Chelley Posted April 24, 2006 Report Share Posted April 24, 2006 Hi Everyone! I wanted to share my experience with you in the hopes it would help others. I like details so if you don't want to read a very detailed post, you might want to skip mine. I'm 38 years old and I'm a Registered Nurse in the USA. I began gaining weight when I was about 12 years old. My top weight has been 238lbs and I'm 5'4". Like many of you, I tried to loose weight in a variety of ways through fad diets, weight watchers, and medications. I'd get short term results then gain what little weight I'd lost back. In 2001 I developed diabetes and for the last 4 years I've been on insulin with poor blood sugar control. My last labs showed an A1C of 10.7 ... ouch! I'd researched the lap band and was very interested in the concept of the procedure, but when I found out it wasn't covered by most insurance groups and the cost in my area was priced at $17,500 if you qualified for outpatient surgery or $36,000 for an inpatient stay I realized it was not an option for me. There are several companies in the USA that will provide a medical loan, but the payments were $400/mo or more for a minimum of 45-60 months. So, I lay to rest the idea of having a lap-band and resigned myself that it just wasn't meant to be. In March, my sister called me very exicted about finding Dr. Ortiz's website on the internet. When she told me we could have the lap-band done in Mexico at a fraction of the cost USA doctors had quoted, she lost me on Mexico. There was no way I was having surgery in Mexico! I guess it was devine intervention that urged me to follow up on the lead my sister had found. As I began researching the Obesity Control Center and Dr. Ortiz, I found out his credentials are just what he claims. My homework paid off. I talked to former patients who had lap band surgery in Mexico. After verifying Dr. Ortiz's credentials, I purchased his book Lap-Band For Life on amazon.com and found it to be very informative and am using it as a reference now that I'm post-op. I filled out the online request for information at the OCC website and was suprised when Carolyn, Dr. Ortiz's Consultant Coordinator called me the next day. Carolyn was so warm and gracious and spoke to me about her own lapband experience and put me totally at ease. Still I wasn't sure I wanted to have this procedure done. I took some time to think about it and discussed it with my mother and sister. Over the next several days we three decided we all wanted to have the procedure and decided we would do it together and be each other's support team. I really felt empowered making this decision to save my life! With the decision made, we scheduled surgery within two weeks to take advantage of the $8,500 discounted cost for the month of April in recognition of Dr. Ortiz openning his brand new clinic in TJ, Mexico. Things happened quickly. We began the pre-op diet 1 week before surgery. At the start of the pre-op diet, I weighed in at 227.5 lbs. I won't gloss it over and say this diet was easy because for me it wasn't. The Fit 365 powder mix did not taste good to me. It had a very, very sweet taste and being diabetic and on sugar-free regimen I couldn't tolerate it. The powder was hard to mix, clumped and I just didn't like it. Besides, the company sent me the wrong flavor ...I ordered vanilla and they sent chocolate. I switched to Slim Fast Optima High Protein and found I liked the taste, consitency and most of all the ease of popping a can in my lunch bag without having to mix a powder. I ate lots of salad greens. The balsamic vineagar recommended was not satisfying alone, so I purchased several of the Newman's Light Salad Dressings (including their balsamic vineagarette) and limitted them to 2T a serving. The first few nights I went to bed with my tummy rumbling in hunger. It had been a long time since I'd gone to bed hungry! But after the first few days the hunger pains subsided and I was doing very well and dropping weight. My sister, mother and I all supported each other and stuck to our pre-op diets. Finally the day came to go to Mexico. This was the worse day of nerves for me. Up until this point I had not been nervous at all. With my decision made, I had a goal in mind and nothing was going to get me off track. I was totally suprised how nervous I was on this day and it really wasn't reservations about having surgery ... it was the travel. After 6 hours of travel and not having anything to eat since midnight, my nerves were shot. I felt rushed. Once we arrived in San Diego, we were met by our diver in the baggage claim area. He was late a few minutes due to difficult crossing the border that morning. So, don't panic if your driver isn't right there waiting for you in the baggage claim area. Apparently it can take up to 4 hours at times to cross the border and they have no way of knowing from day to day how busy the border control check point will be. Our driver spoke English and was very courteous. Since he had so much trouble crossing the border into the USA he drove us to a point in San Diego where we were met by Mrs. Ortiz and she actually drove us on into Mexico so the driver could go back to the airport and pick up another arrival. Do yall know it was COLD in San Diego and TJ?? When we left the USA our high was going to be in the 90's. We'd researched the web and found out the temperature in TJ was scheduled to be about 68-74 degrees.... we packed capris and t-shirts and wore flip flops... froze. It was about 54 degrees. Take a jogging suit and some tennis shoes if you are going soon. Forget the swim suits we packed thinking we'd take advantage of the pool before surgery. Waste of packing space. Mrs. Ortiz met us with a pant suit and duster on! Mrs. Ortiz is Dr. Ortiz's mother and is the Patient Advocate. She is a very gracious lady and I enjoyed her company. She immediately put me at ease by her warm hospitality. Mrs. Ortiz drove us across the border and straight to the clinic. The clinic is beautiful and very clean and organized. I found the OCC cleanliness standards were higher than the hospital I work at here in the USA! We stored our luggage in the lobby and immediately went into a consultation with Dr. Miranda, the Nutritionist. Dr. Miranda interviewed us as a group (with our permission) and she measured our actual height and weight for a true BMI. I'm very happy to report I weighed in at 215lbs!! She also calculated percentage of body fat was helpful and gave us lots of information about the post op diet and the eating plan for the rest of our lives on the band. Next, we had blood drawn for lab work then we saw the Cardiologist, Dr. Jimenez. It was here that whatever nerves I had left were totally put to ease. I work with Cardiologists every day in my job and in Dr. Jimenez I recognized a doctor who was every bit the counterpart of his American colleages. His bedside manner was very good and even though I am a nurse, he recognized I was also a patient and had the same fears and concerns any patient has. He answered all my questions and I literally breathed a sigh of relief! Mrs. Ortiz then drove us to the Lucerne Hotel and gave us tips on shopping, hailing cabs and such in TJ. She is such a nice lady. The hotel is beautiful. We each had our own individual rooms. The first thing we did was eat... we were all so hungry. We ate in the hotel resturant and had a club san with french fries and a diet coke. After the strict pre-op diet, I couldn't even eat half ... was full! With our bellies satisfied, we hailed a cab and went to Revolution Ave for a 10 block shopping experience not to be forgotten. You can't really browse... every vendor wants you to come in their store and everyone wants to make a deal. I enjoyed the experience and made some really good buys on jewlery. A word of advice about the cabs... the red and white ones only charge $3 per trip whereas the blue and white one in the hotel parking lot charges $5. To make sure we could get back to the hotel safely, we took some of the business cards from the hotel counter and showed those to the cab driver on the trip back. We had a light supper at the hotel and then off to bed... exhausted. We were met in the hotel lobby by Mrs. Ortiz at 8am promptly for our ride to the clinic. We checked out of the hotel that morning. I wasn't nervous at all. I woke up excited, realizing that I was changing my life today!!! I don't think any of us were nervous, we were just ready to start this journey! At the OCC we filled out our surgical paperwork then were taken back into the hospital section by the nurse where we donned shoe covers. I was shown my room and given a gown to put on. The hospital rooms are very nice with flat screen TV's & a water fountain feature on the bedside stand. My room even had a loveseat in it that made out into a bed. The very first thing they did was give me a cup with two tablets in it to place under my tongue. One was Ativan (relaxes you) and the other was a med to help lower blood pressure. The nurse came in and started an IV in my left hand and administered antibiotics. They assisted me with TED hose (white thigh high hose that help with blood circulation in your legs). Dr. Ortiz and Dr. Martinez came by to talk with us before surgery. Dr. Estrada the anesthesiologist came by to talk with me and I was most interested in talking with him because I had concerns about being put to sleep and he reassured me. The Ativan made me very sleepy. At some point I know they gave a premedication of anti-nausea medication to avoid nausea after anesthesia and I got a shot in my side that was a blood thinner. I lost all concept of time. I didn't even know when my mother went into surgery only that she had come back and was doing well. I walked down the hall to check on her and my sister. Sister was next to have surgery, but I didn't see her post-op because it was my turn. My nurse walked me to the bathroom and asked me to void (urinate) then I actually walked into the surgical suite and lay down on the OR table. I wasn't scared or nervous. They explained everything they were doing. The last thing I remember was Dr. Estrada saying he was going to lightly lay the oxygen mask on my face... I was in dream land. I was annoyed when they woke me up because I was having a great dream! Haha! I remember scooting over onto my hospital bed then the next thing I remember was waking up in my room with my nurse at bedside. She assured me everything was okay and with that bit of knowledge I slept for a while. I woke up on my own. Sat up on the side of the bed. No pain. The nurse was immediately at my side and she allowed me to stand. I pushed my IV pole down the hall to check on Mom and Sister ... both snoozing away. I had a little nausea and was given medication in my IV that made it go away. I would sleep a while, then get up and walk. I never had any gas pains after surgery. I was able to urinate just fine. I tolerated a popsicle without nausea. I was concerned for my sister ... she woke up from surgery crying having had a bad dream. She had some nausea and dry heaved a bit, but she was fine by morning. I was awakened by Dr. Martinez the next morning. He told me I'd done well and that my surgery had only taken 12 min for the actual band placement. They used dermabond (surgical glue) to close the 5 sites I had (4 instrument sites and 1 port site). He explained what each site was for and checked for signs of infection. He gave me discharge instructions and I felt really good. No pain, just a little sore at the port. Mom and Sister were discharged as well. Mrs. Ortiz drove us to a store where we purchased flavored water and gatorade. She gave us pain pills to be taken every 12 hours for a total of 4 doses. I had packed my gas x strips but had left my liquid Tylenol at home, so I purchased some liquid Tylenol at the counter. We checked back into the hotel and felt so good we decided to shop that afternoon and went to a mall a few blocks from the hotel. We sat and talked and laughed then would walk the grounds that evenning, then exhausted fell into bed. The next morning we checked out the of the hotel and were picked up by an airport van driver at 10am. It took us about 2 hours to cross the border - 4 lanes bumper to bumper. No problem crossing just time consuming. We all did fine except on the esculator at the airport... give yourself plenty of room between people... some ladies stopped at the top with their luggage looking around where to go next forgetting others were behind them and I had to pull my lugage up and side step to keep from falling over them... PAIN!!! Brought tears to my eyes!!! Had to stop and deep breathe. Since the surgery last week I am able to burp. I can't force it... just kinda relax and let it come but I have a VG band were Mom and Sister have the size 10. They can't burp. Gas hasn't been much of an issue I guess because I'm able to burp. I can only eat about 1/2 cup of liquid at a time. It's a challenge to sip and get in the 1 1/2 cups of watered juice and the 1 1/2 cups of Gatorade you are suppose to drink plus the water on the clear liquid diet. Sip..sip... sip. I'm glad I got the band. I feel great. My most exciting news is since surgery is I've not had to have one insulin injection and my blood sugar levels are normal. I hope my post helps any of you who want to know more of what the experience is like planning and having surgery in Mexico. Dr. Ortiz and his team are FABULOUS!!! God bless you on your journey! Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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