Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What's Been Eating Me Latley .... Puns Intended

I've debated about writing anything here about the Gastric Band issues I mentioned in a earlier post that I was having.  This is basically a "Quilting Blog" but it's also "My Blog" and this is something that is effecting me deeply.  I will warn you that this is lengthy.  And it's not open for debate or judgement.  Support however is appreciated. 

No one ... well almost no one anyway ... reaches the decision to have Weight Loss Surgery (WLS) easily.  In 2003 when I decided to have Lap Band surgery, I told no one but those closest to me.  It was a secret.  Partly because I was ashamed, partly because I didn't want input, partly because I didn't want to be under every one's microscope.  Eventually though I came out of the closet so to speak and started telling people.  I make no secret of it these days.  Even with the weight I've regained, I still own up to my band.  And I know that if I didn't have it, I would weigh more.

I reached this point in my life because I had a bad knee, high blood pressure, and pre-diabetes that I was not able to manage by diet alone.  I was on Metformin and knew that without getting my ducks in a row, it would only be a matter of time before I was insulin dependent and that scarred the bejesus out of me.  It seems diabetes is my Achilles heal for some reason.  That was the co-morbidity that forced me in to seeing what my options were.  Lap Band seemed like the best option 10 years ago out of all of my choices.  And even with my re-gain, I still have my blood sugar under control.

I'm not going to lie .... looking better and feeling better are also great perks of WLS.  There's no doubt about that.  I've had pretty extensive plastic surgery to go with my weight loss so I'm not going to pretend that I'm not at least a little vain and only had WLS for my health.  I'm nothing if not real.  I did it for both.  I can tell  you that I feel like crap with this extra weight right now.  Sluggish and no energy. 

Right after my plastic surgery in 2006, I started having problems with my Lap Band.  I started throwing up more frequently and started making poor food choices opting for things that were easier for me to eat and not necessarily healthy.  By 2010 I had put back on about 30 pounds and pretty much threw up every time I ate.  My doctor and I decided that we would revise to a Realize Band and during Christmas 2010 we did the surgery.  This band and I got off to a bad start from the get go.  I had to have a leak repaired 3 months after it was installed and two months after that I had to have the port replaced.  So between the end of Dec 2010 and May 2011 I had three surgeries for this band.  After I finally got all healed up and ready to get serious about losing weight again, I went in and started getting it tightened.  Every time I got the restriction I needed, I started to have reflux. Pretty sever reflux.  We'd take fluid out and it would go away and then we'd try again and it would come back.  I lived with it this last time for about 6 months thinking eventually it would stop, but it didn't.  In April I broke down and went to see my surgeon.  He immediately removed all the fluid from my band and scheduled me for an endoscopy. 

My endoscopy biopsy showed that I have what is known as "Barrett's Esophagus" which refers to an abnormal change in the cells of the lower portion of the esophagus. It occurs when the normal squamous epithelium lining of the esophagus is replaced by goblet cells (cells usually found lower in the gastrointestinal tract),  The medical significance of Barrett esophagus is its strong association with esophageal adenocarcinoma, a particularly lethal cancer.  Yes, I freaked out.  But .... Barrett's Esophagus is however NOT CANCER.  It's PRE-CANCEROUS.  I just have to monitor it and be careful .... and keep reminding myself of that fact!  And that, so far, has been the hardest part.

What does this mean for me?  It means my 10 year journey with a Band has come to an end.  I will part with my Band in a mere week on May 14th ... which also happens to be my 19th Anniversary.  Timing has never been my forte! 

In the little over a month I've been without fluid in my band, I've managed to get my total regain since 2006 to 50 pounds.  I'm certainly not proud of this.  And let me tell you that skin that has been surgically altered does not stretch comfortably.  I have been miserable both physically and mentally. 

My doctor has not left me out in the cold however.  He has recommended that after I let my stomach and esophagus heal and rest for three months we revise to a Vertical Gastric Sleeve.  I know me.  He knows me.  We both know I need assistance to control my weight.  I have no satiety when it comes to food.  I need something to smack me up side the head and say, "Hey, Dummy, you're full."  When I have that mechanism in place, I can make the right choices and I do.  And the outcome is a healthier, happier me.  I guess 10 years makes a difference because I no longer have that sense of shame that I had during the first surgery because I need help to lose weight.  Losing weight is hard. And it's OK to need help. 

My next big hurdle is my insurance company.  Last Friday, they gave my surgeon's office a verbal denial for my Sleeve surgery.  They stated that I do not qualify for WLS.  That my BMI is not high enough and I do not have two co-morbidities to go with the BMI I currently have.  I say thank God.  That was the whole point 10 years ago.  But they are saying I need to regain weight in order to qualify and hope that a co-morbidity shows up along the way so I will qualify.  Plus they have a bunch of other hoops they want me to jump through, but this one was the most outrageous.  It's counter intuitive that an insurance company is asking me to be unhealthy.  It's crazy.  And that they would pay for whatever knee problems and medications for sugar, high blood pressure, and cholesterol that I may need along the way.  How does this even make sense?  It doesn't and I've looked in to hiring an advocate to help me with an appeal.  I'm starting that process today.

On Friday when I found out about the denial, I was defeated.  Today, I'm mad that someone sitting behind a desk who doesn't know me or my situation can have so much impact on MY life.  In August, come hell or high water I am having my revision surgery one way or another so I can get back to the healthier, happier me.  I am not allowing the insurance company to dictate how my life will go. 

And I MUST give props to my Husband on this.  He has been my rock and without him I wouldn't have gotten through this as well as I have. He is the one that will make this surgery happen regardless of our insurance company and for that I will never be able to thank him enough.  I'm not one to get all mushy and stuff, but the truth is:  I'm lucky to have found him and am thankful every day for his presence in my life ..... even when he leaves his clothes on the floor!!  LOL

So folks, if you've made it this far, now you know why there has been very little sewing going on in my life lately.  This has CONSUMED my life for the past couple of months. For me, this is a HUGE deal.  I know there are bigger travesties in the world, but right now in my little world this is MY travesty. I also know that eventually it will all be OK, but the getting there is the hard the part.  The "what ifs" can eat you alive.

With all that being said, it still remains that  ... I NEED sewing!  I desperately need that distraction more than ever now.  Especially with 3 months of no appetite control coming up!  So now that things are kind of moving forward as best they can .... and I have week long "surgical vacation" coming up ... it's time for some QUILT THERAPY!!

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