My name is Jennifer & I live in Baytown Tx. I am 29 years old. I have been overweight for as long as I can remember. One distiinct memory is in 5th grade p.e. class, stepping on the scale & weighing 150lbs and its just gone up since then. When I weighed between 200-250lbs, my weight wasn't that big of an issue. I was still very active in sports - played on my school's volleyball team and was able to run over a mile daily. Then after I graduated, my activity level decreased drastically and now I'm at a weight I told myself I'd never see. I was the one to see very overweight people & say, "I'll NEVER let myself get that heavy". Well never say never because you know what- here I am, the weight I swore I'd never be. I have now decided to have the weightloss surgery because it has started greatly affecting my health. I'm having problems that someone my age shouldn't have. My major health problem is that I have lymphedema in both lower legs. I still get around pretty well for the most part, which surprises all my doctors because usually people my size w/the severity of the lymphedema I have have very limited or no mobility. I continue to work full time & I have a wonderful husband who is my support system and supports me in everything I do. That's why I want to do everything I can to make sure I don't die @ a young age from obesity. That's my biggest fear and it wouldn't be fair to him or my family for me to die from something that I could take control of. So now I've made up my mind & my mission for 2006 is to have this surgery done & to start living my life and in a few years start a family. I have decided to start documenting my whole journey so I'lll have something to look back on & maybe people my same situation will be able to gain some knowledge from it.
Surgeon: Terry Scarborough, M.D.
1/24/06 Had appt w/surgeon Dr. Terry Scarborough. I really liked this doctor. He was very thorough in covering all aspects of the surgery and he answered my questions. The appt. took about an hour which I thought was great, especially since some doctors come in & talk to you for about 10 minutes & then they're done. Found out what tests I need to have done. I am so excited about getting the surgery process started.
1/26/06 Have appt's coming up with the dietician & the psychologists. As soon as I get those results submitted to my Dr. they will submit them to the insurance co. to start the approval process. - Keeping my fingers crossed!-
2/4/06 Well today I killed 2 birds with one stone. I met with the pscyhologist, Mary Jo this weekend and she was fabulous. She really made me feel comfortable and I wasn't the least bit nervous talking to her. The consultation lasted for about an hour and then she approved me for the surgery and told me she thought I would do very well. Then I met with the dietician, Christina, who was also fabulous. I really learned alot & it really sank in about how big of a change its going to be after surgery. After meeting with her for about an hour & a half she also approved me for the surgery and told me I should do really well. We set short term goals for now. I have to start walking daily and over the next 3 weeks I have to completely wean myself off sodas. So far its not too bad. This week I can have 2 sodas a day, next week 1 per day and then by week 3- NO MORE SODAS! Dr Pepper sales will be dropping this month :). Since both these are now done, these were the first 2 things I had to have done for Dr. Scarborough's office to submit to United Healthcare so now the waiting process begins. Hopefully it won't be long!
2/7/06 Well today I went for the gallbladder ultrasound. Nothing major but they did say my liver was enlarged so not sure how that will play into the surgery. I have an appt next Monday with the pulmonologist for clearance and then next wednesday I am scheduled for an upper GI (I think). On a lighter note, I've been going to the lymphedema therapists for the last 2.5 weeks & have lost 24lbs. I only need to lose about 30 more before my surgery.
2/17/06 Called United Healthcare- said they received my documents & they were still under review. Decided to check back in a week.
2/27/06 My 29th birthday- woohoo! Also got some great news today. I called United Healthcare to check status and guess what? I GOT APPROVED! It only took them a little over a week to approve my surgery. Need to call Dr.Scarborough's office back in the morning to find out next step. Still need to have upper endoscopy done & pulmonary function test. Hope to have surgery done beginning of April. Would love to do sooner but need to finish last 2 tests and make arrangements with my boss about when I'm off work. I am so excited- hearing that news just made my b-day even better!
3/3/06 More good news! Connie w/Dr. Scarborough's office called me today to let me know that I was approved (even though I already knew) and scheduled a surgery date for 4/19. I'm still working on losing the 50lbs he wants me to lose before surgery. I'm doing Adkins Diet til April 11th when I go back to Dr. Scarborough to weigh in & go over all my test results.
3/7/06 Well today I had an appointment with the pulmonologist Dr. Lechin. I had to have a chest xray done & they also stuck a tube w/a light on it up my nose & down my throat. He thinks I may have sleep apnea so I have to do a study before the surgery. He also wants me to have a nuclear stress test. AAAGGGH more testing! I'm kinda bummed but I'm also glad they're being so thorough because like he said, its better to find out you have these problems before you get in surgery & they find out. Besides since he Dr. told me I'm at a greater risk for a pulmonary embolism, I'm really more inclined to do everything the Dr. recommends before surgery. I have my upper endoscopy scheduled for 3/27 and now I'm waiting to schedule the stress test.
3/22/06 Well Dr. Lechin's office finally called me back to let me know that they weren't able to schedule the actual stress test due to my weight. They couldn't find anywhere that could support my weight - the limit everywhere was 450lbs. That really was another wake up call by the way. Anyway, they found a Dr.Nathan at Memorial Southeast that is going to a combination Echocardiogram/stress test and its scheduled for April 5th. I was really wondering what the deal was since its been 2 wks since my appt w/Dr. Lechin. That's my last test and then I have to follow up w/Dr. Lechin to go over all the results and then I meet w/Dr.Scarborough on 4/11 to weigh in & do pre op. I'm starting to worry because they wanted me to lose like 50lbs and its not happening. I was doing Atkins for 2 wks strong & could tell I had dropped some weight but then I cheated & ate pizza Sunday and just haven't been able to get back on track. Only 2.5 weeks till weigh in so I better get my butt back on track.
Well I've noticed on a lot member sites that people have their "To Do" Lists of what they wanna be able to do after surgery. I have an extensive list that I've had in my head and keep adding stuff to everytime something happens. Here's my list of to do's:
1. Be able to walk/stand comfortably for more than 10 minutes.- DONE
2. Be able to fasten seatbelt in car - DONE
3. Be able to shop @ regular stores instead of having to go to
Catherines, Lane Bryant online, or Roamans. -ALMOST
4. Sit @ a booth at a restaurant and not have my stomach sticking out over the table or sucking in til I'm blue in the face just to squeeze in it. -STILL TOO SCARED TO TRY
5. Be able to go to a restaurant and not have everyone stare- especially a buffet- trust me... I can't eat all their food- its not possible!- HAPPENING LESS OFTEN
6. Be more self confident and be want to go do things on wknds
ex. restaurants, parties, movies, etc.- DONE
7. Not always eyeing a chair w/arms wondering if my big butt will fit in it or not. - SOMETIMES
8. Not always double checking legs on a chair to make sure they won't collapse like the scene in "Shallow Hal" - thats a big fear I have- SOMETIMES
9. Exercise @ a gym & not worry about what others think- GETTING THERE
10. Not have to keep my legs wrapped/or in stockings 24/7 to manage my lymphedema -(this should really be higher on my list)- DONE
11. Not be the heaviest one in the family -CLOSE
12. Start a family - VERY SOON
13. Finish college- IN PROGRESS
14. Find a career I love - IS IT POSSIBLE?
15. Be able to use a standard scale instead of one of the high dollar, 1000lbs cattle scale they have in my drs offices :)- SO CLOSE
16. Enjoy life and not have my weight holding me back - GETTING BETTER EVERYDAY
3/24/06 Well tonight I had to do the sleep study to see if I have sleep apnea. I had a long day @ work & was tired when I got home so I figured that getting to sleep tonight would be no big deal....WRONG! I went & checked in @ the hospital and was taken to the sleep lab. They then hooked me up to a million different wires. It took about an hour just to get them all hooked up & get the little electrodes glued to my head. The only thought I had is that if a lightning storm comes thru - I'm Screwed!!! Well I laid down around 10pm but couldn't get comfortable because apparently the hospital doesnt believe in flipping the mattress because there was a huge sink hole where apparently everyone has been laying. Then I had this film like piece under my nose that kept making it itch everytime I moved my head. I was told that I slept for about an hour but I didn't believe it. Then I was awake til 3pm and couldn't go to sleep to save my life. I was getting frustrated & asked the tech what I should do. She said I could go home but if they didn't have enough data I may have to do the study again, which I wasn't going to do. She said I should just stay for another 2 hours because they were still monitoring everything & I kept dozing off for a few minutes at a time even though I didn't know it. So I agreed to stay for another 2 hours. I turned the TV & light back on & started watching Law & Order. Before I knew it I was asleep & slept til she woke me up. I still woke up feeling like I hadn't slept a bit. She told me that I do have sleep apnea but its not too bad but I'd probably have to get a CPAP machine. I'm not crazy about having to wear a stuipd mask to sleep every night. I've made it this far w/out needing it so I think I can go without it. My doctor will probably have a different point of view on that though. Anyway, well tomorrow is my upper endoscopy which I am also dreading but I researched the procedure on line & it doesn't look too extremely terrible. I'm jusr ready to get finished w/all this stupid testing. I hate going to the doctors & hospitals! Well I'm also struggling w/the pre-op weight loss the dr. wanted. This week I'm going to start drinking the Atkins shakes for 2 meals & then eating a high protein dinner. Hopefully I can drop about 20lbs and when I start wrapping my legs again w/compression bandages I can usually lose about 10-15.
3/27/06 Today was my upper endscopy that I have been so dreading. Seems I got myself all worked up for nothing because it wasn't bad at all. We got to St. Luke's hospital around 730am this morning & went to the main admitting office and then they sent us upstairs to day surgery since the test was being done in the OR due to my weight. We checked in, I met w/the financial lady (she said they'd bill me -woohoo) then went and got changed into my gown & slippers. They started the IV and checked my blood pressure and then around 9am they took me to a holding room near the OR. I then met w/the anesthesiologist & he told me what they'd be doing & a few minutes later some ladies came & wheeled me down to the OR. The only thing I remember is turning on my left side, the anesthesiologist saying what she was putting in my IV and then I passed out. That's all I remember until they were waking me up telling me it was over. They took me back to PACU for about 30 minutes til I fully came out of the anesthesia. By this time I really had to pee but of course they won't let you up yet & the idea of a bedpan was a complete joke. The nurse there @ PACU was awesome! Everyone was so nice there & at the day surgery. They took me back to day surgery for about 30 minutes, then they took out the IV, took my blood pressure, gave me some apple juice & let me get dressed. Then they sent me on my way. I was so nervous about todays test but so far its been the easiest one. Anesthesia is great! The less I know whats going on the better off I am! Now the only test left hopefully is the stress test/ekg on April 5th. But depending on how my bloodwork came out, I may have to do another test to determine if I do have any blood clots in my legs. I am on my way! I stopped by the store today & bought some low carb protein shakes to try because I've really gotta drop some more weight before my weigh in on April 11th. They wanted me to lose @ least 50lbs but if it was that easy to lose that much weight, I probably wouldn't be needing the surgery in the first place! So I want to lose about 25lbs before surgery so I don't get fussed at.
04/05/06 Ok you have got to be kidding me! I was scheduled for my stress test/ekg today @ 1pm. I got a call @ 9:30am this morning from the hospital saying that its been cancelled. Then right after that, the pulmonologist's office (the one that scheduled this test w/the cardiologist) called to tell me it had been cancelled and to apologize. Apparently the doctor didn't feel comfortable doing the test on someone my size. They assured me they would find somewhere else for me to have the test done but I wasn't about to wait on them since it took them 2 weeks for them to set up this one. I called my surgeon's office freaking out. Connie was truly wonderful. She gave me the name & # of 2 cardiologists they deal with that work out of Hermann. They refer alot of patients to them so they are able to make accomodations for people of a larger size. I called and made an appt w/Dr. Schroth but I knew there was still no way to get the stress test done & get the results back before my preop appt on the 12th so I decided to push my surgery back. I was really upset about having to do this but I really felt that for my own sanity, I needed more time to finish up the doctors appts w/out feeling rushed. I rescheduled my surgery to May 22nd so I would have plenty of time.
4/26/06 Well today I had my appt w/the cardiologist Dr Schroth. He was very nice! We went over why I was having the surgery and he thought I would be a good candidate and would do really well and thought it was great that I didn't have more health problems than I did. They did an ekg in his office and he also decided that I may not need to have a stress test. He wanted to start with an echocardiogram and if they were able to see enough from that, I wouldn't need a stress test. WOOHOO- I was happy. He told me that they would schedule me to have the echo and as soon as I walked out of the room, his assistant told me that she had called the echo tech and he would be there in about 45 minutes. Apparently they have everything set up in their office to do the test right there! Score! I didn't have to go to the hospital for it or anything! So I waited about 45 minutes and then the tech came & did the test that took about 30 minutes. They told me I should know the results in a few days and we'd go from there.
5/1/06 So I have called Dr Schroth's office several times for the results of my echo and the dr hasn't read them yet. I'm starting to get really agitated because I need to know ASAP because if I need to do a stress test I need to get it scheduled asap. I'm going to stay on them and call them everyday til I find out. I also called and scheduled my second sleep study. This is the one where I will have to sleep w/the CPAP machine which I am definitely not looking forward to. I am very claustrophobic and the idea of sleeping w/something over my face stresses me out.
5/3/06 Today I called Dr Schroth's office and left a message that wasn't very nice to let them know that I need an answer! About 2 hours after that, the dr's assistant called me back & told me that everything looked good w/the echo and that I didn't need the stress test. Hallelujah! That's what I wanted to hear! After work today I went home and relaxed for a few hours and then I went to the sleep center for my sleep study. Before I went in, I took something to calm my nerves so hopefully I would be able to get some rest since I had to get up and go to work the next morning. I got there and the same cool nurse was working that was working the last time I went in for the study. We gossiped last time for an hour! Well this time it was me and one other patient @ the sleep lab. I got there around 8 and went in and shortly after that they started hooking up all the wires again. By the time she got thru glueing wires to my head, it was almost 10 and I was getting sleepy. I put the mask on for the CPAP machine and surprisingly enough, I didn't start freaking out. She wanted me try it first because she said they have alot of patients that put that on and freak out and aren't able to stay for the study. I told her I had no choice because the dr wouldn't give me clearance til I completed this 2nd study so if I started freaking out, for her to just close the door and ignore me :) A few minutes after watching TV I dozed off. I usually wake up 4-5 times a night, but I only woke up once @ 2am and then was able to go right back to sleep til 530am when they woke me up. I went home, took a shower and then went to work.
5/15/06 Well today I had the followup w/Dr. Lechin (pulmonologist). We went over the results from the sleep study and he said I do have sleep apnea. I stopped breathing 34 times in an hour so he wants me to get a CPAP machine and be on it before surgery. I reminded him when my surgery was so he had his asst. get on the phone to get me a machine ASAP. That afternoon, someone from the medical supply place called me to say the machine would be in tomorrow a.m. and they'd dlvr it then.
Tomorrow @ 9am I have an appt w/Dr Scarborough for my preop visit. I am terrified - my stomach has been in knots for the past few weeks because I am so afraid I haven't lost the 50lbs he wanted me to lose. I'm afraid he won't do the surgery because I feel like I have gained weight, not lost it. I am a nervous wreck!
5/16/06 Well today was stressful. I woke up still stressing about my appt w/Dr Scarborough and finding out if the surgery was still a go. I arrived at 845 and the nurse called me but she asked me if I finished all my testing because the only reports they had were from the psychologist and the dietician. I started to panic. I told her who did my liver ultrasound, EGD, and ekg/echo. The pulmonologist gave me a letter stating I was cleared for surgery so I gave her that. She made some phone calls and they called me back in about 30 minutes and they had gotten all the faxes. Thank goodness! I got on the scale after saying a quick prayer and looked down. 483lbs!!! I never thought I'd be happy to see 483lbs but it meant that I had lost 31lbs since my appt @ the end of January. I was hoping that would be sufficient but I still wasn't sure. Well one of the residents came in & talked to me before Dr Scarborough and commented on the weight loss - good job. I had to take a simple written test, just about the surgery and the risks just to make sure I had a good understanding. I did that and then Dr.Clapp (one of the residents or fellows) came back and went over the answers w/me. A few minutes later Dr Scarborough came in and looked over everything. He also commented on my weight loss and asked me how I did it. I told him it was the Adepex and low carb dieting. We went over the surgery again and he said he would see me on Monday a.m. and then called Connie in to go over the dieting requirements after surgery and stuff. After that I had to go to Hermann hospital to do my preop anesthesia testing and stuff. I had the orders from Dr Scarborough's office and with them was the letter they submitted to the insurance company. I never thought of myself as "supermorbidly obese" but I guess I that's what I'm considered. As if obese, or morbidly obese aren't bad enough but now I'm considered SUPERMORBIDLY OBESE. Those words just sound horrible don't they? That was a wake up call. The letter also stated that I was at a high risk for the surgery but an even greater risk if I didn't do it. I know I am dangerously overweight but just reading it on paper listening to someone describe you as that, was really a wakeup call for me. I went over to the hospital and they took a urine sample, did some bloodwork. I didn't have to have an ekg since I had one done w/Dr Schroth and since he worked w/them, all they had to do was call his office and get everything faxed to them.
5/20/06 Well my nerves were really working today. I'm getting nervous! This evening we went to my cousin's high school graduation and when we got home and were cooking dinner, my husband just outta the blue says "you know if something happens to you, I don't know what I'll do but I don't think I'll make it". Those words stop me dead in my tracks. We had this talk right after I went to see the surgeon and started all the preop testing. I just broke down crying. I 've been crying over nothing these last couple days but I know its just the stress of the upcoming surgery. I am truly praying that everything goes ok because my soul will never be at rest because I will forever feel guilty about having the surgery and cheating us both out of our life together. When I told him that he just lost it. I have never seen him cry like that in my life because he's the tough one. We kept talking about the surgery and came to an agreement that I am going to be fine and we will have many more healthier years ahead of us because of this.
5/22/06 *****MY BIG DAY*****
Well its finally here! The day i thought would never come. Hopefully this is the first day of the rest of my life. We were originally supposed to be @ the hospital at 530am and have surgery at 730am but they called me friday right before i left work to tell me that they had moved me back to surgery at 1030am so i didn't have to be there until 830am which sounded better to me since i am not a morning person and getting up at 4am to be there by 530am did not sound very promising! Anyway, me, my husband, my mom, grandmother and cousin all made our way to the hospital. I went and checked in and it wasnt long before they called me back to the preop area where they started an IV and the waiting process started. The bariatric coordinator came by and talked to us for a while and it was around 1030 so she called to find out how long it would be before they took me back. The surgery before me was taking longer than expected so it was going to be a while longer. The waiting is the hardest part because it really tests your nerves. Then around 1230 or 1pm they took me to the surgery holding area. I was there for maybe about 1-1.5 hours then they took me into surgery. I remember getting into the OR, Seeing my surgeon, then they inflated the mattress under me and shifted me over to the main operating table. Then I heard them say they were giving me the cocktail and after that it was all a blur. I vaguely remember arriving back in my room w/my family around me telling me they were leaving. I was sooo out of it! I finally woke up around 1030pm with my head spinning but I was anxious to get up and walk since they kept stressing how important it was, not to mention the fact that I'd been laying on my back for about 12 hours. I called my husband, my mom and my grandma. They told me that they took me into surgery around 230pm and I didn't get back to the room until around 7:45pm. The dr came out and told them that everything went fine and that there were no problems. I called the nurse and they were surprised how easily I was able to get up and walk. I walked a little ways down the hallway then came back in my room and sat down for a while. My stomach was killing me! It felt like someone kicked me in the stomach and ribs and it really hurt to take a deep breath. I went back to the bed, got some more pain meds, and then passed out.
5/23/06 Woke up this morning still feeling like someone kicked me and still having trouble taking a deep breath. Doctors came by and told me that was normal. Mid morning they came and got me and took me for the swallow test. I drank that nasty stuff and they zapped the xrays. It took all of about 30 minutes and then they took me back to my room. Around noon or so, the Dr. came by and said that there were no leaks and that the catheter could be removed and I could start my liquid diet. They brought me beef broth, jello, crystal light, coffee and tea. Yuck Yuck Yuck- I didn't feel like eating or drinking anything except water. My lips were so dry and cracked they had white stuff all over them. I was parched! My husband came to see me for a little while before he had to go to work and then my mom came by and stayed from around 3pm til about 830pm. My boss also came by to see me when my mom was there and stayed for a few hours. The doctors came by and said I was doing good and could go home tomorrow if I was still feeling and doing well. The pain meds kept knocking me out and I kept nodding off alot.
5/24/06 Well today I was having trouble drinking the liquids. After one sip I would get sooo nauseous. I never threw up but it sure felt like I was gonna. It also still reeeeallyyyy hurt to take a deep breath so the dr wanted to keep me for another day to keep an eye on me. They kept giving me phenergren and it would knock me out for several hours at a time. I still was having trouble getting enough liquids. The soup was horrible - tasted like it was made with soapy water so I was living on nasty tasting jello and crystal light. I had all my little 1oz cups lined up like I was taking shots at the bar ;)
5/25/06 Well I woke up today feeling much better. It still hurt to take deep breaths but I figured it would for a while. I was able to drink w/out any nausea. The residents came by in the morning to check on me and they said by afternoon I may be able to go home. Dr Scarborough came by around 2pm to check on me and said I could go home! Woohoo cuz by this time i sure was ready!
I had promised myself that I was going to keep a journal daily and update this thing so to keep people informed but I 've been slacking. The daily journal thing only lasted the first few weeks. I am almost 3 mos post op (had sg 5/22/06) and I have lost a total of 86lbs since the surgery. That makes 119 since the end of January. I've been doing pretty good for the most part. I've been walking at least a mile everyday and will be joining a gym soon since my confidence level has risen. I had a few rough weeks were nothing would stay down and they thought I had a stricture but either it opened back up on its own, or I was just having a rough week. I still have trouble eating any kind of meat...one day I can tolerate stuff and the next day it makes me so nauseous I have to stop eating. I'm starting to notice alot more sagging skin which kinda bums me out but I knew what to expect before surgery and thats just a small price to pay for how much my quality of life has improved since having the surgery. For anyone reading this who is still undecided, despite all the ups and downs, I would definitely recommend this surgery for someone extremely overweight. This was the only thing that has helped me regain control of my life. I have more energy now than I ever had before, and even on my bad days, I still feel pretty OK.
When I first met Dr. Scarborough he was very friendly and laid back. He didn't come in and immediately start lecturing me about being overweight. He asked some general questions and then asked why I wanted the surgery- (as if it wasn't obvious). He then went over the surgery, drew diagrams and explained all the risks & told me what to expect before and after surgery. He talked to me for about an hour which really impressed me because there's nothing I hate worse than a doctor who gives you about 10 minutes and that's it. He is very knowledgable and shows a genuine interest in your wellbeing. His bedside manner is awesome. Would highly recommend him to anyone considering this surgery. Mecole in his office has also been very helpful in answering the insurance questions.
UNITED HEALTHCARE, CHOICE PLUS
United Healthcare has been awesome to deal with. My doctors office submitted paperwork on 2/13. Called on 2/17 - said they had received all documentation & it was being reviewed. Called again on 2/27 & found out I was approved and got letter in the mail same day saying I was approved for the surgery. I am very happy with this insurance- no hoops to jump through and everyone I talked to there was extremely helpful. I was worried because I didn't have the 6 mos. medically supervised dieting but apparently it wasn't an issue. I had heard this was one of the easier ones to get approval through & it was true. Would recommend this insurance 100%.