I was set to have RNY in July, 2005, with Dr. Martin at Touro in New Orleans, LA, when I found out that all state employee insurance plans had just enacted exclusions for all WLS. When I became a federal employee in August, 2005, I thought I'd try again. Unfortunately, a little thing called Katrina happened shortly afterward. My husband and I, as well as most of our friends and family, had our houses destroyed in St. Bernard Parish, and things were, to say the least, pretty chaotic. Now that the dust (or muck) is starting to settle, it's time to pursue surgery again. I've attended a seminar by the Surgical Specialists of Louisiana. A surgeon, Dr. Moore, did the presentation, and she seemed competent enough. :-) If all goes well, I'll request her as my surgeon and have RNY at Southern Surgical Hospital.
Called Dr. Moore's office, and it appears that although she is on my preferred provider list for general surgery, she's not a preferred provider for WLS. I have BCBS Basic for federal employees, and when I checked with them, they told me that Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Richardson at Ochsner were preferred. Went to Ochsner's seminar last Thursday. Called to set up appointment this morning to find that I can't get a joint appointment to see a surgeon and the dietitian until mid-July!
I called Ochsner and spoke with the nurse, Jennifer, at the Surgical Weight Loss Center. She said they are working diligently to resolve the dietitian issue, and she offered me an appointment to see the surgeon, Dr. Kennedy, the next day! So yesterday, I headed over and met Jennifer and Dr. Kennedy. Jennifer is a very kind, warm nurse and really makes you feel at ease. Dr. Kennedy also seems terrific. She's very friendly and outgoing. The best thing about her demeanor is that she uses a lot of humor while maintaining great professionalism. It's very rare to see a surgeon like that.
Dr. Kennedy said that she will review my previous records from St. Charles/Touro, and try to base her letter on those evals. Then, God and Blue Cross willing, we'll shoot for a surgery date in JUNE!!!
For some odd reason, I had a hunch that my records request to Touro would not go smoothly, so I called Jennifer at Ochsner. She told me that she called Touro, and they instructed her to contact Dr. Martin's new office in Baton Rouge. She has called every day since my appointment and gotten either no answer or an answering machine. I thanked her for her hard work and we brainstormed some other ways to contact the office. At my end, I tried to reach them and got a machine as well. A few minutes later, Jennifer called me to let me know that she spoke with the operator at Vista (Dr. Martin's practice), insisted on speaking with a human, and was put right through to the office! The office also returned my call and informed me that the person in charge of copying charts will be in tomorrow, so my records should be transferred shortly (hopefully, by early next week!).
Meanwhile, I have an appointment to see an Ochsner internist for a physical exam in order to get cleared for surgery. After Katrina, my regular internist's office was flooded, plus she moved to Virginia and doesn't appear to be coming back, so I've got to establish some kind of medical baseline now. Pending Dr. Kennedy's review of my records, I may have to have a little additional testing (I have not had an ultrasound of my lower extremities, so that's coming up) before I can be completely cleared for surgery. Oh, and there's that small issue of insurance approval. Dear God, PLEASE let me have this surgery soon!!!
Wow, it's been over a month since I last updated. Where should I start? Well, after several weeks, my records from Dr. Martin's practice did not make their way to Dr. Kennedy's office. After nearly daily phone calls to Jennifer (and a period in which she was on vacation, but the front office did not say so, so I kept calling like a pain in the bootie), I found out that my records had been requested twice, and still have not arrived. So last Friday, I called Dr. Martin's office, and they said my records went out twice, but because they use a copy and courier service, they have no control over how records are sent. So Charnell (sp?) was kind enough to photocopy my chart herself and offered me the option of picking them up myself from Baton Rouge. If only I could have done that sooner! So I picked up the copies, re-copied them, and sent them express to Ochsner.
Jennifer was out on Monday, but received my records Tuesday. She said she would have to send them first to Ochsner's approval department (or something like that), then on to Blue Cross. I hadn't heard from her by Friday (yesterday), and I wanted to see if my paperwork reached Blue Cross. I called Jennifer and the receptionist said she was "away from her desk," so I left a message for her to call me back. She didn't. So I called BCBS and, lo and behold, I found out I was approved! They approved me for a surgery date of 8/1/06, but said if I would have surgery before that date, Dr. Kennedy's office would just have to call them and notify them of the date. Yay!
Now, I feel the need to get on my soapbox. Through this whole ordeal, I called my surgeon's office VERY often to speak with Jennifer. While she was on vacation, the receptionists kept telling me "she's not in today," to which I would reply, "OK, then I'll try back tomorrow." Why on earth would they not just say, "she's on vacation this week and will be back next Monday" or something like that? Nobody would blame her for taking a vacation. In fact, I like taking vacations myself every so often! What I don't like is getting the runaround and wasting time. Not telling me she was on vacation resulted in my time being wasted in calling them, and their time being wasted in answering my calls. OK, I'll get off my soapbox now.
I should probably just be thrilled to have been approved. And I'm also thrilled with BCBS Federal for approving me within less than 3 days!
Wow, again, it's been forEVER since my last update. Let's see, so where do I start now?
Getting a surgery date was an event surrounded by drama. My brother's wedding, which took place overseas, fell on the week of July 17, which was the date Dr. Kennedy's office wanted to give me. I had considered not attending the wedding, but then realized that if I could push back my surgery date by a week, I could attend the wedding, then have surgery upon returning. The only drawback would be that I'd have no first-degree relatives with me because they'd all be overseas. However, in my family, the fallout resulting from me not attending the wedding would have been FAR worse than going it alone on surgery day.
Fortunately, though, as it turned out, two uncles and an aunt really stepped up to the plate for me. They waited in the waiting room until my surgery was over, they saw me in recovery, and they visited me thereafter -- they even invited me to stay with them afterwards. So, all in all, it worked out well. But I'm getting ahead of myself...
So, I set a surgery date of 7/24/06. About a week and a half earlier, Dr. Kennedy informed me that she might give birth a little early, in which case Dr. Richardson, her partner, would perform the surgery. As it stood, however, I was to arrive at the Day of Surgery Center at Ochsner at 5:30 am on the 24th to be Dr. Kennedy's first surgery of the day.
Well, when I arrived home from my overseas trip on Sunday, I checked my messages to find that someone from Ochsner had instructed me to check in at 8:30. That was confusing, and since it was Sunday, nobody could answer my call to clarify when I was to check in. So, to be on the safe side, we went for 5:30.
Upon arriving, it became clear that I was indeed supposed to check in at 8:30, because Dr. Kennedy had given birth and Dr. Richardson was performing my surgery, which would be his third that day. So, when 8:30 rolled around, I was prepped and met with Dr. Richardson, as well as some surgery residents. The last thing I remembered was that they were preparing to wheel me out to the operating room.
The first thing I remember upon waking up from anesthesia was feeling a strong sense of urinary urgency. I remember kind of thrashing around, and when the nurses asked me what was wrong, I said, "I have to go to the bathroom." One nurse replied, "it's OK, you are going to the bathroom." Hehe, that was my intro to catheterization. :-)
I really didn't want to use pain medication, but I caved in to the initial pain, and during the first day, I pressed my Dilaudid pump like it was going out of style. That night, though, I didn't use it at all, and pressed it once the following morning, up until I was transferred to my room that afternoon. I asked to be switched to a kinder, gentler pain medication, and they gave me liquid hydrocodone, which I only took a couple times.
Since I had passed my leak test the morning after surgery, I was started on water. This was one of the tougher parts of recovery. My biggest issue was that I was full of gas. So whenever I would try to drink water, it would compete with the gas for space. I tried belching to release some gas, but that wasn't working too well, and nothing was coming out of the "other end." So, in all, I'd say the discomfort due to gas was my main problem after surgery.
And as much as I tried to sweet-talk the residents, they would not give me Gas-X. Their rationale is that if I had a stricture or something, the Gas-X would mask the symptoms. So I tried to walk it off. And I walked, and walked, and walked. Then one of my incisions started to spring a leak. It's a good thing that happened in the hospital, because I would have completely freaked out if I were home. Apparently, this is "not uncommon, especially after lots of activity." The charge nurse instructed me to slow down on activity, because I was pushing myself a little too hard.
So, after a little trial and error, I'm doing just fine, thank God. It's a bit of a struggle getting fluids in, but I'm trying. I'm also still working on getting rid of the gas. BTW, my "new" gas and bowel movements STINK to high heck! My advice to anyone pursuing gastric bypass: BUY AIR FRESHENER! :-D
OK, I suck at updating my profile. Sorry! In the time since I last updated, I've had two follow-up appointments with Dr. Richardson and Lisa the dietician. In short, the first two weeks were great! I had lost almost 20 lbs since surgery! Then over the past two weeks, I lost... [sound of crickets chirping]. Actually, I lost a few pounds, like maybe four. I need to step up my exercise and my protein intake. I've been walking, but my activity level has dropped since I stopped working, so a big part of the solution is that I need to get a life.
It also doesn't help that I still have yet to have a menstrual period since surgery. My last one began 7/13. There's no way on Earth I can be pregnant, so that means my hormones have gone awry. Fun times will follow at the OB/GYN's office. Fun times, indeed.