Monday, March 4, 2013

WLS Journey Part II - Going for It.....and Insurance Land

I decided in May 2011 that I really wanted to go for it.

I had decided this before, many years ago, but did not make any moves because it was prohibitively expensive. Now, in the middle of my career, I realized it might yet be a real possibility. So, I attended a Bariatric Seminar at a local hospital. They were very nice and it was informative. I was shocked at how many people were there. There were some for whom I realized this surgery would be a life-saving event. I kept the information, but did not follow up with them right away because of the high cost.

Summer came and went. I read Mindful Eating by Jan Bays. I tried new meals. I walked City Park like a fiend. I traveled to Brasil and walked holes into my shoes, literally. I had to throw them away. I hiked around Igacu Falls on both the Brazilian and Argentine borders. I read blog after blog. I drank a bazillion gallons of water! I read articles and websites. Then, in the fall, I started talking more about it with friends from far and near who have had various weight loss surgeries. I learned lots of practical things related to surgery and recovery that I hope to work through with the same sucess they have found.

Two of the blogs I like are:
The Incredible Shrinking Girl and
Living After Weight Loss Surgery
I have found HUNDREDS of blogs about people's personal journey with WLS. I thought to myself: "Why not?!"

In February 2012, after tossing it around forever.....I made the second part of the decision to have weight loss surgery (WLS). Want to know what that part is? It's commitment. When I say this, I mean commitment in the sense of a deep, abiding, personal dedication to the preparation, process, and life afterwards. It is a work in progress, but I know I can do it!

Some of my close friends who have had weight loss surgery have helped me - a LOT and I am eternally grateful to them. I will need their encouragement and that of my other friends through the coming months.

From December 2011 to February 2012, I exhausted my health insurance options, making tons of calls, filing petitions, and learning that no matter what, none of the insurances offered would cover bariatric surgery - even with medical letters of necessity and references. It was recommended to me by a very nice man at the national office of one of the agencies, that I try the Head's Up program with the state Office of Group Benefits. I filed the application online to be chosen by lottery for elective bariatric surgery which would be 100% covered. All of the people with whom I interacted (phone screening, random questions from me, letter-writers) have been SO NICE and VERY helpful, but it's been over a year and I haven't been chosen. The dates of the program and the numbers of surgeries have been changed and I wish the very best to those chosen, but I won't wait any longer than this May.

The next step for me was to attend bariatric surgery nutrition classes (again, as I have done so in the past) and choose a surgeon. I don't know why I thought I should do this because the surgery package was about $17,000 (which I didn't have and was unwilling to borrow). I ended up completing the courses, meeting with other prospective patients, choosing a surgeon, paying $350 out of pocket to speak with the surgeon one-to-one, and then walking away upset, terrified, and angry. Why? Well, the surgeon gave me nine (9) NINE minutes of his time and in fact, he was sifting a stack of papers and not making eye contact. I felt as if I was wasting his time and he did not volunteer much info, rather, he answered when I asked a question and after the nine minutes stopped.

Lucky for me, I was simultaneously doing research on another surgeon and reading blogs

In my next post, I will describe the type of WLS I'm having and how I found my surgeon!

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