I am spoiled by my employer. Not only do they provide me with Medical Insurance that made the process of getting the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy very simple and quick, but they also have Short-Term (and Long-Term) Disability pay to protect my job. For the first eight weeks, I got 100% of my pay, and after that it dropped down to 80% of my pay. Now I know that the normal amount of time approved off for the VSG surgery is about four weeks. However, working with my surgeon, I was approved for six weeks off for recovery. That gave me enough time to get use to my new stomach, and learn to pace myself when eating and drinking. I wanted to make sure that I was able to handle normal foods before I went back to work. For the first four weeks, everything was going just fine, but around the fifth week, all hell broke loose. I was vomiting constantly! I couldn't keep anything down, not even water. I brought this up to my doctor during my last visit with him before I was supposed to go back to work on September 1, 2016, and he had put in a request to have an Upper GI scan done. Well, I didn't end up making it to work that day. I couldn't go but five minutes without vomiting. After picking my husband up from work, I told him that I wanted to go to the Emergency Room because I was completely exhausted from vomiting constantly all day. First thing the doctor wanted to take care of was getting me re-hydrated! I laid in the hospital bed with an IV in my arm for about three hours. My husband and I both thought that they were just going to release me after that. That didn't happen. They admitted me. My husband kept asking the nurse when she thought that I would be released, and she told him probably the following afternoon. Boy, was she wrong! That next morning, they ordered me to do a Pipida Scan. I hated that machine more than anything. The only thing that I can compare it to is a Rubix Cube. I had to lay in that machine for an hour and a half. I was instructed not to move. At this point, the vomiting had decreased tremendously, but I always knew when I was about to vomit again. Well, an hour into the test, they woke me up (I fell asleep a few times actually) and told me that they were going to push Morphine into me, because the fluids weren't traveling into my Gallbladder like it was supposed to. One thing that did make me vomit nearly instantly was pain medication! I told nurse that I was going to vomit if she put the Morphine in my body. She of course said that she had to, and proceeded on. I literally had to choke back the vomit for about five minutes because, I was once again instructed not to move, also with this stupid machine right on top of me, I really had nowhere to go. When they brought me back up to my room, they didn't tell me what anything meant. I was just told that the doctor would be in shortly to discuss the results. I was pretty sure that meant I had a bum Gallbladder. About an hour or so passed by, and the doctor came in and told me that I had a HUGE Gall Stone blocking the entry-way into my Gallbladder, and that darn thing needed to be removed! So I was scheduled to have my Gallbladder removed that following morning. Yikes! I didn't have time to prepare myself for this! I was honestly more freaked out about having my Gallbladder removed, over the VSG surgery. So, Saturday, September 3rd, my parents came and kept me company, as my husband had prior plans to help his aunt move, while I was waiting on the surgeon. I thought I was freezing before, I was so cold this whole entire time, from the point that I was in the ER, until the time that I got back home. When in the recovery room, prior to surgery, I had a total of six blankets on me. I was still freezing. I honestly don't remember anything after they wheeled me back to the Operating Room. However, I do remember being in more pain than I was from when I had my VSG done. I honestly think that the Gallbladder surgery and recovery was worse than the Sleeve surgery. I was in pain for weeks! I was told before and after surgery that most patients get to go home the same day, or the next day. It all just depended on if I could keep foods down. I got really excited, because I wanted to be home more than anything. I dislike being in hospital. Well, that was not the case. I still wasn't able to keep anything down. I was still vomiting. I didn't get to go home until September 9, 2016. I was in the hospital for almost eight full days! Stupid Gallbladder! At this point, I was supposed to be in the stage of being able to eat soft, non-pureed foods, but I hadn't been able to eat anything for 2 weeks, they insisted on keeping me on liquids for a few days. I was, of course, still vomiting. I was getting so tired of vomiting, that I was refusing anything that had to go in my mouth, including medication. (The funny thing is, I never really had pain that required Morphine, but they kept on coming in asking if I was ready for it. Um, no thank you!) The doctors were getting mad at me because I was refusing things that they thought would work. They then decided to put a PICC line in me so they could put me on a nutrition bag of some sort, because I wasn't getting anything other than the IV fluids. They started talking as if I was going to be sent home with this thing! Oh hell no! But I started to feel better afterwards, and I slowly started letting them bring me my liquids, and I tried my best to get in as much as I could at each meal time. I wasn't vomiting as much, and not right after eating, so I started letting them give me some medications by mouth at that point. Well, on September 8th, 2016, they finally brought me pureed meals! I was so happy! I was able to keep it down, and I didn't vomit the whole day! I was really wanting to go home, I thought they were going to release me before dinner. The big slap in the face was when they brought me my meal sheet for September 9th, 2016. I started crying because I didn't think I would ever get out. I thought the doctor was happy that I was finally eating again. I moped in the bed the rest of the day. I was interrupted by a Psychologist that the doctor ordered me to talk with. (I guess they were thinking that I wasn't eating purposely.) He decided that I needed to be on some mood stabilizing medications. I took it just once, and never took it again. It was also supposed to help me sleep, it didn't. I was up half the night, like every other night in the hospital. Well, right after breakfast on the 9th, the lady came in and asked if I was ready to go home! Of course! I called my mom to make sure she could come get me. I had to wait a little while for them to complete all the discharge forms, and for them to take that damn PICC line out of me. Then I had to be monitored for another hour afterwards to make sure there wasn't any bleeding caused by the PICC line. Then I was free to go! I was sent home with $500 worth of medications that they wanted me to take. Most of them were the medications that I refused the whole time while in the hospital.
To go back to the beginning of my post, I ended up being out of work for 12 weeks. I didn't go back to work until October 12th, 2016. I am thankful for having my Short-Term Disability, because I would have been so far behind on my bills, and probably without a job. During the time in the hospital, I actually gained 13 pounds. I was devastated! I literally avoided the scale for almost the entire remaining month of September. The water weight just didn't want to come off! But when October came around, I was right back on track to losing! I went back to work feeling like a completely new person!
As you can tell, my name is Chelsea. Hi! I am twenty-four years old. I was born and raised in the state of Kansas, where I continue to live. I am married to my very first love, that came back to me years later. I work for a wonderful company in the insurance industry. In my spare time, I've taught myself how to crochet, I read a lot, and spend a majority of my time listening to music. I have no kids, but have two cats. (Honestly, the way they fight with each other, the might as well be kids.) I one day would like to have kids, and that is one of the main reasons for me looking into weight loss surgery.
Early January, 2016, I don't know what crossed my mind, but I knew that I didn't want to be 331 pounds any longer! I have lived the majority of my life being obese. I'm only five-feet, three-inches tall, so the weight did not set pretty on me. For years, I tried everything under the sun to lose weight. However, I always ran into the same issues. The first month of trying to lose weight, I would lose about fifteen pounds. The second month, I would be lucky to lose five more pounds. About come the third month, I had gained by the twenty-ish pounds that I managed to lose, plus more! So I was done with the option of losing it on my own. It just didn't seem to work for me. I reached out to the insurance company that handles my employers medical benefits, and was advised that due to my BMI being 58.6, I had met the qualifications to be approved for weight loss surgery, I just had to go to one of their approved surgeons. Fine! I took a few names, and called around, landing at Dr. Mohsin Soliman, with St. Joseph Surgical Associates in Kansas City, MO. I made that call in mid-January. I couldn't even get in to see the surgeon until March 16th, 2016. It seemed like forever away at that point, but that gave me enough time to make sure that this is really what I wanted to do. After meeting with Dr. Soliman for the first time, I knew that I was in great care. At times, I found that he was more excited for me than my own husband. When I left after my first meeting with him, I was given a chore list of things to do before I saw him again in April. I had to set up an appointment with his recommended Psychologist, to make sure that I was wanting this for all the right reasons. I also had to do a phone interview with his recommended nutritionist. I also had to do a Sleep Study, beecause my lovely husband just had to open his mouth and tell Dr. Soliman that I snore in my sleep. Well, come to find out, I have mild-sleep apnea, and was provided with a CPAP machine. I'll save that whole story for later! When I came back in April, I was told that I needed to get a letter stating I was healthy enough to undergo this surgery from my Family Doctor, which I never really had. If I ever got sick, I just used a walk-in clinic. He, again, referred me to a recommended doctor, who did a medical exam on me. I was sent in for blood work, and eventually got my approval letter.
At this point, I have done everything that the insurance and the surgeon required. But there was a bit of a disconnect with the surgeon's nurse. They saw that I had my insurance through United Health Care, and I'm assuming that they probably didn't call the insurance company to verify what my policy requirements were. One visit I was told that I had to see them for four consecutive months, to document my weight. I told her that was wrong, that my policy didn't have a requirement for documented weight. Well, the next time I came in, it was that I needed to see them for seven consecutive months for weight documentation! At this point, I was getting frustrated, and again told her that my nurse case manager with United Healthcare has told me numerous times that I don't have a specified amount of time for weight documentation. I was at the point that I was going to go to a different surgeon because of this. After making a few calls, I found out that the other surgeons had crazy requirements, and upfront dues that had to be paid before they could even schedule the surgery. So I stuck it out, but ended up finding the policy language for Bariatric Surgery on United Healthcare's website, and sent it to them in an email. This finally set everything straight, and they submitted my case to the insurance company for the official approval! I was told it could take two full weeks to obtain an answer. I was impatient, I'll admit, I probably called every other day to check on the status of the approval. Right around the two week mark, I got a call from the surgeon's nurse, stating that I had been approved for surgery, and they can put me on the schedule. I got that call near the end of June, and was scheduled almost a month out, for July 21st, 2016. That again felt like a long time to wait, but gave me plenty of time to prepare myself mentally, and to complete the ten-day pre-operative diet. For the first seven days of the diet, I could have two protein shakes, and one lean protein meal. For the remaining three ways, I could have three protein shakes. The days leading up to the diet, I was freaking out. I dreaded the diet. I thought I was going to starve! But after the first few days passed, I was just fine!
The day of surgery, my husband and I drove to the hospital together. My mom ended up meeting us at the hospital a few hours later. I promise, the nerves really sky rocketed when they said that the surgeon was running a little bit early, and they started wheeling me back to the operating room. My biggest fear was that I would have messed up the pre-operative diet, and my liver didn't shrink like it was supposed to. This was my first surgery, other than having my wisdom teeth removed, I was literally thinking the worst the whole time before they put me under. I remember waking up in the recovery room, freezing! And in much pain! I'm sure I was probably over reacting, but I was legitimately in the most uncomfortable amount of pain I have ever felt. So, I was in the recovery room for a little while, and I didn't get to see my mom before she had to leave, and didn't get to see my husband until I got wheeled up to my room. They wanted to make sure that the pain was managed before they moved me. I remember asking the lady numerous times after I woke up if everything went okay. I guess that the first time hearing it wasn't reassuring enough. Crazy what anesthesia does to your brain! I really got lucky, because I didn't get the gas pain that a lot of people say they deal with. I was just in the uncomfortable pain from the incisions, and them removing a pretty big portion of my stomach. I was such a baby when the night doctor told me that I needed to get out of bed, and do some laps around the hallways. I was not a nice person at this point. It didn't help that I also was on my period the day of surgery. My mom was back at the hospital at this time, and it took her, my husband, and the nurse to get me up in that hallway making my laps. I didn't want to have it. I just wanted to lay in that bed forever. After I realized that walking actually helped with the pain, I was up doing my laps without them even being in the room to ask me to.
I only had to stay overnight. I had to do the "swallow" test to make sure there weren't any leaks, and then I was cleared to have liquids! That first sip of water was the worst thing I had ever experienced. Let me just tell you, the first few days after surgery is not fun! By no means am I a perfect Bariatric Patient. To this day, I still don't get all the required amounts of water in. I don't always get the required amounts of protein in. Hell, I really suck at eating/drinking period. I have to remind myself to eat most days. I am honestly, never hungry! This surgery has really turned my life around. Stick around, I'll be going more into detail about a lot of aspects of this journey thus-far. I have many before and after pictures that I will be sharing. Let me know if you have any questions at all!
For now, I will leave you with a picture that my mom snapped of me the day of surgery, prior to surgery! The thrills of no make-up, the messy hair, and the fat ugly face! Ha! She had the nerve to post this on facebook! But whatever, five months down the road, I am nowhere near that same person anymore!