The Months leading up to my Gastric Bypass Surgery


CalendarIt seemed like forever for my Gastric Bypass Surgery date to get here. Actually it kinda was forever – how about over 1 year of going through the motions. What a crazy year it was, that is for sure… Sorry this post is gonna be a long one – well it was a year ya know !!!

So as I have stated in my previous posts I started my journey by going to the Weight Loss Surgery Seminar in December 2010. That is what is required by my surgeon before you can go any further. The seminar was a combination of videos and people speaking about the different kinds of surgeries they performed. They also answered any questions we may have had. It was kinda like a live infomercial of sorts – horrible to say, but true.

From there if I was interested in continuing I signed up and gave them my name and number and filled out a couple other forms. From that point I had to wait to get a call with a date that I would get to meet with the surgeon. Of course I filled it all out and I was so anxious for that call.

Well I got that call about 1 1/2 weeks later and met with my surgeon on January 20th 2011 almost a year to the date of my surgery. When I met my surgeon I was shocked at how young he was – I mean he is no Doogie Houser, but younger than me and making me feel old. My hubby says we have to get use to it since we are getting old – whateva !! So my surgeon explained all the different types of weight loss surgeries he does. I was debating between the Lap Band and Gastric Bypass leaning toward the bypass. There were things about the Lap Band that did not sit well with me such as the constant adjustments and the fact you can feel it inside you – that would freak me out.

My surgeon thought I was a much better candidate for the Gastric Bypass as did my hubby and I. So that was it – I was going for Gastric Bypass !!! But not so quick… my insurance required me to go to 6 nutritional classes (1 per month), a psychological evaluation and get cleared by my cardiologist and a respiratory doctor. Holy overload !!! I had to wait 6 months? Are you kidding me? I am not one to have patience and wait for anything, but what could I do. Every insurance company has different requirements – some may only require 3 months of nutritional counseling – mine just sucks and of course would require the most. But on the upside I should have just been glad they covered the surgery at all – so many insurance companies still do not cover it. ( I am sorry if yours is one of those)

So I went through the motions did the classes and each month weighed in. I had my psychological evaluation – that was fun, they just want to make sure you are mentally prepared for what the surgery entails and that you are not crazy. I knew all about the surgery which was good but I am a bit crazy – I was surprised to hear I got a thumbs up from that – lol. I went and got my release from my Cardiologist – I have Tachycardia so they wanted me cleared. Then I had my Respiratory Doctor visit who added on a Sleep Study and a Pulmonary Function Test to make sure my lungs were good. My Sleep Study showed I have mild Sleep Apnea (not a surprise when you are overweight – I now get to sport a lovely mask while I sleep, oh joy). My Pulmonary Function was great even considering I smoked for years and still was at the time. I did not do so well with the weigh ins at my nutrition counseling sessions – surprise surprise. My very first weigh in I was up, next one down, then up, then down – this happened all 6 months. I was not happy with that, but did not give it a ton of thought at the time – stupid me.

So the months passed – very slowly of course. I had also missed a couple of my nutrition classes which set me back – so now I had to wait even longer until I could have the surgery. Well the time came in September when I finished my last class and I was scheduled to meet with my surgeon for my pre op visit and surgery date. I was soooo wicked excited. So we met and I was given a surgery date of October 12th 2011.Yahoo I was done with the weigh ins – or so I thought. My surgeon wanted me to do one more since my weigh ins were not that good over the time I was doing the classes. URGH !! He wanted me back in 3 days for another weigh in before he submitted it to insurance. He told me to do a liquid diet, exercise and add in a laxative too. I know not very healthy, but it was just a quick thing.

So I did that – it was sooooo hard because at the same time I was quitting smoking. I literally locked myself in my room for those days and slept and watched TV – either that or I would have ended up on the news for murder. Oh and food commercials seem to be on even more when you cannot eat -just sayin’ !! I think I ended up losing 6-7 lbs. So now it was a waiting game and the ball was in the insurance companies court. Did I mention I hated waiting?

So I tried to keep myself busy preparing for my upcoming surgery by cleaning my house and getting things in order. I was mentally preparing myself and I was ready to go. It took the insurance company about 1 1/2 weeks to make a decision and guess what? DENIED. What? When the call came from my surgeons office with the news it was like waking up as a child on Christmas to find no presents under the tree. I was completely devastated.

I was told that the insurance company thought I did not follow the diet restrictions during the 6 months and my weight fluctuated too much. (oh crap I thought – I did this to myself). They did say, which was unusual, that if I did 3 more months of nutrition counseling they would reconsider, but I was not able to send the paperwork in until January 3rd 2012. At the time I was not at all happy, but I ended up coming to terms with it after a full fledged depression.

I had the holidays to get through and maybe that would help the time pass. Well during that time I started to smoke once again – after I worked so hard on quitting not long prior. Damn Cigarettes and Food – both were killing me. I knew I would have to quit all over again because I had to sign a paper with my surgeon stating I would quit 6 weeks prior to surgery – it is important to do that.

So here I went all over again – 3 more weigh ins to go. I tried to eat well and I did watch my intake which was hard during the holidays. What I also did each time before weigh in was that Liquid/Laxative 3-4 day diet. I know I know once again so not healthy, BUT I was not gonna get denied again. It was torture I am not gonna lie, but I did what had to be done. One time the night before weigh in I put on layers and layers of clothes and went on the treadmill for about an hour or so and sweat like bullets.

So I got to have yet another pre-op appointment with my surgeon on December 22nd which I thought would be my very last weigh in and then I would be home free till my new surgery date in January. WRONG again !!! My surgeon scheduled me in for a new surgery date of January 23rd, but he wanted me to come back for one more weigh in on January 3rd. Are you kidding me I thought. Not only do I have to get through Christmas, but I have to weigh in right after New Years. For the first time I was having a party and planned to make some yummy food and snacks.

So my head was spinning of course thinking about all the food I would have to give up to do another weigh in – DUH what is wrong with me – isn’t this why I was going through this??? Food has a hold on me. So I got over myself and did what I had to do. Oh and on January 1st it was right back to liquid. On January 3rd I weighed in for my very last time and in the 3 months I had dropped a total of 11 pounds. Not too bad and I was happy with that. I had a weight loss at each weigh in.

So after I left they submitted my paper work to my insurance company and the waiting game began yet again. I did not stress this time – I had a feeling they were going to take a while before I heard anything. I also told myself what ever happens happens – if I am denied again then it was just meant to be so.

On January 5th my phone rang and I saw it was my surgeon’s office calling (gotta love caller ID). I thought it is way too soon and I must have been denied again. So I pick it up and say “Hello” – the voice on the other end “Is this Nicole?”, “yes it is” (I am thinking just say it already !!!). She then went on to tell me they approved me. Shock set in. I hung up the phone and screamed. Hubby did not appreciate that since he was sitting right next to me – oh well. I got up and did my happy dance.

Next I was like – urgh I have to wait almost 3 weeks. Then I thought OMG I can eat !! No More weigh ins. See how my sick food addicted mind worked. So over those weeks I did not go crazy eating like a pig every day, BUT I did make sure to enjoy those foods I knew I would not be able to eat for a long time if ever again. The doctor’s say not to binge eat prior to the surgery, but are they stupid??- of course we will.

Some of the things I ate:

Steak – I know steak is so hard for bariatric patients after surgery

Entenmann’s Chocolate Donuts – Bought a few boxes

Hard Sourdough Pretzels and Cheddar Cheese Slices eaten together – my guilty pleasure

Gryo and Greek Salad

and a trip to the Chinese Buffet where I filled up on lots of Sushi and everything else – lol

So 4 days prior to my surgery date I had to be on a Liquid Diet. Every surgeon is different with what they require. I got to have Protein Shakes, Cream based Soups (strained), Yogurt, Broths, Jell-O. Decaf Tea & Coffee etc…

Ok so Decaf Coffee – I am a big coffee drinker so I had to give that up too. So now I was breaking up with food, I had already broke up with cigarettes (still struggle), I stopped biting my nails (forgot to mention) and now coffee. I am out of vices so now what? I guess we will see and I can only hope for the best. Maybe a new hobby or two huh?

And so the big days approaches – January 23rd, 2012 – the day that will change my life for the better. My 2nd Chance, my New start. Am I ready?

I had waited just over a year to get to this day.

My Story Continues in the next post with My Surgery Day, stay tuned…..

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Why I chose Gastric Bypass Surgery vs. another Diet and Exercise Plan

Decision Making

Decision MakingMaking the decision to have Gastric Bypass Surgery did not come easy at all. It was probably one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make for myself. Gastric Bypass Surgery is not the easy way out at all and you have to know that going in.

I have struggled with my weight for ever and have been on most diet plans. I know what I am suppose to do and eat and how important exercise is. It is a no brainer, BUT for me I have never been able to focus long enough to get to the point of maintenance. I would lose the weight to where I started feeling good and thinking – hey it is ok if I eat this donut and the rest is a downward slide each and every time. Something tells me you know exactly what I am talking about, right?

Yup I lack drive and motivation and on top of it all I suffer from depression. I noticed as I have gotten older it has gotten worse – almost as though I have given up altogether and maybe I had for awhile – at least that is what it felt like. Gone were the days of turning heads and getting whistled at cause I looked good to not wanting to leave the house cause I felt like a fat cow. It was my new reality, but deep inside I did not truly want to accept that. I have always felt like a beautiful butterfly inside, but I am stuck in this thick cocoon (aka – FAT) that I want gone so I can fly again.

I had never thought I would ever be making a decision to have Weight Loss Surgery. I was always one to think that surgery was a cop out and I had always heard such horror stories about it. Back in early 2010 I had an appointment to see my regular doctor and we were talking about my health and weight. He brought up to me that I should consider Weight Loss Surgery because my weight was getting out of control and I was over 100 lbs overweight. I was shocked for a moment – Really? Surgery? He gave me some information about going to a Weight Loss Surgery Seminar to just listen to what it was all about.

I thought about it that day and all the stories of people having complications and dying from it (that was what you would hear back when it was new and it stuck with me). Could I put myself through that? I have a family. What if something happened to me because I chose to take an easy way out to lose weight. What would people think… Well I never went and just put it in the back of my mind and continued doing what I do – comforting myself with food.

In November 2010 we took a family vacation to Florida to visit family and friends (oh and to celebrate my 40th birthday). I can remember the plane ride and how excited I was to not have to ask for a seat belt extender like I did on a prior flight. Well it was a different airline and I think the seat belts were a tiny bit longer and it was super tight, but I made it work. And why do they make those seats so damn small and narrow – I mean really. So my vacation was getting off to an uncomfortable start already.

We did a lot of different things on vacation and every day my weight was an issue. One of the things we did was go to Universal Studios and visit the Harry Potter section. My kids were super excited to go on the ride in the Hogwarts School. So hubby, me and the kids waited on line for over an hour. My hubby was gonna go with my son and I was gonna go with my daughter. So we get to the ride finally and my hubby and son go in their seats and my daughter and I go in ours. This ride had the bars that came down above you and I pulled mine down, but it would not snap in. All of a sudden I heard a buzzer go off and the next thing I know is a worker stopped the ride and came and told my daughter and I we had to get off and go through a door he pointed at. I felt like the bad egg from Willy Wonka – it was so humiliating. I think the worst was having to explain to my daughter what just happened. After that I just broke down, that was horrible.

During our trip we went to visit some old friends we made when we lived in Florida who we had not seen in years – Pete and Yvette (love them!!). When I saw Yvette she was just a 1/4 of the person I knew – I was like where the hell did she go – she looks AMAZING. Well I always thought she looked good, but we were always battling our weight and doing all kinds of diets back in the day together. Funny when you look back and to think that we thought we were so fat, but honestly I would give anything to go back and be as fat as I thought I was then. To think of the days when losing only 30 pounds was the goal to now when it is more like 150.

Anyway – Yvette had never announced she had Gastric Bypass Surgery to anyone and being I only saw few pictures on Facebook over the years I had no idea. It took me quite some time to scrape my jaw off the floor after seeing how thin and beautiful she looked. And here I am double the size I was when she last saw me – talk about feeling like a cow- Moo Moo.

Yvette came clean to me about having the Gastric Bypass Surgery and talked to me about it for hours. She told me everything she had gone through – the ups, downs and in betweens. She made me see the surgery in a much different way then I had ever before. Having the surgery is not a cop out at all – it is a lot of work, it is a tool to help get your life back. I had told her that my doctor had mentioned it and wanted me to consider it, but I was too afraid. Yvette gave me the confidence to take the first step to getting my life back.

When I got home from that vacation I made an appointment for the next Weight Loss Seminar that took place December 2010. Hubby came with me too and we sat listened and asked questions. Weight Loss Surgery has come a long way from the things I knew about it. I left with a much different feeling about it all, a good one. Yes I could chose to continue Yo Yo Dieting which had obviously never worked for me in the past from my history or I could be given a tool that will help me get to a much healthier weight. The risks of the surgery to me were minimal compared to the risks of my health being the weight I was and could potentially get to.

Now don’t get me wrong I worried for months and continued to question my decision up until the day of the surgery, but again the surgery for me always won the battle.

I want to thank Yvette from the bottom of my heart ♥ – if I had never gone to see my old friend I may not have ever taken the steps to my new life. That is what friends are for !!! Yvette still continues to be my inspiration and support and I cannot wait to go back and see her again – this time looking thin and smoking hot myself !!!