Coming Out About VSG.

One thing I have failed to understand on my weight loss journey is why the subject is so taboo. For every blog and tweet and post I see of people's journeys, I also know of people who are choosing to keep their success a secret. There are so many reasons why. Fear of failure, not wanting to brag....fear of being told it is the easy way out. It's ok for people to post pictures of vacations and graduations and anniversary pictures and a new haircut...yet if we post about losing a significant amount of weight, the response is usually crickets. What most people do not see is all of the private messages and texts. "How did you do it?" "how do I get started?". 
Having bariatric surgery is very similar to childbirth. We are tested and poked and prodded....then put on special diets. We research and learn about the procedure. We buy vitamins and protein shakes in anticipation of our new baby stomachs. When we get home we are sore. We drink from tiny cups and gradually graduate to tiny bowls with tiny spoons. Our lives transform, our body's become much smaller. Relationships change, attitudes change, our self-esteem begins to grow. 
In essence, our decision has hopefully added many QUALITY years to our lives. 
Obesity is an epidemic, and we are over-coming. We are stronger and healthier. Why should we hide that just so others won't feel 'uncomfortable'? 
Here is a secret about having bariatric surgery. WE SHOULDNT HAVE TO KEEP IT A SECRET. Of course the surgery has risks. SO DOES OBESITY. 
If you don't agree with what we have done, just scroll on. No one tells you that they don't like the color of the brand new car you just bought. We don't get up in arms and debate the safety ratings of it and tell you how many people die in car wrecks every year. Why should losing weight in an attempt to better our lives be any different?? 
I hope that I have put a spin on the way that people think about bariatric surgery. If you have always been skinny and do not comprehend the struggle, good for you. Hating on someone because they are choosing health doesn't make much sense to me. 
Next time someone opens up their heart and tells you that they've had bariatric surgery, recognize the life-long struggle. They are not bragging or trying to annoy you. They are showing you that they choose LIFE and are hoping to encourage someone else.

It's time to come out!! Show us your pictures, and stories! Be proud of who you are and what you have done! No more cowering and hiding from the world! Educate and empower!!



Post-op Issues...Q & A

On April 4th, 2016, I finally had my vertical sleeve surgery. Going public about such a touchy subject is a big decision. I have a lot of friends who have done the surgery, or are going to, and they will not tell anyone. One of the main reasons I am afraid to talk about it is because I am afraid I will fail. I don't want to look great for a few months and gain it all back. The choice is up to me. My food and exercise choices will be my results.

One night after having my sleep apnea test, the tech was walking me downstairs through the hospital. He said, "ya know. You qualify for bariatric surgery if you want to do that".
I knew I was huge and I knew I was not happy, but I had never considered anything so extreme. A light went off in my head and hope. Finally hope.

Each person is different and has a different story. When I told my closest friends and family, most tried to talk me out of it. I was morbidly obese, had terrible anxiety and heart palpations, had to sleep with an apnea machine, and very unhappy with how I looked. I was embarrassed for people to have to look at me. One member of my family told me I was only doing the surgery for vanity. Another told me to just exercise. I have heard so many stories about people dying during the surgery that I started believing that they were tall tales. There was ONE person who told me that they supported me and gave me their blessing. For that, I will always be grateful.  If you are considering the surgery, DO YOUR RESEARCH. Read everything...the good, the bad, the terrible stories and the amazing ones. I will be blogging about my journey and answering questions that people ask me a lot. Not because I'm bragging, but because if my posts help even just one person, the negative comments and the struggle, will all be worth it.

Today I have lost 50 pounds. I still have 60 to go but I'm enjoying wearing normal clothes and sitting in normal chairs without worrying if I can fit. I'm not sure if the fat girl mentality ever goes away. I enjoy going places and doing things. Right now I am in a size 14 and I was wearing a 20. I keep reading that your mind cannot catch up with the changes fast enough. For me, this is true. When I look in the mirror I still see the 3x me. I FEEL better but my body looks the same. A lot of people are nicer to me. Is it because I have a better attitude or because I'm socially acceptable since I'm no longer in the morbidly obese category? On the flip side, I have also noticed the exact opposite reaction. Some of the people I've known my whole life do not want to talk to me, and go out of their way to be snide or say something degrading. My dad used to tell me that if people were not nice, it's usually because they are jealous. I am starting to believe this.

Having VSG surgery is like peeling an onion. Not only are you losing body mass but your emotions, relationships, attitude and your circle of friends change. I will try to talk about my experiences through everything as candidly as I can. This surgery is not for the weak of heart. Relationships crumble if they are weak and people say things that will completely throw you off. Tough skin is almost a necessity. Without making this the longest post in history, I will begin with 'getting started' answers and work my way through there.

**disclaimer: these are my own opinions and experiences. Always go with your gut, and always speak with your physician before any life changes such as this***

A: First, research. Google 'bariatric surgery'. There are tons of Facebook groups about the subject. Tons of articles online and hundreds of blogs. If you have insurance, call them and ask what doctors are in network. If they don't know, call the weight loss centers you have researched and ask them if they take your insurance. Most clinics make you watch a video and then you fill out a LOT of paperwork. Most insurance companies require you to be at a certain bmi and usually have at least one co-morbidity. Examples of co-morbidities are high blood pressure, sleep apnea and diabetes. Every insurance is different and your clinic will be able to tell you the requirements. On the paperwork you receive, answer everything 100% truthful. When it asks what diets you've tried, list EVERYTHING. I had to use the back (examples: Jenny Craig, Atkins, fen-phen, weight watchers, cabbage soup, personal trainer, medi-fast, low-fat, nutrition-system). If you do not have insurance, do not give up hope. There are lots of companies who will give loans for the surgery. Paying cash will give you a deeper discount. I do have friends who have had the surgery in Mexico. While I cannot recommend it, because I didn't have mine done there, I do know there is a Facebook group called 'I left my stomach in Mexico'. It has lots of people and files to help educate you more regarding that. From my previous post you can read the aggravation and time that the whole process takes. Bariatric centers are SWAMPED. You must be your own advocate. Call the insurance company yourself, make sure that your chart isn't sitting in a desk somewhere.

A: My surgery took approximately 30 minutes. Recovery, for me, took about an hour. Surgery always makes me extremely nauseated. Every time I woke up I would ask for something. For me, the nausea was always worse than the pain. If this is the case with you, please notify your anesthesiologist before surgery so they can give you a transdermal scop patch that goes behind your ear, and helps with nausea. I was told to take two weeks off and I needed every bit. My stomach was sore from the surgery and I wouldn't have been productive in a clinic. It's also a MUST to consume your liquids so you don't become dehydrated. Taking care of yourself is the most important thing. If you are able to have someone stay with you in the hospital, do it. It will be so much easier getting up and down and to the bathroom if you have help.

I will post more Q&A in the next post. If you have ANY questions, feel free to ask!



The Easy Way Out....The Hoops To Jump for Bariatric Surgery.

After deciding that I wanted Bariatric surgery I joined a LOT of Facebook groups. I keep reading over and over about how it is 'the easy way out'. I would like to post a run down of my steps to surgery so far and how expensive and stressful it is to take the easy way out. 

At the end of January I called to make an appointment. You are required to watch their video. They have a huge 'packet' of info to fill out. Pages and pages of questions. What diets have you tried, etc etc. I filled out the papers and faxed them. 

After one week, NO ONE CALLED. So I called them. They said they never received it. I faxed them again and mailed them by snail mail. 

After one week, NO ONE CALLED. So I called them. They had received the papers and set me up for an appointment in two weeks 

After two weeks, my first appointment. Dr.Keiths wellness center is a 3 hour drive to get to.  The nurse really pushed the lap band. I told her I didn't want the lap band. I have read hundreds of lap band horror stories and unsuccessfull people, unhappy with their decision. . Dr. Keith was very nice and answered all of my questions, thoroughly and honestly. He approved me for going ahead with the vertical sleeve. I was told that the nurse in the room would be my 'advocate' and take care of my case. She seemed nice, I felt like I would be taken care of. The nurse tells me that surgery will be the first week of March. 

2nd appt: see nutritionalist. ($65 cash). She tells me to eat 110 grams of protein, to start eating quest bars ($30 for 12), drink their shakes ($65 a bag) and start their vitamins (fish oil, calcium, multi-vitamin). 

Get lab done, insurance is charged almost $2000. They call me, tell me that my iron is low and that even though my appt is 10 days away, I can only buy their iron from their clinic. I explain that I work at a clinic and could I just get the name so my Dr could order it for me. No, they say. You can only buy it at the clinic. 

3rd appt with a different nutritionalist ($65) and psychologist ($150). I buy the iron that day then find it on Amazon. Nothing new with the nutritionalist. I talk to the psychologist, she is nice. She clears me, I hope that means I'm not crazy. My husband and I left at 5:00 am to be there for a scheduled ekg, They say they are short staffed and re-schedule it for next time. 

All of the staff have been very nice to date. I need to mention that EVERY time I call I'm put on hold. One time I was put on hold 20 minutes and so I hung up and called back and they immediately answered. Now they are saying my surgery will be mid March. 

4th appointment. Nutritionalist ($65), EKG and appointment with physical therapist ($35 copayment). I must talk about my physical therapy appointment. The therapist took my vitals then put me on the treadmill and told me she needed to make sure my vitals stayed stable while walking. WHILE I AM ON THE TREADMILL TRYING TO KEEP CHILL, SHE STARTS TALKING POLITICS. She tells me that she is voting for Hillary because she is a woman and MAKES LIGHT OF BENGHAZI. In my mind, I tell myself this is a test and I smile and walk and smile and listen to this lady with no freaking heart, and she is so impressed with how I handled her bullshit that she signs off and tells me I'm going to do great and then she gives me her cell number. 

FINALLY!! All the tests have been done, I lost ten pounds and a thousand bucks on shakes and vitamins and quest bars. So now I just need to get approval from insurance and they call and schedule me! This is what I was told. This is WRONG. 

A WEEK after I find out that the surgeon, nutritionalist, psychiatrist and Hillarys biggest supporter have approved me, I call my insurance to see if I'm approved. THEY HAVENT RECEIVED ANYTHING. I call my 'advocate'. "Oops, I guess it didn't go through."

12 days later I call insurance, I'm approved. No call from my advocate so I call her. NO RETURN CALL. They say she's at a satellite office, not there that day. I call all day the next day NO CALLS RETURNED. Finally get ahold of the most popular advocate in Oklahoma, "I have to call your insurance, I will call you back at the end of the day with a date to come to a pre-op seminar". WHAT? Can you tell me over the phone? I live 3 hours away."  "No, you have to come in. Then get lab drawn. I will call you later today".


NO CALL the next day. I leave messages. THEY ARE NOT RETURNED. 

The next day, after a huge wait, I quickly explain the situation. I am put on hold longer. The receptionist says the scheduling nurse was on the phone but now she is in with a patient and she will call me back at the end of the day. NO CALL. 

SO here I sit, I have spent over two grand, it has been immensely stressful on my relationship, my insurance has approved, and I can't get the one person that is supposed to help me has done absolutely nothing since day 1. Being fat sucks. Being told to just 'go for a walk' when you tell someone you want Bariatric surgery sucks. But hearing people say you are taking the easy way out when you already feel helpless and hopeless, is one of the most ignorant things a person can say. 

This is just a glimpse of the beginning. This is normal and thousands of people go through this (and much worse) every single day. It isn't the easy way,it is the only chance we think we have left of living a normal healthy life. 




While I realize I will sound like a big spoiled brat, I feel the need to talk about what has happened. In the past 4 weeks I have jumped through each and every hoop that has been put in front of me. Like a good little patient, I have increased my calcium, my protein and taken the increased amount of iron...which makes me so nauseated I feel sick all day. We have made four 6 hour trips and spent over a grand on nutritionalist visits, a psychologist visit, physical therapy, vitamins, bars and shake mixes. Anyone who says that Bariatric surgery is the easy way out, has clearly not done their research or taken the vitamins or spent their last dollar on gas money to drive three hours to see a nutritionalist for 30 minutes. I was told last week that my chart was signed off on and faxed to my insurance. I called my insurance company today and they say they haven't received anything. I called my doctors office and after three failed attempts, had to leave a message with the nurse who said she faxed my record. I know this is supposed to be difficult and I know everything won't be easy. I did not know that simply getting my file faxed to my insurance company would be such a difficult feat for the doctors office. Today I pray for strength and will try to be patient and let God handle this all.