Bariatric surgery. Weight-loss surgery. Lap-Band. Gastric bypass. The gastric sleeve.
Most people have heard of those, but to me, it’s been a looming, terrifying monster that I knew I needed but was scared to face…
Till after my last hospital and rehab stay in March/April.
But first, let’s go all the way back to 2009. The week before Thanksgiving, I was hospitalized for five days for a severe cellulitis infection in my legs, which required IV antibiotics. Once I was released from the hospital, I spent a year going to the Wound Care Clinic for horrendously painful debridement of the wounds on my calves.
I was hospitalized again in 2015 for cellulitis as well, this time in my thighs and shins. But this hospital visit was worse because the infection was worse. I was sick with a slight fever and chills plus aches and pains, but as our son had just gotten over the stomach flu, we figured that’s what mine was. When we noticed my thigh had swollen so big it was hard to walk, we decided to go to the ER. I remember that ER visit well — the Kansas City Royals were playing the White Sox, and I was really rooting for them after their 2014 run to the World Series. Unfortunately, when I was at the ER, they gave me morphine for the pain and what not, and it dropped my respiration suddenly and I stopped breathing and passed out. When I woke up, the first thing I asked was not about our son, who was getting home about then, but: “Did they win?” Oops? (In my defense, they had, and they went on to take the World Series that season. 😉 ). Unfortunately, I was sick enough (and I don’t remember this at all…) that they decided I needed to be intubated and put into a medically induced coma. I stayed in the ICU for just over a week before moving to a regular hospital room, where I stayed for another week. By the time I got released, I went to rehab, but luckily I only stayed a few days before I was in good enough shape to be sent home…and another round of wound care.
And let me tell you…there is no worse pain as far as I’m concerned than debridement of wounds in your shins. There’s not a lot of padding, even when you’re obese, between your skin and your shin bone. Ouch.
That brings me to this year, 2020. I was admitted to the hospital on March 10th (after going to the ER for what I thought was another cellulitis infection in my legs). When I was in the ER, they checked my blood oxygen level, and it was so low, they wondered how I was still conscious and talking. I felt fine and thought their reactions were hilarious. Apparently I wasn’t fine. After they admitted me because of my low blood oxygen level, they took blood for my CO2 level, and it was 107. Normal? In the 40s. I was very, very sick. I was in the hospital for over two weeks. Luckily my wonderful husband was there with me, so much so that when quarantine went into effect and they locked down the hospital to visitors, he was basically grandfathered in, meaning he was stuck there with me and couldn’t leave. Not so for my stay in rehab after, unfortunately. I spent about 10 days there, gaining strength until I could walk again.
Now I’m home, but my mobility isn’t close to being the same it was before I got sick, and it was far from great then. This was my third hospital stay in 11 years. I don’t want a fourth.
My weight has been a lifelong problem, and I tried diet and exercise for years. Unfortunately, it has gotten to the point that diet and, without being able to walk any sort of distance, exercise alone will not help.
And after that last hospital stay, when an oxygen tank and nose cannula became my best friend during the day and a breathing machine (bipap) my best friend at night, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure, and now seeing a cardiologist and pulmonologist regularly…
I decided enough was enough. I had to face my fears. Not only my fear of the surgery itself, as well as the recovery, but of life after. All I’ve known my adult life is being overweight. The thought of how my life will change after, from dietary habits to…well, everything, is a daunting one. But as I told my doctor recently, I can’t do another hospital stay like this last time.
So on September 15, I filled out the paperwork for the KC Bariatric Center. They are the leading weight-loss surgical center in the Midwest, one of the best in the country. So I know I’ll be in good hands. Unfortunately, they verified that our health insurance does not cover bariatric surgery. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. No matter how many times my doctors could state it was medically necessary to literally save my life.
So the cost of surgery falls to us. All $16,000 of it.
And that’s why I’m writing all this. Why I’m giving the horribly embarrassing details of my life, like the fact that I need to lose at least 250 pounds.
We need help. I’m prepared to put in the work. I’m committed to the lifestyle changes it will mean. I’m scared but excited for what’s to come. But we can’t do it alone. We just don’t have the money. And at this point, it’s not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity.
The $16,000 covers:
• the surgery itself and everything that goes with it, like anesthesia and the one-night hospital stay
• the pre-op visits to their doctors, psychiatrist, and dietician
• the post-op doctor visits at 1 week, 1 month, 2 months, 6 months, and a year.
We’ll have costs after, as well. Special vitamins, etc. But those we’ll handle on our own. We just can’t do the cost of the surgery.
We will borrow against my husband’s retirement, but he’s only been there two years, which means we won’t be able to borrow much. And the less we have to borrow, the less we’ll have to pay back, which means the better we’ll be able to pay for the things I’ll need post-op, like the vitamins and, eventually, an entire new wardrobe. (Certainly a checkmark in the plus column, especially for someone who has had to shop in specialty clothing stores online for most of her adult life! But still, an expense!)
So please, if you can, I’d love and greatly appreciate any help you can give. Whether it’s $5 or $10, every little bit will help. Every penny raised will go directly to pay for the surgery.
You can give on Facebook if you have it.
If you don’t, you can give on the GoFundMe page.
If you prefer to use Paypal, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.