Not an easy journey, but well worth it... *

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  • Name: Kristina Sosne
  • Age: 40
  • Surgery: Gastric Sleeve
  • Surgery date: March 18th, 2013
  • Testimonial date: November 28th, 2014
  • Surgeon: Dr. Almanza
It was a long road to get here but it was the only option I could live with. I could go into all kinds of details about the hardships and roadblocks on the way, but I'm guessing you are here because you want to read about my actual surgery experience and how I did afterwards, so I'll start with arrival in San Diego. It was fairly hot and we were being picked up along with several others who were having surgery the same day. We waited for a little while outside the terminal and were all picked up together and taken to the Hotel to begin our journey. The hotel was very nice, as was every single person we dealt with. There was pre-op testing and we were given a chance to ask questions and they made sure we were all ready. I was scared out of my mind, but everyone was so nice and I knew I had to go through with it if I wanted to live to see my kids grow up.

The van picked us up from the hotel the following day and took us to the clinic/hospital. This place was so tiny and at first I had nightmares of 'back alley' surgical procedures and I was scared. But I had done my research and knew that I was in good hands. So I sucked it up and changed for surgery, got my IV, and headed up to the waiting room. This is when I met Dr. Almanza for the first time. He came in, explained the surgery to us again and made sure we were well informed, and gave us a chance to ask anymore questions. I was the last to be taken down and I had to fight the urge to run! The nurses in the OR asked how I was and when I said I was terrified I was given something in my IV and the next thing I remembered was waking up and being told I was done! I wasn't in pain, which surprised me, but I did feel uncomfortable. Kinda had the feeling like there was trapped air and I needed to burp but couldn't. I was taken to a room and told that I should attempt to walk as much as possible, which I did and to my surprise, I could!

Now let me tell you something that I really hope you pay attention to. I was instructed to follow a strict pre-op diet for several weeks. I struggled with it, it was extremely hard! I cheated early in the diet...but then read another story about a someone who went down to get her surgery, was opened up, and couldn't get her surgery because her liver was too enlarged. The fear of that happening to me is what kept me on that diet from then until my surgery. And I am very glad I did. I didn't throw up once, but all of the others who did not stick to their pre-op diets, were very sick after their surgeries! They threw up and were feeling miserable. Trust me...stick to the diet! You will be so glad you did.

I was moved to another room in a nearby building after a short recovery period and that is where I spent that first night. The room was not great and the bed way too uncomfortable to sleep in. There was a reclining chair that I slept in instead. The nurse was great about giving me pain medication when I asked but it really only took the edge off. I wanted more pain relief, but I wasn't miserable. If I had been hurting more, I would have demanded someone give me more, but I was tolerating it. The most annoying part of the whole thing was the drain. Having a tube sticking out of my abdomen was pretty freaky. As was the IV tube in my hand. I cannot stand IV's and they tend to bother me more than most people. But by alternating cold and hot packs I got through it.

The next few days of being shuffled back and forth from the hotel to various places to receive IV's and testing and such wasn't fun, but it wasn't horrible and it was nice to be able to talk to others who had just gone through the same thing. Having to drink the gross stuff for the imaging test was the worst. And they don't tell you that there is another shot of bitter liquid they make you drink immediately before the scan. I suggest asking about flavor or sucking on a mint or something to get rid of the taste. But the good thing about that is right after the scan you get to go have the drain and IV removed. That felt really weird, but not necessarily painful. It was over fast and what a relief to have no more things sticking out!

They kept asking me for a testimonial, but I wasn't ready to give one. I wouldn't tell anyone my story until I was good and ready. So this testimonial comes with a lot more after detail than a lot of the others.

The plane ride home wasn't comfortable, even though I managed to get an upgrade to 1st class for more room. I should have been a little more careful even though I was feeling ok because as I walked out of the terminal I began feeling some sharp pain and looked down to see blood soaking through my 3 layers of clothes. I began to panic and there was a nice man who helped me and called paramedics. They took me to a nearby hospital where I was checked out and given more (much better) pain medication. They determined that it was likely just the up and down of being on a plane that possibly created a pocket a fluid, but everything else looked good. And while you get all kinds of disapproving looks from people when you say you went to Mexico to have surgery, I had a nurse who had been through it and offered nothing but encouragement.

The next few weeks were not easy. My incisions seemed to take forever to heal and I was getting tired of the constant 'burpy' feeling. I was amazed at the things others were attempting to eat so shortly after the surgery. I was tired of the post op diet, but too scared to try other things. It took quite a few months before I started feeling normal again. And longer before I could eat 'normally' again. Or rather, my new normal. I was also depressed because I wasn't losing weight as fast as everyone else. I seemed to hit a stall that lasted a couple of months. I was angry because I didn't go through all of that to not lose weight! And since I was bigger (nearly 300 lbs) I thought I was supposed to lose weight faster at first like I had read in other experiences. But once I stopped dwelling so much on it, I did begin to lose. Sometimes painfully slow (1-2 lbs a month) sometimes fast where I would lose a pound a day for awhile. Pre-op weight was around 270. Today, 20 months later, I weigh 188. My highest weight was 310 but I lost about 30 lbs before my pre-op diet, which I believe was only due to my blood sugar being so high. Not a good way to lose weight!

I am learning to associate what I eat with how much I am losing and feel pretty good. I may not be losing as fast as a lot of others, but that may be a good thing as it is giving my skin a chance to shrink back so that I hopefully won't have as much loose skin as tends to happen with rapid weight loss. I only rarely feel sick to my stomach if I eat a little too much or a food that doesn't sit well. Rice and pastas are a little hard to digest so I eat a very small amount of them. Too much liquid feels a little uncomfortable as does food that is too dry. But overall, I am very happy with the surgery. I am confident that I will lose enough weight to be happy and a lot healthier. I am not sure if I will have any more surgery to tighten up loose skin or not. It all depends on how I feel in my body. But I can tell you that nothing feels as good as hitting 199 when you've been 2XX for so long. And buying new clothes in REGULAR stores and buckling your seatbelt on an airplane without an extender! And the look on people's faces when they haven't seen you for awhile and say how good you look. Finding some new wrinkles on your face as the fat melts out of it can be a little surprising, but I will gladly trade a wrinkle or two for 100 lbs of fat!

Do you research, I definitely would not do this surgery if I had less than 50 lbs to lose. And I do wish that I had taken some stronger pain medication with me as they don't give you narcotic medication in Mexico (though I hear you can buy it at their pharmacies there, but I did not feel like going anywhere!) Chewing gum and hard candy help with mouth dryness. And follow your doctors directions!
    * This is an actual testimonial, however, your results may vary. For more information, please read our Testimonial Disclaimer and Risks of Surgery.

    Response: Thank you for your fantastic testimonial, Kristina. We would like you and the readers to know that we have since moved to a larger and more accommodating hospital than the one where Dr. Almanza performed your sleeve back in early 2013.

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    The time to regain your health is now! Shed those extra pounds and don't be camera-shy any longer. No more people simply saying "you have such a nice face". It has worked for thousands of patients of ours. Sounds good? Give us a chance to earn your trust and help you regain your health. We're excited about the opportunity to be part of your journey to health, and we're looking forward to speaking with you and helping you soon. Please note that results may vary and surgery involves risks.

      * 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.