Friday, July 24, 2009

Chuggin along

The surgery adventure continues...

Wednesday I had my nursing assessment and was told I only need two clearances - my primary care doctor and a psychologist. The nurse said she would send me the paperwork she needs signed, but I'm still waiting on that. At this point, I'm looking at a mid to late October date due to work.

Speaking of work, I told my co-worker (the only other person in my department with me everyday) about the surgery. I was actually nervous to tell her, but she reacted pretty well. She was very excited for me.

As far as others go...the word is spreading fast. I've told a few of my friends, talked to my sister-in-law about it, and my cousin. My family is all on board. Thank goodness!! I had a good talk with my SIL last night. She had lap-band done in March 07. It felt really nice to talk with someone who knows me personally and also knows the new situation I am getting myself into. She encouraged me even more than I've felt from anything else.

And tonight we see the TRIPLETS! It feels like forever since we saw them. They are playing and running around now. I packed last night and will leave a little early today so I we can get there before dinner and have some play time before they go down for bed. I'm so excited :) Pics will be coming soon!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


After two weeks of nothing, I finally have some progress to report on the VSG front! I received my self-pay checklist from the "Patient Concierge" and am expecting a call from a nurse tomorrow or Thursday to determine what clearances I'll need to get before scheduling surgery. One clearance that is always required is from a psychologist. So I will be calling today to make that appointment. Hopefully I won't need many more clearances (I can only imagine I'll need one from my general practioner) and then I can schedule surgery! Once surgery is scheduled, they will then schedule the nutritionist appointment, required lifestyle class, and pre-op appointments. I'm so happy to have a game plan now. Here is the content of the self-pay checklist I received from U.S. Bariatrics:
  1. Attend U.S. Bariatric’s INFORMATION SESSION. (done)
  2. Complete the PATIENT DEMOGRAPHIC PACKET supplied at the information session. (done)
  3. Make a copy of your PHOTO ID and submit with patient demographic packet. (done)
  4. Complete the ONLINE REGISTRATION using your Housecall logon ID and password that was emailed to you. (done)
  5. Contact our PATIENT CONCIERGE to confirm your financing needs. (done)
  6. A U.S. Bariatric nurse will call you to complete your NURSING ASSESSMENT.
  8. Using your Nursing Assessment form, complete the prescribed pre-operative TESTS AND CLEARANCES. Fax all results.
  9. OPEN HOSPITAL ACCOUNT – Call to pre-register with Flagler Hospital. A $2,000 deposit is required to complete this step. (If you are paying via Capital One Healthcare Finance or Care Credit, please contact our Patient Concierge)
  10. Once office has received all prescribed tests and clearances, you can SCHEDULE your pre-operative physical, nutrition education, and surgery.
  11. CHEST X-RAY AND GENERAL BLOODWORK – Completed at Flagler Hospital, in St. Augustine, the day before your scheduled surgery

Friday, July 17, 2009

Painting and waiting...

Steve finished painting our front room! It is a living/dining combo and here is the general feel we are going for:We painted the walls Behr Premium Plus Ultra (paint and primer in one) eggshell finish in "Offshore Mist". We are accesorizing with white, ebony, and shells. A beachy/nautical vibe. I'm very excited!! Now that the walls are done I can start to have fun!

As far as the VSG goes, I'm still waiting to hear back from the surgeon's office. I called on Monday and they said they submitted my information to insurance on Wednesday 7/8 (the day after the seminar) and it can take up to 2 weeks to hear back. I know that insurance won't cover the surgery, but now I'm wondering if it will cover anything like pre-op visits or lab work. Maybe that's why it's taking so long. Then I kick myself for getting my hopes up. In any case, I'm getting very anxious to get the show on the road!

My knees have begun hurting me in the past few days. I can't hardly stand to get up from a sitting position on the floor anymore. Last night, Dublin hit a toy under the stove. I was using a wire hanger to get it and when I tried to stand my knees wanted to collapse. Even sitting in my chair at work it is hard to stand up. Also, my skin is going CRAZY. I've never had skin problems except a little extra dryness and a pimple every once in a while. Now, I am itchy all over from an extreme level of dryness and my chest is covered in blemishes! Not to mention I'm getting little skin tags all over the place. I found two on my neck yesterday. They are very tiny, but it is only a matter of time before they become giant I'm sure. I am so sick of being so miserable!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vacation recap!

Steve and I had a GREAT time on our weekend getaway. We desperately needed to take some time off of work and relax. We knew the house was big and we knew it was on the beach, but we had never seen pictures of it. WOW - we were surprised just how nice it was! The views were amazing and the home was so comfortable. And we really were about twenty steps and a short ramp away from his private beach. Here are some photos:

Yea, I'm not going to win any photography awards any time soon. But in my defense they were taken on my phone. Here's a breakdown of our weekend.

Thursday (my birthday!) - we slept in and left our house around 11. Steve took me to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. He doesn't ever like to go there and I do. Since it was my birthday, I got my way! We arrived at the beach house around 1 or 1:30. The owner was right behind us to make sure we got settled ok and to give us some information. As soon as he left, I was in my bathing suit and down on the beach! Steve was so cute and set up my umbrella and went inside and made me a margarita (no salt of course)! After about 45 minutes, the clouds started turning black so I made my way up to the house, showered, and took a nap! That night we found an Outback for dinner and I had 2 yummy Wallaby Darned drinks (like a frozen peach bellini). Back to the house and we fell asleep to the sounds of rain and the ocean.

Friday - I woke up around 9:30 and Steve was already up at downstairs. We went to breakfast at this little hole-in-the-wall place at the pier and then walked across the street to a beach home decor shop. That's where I received my inspiration for our newest home improvement project! I will get to that in a later post. Let me just say that Steve is probably on a ladder as I type. :) After we did some shopping, we walked around a farmer's market and shared a fresh-squeezed lemonade. Back to the house and I took another nap! When I woke up, Steve had started a project. He put together the owner's air hockey table in the basement as a thank you for letting us stay there. That gave me plenty of quality reading time! Love, love, love the Janet Evanovich Plum series. My mom had given me Finger Lickin' Fifteen for my bday and I finished that up while we were at the house. Friday night we went to a cute place for dinner and then went to the movies. I convinced Steve to see Bruno and he was not very happy with me! After the movie, we got ice cream at a little shop near the beach and headed home.

Saturday - our last day! boo! Out to breakfast at the little restaurant again. We could watch the surfers from our table and it was definitely a dangerous day for swimming in the ocean. My dad brought the motorcycle up to check out the house in the late morning. Of course, he was shocked at how lucky we are to have the opportunity to stay there! After a brief tour of the house, we changed into our bathing suits and headed down to the beach. It was such a beautiful day but it was hot and I couldn't resist taking a short swim in the ocean. After about 10 minutes of fighting the gigantic waves, I gave up and laid out on a towel. A little while later, the clouds started moving in so my dad left and we packed up. We said goodbye to the beach house and headed back home. We made a few stops to pick up necessities for our living room and dining room redesign and then headed home to see our kitties!

We had a FABULOUS time!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Birthday, Promotion, Vacation, Oh my!


My parents, brother, and grandma came over tonight to celebrate my birthday (tomorrow). I received AMAZING gifts including diploma frames, beach goodies, new book, food processor, and cash. We had a great time as usual and my brother got to meet Dublin for the first time! While everyone was here, Steve got a phone call from his boss and went in his office and shut the door. I was a little irritated since his boss was calling after hours, but that disappeared when Steve came out and told me he was receiving a promotion!! I am so, so happy. He has been working his ass off and receiving little to no reward. This has been going on for a loooong time. He will now be at a manager level and I'm sure will do amazing.

Tomorrow morning Steve and I are waking up and going to Flager Beach to stay at a beach house owned by one of the professors at the university I work. He allows people to stay there free of charge. How great is that? His house is 5 bedrooms, 5000 square feet, and located steps away from the beach. I can't WAIT for some desperately needed "Steve and Jen" time! Needless to say, I will probably neglect my blog for the next couple of days. :)

Will return Sunday!

Our insurance dilemma

My husband and I both work full time and are currently under his insurance. But our companies both have very similar policies and neither cover wls. I have done a lot of research and it seems as though BCBS of FL has an exclusion to all their policies with private employers that prevents any weight loss surgery to be covered regardless of medical necessity. My HR department was interested in helping me by adding a rider to our policy, but BCBS told them it wasn't an option. I've had a lot of people look into it for me and it doesn't seem to be in the cards. While it pains us to spend the cash when we know it is covered in so many other circumstances and for so many other people, we have accepted that that is what we have to do. We cannot wait around for the slight possibility that are circumstances may change. There is too much at risk.

WLS Seminar

Last night was the weight loss surgery seminar by U.S. Bariatrics.  Dr. Marema's colleague, Dr. Koppman, was there to speak to us.  I really liked him and would feel 100% comfortable with him performing my surgery.  This is the second seminar we've attended.  The first was with Dr. Sebastien in Daytona.  I left last night feeling 10 times more comfortable with Dr. Marema and Dr. Koppman than I felt with Dr. Sebastien.  Of course, it didn't help that Dr. Sebastien was not in attendance at our seminar.  In addition to feeling better about the doctors, we also like the facility where they operate better.  

Flagler Hospital is a short drive away and has a recently remodeled wing set up special for U.S. Bariatrics.  Pictures can be seen on the contractor's website:  Steve has always been supportive of my decision to get surgery, but he was a little scared when I switched from thinking about the band (leaving everything intact, reversible) to the sleeve (changing my anatomy forever).  However, I did a lot of research and encouraged him to do the same and I feel like he's on board with it now.  

In the beginning of last night's seminar, Dr. Koppman was going over obesity's co-morbidities and effects.  Steve kept looking over at me or squeezing my hand because it was like Dr. Koppman was talking about me.  Lately, I've had these awful headaches.  I'll take an Aleve or Advil and then 4 hours later need another one.  Well, Dr. Koppman mentioned that many of his patients come in complaining of chronic headaches.  They are caused by blood pressure problems in the brain.  Even if the patient doesn't suffer from traditional high blood pressure (like me), they can still have problems in the brain.  Scary stuff.  He also talked briefly about sleep apnea (which I don't think I have, but Steve is pretty sure he has) and it scared the bejeezus out of Steve.  At the end of the seminar, Steve even mentioned that if he can't lose the weight with me after my surgery that he would think about wls himself.  Funny thing is that I was more worried at that statement than I am about myself going through it.

After dinner, we went to a restaurant that a former neighbor recommended.  We talked things through and really feel like I cannot wait for the small chance that our insurance circumstances might change.  I'll be waiting around forever and from all the research I've done the #1 regret of wls patients is that they didn't do it sooner.  I want to be able to enjoy my life more.  I don't want to avoid traveling with friends because I can't keep up with them.  I don't want to feel so damn tired anymore.  I want to be able to bend over in the car if I drop my cell phone (when I'm a passenger of course).   Not to mention the wider selection of clothes I can buy if I'm not a "plus size".  The cost of the procedure, including all surgery-related costs and complication insurance, is $17,765.  About $3000 more than we were expecting.  But a practical and safe car would cost just as much and wouldn't have the return on investment that the VSG surgery provides.  I applied for a medical loan last night and we were approved.  We will receive a Care Credit credit card in the mail shortly with the details.  

The patient coordinator told us last night that for self-pay patients, the soonest we can have surgery is 4-6 weeks.  That's ok by me!  That seems like such a short time away compared to how long I've been living like this.  My next hurdle is getting the time off of work.  I've emailed our benefits manager to find out my options.  

Overall, I am feeling very positive about this! (And the roller coaster continues...)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Surgery update

I was planning on waiting until December for the surgery since I have "free" holidays at work (I work at a university) between Christmas and New Year's, but hearing that my bff is pregnant reminds me even more how much I want to start a family. My husband and I don't want to wait an extra 5-6 months on top of the already 12-18 months I'll have to wait before getting pregnant. I'm going to try to find a way to take the time off before then which won't be easy since I only get 2 weeks off a year for vacation and have already had to take days here and there for weddings, out of town visits, etc. I was sick about 2 months ago and used up practically all of that time too. My boss is super understanding and I was planning on just telling him the truth (we are like a little family), but after my bff's reaction, now I'm nervous about what he's going to say/think.

Tonight is the information seminar with Dr. Marema. I'm nervous that once I meet with him he won't think I'm a candidate for VSG (I have no reason to believe this, it's just me being irrational). So while I'm happy to get the ball rolling, I'm scared this journey won't play out like I thought it would in my head.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Some loose ends

I realized I have mentioned several items on this blog and then forget to follow up! So here are some general updates:

Candy - She is healing nicely. The wounds are looking better and she is wagging her tail again! My mom emailed the local news to inform them about the coyote and then ended up going to their house and taping an interview with my dad. It was on the 11 o'clock news as the top story!

Our kitties - Harley and Dublin are doing very well! They love each other now and only occasionally fight :) Dublin has his neutering and declawing yesterday and we picked him up from the vet today. He is doing well. His little pupils are so dialated from the pain pills (which are a PAIN IN THE ASS to give him!) so his eyes are looking more like Harley's! Harley's eyes are always big - I guess it is because he is generally anxious all the time. Tomorrow (well technically today since it is 1am) we are celebrating Harley's first birthday. The vet estimated a July 4th birthday for him. And Dub's is estimated as March 17th so we have two holiday babies.

The HOLE! - After a weekend of work, my dad and Steve have successfully patched the hole in the ceiling. We now have satellite TV and all is well. lol.

TTC - we definitely aren't preventing, but there is no use in actively trying. My cycles are so screwy and I would rather lose a lot of weight before getting pregnant anyhow. I will have to go on BCP when I get the VSG surgery because it is not safe to get pregnant until at least 12 months post-op (and some surgeons recommend 18). I'm ok with that considering once I get the "ok" to TTC again we will hopefully have better luck since my body will be in a better place. In any case, as least a doctor will be willing to help us. It looks like I'll be 27-28 at the earliest when we have our first baby. Which is great!

Well, they we go. I feel better now that I've given some of these items closure. I've also changed my layout a bit. Added labels and a new background. Now that I'm posting regularly on and link my sig to my blog, I figured it better look presentable. Haha. I still don't have the courage to share my blog with anyone IRL. Maybe one day.

To conclude on a happy note here is a pic of Dub from today!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Weight loss surgery

After almost a year of research, I have decided to get weight loss surgery.  I will be attending a bariatric surgeon's seminar next Tuesday 7/7/09 (which, coincidently, is Steve and I's 7 year dating anniversary).  I've attended one before with another surgeon, but have changed my mine and decided to see Dr. Marema in St. Augustine.  He is one of the best surgeons and has performed many thousands of surgeries.  The surgery I have chose is the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy.  It is a purely restrictive surgery and works by removing approximately 85% of the stomach.  At first I thought I would have the lap-band, but it seems as though the complication rate of the lap-band is increasing as the years go by.  It doesn't seem like a feasible long-term solution.  The VSG just feels right to me.  I'm excited to get the process started, but I have to wait until December to have the surgery.  I don't receive many days off at work and in December the university shuts down for a week between Christmas and New Year's.  That will act as a buffer for my time off.  Some people need up to 3 weeks while others less than a week.  I guess it will all depend.  I'm so excited!