Tuesday, January 21, 2014

the pre-op process...

I'm about a month out from surgery now, so I figured for my first post I would tell you about my experiences during the pre-op preparation process.

I started the pre-op process in May, 2013.  I started by attending an informational session at the local hospital.  It was about an hour and a half.  The bariatric doctor talked about the three different types of bariatric surgery and what's involved, the risks, the pros and cons, and the post-op lifestyle.  He then answered questions.  We filled out information packets and handed them in.  This was so the doctor's office could get our insurance information and then provide with an estimate of the costs.  I found it to be a very informative seminar.

So once I got my estimate I made my first appointment for May 30.  With my insurance company, I had to either provide proof of compliance with a supervised weight loss program (duration of at least 6 months, within the last two years), or participate in a 3-month pre-op multidisciplinary preparation program.  I chose the 3-month program since it had been longer than two years since my last weight loss program (more about that another day).

So at my first appointment I talked with the nutritionist and she gave me a binder that had all sorts of information about the diet stages, lifestyle, do's and don'ts. etc.  Very useful.  She weighed me.  We talked about the kinds of foods I would be eating afterwards and she told me I should start preparing as soon as I could.  Meaning, start cutting down on my diet soda (4+ cans a day!), eating a little healthier, drinking more water, and starting on my vitamins.  I had two more appointments with her before surgery.

During the 3-month program I had a home sleep study to see if I had sleep apnea; I did, and it was severe. Kind of scares me to know I could have died in my sleep at any time, at the age of 38.  I kind of figured I did since my snoring was very loud and deep, according to my husband, Bob, and a few other people.  He would very often have to go sleep on the couch because it was so bad.  But that stopped when they prescribed to me a CPAP machine.  Getting that machine felt like the ultimate illustration of what I had done to myself with food.  It was emotional and I hated it, but I used it for his sake.  

I also had an upper endoscopy to look for ulcers and hiatal hernias.  Guess what?  I had a hiatal hernia.  The endoscopy was not a good experience for me because I am a terrible gagger.  It wasn't painful or a long process, but I felt the scope at the back of my throat so it was the longest 5 minutes of my life.  I got through it, though.  If I have to have it again, I am going to make damn sure they put me out for it.  By the time I was done my makeup was running down my face from my tearing eyes.  There's a little more, but it lives in the realm of TMI.

So, what else?  Oh, an EKG, treadmill stress test, and blood work.  That came after my insurance approval.  The insurance approval took over 2 months.  Paperwork was submitted August 30 and I got my approval November 5.  I cried; I was so happy.  Originally I was denied, because my primary doctor made a mistake on the Letter of Medical Necessity she had to submit.  So it had to be corrected and resubmitted.  A word of advice:  double-check with your bariatric doctor's office prior to insurance submission to make sure all the ducks are in a row.  In my experience, and in talking to others, insurance companies routinely deny this type of surgery the first time around and you want to make sure there are no paperwork errors.

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