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My Sleeve Journey - Beliteweight/ Dr. Rodriguez/ Star Medica Hospital - Juarez, Mx



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For those of you that are thinking about being sleeved in MX with Dr. Rodriguez, dont hesitate! smile.png

I researched and chose Dr. Rod because of his ability to work with scar tissue after talking with some of his former patients that had a revision surgery. I had the Molina band for 17 years (had it removed here in the states since insurance was nice enough to cover it!!) so needless to say, my tummy had some scar tissue and i needed a surgeon that could handle this. Dr. Rod did with ease!

Here is my detailed journey/experience... :)

My husband and I arrived on Friday, 2/10/12 at 5-ish due to our plane being late. Sergio, the driver, met us at the doors of the airport and guided us to one of his drivers, Alfonso, for the ride across the border. It was uneventful driving across and we laughed and joked with Alfonso about eating real mexican food and what is was like living in MX. He was very open and honest and made us feel less like tourists and more like a long lost relative. It took about 20 minutes to get to Star Medica Hospital from El Paso Airport.

Once we were at the hospital, Alfonso grabbed our suitcases and delivered us to Dr. Calderon, the psychiatrist and the first person you meet on staff with Dr. Rodriguez's team. He is very quiet/soft spoken and explains everything to you in great detail. He answered all of our questions about the surgery and paperwork (my husband was asking most of the questions) and then off I went with him to have my chest xray. That took all of 15 minutes total and we were off to our room on the 3rd floor.

The rooms are fantastic!! Other than the hospital bed, you get the feeling of a hotel room more than a hospital room. The shower is huge and everything is super clean. The couch/bed that my husband slept on was a memory foam and very comfy for him and of course, I had a hospital bed, nuff said on that! smile.png Once we got settled in, the nurses came in and weighed me, drew my blood and did the ekg. We had the rest of the night to do whatever so we went and walked down to Denny's for my "last meal" of sorts... I had a lower bmi so Dr. Calderon said it was okay if i had a healthy last meal as long as I didnt eat or drink anything after midnight. Deal! smile.png

Something that everyone needs to remember is that not everyone speaks English so using the handout that BeLiteWeight gives you or Google Translator is a must!

The next morning (2/11/12), I woke up to the nurses getting me ready for my IV. Martha got me on the first stick and I was so thankful for that! Once she was done, the anesthesiologist came in and talked with me for about 15 minutes asking the usual questions. She was really nice but I cant remember her name to save my life! Then Dr. Rod came in and sat down and explained everything that was going to happen and answered all my questions and my husband's questions too. Didnt hurt that he smells damn good too! smile.png Around 1pm, they came in and wheeled my entire bed to the surgery waiting room.. that is when I really got nervous. Hubby was upstairs, I was there alone, hardly anyone spoke english in the surgery waiting area so I broke out into a sweat and the mind started racing. eeek! Then it was my turn... they wheeled me into the surgery room.. I calmed down when I heard the mexican music playing.. the surgical room looked just like the one I was in here in Houston. The last thing I remember was the Anesthesiologist looking over the top of my head and asking if I was okay and telling me that everything was going to be fine. I was out and she was right! smile.png

I came out of recovery without any problems (I have read where some folks have tubes down their throats when they wake up, this wasnt the case for me) so they wheeled me back into my room where my hubby was.. boy, was he a sight for sore eyes!!! Seeing him assured me that everything was good! By the time I got back to my room it was around 4-4:30pm. I had some gas pains but nothing out of the ordinary. I kinda knew what to expect since I had my band removed a month earlier and went through the same thing. The only thing that bothered me was the drain. ugh! that teeny-tiny incision hurt the worst and still gives me trouble 11 days post op! Throughout the next couple of days they stick my finger for blood sugar and get my bp reading/temperature ever 6 hours or so.

You cant drink anything for the first 24 hours and that didnt really bother me. I was too busy trying to manage the drain and walk around to get the damn gas out of me. burping never felt soooo good! Since you have an IV hoooked up the whole time, pain management was really good and any time I felt queasy, they handled it immediately. If you hit the nurse button, they were there within 2 minutes of it going off. Just make sure you are ready to ask them in Spanish if you have someone that doesnt speak good english. Anna and Anna were the two best nurses on the floor for me. The one thing I recommend to everyone is to make sure you have a bowel movement before you leave. The nurses will ask you how much you are peeing and pooping... make sure they give you something to make you go if you havent!! Seriously! We got home and i hadnt had one in 5 days and it was horrible giving myself an enema that soon after surgery!

The leak test was cool but awful! You cant have any ice chips/broth/jello/apple juice until you have the leak test with Dr. Elmo... that liquid is horrible tasting but watching it go through your new nanner tummy is amazing and worth the two gulps you have to take! Dr. Elmo gives you Water to wash it down once you are done. They give you a copy of your leak test xray to bring home.. it shows the progression of the Fluid as it moves through the tummy. They even let my husband go in and watch it! How awesome was that! smile.png Once the leak test is over and you pass, you get the dreaded drain out ( Dr. Elmo takes it out and does it very well! But dont watch it! LOL) and you get ice chips and broth! Yay!

The broth they serve you is delicious and tastes like Ramen Soup chicken broth! The also bring you Jello and fresh squeezed apple juice. YUMMY! you are also given hot Water and a cup/ tea bag/ sugar if you want warm tea. Take it slow when you start sipping the broth... the warmness feels good going down but everyone is different. My sleeve sister couldnt handle the broth and hated the Jello. I loved them both!

Dr. Rod, Dr. Elmo and Dr. Calderon come in each day and check on you and talk to you if you have any questions. The day before you leave they deliver your operative report, leak test xray/chest xray, prescription for the antibiotics, acid reducer pills, and pain meds.

On Monday morning, 2/13/12) Dr. Rod came in and said goodbye to us. He offered his phone number or to contact Beliteweight if there are any questions. Sergio calls you when he gets to the hospital and off you go to the airport. Be prepared because that is the bumpiest damn ride ever!!!!! bring a pillow or something to hold close to your tummy! We left at 11am on Monday morning and it took us 1 hour to get across the border bridge (our flight left at 3pm so we had plenty of time). We flashed our passports, they asked if we bought anything, and we were on our way. And tip Sergio well! He was very entertaining and full of stories and information about Juarez and the lifestyle there. If you have time (and make sure you do!), ask him to bring you by the restaurant to get the wonderful homemade chicken broth. for $5 you get a container of the best chicken broth ever!!! :)

All in all, I am sooo happy I chose Beliteweight and Dr. Rod! Beliteweight (JoAnne, Jamie, Amy, and Sharon) helped me with ALL my FMLA, FSA credit card payments and paperwork, and my short-term disability papers. They were very understanding and helpful and i cant thank them enough!

I started this journey at 213 and 11 days post op I am sitting at 206.

(this includes the 7-8 days (14 lbs of Fluid retention from the IV) it took to get back to my pre op weight of 213!)

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me!

xoxox - Amy

p.s. - Dont forget to bring the following!

  • personal pillow - stuff it in a suitcase but dont forget it!
  • chapstick!
  • flipflops for walking the halls although they provide slippers
  • heating pad - it helped with the pain soo much!
  • computer/smartphone for communicating - we have ATT and didnt have any roaming in Juarez and the hospital has wifi too.
  • pajama pants to wear while walking the halls. you are hooked to an IV so the top is pretty much useless until you are ready to go home or take a shower.
  • clothes to wear home that are 2x bigger than what you normally wear... you will most likely gain weight with the IV if you have to be on it more than 2 days, so be prepared!

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Dear SkinnyCow,

Was Great to read of your experience! I too was sleeved by Dr. Rod, but in Tijuana, not Juarez. I was sleeved 8 months ago, and at that time, he was doing surgery in both places. Don't know if that is still the case or not. It sounds like he has added a lot to the experience since I was done. He had no psychologist to meet with patients when I had my surgery. Also no chest x-ray pre-op, just blood work and an EKG. Also sounds as if the Juarex hospital facility is far superior to the one in Tijuana. My room was a dinky little room. with no chairs at all, no couch. They had what they called a bench bed. It was a built in bench that ran along one wall. It was about 2 feet wide and around 6-7 feet long. It had a foam pad on it that was about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and Bill (hubbie) had to sleep there. He kept falling off the "bench bed" since it was so narrow.

Also the staff in Tijuana wasn't as great as the one in Juarez sounds. The one and only time I put my call light on, a nurse came in and Yelled at me "WHAT?". She grabbed the call light out of my hand and put it far back on the bedside table, where I couldn't reach it without getting out of bed. I told her I was hurting and would like some pain medication. She didn't say Yes, No or Boo. Just turned on her heel and exited my room. About two hours later, someone else came in with something in a syringe and when I asked they said "Well you SAID you wanted pain medication, here it is." I am a nurse, and if I was rude like either of these individuals, I might as well pack up my stuff and head out the door. It wouldn't be tolerated here I know. However, overall, I am still very pleased with my outcome. I have lost right at 100 pounds. I am 8 months post op, and still loosing VERY slowly.

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It was great to hear from another of Dr. Rod's patients! And welcome to the Loser's Bench!

Kathy D (alias Helen the Cat)

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Hi Kathy!

Wow!! I hate that you were treated that way! That is just horrible! :(

On a brighter note, CONGRATS ON YOUR WEIGHTLOSS! That is fantastic for only 8 months out!!!! Wow!

Dr. Rod still goes to INT Hospital in TJ once a month. We live in Houston so the trip to El Paso was easier/cheaper for the two of us and the dates worked out better for me too since Dr. Rod works out of Juarez most of the month. Honestly, I am glad we did go to Juarez and not TJ after reading what you went through.. my hubby would have been in the Mexican jail if someone spoke to me like that!! That is just horrible!

It was very different having the shoe on the other foot being a foreigner for the first time. My husband was in the Air Force and traveled all over the world so it wasnt new to him. We both wondered if the Mexican people were irritated that we were there like some Americans get irritated about Mexicans being here. We never got that feeling from anyone we met/dealt with but it was something that had crossed both our minds with the language barrier. I think they appreciated the fact that we tried to speak and understand by using Google Translator because they could speak into our phones and it would spit out in English what they were trying to say... :)

Thank YOU for sharing your experience! Dr. Rod is a great doctor and doesnt get as much recognition on these boards as he should! :)

Amy

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I am so happy all is well. How are you feeling energy wise? Do you think taking a week off from work is possible? Also when you mentioned there was no roaming with ATT which I have does that mean you were able to call out, receive calls and/or text while in Juarez? Thanks so much for all the info. You have been a blessing !!!!!!! God bless you.

Did Dr. Rod give u a DVD of your surgery w/ your new stomach ?

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Thank you for the detailed post, it's great to hear everything went so well!

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Oh no!! I'm going to TJ at the end of March with Dr. Rod. I picked him because of his experience with scar tissue as well, because I have had 5 laproscopic procedures for reproductive issues in that same area. I hadn't heard anything bad about TJ before this.... Now I'm alittle worried. It sounds no worse than the care I received recently at a Detroit hospital though... Sad. I'm hoping it was a fluke, Because I'm traveling alone, I need those nurses to help me, because I'm going to struggle if I need to self advocate too much.

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Caradina,

Please don't stress yourself out about the incident I described in my post! I am sure it was an isolated incident and probably a one time thing. Everybody else was SO nice to me, so helpful and accomodating! I thought Dr. Rod was FANTASTIC! And he did such a great job on me! I have been so thrilled with my weight loss! Both his coordinator (sorry, I can't remember her name) and the translator were in to see me several times each day I was a patient, and both were wonderful! They were so concerned that I had everything I needed, and asked repeatedly if there was anything they could do to help either me or Bill. Also I discussed the incident with Dr. Rod's coordinator, and she said she was going to look into it, as it Should NOT have happened. So I would guess things have been addressed and it probably hasn't happened again. So PLEASE don't stress and worry about something happening. If you do have a problem, ask to speak with his coordinator. (I wish I could remember her name!) She was so kind and helpful, I sure that she would step in and advocate for you if you had ANY problems. She was so nice, and her brother was the van driver that picked us up at the airport, took us to the hotel, the hospital ,and then back to San Diego airport when I was discharged. They were both REALLY great people! So Please don't worry over this! Will be praying for you and thinking about you!

Kathy D (alias Helen the Cat)

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Thanks Helen! Ok... stopping the worrying. LOL Belite has been awesome so far, very quick to respond, and getting all of the paperwork in was easy and very professionally managed. I'm not worried about much, I just hate hospitals. I've received some horrifying care here in Detroit in the last year, so from what I hear, the TJ hospital will be a leap up. Who would have thought?

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Caradina,

What day is your surgery scheduled for? I want to put you on my prayer list so I can specifically pray for you the day of your surgery?

Kathy D

Bless your heart! I appreciate all the help I can get! I'll be flying and having surgery on the same day, March 22... I can't wait. I dream about the sleeve, think about it all day... troll these forums all day at work.. LOL

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So Helen were you satisfied with hospital and the recovery house? It seems outdated compared to the other. It would be nice to be in a newer hospital but TJ seems safer than Juarez if traveling alone to me.

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I really appreciate this post i'm planning on going to Dr. Jose Rodriguez, maybe in July if i have all my money saved, i live in El Paso so i'm going to Juarez and i'm hoping i made the right choice.

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We will be fine!! I think I was just over reacting. Reading over some of the old posts were reassuring. I wasn't sure if El Paso was even safe! Lol

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lol, i live in el paso and its one of the safest cities i lived in and i'm from chicago lived in new york and i feel safer here, i been to juarez a couple years back and it wasnt bad but i just scare of having the surgery done because i want to pick the right doctor,but i've done my research on dr.rod and he is legit.

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So Helen were you satisfied with hospital and the recovery house? It seems outdated compared to the other. It would be nice to be in a newer hospital but TJ seems safer than Juarez if traveling alone to me.

Dear Southerngirl,

I thought the INT hospital was sort of old, but it was very clean. I really can't complain about it at all, with the exception of the one nurse who yelled at me. There was no recxovery house. I was sleeved on a Saturday, and stayed in the hospital till Monday noon. Then was discharged from the hospital and transported back to San Diego. We elected to stay in San Diego for two days, to give me a chance to recover a little, as we had a long flight back to Iowa with one three hour layover in Dallas. Then a two hour drive to get home from the Des Moines airport. As it was, my main problem after the surgery was fatigue, and so I was glad to spend two days in San Diego just laying in the sun and relaxing. My husband went out and explored the city a little, but I slept, napped, watched TV, laid by the pool and slept some more! All in all was very satisfied with my experience at the INT hospital.

Kathy D (alias Helen the Cat)

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