Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Some unexpected costs...

When planning surgery abroad, directly with the hospital, one must remember that when you ask for the cost of the surgery, this is the price you will be given.

It does NOT include the costs of tests needed prior to the operation.

Yesterday I received an email with a request for a Gastroscopy to check everything was ok down my throat and to the point of my band. This needed to be completed before the operation.

As I only have 13 days until I travel to Brugge, I was suddenly sent into a blind panic!

I phoned about 7 or 8 hospitals and hospital access groups to find someone who could do a consultation (why?!) and then do the test. The worst part was not that most of them couldn't fit me in, but that the cost was between £1400 and £1800 ARGHHH!!!

I did manage to find one consultant that would see me, and I booked to have the consultation on Friday (3 days time) and the procedure on the following Tuesday. However, that was before I asked myself the question of whether I could actually get this all done in Belgium too.

I phoned Dr. Dillemans secretary this morning and asked her. The reason she didn't suggest coming all the way to Belgium for the test was that she didn't want to put me out. She thought it would be easier to have it in England. NO WAY!! So I booked it. I'm having the scope on Monday 29th August in Brugge! This happens to be a public holiday in the UK, so my hubbie can come too.

I've just booked the Eurotunnel - £190 as it is a bank holiday Monday - and the procedure itself costs 300 euro.

I mean WHAAAAAAAAT!!!!! That's £250! What the hell is England playing at man?

I can go to Belgium in my car, get it done and be home the same day, including a nice day trip out with my hubby as it's our anniversary too, for less that £500!!! That's a huge amount of difference.

So sod paying through the nose here.

Total surgery costs are below for those interested in getting a Band revision to a RNY Bypass in the leading European Obesity Centre in Brugge, Belgium:

Surgery:              7750 euro
Gastroscopie:        300 euro
Barium Swallow:  150 euro
Bloods:                  100 euro
ECG:                     100 euro

Total 8400 euro - £7220 - $9500

If you pay in cash, you get a 4% discount. So I'm going to do that.

So beware the little extras, as these are not quoted when you ask how much it costs to do a band to bypass revision.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

I've got my Euros! €7750 of them!

So glad I have a safe!

Today I got my €uros as I have to pay up in cash when I arrive in Belgium. My original Lap Band surgery cost far less, but times have marched on. If I had changed my £ to € about 2 weeks ago, I would have about £500 extra in my pocket but the ridiculous government reduced the interest rate to 1/4 f a percent and the pound against the Euro took a nosedive. GRRRRRRR Just ridiculous.

I can't take any more chances that it will drop further, as its basically gambling with a lot of money, so I changed it up today.

Not long now!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Planning, waiting and preparing to not be a pussy!

So, 5 weeks today!

To say I'm scared is an understatement. I just keep thinking of the things that could go wrong. Even though I know that the vast majority of these things go to plan without a hitch, I'm worrying from the smallest of wrong things to the big.

Heres my list of worries:

1.) I get to Belgium, have my barium swallow (freaked about the too, as never had one!) and they see that there is a big leak or something and I will have to wait to have my bypass.

2.) I get into surgery and THEN they find I can't have it and I wake up bandless but not bypassed

3.) I get a bleed from the surgery

4.) I get a clot

5.) I get both of these, or a big leak and it all comes undone and I end up filling my body cavity with protein shakes or some horror

6.) I get the scar tissue thing where they have to give you a scope and insert a balloon to dilate the stoma where your tubes are bypassed because you can't eat or drink.

7.) I have to have No.6.  loads of times like Kacy Quinn! (Youtube!)

8.) I suffer horrific internal bleeding like another YouTuber had from an ulcer or similar.

9.) I die in pain.


Yes, the whole thing not working is worse than death!!!

So this is my list. I am actually going to ask all of these questions to my surgeon as I am worried also about the money aspect. I mean, if something goes wrong and I'm in hospital for weeks… who pays?

I'm guessing that this is factored into the fees… sort of like an insurance? Those that have no issue basically pay for those that do… that kind of thing maybe? Maybe the surgery itself is really like £5000 but £1500 of it covers any serious issues. That then builds up so even though someone hasn't paid any extra, they will be covered. I dunno I'm just rambling.

But anyway, that's my current worry focus. So, to try and get away from it, and give myself the best fighting chance, I'm just making plans. I've got my vitamins to start taking in about 2 weeks time, which will then be about 3 weeks before the surgery rather than the suggested 2.

Here's what I have so far:

The first one, Hair Skin and Nails, contains a lot of vitamins useful for building and repairing our skin. So this will be good for getting my body ready to help heal itself. I thought that was a nifty idea ;-)

The Vitamin C I have bought as melons. There has been a lot of studies conducted which suggest that those taking vitamin C after surgery heal quicker and have less side effects like by HALF!  As I won't be able to swallow pills, I bought the melt variety. You can read about it here: Vitamin C. These will be great as I can take them immediately after surgery.

Now the other ones… Grapeseed Extract and Bromelian. There is a herbal tablet about called InflammEnz. Trials suggest that people taking it heal 17% faster than those that don't, although I am always dubious with such things ( even though that's taken from WebMD). I'm guessing it can't hurt! It contains 7 different vitamins and enzymes and the following:

Vitamin C
Grapeseed Extract

Infammenz is expensive though and, to be honest, looks a bit of a quack item. Packaging is proper crappy and it just looks whack. So I am going to be taking the main ingredients from it separately and at a fraction of the cost. As I'm getting ready little by little, Rutin (a bio flavonoid) is still to be purchased. A job for today!

Also, after surgery I am not eating to be throwing hundreds of pills down my throat, and whilst I was browsing in Holland and Barrett health food store, I came across this:

I can literally pump 4 squirts of this on my tongue and thats my full compliment of vitamins for the day! No water, no swallowing. Fabulous. It was also only £10 for 40 days!

So I'm doing all I can to be ready, and hopefully be in the best place to help myself heal.

On another positive note, I have had NO PORT PAIN for about a week. That means I haven't had to take tramadol, and haven't been itching myself to death either. Phew!! I have Co-Amoxiclav antibiotics real to go just incase it flares up again, but as we speak… all good. :)

Friday, 22 July 2016

Waste of time. Plan A it is!

I went to my appointment today at a big Cambridge Hospital regarding my port pain.

I have been waiting to see the chap there (Mr. H) for about 2 months, so I wasn't going to cancel even though I have already booked my bypass surgery. Which I didn't tell him about either ;)

I arrived, a nurse checked my weight and height and then I sat with about 35 other people in a swelteringly hot room with all the windows shut slowly wilting. Thankfully it was only about 45 minutes that I had to wait.

Yet another nurse took me through to the consultation room and I sat there and waited some more.

Mr H. came through and asked me why I was there (!!) so I briefly told him: Lap band 10 years ago, which was then replaced some time later as it had burst, Huntingdon hospital didn't pick that up so I had had a lot of pain for months on end etc… Then I explained that in late February '16 I felt very bad pain in my port area similar to when my band broke before, which grew and grew and on 17th March I went to A&E as I thought there was something seriously wrong. They couldn't see anything, so sent me home with codeine. Then I was referred for CT scan because I was still in pain and now having to take tramadol regularly, which I had on 17th May. Apparently there was also nothing untoward in that regard either (except for my clips had come off from where I was sterilised 15 years ago arghhh!!!!)

I showed him the progressive photos of the bruise/bleed that appeared under my scar and got gradually bigger 2 weeks ago, but has since faded. I also showed him shots of the bruise by my tummy button.

Now remember today is 22nd July 2016, and the pain began suddenly exactly 5 months ago on the 22nd February. The bruising happened only 2 weeks ago.

He then felt the port a little for about 10 seconds and said I "probably" had a low grade infection, and would need antibiotics.

5 months to get antibiotics??? For God's sake!

Anyway, I said that actually I was very worried that as the pain was so sharp maybe it had flipped? and he said, "Weeeeell…. without referring you to X-ray to see the alignment bla bla…" In my mind then that's what you should flaming well do isn't it? But anyway, I then mentioned that I knew that if the band has eroded through the stomach wall it can cause a latent infection in the port site, but he was super vague and I got nothing apart from "It's a low grade infection… take antibiotics… it will come back… if its repeatedly getting infected then the system needs to be removed… more vague stuff, more vague stuff..."

No shit sherlock. Of course the damn thing needs to be removed!

The icing on the cake was when I said that if that was indeed the case, and the infection will keep coming back, then its horrible to just be constantly in pain for months on end and he said "Well there's nothing we can really do about that."

Wow. Cheers mate. All those years of training and this is all you can come up with.

So, after £7 bus fare and 3 hours of my life I'll never get back, he is writing a letter to my GP saying that I have some antibiotics immediately, and referring me to a level 3 obesity team.

Now, lets be clear, I understand that level 1 is like "If you eat less and move more you will get thin". Level 2 is a bit more advanced and gives you suggestions like "Did you know lettuce is good and donuts are bad?" and possibly someone looking down their nose at you and tutting in the hope you are shamed into losing weight. Level 3 seems to be the one where you get help after bands or bypass, or access to those treatments, but basically he is referring me to them so that if the infections keep coming back I will have it removed.

Going by previous encounters with these so called urgent referrals, I should get an appointment to see how the antibiotics are doing around the same time as I get back from my surgery in Brugge!!!!!!

Then I can just tell them to shove their crap care and pass the patient parcel game up their supposedly educated arses.

On a brighter note, I found my Hospital Card for AZ St. Jan Hospital, so that should save me some time and effort on the other side!

Monday, 18 July 2016

Pondering portions

Pondering what a meal will be like after bypass.

Last night we had bbq steak, jacket potato with sour cream and cajun green beans.

Now, considering I still have a lap band, I was able to eat most of this. But, here's what I left of the meal:

Then, it crossed my mind that this little bit in the centre might be the actual size of a 'big' meal post bypass (obviously a long way past bypass, but still). Just struck me that my leftovers, would kind of be my meals in the future! Ha! Love it!

Saturday, 16 July 2016

T minus 52 days!

Its booked. 7th September is the day I have my conversion to Gastric Bypass.

I'm travelling to Brugge on 5th September with my Mum and Dad. I was going to just go with my Mum but she will be alone in a city for 2-3 days and although I'm sure she will be fine, I don't want to be worrying that she's lost in Belgium on her own!

So my dear old Dad is coming too. We've booked a 2 bedroom apartment which should be lovely. It's in the centre of Brugge so they can go off mooching for the day. It's close enough to the hospital that I can probably walk there for my pre op tests, and a Taxi back from the hospital isn't going to cost the earth either.

I am debating on taking the ferry or the tunnel. I think the ferry will be the cheapest, but it also takes loads of time too. like 2 & 1/2 hours :(

But I think that's easiest.

My parents live about 130 miles away away from us, and in the opposite direction from the port of Dover. because of this I am debating on collecting my parents from their home and then dropping them off afterwards, or whether my hubby and I will meet them half way, and then he can just drive home with their car and do the same on return.

Hmmm decisions decisions.


If I went directly to Dover from my house it would take about 2 and a half hours.

If my Mum and Dad went directly to Dover from their house it would take about 2 hours.

If I drive to man mum and Dad's house it would take about 2 and a half hours…

Adding this data together it means that I would have to drive for about 4 and a half hours each way.

Meeting definitely seems the best option then doesn't.

Cool. I'm glad we had this chat!! Now I have to convince them that this is indeed the best plan.

Thursday, 14 July 2016

A new expedition?

Dear friends, you've listened to me whinge and whine about the band for the last 10 years, but me and the old goat are about to part. It's the last couple of weeks that I can whinge about it ever again.

Albert Ladysmith Steptoe, as I like to call my band, has been a pain in the backside (well stomach) for pretty much all of that time, and now it's had its last laugh.

For the last couple of months I have had excruciating pain in my port area. It started suddenly, and was a stabbing, continuous knife twisting pain.

As I'm sure you remember. I had that kind of pain back in May 2007 when my original band burst and the tubing whipped through my body cavity causing me endless distress and a new surgery 6 months later when I found out!

Because of this experience, I went to the hospital. I didn't mince my words, I made darn sure that I said I wanted to see the X-Ray after it had come through! When my original band burst, and the tubing flew off of my port, I went to hospital. They did an X-ray, CT scan and an ultrasound. I stayed in hospital for 3 days and even heard the nurse at a night changeover suggest "She's either in a lot of pain, or she's a very good actress" which I thought was a bit of a cheek! I was released after they checked all of those things as apparently there was nothing wrong with me... Possibly some IBS, maybe passed a kidney stone, maybe a little diverticulitis... But basically I was good to go.


The moronic doctors, radiologists and consultants had missed that there was a massive piece of tube lying in my guts all the way down to my pelvis, a disconnected port for no good reason and a load of shrapnel from the exploded buckle! For god's sake!!

Because of that I spent the next 6 months getting pointless fills, being told I would lose weight, being hungry, getting bigger, having serious pain whenever I bent over, cancelling work right left and centre etc etc until I went back to Belgium to see what the hell was going on,  just because they didn't spot that there was something wrong.

So, this time I was going to see those X-Ray's!

Everything was connected. The port looked fine and they didn't know what was up with me. I was booked for a CT scan, which I had on 17th May (yes, even the same timing as my original band break!!) and that showed up nothing untoward apparently... Except the clips on my Fallopian tubes from where I had been sterilised in 2001 had come off though 😳😳😳😳😳 Somewhat concerning! DH has still managed to glide over the fact we are getting him sorted as I'm not having a baby now with a 18 year age gap between his/her brother! And I like my sleep 😂

So I now have a port that's mega painful, occasionally massively bruises up under my old surgery scar, occasionally bruises near my belly button - those deep red bruises of a bleed not just a bump.
Old Gastric Band port scar
Strange bleed near my tummy button

I'm seeing a consultant about it on 22nd July. He's an NHS chap who deals with people who've had previous elective gastric surgery privately, or surgery abroad, and hopefully he can shed some light on it.

I have read a little here and there, as one does, and it's going to be bad whatever happens. The band will have to be removed, I'm dead sure. And the NHS won't give me a new one, or a bypass at the same time.

Either my port has flipped over or herniated causing the trauma locally, or the more likely story is that my band has eroded through my stomach wall. The band travelling through the stomach wall is pretty common, and is not as horrendous a problem as it seems per se.... But the buckle on the band is an issue. This lovely situation means that bugs from the guts travel down the tubing at the point of least resistance, and infect the port site. Pain at the port, swelling and stuff like that are oftentimes the only symptom.

I can no longer actually feel my port. It's all lumps and bumps and is too painful to feel naturally. I have braved the pain for a bit and had a dig about but I can't find it. I'm hoping that this means it's just a flip, but I always fear the worst, as with this little bit of silicone, it's always been the worst.

At any rate. The band is coming out. I have contacted Dr. Dillemans in Brugge and have made arrangements for him to remove it and convert me to a bypass. Surgery is likely to take place at the beginning of August nicely timed to coincide with the school holidays!

There I've said it, written it and now it's going to come true. Bypass me baby!