I've maintained a weight between 150 and 160 for over a year and am now a size 10. I've also moved back to Pennsylvania from North Carolina and gotten divorced. The weight loss did not cause my divorce; I think it highlighted problems in my marriage that were there all along.
Currently I'm renovating an old 6 bedroom Victorian house, enjoying my kids and having fun. I'm still involved in political reform of insurance, focusing a lot these days on mental health equity issues. My son has OCD and Aspberger's syndrome and takes a lot of my attention right now.
As for the surgery, I'm glad I did it and would repeat it in a heartbeat. I've had no major lasting effects from the operation.
After several plateaus, my weight is now below 200; this was my goal to reach by my birthday. I was depressed because I was stuck at 200 for two weeks. The day before, I went down to 198. I am losing less hair although there is still some hair loss each day.
I haven't updated in a while, probably because I feel good enough to do a lot of the things that I haven't been able to in a while and have been busy.
Today I realized that my BMI is < 35; officially I am no longer obese but just very overweight. I'm excited. I also bought my first clothes off the "normal" size rack last week.
I've had some hair loss recently as well as scalp itching. My appetite goes up and down; some days I can barely eat while others I eat close to what is a normal meal. Drinking fluids remains a challenge, sometimes I can't tolerate water or KoolAid or something else on a given day. I still occasionally vomit; Chinese food seems to sit wrong in my stomach even if I choose steamed rice and non-breaded or fried. Spaghetti also causes a problem no matter how well I chew although other pastas are OK.
Well things are moving ahead slowly. I am tentatively approved by Cigna PPO. They are waiting on the letter of medical necessity from Dr. Sing's office. I've had an upper GI so all of my pre-op tests are done. The delay is in waiting for availability of Dr. Sing. His surgical practice is short one person, due to a doctor's death earlier this year. He does a good deal of trauma surgery so his other available times are limited. The hospital, Carolinas Medical Center, still will not approve the resources he has requested in order to do a bariatric surgery with full support of ancillary personnel. I'm continuing to work on the hospital administration, president, and soon the board of directors. Dr. Sing has had to turn away several dozen people in the past month. Even though I will be scheduled, I believe that others desperately need help as badly or worse than I do.
Here is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to the president and have just mailed:
Dear Dr. Nurkin:
Recently you wrote the following words in the CHS Healthcare magazine:
While Carolinas HealthCare continues to grow-Modern Healthcare, an industry magazine, now ranks us as the third-largest public system in the United States-our goal continues to be keeping healthcare local. That's why we always emphasize the input of local leadership in each community we serve whether we own, lease or manage a facility there. "Bigness" is not the issue. Cost-effectiveness, quality of and access to care, and an ability to serve as many of the sick and injured as close to their own homes as possible is the issue closest to my heart. I continue to wish for your family's good health.
Harry A. Nurkin, Ph.D., FACHE
President and CEO
I am certain that when you shared this vision of the mission of CHS, you intended it for all sick individuals, without excluding the morbidly obese. Unfortunately, at Carolinas Medical Center, this is what is happening. Because CMC will not approve resources needed for a bariatric surgery program, dozens of people are turned away each month to seek care hundreds of miles away.
Now, let's see if Dr. Nurkin will live up to his published words. :)
My surgery will be sometime in January, which is not the best time for me but I'm going to do it and try to work some from home while I'm out. It also raises the cost since my deductibles and out of pocket totals will have to be met again in the new year.
I'm amazed at the response so far from Cigna. My experience with them to date has been that they are very cost conscious and will not do anything beyond what they have to. I have to fight each quarter to get three months worth of narcolepsy medication filled at once; I expected at least one denial.
So far, I have visited the surgeon, psychologist, nutritionist,and GI specialist. I've had my endoscopy which showed erosive esophagitis. I'm on a new medicine called Actiphex which is helping, except it causes burps. I have a follow up on Nov. 16 so we should schedule then.
Hopefully we can schedule the surgery before the end of the year. Since I'm a computer consultant who specializes in new, web based development, many projects are on hold for me until the big Y2K stuff is over. I'm going to be very busy the first part of the year and might have to delay surgery if it can't be done soon.
I also have multiple sleep disorders and fibromyalgia and hope the surgery will help.
My "hobby" for the next year or two will be renovating my late father-in-law's house in the mountains of West Virginia. My husband and I have been enjoying this as we keep finding many reminders of his childhood. It's fun to see our children doing the same things he did growing up. Climbing the 42 steps from the street to the door is going to help with my exercise requirement too.
My hobbies include political activities (primarily campaigning for improving the rights of the disabled in health care and education), church activities (we are Latter Day Saints), and raising our family of two kids. I'm learning photography since my neuromuscular problems have forced me to give up many craft/artistic type activities. I also write and speak publicly on computer related topics. I think the surgery will help me feel more confident in front of large crowds.
My sleep doctor is concerned about the surgery and is having me take Xenical to see if it is effective. I have lost 2 pounds on the Xenical so far but think I will still go through with the surgery. (Now up to 7 but I think running the 42 steps every weekend is helping too). My weight typically goes up each winter as the fibromyalgia causes me to be less active.
My husband has been very supportive but now that it looks like things are going to happen, he has gotten concerned and is having second thoughts.
Dr. Ronald Sing, at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.
Unfortunately, Dr. Sing will no longer be performing bariatric surgery, due to the lack of ancillary support from Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. Dr. Sing has repeatedly tried to have a full weight loss surgery program and staff begun at the hospital, but CMC administration refuses to provide the necessary funding. The reason given is that they cannot be sure insurance will pay for surgery and will not risk the personnel budget.
I had my first appointment last week. Dr. Sing was referred to me by one of his other patients from this web site.
I have been favorably impressed so far, he took a good deal of time and answered all of my questions.
I went through the psych evaluation yesterday and have the GI and dietician appointments today. I am also scheduled for a mammogram next week, then we should schedule the surgery.
My only problem so far has been the amount of time it took to get an appointment; I started in May and had to cancel my first appt. in July. I then rescheduled for September. I think I prefer to wait and have a doctor who will take the time I need than to get in right away. It also gave me time to consider whether this was what I really want to do.
He has done many surgeries and does not advertise, so his patients come by word of mouth.
When I worked for Microsoft, I was refused coverage for physical, EKG, blood tests and other services as "obesity treatments" under their health care plan. Went through two formal appeals. Was asked to have physician falsify claims by removing secondary diagnosis of morbid obesity. Currently in litigation. I could not find an attorney to represent me so I am pro se but have fought off Microsoft's team of attorneys for 3 years.
I now work for Computer Associates with Cigna PPO, they do exclude weight loss drugs but I have been told they sometimes approve surgery depending on medical need.
Since I am still under an ERISA plan, I have very little legal recourse if they don't pay. That is why I am supporting the patient health care bill of rights, allowing individuals to sue HMO's and ERISA plans.