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This poem pretty much sums up my experiences during my journey with WLS.

Perseverance

When the world is looming dark
And things seem not so clear,
When shadows seem to hover 'round
Lord, may I persevere.
When it seems everything's been tried
And there's no way to go,
Just let me keep remembering
Sometimes the journey's slow.
I may just need to stop and rest
Along the path I trod,
A time to try and understand
And have my talk with God.
As I gain new strength to carry on
Without a doubt or fear,
Somehow I know things will be right,
And so, I persevere.

-Anne Stortz

August 2001

On August 11th my Mom and I went to Ft. Lauderdale for Dr. Marema's Information Session and a support group meeting. I first learned about Dr. Marema on Obesityhelp.com. I was reading a woman's journal and she had nothing but wonderful things to say about Dr. Marema. I researched him online and through his patients websites and decided to go to the meetings. All I can say is it was well worth the trip. His office was well prepared for the meeting and they even had a guest speaker. Dr. Marema was at the info session and the support group meeting. He spoke about the procedure in terms that we could all understand. I felt totally comfortable with him from the first moment I met him. I was even more impressed with the fact that we were given appointments the same day as the info session. I attended another surgeon's info session in Tampa and they said it could be 8 months before I even saw the doctor for the first appointment. That was NOT good enough for me, I am very impatient! :o) Anyway, I was impressed with Dr. Marema!

At the info session I spoke to Karen (she handles the insurance) and she said that my insurance (BCBS FL PPO) approves 98% of the time and within just a few days!

September 2001

What a month this has been!! I have made the difficult decision to move home to my parent's house. It was a hard decision for me because my 2 youngest siblings (Jodi and Aaron) still live at home and I didn't want to disrupt their lives. They have basically had the house to themselves for the past 4 years. My Mom and I had the discussion and we agreed that it was ok for me to move home. Unfortunately, since Chris and I were sharing a house that meant that he had to move home too. It was going to be a full house again after all these years. Everything was going well until Chris and I sat down for a family meeting with my parents. This meeting was supposed to be about when Chris and I were going to move home and how much my parents needed us to contribute to the household. Well that wasn't exactly what happened. My parents said that they wanted me to wait another year to have the surgery because they wanted to make sure that I was ready. I was so irritated that they would even suggest such a thing. In my mind I had already researched the surgery for a year at this point and I thought that it was very unfair that they would ask me to put my life on hold. I just knew that I couldn't live another year like this. I basically told my parents that I was not planning on waiting for another year and they finally relented. After we had finished talking I got up to go home and my Dad pulled me in the kitchen and as he hugged me he told me that he thought that I should be able to lose the weight myself and if I did lose it on my own he would give me "a lot" of money. Well I pratically hit the roof!! I couldn't believe that he could possibly insult me that much. It really hurt my feelings that he thought so little of my decision that he would try to sway my decision with money. I told him to forget it and I left. I talked to my Mom about it and she said that he is just scared for me. I wish that my Dad would talk to me about his feelings and not try to hide his feelings with other things. Anyway...My Mom and I went to Dr. Marema's office for the surgical nurse's visit. I basically was weighed and measured and answered a lot of questions about my medical history. I found out from the nurse that I had to see a Cardiologist for an EKG and receive surgical clearance, I had to have a gall bladder ultrasound, and go see a Pulomologist for a chest x-ray and surgical clearance. Yippie! More doctors! We'll see how it goes.

September 25, 2001

Today I went to the psych office in Ft. Lauderdale for my evaluation with a Certified Social Worker. It was a LOT less painful than I thought it would be. I was scared that she would find out that I really am nuts and not let me have the sugery. We talked a lot about my family and if they supported me in my decision (I kind of left out the part about my dad offering me money not to have it, but he is doing better with the idea of the surgery now), but all in all my visit was good. At least I know that I am not nuts and the feelings that I have sometimes are normal. Sometimes when you have struggled with your weight your entire life (or people have given you struggles) it is hard to realize that you aren't the only one feeling depressed, or alone.

The worst part of the whole day was on the way home my car broke down on Alligator Alley (which is over 80 miles of nothing!). Luckily for me a park worker gave me enough gas to make it the 20+ miles to the next exit. I know what you are thinking and I didn't just run out of gas, my car was blowing black smoke from the tail pipe that caused me to burn an entire tank of gas in less than 60 miles. So, I called my dad and he met me on I75 and put my wonderful car on his trailer and pulled me home in his new F350. What a great guy!!

October 2001

October 3, 2001

This has got to be the WORST day of my entire life!! The company I work for laid off 120 people and I, unfortunately, was one of those people. Oridinarily, I would have taken my belongings and my severance check and skipped out the door to bigger and better things, but what I am I going to do about surgery now!?!?!?! I AM BUMMED! I am just holding on to the truth that the Lord never gives you more than you can handle. I know that He will take care of me!

Ocotber 5, 2001

I called and spoke to Dr. Marema's office today and I found out that my information is all ready to be sent to insurance for approval!! I just hope they get it in before the 13th because that is when my insurance expires and I have no idea how COBRA works.

October 15, 2001

I am still fretting about my insurance. I have called poor Hazel at the insurance office more times than I can count. She has been so helpful. I found out that I can still have my surgery via COBRA. My benefits stay the same, I just have to pay over $300 a month for coverage. As long as I can still have surgery....

October 16, 2001

This day started out like every other day of my unemployed life, I got up, showered and dressed and then I went to an interview. After my interview (which I was very unimpressed with this company, they allow their employees to smoke in the building. I think that is very unprofessional, but that is another story!) I stopped by McDonald's (which I will have to stop doing) and picked up some lunch and went to see my grandfather. Now I need to give you a little history about my grandparents. My Papa and Nana were so against the surgery that they talked to my regular doctor to have him try to convince me not to have it. My Papa even talked to a friend of his that is a psychiatrist to see if she could help me. Well, to make a long story short we disagree about the surgery. They have agreed to support me in my decision and I really appreciate the support!! The lesson here is if you have researched the surgery, found a surgeon you trust, and thought long and hard about the commitment don't let anyone talk you out of your decision. This surgery is not for everyone, but if it is for you go for it!! Anyway, my Papa and I were chatting and my cell phone rang. It was my sister telling me that Keri from Dr. Marema's office called and she needs me to call her back. I immediatley thought...OH MY GOSH MY INSURANCE...I AM DENIED...I WILL NEVER GET TO HAVE SURGERY!! So I asked Papa if I could call and see what Keri needed. He said ok, so with a heavy heart I ask for Keri's extension and she says "Do you know why I am calling?" I say because of my insurance?? She says not exactly...Not exactly what does she mean by this?!?!? Just tell me that my insurance has denied me already!! The Keri tells me YOU'RE APPROVED!!! WHAT!! I AM APPROVED!! I immediately start to tear up. I can't believe that I was approved!! Happy days are here again!! Then she starts telling me all of the other hoops that I must jump through in order to get a surgery date. I must see a cardiologist and have an EKG, get a gall bladder ultrasound, see a Pulomologist for a chest x-ray and pay the $600 program fee to Dr. Marema's office. I am so excited that I am going to try and for a world record and have all of this stuff done in 2 weeks!! I know I can do it!!

I never imagined going through all the emotions that I have gone through today. I have feelings of nervousness mixed with elation. I am so thankful to my Lord and Savior for seeing me this far and continuing to carry me on this journey. What a blessing to know that I am loved!! I am trying very hard to leave all of this in His very capable hands. That's the hard part! I know that He loves me and He will not let me down, I know that with out His help I wouldn't have made it this far.

Everyone I have told about the approval has been happy for me, but I haven't really received the response I was looking for. I feel like jumping up and down and running around screaming I AM APPROVED!! This is the start of a new, healthier me!! Can you tell I am excited?!?!?!

October 22, 2001

Today has been a busy day. Since I have been laid off I have spent the majority of my time looking for a job, so today I scheduled an interview for a job I really want in Sarasota. Anyway, I am trying to deal with all of the emotions of knowing that the surgery is actually going to happen!! My mom asked me why I didn't make any appointments for my consultations that I need to go to. My only excuse is nerves. I know that once all the appointments are made the surgery is close. I know it's what I want and I know that it is the right choice for me, but I am a little nervous. I think that is normal. I finally did call and make all my appointments. I am going to the Cardiologist at 3:15 tomorrow and I am also having my gall bladder ultrasound tomorrow at 2:30. The one thing that I was not aware of is for the gall bladder ultrasound you can't eat or drink anything all day. Could they have made my appointment for any later in the day!?!? Oh well! I am a little disappointed in the Pulomologist's office because I can't get in to see him until November 13. I am concerned about the time frame for surgery and trying to get a job. I am curious to see if anyone will hire me knowing that I have several more trips to Ft. Lauderdale and I need at least 2 weeks off for surgery...I am not going to worry about it because God will make a way where there seems to be no way!! :o)

October 23, 2001

I started this day with my Papa. He is the one that helped me get this web site off the ground. Thanks Papa I couldn't have done it without you!! What you have read up until this point has been from a written journal that I have been keeping to track my journey. From now on as I have experiences I will put them straight online.

After Papa and I worked on this site I went to have my gall bladder ultrasound. I wasn't really nervous until I was in the exam room and the ultrasound tech kept telling to move all around and hold my breath and he wasn't saying anything. I asked him if everything was ok and he told me I have a weird gall bladder. A WEIRD gall bladder, ok was that supposed to make me fell better?!?! He examined me for about 10 more minutes and left to talk to the Radiologist. He said that I have to come back tomorrow morning for a follow up ultrasound. OK, I guess I can handle this! I mean if there is anything wrong with my gall bladder I can just have it out when I have surgery, right?? Well, I guess I will find out. After the gall bladder ultrasound my mom and I went to the Cardiologist for my EKG. Everything went fine until the doctor said that because I had a heart murmur when I was born I had to have an echocardiogram before he would release me for surgery. By this time I was irritated. First I have a "weird" gall bladder and now because I had a heart murmur that I grew out of by the time I was 6 months old I had to go through yet another test. This was NOT my day, but I refuse to get discouraged!! I have come this far and I am not losing my focus!!

October 24, 2001

Well, I went for my follow up ultrasound today and I should know by Friday exactly how weird my gall bladder is. I guess I will be having it out with the bypass surgery.

I also had my first interview with the company in Sarasota. I think I would really like it there. It was a great interview and I really liked the girl who was interviewing me. It seems like the company is very employee friendly. I have a second interview on Friday.

October 26, 2001

Today I had my second interview with the company in Sarasota. It went really well. They didn't seem to mind one bit about me needing the time off for surgery. I hope that I get this job. I have really been praying for it and I have a really good feeling about it. I will keep you posted.

This afternoon Tracey from my regular doctor's office called to say that they had the results back from the ultrasound. Apparently I have a "possible" gall stone in the neck of my gall bladder. Tracey said that I have to go and see a surgeon about the gall stone. I am not sure why. If I am having bypass surgery I can just have it out then, but Tracey said I have to go. She is going to call me on Monday to give me the appointment time. One more hurdle is not going to slow me down. I'll let you know how it goes!!

October 30, 2001

I received a phone call at about 9:15 this morning and my precious father was going to take a message and let me sleep until my mom heard that it was Karen from Dr. Marema's office. She immedialtely told my dad to go and wake me up!! I was so excited that Dr. Marema's office was calling, I didn't even mind being woken up!! Karen said that she was calling to set up my surgery date and answer the questions I emailed her yesterday. Well, I didn't end up getting a surgery date but I do have my pre-op appointment with Dr. Marema on November 13 as well as my Nutritionist visit and I am attending a class called "Heal Faster". Talk about killing 4 birds with one stone!! I also found out that I don't have to go and see the other surgeon about my gall bladder. I can just talk to Dr. Marema about it. The only bad thing is that I might not be able to have the sugery lapriscopically, but Dr. Marema will decide that when I see him on the 13th. Karen is supposed to call me back this afternoon or tomorrow with my date!!! Hallelujah!!

Karen called back at about 11:30 and she said...what are you doing on November 23rd??? I just about died! I told her that November 23 would be perfect! It's the day after Thanksgiving! That was the one thing that I wanted, one last "regular" Thanksgiving dinner before surgery. I can't believe that I actually have a date!! ~~YIPPEE~~ Thank you Lord!

November 2001

November 2, 2001

Ok, so it is 1:30 in the morning and I can't sleep, I just realized that this "thing" that I have been researching for over a year is exactly 3 weeks away. Do I laugh? Do I cry? Do I eat everything in sight?? I am so full of every different emotion that I can't sleep. I am scared that I have made the wrong decision, that I really can't lose the weight and even if I do I will always be fat on the inside. I am an emotional mess. I am so excited about all of the possibilities that this surgery offers. I have always loved performing in the theater and I haven't done that since High School because I was told by someone I care about that I would never get the leads that I wanted because I was too heavy and the costumes wouldn't fit. I haven't acted in a play since then. I miss riding on the roller coasters at Busch Gardens because I can't fit in the seats. I want to experience life without the overwhelming sense that I don't deserve it. I want a husband that will love me for who I am and not what size I am. Are these things too much to ask? I don't think so!! Am I selfish for wanting to have this surgery? I have been told that I am. I am not sure what to think anymore. I am overwhelmed by all the emotions that are stirring inside me. I am scared to let them out because I have kept them hidden in me for so long. I want to be someone that I can be proud of. I want for someone to tell me I am beautiful and me actually believe them. I want a life!! I want my life!! I want my life back!!! I don't want to worry about what people will think of me when I enter a room or feel sorry for me when I leave the room. I want to be known as the pretty one, not just the one with the great personality. I want it all! I feel like I am asking too much of everyone, but isn't it about time that I get what I want? I have no idea what it is like to be normal size. The last time I could shop in a store other than Lane Bryant was in my Senior year and then I wore the largest size. I am scared. I am scared to have this surgery and I am scared not to. Am I totally crazy??!?! I guess I am done rambling for now. I just needed to get that out of my system. Thanks for listening!!

Please do me a favor and sign my guestbook. It would really mean a lot to me to hear from you!!

November 4, 2001

Today is my 25th birthday! It doesn't seem like that big of a milestone to people who don't know all that I have been through in the last year, but this will be the my last birthday. Don't panic, I am not going to do anything drastic, but today is the last birthday that I will be fat. I am going to try to be 100 pounds lighter by my next birthday. That is my goal!!

I had a spectacular day today! My mom and dad made a delicious lunch and my Nana made me a beautiful cake. (my last birthday cake, no more cake for me after the 23rd!) My family and friends gathered to make it a really special day. I am so thankful for each and every one of them. They all mean the world to me and I am lucky to have them in my life. Thank you all so much for the love and the support that you give me each day, I wouldn't have made it this far without you!! I LOVE YOU!

After we ate lunch Christina, Jodi and I redecorated my room with all of the new things that I received and the rest of the family watched the Bucs lose to Green Bay by 1 lousy point!! ARGHHH!! Oh well, Mike Alstott is still cute win or lose! After that some of us went to the beach for the sunset. It was kind of ironic because that is how I fell right now, like I am watching the sun set on one part of my life and it will soon rise on the new chapter of my life. It is such an exciting time.

I received a lot of nice things for my birthday! My best friend Christina gave me Carnie Wilson's new book. She said that it was hard for her not to read it before she gave it to me, but she did look at the pictures!! I also received a CD-ROM from my grandparents (yeah!! now I continue on my Sims addiction. If you haven't played Sims I suggest you give it a try, it's so fun. I'll put a link on my Favorite Links page) Thanks Nana and Papa! My mom and Shiloh gave me a new robe and nightgown for my stay in the hospital. My parents also gave me a new computer desk!! Thanks everyone!

November 5, 2001

Today I almost had a heart attack. I called my Cardiologist's office on Friday and had my echo moved up to today at 2:30 and I completely forgot!! My mom came into my room at about 2:45 and said weren't you supposed to have your echo at 2:30?? I couldn't believe that I forgot!! This is like the last thing I have to do for surgery and I forgot. Anyway, I called the office and they told me to go ahead and come in. The echo was the coolest thing I have ever seen. I could see my heart beating and the tech added color to it and I could see the blood going in and out of my heart. It was really neat. She said that she could tell by looking at my heart that I had a murmur when I was born, but it was barely noticable. She called it an aggrevated T something. I can't remember what she said exactly, but she said that it wouldn't hinder me from having surgery. That's the best news I have heard in a while. I made sure to tell her that I am seeing Dr. Marema on the 13th and the information needed to be sent to him ASAP. Thank you Lord for seeing me through one more hurdle!!

I have some exciting news! My friend Christina is going to try and have surgery with Dr. Marema too!! She is going to ask her boss today for the 13th off to go with us to my appointments and to go to the info session they have that night. I am so excited because I will have someone to go through this with me! She is hoping to have the surgery by February. I am so excited for her!! She said that she will use me as a guinea pig and if I don't die she'll go ahead with the surgery. Thanks a lot!! :o) I hope that this procedure will help her! Words can't even express how thankful I am for Christina. We have seen each other through so many things and we have never given up on each other. I love her like my own sister and I know that she loves me too. I am so thankful to God for giving me such a wonderful best friend. Thanks for always being there for me Chris-a-rina!! :o)

November 6, 2001

Violet called me today from Dr. Marema's office to schedule me for my education class. I go on the 19th at 6pm. This class is going to go through everything that will happen with the surgery and what I need to do to prepare. She said that they still hadn't received the info on my gall bladder so I had to call Tracey and have her resend it. Violet also told me that I need to get some blood drawn for my pre-op labwork. She was going to call Tracey so she could schedule it for me. I guess I will find out tomorrow when I go have blood taken. Keep me in your prayers!!

November 7, 2001

Well today is a day that I wish I could do over. You know when you are little and something doesn't go your way and you yell DO OVER! Well, that's how I feel today. To start off I found out that my insurance doesn't cover the LAP procedure and they don't cover a private room either. I was very selfish to think that this was the worst news that I would get today. My mom went to the doctor today for an MRI and an MRA because she has been having bad headaches for the last several months. Anyway she had these procedures to try and figure out what has been causing her headaches and she received a phone call this evening from her doctor and he told her that she has an anuerysm in her left corotid artery. When she told us I about fell over! The tests were supposed to be negative. I thought the only things that would come of her seeing the doctor for her headaches would be a prescription for a migraine medicine. I am now shocked and scared. Tomorrow my mom has to go for a test that will show how bad the anuerysm is and she will most likely have surgery tomorrow. I have spent the majority of this evening crying and praying. I know that God has a plan for everything and that he is in control of our lives. It is hard to let it go. I am so scared that something is going to happen to her. My mom is like the most important person in my life, she is my everything and I can't lose her. Please pray for her that everything will be ok. I will post again tomorrow to let you know how the tests go.

November 8, 2001

Today seemed to drag on and on. We were at the hospital by 10am and we just left around 8pm. My mom had a test today called an artereogram. It puts dye in your brain that makes it easy to locate and determine the severity of anuerysms etc. It was confirmed this morning that my mom does have an aneurysm and it is not exactly on the corotid artery but near it. She was admitted to the hospital and she had to lay flat for over an hour and then she was able to sit up about 45 degrees. Anyway, she is going to have surgery to correct the aneurysm tomorrow at 1pm. I won't go into serious details, but she will have to shave her head in order to have surgery and will have to spend a good week in the hospital. My family is doing ok. We are holding up just about as well as you could expect. My mom is putting up the brave front, but she keeps making comments like take a piece of my jewelry to remember me by and if I don't wake up tomorrow remember I love you. I can't stand it when she does that! Just when I have pushed back my feelings and I am able to get a handle on things she says something like that.

Today was a better day emotionally than yesterday. I think that I was in shock or something, but now I am doing ok. I know that if she makes it tomorrow then it will be ok. It is very hard to prepare myself for any other outcome. Please continue to keep her in your prayers and I will update tomorrow night with the results of the surgery.

November 9, 2001

OK, First of all I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has emailed thoughts and prayers for my mom and to all of the hospital staff who have taken such great care of her. The surgery was a success and there were no surprises. When the doctor came out of the 4+ hour procedure he told us that she was doing remarkably well. We all got to take turns going in the Recovery Room to see her and she was all bandaged up but she was doing good. She would squeeze my hand and try and say I love you. It was not as bad as I thought. I thought that she might still be on the breathing machine and stuff, but she wasn't. I laughed at her because the first thing she said when she came to was I need a Pepsi! We knew then that she would be ok. My mom will be in ICU for the next 24 - 48 hours and then she will be in step down ICU for the next 5 - 7 days. She also is not allowed to work for about 6 weeks and I am hoping that she will still get to come to Ft. Lauderdale for my surgery which is 2 weeks from today! YIKES! I am glad that today is over and now we are more than half way through the battle.

On a side note, I got a call today on my cell phone from the people in Sarasota about the job that I applied for and I have another interview with a VP next Thursday. I hope that this goes well and they are still cool about my surgery. I will keep you posted!

November 10, 2001

My mom is doing SO good!! We went up to see her during the first set of visiting hours and she was reclining in a chair and was alert and talking. She was so funny because she couldn't remember anything that happened last night because she was so drugged. She laughed when we told her that the first words she said was that she wanted a Pepsi. She is in such great spirits and she is such an inspiration to me. She has been the strong one for all of us during this situation. I admire her so much!! She had to have CAT scan this morning to make sure she was still doing ok on the inside and everything looks good. I am so proud of her! I know that she didn't have a choice about her surgery, but she gives me a renewed confidence that I am going to be just fine when it is my turn for surgery. I am so lucky to have her for my mom and I am so thankful that she is still with us.

Thank you Lord for your grace and mercy and for seeing us through this situation with flying colors!!

November 15, 2001

I know that it has been a while since I have posted and there is so much to tell!! My mom is doing fantastic!! She is doing so well that she was able to come home on Monday! That's only 3 days after her surgery! She is doing so well. She has good days and not so good, but over all she is feeling fine! We couldn't have asked for a better result. This just goes to show that there is power in prayer!

I am feeling for my dad right now too. He is dealing with the stress of my mom's surgery and we found out on Sunday morning that my grandfather (my dad's dad) had a heart attack. It was a mild one, but it is still scary. He is having quadruple bypass surgery tomorrow morning. I hope that my dad will be ok. He keeps all of his feelings inside and he won't tell us how he feels. The last thing we need is for him to have a heart attack or something due to all the stress.

That's it for my family update, now onto my surgery update. Tuesday my friend Christina and I went to Ft. Lauderdale for my Pulmonary appointment, my pre-op visit, a nutritionist consult and a wellness workshop. We started our day at 6am and drove the 4 hours to Ft. Lauderdale. Our first stop was the Pulmonologist's office. I went to see Dr. Frank Sorhage, he's part of the Holy Cross Medical Group and one of the doctors that Marema's office recommends. The only reason I chose him was because his office was right across the street from Holy Cross Hospital and I knew where it was. I must tell you that I was not at all impressed with the office staff. First of all, they had me arrive 30 minutes early to fill out 2 sheets of paper that took me like 5 minutes to complete. Next, they told me that they had never received a letter from Dr. Marema's office and she wanted me to call him on my cell phone to request it when she is sitting right next to a phone. She then found the letter and told me never mind and to go sit down. By this time it's about 5 til 11 and my appointment was at 11:15, so we waited. At about 11:50 I went over to the desk and asked how much longer it was going to be and she just said they were running behind, so I waited some more. While we were waiting this elderly gentleman came in who didn't have an appointment but he wanted to ask the doctor about some medication he was taking. The front desk clerk was so rude to him, she practically yelled at him that he couldn't possibly talk to the doctor because he didn't have an appointment. She finally relented and called a nurse to come up front to talk to him and the nurse was worse than the receptionist! She was shouting at him like he was 3 years old in front of everyone! I felt so bad for him, he was just trying to make sure he was taking his medication correctly and she told him next time DO NOT come here, just call. I was disgusted!! Anyway, at about noon I was called in and I had to take all my clothes off from the waist up and put on a paper gown (since I was wearing a dress, well use your imagination!), I looked ravishing!! :o) Then I had a chest x-ray which was completly painless and after that I was going to get dressed for my appointment with the doctor and the nurse told me to keep the gown on and follow her. Follow her?!?! WHAT?!?! I had to walk all the way down the hall in my underware and a blue paper gown. I was so embarassed! At least they had the larger size paper gowns so I wasn't giving everyone a show!! Finally we arrived at the exam room and I had to have my blood pressure taken (which was surprisingly normal) and blow into this machine that measures how hard and long you can blow. After that Dr. Frank arrived, he was the nicest person I had met in the office. Anyway, he listened to my lungs and looked at my teeth and asked me some questions and then he said I need to feel your legs. I said what!!?!? We are here about my lungs NOT my legs, well needless to say he felt my legs which I later learned he was checking for swelling, don't I feel stupid! I thought he is trying to cop a feel!!

Our next stop was Dr. Marema's office. My appointment was for 1:30 and when I checked in the girl behind the desk asked me if I had an appointment. I told her yes and it is in about 15 minutes. Apparently I wasn't on her list and they couldn't find my chart. Great!! First I get lousy treatment at the Pulmonologist's office and now I have driven 4 hours and they can't find my chart and they think I don't have an appointment. Well, they straightened that out and we waited some more. I couldn't believe how many people there were in the office! We counted 48 patients! I was amazed that the office was that busy. Dr. Marema sure is popular. Finally I had my name called and I had to have my picture taken, get weighed, measured, and have my blood pressure taken. Needless to say my blood pressure was a bit higher than it was at Dr. Frank's office! I was so excited because I had just found out that BCBS and Dr. Marema's office are in negotiations regarding the Lap procedure. They are going to start paying for it!! I almost fell out of my chair!! I had convinced myself that I was going to have to have the open procedure and I was really nervous about the pain, etc. After I found out that all I needed to pay was my $15 copayment and my insurance would take care of the $2000 Lap fee! YES!! I am having the Lap!!! Thank you Lord!! You have no idea how nervous I was about being sliced open, I would have still had the surgery but I am soooooooo happy!! Finally I got to see Dr. Marema. I absolutely LOVE HIM!! He is such a great guy and he is so funny! I had made a list of questions and he kept trying to peek at it and making a big deal about it. Anyway I LOVE HIM!! He answered all of my questions and was very up front and honest with me. I received 4 prescriptions for a sleeping pill, pain medicine, Potassium, and Zantac. He told me that I can eat the day before surgery until 4pm and he gave me the schedule for the rest of the day. I have to take a liquid laxitive to clean out my intestines and drink at least 6 glasses of water before midnight. I have to be at the hospital at 5:30am and I am first on the list for surgery. My surgery time is 7am. After I saw him I went to the nutritional consult and it was very informative. Dr. Marema has all of his patients on a protien only diet for 75% of your weight loss. I guess that is why his patients are so successful! Christina and I each had a meeting at 6 that night. She went to the info session and I went to the Wellness Workhop. The workshop was ok. It was nice to learn about relaxation techniques, but that is about all I got out of it and it was pretty much a waste of time. We did, however, receive a relaxation tape to listen to and they will even let us listen to it during surgery. I am not sure if I will or not. I have listened to it and it is pretty helpful, but I feel a little rediculous. We'll see!

Anyway, we had a good trip and I am so thankful that Christina went with me! I am so excited for her! She is just now starting her journey and I know that she will do so well! I wish her the best! I just hope that my experience will be able to help her!

Tomorrow I go for my pre-op lab work at 8am. I HATE having my blood taken especially if I have been fasting. I hope they don't have to stick me too many times. Pray for me!!

Thanks again for all of the emails with thoughts and prayers for my mom. It really means a lot!

November 16, 2001

This morning I had to go and have my blood taken for my pre-op labwork. It went a LOT better than it usually does, I only had to get stuck once!! Thank you Lord!! I am usually stuck at least 3 times before they get all the blood they need.

After that I scheduled my pre-employment testing for Monday at 9am. I had my 3rd interview yesterday with that company in Sarasota. It went really well, now they just want to see if I really know what I am talking about. Let's hope I do!! :o) I picked Shiloh up from school and we played dress up (you can see those pictures on the Home page). It is always so much fun to have her around.

Tonight we went to see my brother Aaron in the play "Museum" at the local community college. He played a gay character and his part was quite hilarious!! It was the final dress rehersal so the cast members could invite people to view the play for free. That's right in my budget!! Overall the play was great and we had a good time!!

MY SURGERY IS ONE WEEK FROM TODAY!! YIKES!!

November 22, 2001

I am sorry that it has been so long since I have updated. Right now it is about 12:30 am on Thanksgiving...Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!

Ok, I am going to start at the beginning...Monday my grandmother and I went to Ft. Lauderdale to attend Dr. Marema's Patient Education Class. The class was slated to last roughly an hour to an hour and a half and it ended up lasting for over 3 hours!! There was this man in our class that asked question after question after question...there were times that I felt like just leaving. I will give you one bit of advice if you are going to use Dr. Marema...schedule your education class for early on in your journey because 3/4 of the information that we went over were things that I already knew. The best information was the daily schedule for the hospital stay. That was the most useful part of the meeting. Needless to say we didn't get home until about 2 in the morning. That same morning at about 6:15 (after barely 4 hours sleep!!) I was awakened by flashing lights in the driveway, it was an ambulance. I then heard my dad telling Chris to run out there and let them in because they were here to get mom. I ran into their room and all I was told was that mom was in pain and her neurologist told her to get to the ER and to have EMS pick her up. I immediately woke Jodi up and we got dressed in record time. My dad and mom left and we were instructed to stay put until daddy called us. Well, Jodi and I don't listen too well and we left and went to my grandparent's house. I think we were in shock because all we could do was cry. I think I scared my pastor because I called him at almost 7 and woke him up crying. He and his family are so precious and they have been such a great support to me and my family in this time. Thanks Joel and Christi! Anyway, we get a call from my dad saying that they think that mom has a blood clot in her lung caused by her surgery. She was having tons of tests to try and locate the clot and find out where it came from. She finally got a room in the hospital around 5 so we all went up there. She has 2 blood clots in her lower right lung and she has to be in the hospital until at least Monday. They are giving her blood thinners to try and desolve her clots. They were worried about doing that because they didn't want to cause her brain to bleed. I think this situation is worse than the aneurysm because they don't really know anything. They do know that she has 2 blood clots, but they don't know where they came from or what will happen. I saw her today and she was in a lot of pain. It wasn't constant but every time she moved she got sharp pains in her chest. I am so scared for her. I thought about rescheduling my surgery because now mom is definately not going to be there and I am worried that something will happen to her and I will be in Ft. Lauderdale. My mom, dad and I sat down and talked and prayed about it and we decided to go ahead with the surgery. I still feel a little guilty and selfish because my dad is going with me. My parents both said that it will be ok because my brothers will still be in town and they can look after her. I know that surgery is the right choice for me and I never imagined that I would be experiencing all of this right along with one of the most life altering events of my life. I am so full of emotion right now I feel like I am on the verge of tears all the time. I feel bad because I have been snapping at people and being a pain, but I know it is just the stress. I hope that everyone can deal with me and let me get over myself. Please say a prayer for my mom and me as we go through the journey of recovery together.