Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Truly Scary Part of Bariatric Surgery

Since I announced the surgery, I have had a lot of people ask me if I'm nervous or excited about the surgery. Obviously, it's a mixture of emotions. While the surgery is a large commitment, I am not really nervous about the procedure itself. Dr. Jones does more of these surgeries than I care to think about, and at this point I'm sure he could perform it with his eyes closed (although, I'm not volunteering for that). The hospital where I am getting the procedure is brand new, and high tech. I don't expect any problems.

However, I am scared of what comes after the surgery. I know what to expect in terms of my body and my health. I know what I need to do to ensure a successful surgery and recovery. What is NOT predictable is how the surgery will change me as a person. What do I mean when I say that? Well, I have known several people that have had bariatric surgery done, and it completely changed them. It transformed them into self entitled monsters. Granted, it doesn't affect everyone this way. I haven't noticed any changes in my family member that has had it done. However, out of the 5 people I know that got it done, only 2 of them have remained similar to their old selves.

Let me tell you story of my (former) best friend. He had a Gastric Bypass done. Before the bypass he was truly my brother. I spent every waking moment of my life with him from age 16 until he moved away to Houston. Amanda and I went and visited him about a year or so after his surgery, and he looked fantastic! My initial thought was how confident he was. I could tell he was happy in his skin. The longer I spent there, the quicker I realized that it wasn't only his confidence. He seemed a little different. He spoke of his friends there in Houston, and they were not the type of people we would normally hang out with. These people weren't good people. They dabbled in things and activities that he would NEVER have participated in before. He explained that he had "come out of his shell". He had the confidence now to meet new people and get out of the house. I dismissed it, because after all, he had always been overweight, and maybe it was time for him to sow his wild oats.

Fast forward to about 5 years in the future. I got a phone call one day from him. He was back in town, and wanted to visit. So, without hesitation I invited him over. We had some drinks, and I offered to let him crash at my place.

To cut a long story short, and because it's a little painful to talk about, it ends like this.

He hacked into my PC, he stole my credit card numbers, and he talked ALL night about people that were out to get him. Like some type of weird paranoid tweaker. He said filthy things about my ex wife, and was incredibly vain. Insisting I feel his arms because he was "ripped", and this went on all night.

I later learned that this surgery can change you. It can transform you into a different person. With confidence comes great risks. Especially if you have lived as a fat guy for most of your life. You get attention that you normally would not get. This can result in pretty nasty personality changes.

I am FAR from perfect. I have some issues with being selfish, and I can be a bit of a cynical asshole. However, I pride myself on my manners, and try to have respect for others. I like me. I like my personality. Moreso before I started suffering with depression. However, I remember how I use to be, and I want to be that way again. I am terrified to let this surgery change me into someone that my friends don't like to be around.

I tell myself that the fact that I even acknowledge that this could be an issue may be a good sign. Being aware of my actions and behavior is the first step of  preventing negative personality changes.

I learned from my psych eval, that as much as I would like to avoid it, Anti-depressants are going to be in my near future. With my past struggle with depression and anxiety, I simply can't afford to take any unnecessary risks.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The wait is over. I'm getting the Gastric Sleeve.

After just over 3 years of trying every angle to get approved for weight loss surgery, it has finally come to fruition.

Since gaining employment at CUSI, I was able to pick up health insurance. Luckily my health insurance covers bariatric surgery if certain criteria are met. Such as BMI over 40, co-morbidities (like sleep apnea, high blood pressure, gout, etc). The coverage is still pretty loose as far as insurance goes, and it is definitely going to be a financial undertaking, but at this point, I think it's completely necessary, and my doctor's agree with me.

My health has been getting progressively worse over the last year. The mini-stroke, the gout, my back. I have unfortunately missed a lot of work over my health, and frankly, I'm sick of it. The financial burden now will pay for itself in due time.

I went to the surgeon last night and signed my consent forms and made my first payment. While they weren't able to give me an actual date of the surgery, they estimated it for early July. I still have to undergo a bevy of tests including an endoscopy, bloodwork, and a very strict 2 week liquid diet (right before the surgery), all of which will need to also be paid for. I left the Dr.'s office last night feeling like a bobble head. A bit overwhelmed. It felt like a whirlwind of facts and dates and things I need to do, and money I need to pay.

Meanwhile, I have work on the back of my mind, because I know that this endoscopy, and bloodwork are going to cost me precious work hours. Hours I need to be able to make ends meet financially. Both leading up to, and after the procedure. Not to mention the amount that I have had to miss due to illness already.

It's times like these that I wish I had someone in my life to lean on a little bit. I don't mean family. I have plenty of family support, but the thought of going through this alone is pretty daunting and depressing. On the other hand, I feel like this would be a lot to ask of any woman that I don't know very well.

I am currently sitting and waiting for a phone call this week that will fill my schedule with dates. All of the procedures and testing leading up to the surgery, and then of course, the surgery itself. Once the surgery is complete, video blogging will commence, since I finally feel I will have something to talk about rather than just ramble on about boring daily occurrences.

I'm not particularly nervous about the surgery itself, even though the consent forms I signed yesterday were scary to say the least. I am more concerned about the next month leading up the surgery and making sure there are no snags. I am already invested at this point and would like for this to go well. Hopefully no unexpected costs or medical surprises.

I am very lucky and thankful to have the understanding family and employer that I have, and I can't wait to start this new chapter of my life.