I'm scheduled to have surgery with Dr. Aguirre in Ensenada, Mexico on June 16, 2003, and let me tell you, it's all I can think about. I just can't imagine going into a store besides Fashion Bug. Or worrying about whether I'll fit into a seat at a restaurant. Or getting into a friends car and wondering if the seatbelt will fit me. If anyone else is having surgery with Dr. Aguirre at that time, please email me. I'd love to have someone there in the hospital to talk to!!
Surgeon: Alejandro Aguirre M.D.
When we arrived in San Diego, all was going well. We took way too much stuff though, which was a pain to carry around. My mom and 2 year old daughter went with me. We got a taxi to the border, which is only about 20 miles away. It cost about $40.00 dollars. When you get to the border, it's kinda confusing. You just have to follow the people. It's quite a walk, and no one asks for ID or anything. As soon as we got over the border, we were swarmed by taxi drivers. One offered to take me to Ensenada for $75 and I said no. In hindsight, it probably would have been a good idea. Anyways, we had him take us to the bus station. That was $15.00. At the bus station, you have to find the ABC buses. They don't speak any English, so it takes a few minutes to communicate. Anyways, we got the bus the rest of the way to Ensenada. Once there, it was dark, and a little scary. We found a taxi driver who spoke English though, and he took us to the El Cid for $8.00. It was almost 11pm, (3am Ohio time) when we finally got to the hotel. Needless to say, we crashed. The hotel is nice. They have refridgerators, bottled water, english television, and a nice view.
I woke up in the morning and tried calling the doctor. I was getting a little worried, because I couldn't get an answer on any of the 3 numbers. Finally I got ahold of him, and he said to be at his office at noon. I decided to rent a car. Fiesta is in the phone book, and is the cheapest. $35.00 per day. They will pick you up and take you to get the car. Driving is a little tricky, because they don't really use the stop signs. They just slow down a little. We got used to it though, and I think it saved a lot of money, because the cabs don't have meters, so you never know how much it will cost. Also, it let my mom go back and forth as often as she wanted. The hospital is only a couple miles from the hotel. Anyways, we arrived at the dr.'s office at noon. The receptionist spoke no English, and said to sit. We sat for about 30 minutes, and then she called the doctor, and he said to come back at six. We came back at six, and met him. He asked some questions, and explained the surgery. I was nervous at first. He just didn't seem as wonderful as everyone said. My mom asked if I was sure I wanted to go through with this, and I said yes. I think that at that point, there could have been dirt floors and I would have agreed. Anyways, I then had to go to the hospital for my pre-op tests. All they took was a urine sample, and some blood. The nurse who took my blood was great. I didn't feel a thing, and I hate needles. I was supposed to come back at 7am.
The morning of surgery, we arrived at 7am. There was no one at the desk and the lights were off. We sat down and waited, and around 7:30, someone came to get me. She didn't speak English, but said my family had to wait there. I went back to a pre-op room. They started an i.v., and wrapped my legs, for compression socks. Dr. Aguire came in and asked how I was, and I said, very nervous. He said everything would be fine. Finally my mom came back to sit with me. Dr. Gomez came in next. He's very funny and nice. He said he would give me one tequilla now, and 2 tequillas in the operating room. My "first tequilla" made my head spin a little, but definately relaxed me. Around 9am, they came to take me to the operating room. I walked in, and laid down on the bed. I don't really remember anything else until I woke up. I don't think I was in much pain. I said "am I alive?" and my mom said I was. She said everything went well, and I went back to sleep. I don't remember much of that day. The nurses kept coming in. They do understand "mucho pain". They would give me shots through the iv, or push medicine through the epidural. I never had to wait for someone to help me. For anyone who is worried about the epidural, don't be. I had one when I had my baby, and it HURT to put in. But they don't put this one in until you're asleep, and you can't feel a thing when you have it in already. Also, the only thing you can feel when it comes out it the tape that they take off. I was clenching my eyes and fists, and he walked around the other side of the bed. I said "are you done already?" and he said he was. Didn't feel a thing when it came out. When you wake up, you have 2 stomach tubes, a catheder, an iv, and the epidural. It's rough to move, because you have to move all those things with you.
Wednesday was the worst. I asked for pain medicine often. It was hard to get comfortable. I wanted to sit up, so my mom helped me. I was going to take a walk. The nurse saw me, and came in and took out my catheder. I was kinda disapointed, because it's nice to not have to jump up to go to the bathroom. But I know it's important to walk. So I walked a few times. The doctor came in, said everything was good. I was ok with him at this point, but still didn't see anything "great". I think people had built him up so much, that I expected to have "superman" as my doctor. Anyways, he was never there for long. Just stopping in to check. He brought Jessica C. in to see me. She was there for pre-op tests, so it was a nice break to see her. I had planned on doing a lot of reading, and watching some shows on tape. However, with all the pain killers I asked for, reading was impossible, and my mom had forgot to pack the tapes she made. So I spent a lot of time watching Spanish soap operas. I took a shower on Wednesday too. It felt good, but was a little awkward. I don't get naked in front of anyone, so it was awful to have to have the nurse help me shower. That night, it was late, and I started having trouble breathing. It hurt in my heart and left shoulder when I tried to breath. I tried to communicate that to the nurse, and she called the doctor. He was there within 5 minutes. Between the meds, and being without family at that point, I was in tears. He was trying to calm me but I was so upset. He had the nurse give me something that just made everything go very slooooow. He and the nurse spoke in Spanish for about 5 minutes over my bed. I wasn't sure, but it sounded like they were arguing. She turned around and left, and he shut the door and sat down. He explained that the nurse had lied to him. She told him that I had been practicing with the little breathing machine all day, but I had never known anything about it. He was upset and apologized. He said that's probably what had caused my pain, because I hadn't been breathing properly. He showed me how to use it, and I began practicing. He said he knew I was probably homesick, and it was hard. He asked if I would need anything to help me sleep, and I said no. He left and came back with a new nurse. He said she would be helping me from now on, and that she would take good care of me. He left then, and I spent about 30 minutes practicing breathing before I fell asleep.
On Thursday morning, I was so sick of being in the hospital. The incident the night before didn't help at all. When they came to ask if I wanted a shower, I said yes. After my shower, I put my normal clothes on, and was sitting up when the other dr. came in. He asked how I was feeling and I said ok. He took out the one stomach tube for me. Dr. Aguire came in later, and I asked if I could go home. He said that it was probably ok. He had the nurse take out my iv. He sat down with me and wrote out 2 pages of instructions. I didn't get to have water, because I was leaving a day early. My mouth was soooo dry and nasty tasting. We left and went back to the hotel. I was tired of being cooped up, so we walked around for about an hour, and did some shopping. I was so tired by then, so I went back to the room to sleep while they went for supper.
On Friday, we were ready to go back to San Diego. We made arrangements with Bambee earlier that week to take us back. He showed up at 9:45am. He had gotten an SUV since we had so much luggage. He loaded everything and took us to the hotel. I cannot tell you how good of an idea it is to have him take you back. I was in quite a bit of pain, and I have no idea how we would have gotten back across the border without his help. He said people sometimes have to stand in line for 30 minutes before crossing the border. It would be so hard to do. It's really worth the $150 for him to take you back. Once we got to San Diego, it was naptime again.
We spent the next 3 days sight seeing in San Diego. We went to Sea World 2 days, and the zoo one day. It was nice. I rented an electric scooter, because it was way too much walking.
I arrived back home, and it was great. My biggest suggestion to anyone is to use Bambi. It seems like a lot of money, but especially on the way home, it's well worth it.
Also, Ensenada wasn't tropical weather. In fact, it was never once over 65 degrees. So pack at least a jacket, and a pair of pants.
After Wednesday and Thursday, I was able to see what everyone was raving about Dr. Aguire for. He was so nice and caring Wednesday night when I had troubles. He spent a lot of time with me on Thursday telling me about my post-op instructions. He really is a caring man and a good doctor. Even my mom was impressed, and she was very nervous about the whole situation.
I may add more as I think of it, but if you have any questions, feel free to email me.
I just wanted to say, that you need to make sure this is what you want to do. I personally experienced a real culture shock in Mexico, but I've also never traveled outside the US. I was totally unprepared for how difficult it was to get around and to communicate. I had read how great it was, and had not seen anyone else have problems, and it was a total shock to me. I don't want to discourage anyone though. I would do it again in a heartbeat. It is a good solution for anyone who has to private pay. Dr. Aguire is a great doctor. I just hope no one goes down there with any huge expectations, because it's not an easy journey, but I hope that in the future, it will have been well worth it.
I went to my pcp today to get my staples and g-tube removed. Prior to me leaving for Mexico, she said this would be no problem. After arriving at my appointment, she looked at the incision and tube, and said she was afraid to take it out. She made an appointment for me with a surgeon, but I couldn't go until tomorrow. I was really disappointed, because the tape is driving me nuts, I think I'm allergic to it. I've been itching non-stop. Also, the g-tube seems to be getting infected. I cleaned it this morning, and yucky pus came off of it.
Well, I had my appointment with the surgeon today. He removed the g-tube first. It pinched a little bit, but wasn't too bad. I assumed he would drain it first, but he didn't. Ever since he removed it, drainage, like the kind coming out of the tube, has been coming out. He also took out half of my staples. I have to return in a week to have the rest removed. All day long, they've been draining and seeping. I'm kind of worried about it. It's not infected, but a lot of people with this situation reported that it can take months for the wound to close completely. I'm supposed to go back to work next Saturday, and I can't imagine dealing with this mess--it's draining a lot.
I am also having trouble with depression right now. Before surgery, I was on medication, and had been for almost 3 years. I was taking Effexor. The side effects from just stopping taking it are kinda harsh. Dr. Aguire told me not to stop though. In hindsight, I wish I would have weaned myself off before leaving for Ensenada. I don't think the doctor realized the side effects from this medication. Anyways, now I'm feeling myself slipping into depression again, and there's nothing I can do about it, because I'm not allowed to take the medication I need.
I think it would help if I could see some weight loss. I haven't been able to weigh myself since my surgery, because I can't find a scale to weigh me. Even the one at my pcp's office only goes to 350. Obviously I haven't lost too much, because I started at 365, and the scale still won't weigh me. I'm worried because it seems as if my pouch is much bigger than most post-ops at the same stage as me. I tried the cottage cheese test and it seemed like I could still eat an awful lot. Granted, it's not nearly as much as I used to eat at one sitting; I guess I was just hoping to have a tiny pouch. I know they say it doesn't matter in the long run.
This page of mine has been a large stress reliever to me. It makes me feel better to come and spill my guts. Hopefully, someone will get something useful out of everything I've written, but if not, at least I've gotten some free therapy out of it.
Well, I have been promising and re-promising people that I would come in and update. I am doing well. The depression seems to have passed. I reccommend that no matter what Dr. Aguirre says, STOP EFFEXOR BEFORE GOING TO MEXICO!! He told me not to. I had been on it for nearly 3 years, and an abrupt stop was very hard. I have begun to see weight loss. It's not as much as I would like, but I'm grateful for it. I started at 365 lbs, and right now, I'm at 318. My clothes are much looser, and I even had to get new work clothes, because they started falling off of me. Right at 6 weeks, my drastic weight loss stopped. Now I'm having 2-3 pounds per week. I know I need to start regular exercising. Right now, I squeeze it in whenever possible. I hate it so much though. I'm thinking about taking a water arobics class. It sounds like fun. Maybe I'll do better if I'm with a group of people every couple days. The whole protien thing isn't working out for me either. I think that might be another reason for my slow down in loss. The protein shakes make me nauseaus. I think it's because they're sweet. I know I don't get in enough through eating. I can barely get in 100-200 calories per day. I know this sounds weird, considering I used to consume 2000-3000 calories in a day, but I get nervous about my calorie intake now. I snack on pickles because they have so few calories. The thought of doubling my calorie intake by drinking a 300 calorie shake just doesn't appeal to me. If you read this and have suggestions, feel free to let me know. I don't get onto the website too much anymore, because I'm a full time student, employee, and single mom, but I usually do check my email once per day. I promise to get on here at least monthly to give updates.