About a month ago, I wrote a column in which I detailed my growing realization that I either needed to get control over my weight or I would not be able to fulfill my late life goal of spending all of my niece’s inheritance before I die. After much thought, a lot of Internet research, and a couple of bags of potato chips, I finally decided that a gastric bypass was the only solution left to me.
Armed with the support of the many doctors in this community who helped to keep me alive until I reached this decision, I started on the long path to surgery.
Once you’ve been accepted for this surgery, you have to undergo a whole battery of tests to determine that you will probably not die during the operation thereby ruining the doctor’s track record. You also, for some reason, need to prove you are relatively sane.
I figured unless you knew my relatives, you would not be able to determine that I was, in fact, sane compared to them. I wasn’t sure my insurance company would pay for me to bring a psychiatrist to the East Coast to observe a family dinner in order to verify this information. Luckily, the person evaluating my sanity thought that my little menagerie of four parrots, a cockatoo and a nervous little dog was a positive moment in my life and provided me with a reason to live. Which is true insofar as I am afraid to die and leave them behind with the house because the birds for sure won’t take the dog for the walks he likes. So, I edged by on the sanity thing.
Little did I know that would be the least of the tests I would have to endure. Prior to this surgery, the doctors apparently have determined that they want to inspect every inch of a person’ s body, both inside and out. The outside part isn’t too onerous. But let me tell you that they wanted to inspect inside parts of me that are I had no idea were accessible short of an autopsy. And then, when I found out how they were accessible, I thought an autopsy was the easier way to go.
So I drank chalk for an upper GI. series. And I had an echocardiogram which involved lying on my side watching as my heart beat on a monitor nearby. It seemed like such a small muscle for such a big task. On a day-to-day basis you don’t think of each beat your heart has to take to keep you going. When you’re lying on a bed watching it beat, you find yourself becoming a silent if nervous cheerleader. “C’mon heart! C’mon heart! Beat again, beat again! Yea heart!”
But perhaps the most discomfiting moment in the whole pre-op process occurred when the pulmonary specialist informed me that I had, and I quote, “inadequate sleep hygiene.” It was enough to make me want to crawl into a hole somewhere and thank god my mother was no longer around to hear those words. Inadequate sleep hygiene. How horrible. Except for the fact that I didn’t have a clue what that was.
Turns out it means I don’t go to sleep and get up the same time every day and therefore I throw my biorhythms off kilter. To be honest, if biorhythms were the only thing off kilter in my life, I wouldn’t have been in his office in the first place.
So I slunk back to the surgeon to confirm that, in fact, I was a candidate for surgery as soon as I got that little sleep problem in hand. I thought I’d been through the worse the process had to offer at this point. I’d been probed, prodded, stuck, thumped and turned upside down and shook to see if any last shred of dignity had been somehow overlooked in the testing. What could possible be harder.
Well, the next step was to work with my insurance company to get approval for the surgery that was listed right in my little booklet as an accepted procedure. I laugh now at the naivet� of the person I was back then. A person not yet battle hardened from traversing the road to getting my insurance to actually approve a procedure I qualified for and which they specifically included as a benefit.
Next time – insurance companies…are they really Darth Vader’s last stronghold?