Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some major changes...Bariatric surgery?

I have been missing for a while.  A looooong while.  And when I pulled up my blog tonight I was a bit saddened when I saw that my last post was labeled" How Jennifer got her groove back".  The truth is, like most disappearing weight loss bloggers, I was NOT able to get my groove back.  In fact, I hit my highest weight ever at over 250 lbs.  I am 5'4.
I have been miserable. 
Uncomfortable in my own skin. 
Feeling defeated. 
My eyebrows look atrocious because why bother?

Having had a taste of thin(ish) in the past I truly feel like I am missing out on my own life.  I miss my confidence.  I miss wearing clothes that I like and that fit.  I miss having energy.  I miss putting on a bathing suit and not shrieking.

And then it happened....

I went to Dr after I tried to break up a dog scuffle.  My finger was infected.  Of course the first step was the scale.  I got on and she put it at 150.  Then 200.  Then she looked at me with a strange look and put it on 250.  Ding ding ding.  We have a winner.  The words that she said next I believe will change my life. 

"Wow.  You really hide your weight well....I want you to know that I was your weight a year ago and had bariatric surgery.  Best thing I ever did."

I thought she was crazy.  Who was she to say that?  I had never met her.  I acted like I was interested as she was telling me about her bariatric surgeon and how great he is, about how it was the best thing she ever did, and how happy she is. But really I was just shocked by her reaction to my weight.

So on the way home I called my mom to tell her, still in disbelief.  At work the next day I told my co-worker.  Her response was that her daughter in law had the surgery and is quite happy with it.  Huh.  So at this point, the wheels started spinning.  I was sure it was a long shot but could this be an option for me?  She put me in contact with her daughter in law and we chatted a bit about the procedure, the pre-op requirements, her dr, etc.  All of her experiences were great, and get this... the SAME SURGEON as that nurse I had met.  I looked him up online figuring I would find something, anything, to steer me away.  Nope.  Amazing reviews.  That says a lot for a dr these days.   I talked with my husband, then my mom, my grandma, and a very few close friends who I knew would be honest with me.  After all, this was a crazy idea right?

To my surprise...they were ALL FOR IT.  Wait...what? I am not big enough for this surgery right?  I thought for sure those very closest to me would be against surgery.  After all, it is "elective" right? I figured the insurance would never pay for this.  My mom's response hit home for me.  She said, "it's worth looking into Jen.  You have never settled for being overweight.  Some people accept it as part of who they are, but you never have.  I watch you struggle everyday".  She is right.

With my army of unexpected support, my research began...and continued for a while.   Then one day I ran into that nurse while at the vet's office.  Seriously?  We chatted for a bit and all of a sudden it just felt like it was time to call the Bariatric clinic to see how this whole process works.  They were very nice.  The first step was a mandatory info session that they offer once a month.  So I went with my amazing friend Laura.  The surgeon who I had heard so much about was the dr who gave the presentation. He then answered any questions anyone had. And I had questions :)  I am a research geek and I like to be prepared.

I filled out the paperwork they gave me and mailed it in a few days later.  They then review it and decide if they feel you are a candidate for bariatric surgery of any kind. If they think you are a candidate they call you with an appt.  Much to my surprise I am a candidate.  And not only am I a candidate, I have a BMI of 43 which means the insurance most likely wont put up much of a fight.  I am morbidly obese...the highest category of obesity.

HUH.   Was this really happening?

I went to my first appointment with the surgeon and nutritionist on January 21.  I didn't really know what to expect. I also met with the nutritionist that day as well.  My husband came with me and even asked questions.  The dr said something that stuck with me when answering one of my husbands questions.
Hubs: "Can she gain the weight back"
Doc: "There is an 80% chance she will not, but if she doesn't change her eating habits she can become one of the 20%.  However, once a person reaches morbid obesity, their chances of getting the weight off and keeping it off are less than 5%...and that's what makes it a disease."

BAM....And that was it.  That was the turning point when I knew this was for me.  I have been yoyo dieting for years.  More than half my life actually.  I have been fighting an uphill battle for sure but I never knew the statistics were that strongly evidenced.

I would like to also say that I have done lots of research on the different procedures out there.  And this office is, in my opinion, VERY thorough to make sure that you succeed and that this is not a decision made on a whim.  You cant just make an appointment and go have surgery.  No.  There is a whole process, and a bariatric agreement you have to sign. There is a 3-6 month time frame or more before you can have the surgery.
Here are a few examples of requirements for both pre and post op patients:
Lose 5% of starting weight
Meet with nutritionist regularly
Psychological clearance
Sleep Study and clearance
Blood work
Several appts with surgeon before and after surgery
Support group meetings before and after surgery
Letter of medical necessity from primary dr.

I have most of these things completed but I am hung up on the sleep study.  I have been tired.  I chalked it up to my weight.  But now I find out I apparently I have sleep apnea and restless sleep. My oxygen levels drop into a concerning %.   It was concerning enough that I have to go back again for another test this week with a CPAP to see if it helps.  Hopefully it does and I can get the clearance.  This is just one more thing that reminds me that I need to get this weight off for good. 

So there you have it.  This brings me up to where I am now.  Tomorrow I will write about some of the tests I have had done and some of the reactions from friends(the few I have told anyway).  I hope this finds you all well.  I will be spending some time catching up on favorite blogs!



Lyn said...


I so relate to all your feelings and the whole experience of losing weight on Medifast, getting to a reasonably normal, close to goal weight, and then losing it and regaining. Gosh it is hard. It hurts, you miss the old way you used to be, wonder how you let it get out of hand... how did this happen? I totally am there. I wish you absolutely the best with whatever you decide to do and I hope to read more about your success over the following months.

divad said...

I support you 100% in this decision Jennifer. My brother had this surgery a few years ago and has been quite happy with the results. By the way, that's the number I reached this time when I said enough is enough again! (we are the same height) I'm really glad you are back to blogging...I've missed you.

Desert Singer said...

A huge decision and I wish you all the very best! I weighed in at 308 a couple days ago... and I understand the "how did I get here? Again?"

Hubby and I are juicing and eating plant-based for a lot of reasons, but mostly for health...

I too look forward to you sharing your journey with us!

Debsdailylife said...

So good to hear from you again!!! I went through the preop testing. I had to have 6 months of visits with my PCP, meet a nutritionist, have labs and EKG, meet the surgeon, prove that I could lose some weight. I did everything up until the last visit. I then decided not go through with it, I had lost 30 lbs, and decided to try on my own again.
I wish you all the best, and loko forward to hearing all about your journey!!!