Thursday, August 2, 2018

Part One: Just a Little Trip to the Doctor

Welcome back, friends! Today begins part one of a three part series talking all about my pre-op journey. I've received a lot of messages about what it all looked like, how the insurance pre-approval process was for me and many other inquiries over the last several months. My hope is that there's a little something for everyone included in these next three posts, whether you're seeking bariatric surgery or not. Happy reading! 

It had already been a beast of a year. I herniated a disc in my back moving a trunk full of my collection of candles in February and underwent two steroid injections that didn't relieve any pain. I added a Neurologist to my growing list of doctor referrals because of potential nerve issues, a Chiropractor and also physical therapy to get any relief I could. Nothing really helped and I was in so much pain I could barely walk or sit comfortably.. long story short, it was pure agony. But what nobody told me about steroid injections is that they can completely throw off your cycle. I already had PCOS, making my cycles irregular and funky on their own. But with the addition of the two back injections, I didn't have a period for months which meant that our trying to conceive journey came to an abrupt halt. In the months leading up to my back injury, we went through two early miscarriages and had started to talk with my doctor about our options and potential barriers that were in the way of us growing our family. Ya know, completely overlooking the fact that my weight was high up on that list of potential barriers but who really wants to face that music? I had been on every diet. Started, stalled and put the weight back on on repeat. Over and over again. 


March 2, 2017 after my second and last steroid injection

I wrote a post a few days before undergoing Gastric Bypass surgery in November announcing to our little world on Facebook that in a few days, our lives were going to change forever. And while the rest of our friends were announcing their beautiful new babies, I thought it was just as important to tell the world about the road that we were about to embark on-- even if we'd been on the road and keeping it to ourselves since April. And that's really when it all started.. last April with a routine visit to my OB-GYN for my annual exam. 

I sat in her office last April 2017 and we had a very hard conversation in between all the other routine stuff. It all came to a head when she looked over my chart and said, "let's talk about your previous gastric sleeve surgery you had done in 2008. What happened? Who did it? Let's talk about it because it's been in your chart forever and it just doesn't make sense as I'm piecing it all together." So I proceeded to tell her everything. In 2006 I had a lap band put in, I did really well with it for a few years and saw results until the band slipped in 2008. My previous surgeon moved out of state and we met with a well known, prominent bariatric surgeon at the time in the metroplex and he said we had to get it out of there and he'd perform a gastric sleeve on me. I'd finally get to finish my journey in a safer way, he said. So, in December of 2008 we had the band taken out and allegedly he operated on my stomach and I had a gastric sleeve. We did it during my holiday break of my senior year of college so that I'd have plenty of time to recover but that also meant that I was on a liquid and clear liquid diet for my final exams. #whatwasithinking

All that to say, I never saw results. I never felt the restriction I should have felt for someone who had such a large portion of their stomach cut out. The doctor said to keep ratcheting down my portions and made it pretty clear that it was my fault that I wasn't succeeding. Which was excruciating. Years passed, I moved to Colorado to start graduate school, met my husband, made new friends and created a life for myself and it became the topic that I never discussed with anyone. Literally, it became my shame story to carry and I always carried with me the fact that life went on, years passed and if anything, weight was GAINED. Restriction was never felt and it was all. my. fault. 

I told her all of this sitting and crying on her exam table with one of those completely awkward and terrible paper jacket gown situations draped over me. Y'all, those things are terrible! Can we talk about that? Terrible. The worst. But she listened. Like, really listened. And finally said, "We need to get to the bottom of this and I know how much you want to grow your family.. but what if I could just have the bariatric coordinator at our hospital here call you?" I looked at her and said, "They'd never want to talk to me. What would there even be to talk about? In their eyes and in a surgeon's eyes my lapland slipped, I had a second, more invasive surgery and I failed it. They'd want nothing to do with me.." and she was INSISTENT. She said, "You don't know this. And they talk to people like you every single day. I'm going to give you her number and I really, really want you to give her a call or I can have her call you. I just feel it in my bones that we need to look into this and that we were supposed to have this conversation today, Liz." 

And so I got in my car afterwards completely shocked and confused as to how my annual pap smear had turned into my doctor reaching down to the bowels of my medical history and picking up the one thing that every doctor since 2008 has seen and ignored or just simply not cared enough to bring up. We had talked about the very thing that I hid from the world and y'all, I went through a two year Counseling graduate program where we talked about ALL of the things. Things you didn't even know where bubbling under the surface.. that's just how well I had wrapped it up and tucked it neatly away never to be talked about or thought of with anyone. Apparently I wasn't THAT good at it because it always stuck with me and through grad school, I gained more weight in that two year period than ever before. So apparently, your girl was wrestling with a lot that was under the surface and stuffing it down with food further and further to no avail. 

I'm going to leave it there because this story is a long one and I think it's probably best to be broken up into segments. It's a lot. But I'll tell you one thing- that doctor's visit shed some seriously needed light on the darkest part of my life and although we had no resolution yet, it was a relief to have it out there  and talked about. I had been through so much physical pain in the months leading up to this appointment and was so focused on how my back injections put a halt to our journey to starting a family. I remember just sitting in my car in the parking lot after this appointment feeling an odd sense of relief. Like a burden had been lifted off of my heart. I felt weird, no doubt, talking about this secret part of my life with my OBGYN. But a seed was planted that day that I'll forever be thankful for. 

I'll see y'all back here next week for Part Two! Have the happiest of Thursdays!


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