Tuesday, December 25, 2012

No longer with the band...

long story.  I'll explain letter.  Suffice it to say that my band has been removed and my stomach looks like it belongs to the Bride of Frankenstein.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Endoscopy With a Side of Lemon

So, it's been a year since I've posted.  After my last blog post, life went on as usual.  The radiologist had recommended against having my band filled any more and the specialist never called me back, so I assumed all was well.

Fast forward to this past March/April when I started having really sharp pains on my left side under my breast bone that radiated up through my left shoulder.  An EKG was a little off and I was sent to the ER for an overnight stay (sucks being the nurse being sent out on a gurney from work!).  Stress test and cardiac enzymes all normal. No diagnosis except borderline splenomegaly.  No reason for my pain.   It eventually went away and again, I went on with life as usual.

Fast forward again to June when I finally got into Hopkins....yeah, it took that long!  I was having increased issues with things getting stuck, still had left sided pain and swallowing was actually painful.  Again, I wasn't sure about revision, but because of the issues I was having, they removed all 5cc.  I considered VSG but wasn't sold and I had to re-do everything I did before the lap-band.  I didn't really have the time for all the appointments or the cost involved.  Symptoms seem to be alleviated with the removal of fluid and so, again, I went on with life as usual.

Yep, fast forward again to September when I fell super sick with what I thought was food poisoning from a work carry-in. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.  Horrible, horrible diarrhea that went on for weeks despite blood work and fecal cultures/testing all coming back normal.  The dreaded left sided pain just under my rib to the left of my sternum and just above my port area was also back.  This time worse, but I thought maybe it was my spleen again so I went back to the hematologist and had a CT of the abdomen that stated there may be some band slippage.  I also started having horrible heartburn and so my primary doc put me back on Nexium and sent me back to the first practice, only I saw a different doctor who really, I think is kind of an ass.  He basically accused me of doctor shopping and after waiting an hour past my appointment time and feeling like crap for well over a month, I wasn't in the best of moods.  I told him my insurance had changed (I changed from the USHealth Plan back to Tricare Prime) and described my symptoms.  He stated he didn't think any of this pain was band related even with the CT report findings I handed him. I point blank told him I was beyond done with this journey, I just want it out.  I haven't had any fluid in my band since summer and have maintained my weight (actually lost a few more pounds).  I don't want any revisions.  I am just D-O-N-E!  He then got cocky and was all well i can submit it to your insurance but they might not approve it and wanted to do more testing.  So he ordered me an Upper GI with small bowel series.  Surprise!  It was normal!  But since I was having the other GI issues, I had an appointment already pending with the GI specialist.  I went to see him, explained my symptoms and he thought perhaps my port was irritating my phrenic nerve and causing all the chest/shoulder pain.  That made sense.  Anyhow, because of the heartburn and diarrhea, he ordered an endoscopy and colonoscopy.  And guess what he found during the endoscopy....a side of lemon!!!

Yep, ladies and gentleman!  You are looking at my Lap-Band from inside my stomach.  Normally, my GI specialist wouldn't be able to see my band during an endoscope.  But in his words he was "Like, Whoa!"  which is funny in his little accented voice.  This was done yesterday.

So, today, I call surgeon I-don't-think-it's-band-related office.  I will see him on the 20rh (next week) to schedule a removal date.  Needless to say, I'm glad I finally have answers, but I'm also scared shitless (and that has nothing to do with the colonscopy yesterday).  I can't find any reviews on this doctor although on the state board no disciplinary action has been taken and he's never been involved in a malpractice suit.  But that doesn't mean he's a good surgeon and because of the erosion there is a higher complication rate and chance I will have to have open surgery.  Is it crazy to consider putting it off until January since I'm not ill and remain afebrile?

My parents are coming in for Christmas and I promised to help my bestie of over 10 years with her daughter's first slumber party on Jan 5th.  She is my bestie and this is the first time in 11 years we've been within 2 hours of each other and they will be moving away back to Texas so I want as much time with her as possible and my her and my daughter are pretty good friends, too.

UGH!  Happy Holidays!  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

May you all be blessed!

Friday, November 11, 2011


Today was my upper GI.  The radiologist confirmed there is some esophageal dilation and his recommendation is no more tightening of the band. 

So the truth is out there now.  I am a confirmed Lap-Band failure.  Not sure what my next move is as I won't follow up with the bariatric specialist until next week sometime.  If revision is recommended, I may look back at Johns Hopkins as I'm not sure I want this particular practice cutting on me.  The hospital they are affiliated with doesn't have the greatest reputation around here for one, and secondly, I'm not sure they offer the procedure I'm currently considering.


Friday, November 4, 2011

It Shouldn't Be This Hard

getting follow up care, that is.  As I posted previously, getting post surgical follow up as a transient military spouse has been a challenge that I honestly did not foresee, nor was I ever warned about.  I'm not sure it would have changed my mind about having weight loss surgery, but it may have changed the type of surgery I had.

Anyways, as I posted last, I have been fighting with the staff at Johns Hopkins and I thought it had been resolved.  However, I was wrong.  I received a voicemail yesterday stating that my the physician that had agreed to see me was not familiar with the "AP Lap-Band".   He would still do a consult if I would consider revision. Seriously?!  I researched this doctor and his bio was all about how he was one of the leading surgeons in pioneering "Lap-Band" surgery in the US.  Not "Realize Band" but specifically Lap-Band and honestly isn't the mechanism behind both bands the same?  At this point I was very near the brink of tears due to my sheer frustration with the situation.  An eye-roll punctuated the "WTF-ever!" sentiment running through my head as I hung up the phone.  So, out of desperation I called another bariatric place I had heard of expecting another fight.

What I got was a pleasant surprise.

When the person answered the phone, my on the brink of tears self did my best to calmly explain my situation:
Military spouse with procedure done in one state, follow up in another and recent transplant to this area with concerns of possible slippage or erosion due to the epigastric pain I am having just to the left of the xiphoid process under my ribcage.  Will they see me?

Their answer was yes.  They scheduled me an appointment for this coming Wednesday.  No bullshit administrative fees to line their own pockets, no "well we didn't do it so we won't touch you" attitudes.  Just a "how can we help" attitude and it was such a relief.  Her staff took care of me in less than 5 minutes while I had been going round after round with Johns Hopkins.  That my friends, is what patient centered medical home is all about and this physician and her office will be receiving a letter of appreciation for treating me as a person and not a procedure or a paycheck. 

Of course, my next call was to my insurance company which is contracted with Johns Hopkins and I was almost sure this new physician wouldn't be covered since she's affiliated with a different health care system, but to my surprise she is an "in network" provider.  I called my PCM for a new referral to the new surgeon and they were also awesome, faxing it over today for me.  So here's hoping I am finally able to get some serious follow up and keep moving on this journey.

Tomorrow is Zumba with a new friend (she's teaching). But it's early for a weekend (9:00), so good night!