Friday, July 26, 2013

Weight Loss Surgeon #2

After getting amazing news that my insurance company would cover weight loss surgery, I didn't waste any time. There was a weight loss surgeon right in Marquette and so I called and made an appointment right away.

I attended the group meeting and an informational seminar. This is when they really make you think about whether or not this was the right decision for you. I had NO doubts. This was going to turn my life around in so many positive ways. I just knew it.

I had private appointment with the surgeon. We went over my health issues, what I wanted out of this surgery, and he answered any questions I had. I told him I was beyond sure that this is what I needed. I was then scheduled to meet with a nutritionist, a psychologist, a cardiologist, and my general practitioner. 

The nutritionist and I went over what kind of diet I was currently on. All carbs! HaHa! With PCOS and insulin resistance, you crave carbs because your body is not processing them properly. We then went over what kind of diet I needed to be on before surgery. Low carb! :-( I needed to focus on watching how much fat I was eating, how many carbs I was eating, and limiting my portions. No big deal. Then came the diet restriction for after surgery. 2 ounces! OY VEY! First of all, even with a smaller stomach, how can 2 ounces sustain anyone? Well, she explained it in great detail. She then explained that I would only be on a 2 ounce diet for a short time, thank God. It was just a small reality check that I needed to make sure I was still game for this great change that was going to take place.

The psychologist was basically to make sure that I wasn't crazy. Well, I was kind of worried that I wasn't going to pass that one :-p Really, they needed to make sure that I was going to be able to handle the changes emotionally (and now looking back, boy is this a very necessary step in the process). I had to answer questions about my past that I had never really thought about anymore. I had to be aware that this had to be about more than just my fertility. Surgery may not fix my fertility and I needed to be ok with that. I wasn't, but I had to suck it up.

The cardiologist had to run a stress test and echo on my heart to make sure that I could withstand going through surgery. Let me tell you, that stress test made me so very glad I was pursuing wight loss surgery. Walking on a very high incline treadmill with wires strapped to me was not my idea of fun! Despite a heart murmur and a bicuspid narrow aortic valve I passed and was given clearance. 

My last and final appointment was to see my general practitioner to have some blood work done. No surprise there that they found elevated hormones, elevated liver enzymes, high blood sugar, and so on... but this was why I was pushing forward with the weight loss surgery, right? To change all these things. He thought I was a good candidate and gave his approval. 

All was done and I was ready to schedule my surgery. My emotions were all over the place. I had never had surgery before, this was a big deal. This was also something I had been working toward for so long. I NEEDED this. I called the surgeons office to schedule the BIG DAY and that was when I was told that insurance declined my request. They were not going to cover it. 

What? I didn't even know that could happen. Why did I go through all this just to be told no, again? Once again I was hurt and confused. I was told that I could appeal it. I had to write a letter to the insurance company explaining why I should be approved. So I did. When I got my response, I was told that I needed to undergo more testing to prove that this was medically necessary. At this point, I dropped it. I was overwhelmed and figured God was saying no.

What now? I felt like every corner I turned I was always asking God "What do you want for me? What do you want from me?"

I wanted to know what God was trying to teach me and I wanted to know it right then!

Open doors...

You can't be locked in a closet forever. I believe that when God closes a door in your life, he will open another. 

I spent a year living in confusion. Not knowing what I was supposed to be doing. Praying daily that some prayers would be answered and that I would have some kind of direction in my life. I know that God doesn't always answer your prayers the way you want Him to. He may not be saying "no", he may just be say "not right now.

It was around the year anniversary of us moving to the U.P. when I started feeling like weight loss surgery was still what I needed. I was willing to save up and pay for it out of pocket. It was something that I felt that strongly about. I knew it was something that would be good for ME. I called the surgeons office to set up an appointment and when I was asked about insurance, I told them that my insurance didn't cover the surgery. The sweet lady on the other end of the phone simply said:

"Why don't you call them again and see if they still don't cover it, things change all the time"

That was something that I didn't even consider. I just figured that that was that. Insurance doesn't cover it and that won't change. My next phone call was to my insurance company. I talked for a while with a lady about what exactly I was looking to have done. She said that the way it was stated in the policy was confusing and that she needed to look into it further and she would get back to me. I hung up and just prayed, I prayed that this was what God had for me and that my insurance company would cover it. When the lady called back, I didn't want to answer. I was so nervous that she would just tell me no. I answered the phone and what I heard on the other line was music to my ears.

"Hi Amanda, I talked with a few of my superiors and from our understanding weight loss surgery is a covered benefit."

Praise God! I was so beyond happy! This gave me renewed hope. It gave me faith that God knew the plans he had for me. 

When one door closes, another opens!

Reproductive Specialist, Round 2!

It wasn't long after Chad started his new job that I wanted to get back on track with a weight loss surgeon. I called the insurance company to find out if our insurance covered the surgery... after a few calls, the answer was no. No? What do you mean, no?  For whatever reason, I was under the impression that it was pretty standard for insurance companies to cover weight loss surgery. Apparently not.

I was devastated. It didn't even feel like I was back at square one, I felt like the door was slammed in my face and that was that. What was I supposed to do? What did this mean about our fertility? Where did I even start?

I decided to start with seeing an OB/GYN again and seeing what she had to say about my non-existent periods. When I went in to talk with her, she didn't seem worried about my periods, and after voicing my concern about my fertility she suggested Clomid and Provera again. I didn't want to. I wanted to tell her that I had already been there and done that, but I wanted to hold onto some kind of hope and if that meant Clomid and Provera, then I guess that was what I was going to do.

Chad and I tried another 3 unsuccessful rounds of Clomid and Provera. Very disappointing, but I wasn't surprised. At that point the OB/GYN suggested I see one of the fertility specialists that visited the area from time to time. I made an appointment and just prayed that we would find some answers. I prayed that some weight would be lifted off our shoulders. At this point, two years into our marriage and two years of "trying", I was starting to let it bother me more than before. 

Chad and I met with the fertility specialist... I didn't like him. He was quick, short answered, and just demanded that the tests we had done the year prior be done again. He also told me that as long as I was fat, that I wouldn't get pregnant. Thanks! Just what someone who has been dealing with weight issues for years wants to hear and definitely what someone who has been dealing with infertility wants to hear. It's your fault that you can't get pregnant, so drop the fork! Ok, so those weren't his exact words, but it might as well have been.

Back at square one, again! I was feeling all sorts of hurt and confusion. I thought our move was what God wanted for us, so what did God want for us in our marriage and personal lives? I was so very confused. My heart broke just thinking that this might be the end of the road, that this was a door closed and locked. My heart ached and yearned to know what God had planned for our lives.

Two weeks later...

It didn't take long to get our rinky dink  house packed up and ready to move... One of the hardest things I have ever had to do, is say goodbye to the only place I have ever lived. My family, my friends, my home. We were off.

Considering how small our house was, we had a caravan of vehicles on our drive up. I attribute this to Chad's love of cars. While Chad was driving our Cherokee pulling a car dolly with his VW Rabbit pick-up, I was driving his grandparents 4-door dually diesel pick-up pulling a large enclosed trailer. Not only was this the first time I had driven this truck, but it was the first time I had pulled a trailer as well. I had 8 hours of drive time ahead of me, along with a 7 mile suspension bridge. Oy! Our friend Chad helped us in the move and he was riding with Chad and I was accompanied by Chad's sister Amanda. It always helps to have some distraction on such a long drive.

I couldn't have been happier with the trip up. No break downs, no flat tires, no accidents, and no car sickness. Woo hoo! It didn't feel like long before we were pulling up to our new "home". It was hard for me to consider this home when I had only been to the area one time before moving in. It was a nice little duplex in what (at the time) seemed like a quiet area. 

We unpacked the vehicles so that we could turn around and make the trip back downstate, because Chad was leaving for Costa Rica for two weeks. Who leaves for Costa Rica the same week you move 8 hours away from home and RIGHT before you start a brand new job after being laid off for 6 months? My husband. It was a crazy hectic few days. I stayed with my in-laws while he was gone so that we could make the trip back to the U.P. when he returned.

After returning from Costa Rica and back to the U.P. we worked on getting settled in. At Chad's new job he was the only one in his company that worked in the state of Michigan. That meant long hours and lots of middle of the night call ins. It was hard to get used to a schedule like that, but we were grateful that God had given us a job that was stable. I decided to stay home so that when he was home, we could spend time together. In our first two years of marriage, we both worked and we didn't get much quality time together. I didn't want the stress of being in a new and unknown area get the best of us if we were only seeing each other here and there.

It didn't take long for us to start looking for a church. After spending a few weeks driving around the area, we knew of a handful of churches in the area. Our first Sunday trying out a new church we went to Lake Superior Christian Church and from that Sunday on we knew that God wanted us there. It was our first Sunday that we were asked to go on a camping trip with the young adult group. We are either very brave or crazy. We were going to spend the night in an unknown area with people we just met. To our (not so much) surprise, we had a blast. We met some awesome people and got to enjoy some relaxing time on Lake Michigamme. 

There is nothing better than a great church family when making a transition into an area where you know NO ONE. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What shall we do now, sir?

After the disappointing, yet not that surprising, news that Chad was being laid off from his job, we had to ask ourselves; what's next? There wasn't much hope that he would get a call to come back to work. (We would later find out that his whole company was closing) Unemployment benefits only cover so much and our health insurance was terminated the day that he was laid off.

Unfortunately in the area that we were living, the unemployment rate was very high. The job market showed very little hope. Chad was applying to job after job and sending out resume after resume. He had one interview out of at least a hundred or more jobs he applied to.It was daunting to say the least.

That is when I looked at him and asked; what shall we do now, sir? Neither of us had a good answer. He considered going back to school to get into a different line of work. He considered becoming an over the road truck driver and hitting the road. Our biggest and most promising consideration was the United States Air Force. It was something that we really thought about and prayed about. Chad visited with a recruiter and we were ready to sign papers when his Grandma Marj called. 

"Chadwick, I was reading the newspaper when I saw a help wanted ad in Marquette for diesel mechanic." 

Was this God calling? This was a dream come true opportunity for Chad. He grew up traveling to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on family vacations and since I have known him he always talked about moving up there and living in "God's country" or "just south of heaven".  It only took a matter of an hour for him to have the online application done and his resume sent. That was when really hard praying began. 

The next day Chad received a call from Cummins Npower asking him to come in for an interview.  We scraped together what money we could so that we could make the 8 hour trip north. I will admit, I was looking forward to the prospect of living in Marquette, but I had never been more than a half hour from my family. It made me nervous to think of leaving everything I had ever known. Alas, we got in the car and made our way north to see what  God might have in store for us.

The trip itself is kind of a blurry memory. My sister, Holly, and my sister-in-law, Mandy, came with us. We stayed at Chad's family cabin that is about an hour and a half away from Marquette. We made the trek into town on the day of the interview and all I could do was pray that we had clear answers as to what God had planned for us. As my sisters and I sat eating lunch at Hudson's (I love that place) with a clear view of the hotel where Chad's interview was taking place, I remember feeling completely at ease. God was working, I knew that for sure. 

Chad walked out of the interview with a smile on his face. He felt good about how it went and was LOVING being in the Upper Peninsula. We took a trip about 30 minutes from Marquette to check out a rental that we had seen online in the town of Gwinn. When we pulled up, we were not impressed. When we looked at the rental, we were even less impressed. Ok, God, we may be getting ahead of ourselves, but if we get this job, we need a place to live. We drove away feeling slightly beaten down. 

About a half hour later while we were driving around, Chad's phone rings. "Chad, this is Jason from Cummins NPower and I would like to offer you the Field Service Tech job if you are interested." Chad and I had already agreed that if he was offered the job, that we would say yes. The USAF was and still is a great opportunity, but with our new marriage already being put to the test, we both felt that if we could secure a job that didn't require him and I to be separated for months on end, that it would be better. We felt God was telling us that this was what he had for us. 

Now we just needed to find us a place to live. 

We drove around Gwinn for a little bit and found a couple of places with for rent signs. We made a few calls and it wasn't long before we were meeting with a guy about a duplex on an old Air Force base called K.I. Sawyer. The duplex was available immediately and the gentlemen said that if we could put the deposit down, that it was ours. Praise God. Chad and I both felt like God was giving us clear answers.

Not only was he offered a job that was in his field, but was a promotion and a pay raise. We found a house that was available to us immediately and we had the money to secure it. Within a matter of an hour we had a job and a house! Now it was time to tell our family that we would be moving 8 hours north in TWO WEEKS... That's right, they wanted Chad in the Upper Peninsula to start the employment process in two weeks. 

Holy crap! Two weeks.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Weight loss surgeon #1

I am not going to lie... I did get a little excited at the prospect of getting some major help with losing weight. It was something that plagued me for so many years and quite frankly I was tired of it. On the other hand, I was petrified!

I was referred to Dr. G. He is a weight loss surgeon in southeast MI that specializes in the lap band procedure. I am normally a nervous Nellie anyway, but just calling the doctor to schedule a consultation had my stomach in knots. I had never had any sort of surgery before or been put under general anesthesia. I typically need the laughing gas at the dentist just to sit through a teeth cleaning. Oy. 

I went to a general consultation with the doctor. It was a "class" type consultation with other people interested in having the surgery and then a private consultation with Dr G. to go over all your personal medical history and any questions you had. After listening to what Dr. G had to say in the general class, I was definitely interested in having the surgery. After talking with Dr. G personally and going over my medical history, he was very certain that I would greatly benefit from having the surgery. His parting words to me were; I can see you in a size 2 dress with a baby in your arms! 

That was what I wanted to hear! I started working on my pre-op appointments. I needed to have a cardiac clearance, be cleared with a sleep specialist, and be cleared by a psychologist. Due to my heart condition, I was concerned I wouldn't get the cardiac clearance. To my surprise, that wouldn't be the reason why I would have to put weight loss surgery on hold.

March 2009, Chad was laid off from his job. As a part time nanny, my job was clearly not going to pay our bills. It was then that we realized things were going to change in a really big way. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reproductive Specialists: round two!

Chad and I took a "break" from seeing the specialist for about 6 months, I would say. After multiple failed diet attempts and some "too good to be true" miracle pills, we were getting the urge to see a specialist again. My mother worked with a lady who had seen a reproductive endocrinologist that she highly recommended. For multiple reasons, Chad and I were not 100% thrilled with the specialist we had seen before, so we decided to give this doctor a shot.

Our first appointment with the new specialist was just like the first specialist we saw. They ask you all the typical medical background questions, go over what you've already tried, and what their plan of action is going to be. Since I had already been diagnosed with PCOS, the first thing that was suggested was to lose weight. No surprise there. I had been told by almost every doctor I had seen that I needed to lose weight. When you have PCOS, a lot of the symptoms can be "reversed" by losing weight. On the other hand, when you have PCOS, you struggle with your weight due to hormone imbalances and insulin resistance. The more weight you gain, the worse the PCOS symptoms; the worse the PCOS symptoms, the more weight you gain-- welcome to the vicious cycle that is PCOS.

I met with a nutritionist that had me work on a full plate diet. Which basically looks like this:
Looks simple enough. It wasn't a hard diet to follow. It requires a lot of whole foots, which I am a fan of anyway. With any diet I have tried, I feel with PCOS that your body adjusts. I would hit a point where my body would "get used" to the new routine and would just make up for the difference. I would lose about 25 lbs pretty quickly and then I would stop losing weight and eventually gain back what I just lost. It was the brick wall that I would hit every time I would go on a new type of diet. It was no different with the full plate diet that the nutritionist had me do.

After having more blood work done, it showed that I still had elevated liver enzymes. The doctor suggested that I see a gastroenterologist. After running some tests and having an ultrasound done on my liver, the doctor determined that I have what is called a non-alcoholic fatty liver. It was suggested that I see a weight loss surgeon. He felt that my weight was starting to have more serious negative affects on my body. 

Weight loss surgeon? I'm not saying that it never crossed my mind. I always felt like it would be nice to have surgery to help me finally lose the weight, but I never thought that my health would take such a toll that it would actually be suggested to me by a doctor. Was this really the path that I was to go down? I definitely had a lot of questions to be answered!