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!