Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Sumitting to Insurance

I called the Dr. Office today and they said they have all the paperwork ready to submit either this afternoon or tomorrow morning. In includes a letter from the nutritionist and the psychiatrist as well as Dr. Melniczek. The lady helping me in the office, Josephina, said she will fax the papers to me so I can read these letters. Should be interesting reading. So once those are submitted, I just have to wait for the insurance to give us a thumbs up and we'll be ready to set a date for surgery. Dare I hope for this to happen in January? Wow. We'll just have to see.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Motivational Thread

There is an amazing thread from the LapBandTalk forums of an ongoing list of people who have lost at least 100 lbs. The first post alone is incredible to read. Check it out.

According to Dr. Melniczek, I have 140 pounds to lose. So seeing that the LapBand is helping so many people do this is very inspiring to me.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Back from Denver

We spent the entire day basically in Denver yesterday. We left at 9 am and arrived home at 10:30 p.m. It's not a small thing for us to travel there, but I'm grateful we do have those resources available there. I guess it could be worse if we were in remote Alaska or something. :)
We went and picked up my wedding ring that was at the jewelers for a small repair. We had dropped it off before our trip to San Antonio, so it was good to get that ring back on my finger. After some lunch at the food court, we made our way to the center where the surgeon's office was. We were shown into a conference room and that is where we spent the next 5 hours. I'm not exaggerating.

First we saw Dr. Melniczek. He was nice and young. He was personable, starting off our conversation by telling us about his fertility hopes with his wife. (We had Adam with us which sparked the conversation.) They've been trying with no success to get pregnant. He even joked about putting off his trip to leave a sperm sample. Definitely not the type of surgeon to put on airs and talk above our heads.

The biggest concern I had with him is that he is not as experienced as some doctors. He was a little evasive when I asked about how many surgeries he's performed. In fact, he never gave me a number because I'm guessing it's probably lower than ten. I'm talking specific Lap-band procedures. I started to get a little bit nervous at this point and kept going back to the number thing. Finally, when I was blunt and asked him, since he's inexperienced in Lap Band why I should choose him he was able to give me some answers that make sense.

He has trained extensively in the more complex surgery of gastric bypass. He worked with a surgeon in California who supposedly developed the gastric bypass. (I'm guessing it's a specific type of the bypass since the bypass has been around for years.) He said that was the doctor who performed Carnie Wilson's bypass a few years ago. Anyway, he has close to 200 of those types of surgeries under his belt. If a bypass is an 11 on a difficulty scale, a Lap-band surgery is a 3 or 4.

All the surgeries he performs are laproscopic, so he's experienced there as well. So after the whole conversation and me offering silent prayers to know if this is the right path to be taking, I thought that if Brad is excited about him then I'll be comfortable with him. Brad doesn't usually offer a strong opinion on these kinds of things right away, but this time he did. He was feeling that this guy is going to be our guy and that even though his Lap-Band experience is small, he is an experienced surgeon and the Lap-Band surgery isn't a very complicated one. He is certified, which means he had a proctor (whatever that means in the medical community) come and observe three of his Lap Band surgeries and approve them. So he's done at least three!

The biggest difference he said with him is that I'll receive more thorough after care. He said that's the main place where the band fails is when patients don't come in for follow up care as often as they ought to. He even gave me his cell phone number and promised that he is very committed to patient care vs. the dollar signs. He will also be coming to Goodland about once a month where I will be able to get some, if not all, of my aftercare and fills.

Saying it out loud or putting it down in words makes it almost seem foolish to go with a doctor that is newer to this procedure. I feel really right about it, though.

A couple of things I learned about obesity that I hadn't previously heard helped to shed some light on my own situation and habits. First, he said that once you are 40% over your ideal body weight there comes a change in your body and it will work against any weight loss efforts you make. You may lose initially, but your body will fight you every step of the way and it will put that weight back on as soon as it can. And a little extra for good measure.

He's worked with a professional athlete (NFL) who lost 150 pounds three different times, but even with all of his hard training efforts was never able to keep it off on his own.

The other thing he talked about was the difference in obese patients' ability to feel satisfied after eating a full meal. Our stomachs get full, but we don't feel the feeling of satisfaction. He said one way we're able to achieve the feeling of satisfaction is by eating sweets which can trigger that satisfaction feeling. That really helped me to feel forgiving of myself and my seemingly unquenchable appetite for desserts. I really could relate as he talked about some of his patients describing being full from just having eaten a meal and already thinking about sweets or more food. That had happened to me just the day before and I had commented to Brad how illogical that desire was.

Dr. Melniczek said he uses the new and improved Lap-Band. It has a full 360 degrees of restriction where the older model had section that didn't restrict. This caused an odd shape in the band and the restriction wasn't circular which is the most effective way to restrict. They are getting better weight loss results with the new band and having less problems with erosion which can cause you to need a new band.

I won't bore you with too many details of my 1 1/2 hour nutrition appointment or my 2 hour psychologist visit, but I learned a lot of good things. I think the nutrition information especially will be helpful in this journey. Big key for me will be getting enough protein. She seemed like she couldn't emphasize that enough. Protein first, and lots of it. About 80 g a day is ideal for me at this weight.

So the next step is to have them all submit their reports to the insurance company and get their approval for the surgery. Then I'll have to set a date which with Dr. Melniczek isn't going to be too hard, it sounds like. I'm hoping the process goes pretty fast.

Friday, December 7, 2007

First appointment

Wow. That was quick. I made some calls today and I'm going to see Dr. Dave Melniczek next Wednesday for my initial consultation. I also have an appointment that same day with a nutritionist and I have a message in with the psychiatrist and will hopefully be able to meet with her that day as well. The specialists meet with me at the same office as Dr. Mel (as he is called), so that will be nice and we won't have to drive all over Denver.

I think we will have a talk with the kids tonight to let them know about the surgery. Not quite sure how to word things yet. I think they will be excited for me.

Also, I am taking a third child into my daycare. They are coming to meet us tonight for the first time and he will start next week. This does complicate my life a little bit, but it's also a blessing financially.


So it looks like my insurance will cover the Lap Band surgery at 90%. I don't have any major hoops to jump through. Originally someone had told me I'd likely have to go on a diet for 6 months first, but that's not the case. I just had to have the BMI qualifications and I do. I will have to meet with a psychiatrist and nutritionist, but that's all done at the surgery center, so hopefully I can have those appointments the first day that I meet my surgeon. At this point, March isn't looking like an impossible goal for this surgery, but I'll just have to see what happens. I'm excited. has a great forum where people discuss all things lap-band. There is a thread with over 100 pages of before and after photos. Okay, some of it's comments, but there are a lot of amazing photos there. It's inspiring and exciting. Overwhelmingly, what I have found about this surgery is positive.

I'm well aware that there is a possibility for complications, and some people have needed to get rebanded or have the band removed altogether. I can live with that knowledge. I am hoping for a complication-free experience, but I'm not being naive about it.

I'm more than happy to answer any questions you guys have. :)

Illustration of a Lap Band

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Testing 1 2 3

Just breaking this in and making my first official post to my blog. Can't believe I'm finally making the leap into bloggerdom.