First, I wish to state I had been utilizing this...
First, I wish to state I had been utilizing this website for over a year and decided that because few men tell their story here, I need to share mine.
Once upon a time...
There was a time when I was athletic. In high school I ran cross country/ tracking, was slim/medium built and by no means would be even considered overweight by any measure. During my early twenties being less active and working the midnight shift was weight begin to creep up gradually. Over the course of many attempts from liquid fasting, smaller portions, avoiding fried and fast foods, my weight continuously fluctuated with me always losing the battle eventually.
Fast-forward eight months before my fiftieth birthday it happened...excessive thirst. Made an appointment with my doctor and found out on 9/12/14 my Hemoglobin A1C has rose to 12.2. High blood pressure runs in my family regardless of weight, so being on medication for that was something I had already reluctantly accepted years ago. Type 2 Diabetes is not. I am not of aware anyone whose been diagnosed with this disease in my entire family. To say I was devastated would be an understatement and of course my doctor wanted to prescribe medication to control it. I simply told him to give me a moment to take control of this on my own,which respected.
I kept this as a secret, not even telling my wife who I have never hid anything from in our 20+ years of marriage. I began research on what to eat and not, joined a gym and my determination paid off. Four months later (1/22/15) my A1C dropped to 7.1 and my doctor was shocked. He advised that no medication is needed at this time and to keep doing whatever I started. I was extremely proud of myself and at that time I disclosed everything to my wife.
Starting the approval process
I've broken my journey up into smaller stories as I complete each segment so hopefully one part may help someone as many of the stories here have done for me.
After speaking with my doctor at my next appointment, regarding my struggle of attempting to "handle" my weight on my own, I'd come to terms that I need help. He agreed to refer me to the bariatric division and that's where things got "real".
My insurance (BCBS) requires quite a few things before the file can even be submitted for approval. Due to my paternal grandmother (that was a little thing), having high blood pressure, my struggle to accept taking medication for took years. Now with me keeping my sugar level down enough to not be on an additional medication, I know as I get older this is going to get easier. I needed to accept that if I want to be around as a healthy old man, things need to change permanently. Now having two comorbities, even with a low BMI, I will be able to get an approval.
First I was required to attend a seminar and oddly I looked pretty skinny compared to mostly everyone there. I feel good that I'm handling this way before it gets as bad as many others that have the tremendous burden of carrying extra weight. I research every single thing I do and with online medical articles, YouTube videos, RealSelf and multiple Facebook support groups that I'm active in, I'm probably more informed than many who decide to move forward with this decision. I'm known for being a bit over analytical so pretty much everything that was discussed at the seminar, I had confirmed with my own research prior to attending. It was a very informative meeting had I not started researching on my own.
First appointment with the bariatric surgeon
Nervous but excited, on August 25, 2015 I had my first appointment with the surgeon, Dr. Eric Marcotte at Loyola Medical Center in Melrose Park, Illinois. Prior to seeing the surgeon, I was measured at every imaginable angle, my weight was taken. I was given a moment to ask questions and was told because of me controlling the diabetes in its earliest stage, already changing my eating habits and incorporating a regular exercising regimen, he is confident that I will be a success. He recommends the sleeve over gastric bypass because of my size. I also have no desire to have my organs rerouted and I prefer a more normal digestive system after surgery. With going to the gym, I focus on both cardio and weight training. My arms are paying off and getting big. Doctor said I won't lose them with weight loss. Very happy to know!
Highest Weight: 266
Weight at appointment (8/25/15): 249.3
Meeting with dietician (NUT)
On 9/22/15 I had my first appointment with the dietician, Lauren Zuro. Blue Cross Blue Sheild Insurance requires six monthly diet monitored appointments and the first one is not counted as its considered only a consultation (for figure). So I was required to meet monthly for SEVEN appointments. Each time we meet, she would review the log I was asked to keep of all food and drinks that entered my body. This is not an easy task at all. I learned a lot because it really is to get you to think about what you consume, since you have to make record of it. I was told to focus on 64 ounces of water and switch from non-protein rich breakfast choices. I learned a lot about making better high-protein food choices with her help. So yes, it did help me in some ways.
She noted that I was drinking orange juice with my breakfast and although it was not from concentrate or had added sugar, it is considered a bad choice. I learned even natural sugars are not my friend so the juice was stopped.
Over the course of the seven months, my weight has only gone down to 240, even with my consciousness food choices AND exercising with weight training, along with cardio. Some of my weight is muscle but I still have a long way to go. At least I do feel physically better and I see some improvement in my appearance. I guess because at each appointment my weight always was down, even if only a little, she stopped looking at my log book after about the fourth appointment. I can't believe I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas without gaining weight. That was a real challenge, spending extra time in the gym during both holidays! Others have complimented me as well on seeing my weight go down and I'm guessing the muscle helps, but I am no where near the goal I have set for myself with this tool. I dream of being in onederland.
March 16, 2016 was my last dietician appointment! So glad that's done! I'll still meet with her at different stages post surgery but not monthly. Now I have multiple required tests: endoscopy, colonoscophy and abdominal ultrasound that are all scheduled for March 31st. Once my test results are processed, my file will be forwarded to my insurance for approval. Again I've asked, no sleep apnea or stress tests are required for my surgery.
Current weight: 242 (went as low as 240 recently).
Final tests before submission to insurance
Just completed my final requirements for insurance submission. Thursday I had my colonoscopy, abdominal ultrasound and my endoscopy. Everything went so smooth! The entire staff were extremely nice. I slept like a baby and didnt feel a thing either! Finished all my monthly dietician appointments couple of weeks ago. Insurance requires a total of 6.
Now I just wait for approval....
HW: 266 CW: 242 GW: 180-190
All requirements met for submission!
Somehow no one noticed that the only thing not done for my file to be submitted was the EKG. After waiting over a month to check the status I was told, "Oh we just need your EKG." I s mass because I not called who knows how long it would have taken to get noticed. Anyway, once I was told I scheduled, completed and was told everything looks fine. NOW, I received an email asking which procedure do I want. I thought we already decided the vertical sleeve (as my surgeon recommended during my initial consultation). So responded and was told my file is being prepared for submission to my insurance. It will take 3 to 4 weeks.
Email from nurse this morning:
Received this email this morning:
----- Message -----
From: Katherine Anderson, APN
Sent: 5/31/16 10:31 AM
To: Aaron McDonald
Your paperwork was submitted to insurance on 5/27. I will let you know once we hear back from them!
Katie Anderson APN
Advanced Practice Nurse
Department of Surgery
I'm praying for approval!!!
Today I received "THE CALL"!
In just one week from submission to Blue Cross Blue Sheild of Michigan, I received a call this afternoon telling me I've been approved for surgery! My surgeon is completely booked until then of August so they will contact me to schedule in September.
This is the moment when shyt gets real. I'm happy but suddenly nervous as hell to the permanent changes my life will have in a few months.
I got the call to schedule my surgery and completely freaked out when asked what date I wanted in August! I had to ask could I call back when I received the call last Friday. Sooooo...I called back and asked for August 1st, my 24 wedding anniversary and was confirmed. Now that day with be special for two reasons every year moving forward. I'm scared but know this is for the better! I so hope to be off of high blood pressure meds. That would be a dream!
Final day of pre-op diet! Tomorrow is Sleeve Day!
Today is my last day of my one week liquid diet before surgery tomorrow morning. The first three days were difficult only because there was a lingering headache that as soon as it would leave it would come right back. Consistently bothered by it and not wanting to take keep taking pain meds I finally "Googled" it and determined by body was going through withdrawals for carbs! Just like a caffeine addiction, my body (or my mind) was not happy. After three days of this, all headaches were gone for good. Fourth day and beyond have not been as bad as I would have expected. Not saying I like surviving off of liquids and jello, but it's tolerable.
I've also starting using GenePro unflavored protein powder last night in some watered down cream of chicken and mixes extremely well. I had a cup of hot tea this morning with it and there was absolutely no taste whatsoever and it didn't change the texture either! One scoop has 25 grams of whey protein. There's debate from some believing that one scoop can't have so much protein but I have found nothing but praise particularly from bariatric patients in the many customer reviews on websites such as Amazon. I love this stuff and it will really help once I have the surgery and being limited on consumption immediately following surgery. It will save me a slight amount financially comparing it to the cost of protein shakes and without having to consume as much in volume to get my minimum requirements in.
Tomorrow at 10:30 AM my life changes for the better. I'm a little scared because I've never had a surgery in my entire life but I gotta be a big boy about this.
I tried Isopure's unflavored protein powder and it was a complete disaster! I found it only works well in cold drinks such as smoothies. It clumped up in my soup like mashed potatoes. I was happy that Vitamin Shoppe accepted the return the following day.
Surgery was Monday, August 1st, which Aldo happens to be my 24th wedding anniversary. Things went pretty smooth. That day i slept for 5 hours in recovery before waking up! The swallow test made me nauseous, liquid just sat in my esophagus and wouldn't move for hours! That's been my only setback and it lasted most of the early part of today. Other than that I walked and walked and walked. No appetite at all so when I was supposed to be released Wednesday, I hadn't taken in all my fluid. Not because I couldn't, I just didn't start early enough. Between 12 noon and 5, I was able to consume 60 ounces! Taking meds only at night and no need for the nausea meds either.
I have already passed gas and even have had multiple "liquid" bowel movements so no constipation. Bloating is leaving me quick!
I can take quite a bit in with very slow progression. I was moved to stage two liquids today and finally back home! Attached is a pic the morning after surgery.
Weight stats as of surgery day:
For those that wish to know my stats:
Heighest Weight: 266
Weight prior to one week liquid diet: 242
Weight on surgery day: 236 (lowest in 20 years)
First Post-Op Check-Up (8 days after release)
August 12th my first check-up since surgery on the 1st. I was taken off Hydrochlorithiazide while in the hospital since my surgeon stated it's a water pill and he wants me to stay hydrated. When my vitals were taken, I disclosed I had forgotten to taken my Amlodipine that morning. They were surprised my pressure was 118/66 and told me to stop the meds until my next check-up September 5. My hypertension is in remission! I was told to advance my diet from puree to soft.
Reviewed liver BX results (whatever that is): NASH, No fibrosis meaning no fatty liver disease.
Weight: 232, 4 pounds down.