December 10th!!

I’ve spent the last two weeks, since my last post, freaking out. I’ve been convinced that Highmark was going to say “tough darts, Linda”, and not approve my surgery. The PA had gotten me totally pumped, saying that it usually only takes a couple of days for Highmark, there’s a spot on November 4th, etc. So I’ve been freaking out. I don’t think I’ve slept more than a couple of hours a night since my last trip to Erie. I had called three times over the last week, trying to find out SOMETHING, ANYTHING about my case. Jen, the scheduler, was awesome. I left a voicemail for her Friday, and was concerned that she didn’t get back to me. I called again Tuesday, and the receptionist sent me right back to her. She relayed to me that she’d called Highmark on Monday, and after being on hold for almost an hour, she was told that I was still in Medical Review. That’s the last step before “yeah” or “nay”. She said she would wait until Friday, and if she hadn’t heard anything she would call again, even if it meant waiting on hold for another hour.

I was at work this afternoon when I saw an 814-877 number calling my phone – I immediately recognized it as a “Hamot” number, and answered. It was Jen.
“I just got off the phone with Highmark, and knew I had to call you immediately. You’ve been approved, so now I can schedule you!”

I was so excited!! She said she was sorry she couldn’t do it sooner but the next available daVinci day is December 10th.  At first, it felt like it was months away, but it’s only six weeks!

Here is the timeline for the next six weeks:

November 5: I have another follow up with the sleep doctor, and I’m going to cancel. I’m tired of forking over $40 a month to be talked over and ignored.

November 9th: I have an appointment with my PCP, Dr. Popescu. I can’t wait to tell him I’ve been approved for surgery. He’s going to be so excited for me!

November 28: I start my 12 day liquid diet of protein shakes and water. This is to shrink my liver prior to surgery; it’s something that my bariatrics surgeon does for every pre op patient, for at least a few days.

December 1: I go to Erie for two appointments. At 2pm, I have to be at Hamot to meet with the anesthesiologist, and at 3pm, I have an appointment to sign my consents at bariatrics.

December 10: Surgery Day!!

Add into the mix that we’ll be moving across town to my daughter Mariah’s apartment, and you have one very busy few weeks!!

So, it’s nose to grindstone to make sure everything is good with work before I take off a week and a half.

Have a great one! I know I am!



Today; It was a good day…

So, today was my last weigh in at Bariatrics.  Jackie, the PA, told me at my last appointment that this time, in all likelihood, we would be cleaning up the loose ends to submit to Highmark. Consequently, I didn’t sleep much last night, and I was totally unfocused at work this morning. But I got through it, and Mariah, Victoria and I went to Erie this afternoon.

We arrived at my appointment early, as usual. I have this weird fear of being late, so I’m ALWAYS early. We sat in the waiting room, watching patient after patient get called back. It was so frustrating, because my adrenaline was on overdrive! The time since this process started has absolutely FLOWN by! After about fifteen minutes of waiting, I was called back by the sweet weigh-in nurse to get on the scales.

I took off my shoes; I told her I wasn’t screwing around today. I stepped on the scales and she told me I’d lost 9 pounds since last time! 447.0. I’d met my pre-op goal, officially!! I was grinning; it was such a relief! I peed twice before my appointment to make sure I was going to be under 450, so to be at 447 was miraculous to me! After that, she checked my blood pressure; it was 124/74! Thanks, 39 lb weight loss (and lisinopril)!  I asked her for the initial measurements she’d taken at my first appointment, which she happily gave me, then she escorted us to Room 3 to wait for Jackie.

The girls and I chitchatted for a couple of minutes before we heard a knock on the door. It was Jackie and her laptop. I swear, she was excited as I was! She said that she thought we had everything we needed to submit to Highmark, but just needed to go over a couple of things, and then we’d look at potential surgery dates. SURGERY DATES! My mind was racing, and I was talking a thousand miles an hour. She went over all the testing I’d had and said everything looked great, that I’d worked very hard and there was no reason we couldn’t submit today. I asked quite a few questions, as I’m apt to do, but I could tell they were the kinds of questions everybody asks, because she had all the answers. When I told her I was concerned about what I’d read about total weight with VSG compared to Bypass, she allayed my fears, saying that the weight loss is comparable, and if I’m willing to do the work, which I’ve proved I am, there’s no reason to believe I won’t achieve my goal. That was such a relief!

Once I’m approved, I’ll have to go up to see Dr Ali once more to sign the consents. Apparently, it’s a big deal, because I’ve got online videos to watch BEFORE I go to sign them. She also said that I’ll have 12 days of liquid diet pre op. Four protein shakes a day, and a gallon of water. This is the “liver reduction diet” portion of our program. This shrinks my liver, making it easier to get under it to my stomach. We went through my med list; once I start the pre op diet, I will stop taking my Lasix, lisinopril, HCTZ and Klor-Con. That’s over half my meds! And I won’t restart them after surgery! Post op, I’ll take the Protonix twice a day, as well as an anti-nausea med (Zofran or Phenergan) and possibly a liquid med for my stomach similar to the Protonix, and a liquid pain medication. I asked her about my Ibuprofen, and she suggested I talk to Dr Ali at consent signing about it, as well as whether or not I will need to inject myself with Lovenox post op, like I did after my hysterectomy. Those injections are twice a day for 30 days, and are self administered. I’ve done it before, so it’s not a big deal at all.

Then she went to get the surgery book. She said that he will want to use the da Vinci robot for my surgery. I was so excited!! I’m such a Grey’s Anatomy nerd!! Apparently, Jackie could tell, as she told us she understands how exciting all this is, when Mariah told her that it’s more than that. [On Grey’s, when Webber was trying to keep Miranda from leaving, he bought her a da Vinci surgical system to entice her to stay]. We all laughed about that. She said that it should only take a couple of days for an answer back from Highmark (a couple of days?!?! SERIOUSLY??!?), so taking into account the 12 day preop diet, the first available surgery day is November 4th. NOVEMBER 4th!!! That’s less than three weeks away!!!

With that, she walked out to checkout, and I was given an order for labs (to be done once I hear I’m approved, but before consent day – CBC and Diff w/Platelets, UA, UC, APTT, Protime/INR, and a Basic Metabolic Panel – nothing like my FIRST labs), and the sheet with the instructions for viewing the educational video presentation about my surgery.  I thanked the staff, told them to have a great evening, and walked out of the office on a cloud.

So now we wait….