Monday, October 26, 2015

The start of my journey

I created this blog to document my Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy journey. Here are a few things you need to know about this blog:

Firstly, it may not be updated very frequently (I am not good at keeping things up to date);
Secondly, I needed a place other than a lengthy Microsoft Word document to capture my journey, so this is my new place;
Thirdly, I read so many other people's blogs about their VSG journey that have been incredibly helpful and I hope to be of some help for others.

I had the Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy on October 22, 2015.
I had been researching this for about 2 years. I read other people's stories, talked to people I knew who have had it done, and talked to others who had other types of bariatric surgery such as the band and Roux-en-Y (the old bypass surgery).

Memorial Day weekend of this year I was visiting my parents. I'm not sure how we got on the subject, but my mom and I were talking and discovered that we both had decided to start the process for this surgery. I was waiting until after the holiday to call my insurance to obtain their requirements. She had already contacted hers and was in the process of scheduling her appointments. We both had different requirements and it has been interesting to compare journeys.

From there, I called my insurance (United Healthcare). I registered for the Bariatric Resource Services (BRS). I had a nurse case manager that contacted me a few weeks later to go over requirements and my plan. She followed up with me a week after surgery, and a month after surgery.
I attended an orientation seminar at my surgeon's office. My boyfriend went with me for support as well as to learn what this process really involved. He has been a great support to me.
My insurance required a documented diet (no specified length - this is not typical, my plan is a weird one and most insurances require a specified length diet or program), a psychological evaluation (every insurance that I know of requires this to make sure the patient has good support, understands fully what changes happen, and has the mental status to incorporate the quick changes), and enrollment into the BRS program.
My surgeon's office has everything all-in-one; behaviorist, dietitians, exercise physiologists, nurses, physician assistants, and surgeons, along with an incredible team of people who do the office work (scheduling, billing, etc.).

Due to health issues with my boyfriend, I was the only one eating in the house for a little while. My dietitian put me on a month "diet" for documentation purposes. I was to eat around 1500 calories per day (she did not drop me much more than that as it was more for documentation purposes and to help lose a little bit of weight in preparation for the surgery). I was on a restriction for carbohydrates and fats as well as attempting to get in 60 grams of protein per day. This was helpful. I knew how to read labels and mostly what was good for me, but putting the numbers in front of me really allowed me to shop smartly and purchase things that would keep me full throughout the day. Once my boyfriend was cleared to eat again, he bought some Barilla ProteinPlus spaghetti noodles. We both love spaghetti and I love the fact that he was thinking about what I could have. These noodles were yummy and super filling, but the "protein" label on the box is tricky. Sure they have 10 grams of protein but they also come with 38 grams of carbs. I made sure to eat low-carb for the rest of the day. It was all about balance which was sometimes much easier said than done.

I had an EGD done with my surgeon. This was not required by insurance but was required by my surgeon because I had trouble with heartburn. He discovered a hiatal hernia. This was a good discovery as this could be fixed at the same time as the VSG surgery.

I met with the behaviorist who completed the psychological evaluation. I was in the clear (although my boyfriend was sure I would come out with a recommendation that I was insane). I have a great support system at home, many people I know who have had the surgery, and a wonderful online support group. I can not stress enough how important they have been. This group ranges from people who had surgery many years ago to people who are thinking about having the surgery. We talk about anything and everything related to the surgery (a lot of those things are not discussed by my medical team).

For two weeks prior to surgery, I was on high protein foods provided by my surgeon's office. These foods were high in protein to get the body ready for the increase in protein and they are low residue which allows for them to not require any colon prep before surgery. Every surgeon has a different program so my journey may be a little different than yours.
We had a death in the family and after the graveside service, we all went out to lunch at a local steakhouse. I ordered a cup of hot water. The waitress joked with me throughout the meal asking how my water was. I used it to mix a cup of high protein soup. One of our other family members was having the same surgery a few days after that day. We conversed a lot about it and he ordered something his wife could have for leftovers.
I have met many people who are embarrassed by their journey and asking for what they need. I was not embarrassed at all. I know the reason behind what I'm doing and a lot of the time people are very understanding if you explain briefly why you ordered the way you did.

I worked up until the day before my surgery. I took the day off before surgery just to relax and attempt to get some sleep before getting up bright and early the day of surgery. 

That is all for the leading up to surgery. My next post will be about the day of and the day after surgery.

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