A little more than 4 years ago Miss M asked me if I would consider being her support person for her trip to Spain to see Dr. Baltasar for her DS. Her Mom – I’ll call her Linn – had had her surgery with Dr. Baltasar several years prior to that and would be going along, as well. Knowing that I knew the ropes, and that Miss M had never had surgery before – and quite a bit of trepidation (mostly about getting an IV, poor sweetheart!), they felt like they’d like to have me along for the trip. Honestly, they are people that I pretty much adore spending time with – so it was a no brainer to gleefully accept the invitation.
Miss M was in her late 20’s had a BMI that was acceptable for DS, and thankfully hadn’t developed any of the co-morbidities that a few more years living as a MO individual would undoubtedly bring – knowing her family history. Miss M is informed, proactive, and :ahem: determined (that’s code for stubborn with a slight twist of strong willed thrown in there for good measure)! I knew after some initial conversations with her that she had taken her commitment to post-DS life seriously and was determined to be a model patient.
She has done nothing but exceed my expectations in every avenue.
She’s lost all of her excess weight – her BMI this morning was 22.
She’s taken her commitment to have her labs done and interpreted regularly seriously and faithfully.
She has worked out a plan for appropriate supplementation and has been as consistent as they come.
She has embraced being an informed woman with a powerful form of WLS and done nothing but make me proud.
She’s a model DS’er, Miss M, and I’m just so pleased to call her friend.
So – several months ago when Linn and Miss M approached me to ask me a serious question, I wondered what was up. I really hadn’t anticipated their question.
They’d decided to pursue plastic surgery. Both of them. And they wanted to know if I would be willing to go along as their support person. Miss M would have surgery on a Monday. Linn would have surgery on Tuesday, the next day. Would I be up for that sort of assignment?
After talking to John and acknowledging that my work had called very little over the past months, looking over the family calendar, etc. – we decided that it would be an okay thing for me to agree to go along.
DS – I know the ropes and have totally been there/done that and can do the support person thing nearly in my sleep.
PS – new stuff!
Plus – the surgeon they had chosen, Dr. Sepehr Egrari – seriously amazingly gifted, knows-what-he’s-doing, awesome guy.
In fact, a couple of years ago when we had the NW WLS Education Conference, we were so pleased to have Dr. Egrari agreed to give a presentation on the nuances of pursuing plastic surgery as a post-WLS patient who has lost a significant amount of weight. Without exception, every single person in attendance was nothing short of dazzled by the man’s grace, kindness, warmth, genuine friendliness, and commitment to the very best for his patients – not to mention the breath-taking photographic representations he offered of the results that his patients had achieved. He gave many, many hours that day to many a patient who wanted to know about their own personal experiences with weight loss surgery and their consideration of whether or not to pursue plastic surgery. Honestly, the guy was a gem.
Over the years I’ve had the honor of talking with patients through their pursuit of plastic surgery with various surgeons, several as well who have had their reconstruction with Dr. Egrari. Dr. Baltasar says the WLS post-op who pursues reconstructive plastic surgery is brining the journey full circle. And I’ve researched plastic surgery for the bariatric post-op fairly extensively. To have the opportunity to accompany Linn and Miss M for their surgery – a privilege.
It’s a long and involved story – but suffice it to say that a turn of events necessitated Linn bumping her surgery back to mid-summer. The revised plan – Miss M and I would travel to Bellevue, WA and Dr. Egrari’s Surgical Center the last two weeks of April, with Miss M’s scheduled lower body lift and breast reconstruction and augmentation scheduled to take place today, Monday, April 18th.
Miss M has graciously allowed me to blog about her journey through post-bariatric weight loss reconstructive plastic surgery. She’s a great girl, that Miss M!
So here we go – let me tell you about our trip.
Yesterday (Sunday) afternoon we traveled from the Portland area, arriving in Bellevue at a bit after 6pm. We found our hotel, and got the lay of the land, and then proceeded to Maggiano’s – the fabulous Italian restaurant where we were to meet up with Miss M’s sweetheart – Mr. R. Knowing this would be the last meal she would enjoy for some time, Miss M enjoyed a lovely meal, and savored the opportunity to relax and prepare mentally for this morning’s surgery.
One thing Dr. Egrari’s staff does is prepare you for surgery well. They provide all sorts of counseling, close communication between the patient, their physicians as needed, and excellent support with supplements that assist healing and recovery. One of the resources they provide describes the emotional rollercoaster that can come with this process. Miss M mentioned as we concluded our lovely Sunday evening meal, “The book says we can expect to have heightened emotions after surgery. I think they need to know those can come BEFORE surgery, too!” J Miss M had experienced her fair share of tears, serious contemplation of potential complications, etc. When Mr. R had met her at the restaurant, the waterworks had turned on! It wasn’t hysteria or anything – just a heightened sense of what a blessing Mr. R was, how glad she was to have him by her side, and the gravity of this undertaking before her. As I mentioned before, Miss M has not undertaken this (nor did she her DS) lightly by any stretch of the imagination. She’s a wise lady.
Because we knew of Miss M’s prior significant stress about the actual approach of surgery, she requested and was granted one Xanax to help her be able to relax enough to sleep the night before her surgery. It did the trick and she enjoyed an excellent night’s sleep.
Early this morning I awakened and prepared for the day – taking care to not wake Miss M until the last moment – we didn’t want her having to stress out not being able to eat or drink. We had to be at Dr. Egrari’s at 7:30 am, so at 7:00 am she arose and took her shower and dressed. I should mention that she was provided an antibacterial soap to scrub here body with specifically for the morning of surgery. It’s an excellent practice that quite a few doctors employ. Miss M was so smart – knowing she would experience post-surgical swelling, she chose to purchase a pair of surgical scrubs in a larger size to wear to and from the surgery. One of the surgical nurses remarked, “That’s so smart! Great idea!”
I will say Dr. Egrari and his staff have the day off surgery down to a science. You park below the building next to a private elevator. There are reserved parking spaces and secured entry.
Once you are buzzed through the door, you see this:
…the private entryway and elevator. This takes you upstairs – the only destination of this elevator from the garage level is surgery receiving. We were greeted by Heidi, the nurse who helped prepare Miss M for surgery and was also be her recovery room nurse.
Once in the prep area Heidi had Miss M change into a hospital gown, get a pre-surgical weight, and pee in a cup for a pre-op pregnancy test (required for all patients). Then Miss M got to snuggle up in the plush recliner and get wrapped up in a lovely heated blanket. (There was serious talk about needing to take this blanket home!)
(Miss M’s face has been obscured to help maintain her privacy at her request.)
She did have to put on support hose in preparation for surgery, too. Always a joy to get those things on – but so worth the effort.
After going through and confirming all of Miss M’s regular medications and supplements, health history and the like Dr. Egrari came in to talk through all that would be taking place and re-confirming the surgical plan with Miss M. He then pulled out his markers and the marking began.
Miss M has given her permission to show her naked pictures for when he did the marking, but I think I’ll wait until later to post those. I want to make sure she’s really sure she wants those posted publically before I go forward with that. I will say, however, that Dr. Egrari is a perfectionist, and took his time making certain to carefully consider the goals as he went forward. I was very impressed. And let me just interject here it could be incredibly awkward to be a naked woman standing in a room getting marked up for surgery. Dr. Egrari is the kindest, gentlest, most respectful soul. One of the reasons Miss M feels so at ease with him is because of how very much he reminds her of Dr. Baltasar – whom those of us who know and love him – completely understand!
Once he completed the marking process, Dr. Egrari had Miss M wrap back up in her gown and then the heated blanket and encouraged her to voice any questions, concerns, or the like. He assured her once again that he was excited for the outcomes of her surgery and felt sure she would be very pleased with the end result.
Next came the anesthesiologist to talk through what his part in the surgery would be. Dr. Stephen Markowitz was Miss M’s anesthesiologist for the day – just the sweetest man with a ready smile and very gentle nature. He was so respectful of Miss M’s robust fear of the IV and allowed her to choose to remain seated in the recliner to have her IV placed so that I could hold her hand and talk her through the process. I loved that he used a quick little local to numb the area of the IV site, so IV placement was nearly painless. And I will say I was pretty impressed – the man had that thing in place in seconds. Very, very nicely done with a girl whose stress level can literally hit the stratosphere with the mere mention of IV!
Moments later the surgical nurses came in and introduced themselves and reconfirmed all that had been gone over thus far. Sooner than it seemed possible they were telling Miss M it was time to walk to the OR. She stopped so I could give her a hug and and tell her I loved her and I’d be praying before she was whisked off to surgery.
I’m going to stop there for now. I’m bushed. It’s late. And I need sleep. More tomorrow!