Support team is an important part of getting ready for surgery

November 11, 2008|By ELLEN ROWLAND / Special to The Herald-Mail

Editor's note: Ellen Rowland, a Herald-Mail columnist who writes about the North End, plans to undergo bariatric surgery to help her lose weight and regain health. So that others might get a clearer picture of the costs and benefits of the procedure, Rowland offered to write a monthly journal describing the process. This is her second entry.

My weight-loss appointment on Oct. 15 was not too exciting, as I have not lost weight or gained. So I guess that is a good thing?

I had many issues during the past five months concerning my gastric bypass surgery with my insurance company. I would call and be sent to voice mail, leave a message. No one would call me back.

Please, if anyone encounters this dilemma, do not give up.

I don't know if they just were not prompt returning calls or just did not want to fool with any questions. I kept calling back until I got a supervisor and explained to her what was going on. She did get me the answers I needed and from that point on, I do get called back for whatever I might need.


When no one from the insurance company would call me, I would just keep calling until I talked to a human and got the answers I needed. I am not saying that all insurance companies are like this, so if you feel that you are getting the "run around," just keep calling.

Be diligent. Keep a journal. Write everything down. Include the time and date you make a call, to whom it was made.

I have written down everything from May 2008 and I will continue to do so until I am released as a patient from my surgeon. I have kept every paper that has been sent to me from the insurance company as well as tests and evaluations. Make copies, too.

I have been so fortunate to have my primary care physician, Dr. Steven Blash of Hagerstown. Blash and his office staff have been so great to me. If I did not get this support from my physician and his staff and Dr. Thomas Magnuson and his secretary, Valerie Williams-Watties, I do not know if I would be this far along.

I might have given up five months ago, but because they all have been so wonderful every step of the way, I will not give up.

Open gastric bypass might not be for everyone. Do the research. There is so much information on the Internet. Read everything you can and ask questions. I have been using the Web site Check it out. You can find information about obesity, weight loss, surgical options and much more. You can also ask questions of medical professionals and of other patients. There are people there who have had the surgery and some who are just getting started.

There is also a place to look for all the different ways this surgery is done. I can type a question and I always get an answer. Everyone on this Web site has been very kind and I enjoy reading all the questions others might have.

The support

Support is important. Keeping a positive attitude is also very important before, during and after surgery. I firmly believe that positive attitudes help with recovery. My attitude with my past surgeries has made a great impact during my recovery period.

For past surgeries, when I was discharged and went home, I made it a point to keep walking, no matter how painful it was. I would not lay in bed all day. I got up and moved around several times a day. I took it slow, but I knew I had to keep moving and after the first few days, I did start to feel so much better.

Some people choose to have other procedures, and whatever you, your doctor and surgeon decide, it will be the right choice for you. As each day goes by, I know in my heart that I have made the right decision, at least for me.

I overheard some comments being made about me a couple weeks ago and I promised myself right then and there, that I would not let unkind words hurt me. I am not undergoing this surgery to improve my appearance. I am doing this to feel good again and be able to do the things I have not been able to do for years - to go to church, to ride a horse.

I have been too ashamed to go to church as I felt I did not have the appropriate clothes to wear. I know it should not matter what you wear to church, but it does matter to me. I was brought up in a home that the price of clothing was not the importance, it was knowing what was proper to wear and when.

Thank you

I want to thank everyone for their kind words regarding my story. I personally want to thank, Valerie Williams-Watties, Dr. Thomas Magnuson's secretary at Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. Sandra, Cecilia, Yvonne, Lois, Kim, Dee, Gayle, Penny, Pam, Veronica, Roz, Dr. Steven Blash, Linda and his office staff. My co-workers and my editor at The Herald-Mail, Tony Mulieri.

I do appreciate all the e-mails and phone calls. If I missed your name, I apologize and I thank you, too. Most of all, I'd like to thank my husband, Charles. He has been the most supportive since the very beginning and I know my journey would not be possible without it.

Looking to the future

My next goal is learning to ride a horse. I have wanted to ride for years, but with all my weight, I never pursued it.

Now is the time that I do things for myself. My two sons are grown, and they are doing great. It is my turn for me to take charge of my life and do it for myself and my well-being.

This surgery is by no means the easy way out, as some might think it is. My life as I know it now will be changed forever after my surgery. Diet and exercise will be my main focus. There is no going back to where I have come from. I will be looking forward to where I am going and I will hold my head high while doing it.

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