I am 35 years old, and a mental health therapist. I have not been practicing in my field due to health problems. I love snorkeling, cycling, lifting weights, anything to do with the ocean, fishing, working with animals, gardening, reading, movies, writing, poetry, cross-stitch, cooking, and photography. I have been heavy all my life, but I have really put on extra weight since 1996. This surgery is the first thing I have done for ME in a long time. Currently, I have had my consult with Dr. Andrew DeWitt, and am very pleased with him, and his staff, however, I am not pleased with my insurance company. My sister is Beth Wright, a nurse, and she and I had our consult together. She has BC/BS through Lloyd Noland. I have it through the state. In four weeks, she had her approval letter, no questions asked. Her BMI is 8 points lower than mine, but my insurance screening company - intracorp, is giving me a major run-earound. If anyone has had problems in getting precertified for surgery with state employees insurance, please email me, as I may need this information if I have to retain an attorney.
Well, I was finally approved on June 10. Just three days before my sister's bariatric surgery (see Beth Wright-- Alabama). I was elated and scared to death all at the same time. In the back of my mind, I kept thinking, no matter what I try, I'm not going to get approved, because I want this so badly; I want what most people take for granted. The ability to walk into a room, or apply for a job, or show up at a gym and be given a chance to prove myself before someone judges me on my appearance. My insurance put me through the gauntlet, but I have a feeling more insurances will soon be following suit. I had to have a nutritional evaluation, a psychiatric exam, and have my MD provid proof that I had been on a medically supervised weight loss program within the past year, and that I had actually lost weight on it. Luckily, I had joined our local YMCA in January, and had my doctor document my progress during each visit; a good lesson- make sure you tell your MD little things like that and insist that he documents it. It can save a lot of heartache later. Keeping a journal wont hurt either. My sister was scheduled for surgery the same day as several other patients of our doctor. She was scheduled to be last, and did not get into sugery until after 5:00 PM, because one of the earlier patients ended up having complications. Talk to your doctor before- hand about being scheduled earlier in the day, or having a back-up plan to have IV fluids started way before surgery. She was told the standard "nothing by mouth after midnight" which she followed, but that meant she went 17 hours without liquids before she was started on an IV. And as a result, she felt worse after surgery, and she stayed deyhdrated for about a week afterward. Discuss this with your doctor, so it doesn't happen to you--I plan to.
Two weeks; in two weeks, I will have gone through surgery, and (laughing) probably be moaning for pain medicine. I plan to walk and swim every day between now and surgery. I am excited, and I am a little scared. I had my spleen taken out when I was 19, and I know how painful abdominal surgery can be. But I keep thinking -- there are so many things I want to do and NOT be hindered by weight. And this surgery will provide me with the tool to reach my goals. My family is supportive, and so are most of my friends. I've had a lot of problems in my family, lately, and a close friend told me, "You need to let things settle down before you have surgery." I told her, without hesitation, "My family is going to get through these problems - with or without my help, and it is time I started making "me" a priority in my life. There will never be a perfect time for surgery or life changes, but I'm not prepared to be fat for ANYONE, any longer." I have a wonderful man that I have kept on hold because I did not want him to see me this way. He doesn't care, but I do. This is for me. And soon, I will go to him (smile).
Okay the jitters are kicking in, and tomorrow I start my liquid diet (whoooohoooooo!). I went to the beach this weekend, on the advice of a friend, and I am at least calmed, centered, and ready for battle! I am terrified that I will have to be opened up as opposed to laproscopic surgery, because I've had previous surgery, and the doc may not be able to get around my old scar tissue. I am trying to focus on cleaning out my system, and staying centered. Most of my friends and family are being very supportive. But, I'm definitely nervous. I just want the surgery to be over, even though I know I will be in pain for a while; I want to be rolling out of recovery. This time next week, I will be well on my way to becomeing the me I've always known I could be. Look out world!!!!!!!!
Almost 16 months post-op:
I now have lost 160lbs; a whole other person. I went to North Carolina a few weeks ago to see my best friend, who had not seen me in over two years. She said that if I had walked past her on the street, she would not have recognized me. The woman at the bank, who has been waiting on me for six months, now says that I need a new drivers license photo, because she is no longer sure I am the person on the picture. It has been a long difficult journey. The physical part has been relatively easy--- I have had my days of nausea and vomiting-- I have had my days of dizziness because my blood pressure dropped so low----- I have times where I don't get to exercise and I feel guilty, but overall, physically, I feel great. Emotionally- I have had to back up and regroup. I like the new me---- because in many ways, it is the old me. I have been getting lots of attention from men, and that is new (smile), but strange at the same time. I can walk miles with no strain, run up stairs and not get winded, chase the kids, ride the roller coaster, swim for hours, and I love it. If I had to do it all over again, my only regret is that this form of the surgery was not widely available 10 years ago. I will be posting "after" pics soon- check back.
I am now in North Carolina, a parent of three kids, and back in school to become a licensed mediator and continue training as a conflict resolution specialist. I have gained back approximately 20lbs, but this is normal. Overall, I am much better, but have to be careful that I don't go too long without eating, and I have to be sure to not eat anything too acidic, or I end up bent over in pain. If anyone else has had this complication, please email me. I want to lose back those 20 lbs. and get a tummy tuck. I am interested in donating tissue and fat to burn victims. If anyone knows of any medical schools that harvest extra tissue and fat, let me know. Thanks.
Surgeon: Andrew DeWitt, M.D.
me a few days before surgery
Dr. DeWitt is a fairly young, laid back man, who seems to enjoy his job, but does not think he is better than his patients because he is a doctor. I found him to be engaging, thorough, non-judgemental, and he has a great sense of humor. He was very encouraging during our screening, and was extremely patient, as my sister and I were screened together, and we both plastered him with questions. I would highly recommend him to anyone in the Central Alabama area. His staff is also very considerate and empathetic, and seem to be genuinely interested in their patient's well-being. I have not had any negative encounters with him or his staff, other than someone at his office giving me really bad directions to the office.
Alabama Local Government Employees Blue Cross Blue, Local Government Employees
My sister is Beth Wright, a nurse, and she and I had our consult together. She has BC/BS through Lloyd Noland. I have it trough the state. In four weeks, she had her approval letter, no questions asked. Her BMI is 8 points lower than mine, but my insurance screening company - Intracorp, is giving me a major run around. If anyone has had problems in getting precertified for surgery with state employees insurance, please email me, as I may need this information if I have to retain an attorney. Now my insurance is asking for documentation that I have been on a medically supervised weight loss program and have shown proof of weight loss; excuse me? If I could lose weight under a physicians supervision would I need the surgery? They also want a psychological exam and a nutritional consult. I am sure this is just a stalling tactic, and I intend to call their hand on it. Wish me luck!
06/20/02 Post Script
I found out early last week that I am finally approved for surgery. I had to have a nutritional evaluation, a psychological evaluation, and proof that I had been on a medically supervised weight loss program, within the last year, with some weight loss, before I could be approved. Luckily in January I started watching my fat grams and working out at the YMCA fitness center, and i had lost 26 pounds. So my MD was able to document this for me and write me a letter. I had my nutritional evaluation done at the Baptist Wellness Center in Montgomery, and I was scheduled for a psych eval at Alabama Psychiatric Services in Montgomery, but found them to be very uncooperative when a scheduling conflict came up. I was able to call around and get an appointment within three days at the Alabama Psychiatric Services in Birmingham, and it was well worth the drive. The staff was knowledgable, courteous, and had my psycological evaluation submitted within 48 hours. I have to thank Judy at Dr. DeWitt's office, because after she had all my other information, she called Intracorp on the day I went for my psych eval, and told them there was no way I wouldnt be approved by the psychiatrist, and she got verbal approval to schedule surgery for me that day. Thanks Judy! My advice for everyone having to run the intracorp gauntlet? Document everything, call them often, and contact the State Employees Insurance Board for assistance, if you are denied.