Thanks to those of you who stopped by to say help after my first post. I appreciate it, and appreciate the opportunity to expand my blogosphere horizons.
I promised I would talk about how I came to the weight loss clinic I did. It was funny, in this day and age, that it was a highway billboard in New Hampshire that led me to the Portsmouth Hospital Weight Loss Clinic (http://portsmouthhospital.com/service/surgical-weight-loss-services). I drive past it occasionally heading north, and finally decided to do something more than look at the big picture (pun absolutely intended). I went online to do some research (I had already done the research about the type of surgery that fit my goals, so this was just to see what they had to say for themselves), and while I was there I registered for a free information session. My mind immediately took me to when I was a kid, and my father, always on the lookout for free stuff or a good deal, would drag my mother, sister and me to these seemingly all-day timeshare sales pitches where you registered and got a free gift. Except the free gift at the weight loss clinic a) isn’t free, and b) isn’t a week at a timeshare in the White Mountains in the summer. It’s not even a toaster. It’s the opportunity to change your life using surgery as a “nudge” in the right direction.
As I sat down in the front of the conference room, I made a great show of reading through the handouts, which included the PowerPoint, the application for surgery, and other facts and requirements. I was really thinking, “Please don’t let me be the fattest one here tonight.” I didn’t dare turn around. The session was informative. One of the surgeons spoke, the nurse practitioner spoke, the staff psychologist spoke, but the best part was when two former patients came up to talk and answer questions. One, who now works there, even brought pictures of herself at her biggest. She weight somewhere close to 425 pounds when the pictures were taken, and here she was looking all “normal.”
When it came time to go, I got my first look at the crowd of people being me. It turns out I was the thinnest one in the whole room! Did I feel better? No! I still felt like Fat Bastard from the Auston Powers movies. I felt like they were looking at me thinking, “Hey slim, why don;t you make way for those of us that really need this.” In my shame I left, but with a determination I’d not felt before. I knew I had to lose 10% of the difference between my body weight and my medically ideal weight, which was 10 or 11 pounds, to even be considered. But I had to go get my official weigh in at the clinic itself, bring the app, and call the insurance company to determine coverage. The hardest part was the damned instance company, but I got there. Fortunately I have a background in Human Resources and benefits administration specifically, so I was ahead of the game. Let me just say this: if you are considering this surgery and have to have that conversation with the insurance company, have a pen and a piece of paper handy, and know what to ask. If you need or want to, reach out to me. I’ll let you know. Be familiar with how your insurance works too. That could save you lots of money, or at least help you plan. I really recommend the full amount of Flexible Spending allowance on an FSA card if it’s available to you at work. No sense in being silly about it.
I ran over to the clinic on a Friday afternoon on my lunch break, which was really convenient. THat’s the thing about my insurance, by the way, and maybe yours too. Not a whole lot is convenient for the patient. If I want to only pay 10% in-network co-pay, I have to have my surgery an hour away from home, and get all my pre- and pot-surgical support there as well. That means taking at least an afternoon off from work and driving an hour one way. I elected to stay close, have support handy when I needed it, and only need to take a lunch hour. I mean I t’s not like I’m going to be able to really eat much more than sit for six weeks anyway. (It’s not that bad – it’s a gradual progression in the volume). The staff was great – very friendly and accommodating. I had a nice chat with the Nurse Practitioner while we were getting set up to get weighed. She asked me questions, and it wasn’t an interview or interrogation; it was a conversation and a dialogue, very comfortable and comforting.
I weighed in at 291 pounds, which was “better” than I thought. There was no shame, just a “Let’s go schedule your appointment with the nutritionist.” Gladly. Made it back to work with a few minutes to spare. Right on.