Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Finding Relief

Hi, Critters!

I hope August is treating you well! July did not get a whole lot better for me, but it did start to look up towards the end. August has been amazing, thus far. Granted, we're only six days in...

On July 26th, I had my first sleep study session. It is a requirement if you're going through the preparations for weight loss surgery. Of course, I was a little nervous, but once I saw the room, I calmed down a little. It was quaint and looked pretty nice.

Then they closed the door.

The reality of why I was there sunk in. This was not a little vacation, this was a medical evaluation, and all those wires would be attached to me. The technician was nice, so he helped get my mind off what was going on. We joked, we talked about our spouses and our cats, and he spent an hour placing electrodes and wires all over my head. When he got done, I looked like a space alien.

It was a looooong night. I had to stay on my back so they could get the best data. I don't normally fall asleep on my back. I also had a monitor hooked to my left index finger which kept me from moving my finger/hand much. Being a light sleeper, I woke up with every little creak and sound. At one point during the night, I woke up in a full-on panic attack. I felt like I couldn't breathe and like I was completely trapped. The technician had said if I needed anything during the night to remove the monitor from my index finger. He'd notice it was not receiving any data and would come to see what was wrong. Oh, how I wanted to remove that monitor. I wanted to rip all the electrodes and wires off my body. Had Hubby not dropped me off, I would have. I would have gotten all that crap off me and gone home. Since I was stuck at the facility no matter what, I just kept it all on and did my best to calm myself down. Once the air conditioning system kicked on, I felt like I was getting cool, fresh air again, so I felt like I could breathe again. It took almost an hour (or that's what it felt like, at least) to calm myself down. I never went back to sleep. For the next 3 and a half hours, I laid there on that bed, bored out of my mind and unable to fall asleep. Insomnia at it's best.

This whole event did not do much to help my still hurting hip that I had thrown out a couple weeks before. (I'm actually still trying to get better from that!) Then, last week, I found out I actually do have sleep apnea. They were able to get enough data from the evening to give me a diagnosis. I only slept 34% of the night, but apparently that was enough. The woman who gave me my results said any number under 5 is considered normal (through context clues, I deciphered that meant they could stop breathing 5 times per hour and that would be considered normal, without sleep apnea). My number was 45. Still not as bad as some of the stories I've heard of people who would stop breathing 84-110 times per hour, but still enough to require me to go back for another sleep study, but this time with one of the C-Pap machines. Yeehaw.

I got my car back from the repair shop on July 31st. The last day the month of July could possibly screw me over. The people at Apex Transmission were beyond amazing. When they called to tell me my car was ready, they let me know there was a bubble in one of my tires, and it really wasn't safe to drive. Of course, I had JUST turned my rental car in and was getting ready to be driven to the repair shop to pick up my car. There was no getting a rental car back, so I went ahead over to Apex Transmission to see what I could do. When I got there, they were so concerned for my safety that they made me promise to drive slowly (with my flashers on) and go directly to the Firestone right down the street. Since I had gotten my tires from Firestone (a different location), it only made sense to go back to them. I did as instructed - drove slowly with my flashers on - and went straight to Firestone. The guy I talked to at Firestone worked at the other Firestone I went to when I bought my tires - he actually sold them to me. He remembered me, and did his best to work with me. I still ended up having to pay $160 to get a new tire. Not bad, but when you know you have to pay $400 for a stupid Endoscopy (another required evaluation for weight loss surgery), paying out any amount is too much!

The whole $400 for an Endoscopy is basically the stupid facility charging me my full deductible based on an out of network price. They are in network, and I have coverage for the entire procedure. There is no need for them to charge me my entire deductible, but they refuse to budge. My insurance company even talked to them (with me on the phone), and it was clear the "financial coordinator" at this location has no idea how to do her job. She claims she's charging me based on my insurance coverage, but that is not possible because I'm covered. The financial coordinator told me she could work with me if I couldn't pay all $400 up front, but the "payment plan" consists of me paying an amount less than $400 (whatever I'm comfortable with), then having the rest sent to a collection agency who will contact me 30-45 days after my appointment and requiring me to pay the remaining balance right away. Seriously? I'm getting penalized for your lack of competence in billing insurance?? I don't think so...

We'll see how that goes...that procedure in on Friday - two days from now.

I met with my surgeon yesterday, which really helped me get a better grasp on things. He assured me my surgery would not be postponed due to gaining 7 pounds in a month because he knew where the weight was coming from. I told him about being marked absent from a support group meeting I was at and about how the Dietician wanted me to double my caloric intake. He understood that for me, a 1600 calorie/day diet was definitely going to make me gain weight, but he still wanted me to get my calories up to over 1000 a day. He also said not to worry about the support group meeting; he'd make sure I got credit for it. My surgeon told me they only worry about people who are gaining weight if they can't pinpoint why there is weight gain. For me, there was a clear-cut reason, so he wasn't worried. I was following directions to the letter and had previously let everyone know what my situation was. He assured me I was the ideal candidate for weight loss surgery and we went ahead and decided that Gastric Bypass would be the best option for me. We'd talked about it before, but yesterday, we officially decided that was what we would be doing. It didn't make sense to my surgeon for me to have a surgery like the Lap Band or the Gastric Sleeve when they weren't going to be as aggressive as Gastric Bypass. With everything else I've done to lose weight and knowing surgery would be the tool I needed to get going, he said I should "go big or go home" because that's what I had been doing up until this point. He also said he truly believed I would be incredibly successful after surgery, especially because I was so diligent in doing everything required of me.

The next time I meet up with my surgeon, all of my remaining test results should be in his hands. My last tests are this week (later today and then Friday), and tomorrow, I will be going to my last required support group meeting. I don't meet my surgeon again until September 9th, which gives everyone plenty of time to put the rest of my records together and get them over to my surgeon. Hopefully on 9/9, I'll be able to decide when surgery is going to be. It looks like it will be anywhere between October and December. I'm hoping for October or November, but that's going to be completely dependent upon my insurance. Blue Cross/Blue Shield had a six month waiting period before a patient could have bariatric surgery, but many states (including mine) changed it to a three month waiting period. Unfortunately, the state my insurance is out of (hubby's company's corporate location) did not change the requirements, so I'm not sure what's going to happen.

Now knowing I have sleep apnea and knowing how much I do not want to have one of those machines for the rest of my life, I know I have made the right decision in getting this surgery. Initially, I went through a moment of feeling like now I was being FORCED to have surgery because I had a weight-related health issue, but I realized (thanks to my amazing support system of friends and family) that this is just further proof I made the right choice. I was going to get the surgery before, now I'm just getting that extra push to keep me from changing my mind.

I am getting excited - my surgeon said there is no reason I won't be almost 150 pounds lighter 18 months after surgery. This time next year, I'll be close to being half the person I am right now! Whoohoo!!

Now I just have to get through the rest of this process...

*JC*

2 comments:

  1. Stay the course. We are proud of you. Always remember:

    Believe in yourself
    Believe in your team
    Never be afraid to fail
    Always ask "What's Next?"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you - I needed that! :)

    ReplyDelete