I owe someone close to me a huge apology in regards to having a gastric bypass done. She didn’t know she was owed an apology, until she reads this that is, but I owed her one. When she had one done roughly ten years ago I actually stated to a third party that I didn’t understand why she didn’t do it the old fashioned way and tough it out. In my ignorance, at the time, I considered it the “easy way.”
There is absolutely nothing easy about a gastric bypass. I had to think long and hard about it after I read fully about the procedure and only after I had exhausted all other options. I had been on diet exercise routines for years. I had tried everything from premade meal plans, to counting points, I tried pills and eliminated carbs. I would drop roughly thirty pounds and then gain it all back, plus some, over and over again. I finally made up my mind when I had apparently pulled a muscle in my left shoulder and the brief thought fluttered across my brain that “am I having heart issues?” I’m only thirty-three at that point, but I have a strong family history of heart attack and stroke.
It’s not a “fix” is the first thing that I had to get right in my mind. I will lose weight, it’s a guaranteed that the pounds will come off, but it’s up to me to relearn how to eat nutritious food in appropriate portions and incorporate exercise into my everyday life.
I was able to quit smoking cold turkey after fifteen years of a pack-to-two-packs a day habit on September 16, 2013. I for whatever reason, cannot seem to be able to quit the habits that have lead me to be this size. I didn’t need a patch to quit smoking, I need a “patch” to quit being fat. That is what the gastric bypass is. It is a tool, not a solution.
But just making a decision to go for it, is not enough. There are a plethora of hoops to hop through in order to finally get consideration from the insurance company. I first had a get a referral from my primary care physician. After my first visit with my surgeon I was given a list of things to accomplish.
I had to get labs drawn, if you’ve never experienced lab work at this level, I suggest drinking a lot of water the night before because after ten vials of blood taken you will feel like having juice and a cookie to replenish. The labs are good things because they’re very detailed. For example I had elevated cholesterol levels, and a vitamin D deficiency. So, they are quite informative.
I had to have an Endoscopy done. Sometimes people have to have a colonoscopy but, thankfully, I was not one of those people. During my EDG they discovered a small hernia and that I have acid reflux/gerd so they prescribed medication to combat that.
An abdominal ultrasound to have a look at the liver and kidneys as well as other organs to give the surgeon a good idea of what to anticipate. During this they examine for fatty liver disease which causes an enlargement of the liver and can actually impede the surgery.
A sleep study to determine if there is any sleep apnea taking place. This is not just to obtain a co-morbidity but sleep apnea can also have an impact on how effective anesthesia is.
A psychological evaluation in order to gain clearance for the surgery. They have to know that you are mentally sound in order to make this level of a life changing decision.
I had to meet with my dietitian for six months. Meeting with her once a month and it had to be consecutive. I could not miss a meeting with her or I would have to start over again as if I had not met with her at all. During the dietitian visits are when I learned quite a bit about the diet that I would have to be on after surgery as well as the vitamin and mineral supplements I will have to take for life.
Some patients have to also go for a cardiac evaluation also. I was, fortunately, not one.
Prior to surgery I have to go on a clear liquid, high protein, diet for two weeks in order to shrink my liver so that it can be safely and effectively retracted in order to get to my stomach and intestines. I will also have to use a special wash on my stomach, from under my breasts to my pelvic bone, for five days prior to surgery.
It’s been a long journey to this point. One I started in August 2014, it’s been a lot of driving to appointments and scheduling taking place. It’s worth it, but for a while there I wasn’t even sure I was going to get approved. That was the hardest part, so far, was the anxiety about whether or not it would even happen for me.
Thankfully I have been approved and my surgery is scheduled for May 5th. However that’s just another landmark in the road. I have a long journey ahead of me filled with liquid diet, pureed foods, soft solids and finally eating solid foods. Not to mention all the vitamins, calcium, iron and b12 supplements in my future.