What are you going to do about all that skin?

This is a question I get a lot, I would venture to say as often as people with tattoo’s hear “How will those look when you’re 80?!”  To be honest I have no freaking clue, but I’m guessing it will be a hell of a lot better than carrying around a few extra hundred pounds.  I will probably do the same thing I’ve done with all the fat I have been carrying around the last 20+ years and that’s sucking it up and dealing with it.

I have a long way to go to get to where I’m going and it’s just one of those things I will just have to worry about when I get there.  I already see some of the signs, the skin on my arms, my thighs, my stomach and chest all starting to get a little more loose.  Of course as the fat burns my skin has begun to contract but I know it only has so much elasticity, I have no choice but to embrace my stretch marks.

For years I felt ashamed about my fat, my stomach, my chest, the marks.  I gave up going to the beach, one of my favorite places in the world, because I couldn’t stand to be asked about why I wouldn’t take off my shirt or people jokingly trying to check out my rolls or chest.  Eventually it was just easier to avoid the situations and the embarrassments altogether, I abandoned the shore, pools, public showers, locker rooms or anywhere I would be expected to take my shirt off.

After shedding 130+ lbs and about 7 pants sizes and 2 shirt sizes I am beginning to feel more comfortable with myself.  More accepting, willing to show a side of me that I’ve hidden for so long and to not be afraid of the ridicule or the judgement.  It’s not easy, the self doubt creeps in, the insecurities, but it’s getting better.  So no, I don’t know what am going to do about all the skin but I know whatever I decide it will be better than where I started.  Surgery is an option, if I can afford it, but I will no longer allow my skin, my rolls, or my weight dictate my happiness.

Office visits – The bane of my existence

One thing I was not prepared for was the sheer number of office visits required leading up to and following my gastric sleeve surgery, it’s now been four months post surgery and I have been to over 30 doctor appointments! As someone who hadn’t seen a doctor in so long that his primary care physician files were hand written and kept in a manila envelope this came as a major culture shock. Luckily for me the majority of the doctors I needed to see were located on the same road as my workplace allowing me to run out on lunch for quick appointments. For those having to travel this can become a stress on both you and your job, do yourself a favor and set realistic expectations on the amount of time you will miss in addition to the month or so needed for recovery.
Things to consider:
  • Try to combine appointments whenever possible. For example you will need blood work at different stages for both follow-ups and pre-surgery and by getting your blood work done for different doctors at the same time it will help save you both time and money (not to mention days/nights of fasting). Additionally ultrasounds can often be done in the same facilities as some of your other doctor visits or tests (both my surgeon and the pre-admission office for my hospital have in-house ultrasound techs).
  • Make sure to ask your doctor if you need to fast for your blood work and if so for how many hours, some tests (like b-vitamin) require 10-12 hours. Often times you will be scheduling your appointments online or with a receptionist and you wont have an opportunity to ask for clarification. Remember to bring your prescriptions with you when you go to the lab if you are combining blood work.
  • As I learned many specialists require a consultation before scheduling your tests or procedures, while they are generally quick and relatively painless they will take chunks of time out of your work day (and co-pays out of your wallet). Pro Tip: If your doctors offices are as busy as mine build in at least an extra 30 – 45 minutes for waiting to be seen and scheduling follow up appointments.
  • Your surgeon is going to want to meet with you multiple times leading up to and after the surgery for status reports. If you aren’t on track they could require extra visits, expect at least 6 visits total for pre and post surgery. The same goes for your nutritionist, depending on your insurance expect to meet at least 3-4 times with your nutritionist for the year.
  • Any procedure that requires sedation will also require that you have a “responsible adult” to pick you up and drive you home. In New Jersey that means someone over the age of 18 who is a friend or relative, sorry calling for an Uber isn’t an option (believe me I asked!).
  • If you have a very high BMI or a history of blood clots they may require you have an IVC filter placed to help protect you against blood clots. This precaution will add multiple additional visits as well as two surgeries to insert and remove the device. Pro Tip: This also means two additional rounds of sedation, factor this into your planning budget and transportation needs.
  • Last but not least fill out your disability insurance paperwork as soon as possible. Generally you can file this paperwork as soon as you have a surgery date so make sure to bring it with you to your doctor’s office ASAP so they can file and submit their portion. Don’t wait until after you surgery like I did, I was already back to work over a month later before any money came in. I don’t know too many people, especially ones with hospital bills, that can go a month plus without a paycheck. The length of disability post operation varies but four to six weeks seems pretty standard, talk to your doctor about how long you should expect to be out for and plan accordingly. Although I wasn’t in pain after returning to work a month post-op it still took me a couple weeks to get used to working again, my energy and concentration levels were very low until I could eat and drink more regularly.


Feel free to comment below if you have anything to add to the list!

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