Five Years and Two Words ago... Part IV

(Edited to add: This has NOT been an easy post for me... The pictures I've added are only there because YOU have written me and requested them. All of that being said... Thank you for your knid comments and emails.)

"Epi, it's Carol from Cigna. How are you doing today?"

Carol knew me by the sound of my voice. When you call your insurance company every day for almost a month to see if there was a ruling on your second appeal... You make an impact I suppose.

I was annoying the shit out of them. I couldn't understand why they were still denying me after I jumped through hoop after hoop.

I provided the documentation they required including over 95 pages of medical records.

I met with the Shrink. Errr... I mean the Psychiatrist.

I had the Sleep Study, got myself a CPAP and slept with it religiously. Even though Mr. Epi made constant jokes about Darth Vader.

What else could they want?

"I'm doing okay... Any word?" I was sitting at my desk drinking my morning bucket of coffee. The sun was coming up and it was guaranteed to be a hot day. A 90 degree day, in an upper duplex... With no air conditioning. THE recipe for a very cranky (and extremely sweaty) Mom and Wife. I remember being in general just annoyed and frustrated with the entire situation.

Carol, doing her part, is furiously typing on her keyboard. "Well...Let me see what I can find out."

I take another sip of my coffee and scroll down Fark.com. This has turned into a ritual. Coffee, Fark, and the call to Cigna.

"Well, there is some news....Looks like you better be making some plans... You have a surgery coming up"

"That's great, well, I guess just try again tomor-- Wait. You said surgery date?"

"I did, Epi."

"Say it again." I set my cup of coffee down on my desk and rest my head in my hands.

"Honey, you got approved. Congratulations. You know, Epi.. Calls like this are why I still come in to work."

**********

November 10, 2003 - Ypsilanti, MI

Surgery Day. I'm terrified. Two weeks earlier an online friend had died on the table just hours after I had a late night phone call with her calming her fears.

I had almost backed out. Twice.

The ride to BTC is close to an hour from Toledo. Mr. Epi and I didn't have much to talk about on the way. He was just as terrified as I was.

"You don't have to do this, Baby."

"I do. I've come too far."

"If you're that worried why don't you just postpone it?"

"It's going to be fine... It's going to be fine... It's going to be fine."

"I know it's going to be okay." He reached over to rub my neck. "I just mean that you are beautiful. You DON'T have to do this. You're gorgeous the way you are, Epi."

"It's not about being beautiful. It's about being able to chase after Future Cardiologist the next time he runs into the street. It's about not having to take pills for diabetes. It's about not having to sleep with that damn CPAP. I NEED to do this."

**********

I don't remember most of the next three days. Being gorked out on Morphine will do that to you. If Mr. Epi had not kept a diary I wouldn't have even known that Future Cardiologist had come to visit me.



"Epi had a really hard time getting out of bed today, I don't think that she realized she would be in so much pain. Her Mother brought up Future Cardiologist to visit and they did laps around the floor. I've very proud of her." -- Mr. Epi's Diary entry

The first clear memory I had after surgery occurred two days later. The leak test. I was given a small cup with the most vile substance to ever pass over my lips. Yes, I realize I'm opening myself up to countless jokes with that line, but it TRULY was foul.

The leak test is done to confirm that there are no leaks in your new "pouch". A leak in your pouch is bad. A leak in your pouch is one more way this surgery can kill you.

"Epi, we need you to drink this." The tech hands me the cup.

I raise the cup up to my mouth, I take a sip.

Keep in mind that I've been NPO for almost three days now.

Translation: I gulped that bad boy down. My stomach turned instantly.

Imagine a 300+ girl doubled over gagging in an XRay suite. With a fresh 12 inch scar down her stomach. Yes, I was that hot.

"Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, what the FUCK was in that cup?" I managed to keep the majority of it down, but the remnants are dripping down my chin. The Xray tech is laughing his ass off. Looking back I can't blame him but let's say I was less than amused at the time.

There was no leak. All that drama and retching was for nothing.

**********

Something that I wish the team at BTC had hammered home would be how ineffective birth control pills become after surgery.

I was eight months post op when I found out I was pregnant. I had already lost the majority of my excess weight (over 110 pounds). Things were going well. I stuck with the program, made sure to get plenty of protein in, I drank over a gallon of water a day, and religiously took my vitamins.

I was doing everything right.

Then I caught what I thought was the flu. I was running karaoke at a bar out in the boonies and I was positively green every night. When the craving for Gatorade started I just knew.

I bought a box of pregnancy tests. Two tests. One positive result could be a false positive, right?

RIGHT???

I was pregnant.

My Surgeon yelled at me, my OB bought stock in Tums. I would be his first Gastric Bypass patient.

I could post for days on my experience with being pregnant post surgery. I wish I could say that it was easier than my first pregnancy (with the whole preeclampsia thing), but I'd be lying.

I didn't gain a single pound in 9 months. In fact, I lost 40 pounds during my second pregnancy. I LIVED on the couch. I slept more during that time than I had in the two years before it. Come to think of it, I slept more during that time than I did in the two years after as well.

My OBGYN started my pregnancy with a thick curly black head of hair. By the time I delivered he had more than a handful of silver hairs courtesy of my daughter and myself. He actually asked me to "Not get pregnant again for awhile."

The end result was practically perfect in every way.


**********
Complications?

I've become anemic.
Yes, the pasty white Irish girl has become even whiter. I positively GLOW i'm so pale. I'm working on keeping this under control through B-12 shots. Fun stuff for a girl with an aversion to needles, but I knew there was a chance I'd have to go that route.

I've become lactose intolerant. This one really bothers me because I was a HUGE milk drinker before the surgery.

Hehe. I said I was a HUGE milk drinker.
Yeah my sense of humor sucks today.

My blood sugar drops out on me on occasion. I've yet to find out why, but I have made an appointment to see my Doc about it.

That's about it. I've had it very easy compared to others.

**********

The only other thing I can think of that ya'll would be interested in would be the amount of weight that I lost and the timeline that goes with it.

Seven hours postop. I have virtually no memory of this picture being taken.

Month 1: down 34 lbs

1 month postop

Month 2: down 67 lbs

Month 3: down 69 lbs (that was a rough month! Plateau's suck, folks!)

Three months out

Month 4: down 86 lbs

Four Months postop

Month 5: down 92 lbs

5 months post op (that's me at 1 o'clock)

Month 6: down 101 lbs

6 months post op... Catching my first fish with Future Cardiologist.

**********
That's my Gastric Bypass experience in a nutshell. It's been a long road with a few bumps, but one that I wouldn't trade for the world.

It has not been easy. There's NOTHING about this that has been easy. I'm almost five years postop and I have some issues that I don't know will EVER be resolved.

I also have the guilt that goes with knowing that I couldn't lose the weight on my own, and at times that can be... substantial.

I'm not proud of the fact that I've gone through this... All of the testing, getting the approval from Cigna, etc. I'm not proud, but I'm grateful.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to regain my health and to be a better parent to my babies.

I did it for them.

20 comments:

Beaker said...

Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

I've been worried about my weight and wondering if surgery would be the right choice for me. I can still chase the kids around, so I think I'll wait. But it's nice to have a reason instead of just because I'm afraid of the surgery. Your posts have had lot to do with my decision. So, thank you again for sharing.

NannyOgg said...

{{{ Epi }}}

You ROCK!

Thank you for sharing your story,

Karen

quidni said...

Sometimes the hard decision and the right decision are the same.

Thanks for being strong enough to share.

Firefighter said...

Great post, your blog is interesting to read. Keep your chin up.

Laura said...

AWESOME story, Epi! You have a talent with words! Your story shares a lot of parallels with mine and I'm glad we both came through well.

You're a braver woman than I for sharing your story. Maybe one of these days I'll post mine, too...

:o)
Laura

Medic61 said...

You are, as always, my hero.

Love you.

Medix311 said...

Wow. I don't hardly know what to say. How inspiring. Thanks for sharing that with us.

Fyremandoug said...

Honey you are a brave lil camper
I cant begin to write what I want to here but you rock......And the line about vile across your lips

ROTFLMAO

Evil Lunch Lady said...

You should be proud! Very Proud! I laugh when people say the surgery is the easy way out, easy way?? Hell No! You rock girl! And I look forward everyday to read your blog!

P.S. your kids are so damn cute!

:)

Bernice said...

I am very impressed. Not many people would be BRAVE enough to do what is best for them and their families and then share it with the world. You are brave.

Odie said...

Wow, as always a source of inspiration...

thats a tough row to hoe i bet, i can't imagine life changing surgery like that, and the lifestyle that comes along with it.

But you've made it through, you've got awesome kids and a job you at least love to blog about.

Keep it up, you inspire so many with your stories!

~Odie

Carol said...

Epi - you made a wonderful decision. The decision to be 100% for your children, your husband, and most importantly ----- FOR YOU.

Kudos to you lady! You're much stronger than you think.

whitley said...

Thanks so much for sharing your story Epi!!! As usual, great writing!

kvegas911 said...

You kick ass, Epi!!!! Thank you so much for sharing your story.

tracy said...

Dear Epi,
Thanks for sharing your journey,i'm sooooo proud of you and don't ever think you "took the easy way out"...no way, i can only imagine how physically and emotionally painful your journey has been, but what a fantastic new begining...and a gorgeous baby along the way!
i hope you stop feeling that guilt, you should never feel guilty about your choice, it took sooo much courage for you to do what you did....wish i had half as much of the strenght you do!

thanks again, hugs, tracy

Detail Medic said...

You are BeeeeYOOteeeful!

Carol said...

I certainly don't think you took the easy way out... what a great story. I'm glad everything worked out well for you, CONGRATULATIONS!

and.... you have a beautiful family.

take care

CrazyCath said...

Beautiful. Got me all teary eyed. You did it for them but you did it for YOU which is the only reason that counts. Don't feel guilty. It was not the "easy way". It was darned hard. I don't know how hard because I haven't done it, but your post tells it. Be proud of yourself. You deserve that. And you are beautiful.

Over from David's.

imbeingheldhostage said...

This was beautiful. I'm so glad I came over from David's place-- what a great post!

sara said...

wow, thank you for sharing your story. i admire your courage.