Inch By Inch

About me, my family, and my gastric bypass surgery

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

My Gastric Bypass Journey

I'll apologize now because this will take more than one post. Please be patient.

In March 2003, I made the decision to have gastric bypass surgery. I decided this for a couple of reasons, but I really started thinking about it when I made an appointment with a surgeon to have my gallbladder out. He was a local doctor, and I didn't really know him. I went to my appointment with him and it all went fine, until he said he didn't want to do my surgery. At the time I was 330lbs. He suggested another doctor to me and said that he also does gastric bypass. I was feeling kind of hurt, like wow, am I really that overweight that he didn't even want to do surgery on me. It was a real eye-opener.

Late March my gallbladder came out with no problems. The doctor was great. Not a people person, but he did a great job. The beginning of April my husband and I started talking about my having the gastric bypass done. It would be William O'malley at Highland Hospital in Rochester, NY. This is the same doctor and same hospital that my gallbladder was done, however he specializes in gastric bypass. My husband was really reluctant to say the least. He was very supportive, but not really excited about the whole idea.

I called Dr. O'malley's office to make an appointment. The first thing they have you do is go to a group meeting where Dr. O'malley explains what happens, what you can expect...that sort of thing. I called in April, my group appointment was set up for August! I was very disappointed. I thought it would go much quicker. All I could do was wait and research, and that's all I did. Seems like everyday I would read for hours on the internet, magazines, and books.

By the time my group session came along, I knew about all I wanted to know about the surgery. My family, although supportive, were not very happy about my decision. Particularly one or two family members. They were worried about the lifestyle change and that I would regret it. Well, I went to the group, and for confidentiality measures, you were asked not to bring anyone with you. Ok, so that's not scary at all! I didn't know anyone and I'm quite shy. Besides, what do you do, walk into a room and say "hi, I'm April, I weigh 330lbs, and I want to have gastric bypass." I kinda saw it as quitting, did I really try everything? Will people think I'm taking the easy way out? What will everyone else think?

Dr. O'malley talked with us for about an hour. It was good. He completely explained the surgery, his expectations of you, and how this is a lifestyle change. Diane, his secretary (for lack of a better word), also spoke to us about insurance approval and some of the things insurance companies look for. The dietician spoke last, she was very helpful. She didn't really talk about what we could eat, just about the 4 phases of Dr. O'malley's diet. He has a very strict diet plan for the weeks after the surgery. As we sat in the session, we were told that surgeries were being scheduled in November. This was August 28th! 3 months, well it could have been worse. We left with a big stack of handouts. More reading material. I was glad when that was done.

One of the handouts was a form letter. It was to be given to your primary care physician to read. They were then to write a letter on your behalf stating your health, any complication you have because of your weight. That sort of thing. On 9-11-03 I had my personal consultation. I arrived a couple of minutes early, and sat in the waiting room. My appointment was at 1. Around 2:15 I finally went back. Turns out they had had an emergency. I didn't really mind, I was just really nervous. What if he told me I wasn't a candidate. I knew my weight and BMI were over the minimum, but you needed to have a third a disease brought on because of your weight, or an indepth account of all the diets you had tried and failed. Dr. O'malley's office had received my PCP letter, and said that looked great. They didn't see any problems.

I went to this appointment to talk to him. I wanted to know if I was a candidate, and just had a couple of questions. I never guessed that when I was ready to leave they would schedule a surgery date. I got to the window to pay my insurance co-pay, and Diane said "Your tentative surgery date is 1-7-04, unless there is a problem." I just looked at her. I wanted to tell her, no she had the wrong person, I was just here to talk to him. She must have been able to see that I was clearly freaked out. She asked me if that day was ok, and I said yes. I don't know why I said yes, but I did. Then I left. I drove back to work thinking, OMG, I just scheduled my surgery. I was feeling a little excited and a lot nervous.

While I had been sitting in the waiting room, there were 3 other ladies. Lady #1 asked if the other 3 of us were having "The Surgery." I didn't answer, I just sat there and listened. Lady #2 said she had it 1 year ago, which led Lady #1 to say that she had also. Lady #3 said she wanted to have it, I recognized her from group. A 4th lady walks in and sits down. Lady #1 asked me again, and I was forced to answer. I said that I was there to talk about it, and that I was pretty sure I wanted to do it. Lady #1 then turns to Lady #4, who was over weight, but not huge. Lady #1 says, "you'll be so glad you had this surgery, it'll make you feel so much better, and you'll look amazing." Lady #4 got up and left. The nurse came and called me back. As I walked out the door, Lady #4 was standing to the side of the door. Diane was telling her she could wait in a separate area until her appointment came. Turns out Lady #4 hadn't been there for "The Surgery," she was only there to have her gallbladder out. She was very offended, as I am sure I would be also.


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