The Big 100!

I am currently 3 months post op, almost to the day. I can happily stop taking the Carafate, Protonix and Pepcid. I have considered continuing the Protonix, because I was taking it prior to surgery, and still have some, but I’m happy I can stop the Carafate. That stuff is pretty rancid, and I hate the aftertaste it leaves. Ick.

I feel good. The nausea is still a problem, and as are my stubborn bowels, but all in all I’m feeling pretty good. I have very little knee pain now unless I overdo, compared to constant pain even at rest back when all this started. I’m holding off on going back to the orthopedic surgeon. The more weight I lose, the easier rehab will be. And if it isn’t bothering me as much now, and I’m able to postpone, I will!

Mariah’s best friend, and lover of all things Avett, John from Alabama, has been visiting the last few days.  He’s a really sweet kid, and it’s been fun getting to know him. We talk a lot when Mariah is at work, and he’s gotten a real education about the history of our part of the country. He’s leaving for his return trip home tomorrow, so we took him to the Casino at Salamanca, NY last night. He was like a kid in a candy store. It was fun to watch.

I let Mariah do my make up and we took selfies before we left.

IMG_20160312_234032548

Smoky eye – En point!

Oh yeah, and as of this morning, I’m down 100.2 pounds.  That’s right;

I’VE LOST 100 FRICKIN’ POUNDS!!!

I think I’m still waiting for the reality and gravity of it to hit me. I mean, yeah, I read the number, but it still hasn’t really sunk in yet.

100 pounds. 100. The guy in the cage at the casino last night did a double take when he looked at my license, and congratulated me on my weight loss.  Total victory! And that license picture was taken in December!

I need to get my sorry butt out of bed – I hate daylight savings time – and get motivated. I hope everyone enjoys their day.

Be good to each other.
Linda ❤

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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!

Linda

Alexis, Finances and Appreciation

I’m not sure what to title this, so it’s untitled. For now anyway.

One of the women I’ve met through this blog, who has become an amazing friend, is Alexis. She’s in her early 30s and an attorney that lives in Vegas. She’s also preparing for the sleeve gastrectomy. Except hers is the day after tomorrow!!

I am so excited for her, I could almost pee my pants. (I kind of feel like that most of the time, thanks to Lasix, and my hysterectomy.) I feel as though I’m living vicariously through her all the time now. Most of my blogger friends have had their surgeries already; I was late into the game. But I can’t wait to have mine!

I have less than three weeks until my next appointment (Weigh In #6) with the PA, Jackie, and then we submit to Highmark! I am ridiculously excited about it! It’s all I think about these days. That and the financial part of it. That’s a little more overwhelming.

My GoFundMe Campaign Link

I started a gofund me campaign. As much as I wish I had the money socked away that I’ll need for the time I’ll have to take off work, I just don’t have it. But the idea of waiting until next year, with another deductible to meet, just makes me sick.  Apparently when I joked about not being above panhandling to have my surgery, I wasn’t really joking. Part of me kind of feels like a dick for making the campaign; like I can’t take care of myself. But you know what? I don’t have a husband to financially support me. I pay all my bills myself, plus I have my daughter and her boyfriend living with me as well. I’m a good person, and I deserve to have this surgery, and if this is what it takes to have it, so be it! So if you’re inclined to share the link, I’d very much appreciate it. At this point, every little bit is going to help.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone who has shown their support over the last five and a half months. Can you believe it’s been that long since I took my first steps toward surgery? I sure I can’t. The messages of support and love have been truly overwhelming. I have found that there are people who read this blog that I never expected, and their support has been wonderful. I promise to keep all of you updated in the coming weeks about where I am in the process, and thank you all again, so very much!

Take care of each other, and say love,

Linda ❤

A woman goes to the doctor. What they tell her blows her mind!

(Didn’t that headline read like one of those Upworthy posts on Facebook that is always way less dramatic and impressive than they let on?)

But I did go to the doctor today. Two of them, in fact.

My bariatric surgeon decided that for no other reason than I’m fat that I should go to the cardiologist for a cardiac clearance. When I scheduled the appointment, it took some wiggling, but I scheduled it and Official Weigh In #5 on the same day, so I could just take a whole day off work instead of dicking around and taking off more than one. Today was the day for both appointments.

Victoria offered to take me, which I very much appreciated. We took the scenic route (on 86, which we never do) and made great time, arriving 15 minutes before I was supposed to be there. (My appointment was originally scheduled for 1pm – they called last Friday and asked if I could arrive at 12:15 for a 12:30 appointment, which was fine by me.) I went over my personal information with them, filled out an ROS (Review of Systems) sheet, and was back in a room by 12:15. A quick work up from the nurse, and Dr. Kang was in the room by 12:30. Five minutes of talking, two deep breaths and a quick listen to my heart, and he told me that while I am a moderate surgery risk (because of my weight), I have low indicators and received the “OKAY!!” to have surgery!

We were out of the office by 1:00, which gave us almost 3 hours before my next appointment, which was almost literally across the street. Victoria was starving so we got her some grub (I try not to eat on weigh in days because, well, it’s a weigh in day!), and she asked if she could go to this cute little hippie store called Grasshopper. She didn’t know how to get there, so I talked her through it. She was in the store about ten minutes, purchased a couple of tie dyes to wear to work, then asked if we could go to their other location on the West Side. So we did.  By the time we were done there, it was about 2:30, so we decided to go to the bariatrics office to see if there was any way I could be seen early.

We walked into a FULL waiting room. My hopes of getting in to see Jackie, the PA, were almost gone when a woman walked out from the back and announced that the nutrition class would be held in the conference room, and anyone here for that should follow her. The room immediately emptied out, and in under a minute, I was called back for my weigh in.

I lost 5.5 lbs since my last “official” weigh in, which are the only ones bariatrics count. The tech that worked me up told me I was doing great, as I’m now, officially, 5.5 pounds away from my pre op goal. She took my blood pressure (which was higher there than at the cardiologist – Tori took credit for that, saying it was because of her driving!), then walked us back to an exam room, where we waited just a few minutes for Jackie to come in.

Jackie is a very sweet person. I was immediately comfortable talking to her. She said she was going to take a minute to go over my chart and then we’d talk. She congratulated me on my weight loss, and told me I was doing a great job. I reminded her that I’d updated all my meds and medical history via the UPMC portal last week, so everything was up to date, and she thanked me for that. (I am the portal queen for sure!) She went through the list of all my tests and procedures and whatnot that I’d needed to get done for surgery and was very pleased that it’s all been completed. I explained to her that the only thing I didn’t have done was my three support group visits, and that they can be difficult to get to as they are only once a month, and sometimes real life (work, kids, etc) make it difficult. I told her that I’d wanted to have them all done before my six months was up, but September was very difficult – Jamestown doesn’t have a September meeting (1st Monday is Labor Day), Bradford’s meeting was tonight and I couldn’t get there in time, and there isn’t a Warren meeting this month, because the leader is out of town. I told her that I’ve become part of a network of weight loss surgery bloggers, and that I’ve gotten some valuable insight and advice from them, as most of them have already had surgery or are almost to their surgery dates (I’m so excited for you, Alexis!!!!). She said that the reason for the support group meetings is to get that support from others that I’m getting from my blogging friends, so if I don’t make it to all the meetings, that doesn’t necessarily preclude me from being approved for surgery.

Jackie told me today that at my next appointment, THEY COULD BE READY TO SUBMIT FOR APPROVAL!! I about peed my pants! I told her that Dr. Ali had initially said that my surgery would likely be in February or March. She said that they don’t often get patients with weight loss like mine, so she figured he was giving me time to reach my goal. He hadn’t expected me to get so close to soon! I was thrilled!

So now, here is the problem. I have no more v/s/p days to take. I used the last one today to go to my doctor appointments. However, if I can rustle up the money that I would have made at work for the two weeks I need off, and my boss will allow it, theoretically, I could have surgery in November! NOVEMBER! Holy crap! Jackie said I am totally ahead of schedule, and she’s really proud of me! I was beaming!

So now, I have to figure things out. I really would love to have surgery in 2015, because I’ve met my deductible. Waiting until ’16 means a whole new one, which I dread. So, now I do some math and figure out what I can do.  Jackie did tell me that once I’m approved, the approval is good for six months, so if I can’t have surgery until next year, they won’t have to resubmit, so that’s something.

If anyone has any input, or any dollars for that matter, let me know! I’m not above begging and panhandling at this point, if it saves me from another GD deductible!

Don’t worry, be happy!

Linda ❤

And September begins….

Yes, I know I said last time that I would write a blog post that following weekend, and I didn’t.

Life’s full of disappointments. But that isn’t what this blog is about at all.

I’d like to preface this blog by saying that yes, I understand that everyone is going to miss summer, but all I can say is bring on fall! Autumn is my favorite season – crisp air, falling leaves, football. I think it’s beautiful this time of years and absolutely love it. Well, if it weren’t pushing 90 every day this week I would, but soon enough, my favorite season will be upon us again.

The last time I posted, I had been at the hospital for my second sleep study.  I received the letter from the nurse at the Sleep Clinic telling me they were going to send a prescription for a CPAP machine to the local home health medical equipment joint when I walked in the door from actually picking up said machine.  The first night, the CPAP kicked my ass. I slept very little. I woke up in the morning feeling like I’d gone 10 rounds with Chuck Liddell. I had a headache, I had horrendous sinus pressure, and felt like crap. When I tried it the second night, I cranked up the humidifier on my machine and that did seem to help. According to my wristband fitness/sleep tracker, I did sleep lightly for over 6 hours, and was in a deep sleep for 20 minutes. Technically, 2 minutes less than night before, but I felt markedly better Wednesday morning than Tuesday. The old schnozz is a little ouchie yet, but I think in time, it’ll toughen up and I’ll be okay. I just really want this thing to work, and I’m willing to keep at it to make sure it does.

As of today, I’ve officially lost 27.2 lbs. I’m 8.8 lbs from my preop weight loss goal. (You can check out my “Weights and Measures” page to follow my progress.) I go back to UPMC Bariatrics on Monday the 14th, and I’d be pleased as punch if I could hit my goal at my weigh in there.  There is a HUGE part of me that would like to have my surgery this year. I’ve met my deductible for 2015, and of course, I would like to have it sooner rather than later so I won’t have to fork out ANOTHER deductible next year. But when I went to see Dr. Ali in May, he said February or March. The PROBLEM with having surgery this year is that I don’t have any more time off to take, so any time off will be unpaid. And there’s no way I can survive (as in pay my rent or utilities) if I miss 3 weeks work unpaid.  So unless someone out there wants to help a gal out, I’m probably still looking at next year, and a new deductible. *Shakes fist into the air!

I also have to go to the cardiologist on the 14th. I’m not too freaked out about it; I’m sure this all just CYA (cover your ass) territory.  That doesn’t make it suck any less.

On a completely unrelated note, my girls have got it going on!! Mariah has started grad school!!! She’s attending online classes through Clarion University to get her Masters in Library Science.  Victoria recently started a new job that she seems to enjoy (as much as any 19 year old enjoys a job), and from the feedback she’s received from staff and patients, she’s doing a great job! And Jordan started her senior year of high school yesterday. Where did the time go? I am SO  very proud of all three of my girls, and I love them very, very much!

Finally, there’s a boy in my life.  Well, not really a boy. More like a grown ass man.  He’s super sweet, and puts up with my bullshit and there’s been talk of the “f” word. Not THAT “f”word, you freaks! Future! We’ll see how all that pans out, but I am optimistic! I think he’s got real potential.

So that’s all the news that’s fit to print. I would like to take a second to thank all the wonderful people in my life for being there when I need you. My girls have been so terrific through all this, and yes, they are trying to make changes too! My Mom is a rock; always so supportive; I’ll never be able to adequately thank her. Alexis – you are amazing, and you are totally going to kick surgery’s ass in a couple of weeks. I wish I could be there to help you through it, but I’ll only be a phone call/text/email away.  And Dennis, thank you for wandering back into my life.  I look forward to everything my future brings, especially with you in it.

Be good to one another,

Linda ❤

You’ll have to wait one more day…

I had an 800 word blog almost done, fell asleep typing, and lost the whole damned thing, so you’re going to have to wait one more freaking day.

Mental note – save the draft while you’re writing it.

In the meantime, here’s The Avett Brothers. Seeing them live is one of my post op goals (hopefully at Red Rocks-a girl can dream!).

The Avett Brothers – Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise

My daughter Mariah got a tattoo of a lighthouse (for my Dad – I miss you!) with the lyrics from this song “Decide what to be and go be it” incorporated into it.  That line means a great deal to me now. I decided to be healthy, and am taking the steps I need to so I can be.

And with that, I am away.

Be kind, rewind.

Linda ❤

It’s no wonder I’m tired all the damned time!!

I thought I’d post a quick update in regard to my “med mix up” and subsequent brain freakout this week, and had it all typed out, whether you wanted to read it or not. THEN I opened my mail, and my mind was BLOWN!

I mentioned earlier this week that I had called the Sleep Disorder Center, and they told me they’d sent a letter out, but since I was on the phone, and needed to schedule the secondary sleep study to get my CPAP reading taken care of, I just set it up then.

Here’s the body of the letter I got from them….

“7/27/2015

Dear Linda,

We are writing in regard to the sleep study that you had done with us on 7/20/2015. The study was positive for severe sleep apnea with a score of 68 episodes of apnea per hour.”

Let me stop right there. 68?!?!!? Seriously? Holy shit!

“The way the studies are scored is by the number of apneas per hour during the REM stage of sleep.”

The tech told me I had VERY brief periods of REM sleep during my study. I can attest to that, because I didn’t sleep well until the last two hours of the approximate seven hour study.

“0-4 is normal, 5-14 is mild, 15-29 is moderate and anything greater than 30 is severe.” 

Well ain’t that a kick in the pants?

“The next step is to come back for a second part of the study where Michelle puts the CPAP on you and adjusts the settings until she reaches the setting that is eliminating your apneas.”

Yay! Another night where I don’t sleep, then have to go to work all day! Can’t wait!

The rest goes on to tell me when they do the studies, and that I need to call and schedule, which I’ve already done.

Sigh. Well, hopefully, within the next few weeks, I’ll start getting a good night’s sleep. HOPEFULLY being the key word in that sentence.

In other news, I felt a billion times better today, now that the Lisinopril is back at the correct dosage. I didn’t use my cane today, only took one dose of Ibuprofen, and walked a few unnecessary trips up to the front of the surgery center I work at, just for the exercise. Let’s hope THAT trend continues!

So enjoy your weekend, and remember to be kind to each other!!

Linda <3<3