********UPDATE BELOW******** 03/02/2002
Surgeon: Robert T. Marema M.D.
I am a 34 year old 379 lb. mother of 2, wishing to one day know what it feels like to not be stared at in restaurants, to buy clothes off the rack, to not embarrass my friends because of my size, to run with my children and be carried across the threshold by my husband. I've tried everything, all types of diets, fasting and exercise. Nothing works. A RNY is my last resort.
This week has been extremely informative. On Monday, 1/17/00, I phoned Prudential HMO and asked which of the Doctors I found listed on wls in my area were a part of my HMO plan. I was told that Dr. Marema was the only one on my plan. I phoned Dr. Marema's office and was informed that there was an informational meeting every Monday night, I left work early and my husband and I attended. We learned sooo much, I mostly learned that I have nothing to be ashamed of when I can't sleep at night due to frequent urination, heartburn and labored breathing. Or when I'm so tired the next day that I fall asleep talking to my secretary at work ~ I was so relieved to find out that this is a disease called SLEEP APNEA which commonly occurs in morbidly obese people.
We were so impressed with what we learned that my husband is now wholely supporting my decision to have the procedure 100%! Before we went there he was extremely sceptical. We know this is a major life decision and it is not to be taken lightly.
The fear, the anxiety, the unknown...
The UNKNOWN is now taken care of. Now I'm left with fear and anxiety. It is sort of a relief to know that prior to having the procedure Dr. Marema's patients are required to see a psychologist for psychiatric eval. This is going to cost me $300 up front and I have to save for it but I know if it is God's will... He will make a way... I could not make an appointment that night to see Dr. Marema because of my insurance, I have to be referred by my primary care physician.
Tuesday, I phoned and obtained my complete medical history from all doctors dating back to 1992. I'm afraid of the insurance company turning me down due to lack of information. My history is spelled out in black and white. The nutritionist visits, the diets, degenerative arthritis etc.
Today, I saw my primary care physician for the referral. I wanted so much to be referred for the procedure that I was stressed in the office. My heart was racing and I went in prepared for a fight, thinking that I had to convince this doctor why I needed the procedure. Thank you Jesus! I was referred no questions asked... They were very much aware of the procedure and Dr. Marema. I obtained the referral and am now set for my initial consultation with Dr. Marema on February 21, 2000. I have until then to have my psych eval. prior to seeing him. Wish Me Luck...
FINALLY, I've reach the plateau! I've been approved for surgery. I apologize it has taken so long but in between I bought a house... My request was sent to the insurance company on Friday - Prudential HMO and I was notified of the approval today! I've started a regimen for H-Pylori treatment tonight and should hear from the Dr. Marema's office for my appointment and surgery date by Monday or Tuesday! It looks like surgery will be in late July. Pray for me, my emotions are all over the place. I feel ELATED (hope I spelled that right) and am so looking forward to the lifestyle change... to being able to run and exercise and feel healthy. But I am also a little afraid of the hurdles I must overcome to get there. I will post an up-to-date picture here soon. THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!! KEEP ME IN YOUR PRAYERS! HUGS & KISSES, Phyllis.
I HAVE A DATE! Initially I was scheduled for August 5 but I requested an earlier date if anyone cancelled. Low and behold there was a cancellation or postponement. My date for surgery is NEXT TUESDAY!!!! I saw Dr. Marema today and I feel great. He tells me we are ready to proceed. I have three other pre-op appointments this week but am READY with the Grace of God! Everyone pray for me. Like I told a friend recently if God decides that I be in that 1% mortality rate I would like everyone to rest assured that I have indeed had a wonderful life and have been blessed with a LOVING GODSEND OF A husband and two wonderful children. My time here has been a fullfilling one. (I know that is morbid but I want to be honest with my feelings). Forgive me if I offended anyone with this.
Pray for me and I will see you on the other side of the obesity mountain. Where the weight goes down instead of up! Thank everyone for their support. God Bless! Phyl.
July 16, 2000
THIS IS THE GOD's HONEST TRUTH SO IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE TRUTH I'D ADVISE YOU NOT TO CONTINUE WITH THIS READ!
NOBODY WARNED ME ABOUT THE PAIN>>> IT IS A TRUE STEPPING STONE TO OUR SUCCESS>>> AND IT TEACHES US FROM DAY ONE WE HAVE TRUELY BEEN REBORN! THOUGH IT ALL I KEPT TELLING MYSELF, I HAVE A NEW BEGINNING! AND THAT IS WHAT KEPT ME GOING!
OH MY GOD EVERYONE!!! IT WAS SO HARD!!! The night of surgery and the 2 days postop were extremely difficult. I tolerated everything very well but the incision, the G-tube and gastric pain were the very difficult. They provided me with a Morphine pump for pain and boy did I use it. I felt as though I was run over by a Mack Truck the first night - I definitely knew my abdominal muscle had been cut. So I pressed the pump and held on for dear life. I remember waking up in recovery with stabbing pains in the abdomen... I OOOOOOHHHHH'D for every inch of that incision. I remember a beautiful nurse saying "Mrs. King, Mrs. King you are in recovery, you need to wake up". I said, "OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH IT HURTS!" I remember her placing something in my hand and saying press this as often as you need, this is for pain." I was so shocked, I felt the button in hand but I could not press it. So she pressed it for me and 2 minutes later I was in Morphine heaven. I saw my husband as they wheeled me from the recovery room down the corridor headed to my room. The next thing I remember was my husband waking me saying "Honey, I bought you Roses... I LOVE YOU, I have to go check on the kids it's 10:00." He kissed my lips and that was all she wrote... I remember pressing that Morphine button even as he was speaking to me. At about 12:00 midnight the nurse came to me and instructed me to get out of bed and go for a walk.
I pressed the Morphine button again and forced myself out of bed. I grabbed hold that that walker with all my might and I walked. The nurses were stunned to see me go. I kept remembering an email I received just before going to the Hospital from Lara of Miami. She said, "PHYLLIS, I HAD MY SURGERY 4 DAYS AGO AND ALL I CAN SAY IS WALK WALK WALK!"
Day 2 POST OP
Was still very difficult but first thing I got out of bed and went walking again. If you have a big stomach and are not having a tummy tuck with your surgery be prepared for some pulling with every step. I forced myself to walk upright because my stomach is big but firm. Keep your pillow close in hand whenever you are in your room. I hurts to cough, it hurts to laugh but that pillow in your belly held closely is the best remedy for absorbing some of that pain. COUGH YOU ALL, YES IT HURTS BUT COUGH WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT, that mucus in your lungs will kill you and you want it out as soon as possible. I must have coughed up about 10 clumps in 2 days and caught a slight cold yesterday but don't have to worry about pneumonia because I cleared my lungs. Praise God!
I took 3 walks total on Day 2 today, and I thought I had a problem with one of my legs which turned out to be a false alarm but better safe than sorry, I made the nurse check it and re-check it to make sure it was okay. All the while Morphined but lucid. The nurse told me to use the morphine because tomorrow it goes away. So as I walked back toward my room, I hit the button to control the pain and what did I do that for. I got so nausious but the time I got to my chair I could hardly keep my eyes open. (HINT: NEVER USE THE MORPHINE WHEN IN MOTION! HA HA HEE HEE) I seriously didn't quite comprehend what she was saying until tomorrow came.
DAY 3 POST OP
All the IVs came out, the stockings and catheters etc. were removed and I was on my own. I've been on a clear liquid diet for 2 days now. Warm tea with (Sweet n low) GUYS! EVERYTHING TASTED SOOOO SWEET!, Sugar Free Jello, Ice chips etc. But today was pureed everything and unlimited fluids. So Breakfast was Pureed egg, cottage cheese and Crystal Lite (I made it through 1 tbsp of egg - which is a norm so I'm told). Lunch was Pureed Turkey, Butter and Crystal Lite. I made the nurse get me some salt and pepper and once that was added it was tolerable, I made it though 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp before I got that full feeling. (Ya'll it feels like a little pressure just between the breast plate where the sternum is.) At least that's where I feel it. I had a little nausea after this meal so they gave me an injection for nausea. That was the only bout. I walked about 6 to 7 times on day 3 and was feeling good, my husband came and gave me a shower that evening and we walked together. I had lots of visitors from my job and close friends. BOY DID I LAUGH!!! YES IT HURT BUT I ENJOYED IT TO THE UTMOST! I started laughing when I heard my roommates husband talking about a couple they knew were getting married in a hurry and he said I'm happy for them but "Boy She's UGLY!" I almost fell out of my bed with laughter. I had a wonderful roommate too. Nancy Brown She was a very small petite lady never seen the other side of slender a day in her life. When I explained what I was in for she was in AW. Before she left the hospital she made me promise I would let her and her husband know how I am doing. We watched Dateline NBC together on Tuesday night and she got a better understanding about morbid obesity and why we are all turning to surgery as a rememdy. TO THE SKINNY PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER BEEN OVERWEIGHT A DAY IN THEIR LIVES, ALL I CAN SAY IS WALK IN MY SHOES FOR THE LAST 34 YEARS AND YOU TOO WILL UNDERSTAND!
I didn't sleep well tonight so I had to take a Demerol for pain. I was in tears I told the nurses "I THINK I OVERDID IT". I prayed for a little while... The nurses told me it would only get better and I went to sleep.
DAY 4 POST OP
I got up, ate breakfast, felt good, not much pain, got showered and by 2:00 pm was on my way home. I took my walks today as well, we went to the Publix to pick up some items I was allowed to eat. I love the Sugar Free popsicles. We walked a mile in that store, I was so tired by the time I got to the front so I sat down in this new tipe camping chair until Tommie checked us out. That was all the walking I was going to do today. So when we arrived home my babies and I were so glad to see one another I sat in the livingroom for a while when all was quite a prayed and thanked God for my blessings and went in to take a nap.
Today, I took my braids (extension so I would not have to fuss with my hair) and I lost about a hand full of hair, to ball it up was like holding a softball. Must be the anesthesia. I was expecting this but no so much, so soon. To look at it you really can't tell. Hopefully it will subside soon.
I am truly relieved that this part of my test is over, now comes the real challenge. Teaching myself to remember to eat. I have absolutely no appetite! For breakfast this morning I had egg with cheese and sausage. I was full by the fifth bite. I must go have lunch now which will be Chicken Broth. I hope this helps everyone and truly hope this does not scare anyone. I just like to be honest and not sugar-coat things.
GOD BLESS YOU ALL AND THANK EVERYONE FOR THEIR SUPPORT AND WELL WISHES! PHYLLIS.
I FEEL GREAT THIS MORNING! I simply cannot wait for my appointment next week... Tommie and I went to Service Merchandise and Walmart last night looking for a scale. I can't believe it. I weighed last night for the first time since surgery. Before surgery I could not even weight on a regular scale because I was at 376.8 pounds. Now I weigh on your average everyday scale that goes up to 350. HURRAY! I weighed in at 348 pounds!!!! last night. I felt like turning cartwheels in the store. I must have weighed on 12 different scales because I could not believe it was accurate (giggle) and all weights were in the same ballpark, So, I am not going to fight it 348 POUNDS YES YES YES!. I told Tommie, I don't see the weightloss but he told me he truly does -- Especially when he HUGS ME! Isn't he just the sweetest man! I LOVE HIM SO! Anyway. I don't have an official weight yet because I don't see Dr. Marema until next week on the 27th. Pray for me okay! I can't believe it! Phyl.
P.S. Oh my God, I almost forgot! When we were in the Walmart last night of course by the time we got there I was so extremely exhausted with all the walking that I had to get one of those electric carts. Needless to say everyone was looking at me like I was crazy but I enjoyed every minute of it. Anyway, I went looking for a bottle of catsup and ran across a full isle of sugarfree everything! You name it! I could not believe it because I had not looked into purchasing anything sugar free because I'm on proteins only so far.
Seeing the weight loss last night made me feel a little guilty because I did cheat day before yesterday. Tommie came home with a big juicy WATERMELON! So I had a few chunks from the heart of it. I didn't eat the meat I just chewed all the juice out of it. At first I thought I was going to get sick because it is sweet. But then I thought about it. Sugar comes from CANE not watermelon (go figure). No nausea no nothing. I just know that it will slow the weight loss down so I'm being good now. Forgive me all! It was a weak moment! But BOY IT WAS GOOD! Ha ha hee hee ha. Anyway, I'll update you all next week. Phyl.
So Much for updating Next Week! SORRY ALL!
October 15, 2000
Hello All, I apologize for the break, but I'm finally getting back into the swing of things. Please forgive me for the break but between, work, family and exercise in the evenings I haven't had much opportunity for much else. Since surgery I've received over 360 emails
many from people who are considering the surgery or trying to get approved and MANY IN SUPPORT of what I've done. THANK YOU ALL for your support and kind words of encouragement! It helped a great deal. I've responded to each and every email, slowly but surely, even those who are against the procedure. TO THE LADY PSYCHIATRIST ON DATELINE NBC ON JULY 12TH AND others who are against the procedure, I want to say one thing! WALK IN MY SHOES FOR THE LAST 34 YEARS AND THEN TELL ME YOU DON'T RECOMMEND WHAT I'VE DONE! There are a lot of non-believers and thin people out there, people who have never seen obesity a day in their lives who want to tell us how we should feel, they don't understand the weight is genetic. To those of you who have not made up your minds, I say, don't let them scare you! MAKE YOUR OWN DECISION! MAKE THE DECISION FOR YOU AND NO ONE ELSE!!!
Forgive me ya'll, I had to vent! Now, the update
DUMPING SYNDROME, August 2, 2000
I had symptoms of dumping syndrome last night. TOTALLY ACCIDENTIALLY! I baked chicken drumsticks and put 2 types of bar-b-que sauce on them (had bar-b-que chicken before since surgery but only with one type of sauce) so I'm assuming that the 2 types is what did it. I took 2 bites and after being full was tired, showered and went to bed. Approximately 1 hour after eating the pains came. Searing pain throughout my body, My heart was pounding so hard I thought my chest would explode! The pain was so excruciating that I thought I was dying, I was afraid to let my husband see me that way so I went to the bathroom and sat and ached and literally prayed to die! It took 45 minutes for it to pass. When I felt better I went to the kitchen and looked at those bar-b-que sauce bottles for what was in them. They were full of sugar. In those two bites of chicken I consumed over 30 grams of sugar! One tsp of sauce is a serving. Chalk it up to lessons learned -- READ EVERYTHING!
I thought if this ever happened to me it would be because I was misbehaving purposely, I never thought it would happen accidentally, go figure. Anyway, I'm doing better now but would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy. I truly thought I was dying.
August 25, 2000
The all protein diet did not work for me, I had to change it on my own. I was sick and vomiting all the time, I could not eat or drink and I went into complete depression for about 2 weeks. Last
Sunday, I was in Church praying for salvation and figured what to do and it is working wonderfully. I changed my diet on my own. I am only eating fresh fruit for breakfast and dinner (mostly, grapefruit, strawberries and oranges) and protein at lunch. (In other words I had to add carbs to my diet) in order to feel well enough to work and take care of my family. It was an extremely hard decision to make given the fact that I'm in what they call rapid weight reduction mode. Adding the carbs will slow the weight loss down, but I'm looking at it this way, it took me 34 years to put it on so I'll take my time taking it off. Instead of losing 14 pounds a week now I'm only losing 10, which is still a significant loss, but I feel so much better almost like my old self.
September 16, 2000
Since July 11th I have gone through so many changes. The first month was the hardest for me. I was very sick because of the protein only diet. I tried obtaining support both online and in the support group meetings, not knowing that the support I needed was right under my nose. My husband Tommie has truly been a godsend!
It is hard, but I'm hanging in there! I've been struggling lately because so many people are complimenting me on the weight loss but I don't see what they see. I had to change my diet from the all protein to fresh fruits and protein. I know that it slows the weight loss down but, I'd rather feel healthy losing the weight than sick all the time. Only until last Thursday did I truly feel I've lost weight. I fit into Tommie's jeans for the first time in 7 years (and they were big in the legs). I don't know exactly how much weight I've lost because I don't weight until next month at my 3-month check-up. However, I do believe it is in the range of 65 to 70 pounds. I feel so much better. Tommie and I are going nightly to the new Lauderhill sports facility on Oakland Park to walk around the park. We take the kids too. It's a good family outing and I get the much-needed exercise. I've also been in our pool a lot since my GI tube site healed.
Today, October 15, 2000
I feel so good now. I'm climbing stairs daily at work, which was a chore in a half before. My incision is healing well, but it itches like crazy, and when I try to scratch it, IT HURTS! I don't know what to do for that, because I know it is itching because it is still healing. My stomach stays swollen and I look at myself when I step out of the shower but I don't see a slimmer me until I look at pictures. I sometimes wish I can step outside myself to see what others see. I get compliments constantly though, even a few passes from men I don't know (One guy totally freaked me out, because he started showing up (confronting me) in the parking garage at work every morning!) Seriously. Tommie told me to carry my bat so I did for the last couple of days there, before we moved to our new office location. Thank God I haven't seen him since.
Many people want to know if I considered the panniculectomy (hope I spelled that right). The answer is yes, I've lost so much weight but wish everyday I did not have this stomach. I simply could not afford the $4,000 cash for the tummy tuck, and was actually praying for a hernia so the tuck could be covered by the insurance at the time of hernia repair. At any rate, Tommie says we'll try to have it done next year instead of taking vacation in California. I feel great! It's still hard work, I'll tell you no lie. But... Now I'm on cloud nine, 80 pounds down and counting and the compliments just keep coming. I actually ran "RAN!" down two flights of stairs the other day. My knees work! OH MY GOD! It feels great! I dyed my hair recently and have sent my head and shoulder shot to be updated below. I will be taking full-body photos within the next month or so to show you all the difference. I have to build courage for it though. I'm a bit shy and I still absolutely LOVE to take photos of other people but don't like being in photos myself.
Wish me luck at the Doctor's office tommorrow. I get the official weight loss.
GREAT BIG HUGS TO ALL! PHYLLIS.
Hello to all! I sincerely apologize for my spans of time between updates. VBPW&M - Very Busy Professional Wife and Mother!!! Just want to give you a brief update. I went to see Dr. M for my 6 month follow-up on the 11th of this month. I weighed in at 255.5 pounds. At that time I had lost a total of 124.5 pounds and still going strong. I have 90 lbs. left to lose before I will be at my goal weight of 167 lbs. Dr. M told me that I'm doing wonderfully, but the next few months will be the most difficult with the weight loss since I've crossed the 54% plateau toward my goal weight. I'm not overly concerned! I've never felt better in my life and if it takes 12 months to lose the 90 pounds then so be it.
I've been exercising more and more! I ABSOLUTELY HATE MY FLABBY ARMS but there are surgical remedies for that. I'm now in size 20/22 and some 18/20s. It feels great to be able to shop from the rack.
We are planning our vacation for August/September (San Diego, CA to visit with family; Tijuana, MX; Las Vegas, NV and Grand Canyon National Park. I'm so excited to be able to fit in an airplane seat will be a treat!
Some of you are curious about my husbands reaction to me now...
Tommie is his usual wonderful self! He's not jealous or anything but I see him watching other men and their reactions to me when we are in public together. He doesn't say anything to me. He just pulls me closer or puts his arm around my waist, or just grabs my hand. I don't think he realizes that he is even doing it... I guess he's protecting his interest (It's totally flattering). I LOVE HIM! I LOVE HIM! I LOVE HIM! He is my world!
My hair is not doing so well - I cut it all off as you can see from the lastest picture below. I have been clipping on a clip on hairpeice. The Zinc made me super sick. Dr. M told me to try Biotin twice a day and wash my hair with Nioxin Shampoo from now on. I'm going to get that tomorrow and begin using it. Hopefully it will grow back longer and stronger. I miss my long hair.
Excersize consists of riding my 3 wheel bike twice a week (which I'm painting today); lots of stairs and walking around at work. Tae-Bo workouts twice a week (or when I can) in my own home. Not ready for that public health club scene yet (Tee Hee).
Anyway, I'll cut this short now. Will update soon. My new pictures should be online below in a few days. GOOD LUCK TO ALL UPCOMING SURGERY MEMBERS! GREAT BIGG GIANT HUGGS! PHYL.
Finally, I've received numerous requests for an update. Life is wonderful! I've lost a total of 187 pounds! WOW! I feel great. A little run down from time to time, but I'm told that is to be expected. I have a slight potassium deficiency for which I'm eating lots of bananas and other foods high in potassium. I experience from time to time the worst pain I've ever felt in my life (Trapped Gas). It distends the pouch and I can feel it in the colon. I can't sit, stand, lay down nothing helps this for approximately 20 to 30 minutes. I literally tore my towel rack from the wall bracing with the pain. I've learned this passes much quickly if I eat 4 to 5 tums when this starts. At first I throught this was the dreaded dumping syndrome. But I rarely eat anything with sugar in it. I believe it is good ole fashioned heartburn, but heartburn like nothing I've ever felt before. At any rate. Life is Grand, I'm being blessed every day. My business has taken off and I'm so extremely busy with it and family that I have little time for anything else. At any rate, visit me sometimes at www.dis-apiirs.com or www.pkingconsulting.com. My latest photo is below. Good Luck and God Bless to all. Phyl.
My husband and I met Dr. Marema on Monday night, 1/17/2000. We attended a weekly informational session at his office in the professional building adjoining Imperial Point Medical Center here in Ft. Lauderdale. These informational meetings take place every Monday night from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm in Dr. Marema's office.
Dr. Marema, was amazing, he was very honest and knows first hand what obese people are experiencing; because he has lived it himself. What amazed me was that Dr. Marema had a gastric bypass himself and he looks wonderful. His wife has had the procedure as well, and a few of his assistants, one of whom is currenly 7 months pregnant having had her procedure over a year and a half ago.
Dr. Marema has been performing the Roux en Y Gastric Bypass procedure for 7 years.
MY ADVICE, GO TO THE MEETING... YOU WILL LEARN FROM HIS SLIDE SHOW AND INFORMATIONAL PACKET. THEY EVEN HAVE AFTERCARE SUPPORT GROUPS...
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ARE THE WINDOW TO THE SOUL!
Prudential Healthcare, HMO
There was absolutely no stalling by Prudential. They approved me in 3 days with no hesitation. I wish everyone much success with their insurance!