Aloha!  What an interesting term. It means hello and goodbye. It kind of is an appropriate opening for what is sure to be the next big phase of my life. On January 2 I suppose I truly began the trip that will surely lead to a happier lifestyle. On that day as I struggled to board the plane for my retirement trip from Betsy and Jerry I didn’t realize what an extended trip it would become. As I huffed and puffed my way up the steps onto the small plane I knew I was carrying too much, and it wasn’t in my carry on luggage…. It was just the beginning of having my eyes opened widely to what had to come. Once I struggled to get on board and got situated I had to ask for a seat belt extender…. Embarrassing to say the least, but necessary. I was fortunate enough to have a seat alone on that flight so no one else had to be inconvenienced, but that was not true on the subsequent flights from Cincinnati to Salt Lake and from Salt Lake on to Maui. Each trip required the humiliation of the extender, the embarrassment of not being able to let the tray table down flat, and the misery of having to be pressed up into someone else’s space without their choice and having arm rests digging into my hips. I couldn’t get up and down to move about on the plane, making my trip that much more uncomfortable and if I had tried my butt or belly would have been in someone’s face all the way up and down the aisle. Betsy and Jerry were taking me on this wonderful trip and I went to their home in Cincinnati one day early to be able to make the early flight the next morning. My next awakening came when I couldn’t get into the van they had ordered to take us to the plane. I couldn’t step up into the van and had to find a ladder to climb aboard. Once we began our flights the same plane woes ensued. Fortunately they didn’t have to witness this ordeal as they were seated in another part of the plane. Betsy came to check on me a couple of times, and I was fine, but certainly never comfortable. When we arrived in beautiful Maui I could hardly move. I was stiff from sitting so long and having major pains in my legs. They were swollen and felt like I was lifting lead weights with every step. Jerry had to make sure he got a vehicle I could get into and out of after the fiasco that had happened earlier in the day with the van. He settled on a nice little SUV and we were on our way. We checked into our hotel and got settled. I was subconsciously looking for all the ways to get to the room and around the property without using stairs, as my legs were really giving me fits. We had a delightful ten days and I loved every moment of the trip, especially the opportunity to snorkel and the whale watching trips. Betsy and I went on a van trip to Hana with a tour company and I had to inconvenience everyone b ecause I couldn’t climb to the back of the van. The policy was that if you sat in the front going, you rode in the back on the return trip. Guess the plus side was that I got a front seat both ways…. It was a beautiful trip and I loved it, but we had discussed taking the trip via helicopter one way, something I have never done and was looking forward to experiencing. When we got to checking on the helicopter trip I was embarrassed to find that I would have to pay an additional fee because of my size. I was also concerned I would not be able to get on and off of the copter, so we decided to go by van. Jerry would have graciously absorbed the additional cost, but I just couldn’t face the humiliation of the whole ordeal… I was apprehensive about our trip on the Alii Nui. It was a catamaran that we took out whale watching and snorkeling. I have always loved the water, but again getting on and off the boat was a concern. Fortunately that was not a problem as the boat had a drop down “stairway” to the water and I was able to get on and off fairly easily. Getting fins on was a challenge but I was one of the first ones into the water and loved every second of that part. Everyone else wore wetsuits but I wear my own insulation and flotation….all the time. It was amazing. The water was wonderful and I could move about with relative ease. I could have stayed there with the turtles and the whales and been just fine. They were worried they would have to go out and physically drag me back on board I was having such a good time. In fact, we went back out aboard the same boat the next day. The captain said he hadn’t seen anyone enjoy the trip as much as I had in a long time. He gave me a complementary trip because I had been so enthralled with the whole experience. The second day was even better. The boat was not as crowded and the seas were a bit calmer. They insisted that I wear a wet suit the second day, but it was uncomfortable and made me too buoyant. I could hardly get leveled out in the water to see the beauty underwater, but I just smiled and went on. It was wonderful.

We had delightful weather the entire time, ate at wonderful restaurants throughout the trip including

While the meals were delightful, more often than not. I was uncomfortable during the entire meal because the seats had arms on them that were digging into my hips. I either couldn’t get comfortably into the seats and had to sit sideways with one cheek on the chair and balancing precariously or when I did get into the seat, hope it wouldn’t try to leave with me…. Stuck to the hips. I guess the worst case would have been if I had broken the chair. Fortunately that did not happen.

I enjoyed sitting at the cabana with Betsy and Jerry, reading, watching for whales, and just soaking up rays. I soaked up more than my share and it was great. Betsy wanted me to walk with her, and we made a few short trips, but it isn’t pleasant when you are a size 26 with elephant like legs trying to walk down a path with bikini clad beauties. I think I probably got more attention than some of the beauties, but it wasn’t necessarily the type of attention I enjoyed. You know the type, “Will you still love me if I ever look like that??? Did you see that woman? Poor thing? You get the idea. At one of the restaurants we had our photo taken and when I saw how large I looked next to Betsy and Jerry I wanted to cry. That at least made me realize it was time to make a bold move and the serious decision for weight loss surgery was made. Betsy, Jerry and I talked about it while we were on the trip and they have friends who have had similar surgeries and were able to give me some contacts, as well as giving me support to begin the journey again, having attended an earlier seminar in Evansville about the surgery.

When I returned from Maui I traveled alone. I was fortunate that there were some empty seats on the plane and the young man who was seated beside me opted to move rather than have me sit in and on his lap. I can’t imagine why, but at least I had enough room for that leg of the flight that I could sit more comfortably. I tried to stand and move about but could hardly get in and out of the seat. I did manage to get up and stand for part of the trip, hoping to avoid any more leg problems. I shared a seat the second leg of the trip, then had a gentleman move from the seat beside me to an empty seat the final part of the flight. I prayed I would be able to walk down the steps of the small plane without my legs giving way with me. I could hardly walk when I did get home on January 12. On January 15th I was in so much discomfort that I went to visit my primary care physician., Dr. Bassam Yousef. He was concerned about blood clots and ordered tests. We began again discussing the weight loss surgery that I had talked with him about during an earlier visit. I told him I had to do something to be able to enjoy the experiences I had waited all my life to be able to experience and that if this trip was any indication of what my future held, I had to make a change, and it needed to happen soon. I started back onto my Atkin’s diet that had been my only means of success in the past and he supported that decision. The good news was that I did not appear to have a blood clot. The bad news was that my legs continued to hurt like the devil. When I talked with him the next week he ordered an anti-inflammatory medication. After a few days I got a little relief and was able to begin substituting again on a very limited basis starting January 29th. I would be exhausted every day when I would finish work, but it was good to be back with the children again. I had to be careful what jobs I accepted and avoid positions where the rooms were small and crowded, making it impossible for me to negotiate through the desks. I also had to eliminate both of the junior high schools from possibilities because of the stairs that were an integral part of any teaching assignments I might get there.

On January 24th I met a friend, Leo Green, to travel to Nashville, Tennessee with him while he met with Dr. Hugh Houston, a bariatric surgeon with Centennial Center for the treatment of Obesity. I met Dr. Houston on that trip and had an hour or so to talk with the receptionist and gather information on their program. It really seemed much more appealing to me than the program at St. Mary’s Hospital in Evansville. I have some personal emotional issues with St. Mary’s that were holding me back from going ahead with their program, though I had attended a seminar on the surgery in October. My daughter was born there and there were complications then my dad was sent there for “a couple of days of fluids, due to dehydration” and died less than 24 hours after his admission. I’m sure it is a wonderful hospital, but I just couldn’t get excited about having this major surgery done there with my track record….

Anyway, with Dr. Houston and the Center, it was love at first sight. I signed up for their seminar on February 3 and Nancy and I made the trip down there that Saturday morning. Dr. Doug Olsen was the presenter that day and he was extremely impressive. He described the surgical options, and went into detail on each type. He was very clear about the positive and negative implications of each type of surgery and willing and knowledgeable enough to answer any and all questions anyone had about the procedures. There were patients there who had undergone the surgeries and they shared their stories. The room was filled with people of all ages, stages, and ethnic groups, all seeking a solution to our serious health issues. I studied all their materials and completed a profile for them which I submitted electronically.

I returned to Dr. Yousef on February 12, weighed in and had only lost one pound. Really a disappointing weight loss since I felt I had been very careful during the month. We talked about the surgery again and I told him about the physicians in Nashville and how excited I was about their program. He seemed to think I was a good candidate for the surgery and was committed to the idea so he agreed to help me along the journey. I had some blood work done on the 16th as baseline data, although I have been dieting for over a month. We had to continue the anti-inflammatory medicine because my legs are continuing to be a big problem for me, very much limiting my mobility. I joined the YMCA and signed up for Why Weight Kentucky, but my legs have not yet let me start any programs at the Y. I am hoping the warm water therapy pool will be beneficial and let me begin getting some more exercise.

My friend, Leo, had his surgery in Nashville on February 26. I am so happy and excited for him. He called me the morning of the 27th and asked me to come down and be with him. His children had gone back to their homes and jobs. He was uncomfortable… I think he just wanted a little spoiling, but being a single myself, I can understand the feeling of being alone during a stressful time, and I was glad to go down if it would make him feel better. I packed an overnight bag just in case and headed south. It is about 150 miles from Henderson to the hospital. I was so glad I made the trip. I am not sure how much help I was to Leo, but I liked the feeling of being needed. I also enjoyed seeing all the people getting their new leases on life following their surgeries. There were folks of all ages and stages having it done. The Women’s Hospital at Centennial has an wing dedicated to the care of bariatric patients, including specialized equipment, oversized beds, chairs, gowns, and all the other things that normal sized people don’t even think about. Leo wasn’t real crazy about the bed, and I could understand why. He’s about 6’4” and his feet were scrunched against the footboard. We finally found someone who knew more about the equipment and she was able to extend the foot of his bed out, giving him some relief. The other problem with the bed was that it has some type of inflatable mattress on it. The problem was that it was not inflated and there were major wrinkles of vinyl all over the mattress. I would straighten it out every time he would get out of bed, in an effort to make him more comfortable. We also added some additional sheets to cut down on skin contact with the vinyl sheet. He was so hot, due to the combination of the room being warm and him running a temperature. I don’t think he will ever want to spend any more time in that bed, but we did finally get it fixed up enough that he could rest. I ended up staying over night with him there in the hospital room. It seemed to make him more comfortable having someone in there with him to reassure him when the different alarms would go off, especially since once he would get to sleep and start snoring, he would bypass the oxygen going into his nose and start having periods of apnea, causing his oxygen levels to drop, triggering an alarm that would wake him. Once we figured out what was going on, how to solve the problem, and his fever finally broke, he began to rest a little better. I had a pretty sleepless night, but I had plenty of time to make up for that. I stayed with him most of the day Wednesday and went over to the Center to take a paper copy of my information to them and find out why I hadn’t heard anything from them after submitting my info on their website. The receptionist was able to pull up that information and we just updated it and added some of the information I hadn’t included. They were so nice and helpful. Everyone in the hospital and the weight loss clinic seems very knowledgeable and adept at their jobs. I met a woman and her daughter from Madisonville that both had lap band surgery done the same day. One was across the hall from Leo and the other was next door. What a wonderful journey to share. Another girl had been in the same seminar I attended. I was so excited for her to be approved and have the surgery in such a short time. She was thrilled at the opportunity. My insurance requires a documented 6 month physician supervised weight loss program, so I will have to wait a few more months before I can get insurance approval. I offered to stay with Leo until Thursday, but he was feeling better, although his temperature did come back up before I left on Wednesday. Once they disconnected him from all the IV’s and oxygen, he was able to move about more easily, get up for the bathroom without help, and just generally more awake and alert than he had been on Tuesday. He took a nap to think about whether he wanted this old gal hanging around another night, and decided he would be alright on his own. I left Nashville about 3:45 and made it home right at 6. I met Rick for supper then came home and crashed. Nothing like a real bed after a night at the hospital. I will be so happy when it is my time for surgery I can hardly wait. I just wish I could speed up the process. I worry that the longer I carry this extra weight around, the greater my risk of having a stroke or heart attack before I ever get to the surgery. I am having my gynecological check tomorrow. One more step on the road to surgery. I probably need to have a sleep study done, after seeing what impact apnea has on the old body. I don’t know if I have it or not, but living alone, there is no one to tell me one way or another.

About Me
Henderson, KY
Surgery Date
Feb 25, 2007
Member Since

Friends 5