I am fat. I have made no secret about that. In looking back through childhood photos I am normal sized until about age 9. I started puberty about that time, and my weight started creeping up ever so slightly. When I was 11 years old I stood 5’1” and weighed 100 pounds; I wore a size 9 or 11 in the Junior’s department. By high school I was 145 pounds, a perfect size 14, and shaped like an hourglass. Through years of depression, working night shift, poor eating habits, and two pregnancies I top the scales somewhere between, “Oh my God!” and “Get the fuck off me!” My grown-up height is an average 5’5”, and my weight is about 280. I am a size 24. I have dieted, fasted, juiced, exercised, self-loathed, walked, jazzercised, diuresed, suppressed, and vomited over the years.
Last year a very dear friend of mine, who was also 280 lbs., entered a contest to win a free lap-band. I started a voting campaign for her on FB, I voted daily, and I made her a deal: if she won I would get bariatric surgery as well. And? She won by a landslide! She had a lap band and has lost just over 80 pounds. She has gone from a size 26 to a size 16. She looks and feels amazing.
Not one to break a promise, I upheld my end of the bargain. I made an appointment with a bariatric surgeon. He said that based on what I weighed and what surgical options are available he recommended the standard Roux-En-Y gastric bypass, which is considered the gold-standard of weight loss surgery. I was in agreement. Now the fun was to start–I had to satisfy the insurance company’s requirements to be approved. The surgeon gave me a list of things to do: 6 months of medically supervised weight loss by my primary physician (check), a nutritional consultation with a registered dietician (check), pass a psychological evaluation (LOL…check), and get blood work (check). He said that since I have no heart or lung problems (no high blood pressure, no sleep apnea, no snoring, etc.) that I didn’t need to see a cardiologist or pulmonologist. Fine by me.
I submitted all the necessities to the surgeon’s office when they were completed. I got a call back shortly thereafter from the office coordinator telling me that I needed to see a cardiologist and pulmonologist for clearance. What? Why? As it turns out, the insurance company requires it. Okkkkkay. It took 3 weeks to get those appointments. The cardiologist cleared me immediately. The pulmonologist wanted me to wear an oxygen sensor on my finger for one night just to make absolutely sure that I wasn’ t having any problems. Ok. The problem with that? He couldn’t follow-up with me for a whole fucking month! Seriously. I had to wait yet another month.
Finally, all of the insurance requirements were taken care of and sent to the doctor’s office the first week of August. The next week I got a call from the coordinator verifying that they received it all, and she was sending it to the insurance company that very day. She said I could expect to hear something within 2 weeks.
I, having waited over 3 weeks for an answer, called the insurance company yesterday to see what was up. The representative that I spoke to said that they had received nothing for a surgical pre-authorization. She looked in another place. Nothing. She could even tell that I had been to urgent care just a few days ago, yet there was nothing from the surgeon. Understandably miffed, I called the office coordinator and left her a voice mail telling her that my insurance company stated rather emphatically that they have no paperwork regarding bariatric surgery. She called me back and told me to let her deal with it because she talks to different people at the insurance company. Ok. Fine. Whatever. I said thank you and hung up.
Fast forward to today. I called the insurance company for shits and giggles just to see if they had received my paperwork. Yes, they had. They had me verify the name of the surgeon; I did. The following conversation ensued:
“Well, Mrs. Jackson, everything looks to be in order for your small intestine endoscopy, so you should have a decision from us soon.”
“Ok, thanks! Wait. What?”
“Your small intestine endoscopy. Scheduled for October 9th pending final approval.”
“A small intestine endoscopy? Ma’am, I realize this is not your fault, but I’m really frustrated. How can I put this without being rude? I’m fat and need a gastric bypass. Having a camera shoved up my ass does me no good in the weight loss department.”
“You’re wanting a gastric bypass?”
“Yes ma’am, I am.”
“So you don’t want the small intestine endoscopy?”
“No ma’am, I’d prefer no electronics up my butt if at all possible.”
“Well, the procedure code I have listed is ABCDE. That is for a small intestine endoscopy.”
“OK, then what is the procedure code for a gastric bypass surgery?”
“Hmmmmm…..let’s see…….that would be ACBDE.”
“Okey-dokey. Someone made a mistake then. How do we fix it?”
“You need to call your contact at the surgeon’s office and tell her the problem with the code. She will have to re-submit blah blah blah to us.”
“Ok, thank you. You’ve been very helpful. I’m sorry I said the word ‘ass’. ‘Bye!”
I call the office coordinator and leave a message. I wasn’t all polite, happy, and sugary like I normally am. I was direct, to the point, and trying my best not to say “fuck” on her voice mail. 10 minutes later, with 6-inch screaming in my ear, the coordinator calls me. She tells me in no uncertain terms that I am rude and nasty and she knows how to do her job thank you very much. I apologized for being rude, but I told her I was a little upset at hearing that after all this shit with the paperwork I was going to be approved for a small intestine endoscopy. It is akin to being a child and someone promising you a video game for Christmas and then unwrapping a package of irregular socks and underwear. She got really snippy and again reminded me that she talks to different people, blah, blah, blah. She basically told me not to call her anymore because she knows what she is doing.
Come October 9th we’ll see if I wake from anesthesia with a smaller stomach or glossy 5x7s of my duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Maybe I can train my asshole to smile when someone yells, “CHEESE!”