A Bonding Experience *

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  • Name: Kristie
  • Age: 33
  • Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
  • Surgery date: April 30th, 2013
  • Testimonial date: July 16th, 2013
  • Surgeon: Dr. Almanza
Dear Future Patients,

To give you an idea of my weight struggle and my decision to go to Mexico, I'll fill you in on my history.

I've ALWAYS been chubby! I've always had to watch what I eat or run 15 miles a day to maintain a size 14. There is no medical reason for my metabolism sucking; my 5’8 frame just likes to carry 180 lbs! My lowest weight was 135 lbs when I was 19 and again at 26 (Yes, I gained it all back and had to lose it again, I do this every few years). In 2010 I hit 225! Seeing pictures of myself disgusted me and I decided things had to change. I'm well educated, nutrition savvy, have a great support network and had no excuse for abusing my body like that.

Back then, I knew someone 2 people who had had a gastric sleeve done - both via medical tourism to the States and Korea; 1 had major complications and that scared me. I wasn't ready to consider surgery. I've never even broken a bone or had stitches; voluntarily climbing onto an OR table terrified me.

I managed to work of the weight through extreme diet and exercise. It took about 6 months but I got back down to about 170. By spring 2012 I was up to 220, and by winter of 2013 I was 249 lbs (a new record!) and nothing was working to get the weight off. Every other time I was able to beat the weight through determination and perseverance, but nothing helped. In my 30’s now, I decided that it was time to consider surgery if I wanted a better quality of life in the future.

In 2012 I had the opportunity to work with a girl who was researching Gastic Surgeries. She wasn't obese, so I was a bit confused. But after seeing pictures of her at 125 lbs, I could imagine how 205 seemed overwhelming. Unlike the rest of us, she had a close relative in the plastic surgery field, and he helped her make her make her decision to consider medical tourism. She decided on the Jerusalem Hospital in Tijuana Mexico because it was the best price, had a great reputation and the highest number of surgeries performed. Her trip was a total success. While she was getting thinner and thinner, I was getting fatter and fatter. That's the first time that I considered Medical Tourism. Even though my Canadian Medical System would pay for the surgery (if I met the morbidly obese criteria – I didn’t; and waited years filled with assessments– I wasn’t willing). I got the details from her and booked my surgery!

Canadians have free medical care and for some reason they believe it's the only system out there! NEWSFLASH, our system is one of the most expensive in the world and has the longest wait time! The surgery is nearly 20,000$ in Canada, 15,000$ in the Middle East and 10,000$ in Asia and the USA... I paid around 5000$ in Mexico. However, the experience is not without its quirks. So here's a list of what to expect if you're used to the pampered medical system of Canada and similar countries.

-if you’re not American, then PayPal has a nasty exchange rate. Do a bit of research before you settle on a payment option

-You will be going through this with a group of people, talk to each other, be positive but don't dump your stresses on others. Swap emails or Facebook info; I still keep in touch with some girls I met there. It’s helped me feel normal sharing my experience as I’m adjusting to used to my new stomach

-You will not be in a huge hospital, but a small clinic. It’s not shiny and new looking.

-you will be sharing a room with another patient; I suggest you pack ear plugs for snorers

-know your medical history and tell the Dr the truth when he asks (that’s just wise). I was actually scheduled for a Gastic Sleeve Plication, and my pre-op consult with the Dr changed my mind to a regular Gastic Sleeve. These guys are experts in their field and they have good advice! Talk to them when you’re given a chance.

-Do the pre-op diet! Seriously, we had one girl in our group who ate chips the day before surgery... what an idiot! She had to stay and extra 3 days at her expense in Mexico! Honestly, I did the pre-op diet for 6 days because my Dr said it’s safer for my liver. I even lost 8 lbs before surgery! The pre-op diet is good prep for a new mentality towards food; one where you begin eating only for nutrients. You will never feel hungry again – trust me!

-Don't expect the complimentary soup to taste good (it's low-sodium blah), Freezies will make you love life post-op

-don't expect staff to wear gloves for no reason, nor to Purel every 10 seconds. It’s just a different standard of Medical system than you might be used to. Infection was a huge concern for me, but truthfully, a small private clinic is WAY safer than a hospital with thousands of people milling around carrying bacteria.

-do expect to be WAITING around, they do lots of surgeries back-to-back and when it's your turn, you'll walk into the OR, hop on the table and POOF, you’ll wake up about an hour later all groggy from the anesthetic and walk back to your tiny room

-you’ll be moved back and forth between clinic, recovery-clinic and hotel. The bus ride SUCKS; being jostled around HURTS. And for some reason it’s like High School, certain people lay claim to certain seats and it doesn’t change. If you’re in the back of the bus, bring a pillow and hug it to your tummy, it really helps!

-pay the 20$ to take the FAST ROUTE back across the US border. I’m 100% certain it’s an illegal pay-off landing in someone Mexican’s pocket, but do you really care if you are saving 3 hours getting back to San Diego? NO!

-don't bother paying for the copy of your post-op x-ray. Your doctor back home won't care, but you could keep it as a souvenir. By the way, the yucky purple-blue dye they give you to drink is really tough to swallow. They’ll also give you a little extra to drink in the x-ray room… it’s like a sick joke.

-if you don’t burp (like me) then expect to be in more pain than your fellow patients who are belching up the post-op gases. The GasX stripes helped most people, pack some. I cried on day 2 because everyone else was feeling better and I still felt bloated and my aching back was keeping me from sleeping. It just seemed so unfair and I even had thoughts of “why did I do this?” By day 3 felt better and I have no regrets. Never trust a fart in the first few days, when your digestive system starts moving again, it’s not gonna be pretty

-Bring at least 300$ in US money, cash is best for everything

-You will get a take-home package of necessary drugs. You will have the option to buy more prescription drugs. The sleeping pills ROCKED; the antibiotics felt like lead in my new tiny stomach; after day 3 the pain pills weren’t necessary, B12 shots are bulky to pack and there was other stuff I don’t recall… I can’t make decisions for anyone but try not waste your money or addicted if you don’t need the stuff.

-getting the drain pulled out isn’t as bad as you think it’ll be. I watched my roomie get hers out first and was thoroughly freaked – the tubing looks so long! But in the end it didn’t hurt, it just felt odd. And I felt almost human again once I didn’t have the drain dangling from my gut. This will be done by the nurse on staff at the hotel right before you check out. Some people drain better than others, after I had the stitches taken out my Dr I discovered the wound was still oozing. No big deal, I had to go a few more days with gauze (and no showering). The oozing helped take some pressure off and I felt less tender.

-It seemed like the 5 incisions took forever to finally heal. I dropped some cash on an expensive anti-scar ointment called “Dermatix Ultra”… I’m still not 100% it’s making a difference. I kinda wish the hospital would do some research and sell us a proven product post-op.

-once home, I tired easy. If you have a strenuous job, expect to feel exhausted by mid-day. The lack of real food starts to catch up with you near the end of the clear liquids week. I felt weak. Things like Boost really helped me. In the puree phase, I couldn’t eat baby food or mashed up meats; not because my stomach was having a bad reaction, but because my mind couldn’t go there. GROSS!!! By the time I started introducing soft foods I was so happy to never have to drink Boost again.

-ACID REFLUX. I’ve never had any issues with food or indigestion pre-op. I was warned acid reflux might occur and it still I shocked me when it started happening to me. It started once I began introducing food instead of liquid. I had it all the time for a month straight, and it doesn’t seem to be triggered by anything in particular. Right now it’s been about 2.5 months post-op and I have good days and bad days with the Reflux. I sometimes take an over the counter anti-acid but I’m hoping it will go away in time (Praying actually). Two of my surgery friends haven’t had any issues and it sucks that I was unlucky.

-Your taste buds will change. I’m not sure of the science behind this but it’s a sure thing!!! Things I miss: wine (tastes bitter now), peanut butter (too salty now), bread (hard to digest), soda (just not worth the calories or the stomach expanding bubbles), salsa (irritates my acid reflux), battered-deep-fried foods (makes me nauseous and sweaty instantly), steak (I can only eat tiny amounts or I feel grossly full).

-Things I don’t miss: wanting to devour 3 chocolate bars a day; eating a whole bag of chips instead of a serving; my old grocery bills; paying 20$ for junk food at the movies; being a size 2X; constantly thinking about food; fearing the scale.

I started at 249 lbs and am now 209 lbs. That’s 40 lbs in about 3 months, without out any real effort. I have another 60 pounds till my target weight. I’ve had a few plateaus, even gained a pound back on indulgent long weekends but for the most part it’s a steady progress. I work out lightly now, to start toning. The first month was crazy, nearly a pound per day, now it’s about ½ -2 lbs per week, depending on how constipated I am – I’m still working on adding more roughage to my diet! A gradual weight loss is best for my skin to catch-up to my body. All in all, I’m happy about my experience and I would recommend it to anyone who is ready to fight their last battle with fat!

K

* This is an actual testimonial, however, your results may vary. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.

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    * The testimonials, statements, and opinions presented on our website are only applicable to the individuals depicted, and may not be representative of the experience of others. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.