go home. I was bored so I unplugged my IV pumps and grabbed the IV pole and went for a walk around the floor. I feel pretty good. I saw respiratory when they gave me an incentive spirometer and instructed me in its use. Gotta work those lungs!! Don't want to get pneumonia! Dietary came in to show me the clear liquid diet and explain how it works and if there were any questions. No questions here, but she said to call her if I thought of any later. Physical therapy came in to see if I needed any help walking or needed help at home. I said no and showed her I could get out of a chair and then I touched the floor. I told her I had been walking around the unit already and sat in the chair for a while. She was happy that I was moving around and to call if I needed her help. Friends called and it passed the time. Don came to visit after work and my brother-in-law, Joe, came to visit. I saw Dr. Gritsus and Dean tonight. They said everything went great and that I had a small hernia in my bellybutton (no wonder my navel looked like it was sticking its tongue out) and that a couple stitches were put in it to fix it. Later on I might have to get it fixed with mesh. It wasn't possible to do it yesterday. I didn't even know I had a hernia. Dr. Gritsus and Dean are the greatest! 8 pm and visiting hours are over. Tomorrow I get to go home. So I'm very happy. Just watching TV to pass the time. Talked to more friends on the phone. A good friend, Teri, worked the evening/night shift and she was my nurse tonight. I felt so safe and happy. I was also running a fever and my head was so stuffed up. I told her I thought I might have a sinus infection starting up and she called the Dr. and got an order for nasal spray and some Tylenol. I took them and felt so much better. She really gave me the "Mom" treatment and I'm so thankful. She's a very good nurse. After midnight I walked across the hallway to 4 West to visit some friends, Ana and Kathleen, who were doing their rounds. I had fun visiting and just catching up on things. Back to my room and sleep and TV.
11 December 2003
I was awake and watching TV when the dayshift came on. I had different nurses today. They were very nice. They checked my belly and IV and asked the usual questions. The techs came in to take my BP, TPR and fingerstick. I'm wondering when I can go home. Around 9am I was already up in my chair and looked out the door and saw Dr. Gritsus go by. He saw me and came right in. I asked him when I could go home and he said how about now. Great!!! Asked how I felt, if I was tolerating my liquids, any pain and how's the fever. I told him I felt great and have been walking around the hallway. Pain is minimal and I'm keeping all my liquids down with no problem. He got a suture removal kit and took out my JP drain. Just snip the stitch holding it in and pull it out. It didn't hurt. I was actually bracing myself because I thought it would hurt a lot. It felt like a pulling sensation from deep within my abdomen. I swear it must have been eight or nine inches long. Sort of like pulling out a long piece of spaghetti. He put a new dressing on it and said not to be alarmed if I have to change it later on as it might get saturated. Okay, as long as I know what to look for. Bandage changing is easy. Now he's off to the nurses' station to write my discharge orders. I called my husband and he's on the way from Mahwah. The nurse came in to tell me about the discharge orders and go over everything. I got my copy and then she took out my IV. YAY! The nurse who started it, Ha Zook, did an excellent job as there wasn't any bruising and just a tiny hole over the IV site. Today was her day off so I couldn't thank her. Don took all my flowers and stuff out to the truck. I had sweats to wear home, but since he can pick me up at the front door I just wore my shorts. One of the nurses volunteered to wheel me to the front door so I wouldn't have to wait for Transport. That was really nice of her. Down the elevator and out the front door to freedom! I got home and I felt really tired. I started to feel really lousy and have a bad headache. I took my temp and it was up. I went to bed to lie down and when I still felt bad I took my temp again and it was higher. I had Don go to the store and get me some children's tylenol. In a couple of hours the fever was coming down. My nose was finally clear and I could breathe normally. I felt like I really needed to cough, but I just couldn't quite cough hard enough. I put on my back brace and fastened it as tight as I could and then I coughed hard. Boy, that really did it! Stuff came up from the last 2 days and I think that was part of the fever problem. As the afternoon and evening progressed I felt so much better. I continued to sip on my fluids and rest. I tried to get the fluids in today, but I was sleeping a lot. My temp is back to normal and I feel fine. No nausea or vomiting. The only real complaint is my back. I have chronic lower back pain and so it decided to hurt tonight. I can take Tylenol, but it does nothing for that pain. Watching TV, talking to friends and checking e-mail. I think I'm doing great!!!
12 December 2003
Today is much better than yesterday. Fever is all gone and I'm ready to go. Today I start my protein supplements three times a day. I'm glad that I'll have the protein supplements as I feel hungry today. I have chosen to use Nature's Best Zero Carb Isopure Creamy Vanilla and I mix it with Lactaid Fat Free Calcium Fortified milk. I have liquid Centrum and liquid calcium to take as I didn't know how I'd be taking pills. I'm supposed to take Avandamet for my diabetes, but I'm not supposed to cut it or crush it, so I'm watching my blood sugars and monitoring them 3 times a day. I'm not taking the Avandamet until I see my PCP. I have been sipping, sipping, sipping throughout the day. My blood sugars have all been normal. The iron supplement is a small pill and I can get that down with no problems. My diet is a liquid diet so I'm having water, Arizona Diet Green Tea, Sugar Free Jello, Diet Tang, Isopure Protein drink, broth, Lipton Brisk Decaf tea, wonton soup without the wontons, sugar free Jello. I made it to the minimum of 64 oz. fluid. The grams of protein are supposed to be around 80 and I got that in. No problems with liquids. I feel good. I started back on my little exercise routine. I'm just doing the chair exercises for now. The going is slow, just like when I started the exercise program. The JP site did leak, but all I had to do was change the dressing and no problems. I feel good!!!
13 December 2003
It's Saturday and Don is taking me out to walk around some stores. We don't really have anything in particular to buy. We're just getting out of the house and walking around. We were out for a few hours and then came home. It was fun to get out. They had Chinese take-out and I had my yummy protein shake. It's alright. I'm stuffed and full. I'm happy!
15 December 2003
I feel great. Pain is minimal. Mostly lower back pain. I've tried to do my exercise program. I've taken my protein supplements, vitamins, and fluids faithfully. I get hungry around mealtime and the fluids fill me up for a while. I do have a bad craving for meat. This is the longest I have ever gone without any. I have been sipping like crazy to get my 64 oz. in each day. My incisions look great and they are healing nicely. They are all scabbed over and are getting flaky. They itch!! There aren't any stitches or staples. The incisions are closed from the inside and the outer skin is closed with steri-strips and the results are great. I can't wait until tomorrow because I see Dr. Gritsus and he will change my diet to Stage II. Tonight I dream of meat!!!!
16 December 2003
This is the day I get to have some kind of real food. My blood sugars remain normal and I'm checking them everyday. Blood pressure and temp are still normal. Went to Shop Rite the other day and when we passed the meats my mouth was watering. I'm so hungry for any kind of meat. Went to see Dr. Gritsus and was greeted by Linda and Kathy. They are the nicest people. Always happy to see you and we always have a good chat. Kathy is the newbie to the office. Dean took my vitals and did my weight check. According to my scale I have lost 11 pounds, but their scale reads differently because of the time of day, what I'm wearing, and what I had to eat and drink. When I weigh myself I wear the same clothes, without shoes and as soon as I get up. When they weigh, it's with shoes, and after I've eaten. So I expect the numbers to be very different. I'm keeping track of my progress on my own. Dean gave me a good exam and looked at my incisions with Dr. Gritsus. They were very pleased at how well I am doing. I told them I feel good and my only complaint is my back. Dean gave me a prescription for water exercises. He thought that might help me some. I told him tylenol did nothing for me. I know I can't take any NSAIDS. I haven't taken any since 6 Nov. when I found out I was definitely approved for the surgery. We talked about what happened in the surgery and how Dr. Gritsus fixed the hernia I have in my belly button. Later, if it is a problem it can be fixed with mesh. I am advanced to the Stage II diet: No Concentrated Sweets, Low Fat Pureed Diet. Time to get the blender out and now I can have meat. I have a diet plan with all my food choices and a sample menu to follow. I really like the way Dr. Gritsus set up the diet guidebook. It's easy to follow and there's many choices. I'll get lab work done on another visit. It is too soon for labs. I told them my blood sugars were normal and that I hadn't taken the Advandamet and they said to continue monitoring my sugars. We are all very pleased with the success of the surgery. As soon as I got home I cooked my salmon and weighed it. I seasoned it with lemon juice, Sazon, Butter Buds, pepper and cilantro. I pureed it so it was like pate. It was heaven!!! I can use seasonings and they don't bother my tummy. Everything stayed down and I feel great!!
18 December 2003
Today my best friend, Kimmie, and I are going shopping. Everytime we go it is usually an all day thing. I'm psyched!! Plus, everyone is going to be out checking out the Christmas sales. I ate a good breakfast and got my vitamins. I had my shake before she picked me up. I remembered to take a water bottle with me. We went to a lot of stores and sat in a lot of traffic. At least the traffic was moving. I didn't feel tired or sore. I was just so glad to get out to the stores. I think we started around 9:30am. Lunch was a late one and we went to Blimpie. We split a tuna fish sandwich. I just ate the tuna and left the fixings. It all agreed with me, mayo and all. It sure tasted good!! Kimmie was concerned about how I would eat and if I was getting tired. She dropped me off around 4pm. It was a long day, but I didn't really notice because I was having so much fun!! What a great friend I have and she's also an RN too! I fell short of my fluid intake today, but the protein is on target. Everything I have eaten stays down and tastes good. No change in the taste of food. I still like the same things, but now I get full and stay that way. Before I could eat and then in a little while I'd be hungry again as if I hadn't eaten. That gnawing hunger pain was ever present and sometimes even kept me awake at night. Well, that no longer happens. Everyday is like Thanksgiving - I'm stuffed. It's a good feeling and the torture has stopped!! I feel good. It was a great day and I crashed around 8pm. With all that walking, my back is throbbing. Would I do it again? Hell ya!!!
19 December 2003
Before surgery I froze 1 Tbsp amounts of pureed yams, carrots and acorn squash. I put them in Zip Loc bags and all I have to do is take them out of the freezer and micro blast them. Quick, easy and already measured. I also bought little bowls, plates, and chop sticks from an Asian store. They seem to dress up the food and makes it look more pleasing to the eye. There is such a small amount of food every little bit helps. The chop sticks will help you to eat slower when you are on regular food and are eating small pieces. I went to Maxim's on Route 46 in Parsippany and The Palisades Mall in NY to find the dinnerware. You could also look in dollar stores. I also found some good bargains in the Home Goods stores - one is in Pompton Plains off Route 23 and the other is over by the Willowbrook Mall (where the old Service Merchandise used to be). I also got some shrimp forks and tiny demitasse spoons. They'll definitely make you eat slower. I found these pretty cheap when I went to the Marshall Creek flea market in PA, off route 80 Exit 309. They were in one of the buildings and seem to be there the year around. These are some of the things that help me. The behaviors of taking you time eating, chewing thoroughly, no drinking at meals and eating your protein first have been very easy for me to do. I have been doing these behaviors for about 5 years or so and never knew why I did them. I just like to eat that way. I had also been using my small forks and spoons, plates and chop sticks. Guess I was predestined to have this surgery.
20 December 2003
I continue to add new foods. For breakfast I had smoked salmon today and it was delicious. Don and Joe got Chinese food lunch specials and I had egg drop soup. I did try a piece of their Hunan Chicken and Szechuan Beef and it was great! No problems getting it down and no trouble with spices. The soup was good too! For supper I had Shrimp with lobster sauce. I ate the shrimp and a tsp. of the sauce, no rice. Again, super yummy! No problems and my taste buds are still the same. I haven't dumped yet or even felt nauseous.
21 December 2003
Today for lunch we are going to Jose Tejas for lunch. I ordered a Jose Mesquite burger. It's grilled over mesquite wood, hand formed and comes with Monterey Jack cheese, the usual fixings and fries. I substituted rice for the fries. That first bite was heaven! I ate a third of the burger and took the rest home. The rice is going in my husband's lunch tomorrow. I had another third of the burger for supper. No problems with burgers!!
22 December 2003
I finished that burger this morning for breakfast. I am going shopping again today with Kimmie. We just went to a couple of stores for last minute Christmas stuff. We stopped at Lincoln Park Diner for a quick bite and I had the scrambled eggs plate. I ate half the plate and took the rest home (toast and fried potatoes). I had baked chicken breast for supper and everything stays down. I feel real comfortable eating out. I had the rest of the eggs for a snack. Gotta get that protein in daily!
23 December 2003
For my breakfast today I'm having some leftover baked chicken, refried beans and cheese. Lunch is ham, acorn squash and yams. I take all my vitamins and protein supplements. According to the diet guidelines I am supposed to have 3 protein shakes a day, but I have been able to take most of my protein from food so I have eliminated the 3rd shake. Tonight I am trying fried smelts. Boy, they tasted good and no problems eating them. All fluids and protein is accounted for.
24 December 2003
Today I'm having a small can of potted meat for breakfast. It tastes good - my husband is pulling a face because he hates it, says it's worse than Spam. For lunch, Don and I are going to Mr. Sushi. He got the all-you-can-eat sushi and I got a lunch special. My lunch was 3 pieces of salmon sushi and a California roll. I ate all the salmon and picked apart the roll and ate the avocado and crabstick. Don slipped me a piece of salmon from his plate! Shhh! Don't tell!! Just so you know, I didn't eat any of the rice. Way too many carbs in the sushi rice. It would jack my sugars up so high that I would end up with a killer headache for the rest of the afternoon. Whenever I go out I just ask for a glass of water with meals. It's so much easier than trying to explain that you can't drink with meals. Sushi GOOD, Diane FULL! Thank God, sushi agrees with me! I just love it! I also had a pinch of the pickled ginger. Supper wasn't as spectacular - just a baked pork chop with a little gravy.
25 December 2003
Yay!!! It's Christmas!!! I am having Cook's Ham and a piece of Jimmy Dean Sausage for breakfast. I have video games to play with today!!! Don and I both have games to play. For a snack I had some boiled shrimp with a little cocktail sauce. Lunch was special as it is every year. We do seafood!!! I had some lobster, crab claws, sushi salmon and dips of soy sauce and some melted butter. Yum-yum!! A feast fit for a queen!!! It's all agreeing with me. Later on I snacked on some boiled shrimp. Supper was more shrimp with lemon garlic butter. Absolutely heaven!!! It may seem like I had a lot of food, but I weighed each morsel and I'm right on target. It was a fun day and I enjoyed our seafood fest. Everyone munched!!!
26 December 2003
Wow! Was it Christmas yesterday??? It went so quick!!! I'm having leftover shrimp with garlic butter for breakfast. Still so good!!! Good thing I pushed them to the back of the fridge last night so they wouldn't be seen. Heh Heh Heh! Lunch was sushi salmon and soy sauce. What can I say? I love raw fish! Meow! If you like Kool Aid, try the Sugar Free Tropical Punch. It's really good. It stinks when you make it, but tastes yummy. Supper was baked ham with mustard. I've also found that tomato juice tastes good. Normally, I wouldn't even try this because I have had such awful knock-you-to-your-knees heartburn and pain, but after I had this surgery, no more. It's completely gone and I haven't had an episode since. What a relief! Acidic things could really set off an attack. No problems with any food today!
27 December 2003
For breakfast today I'm having ham. Lunch is a lamb chop and it agrees with me. Supper is a baby hamburger with refried beans and cheese. Snacks are Diet Lime Jello. Still measuring and on 2 protein shakes a day.
28 December 2003
Breakfast is Jimmy Dean Hot sausage. Boy, is this good! Lunch is Taco Bell soft taco. I ate the taco meat and cheese. I left the tortilla - too many carbs for me and lettuce I hate. I'm not a salad/rabbit food eater. I'm a carnivore by nature. I also had refried beans with cheese. Supper was tender roast beef with carrots and onions. No problems with the onions! No problems with today's food.
29 December 2003
Breakfast is a lamb chop. Very juicy!! In the old days, I would have eaten 2 or 3 slices of white bread with it. I need something to sop up the juice! Just think of the carbs! Lunch is Hillshire Farms Polish Kielbasa and cheese. Supper is Cook's ham. For a treat tonight, I'm having a small Italian cookie with a dab of fruit filling. It stayed down and I feel fine. Yeah know, just that one little cookie satisfied me. I was just curious to know how my pouch would react to it.
30 December 2003
Today is day 21 after surgery (3 weeks). I now weigh 210 lbs. It's just amazing how the pounds come off. My blood sugars are pretty normal throughout the day and my blood pressure is normal. I'm having an omelet for breakfast made with ham and cheese. Lunch is Jimmy Dean Hot sausage and cheese. I'm meeting with the dietician, Michele, at Dr. Gritsus' office this afternoon. I've e-mailed her, but have never meet her. We hit it right off and we talked about my diet. I had to send her a 3-day diet history so she could analyze it and have a report for me. She was very pleased at my progress and we talked about diet strategies. I told her what worked for me and she thought that I was ready to go to 4 oz. of food and the next level. Hey, it works for me. Also, I am going to try to get all my protein from food and stop the protein supplements. If I need the protein supplements I can use them. I told her I could tolerate every food I've tried and every spice. She told me to eat meat and I said, "So you're saying if it has a face, eat it!" We just laughed and she said that when she thinks of meat again she'll think of what I said! LOL! Now that's my new mantra!!! But it's true!!! When you see her you have to pay up front and the fee was $60 for just about an hour. You receive a bill/receipt to file with your insurance company for reimbursement. She recommended that I see her in a month or so. She also talked about the support meeting on the 15th of January and asked if I was going. Of course, I am!!! The topic will be on Vitamins and Supplementation. We are to bring in our vitamins and a couple of people will be picked and we'll see what they take. Different!! Also there will be a questions and answer session. Just briefly saw Dr. Gritsus and Dean and said hi. The office waiting room had a few people. Looks like they're getting busy. This new year will be very prosperous for them. They deserve it too because they work so hard to see that we are all well-taken care of. I know they had surgery today and now it's the afternoon and they are seeing patients. I'm very pleased with Michele. Talking to her was like talking with my girlfriend. She's very easy going and eager to help. Dr. Gritsus made an excellent choice in bringing her into his practice. She's a positive force and can only add to the office. I got a few minutes to talk to LInda, office manager, and she is such a kind, caring person. She's very smart and knows so much about insurance. I hope they like the cakes I made this morning. Well, someone's got to eat them!!! Now, for supper I am having roast beef and for my snack some Boar's Head Cheddar Cheese. Tomorrow I'm shooting to get my protein in with just the food!!! Chanting my mantra.....
31 December 2003
Today Don is off and we are going to the Palisades Mall in NY. Security is all round us here in the NY area. The police are checking trucks using the bridges going into NY. The mall is before the Tappan Zee Bridge and at our exit the traffic is starting to back up. We came early so we can get a good parking spot. Looks like everybody thought of this one today! The lot is getting full already and the main stores aren't even open yet. We walked around for a while and went to Barnes and Noble. I have a coupon for a free cup of Godiva Hot Chocolate. I gave that one to Don and I had a cup of decaf coffee. It was delicious. We walked around so more and we were deciding on where to go for lunch. We ended up in the Cheesecake Factory. It's new, big and spacious. We got a window seat so we could watch the people. I didn't know what to order as the menu was so big. I felt like having eggs so I ordered the veggie omelet. I had no idea it was going to be so big and it came with sliced tomatoes and a couple slices of toast (dark, whole wheat bread with butter). I ate a third of the omelet and it was good. The filling had mushrooms, avocado, cheeses, and tomatoes. I just took a couple bits of the toast and had the waiter box up the rest. I was stuffed. It was an excellent choice. We did a little more shopping and headed home around 2:30 pm. As we were leaving, we noticed that the underground parking was open and the police were checking under every vehicle. The traffic to the Tappan Zee was still backed up. Thank God, we are going the other way. There were a lot of helicopters in the sky today and later on the news it said that some of the choppers were armed. We are on high alert for the new year. Supper consisted of leftover omelet, couple bites of toast and an Italian cookie. I didn't feel as tired as I had been before surgery. Walking has become easier as the pounds go down. The back still aches. I'm hoping to have some relief with the surgery. Only time will tell....
1 January 2004
Happy New Year!!! Today it's Cook's ham for breakfast and a piece of omelet. Just hanging out today and watching TV. For a change of pace, I'm have some Sea Fest Imitation Crabmeat for lunch. It's pretty good with some Kikkoman Teriyaki Marinade and Sauce, but I didn't notice until later what the carb content was. When I took my blood sugar it was higher than on other days and now I know why. I will have to watch those labels more closely. Supper was shrimp with butter and garlic and teriyaki sauce. Yummy! I'm trying to only use one protein shake a day and get the rest of my protein in food. It's the new year and I weigh 210 lbs.
2 January 2004
Another day having Cook's ham. I'm on a ham kick. It just tastes so good lately. For lunch, it's shrimp with garlic butter and teriyaki sauce. Supper is baked chicken, shrimp with garlic butter, a baby carrot and a tsp. of plain couscous. Delicious! Tonight I only have to supplement with half a scoop of my protein shake. That's the lowest amount I've ever used.
3 January 2004
Still on my ham kick and that's breakfast. It's easy and it's portable. Just throw it in a ZipLoc bag and take it with you. Tomorrow is Don's birthday, but we are going out to celebrate today because football starts early tomorrow. You know how it is! There's the pre-game, game and post-game show! So, we are going to Macaroni Grill for lunch. I picked the Honey Balsamic Grilled Chicken Breast. It was soooo good and I picked at the vegetables and had just a tsp. of the pasta. I'm not a pasta eater and that tsp. was plenty for me. It was good, al dente and seasoned with fresh herbs. I just don't care for pasta. I had a bite from Don's Tuscany Grilled Ribeye and it was delish! Joe gave me one of his bowtie pasta and it was good. THEY ordered dessert and boy was it rich!! Don had some kind of strawberry shortcake. I had half a strawberry and a couple spoons of whipped cream (real whipped cream). Joe had this huge piece of chocolate cake. It was a portion for two or three people and it had mega chocolate in it. I had just a small pinch and it was tooooo rich for me. It was a great lunch and I was so full. I know that normally I could have eaten most of my plate and then ordered my own dessert and eaten it too. Today, I ate my protein (chicken) first and then just sampled what everyone else was eating. It satisfied me and I was fine just having a little taste. I was definitely full and satisfied. Supper was Cook's Ham, shrimp with garlic butter, sour cream and guacamole. I make sure that I weigh and measure everything as I know when I eyeball it, the portions are usually bigger. I ended the day with my protein shake.
4 Jan 2004
HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Don!!! It's breakfast and it's Cook's ham again. I'm even having a treat of decaf coffee. It used to be that I couldn't function without having at least a pot of coffee a day. Now, I don't miss it because I have all this food to eat all day long. I didn't think I could do decaf, but it's not bad. Now I have decaf coffee on some weekends or when I go out. It's another adjustment you have to make, but now it is easy and it is like second nature for me. Lunch is a cheese omelet with a few sprinkles of jalapeno. Spices have never bothered me, so I try to add some kind of seasoning to most of my food. I like hot and spicy!!! Snacks are usually a piece of cheese or a piece of meat. For supper I had a baked pork chop with Oven Fry coating and it was tender and juicy. Earlier, I had made chocolate chip cookies for the guys and I had one bite and was satisfied. In the old days, I could have probably put a big dent in a dozen or so. The chocolate demons call out to you!! You don't know how happy I am as each night I go to bed full. No longer do I lay awake at night with my stomach growling and that God-awful gnawing-feeling. It has even kept me awake for hours on end. It was such torture to be hungry. Now, those days are gone. I'm no longer hungry. Is that a blessing or what!!!
5 January 2004
Today I break the ham fest. I'm having a pork chop for breakfast. I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Gritsus this afternoon. Don and I are going to Mr. Sushi for lunch before the appointment. I usually get one of the lunch specials, but today I'm going to try something different. I'm going to have some appetizers. I ordered the fried tofu with sauce and some shrimp dumplings. It was so good! There are so many food choices for gastric bypass patients in practically any restaurant. Just know what the ingredients are and try to make wise choices. Don't be afraid to ask for the sauce/dressing on the side and take your leftovers home. Also, a lot of restaurants will make substitutions if you ask. I have no problem telling the waiter/waitress that I've had WLS and that I can't eat the carbs and would it be possible to - (you fill-in-the-blank). Well, we're off to my appointment. Dr. Gritsus was happy with my progress and agrees that I should be on the Stage III diet (regular food). We discussed what the dietician, Michele, recommended and that I should come back in a month after having my labs drawn. We had a nice talk and I'm sooo thankful for such a kind, caring doc. I got to see Dean just briefly and he apologized that he didn't get to see me because he was with another patient. What a sweetheart! These two guys have changed my life for the better!! Supper is back to Cook's ham. There wasn't any leftovers from lunch!
6 January 2004
For breakfast I'm having roast chicken, Cook's ham (surprise!), and some Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage. Now, this sounds like a lot, but when you measure it out in ounces it's really not. It's just a smorgasboard of protein. Lunch is a baby hamburger without the bun. I just want the meat. It's cold as hell here and I'm outside freezing because I want to have chicken on the grill. Well, the chicken was a big hit with the guys and I thought it was soooo good. I marinated boneless chicken breasts overnight in Classico's Garlic and Herb marinade. Cook those puppies on the grill and you've got some good eatin.' Joe gave me a tiny sliver of his Milky Way bar tonight and like Mikey, I tried it. It was goood! I felt fine and I didn't want anymore. It was satisfying. Oh, this afternoon Dean called and wanted to know if I would just say a few words at their orientation on the 8th. He wanted me to just tell the newbies about my experience with WLS. I told him sure, I'd be glad to. For all that they have done for me, this is just a small request that I'm only too happy to do. He said that other people who have had the surgery will also be there, so that's got my curiosity up. I would like to see some other people who've had it done. I really looking forward to our date! I feel that others who desire to have the surgery should be given that chance and if they hear my story maybe they will decide that this is for them. I just want to spread the word!!
7 January 2004
Breakfast is shrimp with garlic butter and tartar sauce and so is lunch. Guess what's for supper??? Wrong! It's not shrimp. Guess again! It's Cook's ham! Surprise! Maybe I should buy stock in hog futures! Shimp is my snack tonight. Today is the first day that I haven't had any type of protein shake. I managed to get all my protein in from food. I thought it would be easy to do this, but it isn't. You really have to work at it, but it's comforting to know that if you fall short of your daily goal that you can mix up a shake and get you to your goal. You can't fail with this backup!
8 January 2004
Well, today is exactly 30 days after my surgery. I weigh 207 lbs on my scale. When I go to the Dr's office it is always a different number. So I'm sticking with my scale at home and I weigh myself every morning about the same time and I record it. Weighing yourself everyday is discouraged because you may become obsessed with the numbers on the scale. The reason I do it is to keep a running total of my progress for my FitDay program. My weight changes are charted on a graph report and I want to see what trends my weight loss is taking. I don't stress over gaining a pound. Your weight can fluctuate all the time. There will come a time when you will plateau and no matter what you do you will not lose weight. You haven't failed!! The surgery hasn't failed!! Try measuring yourself and see if you're losing inches. It's just your body trying to catch up with the weight loss!! EVERYONE will go through this!! So when it happens to you, just think of when I mentioned this. It's okay and it's normal!! But it is very stressful when it happens to you. It's happened to me and the scale wouldn't move. I increased my exercise and fluid intake. I even resorted to drinking just water and no loss. I took all my supplements, vitamins, got in all my protein and followed all the rules. I looked at my FitDay program and everything was on track. I will just have to wait it out and when my body is ready to start losing it will. Usually these plateaus don't happen so soon after surgery, but it does happen. Everything is fine and nothing is wrong with your pouch. If you're going through this plateau hell, just e-mail me and we can vent together!!! You can count on me for support!!
Okay, on to my changes in body parts. I weigh 209 pounds. My BMI is 38.2. My blood fasting blood sugar is 109.
My bust/chest went from 48 inches to 46 1/2 inches.
Waist: 52 inches to 50 inches.
Hips: 58 inches to 54 1/2 inches.
Left upperarm: 16 inches to 13 3/4 inches.
Right upperarm: 16 1/2 inches to 13 1/2 inches.
Left thigh: 24 1/2 inches to 23 3/4 inches.
Right thigh: 24 inches to 23 3/4 inches.
Neck: 18 inches to 17 1/4 inches.
Left calf: 17 inches to 15 3/4.
Right calf: 17 1/2 inches to 15 1/2 inches.
That is so amazing because all I did was walk a little bit, eat and try to do my exercise routine. The weight is just coming off. Today I'm having a baby hamburger with cheese. No bun. Can't handle the carbs. I made some chili today and it's spicy!!! I just love a little spice in food. This is meat (beef) chili with jalapenos. It's for supper, but I had a small bowl for lunch. Supper is CHILI and it seems to have more heat to it. Oh man, it's fire in the hole!!! It's good and my tummy doesn't mind. Well, at least not for the time being. We'll see in a couple of hours. Oh yeah, in a couple of hours I have to be a Dr. Gritsus' office for his orientation session (7pm). It's 7 pm and no sign of indigestion or heartburn. Spicy chili agrees with me! The orientation starts and Dr. Gritsus gives his presentation and slide show and answers questions from the group. He takes his time and really explains everything so you can understand fully. Dean is here tonight also. After the doc spoke, the floor opened to the post-op patients. Everyone had a chance to speak of their experience and I hope that it helped the prospective new patients to make an informed decision about WLS. It was a good time. Totebags and information was given out and the 2 hours that I was there went by so quickly. As I was waiting for my ride, I talked with some of the postops. It was fun just to hear about their stories. We are all so different, but have one common goal. WLS has linked up all together. I enjoyed myself tonight and was glad Dean called me.
9 January 2004
This morning I have to go to Dr. DeMare's office to get fasting bloodwork drawn. I can't believe that it's already time to get my levels checked. Now I will know what meds I need to be on. I haven't been on any meds since surgery. I only take my vitamins and supplements. My fingerstick is good. The girls are excited with the weight check and how I feel. I think one of them is still somewhat skeptical. It's just a feeling! Blood pressure is normal. Dr. DeMare was with a patient when we came in. As I was getting ready to leave the exam area, he came out and gave me a kiss on the cheek and thanked me for all the goodies I had been baking for them. He asked how I felt and he was really happy. We were in and out of the office in 20 minutes. Breakfast is leftover chili (I made a big pot) with some sprinkled on cheddar cheese. A couple of months ago, I could have eaten a big, huge monster bowl of chili with a few slices of buttered, white bread. Now, my portion is a dessert cup size. Lunch is chili again with cheese. Supper is back to shrimp with a little bit of eggplant. Snacks are cheese and some peanut butter.
10 January 2004
Breakfast is chilled shrimp. Lunch we are going to Jose Tejas. I'm having Jose Tejas New Orleans Catfish with sauce. Boy, is this fish good and it comes with a cream sauce and a few shrimp sprinkled on top. I ate about a third of my meal and that was it. It was so delicious and juicy. The jambalaya, I gave to Don. The guys go for the fajitas so I picked at their guacamole, sour cream and cheese. I had leftovers for supper. Supper was catfish from lunch. For my snacks I had Cook's ham.
11 January 2004
I finally finished my bottle of Centrum multivitamin liquid. I bought the liquid form just in case I couldn't tolerate the pill form. I don't do chewables. The taste of the Centrum is very medicine-like and for me had too many carbs, so I'm glad I've finished it. I'm now using a multivitamin from the Vitamin Shoppe. I've also added a B-Complex to my regimen and it also is from the Vitamin Shoppe. Breakfast is a small steak and 1 egg. My plate looks like so cute with a baby steak and egg. Before surgery, I could have gone to the diner and ate at least a 10 oz. grilled steak, two eggs, a few fries with mayo, 3 or 4 slices of toast and coffee. Now days my meals are saucer-sized! It's funny, looking back in retrospect!!! I remember when.... For lunch, I'm having chicken wings from Golden Jade Chinese Restaurant. Tooo bad they burned them! Grrrrrrr! I just picked out the tender parts and there weren't too many either. So, I had some scrambled egg and beef steak instead. Supper was roast turkey breast and it was delicious. Looks like I will have some leftovers.
12 January 2004
I had chili for breakfast with a sprinkling of cheddar cheese. Lunch was leftover turkey breast. Supper was a pork chop.
13 January 2004
Breakfast was some turkey breast and pork chop. Lunch was a lamb chop - yum. Supper was fried flounder. It was soooo good.
14 January 2004
Breakfast was an omelet with Jimmy Dean Hot Sausage and cheese. Lunch was leftover turkey breast. It's still moist and tasty. Supper for the guys was a big pan of nachos baked in the oven. I skipped the corn tortilla chips and just had the filling (taco-flavored meat, cheese, jalapenos, and refried beans). It hit the spot! Snacks were cheese and turkey breast.
15 January 2004
Breakfast is the old standby - Cook's ham. Lunch - Cook's ham. Supper is taco meat, cheese, jalapenos and refried beans. Snacks were Cook's ham, Jimmy Dean sausage and cheese. Tonight is my first support group meeting. It's scheduled for 6 pm at the Collins Pavillion next to Chilton Memorial Hospital. Well, I didn't make it on time to the meeting. It had snowed last night and was slick and so bitter cold this morning. Don had to go to work in Mahwah and was the only one in management that made it to work, so he had to stay and supervise the workers. He got off late and we tried to make it to the meeting. I made it to hear the last 15 minutes. At least I got a handout. Michele was running the meeting and Dr. Gritsus and Dean were there also. I really felt bad, but bubbly Michele said, "Don't worry, you can get the stuff you missed on my website." What a sweetie! I met MaryLou at the last orientation meeting and we just sort of hooked up together. She wanted to know if I wanted to stay for the next meeting and I said ok. The next session was for people curious about the surgery. Dr. Gritsus ran the meeting and gave his lecture and slide presentation. He answered questions and he apologized for starting late as the previous (my support meeting) ran late. This session moved right along. After he spoke, the floor was turned over to the postop folks. I was just there to keep MaryLou company - little did I know that I would be asked to speak. When Dean introduced me with the wrong name (my new name is Susan) I just laughed to myself and got up. I'm a good sport and I just talked about how I was treated by Dr. Gritsus and Dean in all the processes of the surgery. I talked about my meds and comorbidities and how they were almost all eliminated. I spoke of how the hospital was so receptive to anyone getting the surgery and how the floor staff was happy to take care of you. I told everyone about the minimal pain and that for the first time in my life I am truly full when I go to sleep at night. It was fun and I was glad that I could help out. After the meeting, we talked with some of the hopeful people and answered questions. Dr. Gritsus and Dean came over and visited a little bit, too. It turned out to be a good night after all. I want everyone to know about the WLS!!!!
16 January 2004
Breakfast is chili with cheese (homemade, not canned and it's spicy today). Lunch is roasted turkey breast and I'm going to try a protein drink that I got from the orientation meeting last night. It's Met RX RTD 40 Cafe Latte. It's not too bad, but there's alot of calories and I'm splitting it up over the day. On the plus side it has 40 gms protein. Dinner is shrimp sauteed in a little butter with pieces of garlic tossed in for flavor. They were good.
17 January 2004
Breakfast is leftover shrimp with garlic butter. It's sooo good you don't need anything else to go with it. Lunch is more of my shrimpfest. Now, I can't let it go to waste. I'm trying some new drinks today: Arizona Green Tea Blueberry No Carb, it's not bad, but I couldn't drink it everyday. The other one is Arizona Green Tea White Cranberry-Apple No Carb, it's good and again, I couldn't drink it everyday. They're a good alternative when I'm tired of Lipton Brisk Decaf Tea. You have to mix up the flavors so you don't get sick of the same thing. Dinner is chicken wings from Golden Jade. They're good tonight and not burned!!!! I an a little short on the protein end tonight so I'm having a few shrimp!!
18 January 2004
Breakfast - Well, I opened the refrigerator door and the shrimp were screaming at me to eat them. I felt sorry for them so I ate them. The little buggers were delish!!! Who said you have to have eggs for breakfast. Lunch - I have a nice little lamb chop. I'm sauteeing it with a little olive oil. It's a little piece, but very tender. It's not baaaaaa-d! The rest of my protein is from my old favorite Cook's ham. I have been trying another prepackaged protein drink: EAS Myoplex Original Chocolate Fudge. It's okay, but again lots of calories and carbs. The plus side is that it has 40 gms protein. I'm splitting this drink up over the day to stretch the carbs and calories. My thoughts on these ready-to-drink protein is, I prefer to make mine from the powdered stuff. The powdered is lower in calories, carbs and has just about the same amount of protein. Dinner is roasted chicken with herbs. I had a thigh and leg. It was a small chicken, not a roaster hen. Very tasty and juicy. I've been drinking Arizona Diet Green Tea alot because I can't hardly stomach plain water. I've never been a water drinker and I know I should work on that. In the future, I'll try!!!
19 January 2004
Breakfast is Jimmy Dean Hot sausage. The hot one is sooo much better than the regular. You need some fire to get started in the morning. I've been drinking a cup of Windsor Garden Pure Ceylon Breakfast Tea everyday for a couple of weeks and it is good. I got it on the clearance rack at Staples for $1. It came in a nice little tin and they were leftover from Christmas. Well, we went back to the store to get the rest of them and, of course, they were gone. Someone else beat me to them. Ya snooze, ya lose!!! But, if I would have purchased the lot, it probably would have sucked!! So, I'm going to enjoy my two little cans of tea. Lunch is roasted turkey breast. Just rip the breast into strips and you have portable lunch. You could dip it into something, but I prefer just to eat it plain with maybe a little pepper and some Sazon. Since I've given up caffeine, I've been drinking Lipton Brisk Decaf Tea and I can't tell the difference in taste. The pocketbook feels it though, but if you really like something the price doesn't matter. Besides caffeine dehydrates you and you can't add it to your fluid intake for the day. It's a liability, not an asset. Dinner is a little chili, a small piece of lamb chop and a piece of beef stew meat. It's a leftover meatfest. All my leftovers for the day, make up my meal tonight. I just checked and I'm a little short on protein today, so I'm mixing up a small shake and I'm at my limit. I made my protein goal again!!!
20 January 2004
Since I roasted a big turkey breast, I'll be having leftovers for a while. Breakfast is???? Come on guess!!! I bet you want to say Cook's ham!! Wrong!! It's Turkey!! Cold, hot I like it either way. It's all good! Lunch is Jamestown Brand Sausage. I like to munch on the slices (fingerfood). During the day I drink my Lipton Decaf tea. Dinner is chicken breast on the grill. I love my BBQ. It doesn't matter if there is a blizzard outside 'cause if I want barbeque I'll be out there roasting some animal flesh and freezing my ass off!!! Can you smmeeellll what DIANE is coooookin?!?!?! Oh, oh I just looked at what I had for breakfast and now dinner and it's breasts!!! Am I turning into a breast woman?!?!?!?! I'm a little short in protein and so I'm having some Isopure Icy Orange protein drink. I don't really care for the taste, but it was kinda pricey and I can manage to get it down. A little high in carbs, but has 40 gm protein. I bet my blood sugar is going to be a little high in the am. I got the Isopure drink at the Vitamin Shoppe on Rt 46 in West Paterson. That's where I buy all my vitamins.
21 January 2004
Well, my blood sugar was 78 this morning. The Isopure didn't even raise it. Breakfast is chicken wings and a link of Jimmy Dean sausage. The breakfast of champions! I drink my Lipton Decaf tea and English tea throughout the day. Lunch is Jimmy Dean sausage link and chicken wings. I switched them around. Did I fool you?!?!?! I have an appointment to see Dr. Javed (pulmonary/sleep doc). I got weighed, had my BP taken, 02 sats taken and TPR. Lorna, the nurse, and I talked about my surgery and she was thinking about it, but was somewhat apprehensive. We had a good talk and I enjoy going to their office, even though it is out of my way (Denville). Dr. Javed came in and he's always friendly and laughing. He's quite a funny guy and I feel comfortable with him. We talked about my surgery and how I feel. He was very happy with my progress and I told him that I no longer snored and that I was sleeping much better throughout the night. I don't feel sleepy in the day and those terrible morning headaches are gone. He said that since I've lost some weight that the fat deposts in my neck have decreased and now my airway is able to stay open. The airway is not being pushed closed as I sleep. I told him that I was really having a hard time tolerating the CPAP at night now. We agreed that I should keep using it until the next visit in two months and he'll evaluate me to see if I can discontinue its use. That would be awesome!!! If Dr. Gritsus and Dean hadn't recommended me to get a sleep study done I would still have sleep apnea, have terrible headaches, couldn't think clear, would fall asleep at inappropriate times and just be a total bitch, sometimes for no reason. Looking back, some days I just felt mean and boy, you don't want to be in the way of this runaway train. You won't win. Good thing I don't have a uterus or the combo of sleep apnea and PMS would be a disaster for anyone in my line of fire. Dinner is a small hamburger patty (it looks so pitiful sitting on my plate. I remember how I liked to make 1/2 lb. burgers and gobble them up. I can now eat a (1) French fry (which I usually only eat 1/2 of a fry). Remember when you could eat a whole plate of fries and cheese? I still love cheese. It should go on just about everything! I just figured up my protein intake for the day and I'm short again. Hmmm, what can I eat? Jimmy Dean sausage links are good!!! Ooops I made a mistake and I'm still short on protein. It's about 9:30 pm. I still have time to make a quick shake of Isopure Creamy Vanilla. I warmed the skim milk up first and now I have a nice warm drink and it's making me sleepy. Nite-nite, see ya in the morning...
22 January 2004
Breakfast is roasted turkey breast. By now it is starting to get a little dry, so I'm using Hidden Valley Light Ranch dressing for a dip. You can buy the dressing in individual containers. It tastes really good. Lunch is, again, turkey breast. Remind me next time to buy a smaller turkey!! For a snack I'm trying a Power Crunch High Protein Energy Snack Bar. It's not too bad and it crunchy and it kinda has a funny aftertaste. I'm not into bars, so I probably won't be buying any. I prefer the powdered stuff, but this was a freebie from Susan Marie Leach when I ordered some protein samples from her. The samples cost $1.75 each and there is a good variety. I found most of them I like. She also sends you a free sample of something and handwrites a note to you on the invoice. She ships from Florida and is really fast in getting your order out. She's at www.bariatriceating.com She's also a bariatric patient and is coming out with a book. Her site also offers recipes. Dinner is some Swiss cheese, yellow cheddar cheese and chicken wings. It looks like it has been a fowl day for me!!!!!
23 January 2004
Today is day 45 after surgery and I have finally hit the 200 lbs mark. YAY!!! I do feel better. Breakfast is Swiss cheese and grilled chicken breast. I make some chicken breasts ahead on the grill and put them in ZipLoc bags in the refrigerator and just take out what I want to eat. I weigh the piece and the rest go back in the bag and into the fridge. No fuss, no bowl to clean. Lunch is a new protein drink I ordered. It's Whey Fruity Tropical Punch with 22 gm protein. It definitely tastes like punch, but I need to cut it with more water. Not bad though. It reminds me of Hawaiian Punch. You could mix it with water, or add a little juice and some ice cubes and make a smoothie protein drink. This would probably be really good in the summer. I like it. Dinner is a baked pork chop with breading. It turned out soooo juicy. The breading is Oven Fry Extra Crispy and it helped to seal in the juices. Just yummy!! You know the breading will add extra calories and carbs, so you will have to plan around that. As long as you don't eat that everyday, you'll be okay.
24 January 2004
Breakfast is Swiss cheese. I'm going out today and meet some new friends who have had WLS and some who are waiting to have surgery. Linda had surgery and is down about 80 lbs, Irene is waiting to have surgery and Sharon is waiting and her husband Jim is thinking about it. We are meeing at Willowbrook Mall by the Starbuck's. So, I got there a little after 9 am and order my coffee treat. It's a Starbuck's Decaf Nonfat Sugar-Free Vanilla Latte (Vente). It is soooo good! I found Linda at a table and we introduced ourselves and we were talking like old friends. A few minutes later, Irene showed up and we moved to a bigger table. Then Sharon and Jim came. It was one big happy group. We all talked about WLS at first and then we just talked, laughed and drank coffee. The time just flew and we were there 5 hours!!! I couldn't believe it. I was hungry and when I looked at my watch - "Holy shit, look at the time!" We said our goodbyes and I called Don and asked him what he wanted for supper and we decided on Popeye's Chicken. Tonight, I'm splurging and I had Popeye's Spicy Fried Chicken wings, a biscuit (part of one) with butter. It was soooo good. I know that fried foods have a lot of fat, but I don't usually do this and you can't always deprive yourself of everything. I believe you can have anything in moderation. Just use your common sense. I am short on protein today, so I tried another protein sample. It's Elite Whey Protein Chocolate Mint. Oh my God, this one is heaven. I just love it! If I order something, this is definitely going to be the one for me. It was more of a treat for me than just a protein shake!! Um! Um! Good!
25 January 2004
Breakfast is some vegetable cream cheese. Don went to the bagel shop and got bagel sandwiches for himself and his brother. I can't eat the bagel so he just got me the filling. It was really good. Later, I had my decaf coffee, which tasted so good. I've always loved coffee and I never thought I could stomach decaf, but it's good and I can't tell the difference. I love the coffee flavor and it's another one of my comfort foods. I had a bowl of Green Chile soup for a snack. Don had ordered it from New Mexico and it was so good. Spicy like I like it and there were chunks of pork in it. For lunch I had Popeye's Spicy chicken wings and a biscuit with butter. Supper was Sloppy Joe meat (without the bun) and a small bowl of Green Chile Soup. Later, I tried another new protein shake ProPlete Gold Vanilla Pineapple. It was really good and had little bits of pineapple in it. You could really make a great tasting smoothie out of this one!!
26 January 2004
Today, breakfast is some Jahlsberg Swiss cheese. Lunch is turkey breast with some cream cheese with scallion. Just pull the turkey into strips and put some cream cheese on it. I had a snack of some roast pork. Tonight, dinner is a favorite of mine. It's fried sea trout (I like any kind of trout). I just dredged it in plain flour and sauteed it in a fry pan with just a little canola oil. Add a little salt, lots of pepper and cook it first skin-side down. I want the skin to be crunchy. It was sooooo good! Throughout the day I had my decaf tea with a little skim milk. Protein is all accounted for.
27 January 2004
Breakfast is some of the leftover trout. Just heat it in the microwave and it's still good. Lunch is some green chile soup and it is spicy and has chunks of pork in it. Supper is boneless chicken breast, coated with Oven Fry and baked. It comes out very juicy and tender. I made corn muffins and I have a piece with a pat of butter and it hits the spot. For a veggie, I had a couple of pieces of steamed broccoli. Very good supper and I feel so full. I drank my decaf tea and for a treat I had a decaf French Vanilla coffee. I'm just savoring the flavor of the coffee. The protein is a little under, so I'm trying a ProPlete Gold Double Chocolate Ice Cream protein drink. It's a sample and it tastes mah-velous!!! Really good!! This one's a keeper and I would order this one!
28 January 2004
I'm trying another protein sambple for breakfast. It's Elite Whey Protein Goument Vanilla. I just fixed it with skim milk, nothing fancy!! It's so good!! Another good choice and I would order this too!! Lunch is an old favorite! A hamburger with mozzarella cheese, no bun, cooked med rare and it's juicy. Dinner is a piece of salmon. I don't feel like turning on the oven, so I'm sauteeing it in a little olive oil in the the frying pan. I put some Adobo, pepper, Sazon, garlic powder, onion powder and a squeeze of lemon on it. It turned out very good and I added more lemon juice when it was done. I had a couple of cucumber slices with it. Later on, I had a big cup of decaf coffee and it was good, can't even tell the regular stuff from decaf. Had to catch up on the protein and had a protein drink of Isopure Creamy Vanilla with skim milk. Fluids and protein needs are met.
29 January 2004
Breakfast is another protein sample. It's Elite Whey Protein Cafe Mocha mixed with skim milk. Now, this one is really good. I bet if you warmed the milk up first and then added the powder, it would be super!!!! I could drink a couple of these!! I would order this one too!! So far, these samples taste very good to me. To you, it might taste like crap. Just remember that our tastes are different and it's possible that you're tastes will changes after the surgery. You will have to use the trial and error elimination. I can only tell you what I like. If you don't like one, don't give up, just keep trying others until you find one that you like. Ordering samples will save you some bucks. You could also check in to the unflavored protein powders. Just sprinkle it onto your food and eat. Lunch was a lamb chop. Nice and juicy!!! For some reason my blood sugar has dropped to 63. That's kinda low, so I drinking a small Regular Carnation Instant Breakfast (only 2 Tbsp). My blood sugar has come back up to normal levels. Supper is fried flounder. I dredged the fish in flour and fried in a little canola oil. I put just pepper on it. When it was on my plate, I added just a sprinkle of salt and it was good. While I was watching TV, I drank a large decaf coffee. I still love coffee!!! Made my quota of fluids and protein, so I won't have to supplement tonight!!
30 January 2004
Today I had leftover fried flounder. I just nuked it in the microwave. For a snack I tried a protein sample. It was ProPlete Gold Banana Creme. Now, this one is my favorite. It even has little pieces of banana in it. This would make a good smoothie. I would definitely order this one!! Lunch is a hamburger with cheese and guacamole and sour cream. Between meals I have been drinking decaf tea and Arizona Diet Green Tea with ginseng.
I have an appointment with Dr. DeMare this afternoon. We will go over my bloodwork. This is the first time I have seen him, since I had surgery. He is very happy with my weight loss.
These are my labs:
My fasting blood surgar is 115, just a little high. My triglycerides are 190 and should be under 150. They're also a little high. My HDL (good cholesterol) is 36 and should be over 40. Just a little low. My hemoglobin A1C is 6.2, just a little high and should be under 6. Everything else is normal and within limits.
I have not taken any of my medications since surgery on the 9th of December. I think I have done pretty well. Dr. DeMare wants all my numbers to be normal, so he is putting me back on the Advandamet for diabetes. The dosage is being cut to one pill only once a day instead of twice. I am to start taking Lipitor again at bedtime. If I choose to I can take the Nexium for the heartburn and indigestion, but don't have to. I haven't had any heartburn or indigestion since surgery. I can also take the Procardia, which is for esophageal spasms caused by having achalasia. If the achalasia isn't bothering me, I don't have to take it. I've had no spasms since surgery. I'm to continue on taking my vitamin, supplements and protein drinks. I'm to continue taking my blood sugars. He also gave me a very thorough physical examination. He checked all my body systems. It was basically a full, complete physical examination. I had a chest x-ray, EKG, spirometry, BP, TPR, wt. check, checked feet and pulses, checked legs for edema, checked eyes, ears, mouth, nose, neck, listened to lungs, looked at incision sites, and did fingerstick for blood sugar. He is very thorough. I appreciate the fact that he is so careful in seeing that he is giving me excellent care. To some it might seem a bit excessive, but I understand that he wants my conditions to be normal and that every little bit helps. By taking my meds and keeping on the right track, I can make that happen. I would hate to disappoint him. I, too, need things to be a certain way and if they're not, I'm not a happy camper. So, I guess we see eye-to-eye. It's not said, but we understand each other. Plus I trust his judgement and when he tells me something he wants me to do, he'll back it up with the reason why. I like a person who doesn't bullshit me!! Just tell it like it is!! This visit was a $20 co-pay.
Dinner is chicken enchiladas. You take a boneless chicken breast and lightly saute in olive oil in a frying pan. Let it get cold. Then cut it up into small pieces. Usually you would use corn tortillas sauteed in a little oil until they are soft to wrap around the filling, but the corn tortillas have too many carbs, so I don't use one. I put some chicken in a small bowl, then put Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup (regular one, not the 99% fat free), some cooked onions, chopped jalapenos and top it with cheese. Nuke it until the cheese is well melted (molten) and you have a quick enchilada dish with lots of protein. I drank my Arizona Diet Green Tea with ginseng and decaf tea for my fluids. Protein goal was met.
31 January 2004
Today, Don and I are going out to shop. We stopped at the Versailles Diner in Fairfield for breakfast. I had the No. 2. It comes with 2 eggs (overeasy), ham (2 thin slices), white toast with butter, decaf coffee, fried potatoes and juice (tomato). I gave the juice to Don. I didn't touch the potatoes. I ate the eggs and ham. Had a couple bits of toast (the white toast contain too many empty carbs) and I got the decaf coffee to go. It was a good breakfast. We walked around a couple stores. We didn't really buy anything. We just wanted to get out of the house. It hard to decide where to go eat for lunch. We were hungry, but there were so many choices we couldn't agree on one. Finally, we decided to go have dim sum. It was lunch time and the place was crowded. We had to wait for a table. We waited for the food carts to arrive. The lady pulled up with a cart filled with hot, little trays of covered delights. I've had dim sum before so I just asked for something with shrimp. I got some kind of shrimp in a thin, eggroll-like wrapper. It was steamed and came with a sauce. I picked out some little dumplings, passed on the chicken feet. Had then once before and never again!!! Not much to them anyway and all I could think about was where they had been!!!! I had part of a spring roll and that was good!! I picked at the dumplings. Before surgery, I could have eaten a few thousand of them. Nice little bite-size morsels!! Begging to be slammed down with a cup of green tea. I also had a couple of chow fun noodles!! It was a fun way to eat!! I ate a piece of Don's BBQ ribs. That was good and it was tender. I was full and I basically picked at a variety of food. I ate the fillings out of the dumplings. It was a good experience and I would like to do it again. It was interesting to see what other people were eating. Most of them knew the names of the dishes, but since we didn't know the Chinese word, we just pointed and asked what it was. The wait staff was very friendly and were happy to tell us about their delicacies. It was fun!! We spent about an hour at our table. I'm full of shrimp. Supper was a Popeye's chicken wing (spicy, of course), biscuit and butter (I know it's full of the dreaded carbs). For a snack, I had my favorite: Starbuck's Decaf Nonfat Sugar Free Vanilla Latte (vente) with some Isopure Creamy Vanilla for protein. For my fluids I had Arizona Diet Green Tea, decaf tea, decaf coffee to reach my goal. Protein goal also met. I know I overdid it today with the carbs, but I not going to obsess about it. I will just try to do better tomorrow with my food choices. I know I can't eat everyday like I did today. These things will happen and you can't beat yourself up for getting off track. Shit happens!!!
1 February 2004
New day and new food choices!!! Breakfast is a protein sample of ProPlete Gold Banana Creme with skim milk. It is so yummy and would make a good smoothie!!! This one is a keeper and I'd order it! Lunch is some chicken wings from Golden Jade Chinese Restaurant. I've noticed that a lot of WLS people eat chicken wings. Dinner is shrimp with garlic butter, a couple slices of cucumber and a couple pieces of tomato. It's filling and very good! For a snack I had a couple of Hillshire Farms Li'l Cheddar Smokies wrapped in a Pillsbury Crescent Roll. They are quick finger food and good!!!
2 February 2004
Breakfast is leftover shrimp with garlic butter. Snack is a slice of a Haas avocado. I think they are better tasting than the big Florida avocados. Maybe, it's because I grew up eating the Haas. They just have a more buttery flavor. Lunch is more shrimp. Supper is BBQ pork! I fired up my grill and we're having boneless pork loin on the barbie!! I cut up the loin into thick pieces. I'm cooking them, then adding the BBQ sauce for the last couple of minutes to glaze. Man, do they smell good!! My mouth is watering already!! Get me a knife and cut me off a piece!! I savored my dinner tonight! Smack was a few shrimp. Sorry, shrimp guys the BBQ pork has taken your place!!! I drank decaf tea and Arizona Diet Green Tea for my liquids. My liquid and protein goals were met today.
Earlier today, I had an appointment with Dr. Zangara (GI doc) for a follow up exam. I told him about the surgery and that I was doing well. He said the GERD would probably go away and that if the achalasia was bothersome, he could do the pressure tests. He'll stick tubes down my throat and then take some pressure readings. Thanks, but no thanks! I said everything was fine so far. He was pleased and happy that I had already lost weight. He commented that he had met Dr. Gritsus and thought him to be a nice guy. I told him I had had no more rectal bleeding and everything was okay!!! I feel better!! So, now I won't have to see him for 6 months. I'm doing well and he's happy for me. His office staff are so nice also. This visit was a $20 co-pay.
3 February 2004
Breakfast is some more of that BBQ pork!! Lunch is a protein sample of Elite Whey Protein Rich Chocolate with skim milk. It is very delicious!! This Elite Whey brand seems to be really good. All the flavors I have tried are tasty. They also have the potential to be a good smoothie. Snack is BBQ pork! I can't seem to get enough! It's really that good! Supper is canned tamales. I had 1 1/2 of the tamale, some cheese and guacamole. It was quick and easy and very tasty! Snack was a Starbuck's Decaf Nonfat Sugar Free Vanilla Latte (vente). I met my fluids and protein needs for the day.
4 February 2004
For breakfast I have BBQ pork. Lunch was BBQ pork. For a snack I had a small piece of leftover hamburger. Dinner was roast beef and a little bit of guacamole. For my fluids I drank Lipton Brisk Decaf tea, water and decaf coffee. Today I finally hit the 200 lbs mark!!! It's day 57 after surgery!!
5 February 2004
Breakfast is more BBQ pork and a mozzarella cheese stick. For a snack I felt like having a protein drink. ON's 100% Whey Protein Double Rich Chocolate with nonfat milk. Lunch was a small lamb chop. Supper was ham and an egg. I switched breakfast and dinner!! For fluids, I'm drinking decaf tea, water, and decaf coffee.
I saw Dr. Gritsus today for a follow up appointment. He was happy to hear that I feel better and have had no problems with any foods. My labs are better than before surgery. My weight loss is slow, but steady. Dr. Gritsus suggested I eat more slowly, but I already take 40-45 minutes to eat. I also chew each morsel well. I believe the reason that I haven't lost as quickly as others is that I've been able to drink liquids as soon as allowed after surgery. Then I could have protein drinks and I could tolerate them. Pureed food was next and still no problems. Solid food was no problem either. I've never had any problems with dumping or vomiting. My calorie intake has averaged around 900-1100 calories a day except for the first week post op. I weigh all my food and measure it, so I know I'm getting the correct amount. Each day I chart my progress on FitDay. I feel so good that I don't even feel like I've had surgery. I feel lucky that my recovery has been very easy. Now, I'll see Dr. Gritsus in April.
6 February 2004
Today I made an omelette with cheddar cheese. I also had a mozzarella stick. For a snack I had another mozzarella stick and a protein drink (Double Rich Chocolate) with nonfat milk. I love these shakes. Lunch was a ground pork burger cooked on the BBQ. Boy, that hit the spot!! Dinner was a piece of roast turkey and a crescent roll with butter. For fluids I had water. I'm trying to drink more water and cut out the decaf tea and aspartame use. I don't like plain water, but I hope to get used to it. I did drink it at one time (years ago), but it was replaced by diet soft drinks. I was a soft drink junkie!!! Some days I could drink two or three 2-liter bottles. I just loved the stuff and it was hard to give it up, but now it doesn't bother me. I quit drinking soda in September 2003. I don't crave it and it doesn't bother me when someone else at the dinner table drinks it. I just do my thing and ! There isn't any food police, so you'll have to keep tabs on yourself. You'll know in your heart if you made your goal for the day. If you did, great!! Bravo!! If you didn't - well, tomorrow is another day and vow to do better and really put forth the effort!! One day where you slip up isn't going to hurt anything, but you must diligent in improving your eating habits. Don't get discouraged and give up. Remember that the giving up part is part of the old you. The new you is more confident and sure of where you are going!! So press onward!!
7 February 2004
Today is day 60 after surgery! It's time to do my measuring!
I weigh in at 199 lbs. My morning fasting blood sugar is 97. My BMI is 36.4.
Bust/chest from 46 1/2" to 44 1/2"
Waist from 50" to 44 1/4"
Hips from 54 1/2" to 52"
Left upper arm from 13 3/4" to 13 1/3"
Right upper arm from 13 1/2" to 13"
Left thigh from 23 3/4" to 23 1/4"
Right thigh from 23 3/4" to 23 3/4" stayed the same
Neck from 17 1/4" to 16"
Left calf from 15 3/4" to 14 3/4"
Right calf from 15 1/2" to 14 1/2"
Breakfast is a protein shake (Double Rich Chocolate) with nonfat milk. Lunch was Popeye's Spicy chicken wings, a baking powder biscuit with a pat of butter. I must admit it was very good. I especially like the spicy seasonings. I've been able to eat spicy things since the puree stage. I add hot sauce, jalapenos and hot pepper to my food and have never had a problem. Seems my pouch is still cast iron!! Dinner was Popeye's Spicy chicken leg and thigh. My liquids were water and Arizona Diet Green Tea with Ginseng. I know I went overboard with the fried food today. I can tolerate the fried chicken as I don't dump on fats. But I don't eat like this all the time and I'm not going to obsess about it. It was a treat and tomorrow is another day!!!
8 February 2004
Today I'm having an omelet with cheese and tomato. Lunch was a ribeye steak cooked on the grill (med. rare, of course) with a little guacamole, cheese and tomato. It was sooo good and juicy. The bread monster was raising his ugly head today. With all the steak juice on my plate I used to eat at least 4-6 pieces of white bread. It was very easy! Now I avoid white bread like the plague! My snack was an egg and a piece of cheese. Dinner I just had a protein shake (Double Rich Chocolate) with nonfat milk. My protein was a little low so I had a small piece of leftover steak and a slice of tomato. For fluids I had water, Arizona Green Tea White Cranberry Apple and a decaf coffee.
I have started a new exercise routine today. It's a 10,000 steps a day walking program. You buy a pedometer and it counts your steps for the day and you're supposed to aim for a goal of 10,000 steps. If you can't do the regular exercise and haven't done any exercise, have physical limitations, then this is a good way to start. All you have to do is move your feet. Walk in place, walk around the room, walk on a treadmill, just move. You can get pedometers pretty cheap. I've seen some in WalMart for $5 and up, but the $5 ones go fast. I got mine at Target and it was $12 with no frills, just a counter. The next week my husband got one for $11 and it was a talking one. So, go figure. You just have to walk in the store and look. If it's too expensive, go to another store or check back again in a week. The sporting goods stores have them, but are too expensive for my needs. I just need to know how many steps I take. The instructions tell you about the program and give you a small log book. It's a start!!!
9 February 2004
Breakfast is leftover Jose Tejas Mesquite Grill Ribeye. Still sooo good the next day. Snack is a protein drink with nonfat milk. Lunch is leftover Jennie O's Turkey with a little gravy on the side. Dinner is more leftover BBQ pork with a small salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and Hidden Valley Light Ranch Dressing on the side. I drank water for the most part of my fluid intake. I got just over 100 oz. of water. I've never drank that much water!! I've just been constantly sipping. It's like a fulltime job just trying to stay on top of it. I gave the treadmill a try and put it on the lowest setting. I did about 15 minutes. It's always hard to start an exercise program. I hate to exercise. I know some people like it and look forward to going to the gym. Well, not me and the part about the release of endophins and making you feel good. I'll feel good when I can stop. I'd gladly trade my arthritic joints for yours anyday. Hopefully, the pain and aches will disappear. Remember that we are not supposed to take NSAIDS or drugs containing aspirin. So, it looks like I'll be icing my knees and rubbing Ben-Gay all over. I wonder if they still make that stuff called HEET. It was some kind of liniment that had a burn like you wouldn't believe. I swear it was horse liniment, but it worked. I remember it from the 60's and 70's. It would get the soreness out!!
10 February 2004
Breakfast is a ground lamb burger. Just smelling it is making my mouth water!! I'm hungry this morning! I look in the pan and there is so much lamb juice. A few month ago I would have sopped up the juice with 5-6 slices of white bread and not blink an eye!! I had a bad addiction to white bread. This morning the bread demons are raising their ugly little heads and beckon me to eat them!!! It sure is tempting, but I know better now. I know that they're empty calories and I don't need them. It's hard to pass it up!! I really do want it! I crave it terribly, but I pass. You little bread bastards better high tail it back into your bread box!!! We all will have these struggles each day with food. You never know when one of your trigger foods will appear and look sooo good. So each day you'll battle you demons and have little victories that only you know about. Doesn't it make you feel good inside?? Three months ago, I'd be munching on my bread, shoot my blood sugar up and get a wicked headache. Today, no way!!! I pass on the bread, brother! Snack is a protein shake with nonfat milk. Lunch is another lambie burger. It's also very juicy. The craving for the bread is gone for the moment. I can't believe I wanted bread so bad a few hours ago. Dinner is a grilled chicken breast with BBQ sauce on the side. I drank a gallon of water today!! I have sipped my brains out!!! Between all the water drinking, I managed to get on the treadmill for 15 minutes. Remember to log in your walking steps and then clear your counter!!!
11 February 2004
Breakfast is Country Choice Multi-Grain Hot Cereal with nonfat milk. I've been missing eating cereal, but you know about the carbs. I'm diabetic so I have to watch them very carefully. Snack is a protein shake with nonfat milk. Lunch is a grilled chicken breast with BBQ sauce on the side. I like to dip the chicken into the sauce. You use less sauce this way and thus cut the carbs. For a snack I had a small bowl of posole soup. It's a Mexican soup that has seasonings, green chilies, pork, broth, and posole (hominy) in it. We ordered it from New Mexico and it was very good. Supper is a small chicken-fried steak with milk gravy on the side. I made the milk gravy and it was a treat. I drank a gallon of water and even walked a little on the treadmill. Still aching.... Hope it gets better.
12 February 2004
Breakfast is Teriyaki steak with Teriyaki sauce. Lunch is the same as breakfast. Seems these days I always have leftovers. Supper is fried flounder. This is one of my favorites. I just lightly floured the fish and then sprayed the pan with olive oil and fried it. I added black pepper and a little red pepper for a kicker. It was really good. As you can see, I'm not deprived when it comes to food. I'm enjoying so many things, but the portions are small and I'm full after each meal and if I need to have a snack, it's a healthy one! My snack was a protein shake with water. I drank my gallon of water and did the treadmill for 15 minutes. Hated the treadmill, but did it anyway!!
13 February 2004
Breakfast was a couple of fried eggs with a slice of Armour ham. Can you believe I'm having a "normal" breakfast?? The ham is different too! I wasn't that hungry for lunch, but I wanted something sweet. Well, let's say I craved something sweet and chocolate. I killed the cravings by having a protein drink (Double Rich Chocolate) with nonfat milk. I felt satisfied and the cravings were gone. Supper was a chicken wing, real mashed potatoes with a tsp. of butter. I was real ambitious and made mashed potatoes. I was still a little low on the protein so I made a quick shake and met my protein for the day. Got the water in and managed 15 minutes on the treadmill. My knees are killing me!!! My back is aching too!
14 February 2004
Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!! For breakfast I had fried eggs with ham. Another normal breakfast. Later I had my coffee. I have at least 1 or 2 cups of regular coffee a week. It's like a treat for me. I used to drink coffee by the potful, but now I've learned to savor the flavor. When I drink regular coffee I make sure that I don't count it toward my fluid intake. Since it is a diuretic I subtract it from my total fluids. This way I make sure that I make up for the loss in fluid. For lunch, Don and I went to Applebee's. I ordered the Fish & Chips. I just ate the fish and 1 french fry. The fish was overcooked and hard around the edges so I just picked at it. When I go out I always ask for water because it is so much easier and you don't have to explain to the waitress why you can't drink with your meals. I just want to sit down and enjoy myself! Supper was chinese takeout from the Golden Jade. I had one of my favorites - chicken wings (2) and a fried dumpling. I was short on my protein and I fixed myself a Whey Fruity Lemonade and it was pretty good. Got my water, vits, supps and protein in. I had a really good day! No I didn't get any flowers. Don knows I don't like flowers or any of that mushy stuff. We went shopping, had lunch, walked around the stores and bought a couple video games to play. That's my kind of Valentine's Day!
15 February 2004
I'm bored with breakfast, so I made myself a chocolate protein shake. Later on I had a decaf coffee. For lunch I'm BBQing some country style ribs. We love ribs!! The ribs were on sale and they're big and meaty with hardly any fat. These babies are gonna be good! Man, the ribs turned out juicy and tender. I measured my portion and had at it. They were delicious!! No need for forks, just dive in with your paws! I made my ribs with just a small amount of BBQ sauce. I'm diabetic so you know the sauce will jack up the sugar. There's just enough to give the meat a light glaze. I cut the full strength sauce with some water and then brush it on. The meat still picks up the flavor and glazes, but has less carbs. There's enough for everyone! Wanna come over?!?! Supper was leftover ribs! I was short on protein so I had a piece of BBQ rib. I made all my goals and even did a little treadmill. Still hate it and it makes my knees hurt. The backache will start later.
16 February 2004
For breakfast we're going to the Versailles Diner in Fairfield. I getting eggs and bacon. I ate the eggs and munched on a piece of bacon. I left the potatoes. I ate 1 slice of toast with butter and gave Don the rest of the bacon. When we left I got a coffee to go. We went food shopping and bought Proscuitto ham, provolone cheese, cucumbers and tomatoes for lunch. The Proscuitto was a little expensive, but it was heaven! We made roll-ups and munched on the veggies. It was a treat! Later that afternoon I had a chocolate protein drink. For supper I made beef chili with jalapenos and corn muffins. I had my small bowl with cheese and a corn muffin with butter. I'm full. I made my goals. No treadmill today. I ache all over.
17 February 2004
Today's breakfast is Proscuitto ham with provolone cheese. When you haven't had it in a while, it tastes so good! For lunch, I'm having a protein shake (Double Rich Chocolate), banana and some wheat germ. It's a nice thick shake with 27 gms of protein in it!! It's quite filling and I feel satisfied! Supper is chicken enchiladas. My guys have theirs with corn tortillas and I make mine with just the filling. I roasted a whole chicken until the meat falls off the bone, discarded the skin and chopped it all up and put it in a ZipLoc bag. I put jalapenos, Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup (I use the regular one and not the 99% fat free one because the regular one tastes better), and a Mexican cheese blend. You could also add some onions. I put my mixture in a bowl and then microblast it for about 2 minutes on high or until the cheese is molten and bubbly. Be careful and don't burn your mouth by being too eager!!! Protein was a little low, so I grabbed a couple of slices of Proscuitto and presto, goal met! I walked on the treadmill and still hating it!
8 March 2004
These are my measurements and weight at 90 days postop.
Weight: 192 lbs
Bust/Chest: 43 1/2 inches
Waist: 45 inches
Hips: 51 1/2 inches
Neck: 15 3/4 inches
Left upper arm: 13 3/4 inches
Right upper arm: 12 1/2 inches
Left thigh: 24 inches
Right thigh: 24 1/2 inches
Left calf: 15 1/4 inches
Right calf: 14 1/2 inches
Blood sugar: 101
These are my measurements and weight at 120 days postop.
Weight: 184 lbs
Bust/Chest: 42 1/2 inches
Waist: 43 3/4 inches
Hips: 49 inches
Neck: 15 1/2 inches
Left upper arm: 12 inches
Right upper arm: 12 1/4 inches
Left thigh: 22 1/2 inches
Right thigh: 23 inches
Left calf: 14 1/2 inches
Right calf: 14 1/4 inches
Blood sugar: 93
31 May 2004
Today is Memorial Day and I thought Id share my favorite poem with you:
by John Gillespie Magee, Jr.
Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long, delirious burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
This poem touches my heart every time I read it. Today we should all give thanks to our service members who have given so much so that we may enjoy our freedom. Im ex-Air Force and today Im remembering all the many people I have met along the way. Ive know some Viet Nam POWs, a Viet Nam Ace, served with some Thunderbirds, knew some truly gift pilots (air warriors), had many friends - officers, NCOs, airmen and civilians and I was happy to serve my country.
Today Ill share with you a special story:
In 1979 I got an EOT (End of Tour) flight. It was a 45 minute flight in a T-33. I briefed with my pilot, Capt. Pete Schumacher, got my weather, filed my flight plan, suited up and got my helmet. I was briefed in how to egress the plane in case of an emergency and Capt. Schumacher showed me how to deploy my chute. I had my chute pack, helmet, the whole works! We got into our plane, strapped in and taxied to the runway. I had a chance to taxi the plane, but my feet couldnt reach the pedals. We got clearance from the tower and sat at the end of the runway. As we waited, I looked around through the plexiglass. I couldnt believe that I was here, getting my wish to fly in a jet. The Alaskan sky was bright blue with a few sparse clouds. I could clearly see the Chugach Mountains to the right of me. My squadron the 18th TFS Blue Foxes, was to the left and I could see my pilots, back seaters, and co-workers watching me taxi onto the runway and get ready for take off. It was a beautiful clear day and I listened to all the pilot chatter on the radio. Capt. Schumachers voice snapped me out of my dream world. Are you ready for take-off? I answered on the radio, Ive always been ready!!! Here we go, speeding down the runway. I feel every bump and see the ground blurring as it speeds by. A final big kick in the ass and into the air we shoot. I feel the landing gear retract. Im flying!!! Its a glorious feeling and I know how the eagle feels today. I feel so free and I feel the seat harness tighten around me. Were getting up to altitude very quickly. We level off and are flying over some mountain ranges. Everything is green and beautiful down there. He is looking for some moose or Dall sheep to show me. We didnt see any moose, but we did manage to see a sheep. It was great! We flew in and around the mountains, just like a bird. I have such an indescribable feeling of freedom. Since the day is so clear I can see Mt. McKinley with no problem. Usually, it is obscured with cloud cover. Its a breathtaking sight! Now the fun part begins! He asked me if I wanted to fly the plane. Hell yeah!!! I quickly checked my instruments and I took the stick and began with some barrel rolls! It was easy and fun. He told me to do what I wanted to do and have fun. I did rolls to the left and right. I put the plane in a nose dive and pulled up. I headed for the sun, shot straight up and did some rolls as I spiraled upward. I felt like I touched the face of God that day! Finally, it was time to get back to the base. I thought we were going in to land, but Capt. Schumacher had other plans for me. We were going to do a fly by. We called the tower for clearance. We lined up with the main runway and headed down. He told me to get ready because we were going to pull a few Gs at the end of the runway. We flew low and at the end of the runway he pulled up hard and to the left. I felt those Gs as I was mashed into my seat and if I could have flown longer, I was up for it. We did one more fly by with a few more Gs and it was time to land this puppy. We came down with no problems and taxied to his squadron. I had a reception of flight line friends waiting for me. The tradition was they douse you with beer and then you celebrate! Everyone doused me and we celebrated with a few beers!!! This was one of the greatest moments of my life!!!
Yall have a great Memorial Day, pray for our troops, hug a vet, visit the vets in the nursing homes and support our military!!! Theyre doing an awesome job!!! And do me a favor, when you see the flag pass by please stand, remove you hat and put your hand over your heart!!
Profile put together by Sherri Garrett on 1/18/04
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(Pompton Plains, NJ) - Chilton Memorial Hospital
Animals - I love cats, dogs, pretty much all furry animals
Books & Literature - I love to read ... Stephen King, true crime, medical stuff, forensics
Needlework, Knitting & Crocheting - I love to crochet and I'm learning to knit
Movies - I like to watch war, horror, adventure, comedy flicks
Music - I like rock, country, blues, Kid Rock & some hiphop, latino, mariachi
Native American - Navajo
Auto Racing - I love NASCAR, Dale, Jr & Mikey - boogity! boogity! boogity!
Video Game Systems - I play Playstation 1&2, N64, Gamecube, Gameboy, Dreamcast video games
Trucks - I like to watch the Craftsman Truck Series & Busch racing
Computer and Internet Surfing - I can't get enough of it!!!
Click here to see interests of other ObesityHelp members.
Surgeon: Vadim Gritsus, M.D.
9/5/03 - Vadim Gritsus, M.D. (Lincoln Park, NJ) I met Dr. Gritsus today with my husband. He is a kind, caring, smart, talented doctor. He takes the time to explain what the surgery entails, the risks, what happens in the OR, hospital, discharge, and aftercare. He is concerned that you have support at home and welcomes family members and friends. He encourages you to ask any questions and to actively participate in your plan of care. He answers you honestly and frankly. He lets you know that he is there for you 24/7 and will not let your phone calls go unanswered. He particularly stresses how important the aftercare is and that he and Dean will continue to monitor your progress in your follow up appointments. Dr. Gritsus has monthly support meetings and gives continuous patient education. He lets you know that after surgery we will have a long term relationship filled with support, education, guidance and celebration as we lose weight and our health improves. He is very thorough in the pre-op process - lots of tests to determine all of your medical conditions, but the reasoning behind the tests is that he wants to give me the best possible care and have the best outcome. I am very happy in my choice of surgeons. I feel he is a gifted surgeon and I would recommend him to anyone considering the Lap RNY surgery or the Lap Band. Dr. Gritsus also works with a great Physician's Assistant, Dean, who was very kind, friendly and very thorough in interviewing me. He also made it known that he is there to answer any questions. If any questions remained in my mind I know I could call their office and receive an answer. He said they welcome feedback from their patients and they’ll continue to meet my changing needs. They make a great team! The whole office staff is very professional, show genuine concern for their patients, and are very helpful with applying for insurance approval, financing suggestions, drafting/sending letters to doctors, and retrieving medical records. They take their time with you on the phone and never rush you. My messages are always promptly passed on. My dealings with this practice has always been positive!!
Aetna Choice POS, Aetna Choice POS
United HealthCare - Before I even started the process of getting tests done for RNY surgery, I called the insurance company and asked if they would approve it and the answer was yes. I made a total of 3 calls starting in July 2003 and gave the CPT code and ICD-9 code and each time the answer was yes. With the last call I asked the woman about the written exclusion clause in the policy and she said that surgery would still be approved. I even had my husband's Human Resource guy call customer service and the care coordinator and ask if it would be approved and they told him yes. I thought I had covered all the bases on finding out about my approval, but it looks like I got lied to. I did all of the testing and was denied on 1 Oct 03 because of the written exclusion. I do have the right to an appeal and if that is denied, I have the right to go to the grievance committee and then that's it. I have to decide if I will get legal representation or to file on my own. Is it worth the expense of retaining a lawyer and hope the exclusion will be overturned or should I persure this on my own. The exclusion is well-defined in the policy.
Well, since that time my husband's company has decided to change health insurance again and will now go to Aetna - effective on 1 Nov 2003. I will now have to start all over with the approval process and this time Aetna presently requires a 26-week (6-month) medically supervised diet.
AETNA - I called on 3 Nov 03 and talked to Ken from the Pittsburgh Center and the policy bulletin said I need a 26-week medically supervised diet. He comfirmed the requirement. My surgeon's office sent my letter of medical necessity and medical records package anyway and AETNA approved my surgery on 6 Nov with a 15 Dec 03 surgery date. I received my hard copy letter of approval on 10 Oct.