About WASaBubbleButt

Everyone has their "moment" when it hits you that it is time. It is time to do something. The next step is figuring out the "what to do," stage.

My moment was pretty easy to remember. I was working in a small hospital in Phoenix and we had a patient that was too large to weigh. They estimated her at 800#. She was too large for one hospital bed so the maintenance department changed two beds together. Two beds was still a bit of a squeeze for her.

She was in the Intensive Care Unit and unconscious, (thankfully). Every two hours we were all called up to reposition her as she had to be turned every two hours. On the night shift we just did not have a great deal of strong staff members and we simply could not do it. We did not have the combined strength to turn this woman so we ended up calling the Phoenix Fire Department every two hours to help turn her.

She needed a procedure where the doctor would guide a catheter through her groin artery. In order to do this we needed to lift her belly fat off her groin and again, we just were not strong enough to lift the massive belly out of the way for the doctor to do the procedure. Another call to Phoenix Fire and we had help.

I will never forget it as long as I live. One fireman was beside the patient on his knees pushing her belly fat up and out of the way. He was shaking and sweating from the hard work. Another fireman was on the other side pulling the fat away from her groin. Whenever the fire department is called the local police department comes out, too. Two police officers were standing in the hallway watching the fireman shaking and sweating and they were actively gagging at the vision they were seeing.

It hit me right then, that lady weighed the same as me at one time and clearly she just kept getting bigger and bigger. Would that happen to me someday? Maybe. It was at that moment I knew I had to do something. I just did not know what to do.

I really thought about Gastric Bypass and decided malabsorption just was not for me. Not my thing. It is a life saving procedure for many people but I did not feel I was cut out for malabsorption. A few days later I saw an advertisement on my computer for the Allergan Lap Band System. I did serious research daily. I volunteer for a trauma surgeon in Nogales, Mexico and I went to see him to ask for advice. We researched it together and both decided that would be the surgery for me.

In looking back I really think one of the reasons I chose the band was because I did not think it would work. It would be like every other failed attempt at weight loss but at least with this surgery I could have the band removed and say that I tried.

I checked my insurance and it did cover WLS. But, I had to do a six month medically supervised diet, a psych eval, nutritional eval, bariatric eval, and sleep study. I already knew I was prepared for surgery, I already knew I had a horrific diet, (obese people can and do suffer from malnutrition, that was probably the case for me considering the foods I was eating.) I already knew I was fat. Really really fat. And I knew I did not have sleep apnea. I am not a patient person, I wanted surgery now, not in 7-10 months. My friend in Nogales suggested I self pay in Mexico. At first I thought he was nuts! Mexico? Surely he is crazy! He suggested I research US surgeons and he would research Mexican surgeons.

Long story short, his surgeons had far more experience, better stats, and more hospital time for half the money than anyone local to me. He narrowed his list of potential surgeons to two. My surgeon and one in Monterrey, MX. My surgeon, Dr. Aceves is driving distance from me, close to the border, and very experienced. I did my own research and decided that is the guy I wanted to go to.

I called and scheduled my surgery date for the following week. (As I wrote, I am not a patient person!) After researching my surgery type and researching my surgeon I was ready and could think of no reason to wait.

In December '06 I went to Mexicali for my surgery. I remember meeting my surgeon the day before surgery. He was wearing casual pants and a leather jacket, he appeared to be on his way out wearing his coat. I was actually relieved that he was not wearing a long white lab coat, I have no clue why that made me feel at ease but it did. He was a real person, a human and not a scary doctor that was intimidating to me. He was warm, friendly, open to lots of questions, and just very sweet. Not bad on the eyes, either!

I had all my pre op diagnostics (labs, Chest Xray, EKG, UA), a meeting with Dr. Aceves, a meeting with the coordinator, a meeting with Dr. Campos - one of the assistant surgeons, and then they took us to a hotel the night before surgery.

I had dinner with another person that was having surgery the next day. We did not really hit it off, usually people having surgery on the same day hit it off well, not so much for us. Just very different personalities.

I went back to my hotel room, took a shower, took my sleeping pill and antibiotic and went to bed.

The next morning they picked us up at the hotel and off to the hospital. I was a bit nervous but not really apprehensive. I met with the Internal Medicine doctor, Anesthesiologist, and Dr. Aceves. I went to surgery and did very well until I woke up and Buyers Remorse set in quickly. I recall waking up in the Recovery Room thinking, "OMG! WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST DO?? I AM IN **MEXICO** AND JUST HAD SURGERY!" I started thinking that I could have tried just one more time at dieting but noooooo, instead I'm in MEXICO! OMG!

Then the pain meds came and I went back to sleep. ;o)

After a few hours in recovery I went back to my room and was told that in two hours I could get up and walk. Yeah, the nurse apparently did not meet the two WLS drill sergeants that had surgery the day before me. They came in my room, asked how long I had been out of recovery and I said about 40 minutes. They said that was long enough, it was time to get up and walk. Before I knew it the girls that had their bands the day before me were removing the gauze from my legs and telling me to get moving. Suddenly I found myself dragging my IV pole up and down the hallway while they were cheering me on. I felt a bit weird that they were cheering for me for merely walking down a hallway. ;o) I also questioned if walking was so important and they were only 24 hours post op, why was I walking while they stood and watched? HA!

I spent my two nights in the hospital and went home. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about my surgeon, the hospital staff, the office staff, everyone. They were all fantastic. It was the best surgical experience I could have hoped for.

I went on to lose 127#, going from 252 to 125 - over half my total body weight. It was not without a price. I just was not cut out for a band. I had tons of food restrictions, fills, unfills, diagnostics, various drugs, everything trying to make the band work. I would vomit so much that I would start vomiting blood. The last four months of my band time I could not consume anything but thin protein shakes. I finally decided that I wanted a revision. I had been dragging my feet on a revision because I really did not want another surgery type and if I revised to a sleeve would I just make the vomiting a permanent way of life? I could have the band removed, I could not reverse a sleeve.

I finally decided to do it. I did not want to be banded anymore and I did not want to be obese again. Either way the band had to come out.

I have to make one point clear here. Dr. Aceves did all my band after care. He was with me every step of the way. He never made me feel like a band failure, he always was there to help. He did everything in his power to make this work but I just was not cut out for a band. He also never once charged me for all the time he spent with me all the times I was in Mexicali for fills, unfills, various drugs, treatments, all of it.

I had my revision to a sleeve 18 months later in June '08, again I went back to Dr. Aceves. I can honestly say that it was the best thing I ever did. I still have some esophageal damage from the band, I have to be very careful when I swallow or I choke but overall the sleeve had been fantastic.

I am at goal, doing well, and very happy with my sleeve. I hope for you that you can get the same thing as I have, goal and healthy. We all deserve nothing less.