March 09, 2006
This is what I posted on the March 2004 board for my two year anniversary:
Two years already? Wow! What a wild ride. Remember worrying together about hair loss, foaming, comparing our diets those first few months? I remember a post when we named our pouches. I named mine Bundy because I was sure it was trying to kill me. When I first started researching this on the Obesityhelp main board, I saw posts from old timers who seemed so wise and experienced about all of this and look at us now... we're old timers.
This has been such a wonderful ride. Pre-surgery, I was holed up in my house and had virtually withdrawn from life. There was no doubt in my mind that I wouldnt be around another ten years because if nothing else, I would have willed myself to simply cease existing. I hurt both physically and emotionally. I was miserable. If you had asked me, I would have told you that I was perfectly happy in spite of my weight, but I was lying to myself as much as anyone. Since surgery, Ive been snow machine racing in Alaska, driven through Portugal, sailed on a Catamaran to Africa and toured Spain. Had it not been for wls, Id still be sitting in my house watching life go by.
I cant say that everything is perfect. I have insulin dumping issues and struggle with plummeting blood sugar on a regular basis. Its kind of comical because my co-workers are used to it and rush to hand me candy and power bars when I start shaking and turn white. Ill gladly put up with this for the rest of my life if I have to because what a life its turning out to be.
Wrapping my head around this is still tough. I havent come to terms with what I really look like and I suppose that upcoming plastic surgery will make it even tougher. Im also accepting that I have a serious food addiction. I struggle with it daily, but I never give up. Sometimes I win and sometimes the Doritos win, but I keep fighting.
Im so very grateful for this board. Im accountable to all of you. I dont post every ridiculous thought that goes through my head (lucky you), but I do mentally post all the time. When I get on a binge, I imagine having to post and confess to all of you and it often pulls me out of my feeding frenzy. I feel that I owe it to you guys to stay the course and keep on track. I also feel it is my duty to be a wls example. Im so tired of hearing stories of people who have gained everything back, of failed surgeries. This does work. The surgery wont fail me, but I can fail the surgery and Im determined not to let that happen. I also feel a strong sense of duty to the people on this board who died two years ago, trying to get their lives back. They risked everything to get where we are today and as crazy as it sounds, I feel like I owe it to them. I have to make the most of this for them as well as me.
Much love to you all and heres to many more years of sharing this tremendous journey together.
01/22/06 - It's been way too long since I last updated, but life happens now. March 9th will be my 2 year anniversary and losing the last 10 pounds eludes me. I keep losing and gaining the same 3 pounds over and over again, but that's better than losing and gaining the same 30 pounds that I did before surgery.
Sometimes, I'm still surprised when I catch a glimpse of myself in a window or mirror. I was sitting in a restaurant that had small mirrors embedded in the plaster walls and saw a pair of beautiful, strong hands in a reflection. "I wish I had hands like that." I've always hated my puffy, short-fingered hands. I looked again and holy cow, those were my hands!
I started the plastic surgery journey last summer and went to the only surgeon in the area with wls experience that my insurance will cover. I just didn't like him or his staff. I was working on insurance approval and think that I would have eventually won because I certainly had the documented proof of medical necessity, but decided that I really wasn't comfortable with that surgeon at all. I would rather pay out of pocket than go through this with him and his attitude. I really can't afford to pay out of pocket time or moneywise with getting a new business off the ground, working at my regular job and trying to pay off bills before I retire from my regular job, but I decided that the ability to choose whoever I wanted was far more important than the money issues. I have a consult with a new surgeon at the end of the month and I'm very hopeful. He's highly recommended by many wls patients in the area and he has responded promptly to e-mails so we'll see where this goes.
I'm trying to gather bits of helpful info other than the usual wait 30 minutes after eating to drink, don't drink with a straw, protein first type of stuff. I've thought of a few things over the weekend that help me.
1. Throw it away. If that bag of Doritos snuck into your cart at the store and you broke into it at home, enjoy what you ate, don't beat yourself up and throw the rest away. Dump the contents into the trash can and dump something nasty on top. It's not wasting food. I feel worse when I eat something I shouldn't than when I throw it away. I have to get out of my Depression Era thinking. I was born in 1960 for Pete's sake.
2. Enough of the all or nothing thinking. Just because I ate a handful of Cheetos, the day is not shot. There's no reason to wait until tomorrow to get back on track. I can get back on track this very minute. I bet I gained at least a 100 pounds over my lifetime from my all or nothing thinking. Well, I've blown today so I'll start again tomorrow. I'd then procede to eat enough to feed a third world nation for the rest of the day.
3. Be a better parent to myself. I wouldn't let my kid eat all that crap, stay up late, run with scissors. Why do I let myself? I've spoiled myself rotten for the last 30 years and it's time for my inner parent to kick in.
4. It is what it is. This has become my mantra. When I start to dwell on my saggy belly, wrinkly thighs and boobs that have gone South, I remind myself that it is what it is and don't make excuses for it. I plan to change these things, but I don't dwell on them, don't beat myself up for them and don't even feel bad about them.
If you have anything to add to the list, e-mail me.
I'll update my profile one of these days, but the long and short of it is that I'm not at goal, but will get there. I'm struggling with my insurance company to pay for reconstructive surgery. Life is great.
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01/09/05 - Happy New Year and Happy 10 month anniversary to me. I've come a long way, but there's still a long way to go. I bought a more accurate scale yesterday and unfortunately, it weighs me at 10 pounds more than the old scale. 170 is much more daunting than 160. It means that I have 30 pounds to lose instead of 20. The new scale also gives my body fat percentage which is depressing at 37%. The good news is that whichever scale I use, I've lost 4 pounds this last week. Yippee! I had a long and scarey slow down from September to December where I only lost about 10 pounds.
I'm wearing a size 12 in pants and an XL in tops. I've never been this small as an adult. The funny thing is that when i weighed 170 pounds as a teenager, I was wearing a size 16 or 18. Of course that was a million years ago and sizes have changed.
Instead of focusing on the saggy, baggy parts of my body that I don't like and being critical of myself, I'm trying to pay attention to the parts that I like. I marvel at my hands which look firm and strong. No more puffiness. I can see bones and veins. My forearms are much more attractive. They were so big before that they had cellulite. I have collarbones and my shoulders are getting tiny.
Two months to go until my one year anniversary. I'm on a sprint to see how much I can lose by then. I was hoping to get to goal, but in light of the new scale, I don't think it will happen. That's OK, I'll get there.
12/18/04 - Im rambling again
The scales seem to be moving again. In the last week Ive lost five pounds and Im pretty happy about that. More importantly, Ive lost 20 inches in the last couple of months. Woohoo! Thats over 100 inches since surgery. Im not sure of the exact total because I was not together enough to measure until about 3 weeks after surgery and by then Id lost 27 pounds.
I called my sister to tell her that I had worn a pair of size 12 pants to work and she informed me that she wears a size 10. This is my skinny sister and Im only one size away. OK, really about a size and a half since the 12s are snug. Im having a hard time wrapping my mind around this. The other night when I went to buy those size 12 pants, I kept feeling like someone was going to send me back to the plus size department or the cashier would ask if I wanted to exchange the pants for a larger size.
I can now wrap a regular size bath towel around me without a gap. I dont have to use a bath sheet to cover myself.
I went in for spine x-rays this morning. The x-ray tech who was a little guy was able to slide me around on the table like I weighed nothing. I kept starting to move myself and he would stop me, slide me over to another spot, roll me over, whatever he needed to do. Ive never had an x-ray tech be able to move me; I always had to scoot an inch over, slide down, etc myself. Ive never had anyone be able to move me around like that; Ive always been a mass of humanity that wasnt budging unless I wanted to budge.
This was really a week of compliments on my weight loss. Its funny that I still see a big round girl when I look in the mirror. The other day I was in a clothing consignment shop that I had never been in before. I was walking through the rows of racks and saw that there was another room at the end of an aisle and there was a woman standing in the doorway. I started to go into that next room when I realized that there wasnt another room and the woman standing in the doorway was actually my own reflection in a mirror.
12/05/04 - I'm fast approaching my 9 month anniversary and a little (no more than a little) frustrated with the slow down in weight loss. Of course I expected the weight loss to slow down after 6 months, but I didn't expect it to go at a snail's pace. I've only lost a couple of pounds in the last three months inspite of being a gym nazi and eating well. I had really hoped that I could get to goal before the end of the year, but that's not going to happen. Hopefully by my one year anniversary in March.
Enough of the grousing. All in all, I'm doing pretty well. I'm in a size 14, which is a size I haven't seen since I was about 14 - that would be 30 years ago. I did squeeze into a size 12 pair of leather pants the other day. I'm not saying that it was pretty and that there wasn't a bunch of real estate sqouzed over the waist band, but I got them up and on and buttoned and zipped - and I could breathe!
I'm at that stage where people keep telling me I should stop losing weight now. I'm pretty buff under this excess fat and skin so I know I weigh more than I look like I do. When I say that I need to lose another 30 pounds, people look at me like I'm nuts. I do need to lose another 30. That will leave another 10 to be removed by plastics and still leave me at the top of the weight chart for my height.
My back pains have started again, much to my dismay. The concensus among my pcp, orthopaedic surgeon, chiropractor and physical therapist is that it is due to my panni in the front and my center of gravity being out of whack. Until I'm ready for a tummy tuck, I guess I'll just have to live with the pain.
An interesting thing that I did learn from my Physical Therapist... She says that she sees a lot of heavy people with shoulder problems. It seems that because our arms don't hang naturally at our sides, we tend to hunch forward. This throws the shoulders out of alignment and we are more prone to shoulder injury. I guess that makes sense. I have horrible posture in the shoulder area. I used to hunch my shoulders forward all the time, thinking that it would look like I took up less space. I'm working on my back muscles to try to pull my shoulders back and give me better posture.
OK, I'm off to the gym. Until next time...
09/23/04 - It's been way too long since I've updated. I have no idea how time has gotten away from me, but I guess that's what happens when you start living life. It's been a little more than 6 months and I'm down about 106 pounds - give or take an ounce or two. But who's counting.
My knees don't hurt, my ankles aren't killing me, my back isn't begging for mercy. My blood pressure was 108/63 the last time I had it checked and that's now normal for me.
Life has gotten way too good. Flew to San Francisco a couple of weeks ago and not only did the seat belt fit, I had a good 8 inches of strap left after buckling in. I used to be straining at the end of the belt. I now sit on the small side of the booth if one side is narrower than the other. In fact, you know how when three people go to lunch and the two skinniest ones sit on one side of the table and the heaviest one sits on the other side alone? I'm always sitting next to someone! This is all pretty amazing to me because I still have a good 40 or 50 pounds left to lose. I'm still a chunky girl, but I'm too busy and happy to care.
Mind you I'm still watching what I eat and getting plenty of exercize. I follow the rules of the pouch, but I'm no longer obsessed with my weight. Having said that, I'd be bummed if I didn't hit goal, but if I didn't lose another ounce, I'd still consider this the best thing I've ever done for myself.
I now fit (snuggly) into size 14 pants. I still take a larger top because of the girls, but it's a matter of quantity not quality. There's plastic surgery in my future for sure.
07/04/04 - As I lose more and more weight, old scars are becoming more visible. It's much like taking a walk through the past. I can see a scar on the back of my calf (hell I can now see the back of my calf) that I got during a slumber party when I was 12. It was a warm summer night in 1972 and we were all sitting in Denise's basement laughing hysterically because we had been out causing mischief and almost got caught. We were piled on top of each other, laughing until our sides ached and Denise was sitting on my lap. She slid down to the floor and somehow a piece of metal on her belt scraped my leg and 32 years later I have a small reminder of that simpler, happy time. I'm so happy to see that scar again.
I look at my now visible chicken pox scars and think of the circus. I was 7 and we were going on a school field trip to Kansas City to see the circus. I was such a big deal and I had been looking forward to it for weeks. On the morning of the field trip, I woke up with what I knew were chicken pox. They had been going around school and I had been praying daily that they wouldn't come my way. Sitting on my bed that morning, getting dressed for school, I looked at my belly and counted the bumps - 4 of them. I decided then and there that I was going to the circus and put on a long sleeved blouse and the longest skirt I had with knee high socks. I made it through breakfast without my mother noticing anything and was out the door and on the school bus to Kansas City before I knew it. I don't remember a thing about the circus. I do remember after we got back and out of school, running down the street, headed for home and my mother who was waiting in the yard, blouse lifted up to show my mother my chicken pox. I was so happy that I had been on the field trip AND had chicken pox, which was a very cool thing to have.
I see a tiny scar from my favorite cat who played rough and the place where Wendy Pickel scratched me in the 4th grade because Mrs. Mapes always let me pass out papers.
Who knew that having wls would bring back so many wonderful memories?
06/13/04 - I'm 3 months out now and this week, I'm really feeling it. I'm really starting to catch on that things are happening and my body may one day actually be thin. Holy Cow! Could it be true? Could I actually be normal sized one day? There were so may milestones this week.
Went to the movies last night. Not only did I NOT have to wedge my butt in the seat with a shoehorn, I had plenty of room to spare. I missed big chunks of the movie because I was thinking about all the other places I could fit in later - plane seats, amusement park rides, school desks. I'd scoot to one side of the seat and look at all the room between my right hip and the arm of the chair. Then I'd scoot to the right side and look at the space between my left hip and the side of the seat. Then I sat right in the middle and looked down at the space on both sides. Oh my God! I wasn't wedged in like 10 pounds in a 5 pound sack!
There's a restaurant near work that people go to for lunch every once in a while. I've always hated going there, because I can't sit in a booth and breathe. They have no tables. Last week I begrudgingly went and not only could I sit in the booth, I could have parked a bus between my stomach and the table. Wow.... just how big was I before?
A friend that I haven't seen in a year and didn't tell about the surgery, flew into town Wednesday. I thought his jaw was going to hit the ground when he saw me. All night he kept telling me how wonderful I look. "Damn girl! You look good!" He'd hold me at arms length and spin me around. That was so wonderful for the ego. Went dancing and didn't sweat like a pig and die on the dance floor.
On Thursday, I had a meeting with some people from out of town that I see about once a month. On Friday, I got a call from one of them who said that their whole topic of conversation all the way home was how good I look and how happy I seem to be. They just couldn't get over the changes.
Went shopping in my closet again and found that my size 18 pants are fitting. The size 20 tops are fitting now. I have the curse of Grandma's arms so could probably wear an 18 in tops if it weren't for the darned arms. Got to wear my favorite suit to work yesterday. I'm probably going to have to actually buy clothes by the end of summer. Oh darn.
Right after surgery, I bought myself a ring, but didn't have it sized. It's a size 7 and the sales guy looked at me with a smug, condescending look when I told him I didn't need to get it sized because it would fit soon enough. Ha! It fits the left hand. It's a little tight on the right hand, but will be fine in another month or so. I fought the urge to go back and make an ass out of myself by wiggling my ring clad finger under his nose.
Had my check up with the surgeon's office yesterday. They are pleased. I am pleased. This has been the first week that I've really seen the physical difference in me and I'm starting to get excited about this now.
LIFE IS SOOOOOOO GOOD!
05/21/04 - My BMI is under 40 (barely, but still under) for the first time in about 3 years. Yahoo! According to my scale, I'm down 55 pounds from my highest weight. I'm down from a size 26 to a 20 in pants and even wore an 18 the other day - that FIT. I've got more energy since I've kicked my butt back to the gym. I've rejoined life - joined a book group, joined a professional organization, am working on another professional certification and taking a road trip this Saturday to go to the races. Could life get any better?
04/09/04 - Surgery was a month ago and I'm in a strange place mentally. I'm very, very glad that I did this and have not regreted my decision for one millisecond. I guess I'm just in a state of suspended belief. Even though I've lost 35 pounds, I still have thoughts of failing and can't believe that after a lifetime of failed diets, something might actually work for me. I refuse to set goals at this point because that's where I always fell offf the wagon before. When I didn't hit a goal I would give up. I'm just going to chug along this time.
I'm so glad that I have Michelle, Donna and Jan to follow in this journey. They've all dropped lots of weight, are going through life and are proof to me that the surgery continues to work even after the first month.
The only real complication that I've had has been spasms that pull on the internal stitches and hurt like a big dog. I've called the surgeon's office three times because I was really in pain and was assured all three times that this happens and it's nothing to worry about. I was in so much pain the other night that I ended up in Emergency. I'm a pretty tough cookie and don't usually wimp out with pain, but this had me doubled over and in tears. After X-rays, CT scans and lots of blood work, it was just muscle spasms. On one hand, I felt really silly and thought that I should have just listened to the surgeon's office. On the other hand, I'm glad that I had all the tests done so that I KNOW there's not anything seriously wrong and I'm not second guessing.
Well, here's the good news... I am down a pant size in the last month. All of my clothes fit so much better and in some cases are starting to fall off. Luckily for me, I have two closets and 2 chests of drawers that are full of clothes down to a size 14.
03/26/04 - So many people have cute little pouches with cute little names. They gurgle at them and even sometimes growl, but for the most part, they behave. Well, mine tried to kill me in my sleep last night.
I was sound asleep when I woke up feeling like I was drowning about 3:00 am. I was producing tons of saliva and couldn't swallow fast enough. I thought I was going to drown in my own spit. I'm presuming this was a frothing episode. According to the dietician at the surgeon's office, when you do not have enough gastric juices in your pouch to digest what's in it, your stomach sends a message to the saliva glands in your mouth to produce saliva and enzymes to help break down the food. Now it had been a good 6 or 7 hours since I had eaten. There should have been no food in my stomach to be digested. The pouch couldn't have sent that message when I was still awake? Noooooo.... it waited until I was sound asleep. I have no choice, but to believe that there was malice on the part of my pouch. I'm naming it Bundy.
03/18/04 - I had my one week check up today and I am down 17 pounds. That's not counting the water weight that I lost with the diuretic right after surgery. If you counted the water weight from the fluids that they pumped in, it would be 33 pounds in a week and that's just silliness. I couldn't lose 17 pounds in a year, much less a week before I had this surgery.
I've had no problems since I've been home, everything goes down easily and I've got lots of energy, all things considered. I just finished a delicious lunch of a few teaspoons of beans and some shrimp ceviche. Good stuff. After I wait my 30 minutes and drink some water, I'm off to Home Depot for bedding plants. Ain't life grand?
03/13/04 - I'm home, I'm reasonably pain free and I'm really happy I've done this. Surgery was on March 9th and went really well. I started retaining fluids, which made my heart rate increase so was put on a diuretic. The diuretic flushed my potassium so I'm on a potassium supplement for 5 days, but everything is leveling out. One of my incisions came open, probably because I did silly things like moving the recliner in the hospital room. Now I get to irrigate and pack the wound daily until it heals. I'm not a good patient.
Last night was my first night home and sort of comical. Even though I live alone, I had a house full of people telling me to walk, sit down, take your pulse, drink your water, take your medicines, sip your broth, eat your Jell-O, take a nap, and on and on. My family and friends know me too well so I have a babysitter most of the time. My sister who lives in Chicago couldn't make it out here so she hired a maid to clean, knowing that I can't stand a dirty house and will be on my hands and knees scrubbing the floors very soon. Smart woman. I fooled them all though. Mom had babysitting duty this afternoon, but I promised to be good and talked her into going home early. I cleaned the toilets after she left. Ha!
OK, have to get off of here and pick up all the toys that I was playing with the dog with, the next shift of babysitters will be here soon.
03/08/04 - Night before surgery and I'm questioning my sanity. Not because I'm afraid anything will happen, but because I'm not afraid that anything will happen. Go ahead - try to make sense of that last sentence. I dare you. I have no nerves, no jitters, no second thoughts. My bowels are squeaky clean and I'm packed and ready.
Sounds gruesome, but today I updated my will, wrote a letter to my son telling him how much I love him and how proud of him I am. I pulled together all of my insurance, retirement and other important papers in case someone needs them. Lastly I wrote out instructions that said should something go wrong, for God's sake, don't pull the plug until I'm skinny. I am amazingly calm and collected.
Well off to do more piddling around the house. See you on the other side.
03/06/04 - Here's what I've learned in the last week - I am unbelieveably blessed. I'm kind of teary-eyed right now thinking about it. I've been overwhelmed with the number of friends, co-workers and family members that want to help and be there for me. I'm blessed with three angels - Donna, Jan and Michelle. Countless people have offered to drive me, stay with me, take care of my animals, visit, do my shopping, on and on. Friends have offered to take time off of work and come in from out of town to stay with me. Even my staff gave me a terrific hospital survival kit yesterday. Hey, wait! How come no one offered to clean my house???? lol Friends are throwing a good-bye party for my appetite tonight.
I'm a little ashamed to admit how unaware I usually am of the wonderful people in my life. This usually happens, I go through life looking at the ground and concentrating on the task at hand, but when I need help and look up, I'm surrounded by wonderful, loving people. God has certainly provided.
02/29/04 - I'm just logging on to muse about a few things. My buddy Michelle has advised me to journal because time will fly so fast that I'll forget some of the things that happen along the way. Hell, I can't remember what I had for breakfast, much less what happened yesterday so journaling is an excellent idea. Thanks Michelle! Tomorrow I'm going to pick up a journal and starting Monday, March 1st, I'll jot down a few thoughts every night before I go to bed.
Yesterday my sister asked what I was looking forward to the most with losing weight. I really couldn't think of anything at the time because this is still so surreal. I realized today that I'll be so relieved the first time a nurse comes to take my blood pressure and can use a normal sized cuff.
I'll also be greatly relieved to take a plane trip without worrying about whether or not I'm going to be singled out to buy an extra seat. When I'm waiting to board, I look around to find people bigger than me and figure that if they don't get singled out, then I probably won't. This is such a sick, sick ordeal. I hate the looks on people's faces as I start to sit next to them on the plane. My paranoia makes me think that they are internally muttering, "Oh shit, I lost the fat person lottery." I'm sure this isn't true, but I'm so embarrassed about taking up more than my fair share of space that my imagination goes wild.
Surgery is in about 9 days and I still have a few things to do. All pre-op appointments and tests are done and out of the way.
Write a will and leave an list of my insurances and instructions.
Write a letter to my son. Not a letter to be opened in case of my death, but a letter to tell him how much I love and believe in him and how proud of him I am. You can never tell your children that you love them too much.
Not bad. Two personal things to do in the next nine days.
Work is a whole 'nother Oprah. Yeesh.
02/19/04 - Wow!!! What a week it's been. On Tuesday I met with the exercise physiologist and the nutritionist.
Wednesday brought the phsychologist, another dietician, a surgical nurse, the hospital admissions people, a bariatric nurse, meditation guru and I'm sure I've forgotten some. Wednesday evening was a support group meeting.
Today was pre-op testing, chest x-ray, ekg, urine and blood labs. Then my pre-op doctor visit. Let me say right here and now that I love Dr. Blackstone. I'm feeling really confident in her.
So get this... she's explaining everything that will happen in surgery, going over my history, weighing me, the usual. She has me lay back on the exam table and feels my abdomen. Then I think that the woman may have lost her mind because she says, "You know you're really tiny. It will be a little difficult to manuever in there since you're so small." HUH!?!?!? There must be someone else in the room because she CAN NOT be talking to me. Never in my life have the words small and tiny been used to describe me. I spend the next three or four minutes arguing with her that I cannot possibly be small boned. She goes on to use foreign words like petite. She then says my goal weight is 125 pounds. I'm incredulous and probably had my mouth hanging open.
Of course for the rest of the day, I proceed to make an ass out of myself by telling people that I'm tiny. No really, I am. My doctor says so. lol
02/13/04 - Well, after much stalling from Cigna (the weasels) about sending a final approval letter, I asked the Arizona Insurance Commission to step in and everything is now set. My surgery date is March 9th and I'm a pretty happy camper.
Things I won't miss about being fat:
Standing up and having one of those white plastic chairs stick to my butt and come up with me.
Having the underwire in my bra snap and damn near drive itself through my heart.
Having few clothing selections in department stores and most of those are decorated with large flowers or seed packets.
02/07/04 - I thought that I was being secretive in my quest for wls because I had only told a few close friends and relatives that I was trying to get approval for this. Well, either I have a hell of a lot more friends and relatives or a bigger mouth than I thought because it has taken me about two days to spread the word that I've been appproved.
I'm finding myself in a "last supper" frame of mind. I need to stop that. I bought a huge economy size bag of chips and a case of diet coke last night. A CASE! What's up with that? Thawed out a steak for dinner tonight. I'm going to miss soda and steak for a while, but I'll get over it. I will not miss this butt. Surgery will not be for another 4 or 5 weeks at least so I'm giving myself one week to eat steak and drink soda, then I start behaving.
02/05/04 - It's almost exactly one year since I started the quest for approval on 02/09/03, but I'm finally approved. Cigna wasn't easy at all, but I feel like I got an 11th hour reprieve from the external review board. Thank God.
If anyone has to go as far as the external review board, I suggest that you select Hayes Plus to do the review. they have a bariatric surgeon who does the reviews.
I cannot wait to get up out of bed in the morning without groaning. Yahooooo!!!!
01/29/04 - My third and final appeal is sitting with the external review board. We'll see how this one goes.
12/24/03 - Denied. Again. Don't even have the heart to bitch about it.
12/19/03 - Well, just finished my second level appeal. Walter Lindstrom was on the phone with me and did a phenomenal job. I talked about the million and two diets I've been on and my co-morbidities. The panel didn't ask a single question. Now I wait and pray.
12/06/03 - Received my appeal denial letter yesterday. When I started the is ordeal, the requirement was two 26 week diets, one of them in the last year. In September, I turned in all of my documentation for two Weight Watchers diets as I had been assured by Cigna that WW, Jenny Craig, etc. qualified, as long as you had at least monthly weigh ins. They denied my request fro approval, stating that I did not have the two 26 week diets. That was patently untrue.
So the appeal goes in in November and the response to that is a denial stating that I now need a 6 month medically supervised diet with my pcp in conjunction with behavioral therapy, and an exersize program. What these guys do is criminal. I qualify for this procedure, it's medically necessary according to 6 doctors who have written letters to Cigna and I'm going to die sooner than later without it.
11/30/03 - Well, true to form, Cigna has denied my first appeal. I have wished for a pox upon their village and a swarm of locusts for good measure. LOL
These guys are ssssssoooooo frustrating and I really don't think they have any idea of what it feels like to carry around this much extra weight. I wish that for just one day, the appeals reviewer would have to go through the day in my body.
Will update again when my second appeal is filed.
11/15/03 - My appeal was finally filed on November 4th and Cigna claimed that they didn't have it. Kelly Lindstrom refiled on the 14th and now they have until the 29th to say yeah or nay. Walter Lindstrom asked to skip the first appeal and go straight to a hearing, but Cigna is not permitting it. They are going to make me jump through every last hoop in their arsenal. Bless their pea pickin' hearts.
I have to say that the appeal Walter wrote was fantastic. I could never have written it as well, so thus far, I consider my money well spent.
I'm very anxious about the whole thing going through. I'm not very good at sitting back and letting things happen so this is a real learning experience for me. I waiver between optimism and despair that I will ever get approved.
10/10/03 - Not much to report. I'm still waiting for the Lindstroms to file my appeal. In the meantime, my health seems to deteriorate by the minute. I'm using a CPAP now, liver is enlarged and I hurt more and more each day. Knees, back, hips and ankles hurt like a big dog. I imagine that in the next week or two, my appeal will be filed. Until then, I wait.
09/16/03 - True to form, Cigna denied my request for wls. No surprise there. I was waiting to see what they would deny on because I have met every requirement and have documented proof of everything. It turned out to be the two 26 week diets requirements. I do have them and provided verification, but got the big red rubber stamped DENIED anyway.
I decided to hire Walter Lindstrom. I had e-mailed him and explained the situation and he thinks that he and his wife will be able to help. My packet went in the mail today so we'll see what happens. I feel much better having that off my plate and having someone else take care of it for me.
08/28/03 - Finally!!! My packet is on the way to Cigna. Now I wait some more. The good Doctor Blackstone asked that I consult a nephrologist that practices at the hospital where I will have my surgery. This way, should there be any complications with my kidneys, the nephrologist will be familiar with my case. I appreciate her thoroughness. I've had other surgeries (hysterectomy, gall bladder) and those surgeons were not as careful. Well, now I wait for Cigna. Better get started on my appeal now. No point in waiting for the rejection before I start writing my letter.
08/09/03 - Well my PC came through and everything is at the surgeon's office waiting to be sent to Cigna. I had my sleep study last week and much to my surprise, do not have sleep apnea. I'd love to know why I wake up every morning with a headache and am sleepy all day.
My packet is sitting on Dr. Blackstone's desk, waiting for her approval. I have Medullary Sponge Kidney and her nurse thought the doctor should say yeah or nay before they sent the packet to Cigna. I'm more nervous about her approval than I am Cigna's. Dr. Blackstone has been out of town, but should be back next week. I'm not very good at waiting.
07/24/03 - I am just so frustrated with my pcp I could pinch him. Still no letter of medical necessity. The office staff has nagged and nagged with no luck. He's the one who suggested the surgery and has been very supportive, except for writing the letter. The file clerk is going to call the doc's wife at home and have her remind him tonight. His wife works in the office also so maybe he'll get no peace anywhere.
07/21/03 - Consult and nutritionist evals were done today. One more step out of the way. Right now, I'm waiting for my pcp to write the letter of medical necessity. As soon as he gets that done, the packet goes in for insurance approval.
One funny thing is that every time I get measured, I get shorter. My paperwork at the beginning of the year says that I'm 5'6". Today they decided that I'm 5'3". At this rate, I'll be 2 feet tall by the time I have this surgery and my BMI will be 467.
07/08/03 - Had my psych eval yesterday and believe it or not - I am sane. I know many would question that, but I have proof. What's more, Dr. Blackstone has proof and that puts me just one step closer to losing this weight.
Due to circumstances beyond my parents' control, I spent the first 40 years of my life taking care of first my parents and siblings and then my spouse who became very ill and my son. I now have a clear path in front of me with another 40 years left and no one to worry about but me. I'm left with this body? I don't think so. There's no way I'm spending 40 years in this body. It's me time and this weight is coming off.
07/04/03 - Happy Independence Day! I had my initial sleep study appt with Dr. Saleh last Wednesday. I found him to be really thorough. His initial diagnosis is sleep apnea, but only the sleep test will tell for sure. I should get that scheduled in the next week or so. Dr. Saleh said that he would be more than happy to write a letter recommending wls. He's not my pcp, but I'm gathering paper for the war should I be denied by Cigna.
The consult with the Cigna dietician was a bust as far as the documentation that Cigna requires goes. She's not in favor of wls and I didn't get very far. That's OK. I just made an appointment with Dr. Blackstone's dietician. That will cost me 75.00 instead of my normal 10.00 co-pay, but she will know exactly what is supposed to go in the documentation for Cigna. I will follow the Cigna dietician's diet and have a monthly weigh in with my pcp's office so that I have another documented weight loss attempt under my belt if I need it.
I have my psych eval on Monday. This probably isn't the best time for a psych eval. My 4 month old nephew died last week and one of my favorite aunts died within 24 hours after that. Another nephew died a few months ago. Yeeesh! A friend was having a BBQ and party tonight, but I just wasn't up for it. Hope I'm over this funk by Monday.
Well, we'll just see what Monday brings. I'm firmly convinced that God's will does not take you where God's love cannot sustain you.
06/25/03 - What a day! Things just kept falling into place. Unbelievable. I started out at at my PCP this morning to get a referral for a sleep test and a nutrition consult. Before I was out the door, the referral had been faxed to the pulomnary specialist and I was handed the number to call for an appointment.
Stopped at the lab to get blood work done.
Zipped to the chiropractor to pick up the letter that I had asked him to write stating that wls would help my back. This man is AWESOME! He wrote a 2 page letter detailing my history with his office, was very specific about about what is wrong with my vertebrae, forecasted gloom and doom if I don't have the surgery and wrapped it up with a strong recommendation for the surgery. Now let's contrast this with my pcp who's letter essentially said, "She's tried a lot of diets. She was fat, and now she's fatter." Of course I'm exagerating, but not by much. There is no mention of medical necessity or a recommendation. Doc and I are going to have a talk of course. If anyone needs a chiropractor, Dr. Strandlund at Inner Health Chiropractic on 11th St and Indian School runs an awesome office. If you can't pay the regular fee and your insurance won't cover the visits, he'll work something out with you. I have such a crazy schedule that he lets me blow in the door whenever I want without an appointment and he works me in. OK, enough about that.
I got to the office and called the pulmonary specialist. Lo and behold, they had been very booked up, but they just opened up a couple of days and I can get in on July 2nd for my first apnea consult.
I cranked out a bunch of work and and headed across the street to the Chinese place for lunch with my staff. Swear to God, my fortune said that luck would rain down on me today. Thank God for Chinese bakers.
Back to work for a couple of hours and then called Becky at Dr. Blackstone's office. Asked her a couple of questions about the psych eval and it turns out that they have a psychologist there that does the mmpi for 199.00, which is about as cheap as anyone else and guess what? There's an opening on Monday, July 7th.
So while I'm on a roll here, I decide to go for broke and call Cigna about a nutritional consult with a dietician.... wait for it.... yep there's a cancellation and opening on Monday, June 30th.
This cannot be this easy. It looks like I'll have all of my consults and testing done by the time I walk in for my consultation with Dr. B or Randy on July 21st. I hope that everything keeps going this smoothly, but probably not. Wait until I enter insurance hell.
06/23/03 - Yeahhh! My consult is scheduled for July 21st. I thought it would be much further down the road. That just gives me 5 weeks to get my GERD, sleep apnea and psych evals out of the way. I know I don't have to do them before the consult, but I want to be loaded for bear when I go after Cigna approval.
06/21/03 - I have a long and sordid familial history of colon cancer in my family, including colon polyps myself. I am gathering all of the data I can find to substantiate my case with Cigna and came across these websites in my research. They may be helpful to some of you. Best of luck.
06/19/03 - Yesterday I sent my post-seminar/pre-consult packet to Dr. Balckstone's office. This morning, I realized that I forgot to include my insurance card in the packet so called the office to see what they wanted me to do. That was no problem and I can bring in the card when I come in for my consult. So that begged the question: How far out are you scheduling the consults. After looking through the big pile of packets on her desk, Becky figured that she'll probably be scheduling through August within the next couple of days. I'm figuring my consult will probably be in September.
So now I'm going to think about starting another documented weight loss program to make sure that I'm covered for insurance. I think I am, but you never know. Since I don't want to waste any more money than I already have on diets, I checked into OverEaters Anonymous and TOPS. OA does not have a regular weigh in and TOPS does not have a plan to follow so probably rules both of them out as far as Cigna is concerned. I guess I'll just suck it up and go back to Weight Watchers and bide my time.
I attended Dr. Blackstone's informational seminar on June 8th. The seminar was informative and interesting. I drug my thin sister who has ulcerative colitis along and on the way she was questioning my decision to have surgery. By the time Dr. Blackstone was done talking, not only was my sister a strong proponent of WLS, she was trying to talk Dr. Blackstone into performing her own colon surgery.
Dr. Blackstone was very pleasant and humorous. I feel that she really wants you to succeed.
These people are pure hell to deal with. You can't get a straight answer out of anyone. Even though I had all of the documentation they asked for and met all of their criteria, they repeatedly denied me and kept changing the criteria as well as the reasons for denial. It took an attorney and an external review board to get the denials over turned.