Best thing I ever did for myself! *

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  • Name: Shirlie Sweet
  • Age: 66
  • Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
  • Surgery date: April 25th, 2016
  • Testimonial date: May 10th, 2016
  • Surgeon: Dr. Hernandez
My journey to getting a Gastric Sleeve began with dinner with an old friend who had Gastric Sleeve surgery two years previously in Tijuana with Dr. Almanza. I had already felt drawn to it, but I really picked her brain that night because it actually seemed that it was affordable. Her experience had been really positive and the next day I was on the computer on a 4 month long research project. I learned and read as much as I could and booked my surgery a month after my first log on to weightlossagents.com for 3 months in the future and continued researching, reading blogs, and learning about the procedure and life after surgery.
From the beginning, Weight Loss Agents has been easy to deal with and quick to respond to every inquiry. They were proactive about staying in touch with me and were right by my side (on the phone) during the tense travel day to Tijuana...which was very appreciated. Paying for the surgery was easily accomplished online. After I got home, I continued to have severe diarrhea and, since I suspected it was a reaction to the Cefalexin (antibiotic), I contacted them to ask if I should continue to take it. The responded by calling me back quickly, which I also appreciated greatly. They are always easy to contact.
From my arrival at the San Diego Airport, I was well looked after, and through the entire 5 days I was in Mexico. The Tijuana Bariatrics van picked us up at the airport and took us across the boarder to the hotel. The hotel was very nice, and the staff was friendly and accommodating. The hospital was likewise. The doctors and nurses were attentive and professional. The morning of surgery, we were taken by van to the hospital, which is right around the corner from the hotel. On my surgery day, there were 13 surgeries scheduled. Once at the hospital, we met with Dr. Almanza (who did all the talking - perhaps, the others didn't speak English), Dr. Hernandez, and another doctor, who I think was the anesthesiologist. Dr. Almanza is very charismatic and told us how the surgery and recovery would proceed and we had an opportunity to ask questions. Then we had blood drawn, had an EKG, were examined by the Cardiologist and weighed. Then you are taken to what will be your hospital room where you wait until it's your turn for surgery. This is where you will also return when you leave the Recovery to stay overnight. There are rooms with 4 or 5 beds and some with just 2 beds. Mine was a 2 bed room. Once in the hospital room, you change into a hospital gown, your legs are wrapped in compression bandages, and the IV is installed. For me, it was in the top of my hand, but I noticed others had it on the inside of their elbow. Obviously, it's based on where your best vein can be accessed.
Ok...so the actual surgery.... They come to get you from your hospital room when it's your turn. You walk down the hall with your IV in tow, to a room just off the OR where you lie on a hospital bed until they wheel the last patient out and on to the bed next to you...there's a curtin drawn between you. There, they put the little paper hat and paper shoes on you. The woman who had just had surgery before me was awake and talking (granted it wasn't making much sense) within 7 or 8 minutes. You are not "out" very long at all. Dr. Almanza said the surgery only takes 35 - 45 minutes. It's quick!! OK...so they take you back to the OR and you get on the table. You are completely awake. They give you one breath of what seems like just air and then change to another mask and say "breathe in" and that's it!! Lights out!! I was never quite clear on whether or not we were intubated. My throat was never sore after surgery like it usually is after you have been intubated during surgery, so I didn't think we were. But one of the "Surgery Sisters" (people who had their surgery the same day) who is a nurse said that we were intubated.....so I'm not really sure. But before you know it, you're back in the room off the OR and waking up. It's all super fast!! You now have 6 incisions in your abdomen. Only one is very big - about and inch and a half - has a drain coming out of it. The drain is a small rubber hose with a rubber bulb on the end and is the reservoir for the fluid that will drain from your incision.
So then you are taken back to your hospital room down the hall to spend the night. You are encouraged to get up and walk right away. The biggest issue, post surgery, is gas pain from the gas that was used in your abdomen during surgery. Walking helps with that. Plus it's just good to get up and get your blood circulating. But now you have company on your walk...your new best friend, your drain, plus you will be towing your IV stand!! All night long, your "sisters" are up and walking in the hall. I didn't sleep but a few minutes at a time that night. Between getting up to walk, other people getting up to walk, and just not being sleepy, I didn't get much sleep. Be sure to bring a book!! Morning comes, finally, and you change back in to your clothes and they take you back to your hotel room. People who came alone are paired up with a room mate. It was my observation that these room mates became very close. Don't be hesitant about coming alone. I made friends with a handful of the women who had their surgery that day - my Surgery Sisters - and we have stayed in touch after coming home. The friendship and support is a wonderful side benefit to this experience!!
You will now be at the hotel for the next 3 days. You will still have your IV. The nurses are stationed in the hotel...room 127 and you just call 127 on the phone if you need something. Often they're not there as they have a lot of patients to look after, but they will answer if they're there. They will come around to bring you juice, jello, and water, and popsicles, to change your bandages, and to check your IV fluid. There is also a doctor who checks on you once a day... Dr. Pompe, who is very nice and very professional, as are all the nurses. The restaurant in the hotel in super and if someone came with you, they can eat there. The food is good and they have a nice menu...and they have yummy chicken broth for the patients. It's nice to get out and go to the restaurant. You also will need to get out and walk around the hotel several times a day - just to keep moving. The TV in your hotel room is very nice, but there's only Spanish TV....of course - you're in Mexico!! As I said before - bring a book, for sure!! There is a park behind the hotel where we went to just sit on a bench and read under the big trees, for just a change of scenery. Some of the Surgery Sisters walked across the (very busy) street and down a bit to get Mani-Pedis and massages at a great price.
You will need to be sure to stay hydrated so you need to sip-sip-sip on water and juice all the time. The morning before you leave, you will all meet in the lobby and they will load you up in the van to take you to a Radiology Clinic for a leak test and Xray....which you will take home with you. This is actually your second leak test, as they tested your sleeve while you were still in surgery. I don't know how, since you were unconscious and unable to swallow, but that's what we were told. Then you go back to the hotel and the nurse comes around and changes your bandages again, removes your drain and that feels really weird - not really pain - just weird, and removes your IV port....hallelujah!! We got to go on a shopping trip in the van that afternoon. All the merchants in Tijuana accept American dollars...some take credit cards - but not all. Next morning, the van takes you back across the border (takes about an hour and a half because of traffic) and you're back at the San Diego Airport. I have to say, sitting in the airport and on the plane at this stage in your recovery is not the most comfortable thing in the world, but you do what you have to do!! Another piece of advice about your trip is....bring a lot of $1 bills for tips...for the van drivers, the hotel staff, and the people who have been cleaning your room.
I have only positive things to say about this experience, about Tijuana Bariatrics, Weight Loss Agents, HMN Hospital, and the hotel, Hacienda del Rio. I felt supported and cared for through the entire experience and Weight Loss Agents are still checking up on me. Today is my 2 week and one day Surgiversary and I have lost 10 pounds. Most of my "sisters" have lost 15+, but it's a very individual journey and I know it will come off. I know what it's like to be making this decision about whether or not to do this and then deciding where to have it done. I hope this helps you put your mind at ease about choosing the affordale option of having it done in Tijuana.

    * 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.