Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tripping Over the Stumbling Blocks

In early August I was running errands and realized I was going to be just about a block away from Synergy Bariatrics.  I had just gotten my registration packet from them, and in it there was a note about the various support group meetings that they hold.  This particular night was post-op support, so I decided to stop in and check it out.   I figured it would be good to get some perspective "from the ground" in addition to all the stuff I'd found online.

There were about two dozen people at this meeting, and mostly everyone there had had gastric bypass.  There were a few sleeved folks there, and a few pre-ops including one lady was going in for her sleeve the following morning.  She was there with her husband who was 5 weeks post-op gastric bypass.

I listened to the stories and I studied the faces as they talked about their journeys.  I saw "before" photos as they got passed around.  I became momentarily stressed out when a woman began screeching about her incorrect bipolar med adjustment after her 150-pound weight loss, but most of the stories I heard were triumphant stories of newfound joy in life,  renewed confidence, and restored health.   I started to cry a number of times, not just at the success stories of these people who were now so happy to be alive, but at the thought that I, too, could be one of them.

Before I knew what was happening, my registration packet had been submitted and I was sucked into a vortex of doctor appointments, consultations, blood work, paperwork, classes,  counseling, evaluations, food journals, and so on.  By the end of August I'd gotten all my paperwork in, had my consultation with the surgeon, and had a full blood panel drawn.  By the end of September I'd taken a nutrition seminar and scheduled my psych evaluation.  In October I was given psychiatric clearance and started the mind-body workshop with the counselor.

On October 25th, my world was temporarily shattered by the notification that Premera had denied my authorization.  Not to be sidelined so easily, I threw myself into action.  I gathered support letters from my sister and two of my best friends.  My doctor wrote a letter of support.  I wrote a four-page letter appealing the decision.  And just for good measure, I included an 8-page photo essay that chronicled my weight fluctuations over a 30-year span.

It worked.  The second time around they approved me, and I'm scheduled for my surgery on April 10th.  I have a million things to do before then - more bloodwork, pre-admission appointments, pre-op diet, medical clearance exams...and that's just the medical side of things.  I also need to make sure that I'm set up to take the time off from work, make sure I have my support team assembled, get the house organized so that said support team can find their way around and have a place to sit when they come over to hang out during my recovery, and I need to ensure that I have enough juice, broth, and water to get me through the first week so I don't have to worry about leaving the house.  It's a lot to think about, even more than two months out.

It seems so far away, but it's closer than I think.  Holy crap.

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