Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Gastric Sleeve Surgery: A Wife's Perspective - Part 2 - The Doctor Appointment

*Today is my 40th birthday!  I'll recap my favorite day tomorrow.  I've decided to embrace the new decade rather than dread it.  Good things are ahead!  And now onto Part 2 in my series on Eric's gastric surgery.

I wanted to write about the process of Eric going through weight loss surgery to record my feelings and perspective as the wife on the sidelines.  As this is an extremely personal decision on Eric's part to change his life, I am trying my best to stay true to my feelings, while at the same time accurately recording the events.

To read Part 1 in this series which talks about Eric's decision to undergo surgery, click HERE.  I plan to write a new post for this series each Wednesday.

For the first couple of weeks after Eric made the decision to undergo weight loss surgery, we were pretty hush hush about it.  It's not that we were embarrassed or unsure, but it had more to do with wanting to make sure that the people we told would be supportive of the decision.  Telling family and friends that you are about to completely change your life is a bit nerve wracking.

About three weeks after attending the informational seminar, Eric had an appointment scheduled with the doctor to determine whether or not he was a candidate for gastric surgery.

I don't have any pictures from that day, but I remember it being cold and grey.  It sort of matched my mood.

You have to understand, I am COMPLETELY in support of Eric doing this, but it comes with worry and questions for me.  I just remember sitting in the patient room looking out the window overlooking Highway 41 while Eric sat in his paper gown on the table.  I thought to myself that our life was about to change while everyone else in the world zipped down the freeway going on with their regular routines.  It was a teeny tiny moment of self pity worrying about the future.  I got over it, though!

The doctor came in and asked Eric a ton of questions that I am happy to say he answered honestly!  He has the best attitude and mindset about this choice.  He is not trying to get skinny fast.  He is not trying to cheat the system.  He is making a change now to ensure a longer future.  It is a drastic change, yes, but it is the right change for him.

Questions from the doctor included food intake, smoking habits, alcohol use, health problems, and activity levels.

It was pretty quickly determined that Eric is a candidate for the surgery.  His BMI (Body Mass Index) is high, he is overweight, he has pre diabetes, he has sleep apnea necessitating the use of a C-Pap machine, and he had a kidney removed due to cancer.  Less weight will help all these issues.

The thing that surprised us the most is that the doctor recommended the gastric sleeve as opposed to the gastric bypass.  In my very non medical way of explaining it, the bypass is where they take the intestines and bypass a portion of the stomach.  This surgery is, in theory, reversible because you aren't removing any parts, just moving them around.  In the gastric sleeve, 80% of the stomach is removed and the remaining stomach is stapled back together.  This surgery is NOT reversible because a huge portion of the stomach is literally removed.

I'm not completely sure why the gastric sleeve option was offered over the bypass, but in talking to Eric, he said it was his understanding that it might be an easier/less invasive surgery for the patient.  It seems to be the method of choice used by doctors.  The bypass surgery leaves a stomach the size of a thumb.  The sleeve surgery leaves the stomach the size of three ounces.

Yes, it is a worry for me that this method is not reversible, but Eric is not worried.  He does not want there to be any sort of fall back.

After the doctor confirmed that Eric is a candidate, we met with a few more people to set up further appointments.  Eric has to attend a nutrition class, have a swallow test done, have an endoscopy completed, and go through a psych evaluation.  We also had to get the insurance clearance for the process.

After leaving the doctor's office, I went to school and Eric went to work.  We had a major moment of being bummed out when there was an initial insurance snag.  However, by the end of the day, the insurance issue was cleared up, and Eric was given the go ahead to move forward with all the prerequisite appointments.

My worries:
1. The actual surgery - there are always risks attached to any surgery.
2. Recovery - how long will it take to recover?  will there be a lot of pain?  will Eric tolerate his new diet?
3. Giving up many foods we enjoy - is Eric going to resent the fact that he won't be able to enjoy many things?  will he miss drinking wine?  what about planned events such as the Taco Party for Hudson's 1st Reconciliation?

Some of these worries have already been addressed just by talking to Eric.  He has a tremendous amount of confidence in this choice.  When I specifically mentioned the Taco Party, he responded by saying he'll eat small amounts and enjoy being with friends and family.  I am so proud of his determination and desire to change his life for the better!

To read about Eric's perspective on beginning this process, go HERE to read his blog post.

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