Since I had my first fill three weeks ago and not all that much has changed. I certainly don’t have the bottomless belly I had before my surgery but it’s not the tight tummy I’d been hoping for. As such I can eat most of the foods I could eat before the first fill…and a whole lot more.
So, I spoke to the lovely Nancy at Slimband on Tuesday and now I’ve got to play phone tag with the good people at Dr Bishop’s office to try to get myself a fill appointment (yay.). They certainly take their time getting back to me!
BUT I won’t have to wait much longer because apparently there’s going to be a Slimband fill nurse here in Ottawa very shortly…um, yay? I’m not entirely sure how I feel about this.
One the one hand I’m pleased as punch I won’t have to set up camp outside Dr Bishop’s office to get an appointment.
On the other hand, Dr Bishop provides A LOT of information on nutrition, diet and exercise that the fill nurse may or may not and this is of significant concern to me.
See, if I was going into the Slimband clinic, I’d schedule appointments to see everyone I need to each time I went in. I may not meet with Dr Yau each and every time but I would invariably chat with Arlene (Slimband’s resident dietician) and Niki (my consultant) to ensure I’m taking advantage of the nutrition and counseling Slimband has to offer.
On that note, I do have to say that since my last fill, I haven’t heard a peep from anyone at Slimband except Niki and that was a personal email. No email or fill follow-up call whatsoever. I had to call them to tell them I could pretty much eat a whole bucket of popcorn if I so desired. So, they could do with a little work on their CRM strategy and processes. But I’ve said that before…
Anyway, I’m looking forward to meeting with Dr Bishop one last time. I just need to get them to answer the effing phone once in a while! And it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the new fill nurse. She’s in training now apparently but I’m sure she’ll knock our Ottawa Slimbandster socks off!
So, my gastric band surgery went well. All things considered the whole process was pretty fantastic. I arrived at Slimband promptly at 2pm and was outta there by 6:30pm that evening. It was pretty amazing and an incredibly smooth process.
Shortly after I arrived at the incredibly posh Yorkville Prince Arthur Clinic that houses Slimband, I met my consultant Niki very briefly. She helped me through this process from the beginning so it was great to meet her in the flesh. She’s had this surgery before and it was pretty amazing to see how great she looked.
Then a lovely woman named Michelle took some pictures to go in my Slimband folder and mark this very special occasion. I opted for the clothes-on option instead of the top-off Biggest-Loser-style pics. I thought it was best for all of us.
When it was time to prep for surgery a nurse (the lovely Stephanie) came and took me inside to check my stats and to brief me about the process of the day. I met my anesthesiologist (Dr ….) and Dr Yau came to say hello and impart some of his wisdom upon me. After having completed 3500+ gastric band surgeries he’s certainly got information I want to hear!
He told me about the surgery and mentioned the possibility of having to repair a hiatus hernia. Apparently this is quite common for patients that suffer from GERD. It is often what makes GERD symptoms so severe in some patients. Having suffered from some pretty painful heartburn for most of my adult life, I had to wonder why previous doctors had never considered this before.
After our chat I was lead into the operating theatre where I hopped up on a pretty squishy table, got comfortable (they put massagers on my legs to help with circulation), Dr…got my IV in one try and he knocked me out. I’ve never been unconscious before so it was a pretty cool experience to be awake one minute then asleep the next.
I woke up in the recovery room and felt pretty good. Coming out of the anesthetic was such a nice feeling! It was kind of euphoric. I didn’t really feel much pain, just a bit of stiffness all over. Dr Yau was there and explained that I did indeed have a “medium sized hiatus hernia” and he’d repaired it. I was barely conscious but I was definitely grateful!
My recovery nurse was one of the sweetest nurses ever. I don’t remember her name but she was from Argentina and was just lovely. She stayed with me from the time I came out until the time I was allowed to leave about 1.5 hours after the surgery was over. She helped me right out to the car.
The whole process took about 4.5 hours but the surgery itself only took about 20-30 mins. Amazing what can be accomplished in that short timespan!
I felt okay for most of the evening. I still wasn’t allowed to eat but I could drink lots of water so I did. I’d been warned of ‘gas pain’ in my chest, neck and shoulders from the gas they used to fill up my abdominal cavity. I’d started to feel it a bit so had a demerol and enjoyed that for a couple hours before hitting the hay.
Had a rough first night. Woke up half way through in quite a bit of pain in my neck and abdomen and needed help to get up to take more drugs. Had a few tears from pain and frustration. Wasn’t pretty but I survived through the rest of the night.
I’m only allowed clear liquids like herbal tea, apple, grape or cranberry juice and any clear broths for the next 5 days. I’m still pretty weak from the pre-op diet and the surgery so I’m also drinking Pediatric Electrolyte to get my electrolytes up. I was ready to eat just about anything that would fit in my stomach when we travelled back to Ottawa Mom got me some Tim Horton’s chicken soup broth and it never tasted so good!
I took some more drugs and slept a little on the drive back to O-Town. Been resting in bed with a movie for the evening with the occasional Slow Melt Mighty Mini Popsicle. And here I am. Only had medium level gas pain so far.
When I met Dr Yau he spoke about the importance of having a strong support system of family, friends and fellow bandsters. Well, I certainly have that taken care of! I’ve had so many well wishes I’ve lost count (thanks guys!), I’ve got a fellow bandster in the family and I’m already a member of some super helpful forums, so I think I’m on the right track!
He also mentioned one thing that really struck a nerve with me. He said its important to realise that there are two organs involved with this procedure: the brain and the stomach. I think it’s crucial to one’s success to be aware of this when considering gastric band surgery because, as I said, it’s not a cure-all. It’s just another tool to help me along the way. I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get me where I want to be but I’ve got a pretty amazing support system so I’m sure it’ll be great!
Well, today’s the day. I’m leaving in approximately 10 minutes for the 4.5 hour drive to TO. I’m really a bit overwhelmed with it all and am struggling to feel anything. I’ve got a twirling feeling in the pit of my stomach but I’m not entirely sure if that’s my concern of starvation due to my prohibition from food or drink (not even water) for the entire day. I’m certainly hungry but it’s the no drinking that really concerns me…well, not really. It’s not like I’ve got nothing for my body to live on!
The really shocking thing about this whole process so far is I’ve actually lost a whopping 7 lbs on the pre-op diet.
I feel a bit like a contestant on The Biggest Loser. It’s funny because most of the images I found whilst Googling “no food or drink” had images of burgers and fries in them. Not only am I not allowed to have those TODAY, I won’t be able to even consider eating them for about 3 months. Shock, horror!!
I guess what surprises me most about the image is that burgers and fries are such a part of North American culture that a strike through them both is the clearest way to tell our people not to eat something. It’s like they’re the most recognizable food in our culture. Things that make you go hmm, eh?
Okay, so I spoke with Niki and all my questions have been put to rest.
I’ve been told that ‘Tara’ the girl I spoke to at the first stage of the process no longer works at Slimband. Thank goodness! It certainly doesn’t help their image any to have people like that on the other end! But it also confirms my suspicions that the Slimband team keeps their eyes on the prize and watch these forums for any problems with current and potential clients. So keep that in mind when you’re posting!
I’ve also been made aware of a few internal changes happing with Slimband in terms of their information packages and the schedule for receiving this information. Apparently, I will receive one binder by FedEx before surgery and one binder with post-op info after surgery. That’s great news!!
Finally, Niki also said she would do her best to make sure Dr Yau is there for me on Friday. That being said, I’m not sure how that can be guaranteed but I’m taking her word for it and I’m confident in her so I think it will be fine.
One thing I’d also like to add is that Niki is a fountain of information. And like most consultants she prefers to express herself over the phone. And she’s great at it! As soon as I spoke to her I had all the answers I needed and I felt pretty relieved. She comes across as a VERY warm person and even did so under the pressure of my big mouth so kudos to her for that.
I guess this is a lesson for me in patience. I’m super excited about my surgery on Friday and can’t wait to meet the team.
Wangpangtang, I would recommend you do go with Slimband but only if it works for you. Do your own research (as it appears you are right now) and I’m sure you’ll find the best solution for you. That being said, you’re almost always going to find someone who isn’t happy with the clinic you’re considering. Don’t let that stop you from considering them because perhaps that person just didn’t have a Niki. And perhaps that person doesn’t post the good stuff as well as the bad, like me. Most people don’t.
Good luck with your journey! And I hope things work out. Feel free to PM me if you’d like more updates on my progress.
I never did receive the ‘pre-op binder’ they mentioned…
Heard back from Niki at Slimband today (via email) with some answers to my questions. Very polite and cheerful as per most of her messages. I’ve been told that two surgeons work on the day that I’m having my surgery and that she’ll make a note that I prefer Dr Yau. This surprises me…shouldn’t I simply be given the surgeon I request if he is available and willing to do it??
Strange…I think I’ve got some more paperwork to hand in. I’ve just been asked by email to give Niki a call back. Will keep you posted!
Thanks to everyone for the support so far! 😮 And I hope this gives you some answers wangpangtang!
I’ve been using LapBandTalk.com as a resource for gathering information on LAP-BAND® surgery. A member of the forum asked for information on Slimband in Toronto. Since this is the clinic I’ve been dealing with, I wanted to add my post to this blog.
This is my reply to wanpangtang’s query:
I’m in the process of booking my surgery with Slimband right now.My surgery is scheduled for April 16th and I’m really looking forward to it. So far my experience has been a bit of a roller coaster. It went like this:
1. First point of contact was with someone called Tara (I think). I’m not entirely sure what her name was but I’ll tell you now she was super pushy and VERY rude to me. I was debating between having my surgery in the UK (where I’d been living for the last 7 years) and having it done in Canada. She was so rude to me about choosing some ‘foreign’ doctor to do my surgery and tried to scare me into believing that NO canadian doctor would take care of me after I’d had surgery abroad. I explained to her that I already had a doctor lined up as a family member had their LAP-BAND® done abroad in January. She still didn’t believe me. She told me she’d never heard of any doctor willing to clean up some other doctor’s mess. VERY rude, very pushy and a complete liar. I was not impressed. BUT I wanted to know the cost and she wouldn’t tell me so I asked to speak to a ‘consultant’.
2. I spoke with a consultant called Niki. She’s actually the woman from the TV ads and on the website. She was completely different to my first point of contact. She was pleasant and listened to all of my questions and answered them to my satisfaction. She explained that even though I’m based in Ottawa, they have ‘outreach programs’ and a doctor in Ottawa that does fills/defills for Slimband. Well, it seems it’s the same doctor I was going to go to when I was thinking of getting my surgery in the UK. Anyway, Niki gave me plenty of information and helped me through the application process. That being said, when there was a delay with a fax I should have sent the sales person pressure came out of Niki as well. She pulled out classic sales tactics 101 and tried threats, fear, implying she did me a favour, and strict deadlines. I ended up sending her the information she was after and literally haven’t heard from her since.
3. Now, the thing that’s weird for me is that throughout Niki’s sales pitch I was told that Dr Patrick Yau had completed over 3500 surgeries and that the rest of the staff had completed nearly another 1500. I made it clear from the start that if I was going to go with Slimband I wanted Dr Yau. I’ve tried on multiple occasions to get confirmation that Dr Yau will be performing my surgery and even suggested that if he’s not available I’m prepared to wait and all communication has gone cold. No response.
4. I received the ‘services agreement’ and in the agreement it says that any member of their surgical staff that they deem suitable may perform my surgery. I wasn’t told THAT during the whole sales pitch!
5. The services agreement also outlines an ‘explanatory binder’ and a ‘surgery DVD’ that I should receive but I haven’t yet and when I’ve asked about it twice none of the contacts have provided an explanation.
6. I tried to join Myslimband.com and post questions and comments but for some reason I can’t post anywhere. I sent a message to Amy the administrator a couple of days ago and haven’t heard anything back. It seems pretty silly to me to have a ‘forum’ when only SOME people are allowed to be involved in the discussion.
So, here I am living in Ottawa awaiting a surgery from a COMPANY I’m not entirely sure I want to work with. All of their staff have told me to email them with questions or concerns and their website promotes their ‘support’ for their clients but since I’ve signed the $16,000 away, I haven’t really had ANY real answers to my questions.
I’m trying to be balanced here so I will say that I’ve had my blood work done and it has Dr Yau’s name on it but I wonder if any other Slimband patients have had his name on their forms and had their surgery done by another doctor. I’ve also got the pre-op diet information sheet which is easy to understand and follow. I’ve started today but I’ve got some questions and since non of the Slimband staff are replying to my emails and I don’t have any permissions in the Slimband forum I came here.
Not only am I nervous about this life-changing surgery and the $16,000 debt I’ve just agreed to I’m totally confused because I’ve got plenty more questions AND I don’t even know who my surgeon is going to be.
I’ve found some answers here so this forum has been a pretty big help. Keep looking around and you’ll find more answers yourself.
I don’t mean for this to discourage you or anyone else considering Slimband because when the contact silence finally ends I’m sure I’ll end up happier but I guess I just feel a bit trapped now when I should be feeling anticipation and some relief for the life change ahead of me.
Since I’m going to be writing a lot about my journey I thought I’d give a bit more detail about what kind of weight-loss surgery (WLS) I’m doing, exactly. There are two major types of WLS for one to choose from: Gastric Bypass and Gastric Banding (or LAP-BAND®). I’ve opted for Gastric Band surgery.
WLS has been popularized in recent years by celebrities such as Carnie Wilson. She had the more invasive gastric bypass surgery back in 1999, which complete rearranged her gastrointestinal tract. There are a number of pros and cons for each surgical path but I’ve opted for the less invasive (and completely reversible) gastric band.
Gastric banding surgery is done laproscopically and the entire surgery takes a little over an hour. The picture above provides a very clear illustration of what my stomach will look like internally after the surgery is completed. The port will be hidden under the skin and a doctor will use this as the entry point to fill and de-fill the hallow band around my stomach to increase or decrease the restriction on my stomach.
What this means is I’ll no longer be able to overeat for fear of choking or being physically sick. It doesn’t affect my digestion or the absorption of nutrients in my body, it simply restricts the amount of food I can eat in one sitting. Since it’s adjustable I have control of how restricted my eating will be. It’s also possible to remove the band entirely without any permanent damage to my stomach.
Although typically bandsters (those who’ve had the surgery) lose an average of 1-2 lbs per week, it’s by no means an EASY solution to weight loss. My diet will definitely change as there are a number of things bandsters physically can’t eat at first. But once I get used to eating with the band in place, I should be able to eat most foods again.
So, I’m still going to have to focus on a eating healthy diet for the rest of my life like I would if I didn’t have WLS. The surgery is just going to FORCE me to do it.
I did a lot of research on WLS to arrive at my decision. I checked all over Canada and the UK and even considered Mexico at one point (my uncle had his done there in January 2010). But when I spoke to the good people (thanks Niki!) at Slimband I was sure their program was exactly what I was looking for. Slimband offers not only offers a highly skilled surgical team (Dr Patrick Yau is doing mine), they offer an intensive 4-year aftercare program to help their patients along their journey.