Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My highly stressful day

I had a whirlwind of emotions today and I'm still trying to process them.  I have mentioned before that I'm in the process of applying to graduate school.  My goal is to participate in a master's program that will lead to a school counseling position eventually.  I currently work in the counseling department of a big high school.  I love what I do working with kids, so this is just a natural progression to the next step up for me.  I've actually worked in education since I was 17 years old and now I'm 42, so I definitely have a lot of experience.  Nothing can prepare me more for this than what I'm doing now, getting day to day exposure of what happens in high school counseling department.

So I was talking to a colleague who is currently in a graduate program for the exact same thing.  She's about a year in and mentioned to me today she found out that if I want to eventually become a counselor in our current district, my practicum and field hours must be performed three full days per week.  The program requires a total of 600 hours doing that.  Given that I work full time, 40 hours per week, and I would be participating in a full-time graduate program with classes taken at night, I felt like I was sucker-punched.  A friend of mine called her contact at our district office and the person confirmed that I must do three full 8-hour days or I could possibly petition to do four 6-hour days.  Regardless, it must be a minimum of 24 hours per week and they don't want it split up.  The district's rationalization is that interns don't get to experience the full scope of what happens in a counseling department if their time is split up to just mornings or just afternoons.  I do understand that logic, but I already work in a counseling department!  If I choose to do my hours outside of my district, they basically won't hire me.  One of my friends, who is a current counselor and is supervising two interns right now, told me that her interns said the district won't hire you unless you have counseled elsewhere for two years first.  If I do end up counseling somewhere else, I likely will not be returning to my district unless there's a compelling reason to do so because it will be a huge deal to leave my district in the first place and I probably won't want to leave another place.  Never say never, though.

I was pretty upset at all of this news.  I wasn't even at the point of wanting to cry over it.  I was pissed.  The graduate program itself is completely flexible and will let me complete my hours part time or in any way that works out for my schedule.  The issue is with my district and their strictness with those 24 hours.  Am I supposed to take a leave of absence?  Am I supposed to somehow make up those 24 hours somewhere?  It's not as if I don't have any exposure to kids and everything is theoretical for me ... I work with kids everyday and often do many things that a counselor would do.  Granted, I do not handle crisis counseling because there are legal issues around that, but there are often crossover duties.  I did decide that I'm going to contact the personnel department and talk to them about my concerns.  My friend that told all of this to me today is a teacher, so the way things will work out for her schedule-wise is different than my situation.  Regardless, though, we both have to face the fact that, if we move forward in the programs, we will have a huge cut in pay.  I'm a single person who has no other income than my own, so I'm faced with having to make some very touch decisions to survive on 16 hours per week of pay.  Excuse my language, but fuck!

With all the stress of that churning in my stomach, I had to leave work a little early and then head to my appointment at Kaiser to meet with the program doctor who would be reviewing my test results and discussing whether or not I would be officially accepted into the program for weight loss surgery.  I didn't know what to expect, so I was feeling anxious with butterflies churning in my tummy.  When I checked in at the Positive Choice clinic, I was asked to weigh myself and then have a seat to wait for the doctor.  I have gained a couple of pounds.  I didn't know if that was a true gain or because I had been drinking water all day, which always adds weight.  I got recorded at 371.5, which was pretty difficult for me.  My lowest weight I got down to when I was doing Optifast about a year ago or so was, I think, 220.  As I sat there waiting, I had to remind myself not to beat myself up over the number because I'm there to get healthier, not berate myself.

The doctor came and got me and brought me back to his office.  I looked around and noticed all of his diplomas, awards and news articles about weight loss and surgical options on the walls.  There were drawings of the differences between the different weight loss surgeries as well.  He began by discussing my current BMI, which is calculated to be about 54.  He said the program requirement is to have a BMI of 40 so I more than qualify on that front.  Fantastic Kathy (can't you detect the sarcasm?).  Then he started asking me about my diabetes, whether or not I inject insulin, my osteoarthritis, the pain in my legs and fibromyalgia, my history with high blood pressure, sleep apnea, depression and all the medications I take.  He told me I am an excellent candidate and congratulated me since he is approving me for surgery.


All the stress of the day went away in that moment.  I am now officially on my way.  He does recommend the gastric bypass surgery for me since that is the one where I can lose the most weight and most of those patients have their diabetes go into remission.  He did explain that my diabetes will never be reversed or go away, but the remission will make it so that I won't appear to be diabetic any longer as long as I follow the program.  When I discussed with him the difference between the gastric bypass and the vertical sleeve, he said the sleeve does not allow for as much weight loss and the not as many patients have remission of their diabetes.  The lap band does not reverse the diabetes at all.

The next step is that one of the nurses will be contacting me in about a week to put me in a class.  Since Carrie and I want to do the class together, I'll be choosing the one that is closer to where I live.  The only bummer is that it doesn't start for another month.  However, unless they have a class starting this month, that's the one I'll do.  The doctor did say that about a month before the six-month pre-op classes are over, I will be contacted by one of the surgeons at Pacific Bariatric to meet with them.  The surgery will happen about a month after I finish the classes.  That will bring me into about mid-August in terms of having the surgery.  The doctor did say that I will be in the hospital for two days to make sure I don't have any complications develop and then I should be back to work within two weeks since I don't have a highly physical job.  He did tell me that, in terms of my weight, we want to aim for me losing about ten percent of my body weight prior to surgery or at least maintaining where I'm at right now.  They don't want me gaining but staying the same is okay, too.  So here I go!


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