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Friday, February 13, 2009

Q & A

I just recieved an email from a woman with some questions for me about my experience with the Lap Band. Her questions were really good and I thought this info would be benificial for lots of folks who are considering the Band. So...here is her email and my response:

Dear Tami,

I am a wife, mother of 4 children, nursing student and member of a local church. I have struggled with my weight all my life. I have been following your weight loss journey on the WBFJ website. I have been doing some research on the procedure and would like to ask you a few questions if you don't mind.

A this point the major obstacle for me is the cost. I have BCBSNC insurance but I think it will still cost $3,000 to $4,000 out of pocket.
First of all, looking back from where you are now, are you still happy about your decision to have the surgery?
Have you had any complications?
What has been the hardest part of this journey for you.
Would you recommend Dr. Fernandez to others?

Do the nutritionist and psychiatrist accept insurance?
Do you mind telling me the total cost of the procedure before any insurance coverage?

I know this sounds like it is all about money. I know that you understand that it is hard to decide to spend (and to find)a large amount of money on yourself when you have a family to consider. I feel very selfish for even looking into having this done.

Thanks for listening and for answering my questions. If there is any other information that you think would be helpful that I have not thought of or forgotten to ask please share that also.

Here is my response:

Feel free to ask away! I feel that God has given me this procedure as a gift...a bondage breaker...and I want to share it with as many people as possible!

Your estimate is probably close. I have BCBS as well with a $500 deductible and a $3,000 individual out of pocket max per year. The Psych and the Nutritionist do not file insurance; however they are both participating providers w/ Blue Cross Blue Shield, so you may have some of those payments refunded if you file them on your own. (I got about $85 back from the $500 I paid to Jeff) I'm thinking the whole thing cost me about $4,500 out of pocket. It was the BEST MONEY I HAVE EVER SPENT! Worth every penny. I think of it as an investment in my future health and well being. It's really a drop in the bucket compared to the financial and physical costs of life-long obesity.

I understand your reservations as a mom about spending this kind of money on yourself. But, if you think about it, this is as much about your family as it is about you. The analogy I use is how the flight attendants on the airplane tell you that if the cabin loses pressure you are to put the O2 mask on yourself 1st and then on your child. That’s because, if you pass out from lack of oxygen, you are no good to your child. Same thing applies here. If you don’t take care of yourself, what's left for your children? So, this really is an investment in THEIR future as well, because you are such a crucial part of their future.

I've had a few bumps in the road, but nothing huge. The most significant problem I've has was a few months ago when my port (the access point where the Dr. injects or removes saline solution to adjust the band) came loose and flipped over. This required a minor, outpatient surgery to flip it back over and put it back into place. It's very securely in place now and I've had no problems since. The other problem was the incision from the second surgery developed a minor infection. 10 days on an antibiotic took care of that. Other than that, occasionally a small piece of food will get stuck between the upper part of my stomach and the lower part. This causes an uncomfortable pressure and very occasionally spitting up until the food goes up or goes down. This problem can be pretty much eliminated by eating small bites, chewing slowly and eating slowly. This is a learning process.

I have not regretted my decision once. I'd do it again tomorrow. In fact, based upon my recommendation and experience, my best friend just had the procedure done by Dr. Fernandez (Fuzz). If I'd recommend it to her, I'd recommend it to anyone. Fuzz and his staff are wonderful. I consider them a blessing.

I hope this helps. You are doing the right things...research and asking lots of questions. Pray, pray, pray. God will absolutely let you know if this is the right choice for you.

Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions!


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