I am a 35 year old mother of four children. I am generally a very happy person, happily married, and comfortable with who I am....except for my size. I am guessing that I now weigh nearly 350lbs (my scale doesn't go up that high). Even as big as I am, I still think that I am pretty and I care about how I look. This past year I have begun to experience severe pain from moderate arthritis in my knees making it impossible for me to climb stairs or walk distances. I now use a powered wheelchair when I go to the mall, etc. I homeschool all four of my children and I enjoy leading an active life, although my body has made that nearly impossible. Three years ago I successfully lost 65 pounds but have now gained it back, plus some. It was a very painful experience because I was always hungry, then I plateued for 4 months. I need to lose weight now, while I am still healthy, before I develop heart or diabetes problems and I don't think I could handle the severe hunger pains again. The idea of this surgery scares me to death but it seems to be the best method for me to achieve my desire for a healthy body and a normal life.
BMI - 54.2
2/2/03 - I went to a presentation on WLS by Dr. Roe a week and a half ago, and made the decision to go forward with the surgery. I saw my PCP who said she would definitely recommend WLS for me. So, I have my referral, my psych eval appt. sceduled and my consult with Dr. Roe scheduled. I am starting to get excited. Every time I look in the mirror I am disgusted with what I see, and yet I realize that that its not because I haven't tried to lose weight before, I have, and failed. This is the first time I am truly hopeful that something is going to change. A good friend of mine keeps telling me not to have the surgery, she is scared for me, she is afraid I am going to die. My family thinks it is a good thing. So do I. My psych consult is next tuesday and my consult with Dr. Roe is two weeks later. I can't wait.
2/11/03 - Went for my Psych. evaluation today. I was a little nervous, not knowing if he was going to try to dig into my past and declare me unfit for surgery. It turned out that the Psychiatrist was very nice and just asked me a few questions about myself (after filling out a 20 page questionnaire). He asked me about my family history of weight and diseases and he asked me why I wanted to have the surgery and what I expected from it. Then he told me that he found no psychological contraindications for the surgery - in other words, he would recommend me as a candidate for the surgery. Whew! One hurdle out of the way, next is my initial consult in two weeks.
2/25/03 - Went for my initial consult today. I really like Dr. Roe. He says I am the perfect candidate for this surgery. But, we have a few hurdles to overcome. It seems that word got around that my insurance co (Aetna USHealthcare) was really good about approving this surgery, so a lot of people enrolled with Aetna, had the surgery and then dropped Aetna. So, now Aetna has decided to make its criteria for approval more difficult. They now require that the candidate be on a doctor supervised and documented diet plan for six consecutive months within the last two years. This diet must include consultation with a dietician, low calorie diet and increased exercise. This means that even though I have documented my yo-yo diet history, it may be another six months before I could even possibly have the surgery. I am so upset. The doctors office said they will still try to submit my information for approval and they will appeal when I am denied, but there is no telling if I will have the surgery now. I just can't believe this.
3/12/03 - no news is good news, I guess. Yesterday I talked to the woman at Aetna who said my request was still pending. That means I haven't been denied yet!
3/19/03 - until now, I have done a really good job of keeping myself calm, knowing that I could be denied. This morning I went onto Aetna's web site to see if this information could be obtained online. It couldn't, but what I did find was that over the past few years, I and my weight have cost Aetna around $15,000. Then I called to find out what the status is, and the man said that my pre-certification for the surgery had been approved. Maybe they approved me so I wouldn't cost them so much, or maybe because the surgeon is going to fix my major abdominal hernias at the same time - two birds with one stone. Anyway, the date is for March 27th, but the surgeon already told me that the date they submit the claim for is not the date I will actually have the surgery. So, I put in a call to the surgeon's office and am waiting for their call back for a real date and further instructions. Yeah, yeah yeah - I am so excited!!!!! They called back and said they need to wait for the actual approval letter to arrive from Aetna and then they will schedule me, but it looks like the first week in May!!!!
4/8/03 - It suddenly came to my attention that I hadn't updated in a while. Well, it turns out that the guy at Aetna that I spoke to misinterpreted something he saw and told me I was approved. He was wrong, it was still pending.....but I did get a denial letter last week *sigh*. Now we begin the appeals process. One of the things that I am hoping the ins. co will understand is that no matter what, I cannot fulfill their criteria for surgery, because I cannot exercise. Also, I need hernia surgery which I do not think they can deny me for and Dr. Roe says he'll do both at the same time. Well, I'll get back here again if anything changes.
10/9/03 - Celebrated my 36th birthday this week. I had thought that by now I would be 100lbs lighter, but of course, I have not even had my surgery yet. I got really REALLY depressed after my denial and let the ball drop. But now I am back on it and 2 1/2 months into my 6 month diet requirement. My physician is really great about the whole thing and is happy if I lose anything. I weighed in on July 28th at 354lbs and now I weighed in today at 349 - its not much but at least I can use the dr. office scale!! I don't mind emails of encouragement, I really need all the friends I can get right now. I will check back in if/when something significant happens.
2/11/04 - I finished my sixth month Dr. Supervised diet and am scheduled to see my pcp tomorrow (Thursday). I see Dr.Roe on Tuesday and then I get to play the waiting game again. The good news is that I have lost about 25lbs - I am now down to 330. So, I guess I will update again as soon as I hear. I had thought about getting rid of a lot of this mess, but felt that someone else might appreciate knowing that sometimes this road is not smooth and there are others who had to jump over some hurtles before getting to the surgery.
2/25/04 - its official. I got the bad news today. I am going to have to spend a lot of money. On new clothes!!!! Heheheheh. Actually, today I got the phone call I have been waiting for for a year!!!! I found out from the Dr.s office that I am approved. My surgery is scheduled for March 24th - that is only four weeks from now. Wow.......
3/10/04 - Two weeks from today I will be on the losing side. I am very excited. I am also very excited that I have a wonderful angel, Diana Norieka. I am also thrilled to be getting notes of excouragement from people on this website. Friday I have my pre-ops, next week I see the nutritionist and the surgeon
again.....its almost there.
3/16/04 - Thanks, carla for doing an amazing job with my profile. Well, one week and a wake-up to go. I am both excited and scared at the same time. I went to the nutritionist last night and got my list of "do's" and "don'ts" for after surgery. Friday I see Dr. Roe and then Wednesday is surgery. For those of you praying for me, surgery is scheduled to begin at 7:30am. Last night I went to the mall and tried on a pair of jeans. I only wear skirts and dresses which are more difficult to tell what size you really are. I remembered reading all these profiles where the people say, "now I fit into a size xx jeans!" and I thought, well I can't do that. So my husband suggested I go into a store and try them on so at least I will know. So, now I know - the largest jeans in the store were a 28. I got them on, but I couldn't button them....so I guess that means I wear a size 30 jeans. At least now I know. And I can have fun trying on different sizes as I begin to shrink. See you all on the losing side!!
3/29/04 - Well, I am 5 days post op now. It is still too early to tell if I am having any complications. I am currently waiting for the surgeon to call me back because I have distention in my upper abdomen, and I don't know if this is normal. If it is, thats fine, but I am a little concerned. When the Doc went in during surgery, he discovered that my hernia was HUGE. He also discovered that some of my intestines which were supposed to be on the left side of my abdomen was on the right side and was wrapped around my appendix which had been stretched to a foot long. So, in addition to gastric bypass surgery, I had an appendectomy and my entire insides had to be re-arranged. In addition, there had been a "loss of domain" which means that I had had the hernia for so long that my intestines did not want to go back inside my abdominal cavity, so he had to add a mesh to close everything up. For the most part, I am feeling ok. I have some moderate pain but am not taking the meds as I don't want to throw up or be incoherent. The pain is certainly manageable, but I am concerned about the swelling in my abdomen. Well, I'll update when I know more.
6/6/04 - I know it has been a long time since I have updated, but until now I didn't really have the strength to do it. It has been a little over 10 weeks since my surgery.
One month after my surgery, on 4/20/04, I realized that I was running a very high fever (102.5) and I was having trouble eating anything. I was dizzy and felt "flu-like", so I went in to see my surgeon. He was concerned about the fever, the way my abdomen looked, and also that I was dehydrated. So, he sent me to the emergency room. He said that this was the quickest way for them to start an IV, etc, while I waited for a room, because he was going to admit me and get me on antibiotics, etc.
Five hours after I arrived, they finally got me into the e.r. About my e.r. experience, where do I begin??? It was a nightmare. First, they discovered that not only was I dehydrated, but my potassium level was way off. So, they came in with this potassium powder that they wanted me to drink. Normally, this is dissolved in orange juice. I explained that because of my surgery I could not drink full-strength orange juice, so they mixed the powder in water. It was so salty and bitter, that I could not drink it (remember, I had been so sick since surgery that I was not really consuming much of anything, this made me gag). Next they tried to get me to swallow the potassium in pill form. Each of the two pills was the size of my thumb and began to dissolve on contact with my tongue. It was just as bitter as the powder and I gagged on that too. So finally they decided to order the potassium added to my IV fluids. (why didn't they just do that in the first place, instead of torturing me????)
Next, they decided that I needed a CT scan so they could see what was going on in my abdomen. So, one of the nurses walks in with a quart of barium liquid and says, "here, drink this for your CT scan". I said that there was no way on earth I could drink that amount of a thick liquid, and the nurse informed me that actually, I had to drink two of them. "yeah, right" I thought. They called down to the lab and were told I could have four hours to drink it instead of the normal two. I was like, "I can't drink that much water in four hours, I am not going to be able to do this". But, I tried. After about 5 sips, I began to get really really nauseous. So they gave me some nausea medicine. It helped a little but I wasn't going to drink any more, and then I fell asleep. Around 4:00am they woke me up to take me for my CT scan. I asked about the fact that I had not drank the barium, and they said they would do it anyway. I got into the room and the woman said she would just inject a dye into my IV that would allow her to get the scan. Again, I wonder, "why did they opt for the most torturous way??? Why did they make me drink this stuff when the IV dye was quick and painless??" I felt like I was in a horror movie.
The end result was that I had a whopping abdominal wall infection. So, after 30 hours I was brought upstairs. I spent 30 hours in the E.R. and 7 days in the hospital. But, since I had had trouble waking up from anesthesia and was still not in very good physical condition, the Doc really didn't want to put me under anesthesia again in order to open my abdomen to get rid of the huge amount of fluid that was in there. So, he sent me home and explained that my incision would probably open on its own, and that when it did, a lot of fluid would come pouring out. Four days later, that is exactly what happened. Over the course of the next couple of weeks, I continued to leak fluid but slowly began to feel better. I began to eat again, etc.
As of 7 weeks, I had lost about 50 lbs. But, since I was really sick and only began to eat real food at this point, my weight has been the same for the last 3 weeks. Everyone is trying to tell me its muscle replacement and to just be patient, but I am so frustrated. I was doing so well for the first two months. I keep wondering if this is all I am going to lose, and it scares me.
As far as foods I can eat......well at this point I can eat pretty much anything as long as it does not have sugar or too much fat. Chicken tends to sit in my chest. But I can eat beef with no problem as long as I remember to chew it real well. I experimented with some things I was not supposed to and really regretted it: Rice and diet soda..... each of those items bloats my little tummy to the point of making me want to find the bathroom and make myself throw up. Also, broccoli needs to be WELL cooked. But I have been one of the fortunate ones as far as food goes.... nothing I have tried has made me throw up. But now I am battling with portion size. Sometimes I can eat a lot of food, what looks like a lot more than I should be able to eat. Sometimes it makes me feel like I want to go make myself throw up to relieve the pain and sometimes it doesn't. Plus, now that I am starting to feel really good, I want to eat more than I can. Sometimes my stomach says, "stop" but my head says,"more".
My official weight pre-op: 337.5
As of 5/24 (2 months): 287
WLS loss total: 50.5 lbs
Starting size: 32
As of 5/24 (2 months): almost a 24 (some brands 24 fits)
Well, I guess that's about all for now. I will update after my next weigh in which is in about a week.
6/29/04 Went to see the doc today. Weighed in at 277 which is a total loss of 60 lbs in 3 months. I only lost 10 lbs this month, which has me very concerned, most people are still losing faster in the third month. And even though 60 lbs is good for 3 months, I lost 50 of it in the first two months. Doctor says I am ahead of the curve. He also said that I have lost a lot of fat and gained some lean muscle mass, which is a very good thing. I feel good, anyway.
I started exercising each morning and I hope that will help me take off the pounds a little faster. I swam an 1/8th of a mile in the pool yesterday morning, first time I ever swam laps. This morning I went to the fitness center and did 5 minutes on the cross trainer and 20 minutes just plain treadmill walking. I have to start slow - I haven't exercised in years. This time last year I was using and electric wheelchair to go anywhere. What a difference this surgery makes!!!
8/17/04 - I am trying so hard to remember to update my journal, I want to be an encouragement to others. I am now four and a half months out. My weight this morning was 250lbs - that's 87lbs lost since surgery and 104 since last summer. I have reached my short term goal to be 250 before the end of August. Next goal is to be 235 by my birthday, which is October 6th. That is what I weighed when I got married and and the lightest I have been as an adult. This week I was amazed twice. The first time was when I held up an 18/20 shirt and couldn't tell if it would fit. I tried it on and it did! I don't remember the last time I wore an 18! I also purchased a pair of "XL" leggings. They are a little snugger than they are supposed to be, but I can't believe it - no "W" after the size!!!!
The second surprise came when I went to sit in the restaurant area at Target. The chair was attached to the table and I looked at it and thought there is no way I am gonna fit in this chair. Not only did I fit, there was a lot of room to spare.
I keep wondering when I am going to wake up from this amazing dream and discover that I am still 354lbs. I cry when I think about all the amazing changes that are happening to me.
Size now: 18/20
Starting weight: 337 (354 from 6 mo diet)
Weight now: 250
Still swimming and walking (swimming over 1/2 mile now). I am discovering that I do indeed have a jawline and ribs! Amazing! Flew on an airplane without an extender or dirty looks from the other people in my row. Looking forward to riding a roller coaster!
If anyone would like to talk, please feel free to e-mail me. If you are in Maryland or just over the boarder and need an angel, feel free to email me too!
March 24, 2005 - My one year anniversary. I am so sorry I did not update my journal all along. I know how helpful it is for others, and myself - getting to look back at everything. Anyway, life has been so amazing that I haven't had time to stop and do this. That right there is the most incredible statement - I have been busy, really busy and active, really active.
In October, I finally went to the amusement park with my family. And I did ride a roller coaster. You know what I discovered? I still hate roller coasters! It was awful BUT I rode it!!!! I got on and buckled up and I fit. I did it because I COULD, and now I never have to do it again!!!
Anyway, I am still keeping up with my exercise - I swim for an hour twice a week and I walk 7 miles on Sundays, as long as the weather permits. I discovered I can eat sugar, which is not a good thing because now I have to fight temptation and cravings, but I am mastering it - one day at a time. I have tried to remind myself that even if I really mess up one day, tomorrow is another opportunity to try again.
I find it so amazing that people I used to have regular interaction with who haven't seen me in a few months, don't recognize me. When I used to read about people who had wls and had this experience I didn't honestly believe it. But it is true, I have had it happen twice this month alone.
For the first time in my life, I am normal. I shop in normal clothing stores, wear normal clothes, do normal things. I park at the far end of the parking lot instead of circling for half an hour trying to find a closer spot. I don't automatically think people are laughing at me if I hear laughter. I go camping and skating and play with my kids. I fit in the booths at restaurants. I could go on and on. Life is great and I thank God and my Surgeon, Dr. Roe for giving me this second chance at life.
I am updating my pictures. This is me at 1 year. I have lost 162 lbs since surgery, 179 from my highest before 6 month diet. I began at a size 5x (32/34) and now wear Medium most of the time (12). I am so happy I did this.
When I had my original surgery, the doctor had to repair a very large hernia I had. So, now the mesh he put in to do the repair is too big, and bulges, and makes me look pudgy under my ribs. So, hopefully, In July I will be having the mesh made smaller and a tummy tuck at the same time. Meanwhile, at 175 lbs, I have about 15 pounds to go to my before skin removal goal. Please feel free to email me if you want to talk.
~~Visit my surgeons website~~
Profile created by Carla on 03/13/04
As part of the ObesityHelp.com HTMLteam.
For help or a creation of your profile
please contact someone from the HTML team(firstname.lastname@example.org)
At my heaviest, in pain and
1 year out and 15lbs to go, I
am feeling like a new person!
Surgeon: William J. Roe, Jr., MD
My first impression of Dr. Roe was that he was a little unconventional, his powerpoint presentation was well done and informative. He is quite confident in his abilities as a surgeon. That scared my friend who came with me to the presentation. The only office staff I met was Dawn, and she was very nice. Overall, I think he is a nice Doctor who is confident in his abilities and seems truly interested in prolonging the quantity and quality of people's lives.
Now that I have had the surgery I would like to say that I am so glad Dr. Roe did my surgery. In fact, I believe he saved my life. Dr. Roe is a dedicated, caring person. He follows up with his patients, coming in once a month for the first year after surgery. Even though I had complications after my surgery, I am still very happy with my choice and would do it again in a heartbeat. My complications were not due to Dr. Roe, and I believe that he is a superb surgeon.
Aetna, US Healthcare
The surgeon's office staff did all the paperwork. They had warned me that although Aetna had been really good about approving this surgury, recently they changed their criteria to require 6 months physician supervised diet in the last two years. Apparently they had denied several people recently. After two weeks and no word, I called Aetna to check on the situation. They were courteous and helpful and told me that the status was "pending". The following week I called again. Again, the customer service person was pleasant and courteous and told me I had been approved. (even though I technically did not meet the new criteria) I later came to find out that the CS person was mistaken and I was not approved. Altough everyone has been courteous, that was a really tough blow, and I am very upset with Aetna.