There is Joy in Giving

It’s likely that I’m the only one wondering where I’ve been.  It has been months since I’ve been here or even felt like I’ve had anything to say. Lots happening, that’s for sure.  Since this is a blog about gastric bypass, let’s stop there first.

I can’t say I’ve made much progress toward surgery. I’ve finished all the meetings except the final one with the surgeon to get my date, and the pre-op meeting with a staff member at the program.  I met with the surgeon two and a half weeks ago. The plan was to send my paperwork in the next day, which was a Friday, and we should hear back from United Healthcare within two weeks. We’d schedule a second appointment with the surgeon, get my date, and count the minutes. Except I got a call from the Nurse Case Manager to check in, and when I told her sh should have the paperwork, she said it could be in one of two places, and it was in neither. I called the surgeon’s office, and they told me it hadn’t;t been submitted because she hadn’t done her visit notes. I WAS THERE FOR TEN MINUTES WITH HER. How hard could it be? I was FURIOUS. I tried to plan this to avoid putting my coworker at a disadvantage, to avoid conflicts with vacation schedules, to be healed in time for my trip to Charlotte, North Carolina in January…and now I am a week behind and counting. I’m calling Wednesday to see if they’ve done their job yet.

So I am on hold. My eating has taken a turn for the worse. I need to figure it out and get on top of it. It could be the stress due to the mountain of medical bills that have come in. If I had any piece of advice, and I may have mentioned this before, try to get into the program at the beginning of your health insurance year, particularly if you have a Flexible Spending Account (FSA) at work to help you pay for this. It is not cheap. It sure as hell isn’t free.

I mentioned Charlotte. I have been looking for years for a more temperate climate. I have a bit of arthritis and a really bad back. Winters up here are really starting to bother me, and I’m only 47!  I began looking 5 or 6 years ago for a place that was, on average, between 75-80 year round. Hawaii was out. I just got stuck on the Carolinas. South Carolina gets walloped with hurricanes, so that was out, which left North Carolina. As it happens, I have a second cousin who lives in the greater Charlotte area who has been a huge help to me as I research towns to live in. I am working on putting myself in a position to transfer departments at my job, because we have an office in Charlotte.  I am looking into selling my house, or renting it if I can’t sell it. I’ve talked with my oldest daughter about going. She seems to be okay with it. I wish she’d come with me, frankly. She’s a cool kid, and I love hanging out and doing things with her. anyway, the winters in the Charlotte area don’t get below 40, the average snowfall is 2″ or so (which is just a dusting in New England – it’s the amount that falls off the trees when the wind blows). The cost of living is comparable or slightly cheaper. And it’s a whole different way of life.

I am recalling how the staff psychologist said we would be tempted to do some crazy things after surgery.  It would seem I’m trying to do them before. As I write this, I’m bundled up in a fleece jacket, wind pants, socks and in a little bit I’m sure I’ll need a hat. I do love fall, but you know what? The leaves change in North Carolina as well. My cousin is concerned all the changes might be too much for me. New city. New job. Post-Surgical. No immediate family. I have tried telling her I was in the Navy and at 18 lived halfway around the world for three years. I’ve had a bunch of jobs since I’ve gotten out of the Navy (almost 20 years ago!), so that change doesn’t bother me, and it’s with the same company anyway.  I’d be post-surgical in New England too. So all of it is negligible. Being away from my immediate family will take some getting used to, but I used to live in the midcoast Maine region, and that may as well have been on the moon.  I rarely saw my family. And I’m only a 2 1/2 hour plane ride away if I needed to come north. I will desperately miss hiking with my daughter. We’ve been a few times and hope to go more this fall. I’ve been out solo, but she makes it a lot of fun.  And even though it isn’t the same, there is Skype and FaceTime to fall back on. I didn’t have that when I was in the Navy, so I feel like I’m ahead of the game.

Speaking of those changes the doc warned us about, I ran into some stiff resistance regarding the surgery from a friend of mine. She had kept quiet for quite  while, perhaps hoping I’d change my mind, but as it went forward and it got to the end of the road, appointment-wise, she just got…almost offensive. She didn’t see why i needed it, I could do it myself, lots of people do it. I should take yoga because a woman lost 50 pounds. It was all the textbook stuff Dr. Wagner said we’d face. I let her know that for every one story she gave me about a person losing weight, she could find 9 of people who failed, and that she wasn’t;t being opened-minded or supportive. She insisted she was supporting me. It was not a pretty conversation, and I was PISSED. I ended the friendship a week later. That conversation would always be there, hanging out there like an echo though the mountains.  I was having the surgery, and that would always be there too. Things were going to change for me. I don’t think she could handle that. I think her problem had more to do with her than it did concern for me and my wellbeing. If anything went wrong and I had to be hospitalized as a result, she would be the first to say, “I told you so.” She called the surgery “self-inflicted.” I suppose it is, but I wasn’t complaining about it. Just ugliness. And it was all like the doc said it would be. I am surrounding myself with people who support me, regardless of what I do. They want to know what I need. Can they give me a ride? Would I like them to stop by the house in the mornings or afternoons after work for a quick visit? One person offered to cook me meals because I wouldn’t feel much like cooking. I felt bad telling her I could heat up broth all by myself. Her heart was definitely in the right place, and I was moved by her kindness. Those are the people to surround yourself with. I doesn’t;t matte hat you’re having done, they want to know if I need anything from them. And I recall reading that it is important to let people help. They often take it the wrong way if you don’t, and it’s a great way to see someone take joy in giving.

Lastly, I want to thank The folks that follow the blog, and to those I follow, particularly Michelle, who posts as rny4me. It is the best insight into post-surgical life I’ve read.  If you haven’t and you’re interested, check her out. She is as real as it gets.

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3 thoughts on “There is Joy in Giving

  1. I was wondering where you ran off to! 🙂 Glad to see you back and glad to hear that the steps to surgery are still underway, albeit frustratingly slowly! You’ll get there. I’m sure of it. Did they find all the documents and get them submitted? I hope so!

    And you’ll conquer the food stuff too – it literally will just change over night. And who knows maybe a change of scenery will help. North Carolina is beautiful and hiking is plentiful- I’m kind of envious! Sorry to hear about your unsupportive friend. That really sucks but I do think her criticisms are probably more about her and actually have little to do with you. She’s probably super uncomfortable (for whatever reason) with the idea that you might change so drastically. People like to have their friends fit neatly into the little box they’ve already labeled and assigned! Maybe she’ll come around eventually and if not, then it’s her loss for sure!

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  2. Great post. I understand the insurance frustration. My doctor office had sent it but when I would call the insurance company, they would say they didn’t have it. Took three weeks to find what happened but apparently my paperwork got sent to the wrong department in the insurance company so it took much longer to get approved than usual. Now almost 6 months later, as frustrating as that was im glad I kept fighting for an answer because surgery has been one of the best decisions I have made for myself. Hang in there and I cant wait to see you through your journey 🙂

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