Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Part Two: A Trip to the Fair

Welcome back to part 2 of this little pre-op series! 

That little seed that was planted grew legs and roots and limbs and all of a sudden, that fear and shock turned into action. I wanted to get as much information as I could and in doing so, my husband and I looked into different bariatric programs in the area, went to an information session on Good Friday and did all the things we possibly could to arm ourselves with as much information as we could as we processed this potential next step. 

And as uncomfortable as the thought of calling the hospital bariatric coordinator was, I did it anyway. I was terrified. But I told her my story, she said she hears it more than I would ever comprehend and that I was not alone. We went over the surgeons and their experience and ultimately, I made another phone call to the surgeon's office who specializes in revision surgery. Since I previously had bariatric surgery and we were looking to "fix" it, any potential surgery in the future would be a revision. 

A week later and we were in the surgeon's office and one of us #guesswho was so nervous she could have thrown up. Regardless, it meant everything to me that my husband went to that first appointment and every appointment I've had since- because we truly embarked down this road from the beginning and are still going through this journey as a team. And that's pretty dang special. In any case, the surgeon took an in depth look at my history, my prior surgeries, who performed them and then did something pretty remarkable as I finished my word vomit that was strewn with tears and anxiety and me talking a million miles a minute out of sheer nerves: he picked up his pen and he drew a barbell. "I've spent the last 10 years of my career revising and re-doing your surgeon's work and without even going in there, I'm 98% sure that this is what your stomach has looked like from the time he sleeved you. He was notorious for taking a tiny bit off from the top and bottom, leaving you with a sleeve that resembles a barbell and not an actual sleeve. "(a sleeved stomach is straight up and down- kind of like a test tube). I just sat there staring at it and he kept talking, saying things like, "he was notorious for a 20 minute surgery, not actually doing the actual procedure, taking the tiniest bit off the stomach and leaving the patient with no restriction, a failed surgery and no results. But we should schedule an EGD and get the ball rolling so we can get in there and see what exactly you were left with." 

I'd be lying if I said I could walk straight to my car as we left his office. Instead, I made it out of the office and stood with my back perched on the wall in the hallway before we left the building as I took my breath and had a mix of emotions that I can still feel today if I think about that conversation. And I just looked at Ben and kept saying, "I feel like I waited my whole life to hear those words.. this hasn't been my fault." 

A week later, I was suited up and taken back into the operating room for my EGD (endoscopy) to be scoped. It was quick and painless and I woke up 45 minutes later next to my husband as the surgeon held my hand and said the best words I think I've ever heard: "It looks exactly how I thought. You never had the surgery. It looks exactly like the picture. You were never meant to have restriction. It was never going to work. It was never your fault. Let's proceed with the road to the gastric bypass and my office will call you tomorrow and we'll start the process and get you booked for appointments." I walked out of that hospital room feeling like I was on top of the world and also walking on clouds. I will truly never forget that feeling.. And then the adventure really started. 
May 8, 2017 All kinds of excited before my EGD! 

Without boring you with every tiny detail, since we have bariatric coverage through my husband's job, we started down the road to approval via insurance and I did all of the necessary things they required that are very standard- an echocardiogram and stress test with a cardiologist, a psych evaluation with a psychologist, I met with a (my now) trainer who specializes in working with bariatric patients for a fitness evaluation and a nutritionist at the hospital who works with bariatric patients, as well. The doctor's office submitted my paperwork and we had a tentative surgery date set for July 18. In the meantime, I saw him every few weeks for weigh ins as we prepared for the potential surgery and he said that he wanted my weight to either stabilize through the pre-op process or go down, but that I couldn't gain any weight. And honestly, with all of the new knowledge I had about what happened all those years ago, I felt like I could do anything- including not gain any weight for the next few months. 

We were denied by insurance 7 days before my tentative surgery date as I was on my (first) liquid diet gearing up for this potential surgery. We travelled for a weekend to see family who was visiting west Texas and we spent the weekend on a boat, at restaurants, surrounded by my favorite little nephews and I was eating chicken broth and protein shakes. When I got word from my surgeon's office about the denial, they walked me through what we would do next and I wanted to arm the insurance company with as much information as I could. I tracked down my medical records from the botched bariatric surgery in 2008  and every single doctor visit I had since high school and their records of my weight. We sent off an even bigger file of paperwork including everything they could ever want from me regarding my weight history and I called our insurance company daily. It was a mess. The weeks were long. My anxiety was at an all time high and by this point only a few close friends and family knew about the excruciating process we were going down and they asked constantly what the news was, when we'd hopefully find out, what in the actual world was going on.. And it was just HARD. All of it. And the hardest part was that I was fighting this fight, we were fighting this fight, but life was still happening around us that we had to show up for. 

Eventually, we set another date for September, I was denied again and at this point, my husband and I were going up the HR ladder at his job to get the help we needed. We sent more paperwork, had more conversations, fought with insurance on the daily until one Friday afternoon in October we were heading to the State Fair of Texas with my mom. I mean, y'all! If you're not a Texan, I would tell you the only acceptable time to visit the state is during the state fair. 

We were all in the car excited for her to have her first Fletchers Corny Dog when my husband got a call from the insurance rep who worked with his company at the insurance headquarters. "I can't believe how long this has taken but I finally got the  paperwork in the right person's hands and everything she's experienced and what she's trying to do makes total sense. I can't say it officially but, it's looking like she's approved. We'll work on this through the weekend and I'll call you early next week when I know something." And then I passed out and died. #justkidding. But SERIOUSLY.. that phone call was everything (it was on speaker) and as we parked our car in the state fairgrounds, the three of us got insanely excited at this news while I also remained uncertain. I mean, who knows? It'd been months since we started down this road and at this point, I was working out with my trainer for a few months a few times a week and I had finally gotten to a place where I said to my trainer, "Regardless of if this surgery happens or not, I'm moving forward. It's not going to make or break my road ahead.. it will just look a little different." And I think it's important to note that I finally truly had a team of professionals around me and felt completely and 100% supported. So, if this didn't work out, I was still gearing up to losing the weight. I was still going to be okay. 

Three days later it was Monday morning. Ben called me from work at around 9 a.m. Not totally unlike him but I had no clue what was coming. "BABE! Are you sitting down?" "umm, no.." I said. "YOU'RE APPROVED! IT'S BEEN APPROVED! IT'S ACTUALLY GOING TO HAPPEN! We're on for November 2!" And I LITERALLY fell to the floor. Literally. I was shocked. And what I remember most about that moment was that I let out the biggest sigh as he said those words, it was as if I could finally take a breath. Months of anticipation, worry, doubt, frustration and fight and I could finally take a breath. 

And isn't that how it always happens? I fought this beast for so long every.single.day all the while just assuming at the beginning that this would pan out as perfectly as I pictured in my mind. But if I could go back in time and tell myself anything, I'd shake myself and remind that girl gently to just be in the moment. That God had this. And He had me. I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, I always have, and in this case I had finally gotten to a point where I realized that the knowledge of my botched surgery was going to be enough and also be the fuel to the fire in me finally losing this weight. If the revision surgery wasn't going to happen-- I was going to be okay. I was still going to make it work. It was just going to be a slower road and that was okay. And then God shows up with 4 seconds left in the 4th quarter and throws the hail mary. (Look at me being all sports ) and it all makes sense. 

If anything, those several months taught me more than I ever imagined. That I was stronger than I ever thought I was and that knowledge was power. And to be honest, looking back, the months of fighting for this dream made the news of getting the surgery a true GIFT to my life. And that gift is still something that I hold on to nearly nine months after my surgery. and hope to never let go of. I had to work tirelessly for that gift. I fought over that gift. Prayed over that gift. Worried endlessly over that gift and (bonus!) I had my first experience fighting a long, hard battle without using food to cope, so I was kind of ahead of the game. And wouldn't you believe I didn't gain an ounce during that whole process, which I'll go ahead and chalk up to a win right there. 

So with that, I'll leave you there. One minute you just think you're going to splurge at the fair on a corny dog and a funnel cake and the next, you're too nervous to eat one because you're convinced that if you eat all the fair foods, it will send too much bad juju into the universe and the surgery wouldn't come to life because you stuffed your face with fair carbs (the best kind!) after what was later a pretty significant phone call. What can I say? I never said I was a rational thinker.. 

And 9 months later and I still think about that day at the fair and every moment leading up to it and I'm insanely proud. And I don't feel that often. I pray that anyone else looking to get bariatric surgery has a different, better, EASIER experience but if the road is long and timultious, I promise you can do this. And it's worth it. You are worth it. And months after your dreams come true, I hope you'll look back with such a grateful heart and look ahead with more excitement and joy than you've ever experienced. 

Happy Tuesday, friends! Stay tuned for part 3! 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogging tips