Hello, I've re-arranged my journal into reverse-chronological order for your reading pleasure, LOL.
Hospital Reviews(San Francisco, CA) - California Pacific Medical Center (COE)
Surgeon: Robert Rabkin, M.D.
4/23/02 - I quit my stupid job
It's interesting how opportunities seem to fall in lap now that I'm thin. It's also really frustrating at the same time. I'm still the same person, but people sure treat me differently now. Don't you love those folks who NEVER talked to you before who act like they're your best friends now? That's taken some getting used to.
I just gave notice at what has been my place of employment the past few years. I finally have an opportunity in music that is going to pay better than this job and will be way more rewarding (obviously). My soon-to-be-former-job is one of those types that sucks the life right out of you, and they were wondering why I wasn't STAYING (!). I guess a fitting response would be... "uh, bite me."
1/30/02 - My father sees me for the first time since surgery
My dad came out for my birthday this past weekend and didn't recognize me when I came to the hotel room door.
He doesn't know I had the surgery, and now I'm down 115 pounds from my pre-op weight.
He says I haven't looked this good since high school.
I'm now wearing size 12 in jeans, which is a size I haven't WORN since high school.
Still having lactose-intolerance issues. *Sigh* I miss cheese but it seems a small price to pay!
12/17/01 - 6 month annivesary appointment!
I'm down 95 pounds from July 16, 2001. Amazed and surprised. I have excess skin, but I don't care. The weight training is beginning to work on the sagging areas. Plus it's only been 6 months... I need to give my body a chance!
DON'T FORGET TO TAKE YOUR SUPPLEMENTS! I missed a few days and boy did I feel like sh*t.
It's the day before Thanksgiving! Arrrrgh!
I've never been an overeater at Thanksgiving. I think it was because I cooked all day long, even when I was a kid. Sometimes stuffing a raw turkey kills the appetite, I guess.
This year I'm cooking some of it, but I don't have to stuff the turkey - my mom is doing that. She is coming over to meet my new boyfriend and then we're going to his folks' for coffee and dessert. I'm making REAL pumpkin pie from actual pie pumpkins and an apple pie for my mom. Now I'm eating everything... small quantities, but I don't really avoid too much anymore. The only difference is things that were sweet before are REALLY sweet now and I cannot stand to eat or drink things with high sugar content. Fine with me!
Anyway. I'm down to 205 as of this morning, which is a loss of 85 pounds since 7/16/01. I am now a size 14-16, and can wear regular size 16 pants. Hooray!
UPDATE - So much of my life has changed already.
Wow. Ok, so I'm down 67 pounds and I'm not even at the three-month mark yet. I went in for my three-month (or thereabouts) follow up last Tuesday and I weighed 223, down from 290.8.
Just for grins, let's put this into a size perspective:
When I had surgery, I was a size 22-24.
Today, I'm going to my FAVORITE consignment store to pick up some regular (not woman's) size 16 pants or jeans because the smallest size I have in pants is a regular 18 and they are hanging off of me. Either that or get a leather punch and add some holes in my belt.
So... all in all, this has been a nice problem to have.
What can I eat now? Hmmmm. Let's see. Pretty much everything, I guess! I do 4-5 smaller meals a day to make sure I get protein. The doc wanted me to shoot for 3, but he's happy with my health and my overall progress so I think he's assured that I'm doing things right. I still tend to avoid dairy, but do consume it in small quantities. I have a supplement to take for it but I forget it half the time so... whatever. It's not as bad with gas and stuff anymore if I don't overdo.
Things I like to eat:
Sushi!!!!!! (I've always liked it, and now I make my own)
Pad Thai or any Thai food for that matter
Spicy Cajun stuff - jambalaya, gumbo, often made with chicken sausage (I make this myself, right down to the sausage)
Granola with soymilk
Rare roast beef
Any kind of fish
I have 9 more months to go before I can drink alcohol again - surgeon's orders. I don't drink much anyway, but as soon as I can't have it, I start having vivid dreams about margaritas. Like dreams about SWIMMING in them and drinking them at the same time, darn it. And it's not really for the buzz; I just love the way they taste. Yum.
I also have a new man in my life and he adores me. It's pretty serious. More on that later. He's yummy too. :)
I returned to work full time today. :) Thank goodness. I was bored out of my skull!!! Yes, everyone noticed the weight loss. My colleague Madhu came up to me and said, "hey! Where'd ya go?" He's so funny.
Down another 7 pounds to 250 and STILL having milk product issues. I hope I'm not lactose intolerant now, but it is still too soon to tell. Doctor thinks I may have the beginnings of a stricture, so I have been instructed to eat more. Hmm, wonder how I'm going to do that. Well, I'd better figure it out or I have to get an endoscopy, yuck. I was also supposed to return to work today but doctor said we need to give it another week. *Sigh.* I'm getting a little stir-crazy!
Ok, I was weighed at my 3 week post-op appointment and I now am down to 257 from 290. Wow. I could not believe it.
I'm eating more of a variety of foods now, but really have to watch it with the dairy, since I am either still having a reaction to that stuff from the recent surgery or I am now lactose intolerant, which is one of the possible side-effects :(. I got a really good lactase supplement if I really want a glass of milk or yogurt, but I'm sticking to soy for now. I make sure that I get enough protein via soy drinks, since I can still handle those better than protein bars, ew. I also take my pre-natal vitamin and calcium supplements daily.
Just for the curious, this is the food I've had so far. Each item listed constitues a meal, as you can't eat much.
Oatmeal or Cream of Wheat w/ wheat germ
1 egg & 1 piece of bacon
Frosted Shredded Wheat w/ honey soy milk (I let it get a little mushy)
Lunch or Dinner:
Lunchmeat - usually 1 1/2 pieces
Steamed oysters or clams w/ lemon juice
Vegetarian Pad Thai (w/ egg, that is - not vegan)
Steamed vegetarian spring rolls
Hummus on Lavash - good if you watch the garlic content!
Protein Supplement Snacks:
1/2 Luna Bar
Different flavors of soy drinks
I'm now officially post-op. I was discharged yesterday evening and was worried that I would have to return since I came home and immediately had a fever of around 100 degrees. I called the RN and she assured me that this was normal for a few days post-op... I had a little more activity than in the hospital yesterday. I did walk around every day post-op in the hospital 3 - 4 times a day. I was being awoken at ungodly hours for my vitals and couldn't get back to sleep anyway, so... out I went. This was hard after they took me off the morphine though... but I persevered, albeit a bit more crabbily.
It wasn't an easy hospital stay for me, folks. Usually, D/S patients are able to eat clear liquids the first day post-op. I had some swelling and wasn't able to do this until my second day. This drove me nuts when they were serving the food on the floor (and this is hospital food we're talking about here, people!). The rest of the time it was ok. I was actually hungry, espcially from all of the fasting beforehand. When I finally got to eat, the hospital kept serving me beef broth instead of chicken or vegetable. Beef broth made me retch before surgery. Guess what happened after. About the same reaction, only more painful. So I stuck to the diet jello, which was the same flavor (cherry), for my next 5 meals. I never want to eat cherry jello again... the only other thing that appealed to me was the popsicle, which the *idiot* who set up the trays put on top or next to my hot water (for decaf tea) EVERY SINGLE TIME. Butthead! After I got my diet advanced, I had some cream of wheat and applesauce. Wish it had stopped at that... but there was pureed nastiness for lunch and dinner. Sorry I'm so negative about the food thing, but the hospital would not even give me saltines. I finally learned my very last night in the hospital that the nurses were authorized to give us apple or cranberry juice. I drank a lot of this before I left. I am glad to be home with my saltines, peppermint tea, and protein smoothies.
Pain was managed well at hospital... until they took away the morphine. Then I just dealt with it with some Torondol (sp?), which worked ok... I had a really bad night the night before I left when they gave my some Vicodin (sp?) on an empty stomach. I threw this up in no time, as it hit my stomach and gave me EXTREME pain. The RN on duty gave me morphine to shut me up, as she was probably sick of me by then. Sorry lady, I've had surgery and you picked the profession! I was a great patient the rest of the time - I kept my sense of humor and followed my doctor's orders. No one had to prompt me to walk or do my breathing exercises.
Other than that... the worst thing has been the gas pain. The surgical site is somewhat painful, not as much as the gas though! I've got to keep walking.
That's about it for now.
Ok, I am now 4 days away from surgery and yesterday I received an unsolicited email regarding a patient in my surgeon's care who had recently passed away due to complications of the surgery. This person who sent the email is trying to get Dr. Rabkin's license revoked. I understand that the author is upset that his best friend died, and I let him know that. I also let him know that I didn't appreciate his unsolicited email "scare tactics." Apparently, he had gotten my email address from this site. I am fully aware of the severity of the surgery, as I am fully aware of what will happen to my health after carrying around this extra weight for so long.
I received my Psych approval for surgery yesterday. The doctor is concerned about my fear of general anesthesia and is arranging for me to meet with the anesthesiologist.
UPDATE - Buttheads
Getting closer, getting more nervous. I'm getting a lot of flack and it isn't helping.
I have been approved! I am ecstatic and scared and a whole lot of other things. I'm due to go in on July 16, 2001 to the California Pacific Medical Center. My Mummy is taking off a few days to be with me as this is the first major surgical procedure I've had since they took my tonsils away - and that wasn't even close to what I'm a-doin' now. I have oodles of things to settle before this happens. Lots to think about and a blender to buy. :)
UPDATE - I had my consultation!
I met with Dr. Rabkin after a harrowing adventure on the SF Bay Bridge that almost made me miss my appointment.
After a hour or so "orientation" with Delphine, Dr. Rabkin's RN, a group of us waited patiently and talked amongst ourselves about why we were there that day. One thing that I really liked - and I don't know if they planned it this way - is that there were an equal number of men and women in our group. One fellow that I was talking with really helped me put my decision into perspective... about how we were doing this for ourselves to not only look better but to feel better.
But I digress...
Dr. Rabkin thinks that I am an excellent candidate for the Lap Duodenal Switch surgery. One of the reasons is that although I do meet the BMI qualifications, I am still in excellent health with no co-morbidities like diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. This is great news. The only other surgery I've had was when I had my tonsils out when I was 6, so needless to say, the decision to have this surgery did not come easily.
I've (exhaustively) done my part and Dr. Rabkin's office has done theirs, so... now it's up to the insurance company. More later...
Ok, I have taken drastic measures and changed my PCP in order to get this surgery handled. My old PCP said that he would provide me with a referral to "their" gastroenterologist, but with the aside that he was sure I wouldn't get approved. He offered me more drugs to take and I said no thanks.
So, now I have a new PCP who specializes in internal medicine and gastroenterology AND who's interested in getting this procedure happening. He reviewed all of my medical information that I have since I was born and said, "gee, someone should have offered you this option sooner."
So that's the latest. I'll repost after my consultation with Dr. Rabkin.
I have met and spoken to my PCP about having the Duodenal Switch surgery done. He thinks any surgery for obesity is way too drastic. I offered the reply that he has not had to live this way and suffer the medical and social implications of being overweight. I also pointed out how many "diets" I've been on (Weight Watchers - 2 times, Optifast, Jenny Craig, Nutri-System, The "Amazing" Micro-Diet, Adkins, Carbohydrate Addict's, Hollywood, Grapefruit), all the medications, and the behavior modification therapy. I've been fighting this extra weight that came out of nowhere for 15 years now, and although I have no co-morbidities at the moment, I'm already suffering with constant back and knee pain. He's thinking on this. I hope he thinks fast and at least APPROVES me for a referral to Dr. Robert Rabkin in San Francisco for consultation. I won't have the money for it otherwise. I'd love to self-pay for this surgery, but am paying off student loans.
I feel like I am caught in a downward spiral. I cannot be promoted to earn more money without improving my appearance. It sucks, but it is unfortunately true. Society is not going to wake up tomorrow morning and feel more kindly towards those of us who carry the extra pounds. I also feel trapped in my body. I like to be active, but am often the victim of catcalls when exercising. I'm human and it hurts me.
If my PCP does not approve my consultation, it looks like I'll have to go through the excruciating process with my HMO of getting another who does not have a problem with drastic measures.
Like everyone, I've tried everything.
My OB/GYN has now recommended that I have this procedure done and I 'm trying to educate myself and find the best surgeon. I've never had major surgery before, so this is a little scary...
I'm 32 years old, no kids, but I'd like to have them. I've also put my professional life on hold to deal with my weight, so enough is enough! Any information that anyone could provide (besides suggest yet another diet!) would be appreciated.
I met with Dr. Rabkin and he's very low-key and centered. He seems to be a gentle man with a real concern for helping people feel better. He was very detailed about my history and wanted to know more than most doctors I'd been to before about what situation I was in when I began to struggle with my weight. He is also a very busy man... going to an appointment is often an all-day experience.
The office staff is over-extended need some restructuring, but Dr. Rabkin's RN Delphine is wonderful and practically spanked my HMO for not sending my referral like they told me they did (I almost had to pay $300 for a consultation).
I cannot stress enough that you need to stay on top of the office in regards to your needs and desires. They ARE willing to accommodate you, you just need to poke them.
HealthNet, Brown and Toland
Health Net was never the problem, my original medical group (Affinity) was hell to deal with - had to wait almost a year to get a REFERRAL. I loved my PCP with my old medical group - he was completely for this but Affinity was being difficult... this and other factors led to my doctor LEAVING the Affinity network.
Brown and Toland, my current (and now ongoing!) medical group has been wonderful. Dr. Damian Augustyn, my new PCP, is a wonderful, wonderful man who came on high recommendation from both Dr. Rabkin's office as well as my former PCP. My former PCP is also still engaged in my progress - we email frequently.
I agonized quite a bit about changing my medical group, but don't regret my decision. If anyone has difficulty getting approved because of similar reasons, I'd suggest that you contact your surgeon's office to inquire as to what medical groups within your HMO are amiable to this procedure. It's simply not worth the hassle to fight with a group that's not supportive - it's far easier to switch your medical group then endure the crap!