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I have researched this surgery for many years, but very seriously
lately.  Discovering this website helps because there are people who have
dealt with the surgery, the insurers, the doctors, and have an
understanding of the process that people who have never had weight issues
couldn't even begin to understand.

I am 44 years old and have been obese for my entire adult life.  I
started dieting before I even started grammar school.  I have lived on
Dexatrim, Slimfast, done Atkins, Optifast, Herbalife, Metabolife, OA,
Weight Watchers, every fad diet that comes along, healthy diets,
not-so-healthy diets, gone through anorexia and bulemia...spent most of my high
school years on the "baby food diet," a diet I just made up where I could
eat one jar of baby food per meal.  3 jars of baby food a day.  I lived
on that for a long time.  By living on baby food and then throwing up
if I ate anything else, I was able to maintain a "normal" weight.  I
started gaining weight in my early twenties when my respiratory system
went haywire.  I got a cat and didn't know I was allergic to cats.  I had
started a different job about the same time I got the cat, so assumed
there was something in my new job that I was allergic to.  My nose
swelled shut.  I couldn't breathe, so I was exhausted.  I would go to work,
come home and eat supper and go to bed, exhausted.  I gained weight
very rapidly.  I had "gotten over" the bulemia, which is a good thing, but
without throwing up all my food, I did nothing but gain weight. 
Naturally, I started dieting and would lose weight, only to regain it back
plus some.  Over and over again until I had dieted myself up past 300
lbs.  Every time anything new would come out, I was taking it, doing it,
working out, walking, jogging, dancing, swimming, etc., etc., etc.  I
spent hours every day obsessing about my weight.  No matter what I did, I
gained weight.  Of course, no one believed this.  All I heard was
insults, "helpful hints," and oh, let's not forget the "constructive
criticism."  My mother was the worst.  The one person in your life who is
supposed to love you unconditionally.  Well, not in this case.  Not at this
weight.  My mother is obsessed with weight.  Last year I made the
mistake of calling to check on her and she was watching the Miss America
Pageant.  She was going on and on about how FAT the contestants were and
why couldn't they find any PRETTY women to be in the pageant.  And I'm
so many times, by so many people since I became fat.  It's like nothing
else about me is worthwhile now that I am fat.  It's like I am suddenly
a "bad person."  Strangers give me dirty looks.  One time, I was
standing outside and some young guys drove by and stuck their heads out the
window and started BARKING.  Message obvious: She is a DOG.  Oh, I could
go on and on and on.  I remember being in a little clothing store in
the mall looking at earrings and a little salesgirl came up to me and a
friend of mine who was also heavy and said, "Ladies, we have nothing in
this store that will fit YOU."  EARRINGS?????  She thought we were too
fat for their EARRINGS????????  Being fat means being subjected to the
worst forms of humiliation.  Fat is the only accepted form of prejudice
left.  If someone calls a person a name about their nationality, skin
color, gender, etc., there are groups ready to rally around and shut
them up.  If someone calls a fat person a name, everyone applauds and adds
to it.

There is more to me than my weight.  I am a human being who deserves to
be treated fairly.  I am disabled and my weight affects everything I
do.  I am in pain 24/7.  I have so much trouble even getting out of
chairs.  Losing weight would help me in so many ways.  I need this surgery. 
I want it for my health....NOT because my family and so-called friends
think I should lose weight so they won't have to be subjected to the
horror of having to look at me.

I am a person, not a weight. 

One of my hobbies is quilting, although I'm not very good at it.  I
just joined a quilting guild a few months ago and have all the tools...a
quilting frame, tons of fabrics, instructions, etc., but I mainly sew
yoyos at the moment.  (Yoyos as in yoyo quilts, for those of you who
don't know what a yoyo quilt is.)

My other hobbies are anything to do with the Mexican Day of the Dead,
reading (mysteries mainly, like Carol Lea Benjamin and Earlene
Fowler's,) watching All My Children and the HGTV channel.  I enjoy any kind of
crafts and have done everything from cross stitch to painting to
ceramics to dollmaking. 

I'm single, no kids, no pets.  I lived in Florida for several years,
but lost everything when I got sick and had to move back to my hometown. 
I am hoping WLS will improve my health where I can have a life again.

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11/24/04  I sent off my initial package of paperwork to Dr. Stahl's
office today.  Wish me luck!  I feel better now that the ball is actually
rolling.  I hope to hear from them soon.  If not, I will be calling and
bugging them.  I know I am making the right decision to do this.  I am
too young to just give up on my life and that's what I have been doing. 
I am at a point with  my weight and my other medical problems
(fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, etc.) that it is almost
impossible to even go grocery shopping or to the rare pilgrimages to
Wal-Mart.  And flea markets, which I love, are out of the question because I
can't walk without a cane and not far even with that.  So I am hoping
WLS will help me to be able to function better.  I have been praying to
live long enough to see my nephew get married.  But I am too young to
be only asking for such a short time.  I'm not scared of dying, but I
have things to do before I go, so hopefully this surgery will give me
more time to do the things I want to do in my life.  But I can't continue
to live like this.  I would rather go ahead and die than be a prisoner
in my own body.

(I did live long enough to see my nephew get married.  It was
beautiful.  But now I want to live long enough to see his children!  Here's
hoping I will.)

11/30/04 Well, I have an appt. with Dr. Stahl on December 17th in 
Brookwood.  However, they said Aetna will require a 6 months supervised
diet with my physician.  I was afraid of that.  I had given them a list of
all my dieting attempts for the past few decades and thought that
should count for something, but apparently Aetna wants to use a delaying
tactic.  All this would do is jeopardize my health further because what
will YET ANOTHER DIET do?  If there were a solution, I would have found
it in the past.  This is the end of the line.  This surgery is my last
hope.  I honestly don't think I can bear another 6 months of needless
red tape.  To accomplish what?  Nothing.  Sure, I could go to a doctor
and he could say "gee, let's see, exercise, eat right and limit your
calories."  Like I don't know ALL THE TRICKS IN THE BOOK?  If a regular
diet would work, I could work it.  But I am here, after all these years of
failures with diets and they want me to do it one more time?  Absolute
stupidity.  If I were a young girl with only 25 lbs. to lose, I could
see them saying to try a diet.  Well, hello!  If I've been on 35,000
diets in my life, why should the 35,001st one be the one to do the trick? 
Makes no sense.  I HATE THIS!

Aetna is going to send me a criteria list for me to go over with my
doctor.  The lady I spoke with sounded like maybe the doctor would
override it with a list of my prior attempts, but I am not feeling very
hopeful at this point.  (Later: the surgeon's office said there is no way to
override the 6 months diet, no matter what co-morbidities.  Said that
Aetna and Cigna were the worst insurances to try to work with.)

Nothing in my life has ever been easy.  Everything has been
insurmountable.  I have tried and failed with everything I have ever tried to do
and I need help with this.  With all the WLSurgeries paid for by
insurance, why can't mine just go through?  Just once, why can't something go
my way??? 

I have been on this website reading about everyone's triumphs and I was
hopeful, thinking maybe, just once, something would go right for me and
I could conquer this.  But you know what?  If you don't have money, you
can't get a damned thing accomplished.  Since I have to depend on
Aetna, I'm screwed.  I don't mind doing without all the things other people
have.  I have never been one to be materialistic and wish I had riches,
and I have learned to deal with being alone and living like a pauper
and driving an ancient car.  I am trying to deal with my house being in
foreclosure because I got sick and lost everything, my house, my health,
my job, my friends, my independence, my lifestyle in Florida.  I lost
it all.  And I have dealt with that.  But right now, what I wouldn't
give to just be able to write somebody a damned check and be able to get
the medical care I need.  I really hate this.  And I feel like the worst
possible failure imagineable.  What more do I have to lose?  My life? 
I have no life.  That would be no great loss.  But this surgery.  I
wanted this.  Oh well.

I can't believe I'm here again.  I don't even want to think about the
damage another 6 months will do to my knees.  

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12/17/04  I had my consultation with Dr. Stahl today.  It went well, I think. 
I am definitely a candidate for surgery since my BMI is over 50.  The
hold-up, of course, is my insurance, which could care less about my
health.  They require the 6 months "delaying" diet which will accomplish
nothing, but give them 6 more months to keep their money because their
job is not to contribute to my health, but to their own pocketbooks.  But
that's okay.  All these people who need this surgery but are delayed by
their ridiculous 6 months requirement will only cost them more money in
the long run with added health problems.

I will now make an appt. for a sleep study since I can only sleep 1-2
hours at a stretch without waking up gasping for air.

My blood pressure was higher today than it's ever been.

I have a telephone consultation Monday with some Medifast people to
begin this 6 months of dieting.  Insurance will not, of course, pay for
this.  Another way Aetna is thumbing its nose at me.  You MUST do this,
but don't expect US to pay for it.  Of all the insurances I have had in
my life, Aetna is the WORST.  The absolute worst.  But since I made the
mistake of accepting this insurance, I have to jump through their
hoops.  I have to drive 2 hours to my psychologist, 2 hours to my general
practitioner and 3 hours for this, the sleep study, the nutritional
consultation and the Medifast.  Aetna says they don't require anyone to
drive over 30 miles to any doctor, but none of the doctors within 30 miles
will take me as a patient.  Explain that.  But again, since I don't
have the money to self-pay, I have to play by their rules.  And since it's
a game, they hold all the cards, so I have no choice but to do what
they ask.  And all I ask is that if I die before this six months is up, I
hope someone will sue the hell out of Aetna for not taking care of my
health.  But again, they hold the cards, they will have the better
lawyers and again, they simply do not care about the people who pay the
premiums thinking that Aetna will take care of them when the time comes.

Dr. Stahl thinks we can start filing for approval in 4 months and they
may approve it and then we will be ready when the six months is up...if
I'm still alive.  I'm sure Aetna is praying for my death.  I don't know
many people who would be willing to pay $30,000 to keep me alive,
friends OR family, so I shouldn't expect Aetna to care either, but it's just
very discouraging that everything I ever need in my life, I have to be
put off and put off and then when it comes right down to it, the rug is
pulled out from under me.  Just once in my life, I wish when I needed
something I could get it.  Just once.  But all it is is delays and then
the slap in the face and the message: you don't deserve this.  I feel
sure that Aetna will, after the 6 months is up, come up with something
else to try to stop my healing.

12/28/04  I started my 6 months diet yesterday after having an
appointment with my primary care physician, Dr. Randal Sparks in Decatur.  He
was very supportive and helpful.  I am documenting everything I can so
the insurance will have nothing to slow me down after the 6 months.  I'm
sure they will still try, but I cannot delay this surgery any more than
necessary.  My body is going to deteriorate even more by having to wait
this 6 months.  I certainly don't want to have to wait any more than
that.  I decided against Medifast due to the expense.  Dr. Sparks put me
on a 1400 calorie a day diet.  I cannot lose weight on that many
calories, but he says you can't get the nutrition in that you need on less
than that.  Since this diet is for the insurance's benefit, I don't guess
it matters, but I hate wasting 6 months with no progress when I know
that having the surgery NOW would definitely take off weight in 6 months. 
So I will do their 6 months diet for them.  I only hope at the end of
the 6 months that they hold up THEIR end of the bargain and do not add
more hoops to jump through. 

I also joined an Aquatic Center place that does rehab with people with
mobility problems.  So I am able to go swim which is nice.  I used to
swim when I lived in Florida and have missed that.  This place is
indoors, so while I don't have the Florida sunshine and warmth, at least I
can move without too much pain in the pool.  I am so limited in getting
around with my fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis, so I can't do the
"normal" walking, jogging, working out that most people can do.

I just hope this next 6 months will go by quickly and I can have the
surgery and get on with life.  I feel like my life has just been on hold
for decades.

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Nothing new
going on.  Just killing time doing the 6 months diet and waiting.  In
the meantime, I am getting more and more tired, more and more sick and
my joints and muscles are getting more and more sore.  I only hope the
damage that is being done while I wait, wait, wait isn't irreversible. 
I have waited so long already.  It is the ultimate insult to have to
wait, wait, wait another 6 months while the insurance company sits there
laughing at me.  There is so much that can happen in 6 months.  I know
the insurance company is hoping I will just drop dead and they won't
have to pay for anything for me anymore.  I think that's one of the
hardest parts of being an adult.  When we're kids, when something is wrong,
we just assume someone will take care of it. When we get to be adults,
we work and contribute money to insurance so that we will be taken care
of when the time comes.  NOT!  My health is deteriorating every day
because every day without this surgery is one more day of stress on my
body.  The insurance knows this of course and I wish they would just put
it in writing that WE DON'T CARE ABOUT YOUR HEALTH rather than INSULTING
me with all the so-called "reasons" for this 6 months delay.

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After speaking
with more people at Aetna who told me to send in my papers, I got Dr.
Stahl's office to send them in.  The people in Dr. Stahl's office had
told me that Aetna WILL NOT approve surgery without the 6 months diet. 
However, when I talked to people at Aetna, I get the idea that it
doesn't hurt to send in the papers, so that's what I wanted to do.  One guy
told me that it isn't something like 3 tries and you're out.  He said it
wouldn't hurt to try, that if they turned me down that I could send
them in again and again.  So that is what I am going to do.  It also
sounded like it depends on the company you have your insurance with too
(your employer.)  I am currently on disability with my company, but they
have really good benefits.  I am so filled with gratitude that I had the
benefits that I did when I got sick.  I lost a lot, including my home,
but I still have insurance and some disability monies coming in.  Had I
not been employed by an awesome company, I would have been up a creek. 
Hopefully my benefits will allow me to have this surgery so I can
someday get well.  There is no cure for fibromyalgia or osteoarthritis, but
if I can lose my excess weight, it will be so much easier on me and
will give me a quality of life I no longer have.  So here's hoping the
insurance will grant me this life-saving surgery while there is still a
chance I can get better.

2/25/05 Still
waiting to hear from my insurance company.  The papers were faxed to them on
February 1st, but it was only sent to review yesterday.  They said to
check back in 15 days. 

I have appointments for everything else I need to do, the sleep study,
nutritional consultation, physical therapy and nurse education.  I'm to
go to B'ham on March 7th, have an appt. with a sleep study doctor on
March 28th and the actual sleep study is scheduled for the same night. 
In the meantime, I am still doing the 6 months supervised diet although
I haven't lost any weight to speak of.  I may be down 2-4 lbs. but
nothing drastic because again, DIETS DON'T WORK OR I WOULD BE THIN ALREADY.

Hopefully I will have some awesome news someday and I would love to be
able to post a date for my surgery.  Wish me luck.  There are a lot of
negative things going around regarding WLS.  When I made an appt. with
the sleep study doctor, the person I spoke with sounded surprised.  She
said, "I thought they put a quietus on gastric bypass surgery and
weren't doing them anymore.  Whew!  You're lucky if you found someone who
would do it."  Hmmm.  Well, speaking of uninformed...

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March 7th - I went
to Birmingham today for my nutritional consultation, physical therapy
and nurse education.  I didn't really learn anything new...I think most
of the people who spend a lot of time on this website are more informed
than anyone!  I went to the wrong building at Brookwood, couldn't
figure out where I was and the valet parking guy said it was his first day
so he didn't know which building I was in either!  They finally got me a
shuttle to take me where I needed to be.  That was nice.  But it was
very stressful to have to get up so early and drive 3 hours in the rain
and then drive back.  I haven't been feeling very well the past few days

I think all I need to do now is my sleep study and the preceding
doctor's appt. for it.  Every step I take brings me one step closer to WLS. 
It seems like such a long wait and I can't imagine ever being lucky
enough to have this surgery.  I keep expecting the insurance to say no,
but what if they say yes?  I will probably pass out in shock if they do
approve my surgery. 

There was another girl in the Bariatrics Center today who was talking
about her insurance.  She said she's doing everything they say to do,
but then they keep adding new things.  I can certainly relate to that.

I'm worried about finances because I don't have anyone to bring me home
from the hospital, so I'm going to have to get a hotel room for a whole
week after the surgery since I won't be released to drive.  This is
going to cost a fortune so it's scary.  Since I'm on disability at the
moment, I don't have that kind of money, but I'm going to have to get it
somewhere.  Even with insurance paying a portion, it all adds up.  All
the co-pays, etc.  Today's visit was $50.  It will all be worth it in
the end.  I wish I had started keeping track of all the co-pays, etc.

I just want to feel good again, to be able to move without pain, and be
comfortable in my own body.  I want to be able to go out in public
without my sole focus being on avoiding the people staring at the fat lady. 
I want to be able to dance again.  I don't know if that will ever
happen or not since I have fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis.  I will probably
always walk with a cane, but it would be nice if I didn't.  I try not
to think that far ahead though.  I just want to be able to move with
less strain and pain.  Someday!

3/25/05  Still
waiting on the insurance.  They supposedly were to give me an answer within
30 days.  The papers were faxed to them on February 1st.  I keep
calling, only to be told it's "pending."  One lady at Aetna told me that
simply meant that it was on the nurse's desk and she hadn't looked at it
yet.  I called on Monday, and the person I spoke with said she would get
a message to the nurse that I wanted a call back.  It is now Friday and
the nurse has not bothered to call back.  I am not feeling very
confident in this person who has my life in her hands and can't even be
bothered to look at my file.

My sleep study is this coming Monday night.  I am not looking forward
to it at all.  I only sleep for an hour or so at a time before I wake up
to go to the restroom or gasping for air due to my allergies.  So it is
going to be difficult to get the sleep required for them to make an
accurate assessment.  But this is all part of it.  I can't breathe, I
can't sleep, I can't walk, I can't dance, I can't do anything because I
need this surgery and I need it now.

The nurse who has my file on her desk, who can't be bothered to look at
it...I imagine she is sleeping soundly tonight.  She can work, she can
walk, she can breathe, she can sleep.  So why would she worry about
someone like me who is awake at 2am and wondering if I'm going to live to
see myself have any quality of life?

3/31/05  Well, I got
denied.  I got the letter out of the mailbox as I was leaving to go for
my sleep study.  So I was distressed and couldn't sleep at my sleep
study.  I am very claustrophobic and can't even stand to sleep in a
nightgown.  So I was not only having to sleep in a nightgown, but I had all
these wires on me with straps around my chest and waist and this
microphone thing in my nose.  It was horrendous.  I could not all.
The bed was extremely uncomfortable too, even though it was a queen
size.  So I had to reschedule the sleep study.  I went back last night
armed with sleeping pills.  I had asked for another bed since the one on
Monday was so uncomfortable.  Oh, they gave me another bed all right. 
It was a twin size, even though she swore it was a full size.  I have a
full size and that ain't it.  My feet and ankles hung off the edge. 
Since I have fibromyalgia, my ankles started swelling and my calves were
so tight and it was awful.  The pillows stunk so badly with cheap
perfume from whoever had them before me.  The girl said that couldn't be
since they were plastic pillows.  Well, hello, I think I know what perfume
smells like.  My allergies started acting up something fierce and I had
to use nasal spray.  The girl who was in charge of my sleep experience
was super nice.  However, another girl stormed in there and started
telling me I shouldn't be using nasal spray and I needed to try to sleep
because Dr. Morris would be in there in the morning expecting me to have
slept and they were supposed to...blah, blah, blah.  She totally
freaked me out, whoever she was.  Anyway, I started having a panic attack and
then it got worse and there I was having a panic attack, unable to move
with all those wires tight around me.  Disastrous.  I don't know what
will happen now.  I tried to call the office, but Dr. Morris wasn't
there, so they said he would probably call this afternoon or in the
morning.  He didn't call this afternoon, so I guess I will wait until in the
morning.  I have so much trouble sleeping and was looking forward to
having this sleep study to see if some of my problems could be fixed. 
They weighed me at Dr. Morris's on Monday and I have gained up to 359.  In
other words, the 1400 calorie diet Dr. Sparks put me on it NOT WORKING. 
Diets do not work.  I keep saying that, but it is true.  I need this
surgery and it seems so elusive.  I'm so scared.  What if I just keep
gaining weight and end up 800 lbs. or what if I just die before I ever get
that far?  I have lost so much of my life due to this disease.  And I
keep trying and keep coming up on brick walls. 

I am so tired, due to lack of sleep and my medical problems and the
horrible depression.  And now I am going to have to start all over again
and appeal the denial letter.  Aetna wants me to give up, but I cannot
give up.  If for no other reason than I know I will die without the
surgery and I do not want to have to be buried in a piano box as I have
heard of some obese people having to be buried.  And it would be nice to
have a life to look forward to someday.  Right now, I am just too tired
to do anything. 

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04/05/05 Well, on
the third try at the sleep study, I was able to sleep with a CPAP.  I
slept for 4 whole hours!  I haven't slept that long in one session in
years.  I do have sleep apnea.  My oxygen count was very low too.  So I was
excited about getting my new CPAP machine and maybe, just maybe,
getting relief from this horrendous fatigue and insomnia.  But gee, we forgot
to think about my lovely Aetna insurance.  There are no providers in
the area that Aetna will pay it's going to "review."  Well, we
know what "review" means to Aetna.  My review for WLS was at Aetna for
over two months and then they just denied it without even looking at it. 
So now I have to wait again for a CPAP machine...for how long?  And I'm
assuming, since it's Aetna, that it will be denied because...well
Aetna's policy is to simply take your monthly premiums and keep them.  Use
any of that money to improve your health?  Why on earth would they do
something like that?

I can't even comprehend what use Aetna even is to society.  Crooks is
what they are.  Worthless crooks.  If they are not, they need to prove
to me that they are not. 

I am so sick of coming up against brick walls.

4/15/05  Well, I was
able to get a CPAP after talking to a few more people at Aetna.  I've
learned with Aetna that the response you get depends on the person you
talk to.  They have some really ignorant people working there.  I called
them up, after talking to several people that same day and explained to
them again why I needed a CPAP machine.  The last person I talked with
told me that no one at Aetna would have refused me a CPAP machine if I
had severe sleep apnea.  I told her, "Her name was ____ and the
reference number was ______."  She said, "Oh..." and put me on hold and I was
able to get my CPAP machine that same day.  They DO have some good
people working there, but you have to keep trying and hoping to get one of
the good ones.

I had another obesity moment last Friday night.  We had a family
reunion and one of my cousins was in town.  He wanted to take me to dinner,
so we went to the Outback Steakhouse.  We waited 30 minutes for a table
and then were escorted to the table...which was a booth.  I could not
fit into it.  I tried so hard to fit into it and could not.  It was
awful.  It was prom night and there were a gazillion little teenagers all
dressed up for the prom who were looking at me like, "Look at that
grotesque crippled fat woman...she can't even fit in a booth."  We had to go
BACK to the front and wait two hours for another table.  We had to
stand up for a long, long time and I cannot stand on my feet for long.  I
was shaking and sweating and getting sicker by the minute.  Then they
had some trouble with our order and kept putting us off.  It was a
disastrous event.  Luckily, my cousin was nice about it, but he had been
driving all day and was tired and I know he would rather have just gone
back to his hotel.  He has made numerous comments about my weight in the
past, so having this happen in front of him was humiliating.  He thinks
I should "do something about it."  He's doing Weight Watchers and
thinks if I would just "do something," that I would lose weight.  He seems
to think I enjoy being like this, that I CHOOSE to be like this.  No one
CHOOSES to gain over 200 lbs. by eating normally.  I do have my binge
moments, I won't deny that, but mainly they are due to frustrations over
being fat, which continues the cycle.  But, for the most part, I don't
eat that much.  I am on this 1400 calorie diet, but I have GAINED 4
lbs.  To lose weight like a so-called normal person does, I have to eat
600 calories a day...or less.  When diets don't work, WLS is next.  I
reached that point a long time ago.  If only the insurance companies had a
CLUE about obesity!  I am WASTING time and my health is going downhill
while I play out this little delaying tactic that Aetna has put on me. 
I feel like I have the worst luck in the world.  Just when I decide to
have this surgery, all the insurance companies decide to make it almost
impossible to have it.  I read profiles of people who went to the
surgeon, sent in their papers and got approved within days....and me, I have
to wait and wait and wait, and jump through hoop after hoop after hoop
and I have no guarantee that it will ever happen.  If I do not have
this surgery, the 200 lbs. I need to lose will turn into 300 and 400 and
500...if I live that long.  We have to educate people about this

I had another
problem with Aetna after getting my CPAP.  Some lady called me wanting to
know why I thought I could just order myself a CPAP machine and didn't I
know I had to clear it with them and my doctor, sleep study and the
store where I got the CPAP were NOT Aetna providers and blah, blah, blah. 
She was literally YELLING at me.  I was like, WHOA NELLY!  WHAT IS
TOLD ME TO DO?????  She started in, "Well you had BETTER have
DOCUMENTATION about this!"  I was like, "Well, yes I do," and she kept going on
about how I had better have documentation.  I called the doctor's office
again and they said they would take care of it. 

I later got a bill for 3 sleep studies...since I had to go 3 times. 
The money I am spending for all this, even with insurance is phenomenal.

And to top all this off, the IRS has audited me for 2003 and I owe $948
in addition to what I had to pay this year.  I did my taxes honestly
and completely, so I do not understand why they are doing this.  Since I
am disabled and cannot work, I can't just go get a second job to pay
for all this crap.  I literally feel like I am going to break down.

5/4/05 Went to my PCP for my 5th month of the 6 months supervised diet. 
I have gained 5 lbs.  I had told him I could not lose weight on 1400
calories a day.  Yet he had the gall to ask me, "Are you SURE you're not
CHEATING on your diet?"

I give up.  The stupidity of the medical community is just beyond me. 
I cannot even comprehend how people get through medical school without
learning anything about obesity.  I have been dieting since I was 6
years old.  I have endured more humiliation than anyone should have to
endure because of my weight, have done more than anyone should have to do
to try to lose weight...and still...people just assume I am sitting at
home gorging on food all day long.  How clueless these people are. 
There should be more research on this deadly disease, but so few people
want to do that.  Since it's not a "pretty" disease, or a popular one,
few people want to delve into it.  It's so much easier to just sit in
judgement and spew insults than to actually learn and become knowledgeable
on the subject. 

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6/25/05 Well,
everything is done now.  My 6 months diet is done, I have had all my
preliminary tests, including an H-pylori test (negative) yesterday.  I had
another appt. with Dr. Stahl yesterday.  He looked at all my paperwork,
including a 3 page letter I wrote to Aetna.  He said everything looked
good and there was no reason they would deny my request for WLS.  But,
since it's in the hands of the insurance now, we don't know what they will
do.  I hope they will just approve it without making me get an
attorney.  I have done all they asked me to do, so they should approve this
surgery.  They have made me wait long enough.  My health has deteriorated
in the past 6 months while I did their stupid diet, which did not work. 

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8/8/05  After all
these months, I finally have good news.  I got a letter from Aetna today
and the main sentence that's important is:


I had to read it over and over and even called my friend Jacquie and
read it to her to make SURE that it is an approval.  I have cried and
cried and cried....tears of joy.  I called a few people and can't even
tell it without crying.  This has been a long, long quest to get this
approval.  I cannot believe it is finally happening.  I cannot wait until
in the morning so I can call Dr. Stahl and see just how soon he can do
this surgery.  I am SO ready to regain my life.  I still wish I could
have had it done sooner, before I had more damage done to my knees, etc.,
but I am so glad to finally see some light at the end of the tunnel. 
Usually, the light at the end of the tunnel for me is a big train about
to run me down, but this is my miracle.  My psychologist says the
second half of my life doesn't have to be as awful as the first half, and I
have tried to believe him, but it's been hard when it seems like
nothing is going my way.  But this....this is a good thing.  Can you believe
it?  I have a good thing happening!  I cannot wait to get in there and
get this surgery and start living my life again.  A life!  Can you
imagine ME with a LIFE????????

I am in shock, but I had to update my profile and put APPROVED AFTER
APPEAL LETTER!  I feel such relief.  Better health, here I come! 
(Wearing something smaller than a 28 isn't going to hurt either!) :)

I need a miracle.  I need this surgery.

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I have a date! 
September 1st!  My birthday is September 4th, so what a birthday present
this is going to be for me!  Everything is going along so wonderfully! 
My friend Debbie, who was my best friend in grammar school, lives in
Alabaster and is going to be with me every step of the way.  She has even
arranged for her brother to stay at her house and she and I will stay
at his apartment for the week after surgery.  (His apartment doesn't
have any stairs.)  How great is that?!  She is even going to come get me
and take me to the hospital and then take me home and stay with me a few
days after I get back home.  I am just in awe of all this.  I thought I
was going to have to go through this all by myself.  But everyone has
been wonderful!  Kim, Sandy and Beth have all volunteered their homes
and time to me, so even if Debbie hadn't come up with this incredible
plan, I would still have been taken care of, but for the opportunity to
get to spend a week with my BFF (Best Friend Forever) from grammar
school, I feel like I am going to have a wonderful vacation instead of major
surgery!  And for her brother to agree to let us use his apartment! 
This is great!  Her brother knows me too because he was my boyfriend from
second grade through the sixth grade (my longest relationship to date!)
so it's like I'm going to get to be with family!  They ARE family. 
Anyway, for my life to have been so DEPRESSING, it is certainly turning
around!  My health will be improving, my life will be improving and even
though I am doing this for my health, I can't say that it won't be
HEAVEN to not walk in a place and have people stare at the big fat crippled
lady.  I wish people would accept me no matter what I look like, but
the fact is, in this country, people do not accept me as I am.  So it
will be such a relief to someday become a NORMAL size.  But this is going
to be such a good thing for my health.  To not have to tote around 200
lbs. of extra's GOT to help me feel better.

I cannot wait! 

Thanks to everyone who has been so supportive during this year of
struggling to have this life-saving surgery!

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My date is now
August 25th.  No time like the present!  I am so looking forward to this.  I
have such an outpouring of love and support from people on this website
and my friend who is going to help me with my aftercare...I just can't
begin to thank her.  And people are offering help, protein samples,
etc.!  My friend Mary Mapes came to see me today and brought me a ton of
protein samples, a little blender, etc., etc., etc. and to top it all
off, she brought me a pair of size 12 jeans telling me she is going to
come see me on September 1st next year and for me to wear them.  I have
been wanting to get a pair of "incentive" jeans.  Now I have some!  And
people are saying they are going to come see me in the hospital, Sandy,
Beth G, Kim, Randall, Renee, Becky L, and maybe some others.  I am just
in awe at all this.

Today is Saturday, August 20th, so I have only 4 more days to go and
then it will be Thursday, the 25th and I will be having my surgery.  I
can't believe it!  It's almost here!

And my friend Debbie, she is just being so ultimately cool.  She went
to my pre-op visit with me and it was so great to get to be with her.  I
haven't seen her in over a year, but have kept in contact with emails
and over the phone.  She lives close to the hospital.  How she has
arranged all the after care preparations has just been amazing!  She has
even got us some matching slippers to wear at Recovery Camp John!  (We are
going to be staying at her brother John's apartment.)  I don't know
what I would have done without her.

I am supposed to be at the hospital at, that's early!  But
the sooner the better!  I hope they take me right in and start as soon
as possible.  I have this bizarre hope to be done and awake by noon so
I can watch ALL MY CHILDREN.  Ok, I know that sounds bizarre, but I
hate to miss my soap.  LOL

I have a lot of stress in my life right now, but am trying to remain as
calm as possible because I want to be tranquil for the surgery.

One thing that is distressing me is the number of people who keep
talking about "if you don't make it through the surgery."  I mean...what is
up with that?  Ok, so there's that possibility, but I am totally
prepared for that, I have no fear of that, and why on earth would people even
bring that up???  I am not afraid to die.  I am afraid of not living
while I am here on this earth.

This is a joyous thing!  I am so excited about having this surgery!  I
could die in my car tomorrow.  Why would anyone even mention my not
surviving the surgery?

I am trying to get everything ready for my trip.  I am so looking
forward to this.  It's hard to remain calm when I'm wanting to jump up and
down for joy!

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9/7/05 Well, the
deed has been done.  I am now a post-op LOSER!  The surgery went fairly
well.  My liver was very big and had to be biopsied, but that turned out
okay.  The hospital....I would not wish on my worst enemy.  As crucial
as walking is to a post-op gastric bypass patient, I couldn't get
anyone to walk me.  I had a nurse come in and pull my sheet off, exposing my
privates and a bloody Kotex to those in my room, to take out my
catheter.  I asked her for a little PRIVACY, but that didn't seem to be in her
vocabulary.  I was so upset that I was hyperventilating and crying and
my friend Debbie was trying to help me get covered up and then some
other woman comes in wanting to take my blood pressure.  It went from bad
to worse and my friend Beth went and got patient advocates who talked
to me and listened to me and my friends tell them what this horrific
nurse had done.  It was horrible.  My IVs and oxygen were taken out way
before they should have been and the lack of care contributed to my
problems after being released from the hospital.  The pain continued to be
horrendous.  I was calling Dr. Stahl's office every single day, but kept
getting blown off.  On Tuesday, my friend Debbie called and had him
paged.  He called and basically told her that he wasn't going to be in the
office the next day, but hey, the ER is open 24/7 if I had any
problems.  He was very flippant with her.  I could hear him on the cell phone
and I heard the same thing she heard him say.  On Thursday we finally
got in to see him and he wanted to know why I didn't go to the ER like he
had told me too, that he had ordered a CT scan, etc. and they were
expecting me.  Debbie told him he did not tell her to take me to the ER,
that he had only told her that the ER was open 24/7.  I heard him say the
exact same thing.  He did not say to take me to the ER, but he kept
repeating that we were wrong, that he DID say to take me to the ER.  I
wish we had a recording of the phone call, but what difference would it
make now?  Anyway, I was readmitted to the hospital with dehydration and
pneumonia....we found out about the pneumonia later.  They put me on
IVs again and I wasn't allowed food or drink until the next day after all
the tests were in.  The dieticians kept bringing me crap like pot
roast, dried up pieces of chicken, rice...all stuff that I was unable to
eat.  This went on for two days.  They never brought me anything to eat so
I was starving.  One precious tech (Crystal) found me a little tiny
thing of apple juice (no sugar added) or I would have starved to death. 
Lucky I had IVs.  I had had diarrhea terribly and had to lie in it for 3
hours the first night because the nurse kept saying she would get
someone to come clean me up "in about 30 minutes," but the hours kept going
on.  My calls to the nurses station for pain meds were ignored for
hours, so it was a miserable stay in the hospital.  I did have some
wonderful nurses, but the others were demons from hell.  Had it not been for
my friends, I couldn't have done it.  Recovery from this surgery is very
difficult and a decent hospital environment would have done wonders.

I was so blessed to have FIVE people with me when I went into surgery
and when I came out.  My friend Debbie, my OH friends Beth G, Kim,
Renee, Becky L were all there cheering me on.  Sandy from Tuscaloosa, who is
a cherished friend, came up to see me on Friday.

I am overwhelmed with all the protein drinks, food, sugar free stuff,
etc., etc., etc. that people have brought me.

I have been in some really bad pain for the past week and a half and
the nausea is awful.  Today seemed to be better somewhat.  I had to go
get my hematacrit levels checked today because I was anemic.  Hopefully
that will be okay because I don't want a blood transfusion.  I just want
to be able to stay HOME for a while.  As much as I enjoyed my stay with
my friends in Birmingham, it was so nice to be home in my own bed among
my own junk.  I always complain about all my clutter, but it was still
nice to see my home.

I arrived home on Saturday night and then Sunday, September 4th was my
birthday.  My family had a big KFC Family Meal feast with a big
birthday cookie with my name on it.  I had not told my family about the
surgery beforehand.  When I told them, it was really not a big deal.  I'm not
sure if they really understand what has happened.

Today when I went to get my blood drawn, I went across to another
doctor who has one of those livestock scales (I call them that) that weigh
people over 350 lbs.  I weighed 346!  So I have lost 19 lbs.  Amazing. 
Like a lot of WLS patients, I was so sure that I would be the only
person in the history of this surgery to not lose weight with it.  But
looks like I am!  Of course I am not eating much of anything.  It's like my
life has been turned upside down.  I don't WANT to eat or drink
anything and now it seems a chore to try to get anything down.  I don't really
like sweets so the sickeningly sweet protein drinks are yukky.  And
water, which I loved before, is even hard to get down.  I used to drink
4-6 20-oz. bottles of water daily and loved the taste of it, but now it
doesn't taste good at all.

It's all going to be a series of adjustments, mentally and physically. 
I can tell a difference in my face and body already, which is amazing
to me.  My clothes won't be getting loose for a long time because I am
still wearing the same pull-on pants that I wore 100 lbs. ago.

But the main thing will be feeling better.  That is my ultimate goal in
all feel better.

Anyway, I am still in awe that I was allowed this, that it actually
happened.  I know it's true because I have 7 incisions on my stomach (two
extra due to the liver biopsy.)  And bruising....oh my gosh....I am
bruised so badly.  My stomach is just black.  At least some of the
swelling has gone down.  My stomach was so swollen that clothes that fit me
before were too tight because of my swollen stomach.  They pump you up
with gas so they can do the surgery and it takes a long time to get the
gas to LEAVE.  Be prepared.  The gas pains are awful.  But it is worth
it all in the end.  I have had no regrets whatsoever.  I needed this
surgery to save my life and everything I went through to get it is worth
it.  I wish I could fast forward some to get over the pain, bruising and
lose some of the weight, but it will all come in good time.

The main thing I worry about is all the bills that I know will be
coming in.  Even with insurance paying a portion, this is a very expensive
surgery, depending on your insurance.  Since I am on disability, I have
no clue where the money is going to come from, but I had to fight for
my health, no matter what the cost.

I am happy that I decided that I was worth fighting for.  I don't
usually do that. 

Thank you for all your love and support!

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10/09/05 I have lost
50 lbs!  I am 1/4 of the way to my goal already and it hasn't even been
two months yet.  No one has noticed that I have lost weight yet.  A few
people who know that I have had the surgery will look at me and say, "I
think I can tell."  Well, _I_ can tell...that's what's important.  I am
still wearing the same clothes.  I can carry a lot of weight, so it
usually takes me a lot of weight on or off to make a difference. 

I'm having trouble getting all my water in.  Before surgery, I could
drink a LOT of water, all day long.  After surgery, I would sip on water
and then throw it up.  It was that way for weeks, but it seems that in
the past week I have been able to get more water in.  I feel like I'm
eating too much, but I'm losing weight, so I must be doing something

I still have the same pain from the fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis,
but it is easier getting up out of chairs with 50 lbs. less weight on me. 
I seem to be able to walk better, but I still have to use the electric
wheelchairs at Wal-Mart...if they have any available.  At my local
Wal-Mart, they don't always have them available...and they don't seem to
care.  Oh, don't even let me get started on Wal-Mart.

My life hasn't changed much since WLS, but it will.  I do feel better,
even if I'm still in a lot of pain.  I think once I start wearing
smaller clothes, it will hit me better.

It's difficult finding foods I can tolerate, but I seem to be able to
eat potted meat, creamed potatoes and french fries okay.  I know french
fries aren't a good nutrition choice, but when I am so nauseous, the
saltiness helps ease my stomach and I can't eat many of them anyway.  I
eat string cheese, pepperoni and I love Clamato Juice.  I use low sugar
Apple Juice and low sugar Orange juice to add my protein to.  I can
tolerate ANYWHEY protein okay.

I can't believe I have lost 50 lbs. already.  I hope the other 165 lbs.
goes as quickly.  Seems like people hit plateaus before then though, so
I'm prepared for it to take longer.

My skin is already starting to sag!  But I can hide saggy skin.  I
couldn't hide 365 lbs.

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11/6/05 I have now
lost 61 lbs.  I weigh 304 which means it won't be long until I am under
300 lbs. and out of them forever.  I am getting around better.  I went
to the Renaissance Faire a couple of weeks ago and was on my feet for 2
1/2 hours.  I did have to stop and sit down a couple of times, but
still...I was able to do it.  I was in a great deal of pain when I got home
and stayed in pain for a few days, but just being able to do it at all
was wonderful.  I ran into several wonderful friends and was able to
stand and talk to them...and even better, I was able to see them and talk
to them and enjoy them.  Before, I would have seen them, and ran the
other way, hoping they wouldn't see me.  I was not able to deal with
running into people who knew me way back when.  Three of the people I ran
into that day had known me back when I was thin.  Ordinarily I would
have avoided them.  But this time I did not and it was so nice to talk
with them.

I am still wearing the same clothes, but have been able to wear blue
jeans a little lately.  I keep waiting on something to get too big, but
so far it's not happening.  I do have one bra which is getting too
big....figures. :(  But my clothes....still fit.  They are more comfortable

What's weirding me is that some things that I used to wear at 320 are
still too tight at 304.  Maybe I just wore them tighter back then.  I
put on a fanny pack the other day that used to just barely fit me, it was
so tight.  I was excited because I just knew that it would fit better
now that I've lost 61 lbs.  But no, it seemed like it was tighter even
than before.

One bad thing about being so tall is that I can carry a lot of weight,
so it takes a while before it's noticeable.  People say they can sort
of tell I've lost weight, but they don't sound too sure.

My fibromyalgia is still here with a vengeance.  I have been more sore
lately, but the weather has an effect on me too and it's been cooler
lately.  Plus, since I've been trying to get out more and have been on my
feet more, I'm tiring my body out quicker.  I wish there were something
that I could take to get me out of pain.  Just to see what it feels

Anyway, I feel better with these 61 lbs. off.  So I know that the next
61 lbs. will make me feel even better and then the next 61 lbs. will
make me feel even better and so on.

I had a upsetting moment yesterday.  I was driving through Athens on
the way to Huntsville and passed by a place where I used to have a
friend.  I wanted to stop and see her and for a second, I was thinking about
how excited she would be that I had lost weight.  However, it hit me
that the last time she saw me I had gained up to 242.  Ouch.  So my
getting down to 304 would not impress her.  It amazed me to realize I had
gained that much weight since I saw her last.  I didn't stop to see her.

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12/20/05  I now
weigh 281!  Amazing!  I have been able to get around better, even though
I'm still in a lot of pain with the fibromyalgia and arthritis.  I hurt
all the time.

I have some news!  I've just moved!  Into a house...a BIG house! 
Two-story, no less!  I have been so stressed with the clutter and noise in
my apartment and now I live in a house!  I got my furniture moved in
today and will be able to sleep in my bed tonight!  I was sleeping on the
floor for a couple of weeks while I was waiting for the movers to have
a day free to move me.  Ouch!  Floors are hard!  People with arthritis
should NOT sleep on the floor.  It took me forever to get up and down
on the floor.  But that's all over now because my bed is downstairs!

I could not have done this before surgery.  There is no way I could
have moved into a house with stairs before surgery.  And here I am with a
two-story house!  It's an old, old house and I love it.  I'm going to
have to search for some antiques.  My dear sister and her husband gave
me most of the furniture in their old house (they've just moved too) so
it's like I have a HOME now.  I have my Christmas tree up and

The stairs ARE hard on me....I admit that.  But at least I CAN do them. 
Before, I could not.

So this is all very exciting!  I will be able to get organized for a
change.  I'm really liking this house!  A lot!

I had lunch with Brenda and Glenn Abernathy one day and I told them
that if this was all it was and I never lost any more weight, that it was
all worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  Just what losing
this 84 lbs. has done for me is amazing.  I can only imagine how much
better things will be when I've lost the rest of it.  Just think...I
still weigh 281 lbs., which is still obese and still very heavy, but I
feel so much thinner!  My clothes are baggy now, even the blue jeans!

I do wish I could get the pain to stop though.  I know this surgery was
not a cure for fibromyalgia or arthritis, but it would be nice to be
free of pain on occasion.  But it's much easier now.

I can't believe I am losing weight and now live in my dream house! 
What's next?  A new car and Antonio Banderas will come for me!  LOL  (I do
love that Antonio...but I also love Melanie, so I won't take her man. 
But if she ever dumps him and he happens to be in Sheffield, AL....he's
going to have to fight me off!  LOL )

Anyone readin

About Me
Sheffield, AL
Surgery Date
Nov 15, 2004
Member Since

Friends 49

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