July 15, 2003---
Cats - We have three, Banzai, Munchkin, and Ferocious Jones.
Dogs - I have one dog Dotti who will be 17 in September.
Adoption - We adopted our 9-year-old daughter Chelsea, May 2002.
Parenting - We were foster parents for four years and had 28 kids.
Antiques - I collect antiques and would like to live to be one!
Flowers - I love all flowers but I have a passion for Tall Bearded Iris.
Cooking & Baking - I love to bake & every year at Christmas we make Gingerbread Houses for charity.
Horses - I used to ride until I got bigger than the horses.
Click here to see interests of other ObesityHelp members.
Surgeon: Titus Duncan
---Despite the fact of my weight and health I am a lucky person. I am married to my best friend and greatest love. Robert and I have been married 20 years and still have a loving relationship and can still sit and talk to each other for hours at the time. He married me overweight and has never given me grief over my size. We have had 28 children (through Foster care, Gotcha) and adopted one of them, Chelsea last year. She is 9 and the apple of her father's eye. We also have three wonderful cats and an antique dog named Dotti. I have a passion for gardening but can't do it anymore much like most everthing else I love to do, flea markets, horseback riding, etc.
---I am a 48-year-old women who has been obese all my life, from about age 5. Now I am super-super obese and weigh 462lbs according to my doctor's scales. That is not my highest weight. I have diabetes, Hypertension, stress incontinence, bad knees, hips, and ankles. Because of poor circulation in my legs from diabetes and edema because of hypertension I have had instances of spontanous ulcers opening and draining through the skin. This requires that I stay off my feet with them elevated a lot of the time. Therefore I get little exercise and with the added weight am finding it more and more difficult to walk.
---I don't know why I have waited so long to post this. I guess I just never believed I would get to this point. At first when I became interested in WLS my PCP refused to give me a referral and talked me out of it. Then a year later when I had gained another 40+ lbs and he agreed to support me, insurance was aproved, and I had met with the Doctor, my husband lost his job and our insurance. This was in March 2003. Now it's July and Rob has a new job, I have a surgery date, and although we are having to pay for insurance through Cobra, it looks like I just might make it. Rob's new job has insurance through Principal Group and they flatly refuse to pay for anything related to obesity. I am working hard to get there and do what Dr. Duncan says. We were required to attend a support group and there was not one in our area so myself and a couple other folks started one. Now if I can just get the weight off he wants me to loss before surgery I'll be fine but it seems to be the hardest part. But I am going to keep trying. Anyone with any ideas how please e-mail me, I welcome the support.
September 4, 2003---
---Again I find that I have avoided updating this file for no other reason than time. At first I would come to this site and sit for hours looking at before and after pictures. They keep me determined as I started my pre-op testing. After the support group my next thing was to see the nutritionist and exercise therapist which I did on July 22. I had lost only seven (7) pounds. Our July support meeting our little group had grown from the original three to seven and I really enjoyed it. August brought even more new faces but I am still the only pre-op in the bunch.
---I went to see Dr. Vann, my PCP and he ordered a sleep study done because Rob is complaining that I am holding my breath in my sleep. They (Peachtree Bariatrics, hereafter known as PB) want to make sure that I don't have sleep apnea before surgery. I go September 8 & 9 for that. I made my first visit for my Psych Eval but my surgeon wants a MMPI so I go back on Sept.16. His office called yesterday and told me that there is a new policy that if you are over 40 years you must get a cardiac clearence, so I had to get a referral from my PCP and get worked in to see the cardiologist before I see the surgeon on Sept. 18. PB also told me that all pre-op must be done and in his office before that day. So I also have to have my PCP clearence in that time along with my blood work. PB also wants me to weigh and verify that loss so they won't have any surprises that day. I have lost 24 lbs so far but maintaining has been difficult and I can understand their concern. I also can not fault them because evreything they require means less chance of complications during my surgery. I am determined and could not stand another delay, so I will do what they tell me.
---I don't go look at pictures anymore. It's not that I am no longer interested but that I have discovered the chat room and now the pictures have names, stories, and personalities. Those same pictures have become friends that have been where I am, fought the same battles, but overcome insurance companies, family, doctors and others that have tried to stand in their way. I thank God I went there the first time because it has become a daily occurrence, a lifeline of my pre-op exsistence. Those people will never know what their every hello and good bye mean to my day. They make me really believe that THIS TIME I will not fail. This time I have hope not only to lose but maintain a normal weight that will allow me to go anywhere I want without the threat of ridicule, or the chance I might not fit the chairs, will let me walk again, drive my car again, and to get back so many things that I once took for granted but have lost and want so desperately to recover.
September 21, 2003
---The past weeks have been extremely hard. The night of the sleep study was hell! I can not understand how they can study what I did not get. Besides all the wires, bells and whistles, the mask did not fit my face and the air blew in my eyes all night and wind-burned them so bad that both eyes were swollen shut the next morning. However my cardiac visit the 15th was surprisingly easy because my EKG was perfect and the Doctor found no problems. The 16th I finished my Psych Eval with a MMPI test (the craziest questions) which while it showed I was crazy also showed no reason while I could not have the surgery. The 18th I had my pre-op visit with my surgeon. I had lost 34 lbs which seemed to please him but the visit lasted from 9:00am to 1:30pm and I was exhausted. Despite all the test it looks like there are more in my future. He wants me to have a gallbladder ultrasound and I have pre-op testing at the hospital the 24th. At least after I lose weight if I follow directions I should be healthy.
---I continue to Chat almost dailey and David Ashley (DAVIDBAMA) has become my Angel. He has always been so kind and is the perfect example of a true Southern Gentleman. I feel so lucky to have his support during my surgery time. The Angel program is such a wonderful idea and makes us feel less alone during our journey. But I am still afraid...
September 27, 2003
---On Sept. 18 I went for my pre-op visit with the surgeon. I had lost 34lbs which pleased him so it looks like a go for October 10. After my exam he took me and all the other pre-op upstairs to "talk us out of it" in others words to tell us what all can go wrong. It did not work. Even though I am still afraid there was nothing he could tell me that would change my mind. Not even the fear of death has stopped me because I have a better chance of dying without the surgery. His statistics continue to improve everyday because he has yet to lose anyone, and I know he does not want to ruin his record. We were instructed to start our vitamins and protein now to build up our systems and "toughen" our stomachs. He said stitching morbidly obese people's stomachs is like trying to sew up a ripe peach and that starting everything now will help.
--- September 24th found us at the hospital for pre-op with the anesthesiologist. It took forever and they insisted that I have a pregnancy test. They could not find half my test records and ran me all over. By the time the day was over I could barely walk and my sugar was crashed. Fasting is not hard until you get about 20 hours in and no coffee either! We had support group that night so it was a long day.
---Very few things surprise me these days but the support I have recieved on this site has been wonderful. I know that a good bit of it is because of DavidBama's tireless efforts but I am truely touched by everyone's kind words. They will never know, unless they read it here what that support means coming from people who know because they have been where I am now. I have only 13 days to go and the time sometimes flies, sometimes crawls depending on my state of mind. This is the chance I have waited on all my life and never have I feared anything so much.
October 1, 2003
---I am angry, also hurt and disappointed. I got a phone call from my surgeon's office today. Dr. Duncan will be out of town on Oct. 10 (my surgery day) so I have the option of letting another Doctor in his office do the surgery that day or rescheduling for the 14th. I know that four days is not a big deal time wise but I have waited six months because I wanted DR.DUNCAN to do my surgery and still want him to do it. So I started making phone calls, Rob's vacation time had to be moved, I had to call his mother in Fla. and change the time she was coming. My Brother and his family had arranged to come back from Disneyworld two days early so they could keep our daughter. I had to change Chelsea doctor appointment, plus now I have to work in a gallbladder ultrasound this week to boot. Why is it that we have to wait so long and do so much to prepare for this surgery but our time and planning is of no impotance. I would understand if they had a death or illness but I don't think you can plan them 10 days in advance or know when you will be back afterwards. Today I feel like I always have..that I have no value as a person and that no one considers how this will effect me or my family. When do we start to matter?
October 9, 2003
---Friday I went in for my ultrasound. It was neither a horrible nor pleasent experience but was thankfully a short one. They informed me that they had Dr. Duncan's Fax number and would forward the results to him. To date I still have heard nothing, so tomorrow I will call the office to find out the results and what time my surgery will be Tuesday. They (APRIA HEALTHCARE)still do not have me set up on my CPAP but assure me they will by Friday. It is not toatlly their fault because the doctor forgot to tell them I need a full face mask. I had several calls from weel wishers today that had not heard about the date change. I still find it amazing how many people are interested in my surgery.
---I ran into a friend yesterday that I had met at orientation in April. He was denied because of his age (under 18) and it broke my heart to see that he has put on a great deal more weight. I think he is still in denial about all this but his parents are worried about him and I think they are pushing. He wished me luck with my surgery and I hope if this works for me that I will be able to show him there is hope for us all.
---The days are flying by and my mood swings back and forth between exhilaration and nervous anticipation. It is not that I want to back out but I am afraid of the surgery AND what changes come after. I have never been NORMAL or what they think is normal and I sometimes wonder if I will fit in even with a smaller body.
November 1, 2003
---The Saturday before my surgery my brother and sister-in-law took our daughter to spend the night so Rob and I could talk. He has never wanted to discuss wills, funeral arrangements or anything before but the time had come. Things happen and it's best to be prepared. He went and got us hamburgers from Burger King for supper, not because I was craving them but I just did not want to cook. We discussed many things in the hours following even though he would rather have avoided it but it helped my feelings because I have always found that the best way to avoid trouble is to be prepared for it.
---Sunday was the start of bowel prep. Now let me say that I believe that this practice is important and reduces the chance of infection BUT I do not believe that there is anything more foul tasting than Fleet Phospha-soda. I had to take it twice a day for two days and force clear liquids to keep from dehyrating. At the end of two days I felt like a chittlin and sloshed when I walked.
---Tuesday we were up at 3:45. I have to be at the hospital at 6:00 and it's an hour drive. I missed my coffee but other wise I am OK. That is usually the way I handle things, a nervous wreak up till time for things and then calm. I trust Dr. Duncan and I am not afraid that he will let me die and ruin his great record. I have made my peace with God and I trust Him to watch over me.
---We get to the hospital on time but the emergency parking is closed so we have to hike a long way. Not easy for me or my Dad with a brace on his leg. Also with us is Rob's Mom, my Mom, and Mom's cousin Jane to keep her grounded. We don't have to wait long before they come and take me to prep. Rob gets to go with me. First item another pregnancy test, this makes three so far. Then the beautiful hospital gown and matching bonnet, a shot of Heprin (blood thinner) in the stomach, and two IV's. All the time Rob is standing by remarkably quite. He is usually a nervous talker but now he looks like a deer in the headlights and I can't tell if he is going to break and run or pass out. I have never in our 21 years together seen my husband so afraid and I realize that he is afraid I will die. After some effort I got him laughing and when they came for me he kissed me good-bye and I told him I would see him later.
---SURGERY---As we left Rob and went down the hall to surgery I must tell you I got a slight case of the nerves. We went to a holding area where I met my surgery team. They covered me with a warmed blanket and told me the whole drill, laughed at the fact that the only time I had surgery they used ether (am I old or what)put a little something in the IV and I woke up with Rob rubbing my face. My fist words, "Wow that didn't take long and I'm not even hurting". DUH! I have little memory of the hours following but I do remember telling them to let me up to walk (I have a phobia about clots)which they did and I walked down the hall. I also remember a sharp pain in my rear and I could not understand that. We later discovered that when they moved me from gurney to bed that gave me a carpet burn about the size of a quarter. I was only in the hospital 25 hrs but let me say that the staff was wonderful. A special thanks to Mary, K, and Bernard, my nurses and med-tech for their kindness.
---The next morning they removed my cath, my drain tube,(ouch) and took me for a leak test. They gave me a barium swallow, another taste sensation and took x-rays. Great news no leak so I can go home. They gave me a shot of morphine, removed my IV's and home we went. When we got home Rob had to pull me up the steps because I was loopy from the morphine and could have cared less. But I do remember that my bed felt so good and being home felt even better. They had given me a perscription for Lortab and I took it the first couple of days but i did not like the way it made me feel so I stopped. I really not in that much pain anyway so it is no big deal. Flavored water seems to sit better than anything else so that's what I'm drinking. Fruit juice is too sweet even 50/50 with water. I keep dragging myself out of the bed to walk but it is a hard go. I am still so unsteady on my feet and fell the second day trying to get out of the chair in the bedroom. I scared everybody to death but it was more of a slide than a fall and I did not hurt myself. Four days out Rob's mother made me walk with her outside and we went too far. I almost did not make it back and was exhausted the rest of the day. My emotions are a rollercoaster ride of drastic mood swings and I cry at the drop of a hat.
---Today i finally managed to "eat" something. I made some Ramon noodles and drank the broth off them. It tasted so good, so in the evening I heated up some chicken broth. I could not drink it, it tasted like the metal can. Since them it has been trying different things as time progresses. Creme of chicken soup was good, creme of mushroom I could not even swallow. Later the evil egg did not stay down 10 seconds but a baked potato was delicious.
--- About three days out one of my surgery ports opened and started to drain. Just water so Doctors were not concerned. However when I went for my two week visit it was still draining and I had gained 23lbs! Now everything went crazy...I saw doctors, nurses, so on. Was I in heart failure, had my kidneys shut down, should they put me in the hospital, what? They finally agreed to send me to my PCP for test and medication so they called and got me worked in that afternoon. My kidney screen came back good so he put me back on blood pressure medication and a water pill. These past three days I have spent in the bathroom but I must say I feel much lighter. PCP also gave me back one of my anti-depression meds and that has helped too. It's funny but if anyone was ever going to gain weight with this surgery it would be me. I sometimes think that Murphy tatooed his name on my butt! Oh well that does kill us makes us stronger and I refuse to let this set me back.
January 15, 2004
---Today was my three-month visit to Dr. Duncan. I have lost 94 Pounds. What a change the last few months have brought. I can drive again and walk without so much effort. I even went shopping and to the grocery store by myself. Life is so much better.
February 6, 2004
---Everyday is an adventure. I have lost 108lbs to date and I feel great! I still have problems with nausea almost everyday but it does not last long and I don't throw up as much as I was. Yesterday was a red letter day, I walked to the mailbox and back twice! We live about the distance of a football field off the road and on a hill so it was an accomplishment I am proud of. I also went out to a restaurant with my family for the first time in two and a half years! WooooHoooo! Still can't eat much but I can go. And I intend to keep going!
March 21, 2004
---I am down 127lbs to date. But the last month has been hard. I don't seem to have any energy and it is difficult to sleep at night because my body has changed so much that I can not get comfortable. I have reached more weight goals and walked to my neighbors and back (about 1/4 mile) but I think I should feel better by now. I still have some nausea after eating but I don't throw up as much. I went and had all my levels checked and everything was OK but my hair is falling out. But I don't regret my surgery because I would rather be bald than fat!
April 12, 2004
---I am down 136lbs to date. What a six months it has been! My hair loss has slowed down a lot and my energy level has come up. I am still not ready to run a marathon but I can work in my garden every day. April 22nd is my 6 month visit to the doctor and I hope he will be pleased. My family still can not believe the changes in me and my husband simply stares at me all the time. He says I am more (or less) the girl he married every day and that alone makes my having this surgery worth while. My BMI is down from 79.3 to a 56.6, not great but better all the time.
June 23, 2004
--- I have not lost but 9lbs in the last two months but the inches continue to fall off. I have lost TWO FEET in my hips so who cares. I DO! I am ready for this plateau to be over. I feel a great deal better stil can not eat beef and must be careful with pork and chicken. Seafood has saved my life and hair! But it is still worth it for all that I have reclaimed.
July 17, 2004
---I have finally started to lose again. I am down 153lbs and have been a working fool! The garden is producing like crazy and I am canning everything in sight. I have not had this kind of energy in years and I can't seem to find enough to keep me busy. After sitting for years I have a lot of catching up to do.
---I still don't get hungry and forget to eat. When I do eat it does not always sit well so it seems that I am eating less and less. This summer my diet has consisted of cucumbers and pork rinds with soy nuts and pumpkin seeds thrown in. But I take my supplements so it does not seem to be a problem.
October 14, 2004
---Today is my WLS birthday, one year today! I am down 168 lbs. I am also under 300 lbs for the first time in 18 years. I am reborn, this was the best thing I have ever down for myself.
December 8, 2004
---I am down 175lbs. What a difference I see in my day-to-day life. I am waiting on insurance to approve a tummy tuck. The excess skin is a real problem, more than I thought it would be. The plastic surgeon says he will have to remove 25-30 lbs of skin! I can not imagine what it will mean to lose so much in one day. I will update again after that happens.
--Dr. Duncan is almost of a celebrity status aroud here. He is one of the leading Bariatric Surgeons in the Atlanta area, does a shot on one of the Atlanta news stations and has preformed several high-profile surgeries on high risk patients. I know several of his patients personally and they have dropped hundreds of pounds with no complications and he has done well over 1000 surgeries and growing. I found him straight forward about what he expects from me and what he will provide. He has a good sense of humor, a good bedside manner but is no nonsense about the surgery. If you gain one pound after he sees you he will not do your surgery.
--His office staff is wonderful. They are good at their jobs but not to busy to help you. Some of the staff are former patients and really do understand what you are going through. The only bad things are access to his office is HORRIBLE! I have a hard time walking and I thought I would die before I got there. Also on days you go for a visit expect to stay all day, my last office visit was over three hours mostly waiting.
United Healthcare, EPO Select
United Healthcare in my opinion is one of the best insurance companies around. They not only agreed to pay 100% with the first phone call but don't require that you jump through hoops to get the surgery. They have a group nurse that called to see how things were going and she gave me her name and requested that I please call her with update after the surgery to let them know how it was working. Even though my husband lost his job where we had the insurance we have elected to continue it through Cobra and pay the premium ourselves rather than fight with his new insurance. The new job has Principal Group and they flatly refuse to pay for any treatment of any obesity related anything.