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Gastric Sleeve Patients
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Everything posted by kf4zra

  1. kf4zra

    Self Payer in Florida

    I too live in Tampa, FL, and did the surgery for less than half that including travel with Dr Illan and Bariatric Pal Mexico. I am down over 80lb in 4 months. I just got back last week from taking my mom down there. It was better this time around cause I could eat all the delicious mexican food. RT airfare from Tampa to San Diego is under $500 ea on southwest. Bill Yanez can get you set up
  2. I dealt with Bill Yanez to do mine through BariatricPal Mexico with Dr. Illan, and it couldn't have been easier. My mom was so impressed with my results, that I am flying to San Diego in the morning to take her for surgery. Give Bill a call, he will answer all your questions and get you set up. He will make it easy.
  3. I am a long time lurker here, just completed my surgery on Monday with Dr Illan. I had some time to kill this morning before my flight so I started writing about my experience. I have some time to kill in the airport so I am sharing it with you. Hopefully you find this helpful. If you have questions, I will do my best to help. The arrival into San Diego was uneventful. We wanted to be early, so we arrived on Saturday for Monday surgery. Rented a car and checked into our hotel, Holiday Inn Bayside. The hotel was fine and only 5 minutes from the airport. We wanted to make a date weekend out of the experience pre surgery. I booked tickets to a comedy show the week prior, so we went up to La Jolla, and laughed our butts off. There was a two drink minimum for everyone, since I was on liquids only, I enjoyed my 2 $4.50 bottles of Water. After a great evening, we stopped at Vons and picked up some Protein shakes, almond milk, and water. As a show of solidarity, my wife decided to do the liquid pre-op with me. She had the RNY procedure in the states about 9 months earlier. Once back to the room, we unpacked, and my wife whipped up another Protein shake for us with the blender she brought. Crashed for the night and made plans for a busy day for Sunday. I wanted to stay busy to take my mind off being hungry. We love our kitties, and when I found that there was a cat café in San Diego, there was no way to tell the wife no. coffee, and we hung out with all the kitties needing homes. If you like cats, I highly suggest you try it. It was a little different than the ones in Japan, but you got to meet different kitties, and relax with them. After that, there was a small farmers market set up just up the street. The food smell was killing me, it smelled amazing, as pretty much everything will when you are on the liquid diet. We walked through there for a bit, and then headed to our next activity. We wanted to do a tour of San Diego, but didn’t want to go the traditional route. So we settled on Gocars tours. Mexico before. Her phone beeped a few times and it was Bill Yanez, letting her know that some idiot tried running from the US police across the border. I guess he did not know how bad Mexican jail is supposed to be. So instead of a delay free crossing into Mexico, there was a slight 5-10 min delay. Once across the border, it was only 10 minutes or so when we arrived at florence Hospital. I would not describe the hospital like anything I have seen in the states. It appeared like a 3 story large clinic. The entrance part was not the most welcoming, and for a moment I questioned what I was doing, but as soon as we pulled in. Pedro's smiling face greeted us and happily started unloading our bags. Within 5 minutes we were in the room where Bill Yanez greeted me. We chatted for a little bit and I warned everyone that the IV would be the scariest part of the whole procedure for me. The hospital itself is rather small. The floor we were on only had 8 rooms and was not very large, perhaps 50 ft from one end to the other. The hospital was very clean. The room I was in had 2 hospital beds, a day bed, and a recliner. It had the nicest bathroom I have ever seen in a hospital, sporting new tile, and a rain style shower. Bill introduced us formally with Pedro, our personal concierge and guide while at the hospital during the day, and Rosa, the medical team leader from Florence Hospital. Fernando Jr. was our night concierge at the hospital. In only a few minutes more, I was signing paperwork. There were copies of most of the paperwork available in English, but the hospital only would process it on the Spanish paperwork. Rosa was incredibly sweet and caring. We swapped stories of my love of Mexican food. I had no longer finished the paperwork when Rosa handed me a gown and a set of compression stockings, and I was told to get ready. About that time, I got to meet Dr. Illan for the first time. Dr. Illan is very well dressed, extremely caring and understanding. He speaks English very well, and takes his time to understand your questions and make you feel comfortable. He took his time explaining the entire procedure to me and my wife. After our discussion, Rosa reminded me again to get dressed. They don’t waste time there. Once I was dressed, I was wheeled down to Radiology. The equipment seemed a bit dated, but functional. It was not the best decorated room there, in fact, it was in need of a major redecoration. I was only in this room for 2 visits for no more than 10 min each, so I was not that bothered by its appearance. The radiologist, whose name I do not remember, seemed a little short on time, but was friendly. His English was the only one I had a little difficulty with. After the chest xray, it was back up to the room to wait. I cannot remember if the IV was before or after the radiology department, I reminded them that I was terrified of IVs and they were able to combine the blood draws and IV in one operation. It made 2 separate terrifying events into only one to get it over with faster. They were able to stab me in one shot. Once that was over, I was able to relax for a few minutes. It wasn't much longer that they put something in my IV to make me drowsy. I hugged my wife good bye and was wheeled to the operating area. From entering the hospital to rolling to surgery was maybe an hour or so. I remember being wheeled to a wall, that had rollers on it. The wall was the height of the bed, and the rollers made it easier to transfer me through the wall from my transportation gurney to the pre op surgical room gurney. I was pretty dizzy at this point. I could have been there for 10 minutes, or 10 hours. It was probably closer to the former. I remember being wheeled into the surgical theater and seeing three large round lights above me, and being moved onto the operating room table. I remember it not being the most comfortable on my back, but I was completely zonked out at this point. The next think I remember is waking up back in my room. I remember I had an oxygen mask on that was annoying me, and my wife right there as I was waking up. I was not even fully conscious before she was encouraging me to walk. I am pretty sure I was no that pleasant to be around. I was pretty much still in a fog. I remember taking the oxygen mask off and being grumpy. When I was more clear, I was encouraged to walk by everyone. I was in pain from the gas used to inflate you for surgery, but walked little by little. First trip was only one lap around the floor, but after day 2 in the hospital, I was able to do 10 no problem. Walking gets the gas from your stomach and your intestines out. It will be a pain in the butt, but you will need to walk as much as you can. Trust me you will feel better after walking. The rest of day 1 was spent napping, walking, and recovering. Don’t plan on sleeping too much in the hospital since you will have someone coming in every hour or 2, 24hrs a day administering meds, and checking vitals on you. Take it easy, walk, and recover. The 2 days in the hospital will be boring. Pedro took my wife for some yummy Mexican food while I was resting. The hospital has blazingly fast wifi. We were able to easily stay in communication with friends and family back home via email and facebook messenger. I didn't use the wifi too much for entertainment at the hospital, but my wife reports she was able to stream videos easily. I don't really watch tv, so I am not certain what the tv options are in the hospital. There is a tv there, but we never turned it on. Honestly the afternoon after the surgery and the following evening were a blur. I do remember some pain right after surgery, but they were there with meds to help immediately. The next day was spent back and forth with chatting with my wife, resting, and more walking. Did I mention you need to walk a lot? I met Dr Flores, the attending physician that evening. He checked the incisions, and reminded me to keep walking. He was also very attentive and answered all of our questions. Mid-morning the morning after surgery, Dr Illan came to visit. He described how the size of my liver and how the pre surgery diet helped it shrink considerably. If there is anything you can do to help yourself, PLEASE follow the diet exactly. I did not cheat once. It was difficult, but after he told me how much the diet shrank my liver, it was worth it. I wanted as little chance for complications as possible. He said he can always tell when people cheat on the diet, and could tell I was being truthful when I told him how I did. Prior to the surgery I asked him to take any videos and pictures of the procedure he could. He showed me a video of the stapling, he showed me a picture of my stomach after it was removed. It was amazing to see all the blood vessels on it. The videos were funny, because you could hear light mariachi music in the background in the operating room. Dr Illan said the surgery itself only took 34 minutes to complete. After he left, the attending nurses had me take a shower. Once cleaned up, they carefully removed my bandages, sanitized the incisions, and reapplied new bandages. My wife observed so she could do that for me in the next few days. I was wheeled back down to the strange radiology department for a leak test. They had me drink a small amount of a clear liquid and shot xrays of me. Once those were clear, I was taken back to the room. About 10 minutes later, a tray of hot tea, Gatorade, and apple juice was brought in. I was so happy to drink actual liquids again. It is hard to describe the feeling you will feel when you first drink on your new stomach, you are just going to have to experience it yourself. Take your time, small sips, don’t slurp, and do anything you can to avoid gulping air. You will be tempted to take large gulps like you were used to, but those days are over. We brought 1oz cups and poured the liquid in those. About half of one of those cups was the amount of liquid I could swallow at that time. I am up to almost a whole cup now. Your stomach capacity is obviously smaller, but the swelling in your stomach further reduces it. Try to take in too much and you will be sorry. There is no reason to rush. More rest and more walking and sipping made up day 2. At this point, I was pretty sick of the hospital. It served its purpose, but I was ready to be outta there. Dr. Flores, the attending physician came back by Tue evening and cleared me to go home wed AM, as long as there were no further problems overnight. Another night of hourly checks followed, so no real restful sleep. I normally sleep on my side, and with the IV and width of the bed, it was not easy. Before I knew it, 9am was here and was up. I showered again, had the bandages changed again, and my wife had already packed. We were loaded up with 2 others from Bariatric pal and at the recovery house by 10am. Before we left, my wife gave Pedro $40 for his assistance. Either Pedro, or Fernando Jr was available 24 hrs a day. They sat in a waiting area just outside the hospital hall waiting to get us anything we wanted, or take my wife anywhere. It was very reassuring having them there. We arrived and it looked like a typical Mexican villa. They are U-shaped block of 6 apartments surrounding an atrium. The entrance is guarded by gates and cameras for security. Bariatric Pal owns all but 2 of them currently. The other two are owned by a small dress shop, and a musician who is never there. We weren’t certain exactly what to expect. We were given the choice of the holiday inn or the recovery house. Since I travel for a living and have already spent over 20 nights this year in Holiday Inns, we chose the recovery house. When we got to the house, we were pleasantly surprised. We were introduced to Juanito (aka Johnnie) who would be our daytime guide, more about Johnnie later. We were given the choice of apartment 5 or apartment 6, our ride mates got the other one. They were both very nice. They had a leather sofa, a leather recliner, dining table, full refrigerator, microwave, stove, 2 bedrooms, each with its own air conditioner and heater. The houses were recently rebuilt after flooding destroyed the old ones. There is a market just up the street that has coffee, Snacks, etc, as well as a great stand for pozole which Johnnie kept me from visiting. He said something about ruining my new stomach or something The recovery houses were furnished with satellite tv in each bedroom, very high speed internet, a local phone, and a Vonage phone you can use to call the USA for as much as you wanted for free. Your friends and family can call you on it too. It has a California number so it won't cost them more than calling CA. Next to the phones there is a list with everyone's contact number so you will never feel alone. We promptly called family and let them know that we were doing great. I was pretty tired, but also hungry at this point. We rested for a few minutes, then Johnnie was at the door to take us to lunch. The walk was maybe 4-5 blocks. He took up to the seafood restaurant, Cabanna. They had an awesome shrimp broth that had the flavor and the warmth to make my new stomach relax. My wife had a Jicama shrimp taco, and Johnnie had Jicama and apples. While getting to know Johnnie, he explained, like everyone else, that walking is good to get out the residual gas, and the shrimp broth helps more. He said just let any burps fly, holding it in to be polite is bad, he said he is used to it. He also offered sound words of wisdom. "As you recover, don't ever trust a fart". Wiser words have never been spoken. Johnnie grew up in the neighborhood, it is evident, everywhere you go with him, people are waving. You can tell he really loves what he does. He had us laughing at every moment. He is a true character, you will love him. We stopped by the grocery store on the way back from the restaurant to pick up liquids for me and food for my wife. Remember to always keep sipping liquids. Dehydration is not something I wanted to deal with. For once, I was not the one carrying the groceries, I had a medical excuse! Johnnie asked if we got our medicine package from the hospital. We had no idea what he was talking about. He was on the phone instantly, and before we got outside the grocery store, he had it arranged to meet us at the house. We got back to the recovery house, and I was finally ready for an uninterrupted rest. About 10 minutes after arriving, Bill comes by to welcome us to our new home for the next few days, we chat a bit, and then I finally get to crash into that comfortable bed that was calling my name. A good 4 hrs later I was much more refreshed and energetic. My energy levels doubled by the day. Paola, the nutritionist was there to meet with us to discuss diet following surgery. She detailed what I could and could not eat, and laid out a plan for me to follow in the next few weeks. We discussed the progression from Clear Liquids, to shakes, to purees, to soft foods to normal foods. She stressed that I needed to take our time and not try to jump ahead. She stressed that processed carbs are not our friends. I was provided with an information sheet that detailed the first stage of the diet, full liquids, with the assurance that detailed information about the second stage, purees, would be emailed to me. Once Paola left, Johnnie introduced us to Fernando, our evening guide. Fernando is a bit more soft spoken than Johnnie, but was also very friendly and helpful. When we went for our evening broth run, it was almost like playing frogger getting across traffic, but Fernando was out there in front of the traffic blocking it for us. I don’t know how to describe broth as amazing, but it tasted amazing. Little did I know, there was even better broth to come. Later that evening I was talking to Fernando who does pretty much everything around the apartments from remodeling a new recovery apartment, to cutting the grass to maintenance, to guiding us around the area. I was chatting with him and found out that he is a very talented artist. He shared some of his illustrations with me and my wife and we discussed his love of skateboarding. Fernando is Fernando Jr's dad. I crashed early while the wife watched TV. The next day, Johnnie was taking us to do some sightseeing. Had someone mentioned sightseeing 2 days prior, there was no way I would have gone. By this point, I was feeling energetic and ready to do something. He set up a minivan for a taxi and we went with our BPal neighbors in the next recovery house. We left about noon, and headed for Las Playas del Tijuana. I wasn't sure what to expect. As we neared the sea, the temperature dropped, and the fog started rolling in. We drove along the border fence, I was cool to see it from this side. We enjoyed the fog and the cool sea breeze. I liked watching the tough seagulls battle the ratty squirrels over pieces of day old donuts thrown to them near the dolphin statue. I watched one cholo squirrel snag a piece, and cross the border to keep a seagull from stealing it from him. We went down to the boardwalk, and enjoyed more of the sea breeze, and ocean spray. It was peaceful down there. When everyone was ready, we went back to the taxi, and went to Avenida Revolucion. I had been there a few years prior, and it was miserable. The vendors were pushy, rude, and some were downright mean. Johnnie entertained us with stories about how he nearly got into fights with some of them that were harassing his patients. No matter what you wanted to buy, from sombreros, magnets, fake purses, clothing, Cuban cigars, etc, Johnnie knew exactly where to go, and what you should pay. Johnnie really loves his town and his job, and it shows. He had his head on a swivel constantly watching us and keeping us close. I called him mama duck, since he reminded me of a mother duck leading her ducklings and keeping them safe. He told us to not buy any alcohol or pharmaceuticals on Revolucion since it was a tourist area and overpriced. We were fairly hungry at this time, so he suggested Caesar's hotel and restaurant. This is actually where the Caesar salad was invented. Obviously we had to get those, well, everyone but the patients did. They made it table side. I couldn't eat any, but tasted a tiny bit of the dressing, and whoa, was it ever good. My wife got grilled shrimp on hers, and our BP friends got bone marrow which looked delicious. After lunch, we stopped by his Johnnie's friend's store, which sells the same stuff as every other store there, and got us all set up with goodies at fair prices. He let us know what a good price was to pay for everything, and everyone came out with good deals. His friend that owns the shop, looks like the dad from Pawn Stars. All of the nonsurgical patients were offered free mezcal at the store too. There was a really cool store just outside his friend's store that sold coins that were hand cut into jewelry. They were very well done and gorgeous. After that excursion, the next stop was the farmacia. This is where you need to buy your Omeprazole. It was 240 capsules for about $17. I bought some more of the sub-lingual pain tablets that the hospital provided, as well as some ointment that required a doctor's visit in the states. After all the fun of the day, we headed back to the recovery house I was worn out at this point and took a short nap. Once up, Johnnie told me to get ready for the best broth ever. He had to go, but ordered it for us. He made a quick phone call, and about 15 min later a guy on a scooter brought a bowl of broth for me, a bowl of the normal chicken Soup for my wife, and a quesadilla we got for Fernando. The smell of the quesadilla made my knees weak, but the broth was wonderful too. My wife thoroughly enjoyed her soup, large chunks of chicken, and veggies looked delicious. This broth was by far the best of all the broths I had on my trip. The best part was that they brought it to you, and that the entire meal delivered was less than $10 US! Before Johnnie left, I gave him $40 and thanked him for all of his hospitality and assistance. I gave Fernando $15 and bought him dinner. The broth was so good that I ordered it the next day for lunch. That pretty much summarizes the trip, I wrote this while killing a few hours prior to departing for the airport. You can have surgery in Mexico from anyone, but the experience of Bariatric Pal was well worth the small amount extra it cost. Their constant supervision of everything, making sure we were comfortable, entertained, happy, and healthy was greatly appreciated. We made several friends on this trip. It is an experience I would strongly recommend to anyone. Everyone bent over backward to ensure that we were treated extremely well. A year ago, I would have never dreamed of having surgery in Mexico, with Bariatric Pal, I am not sure why I would want to go any other way. Thank you, Dr Illan, Bill Yanez, Stacy Eckel, Johnnie, Fernando, Pedro, Fernando Jr, and Paola for making this difficult decision one that I will look back upon fondly. As my mom put it, you guys went to Mexico for surgery, and ended up making friends and finding a party. One last minute addition, at the airport, for you that are in want of clear liquids, there is a Thai restaurant called Saffron that will sell you a cup of chicken broth for $3. It is not on the menu, you have to ask for it. It was the only place in the airport we could find broth. It wasn't nearly as good as what was in Mexico, but when its the only option, and you are hungry, you can't be too picky. Thank you for sticking with me to this point, hopefully this will ease any fears you may have. Post a message up with any questions and I will help as best as I can. If this helped to make your decision, contact Bill Yanez to set things up, and let him know I referred you. John S. Tampa, FL.
  4. Actually, this will put my wife's mind at ease moreso than myself.
  5. Wow, buddy, what a write up! That puts my mind at total ease. I cross the border tomorrow for my procedure, and hope that I experience the same thing. We will definitely need to meet up in FL when I return John
  6. kf4zra


    Thank you for the fast response. Knowing that puts me at ease. I know it is strange, but blood draws and IVs are the only thing on the planet that scare me. Looking forward to meeting you in person Jonh
  7. kf4zra


    You will be operating on me on Monday. I am slightly nervous about the surgery, but you come highly recommended. I have stuck to the diet, and not strayed once. Honestly, the only thing I am scared of on the whole planet is blood draws and IVs. Please tell me that there will be some sort of sedation available when I get to the hospital for my pre-surgery workup.
  8. kf4zra

    2016 March Sleevers

    Hi julet_licelot, I would suggest contacting your coordinator. They should be able to walk you through every step of the process Thank you Sent from my SM-G925T using the BariatricPal App What company did you use, and which surgeon?
  9. kf4zra

    2016 March Sleevers

    I just finished day 2 of all liquid diet. 640 cal, 20g carbs, 12g fat, and 120g Protein. Drank 120oz, so not terribly hungry. It just stinks walking through airports, and watching tv. The smells and sights of all kinds of delicious foods I cannot eat.
  10. I too would have freaked out with that experience. When i am in pain, my tolerance for BS shrinks rapidly. I too am using Dr. Illan through BariatricPal with Bill as my coordinator. Every time i call Bill, he has time to answer my questions. Their new nutritionist Paola is very helpful as well.
  11. kf4zra

    2016 March Sleevers

    Mar 14 VSG with Dr Illan. Arriving in San Diego from Florida on 3/12