Friday, September 10, 2010

My Consultation with the Surgeon

OK, I think I am ready to post this now..... it is going to be long, detailed and kinda personal. if you recognize this doctors office or know me personally, please don't comment where this office is or use my full name or anything like that. This blog is open to public viewing and it's purpose is to help others who are struggling with weight loss, currently losing weight, trying to lose weight, debating if low carb is right for them, or who have PCOS and gaining weight and don't know what to do, or for those who just want/need some inspiration. As much as I would rather keep these details to myself I have been asked to share them by others who may need this same surgery in the future. I was misinformed originally and I don't want to see that happen to others.

Overall it was a crazy day as I had to drop someone off for hand surgery that was going on during my consultation and then drive 45 minutes away to my appointment and then make it back to pick the person up from surgery. They were suppose to check in at the same time my appointment was scheduled so it was a rather rushed morning and I was very nervous but didn't end up with much time to be nervous at all. I got very lucky and traffic was light. If I had of been late then I would not have been able to get in to see this doctor until the end of October. I made it there and filled out about 10 pages worth of paperwork. My referral from my normal doctor was not there yet. So if you have to go through this yourself then I would call ahead the day before and ask if they have it or not. I had to call and request another one right then.

The office staff was very friendly and professional and it was well maintained, clean and well decorated. I checked out the bathroom while waiting and it was spotless, which always puts me at ease a bit if the bathroom is tidy. I don't like germs!

They had me go in a room and watch a video about a full body lift. Then I was taken into the exam room and given a robe to put on and a little pair of paper panties. I had been told that I needed to be fully naked for the photos they had to take for the insurance company, so being handed the little pair of paper panties was actually comforting in a way. The nurse left the room for me to get dressed and I snapped a few pics with my phone of what the exam room was like.
 My first fear was that the robe would not fit me as hospital gowns and robes had never fit me before, but the robe fit me with room to spare, as did the paper panties. They didn't cover much, but they helped me to not feel so violated at the thought of someone I didn't know from the insurance company seeing my naked pictures. Come to find out the camera is set to where your face is not included in the pictures and that made me feel better. Here is the camera.
And the screen that you stand in front of with the guide on the floor of where to put your feet.

The doctor came in and talked to me, then examined me. She has been doing this for 20 years and she was surprised by how much belly skin I have and then I lifted it all up and she was even more surprised. People have asked to see pictures of it and I am debating if I want to share any or not. If I do it won't be any that show the full scope of just how much skin there is because a lot of it is in areas that I am not going to show anyone and certainly not going to post on a blog. But I may post some pics of the belly area, just not what is under it.....

Here are some pics of me dressed and I tried to hold some of the extra skin out so it is more noticeable. My fingers are pushing on the bottom of my ribs just for reference in this top pic, this is pretty much as small as I will get from side to side. I circled the biggest part of skin in blue and don't mind the hair, these were taken after the gym.
Here I am pulling the skin out:
A closer look (and lightened the pic a bit, it can be hard to see in black):
A lot of people have told me they don't think I have much excess skin because they can't see it, well I do.... I just try to find clothing that hides it and wear longer shirts to cover the belly skin that hangs down. But now you know my secrets.... and how many of you are going to be looking for the belly skin in all of my pics now? lol

So the appointment was going well, the surgeon said I have a lot of stuff going on and a massive amount of extra skin and a normal tummy tuck won't do much for me, I need to be cut up and down as well as side to side. I was listening and not concerned because I was thinking that insurance will cover this because it is medically needed right? Wrong...... I found out that insurance won't cover any of the other stuff that needs to be done and not even all of my tummy either. I am going to need 8k just for my tummy on top of the 6k the insurance should approve and then another 8k for my thighs and that doesn't even include my arms, under my arms next to my breasts, back or butt, luckily my butt isn't too bad compared to the rest of me.

I felt like I wasted the doctors time, my time, why was I even there, how could insurance not pay for this, would they have rather I just stayed fat? Had I not lost the weight and had a heart attack then they would have paid for heart surgery. Had I not lost weight and asked for for my tummy to be stapled, they would have covered that.......

I work my a** off losing all this weight, do it without surgery, now I have all this extra skin that is hanging, pinching, pulling, hurting, rubbing, getting sore, raw and irritated, bleeding and infected. It is currently infected right now and I have medicine for it even.....  Then it pulls so much and puts pressure on my back on hips and it hurts my lower back and hips. It makes it harder to stand up straight and sit up straight and I have to fight the urge to slump over. It is just so frustrating, people tell you that stuff should be covered and then you work hard to get to a point where you can get it done and then you find out that it isn't covered. So now I can't schedule the surgery because I have to find a way to pay for it first.....

I'm very hurt, discouraged and frustrated beyond belief. It would have been so easy to just give up right then and say screw it, I am just gonna go eat a cheesecake and a boat load of cheese fries, then polish it off with a couple boxes of stuffing as soon as I had more room in my tummy. But I just couldn't do that..... both mentally and probably impossible physically too because my stomach can't hold that much food anymore! But seriously, the thought did cross my mind for a brief second. But I just can't do that. I felt so awful before I was low carb and I feel so much better now even with the baggy saggy deforming skin, I hate it but I hated feeling bad all the time, being sick and so unhealthy even more then I hate this extra skin. I could never go back to the way I was before.

The surgeon felt bad that I was misinformed and she even took discounts off her rates for me and said the other hospital gives 50% off discounts if I am paying out of pocket combined with insurance for these things so that price even included getting the 50% off the anesthesia and stuff too. She is also going to do more work on the lower belly then what insurance will pay her for, so it is actually cheaper from her then it could be from somewhere else. So she is really trying to work with me, but I can't afford that much and it has to be paid before the surgery.

I know someone who had work done by this doctor and she really is a good doctor, so this isn't a matter of the doctor being bad or not wanting to help me. She will be more then willing to help me fight with the insurance companies but the part that I need to be covered first is something that insurance just does not cover. She has been doing this for 20 years and she has never seen or heard of it being covered ever. Insurance will pay for the small red part to be removed. They basically say cut here and cut here and sew it back together. But I need much more skin removed then that. Plus I have a lot of extra tissue and blood veins that got left behind and needs to be removed in the ab area and in the lower belly too. Having those extra veins makes my heart work harder and I have them all over my body too, but mostly in the belly. The green area is where I need to be cut and the red area is where insurance will pay for, provided they approve the request for special circumstances that my doctor submitted. They think it should get approved for the red part. But they won't approve the green part. The green and the red part need to be done in the same surgery. It is a Panniculectomy and a Abdominoplasty that I need done together.
 Basically the only good news I got at the doctors was that my recovery time would be 2 bad weeks with 2 semi-ok weeks unless I had complications but I had been told 6-8 weeks, so I was expecting worse. But I guess it doesn't really matter for now..... I am trying to stay positive and apply for medical loans, but I have been looking for a full time job for a year now and I have only been able to find temp work. Places don't want to approve you for a loan when you are not working full time.

If/when I am able to get the surgery done they told me no driving for 2 weeks, I will be on antibiotics since my risk of infection is greater, plus special body washes. I will have an overnight stay and have drains in me and I will be left with an upside town "T" shaped scar. I would have another appointment before surgery with more instructions and other stuff. They said no lifting, bending or pushing anything for 4 weeks. I won't be able to stand up straight, I might lose my belly button, they won't know for sure until they get started. I won't be able to sleep flat and will have to sleep with a slight incline and no sitting up straight either. So basically I would be stuck in a slightly inclined position for a few weeks.

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