Jacqui (jacqui) wrote,

My Weight Loss Surgery Doctor Leaves UCLA Just Weeks Before My Scheduled Surgery

This is a copy of the post I just put up on the WLS community journal. I just thought I'd share it here as well.

Hello My WLS Darlings,

Well here's my update. I was scheduled for route and y surgery with the lap incisions with Dr. Carson Liu at UCLA for March 25. Obviously with the date looming closer, surgery being only a matter of a few weeks away, and after having waited SIXTEEN MONTHS for this surgery, I have been getting increasingly stressed and anxious.

I have really been put through their mill. I first contacted them (UCLA) to set up an appointment to get a surgery date in October of 2001. It took three months just to get them to send me the forms and set up an appointment for June of 2002. I was told that my surgery would likely be in late July of 2002. I asked them if Dr. Livingston, the head of UCLA's bariatric surgery department, did the laparascopic incision and was told that yes he did. I put all of my plans for the year on hold, cancelled the usual Summer trips, stopped buying clothes, etc. etc.

About a month before my first appointment date with Dr. Livingston I called to confirm and see that everything was on track. At that time I was told that there had been some kind of misunderstanding, that Dr. Livingston doesn't do the lap incision, just the big open one, and that I would have to see Dr. Liu. -- Dr. Liu whose waiting list had only been four months long as opposed to Dr. Livingston's eight month wait. But there wasn't room for Dr. Liu to see me now so I would have to go to the back of the line and wait another four months. So then it was, see Dr. Liu in October, have the surgery in December, but when I finally got to see Dr. Liu, they told me the surgery would be in January. Then when I was all through with my appointment and I met with the woman who did the scheduling she said that she was sorry but that she couldn't give me a surgery date and would have to work on the schedule and give me a call. Needless to say, she never called, and a month later I got a folder full of papers telling me that my surgery was scheduled for March 25.

Having to eat less and exercise more and be super prefect for one month is hard enough, but imagine doing it for more than a year, when all you want to do is hide in your room and eat Mexican food and cheese and cake -- when you keep thinking that you just might be that one out of a hundred who doesn't make it. Not to be scary or negative, I just need a place where I can be honest. I am scared and I have been freaking out, but I am walking myself through the fear. Then today, briiing, brring, brriiiing, "Hello, this is the General Surgery Suite at UCLA calling, I'm afraid I have some bad news for you." Dr Carson Liu, the doctor I had picked out of all of the doctors I could have gone to, the one I had been waiting for when I could have had the surgery and been done with the whole thing by now twice over, has left UCLA.

They're calling all of their patients and telling them the same thing, "Sorry, he dropped a bomb on us, we're all just as shocked as you are. We understand your frustration, sorry, but you'll have to go back to square one, fill out a fu@&!#g form just like the one you filled out ages ago, and wait for us to give you another date." The remaining doctors, the ones who came out of retirement to do this lucrative surgery, maybe the one who botched the operation of a woman I sat next to in the waiting room one day, will divvy up Dr. Liu's patients and decide who should get priority. And I'm supposed to trust these people, the ones who tell you one thing that changes into another just as soon as they say it, the ones who sneak other patients in for surgeries before you, who make you wait four and one half hours in a waiting room filled with other frightened overweight patients, so you can see a burned out overworked doctor for fifteen minutes, so you can pay not $2,500, not even $25,000 but $40,000.00 for their precious surgery?
Argh, I'm so mad I want to kill people. Well, not really, but I'm pissed. I hate them! I hate their cold insensitive nutritionist. I hate their interns. I hate their insensitivity to the very real and very complicated issues that underly obesity. Their complete lack of care and attention to the psychological aspect of the whole thing. Here, here's your far away surgery date, now just sit tight and by the way, lose a bunch of weight for us will you? Oh and what was your name again? The humiliation of being talked about in the third person, "She has a lot of these stretch marks on her abdomen." "Yes, I can see that."

Anyway, it's all going to be okay because I had the brains to think, wait a second, if Dr. Liu left, that must mean he's gone somewhere else, hell, I'd rather go with him, I'm a frightened rat and I want off this ship, "Umm, excise me but could you please give me Dr. Liu's number?" "Oh alright, if you feel you'll be needing that, but we would much prefer ..." Yeah right, buh bye UCLA, buh bye heartless medical mill. If Dr. Liu left then so will I. So I called Dr. Liu and got through right away, no endless answering machine message loops, just got right through, and presto, I hopefully get to keep my same surgery date in March, just not at UCLA this time. He's moved to Century City hospital. Apparently he was unhappy with the level of care the patients were receiving at UCLA and thought things would be better elsewhere. Lord I feel sorry for the people whose insurance won't allow them to go anywhere else, people who are helplessly stuck in this nightmare at UCLA.

As the date gets closer I've been freaking out. I hate that we have to lose twenty pounds before this surgery. I know I sound like a big resentful baby but it doesn't help that I was told by a nurse in their office that people weren't required to lose weight prior to the surgery until the program got so backed up that they had to insitute certain policies to filter out the enormous influx of people. Telling us to lose weight was not only good for us and good for the surgery but a measure for determining our "seriousness" and dedication to "the prgram". Whatever. It makes me angry. Having lost and gained weight a million times over in one lifetime I had finally arrived at the decision to have this surgery because I saw no other way to lose the weight myself. But it's an enormous Catch 22. If I could lose the weight on my own why would I need the surgery? It's like joining the Screen Actors Guild. You have to be in a movie to get into SAG. You have to be in SAG to get cast in a movie. I think you understand. Please be patient with me, I'm just venting. I really and truly do know that everything always works out for the best. Plus I just spoke with Dr. Liu's assistant Gideon and he said they wouldn't expect me to lose twenty pounds, more like ten, and that's just because they don't want patients freaking out and gaining wait before the surgery, which would be bad for us.

Phew, okay, feeling a little better. Thanks for listening. Good luck and positive loving thoughts for all of you. If you need a fellow wls pal just write to me. jacquiscloset@aol.com

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