I started my weight-loss journey back in late 2010 when I entered into the somewhat nascent weight loss program at Baystate Franklin in Greenfield, MA, which was an off-shoot from the primary program at Baystate Medical in Springfield, MA. I had a great deal of success with pre-op weight loss and had Lap Band surgery in August of 2011. I had opted for Lap Band because I felt that I would struggle with Bypass surgery after seeing what my mom went through when she had hers (though she successfully lost close to 90lbs and has kept it over for 14 years). At that time Sleeve Gastrectomy was still somewhat new and many insurance carriers were not approving it, mine included.
After the surgery, I continued to lose weight and got down to about 260lbs from 330lbs. At that point, I hit a plateau and could not get past it. And then the weight started to come back on as I became frustrated with stalling out. I made bad food choices to try and cope with what was happening. And then on one of my weigh-ins with my surgeon, I was up 10 pounds and I could hear him shouting through the door at that fact. I was utterly demoralized and when he came in to speak with me, I felt like I was being shamed as he practically threatened to do a fill that would restrict my stomach to the point that only water would get past. I walked out of his office and then two weeks later I called to cancel my next appointment, saying something else had come up and I would call back to reschedule.
I never called back.
Over the next several years, my weight just kept creeping back up, despite some halfhearted attempts to get more active to see if I could start trending back down again.
In November of 2019, I had a visit with a new primary care provider that involved doing a whole new physical. When I was weighed, my weight was at 350lbs. It was the highest I'd ever weighed and I was shocked by the number. My PCP was concerned about my weight (as well he should) and recommended a weight-loss program at a Holyoke Medical Center and gave me an informational pamphlet about attending an info session. Of course, the holidays rolled around and I simply could not get myself to one of those sessions. All the same, I had family members tell me that I looked like I had lost some weight by the end of the year. I was doubtful, but they continued to say so. I was finally able to register for one of the info sessions in January and I attended. A fair amount of the information I already knew having been through bariatric surgery before, though seeing current data made a big difference. Also seeing that many programs don't even advertise Lap Band surgery any more due to the rate of failure for that surgery in terms of sustained weight loss was eye-opening. Of course, back when I had my Lap Band surgery, one of the things that was said to me by either my surgeon or someone in one of the support group meetings was that once you had bariatric surgery, insurance carriers won't approve you for a second one.
So I left the info session (which was hosted by Dr. Raftopolous) determined that I would join the non-surgical weight loss program that Holyoke Medical Center provided. I scheduled what was to be my intake appointment for 2/6/2020 and weighed in at 341.1lbs on that visit, which confirmed that my family weren't just trying to make me feel good and that I had lost some weight. I also ended up being presented with many other options. Immediately , the falsehood I was operating under that I was not eligible for bariatric surgery was dispelled and I was informed that revisions are quite routine and insurance companies do approve them, including my insurance carrier. So I ended up being given a template of what the surgical plan entailed and what the non-surgical plan entailed and told to go home and review it and give it some thought before deciding. Life got away from me for a couple of weeks and I wasn't able to get back in until the end of February.
I had made the decision that I would pursue the surgical route with the goal of a revision of Lap Band into a Sleeve Gastrectomy. The decision was easy to make once I realized how much the Holyoke Medical Center's program was focused on education to facilitate weight loss. The prior program I did for my Lap Band never felt that strong on the education side and seemed more focused on "do what we tell you to do".
So I excitedly joined the program and looked forward to completing the tasks I needed to in order to be submitted for surgery.
And then COVID-19 happened. The program requires attending 8 classes and 2 workshops. I got through 2 classes before they had to cancel all of the classes and workshops until further notice due to COVID-19. I was worried about what this would mean, but those concerns were unfounded. The team at the HMC weight-loss program made sure I had access to whatever I needed and all of my other visits and appointments were largely managed through telehealth sessions. I've maintained weekly contact with Dr. Raftopolous and handled all of the tasks I needed to that could still be managed.
The only hiccup in things is that my insurance carrier denied the request for surgery. This is something that Dr. Raftopolous took the blame for as he said he had accidentally failed to submit data and evidence showing that my Lap Band had slipped and that my lower esophagus was stretched as a result. He handled my appeal and provided all of the missing data as well as a compelling letter as to why simply operating to fix the placement of the Lap Band would still likely result in failure of sustained weight loss.
On 6/5/2020, my insurance carrier approved the appeal and rescinded the original denial of the request for surgery.
Yesterday, I scheduled my surgery for 7/7/2020.
As of 6/5/2020, I have lost 61.1lbs.
Height: 5 feet 10 inches
Starting Weight: 341.1 lbs
Weight on Day of Surgery: 262.8 lbs
Current Weight: 262.8 lbs
Goal Weight: 225 lbs
Weight Lost: 78.3 lbs
Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
Surgery Status: Pre Surgery
First Dr. Visit: 02/06/2020
Surgery Date: 07/07/2020
Hospital Stay: n/a
Surgery Funding: Insurance
Insurance Outcome: 2nd Letter Appeal Approval
Pandemonium's Bariatric Surgeon
Bariatric Center At Saint Francis Hospital
1000 Asylum Avenue
Hartford, Connecticut 06156