An Easy DecisionI am going to have my VSG surgery at the Endobariatric clinic with Dr. Guillermo Alvarez in Piedras Negras, Mexico. It was an easy decision to make after months of research and literally years of insurance issues etc. and I am fully confident that this is the right place for me. The more I see, the more I feel this way.
The very first reaction of many of my friends and colleagues, however, includes:
1. Facial contortion with raised eyebrows
2. A gasp
3. The questions: Is it safe? Are you sure about this? Have you looked into this place?
AS IF to imply that I haven't researched this or that somehow they have insights into the clinic they've never heard of. It's interesting how some are open-minded about it and how others absolutely feel they know more than I do. Now, I totally do understand that they mean well, but seriously.... I even asked one person who was acting as if I were crazy, if he had ever been to Mexico or if he knew what kinds of medical instruments the clinic used. "No" on both accounts. I am grateful that folks worry about my safety, but I will be fine! It's a FANTASTIC clinic with a world-reknowned doctor at the helm.
We've all experienced naysayers throughout our lives at one point or another. I have two things to say about that:
1. The last thing we need when making giant decisions and lifestyle changes is people undermining the validity of our choices. Be more supportive and less critical instead! They often do not realize the shoes we wear or how difficult our paths may be. It happened when I went for my MM, my DMA, and when I made the decision to take a job in Milledgeville, GA and happened a LOT from TONS of people when I decided to move to New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. Moving here has actually proved to be one of the absolute best decisions of my life. Some folks went as fars as to say that New Orleans was a worthless city and that I'd be throwing my career away if I moved here. BREAKING: They were wrong.
2. “When someone tells me "no," it doesn't mean I can't do it, it simply means I can't do it with them.” - Karen E. Quinones Miller
A couple of years ago when googling VSG and other types of bariatric surgery, I found tons of helpful blogs, YouTube videos, and forums. One such forum was the VSG SleeveTalk site. It didn't take long to see Dr. Alvarez's name popping up along with mentions of surgery in Mexico and whole discussions of medical tourism. I visited hs website and was immediately impressed. In addition to that, it was the tons of positive testimonials (written and in video) from real people who had undergone VSG surgery with Endobariatric.
One of my reasons for choosing Endobariatric is that VSG surgery is not covered by my insurance company. I did research into this for several months and talked about it to state level and national level company employees about how to file a petition or how to file an appeal.
I did not want to do either. I was one of the first people to apply for the office of group benefits Head's Up program with Pennington Biomedical Research Center and OGB Partnership Benefitting Louisiana (which is an awesome start for state-level study of bariatric surgery and its effects). This program consists of a lottery and they will do 400+ surgeries over a period of several years. So far, I have not been chosen for the bariatric lottery and frankly, I am tired of waiting.
I took nutrition classes at a bariatric clinic and then paid $350 out of pocket to have a consultation with the surgeon directly. He basically gave me eight minutes of his time and was nice, but very busy, shuffling papers and the like. I noticed he gave me little eye contact. I FREAKED OUT and decided that I was NOT going to try and raise or borrow the 17-18,000 $ needed for this clinic. Instead, I'd save for a trip to Mexico!
SAVING. WAS. HARD.
This past year, I chopped my paycheck by about $1,000 per month and had to move to reduce my rent etc. Worth. It. Now, I have the $8700 for the whole surgery package which includes two nights in hotels and transportation (two hours each way), and the care and concern of a staff that has already proven several times to be excellent and on top of things.
My doc here in NOLA will do any follow-up and she has had several patients go through bariatric surgery. One of them also went to Mexico.