Saturday, February 26, 2011

My Journey to Weight Loss Surgery (VSG)

Being overweight my entire life I didn't seriously consider weight loss surgery (WLS) until February 2009. My mom had mentioned it over the years and I always thought it was too extreme. It wasn't that I thought it was, "the easy way out," like many people do. It was more of the fact that I knew how much would be asked of me and thought I could lose the weight on my own.

The turning point wen I first considered WLS was when my mom brought a packet of information home from the hospital. I admit I was like most people and didn't fully grasp what weight loss surgery was, I was thinking Carnie Wilson and stomach stapling.

After reading the packet of information I was open to gastric banding and called to attend an informational session at a local surgeon's office. I was actually so determined about lap band that I remember trying to arrange everything while I was out of town. I have Kaiser so I was calling them to check on coverage and their people didn't even know what bariatrics were, I scheduled the informational session, I was busy and determined.

I usually research things thoroughly but barely had a chance to while I was away. I went to the informational session and fell in love with the program, the surgeons, and after receiving more information decided I was all for the RNY Gastric Bypass. I went home and scoured the internet for all I could find.

Long story short, Kaiser does cover WLS but since it is a self-managing HMO you need to go through them. I had my heart set on the local surgeon, but couldn't get financing. So here's my story with Kaiser...
  • February 2009. Was told there was no bariatrics program
  • March 30th. Received first inkling that there was a bariatrics program but not minimum qualifications
  • April 9th. Called Kaiser, got bounced around to multiple locations and was told they didn't know what bariatrics was. Finally given number to head of Options program for Orange County
  • April 5th. Spoke to head of Options and scheduled the pre-Options seminars
  • May 14th. Attended bariatrics seminar
  • May 18th. Attended weight loss seminar
  • July - December. Participated in Options
  • January 7th. Consult with  KP surgeon and scheduled surgery
  • March 24th. Surgery date
 So why am I just now getting surgery? Kaiser switched from using an outside surgery group in San Diego (Pacific Bariatric) to bring everything in house with general surgeons. The Kaiser surgeons all went to great schools, but I just didn't like how my surgeon didn't make eye contact, talked down to me, and performs other surgeries on a regular basis.

At the time I was losing weight on my own and felt optimistic about my chances, as well. I was quite honest regarding my post UKC struggles to maintain my momentum. After I stopped toing to the workouts daily I started "refeeding" myself food items I had banned from my diet and my I started regaining inches and pounds. (Early on it was just inches because of eating gluten, but that's another entry).

In Fall I hit a low and was frustrated with how short I had fallen from expectations. I started this weight loss journey almost 2 years ago now and watching shows like Biggest Loser feel almost entitled to instantaneous results. Of course I know that my wavering determination is a factor, but it is a privilege to be on Biggest Loser and it is a tremendous aid.

Kaiser has since stopped doing WLS in house because they got back logged and are now using Pacific Bariatric again. Although I felt very comfortable with the first surgery group I chose and think about the what ifs every time I pass their exit on the 73, I feel I am in great hands with Pacific Bariatric. I went in for a round of consults the second week of November and saw the surgeon, internist, and psychiatrist.

They had originally told me I could expect a February surgery date but given the holiday I was given a mid-March date. Since I have a mandatory travel trip the first week of April I had to postpone surgery until April 12th when I get back.

I know that I will continue to catch a lot of crap about getting weight loss surgery, but I hope by sharing my story and decision I can better educate people. I still have friends and family that while supportive stand by preconceived truths or what is out there in the media. I know that this is the decision for me and I've never prescribed myself to living a life any other way.


  1. You will have all the support you can get from your friends and family!

  2. i was looking for something like this.. thanks a lot for the information.
    good one

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