I'm with Kaiser Permanente, and I'm just waiting for my case to be reviewed by the medical review committee. I was told that the entire process takes about a year because there are so many people requesting WLS through Kaiser these days. I'm a writer and English teacher who has become disabled due to morbid obesity. I feel like my entire life is on hold right now, and I'm anxious to get the show on the road!
Update--I was approved on February 1. The bariatric surgery team at Kaiser South San Francisco told me that they will contact me within 12 weeks about taking the WLS classes and my consultation with a surgeon. I'm now working on losing the required 10% of my current body weight so the surgery won't be delayed. I have issues with this requirement (as in my lifelong defiance against authority figures, but that's a different
story), but I want this to work. So I'm going to do it. Hopefully my surgery will be scheduled soon because my short term disablity benefits run out in July. When I return to work, I want to weight considerably less than I do now. I've also become a vegetarian in the past two months, and I'm not sure what impact that will have on my recovery because getting protein is such a big deal after surgery. But I'm getting ahead of myself--the main thing right now is getting a surgery date!
Okay! I have a date! July 11, 2002--The date of my rebirth! I am scared, but excited. I can't really articulate my feelings right now, but I feel like my life is finally getting started. Hopefully I will be able to post more after surgery. I plan to write about the experience because I know it has helped me to read about other WLS struggles and victories, so I would like to give back in the same way.
Update September 5, 2002 I'm officially on the other side. I actually started orientation at 349 pounds, and I was at 339 the date of surgery. I wrote about the surgery experience on SpotlightHealth.com, and for reasons that I will go into later, I'm just going to do the cut and paste thing here:I had surgery at Kaiser South San Francisco on July 11, and I was released from the hospital on July 14. The surgery went fine; it took one hour and 22 minutes. The worst parts were when they were putting that breathing tube down my throat before surgery, and waking up post-op in serious (but apparently normal) pain. Thank God for that morphine pump, and the nurse who quickly showed me how to use it! I stayed in ICU for two days only because Kaiser was running short on nursing staff in the other rooms. I walked about six hours after surgery, and I managed to walk about three times a day while I was there. It wasn't easy to do because I don't walk very well in first place due to osteoarthritis in my spine. But "The Lift Team" was always there for me, helping me get out of bed, helping me to the walker and walking with me down the hallways. My youngest daughter Chenelle was with me from beginning to end, my little angel! She read Toni Morrison's "Jazz" to me, walked with me along with "The Lift Team", helped me with that breathing contraption that they give you to clear your lungs, and was there whenever I needed her. Mommy sure wuvs her Budgie! Don't tell her that I referred to her by that name; she's sixteen and hates for me to call her that! LOL! My sister joined her on Friday on the hospital vigil, and my oldest daughter Clarissa came up on Saturday. So I had plenty of company most of the time. My son Marc stayed home. It was actually hard for him, but being a typical 20 year old guy, he didn't want to admit it. He hugged me the morning of surgery and said, "Okay Mom, don't die or nothing like that." Aren't sons just wonderful? LOL!
Anyway, I'm doing fine. I got a little nauseous eating yogurt in the hospital, and I haven't eaten any since. I'm now on what Kaiser calls Stage III diet, the one that I will be on for the rest of my life. Since I haven't had any major dumping or side effects from the operation, my surgeon said it was okay for me to go on Stage III. So far so good, except that I am amazed at how little food I can now eat. It almost made me a little angry on several occasions, which wasn't a good thing. I ate one or two bites too many, and ohhhhhhhhhhh...talking about pain! I mean, if I eat too much, my ribs start hurting! And of course, I feel like I'm going to throw up, so I stop and try to relax. I'm learning to eat very, very slowly and cut my food into teeny, tiny pieces then chew, chew, chew until it's just like baby food before swallowing. It's a complete re-wiring of my brain, believe me. I'm a shoveler; I put as much food as possible on my fork and shovel it in! I can't afford to do that now because it hurts too bad. It's a long learning process, but I'm slowly getting it. Learning how to deal with this pouch isn't easy, but everyone says you adjust to it and it get easier as time goes on. So I'm committed to learning how to do this right now.
Now the other thing is that I'm having a lot of problems with vaginal bleeding. With the exception of about five days at the end of July and beginning of August, I've been bleeding since my menstrual cycle began on July 3. The doctors at Kaiser all say that it is unrelated to the surgery, especially since I've had a lot of problems with heavy bleeding in the past. But I'm not so sure. Maybe all the hormones that were released through weight loss has knocked everything off balance. I've read that estrogen and other hormones are stored in fat, but I'm not sure about that. None of the doctors I've talked to will confirm that. Anyway, I had to admitted to Kaiser South San Francisco on August 11 because I was bleeding really heavily and beginning to pass out. I wound up having another blood transfusion (I had to have one after surgery because my blood count was so low) and they gave me a shot of Lupron, which is supposed to fool my body into thinking that it is in menopause. My body didn't buy it. I'm still bleeding, just not as heavily. I was going through an overnight pad every 15 minutes when I was admitted to the hospital. It decreased to one pad a day after the shot for about three weeks, now it's up to three pads. (Sorry for the explicit description, but I've talked to other post-op women who have had heavy periods after surgery, and I think people need to be aware that this could happen.) I'm waiting for a doctor to call me back right now to see if when I'm going to have an ablation procedure, which is where they use a laser to cauterize the utereus. If that doesn't work, then I will have to have a hysterectomy. I don't want that, of course, since I've haven't been out of bypass surgery very long.
As far as everything elese goes, it's been a test. I can't exercise much because I have very little energy and I get wiped out easily. But I do chair exercises every day for as long as I can. My eating is okay; some days are better than others. I guess I'm just feeling worn out by all this bleeding and female problems. I was thinking about going back to work, but that doesn't look possible anymore. So I've had to face reality--my health still isn't real good right now, even though I've had the surgery and lost about 50 pounds, maybe more (haven't weighed myself recently). I've applied Social Security disability because my state disability benefits have run out. I was really looking forward to bouncing back into life, but today, that doesn't look like it's possible. I even got a job offer from the principal at the local high school, but I'm not feeling well enough to do it. It would be great--tutoring English. I could work and prepare to get my teaching credential at the same time, which is one of my dreams. I can't wait to get into the classroom again, especially since I hate the last job I had. I can go back to that job, but it is a pain, physically, emotionally and spiritually. But it is money, something that I need right now. So I'm going to have to trust God to show me the right way to go. And I just joined two support groups in addition to the post-op case management meetings through Kaiser. Sistas4Life is a wonderful, funloving and supportive group, and I just love them! They have put a smile on my face when I didn't feel like smiling much. I've also joined Kaiser's WildRice RNY group, but I can't post there because I have AOL 7.0. Apparently the system they use won't allow AOLers to post if they have 7.0. So I don't feel as close to the people on that list because all I can do is lurk. Anyway, I'm going to pray a lot and hope that this latest test will be passed soon. I'm an Aries; I don't accept defeat! :-)
01-29-03 Happy New Year! I'm a little late, but that's par for the course with me. I haven't been to case management in three months, and since that's the only place that I will be weighed, I have no idea how much weight I've lost so far. It's probably close to 100 pounds. I was at 257 in October, but of course, that was before the holidays! I didn't do too badly, but the nibbling behavior does have to go. It's only been six months; and I can't believe that my pouch has stretched out enough to hold the little bit of snacking that I do. It's nowhere near what I used to do, but I guess I expected to eat three bites and be full for the rest of my life. That's why I need to go to case management and Overeater's Anonymous. The surgery made it possible for me to eat less food, but I still compulsively overeat at times. Before I'm even aware of it, I'll put something in my mouth. I know I'm dealing with a lot of changes in a relatively short period of time, and I've never been able to deal with changes very well. At least not without eating. So I've been going to OA meetings for that reason. As far as working goes, well, that's out of the question now. My back is much better, but I'm still in a lot of pain. I went to see Dr. Rinzler at Kaiser South Sacramento, and he ordered an X-Ray of my hip which showed that it is very damaged. Previous x-rays and a MRI didn't show anything, maybe because I had 100 more pounds on my body back then. Who knows? So I have an appointment with Orthopedics in February. I'm trying not to jump ahead and diagnose myself, but I wouldn't be averse to having a hip replacement. I just want to be able to walk again. As far as the female problems go, that's all cleared up, thank God. I don't know if I still have anemia, though. I still get pretty tired, but not like I used to. I guess the iron pills I've been taking are doing something. I don't have a menstrual cycle anymore, but after what I've been through with the excessive bleeding, that's just fine with me. I do use natural progesterone cream everyday to keep my hormones at an even level.
As far as working goes, well, my plans have been waylaid by this latest health development. I was approved for social security and disability, so I will be focusing on taking care of my health for at least another year. I recieved some bad news from California State University at Sacramento, though. Since it has been over seven years, and I hadn't completed my thesis, most of all of my units for my Master's degree in English have dropped off my transcript! I was so upset! I would have to take the entire program over again! All that work...it's not the easiest thing in the world to do! I'm in a bit of despair since I was looking forward to teaching college writing, but now, I feel that maybe God has other plans for me. It ocurred to me while sitting in case management that there needs to be people in the bariatric department at Kaiser (and probably other hospitals) who have BEEN through morbid obesity, yo-yo dieting, shame and humilation of being fat and having gastric bypass surgery. Nadia and Gity are great, but they can't possibly know what happens in the minds of morbidly obese people. So I started thinking about going and getting another degree in psychology, possibly a Phd. I know I can do; scholarly writing is not difficult to me. It's just so damned laborious! You spend so much time in the library, and not enough time with family and friends. But I would be willing to go through it again if it means that I get to work with people who are like me--struggling to make sense of a deadly disease. And it would also give me the chance to heal myself even more. So I plan to take a bunch of psychology classes at Sacramento City College, since I don't have an extensive background in the field. God knows I've read enough therapy and self help books over the past two decades, though. I feel like I have to have a plan in my life so I have some direction, a place to focus my energy. I have the health stuff right now, but that's not going to be be forever. I feel better knowing that I'm doing all of this for reason, and that reason is so that I can be of service to other people who, like me, have had to deal with morbid obesity. That makes me feel a whole lot better about losing my master's degree in English.
July 10, 2006 Wow, tomorrow will be four years post op! Good Lord, I thought I would be 125 pounds by now. Well, there's my ego and arrogance right there. I still have a lot to learn. Big changes--I've moved since I last visited that site, and I'm writing a book about growing up addicted to food and how it led to WLS. It's been a hard book to write, very painful, mostly because I realize now that *I* am the reason why I have struggled with food. I can't blame anyone else, not my parents, society, anyone. I've regained about fifty pounds; my lowest weight was about 232. But in spite of the struggle of severe food addiction while post-op, I have hope. Today, I'm not overeating, and that's relief. I hope to have the book published in fall. The tentative name is "Big Fat Woman: My Journey through Obesity and Weight Loss Surgery". Oh, and I finished half of the master's program in adult education. I'll finish the other half when I finish the book.
Hospital Reviews(South San Francisco, CA) - Kaiser
Surgeon: Neal Gorrin, M.D.
This is me in my office at my
former employer, Southside Art
I liked Dr. Gorrin from the moment I met him. He's personable, but very straight-forward, business-like. He told me what I needed to know, and answered any questions that I had. His office staff, the Bariatric Team, has been there whenever I've needed them, too. What I liked the least has nothing to do with Dr. Gorrin personally. It's just that Kaiser is so corporate, everything is rush, rush, rush. You don't really have the time to get to know your surgeon and any of the staff really well because they have so many patients to see, and not enough time to devote to all of them. Future patients should be aware of this--if you want to be "babied" (sorry, can't think of another word for it) through the gastric bypass surgery process, it won't happen. There is no time for that. I didn't feel slighted in the least because I like for people to give me the facts and let me do what I'm supposed to do. You have to do the work to get ready for surgery, and no one can do it for you. The Bariatric team does have an aftercare program, and people have stayed in touch with me since surgery. The weekly support group in South San Franciso is also very helpful. The risks of surgery were carefully explained to me many times, and I feel that Dr. Gorrin is an excellant surgeon. My surgery lasted only an hour and twenty two minutes. Personally, I prefer surgical competence over bedside manner. Bedside manner is great (and Dr. Gorrin is wonderful), but I'd rather that a surgeon do his or her job very well.
Kaiser Permanente, Geographic Managed Care
They are very business-like and I really don't have any complaints--the reason for lapse of time between the approval letter and my surgery was a combination of the number of patients enrolled in the gastric bypass program (it has tripled over the past two years)and the requirement that I lose weight before surgery. That took some time.