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Part 1 – Getting Back In Shape – the Plastic Surgery is Over!

Okay, yeah, like I ever was “in shape”.  Well, round is a shape, and I certainly had that covered.  I’m going now for more of a rectangle – and heading in the right direction!

After a year of trying to fit my surgery in between Jim’s traveling, my traveling, family traveling, my mom getting sick, and everything else life throws at you, I finally made the final leap.

You might remember a post I made a year and a half ago –


I had found my surgeon, and was still feeling very comfortable about the decision to go with Dr. Nestor Veitia. He had been with the Hurwitz Center for Plastic Surgery when I first consulted with him about what I wanted done, but when I called the Hurwitz Center to make my appointment, I was notified he was no longer with the practice.

Okay – for a split second, I waivered.  I thought I’d have to start all over again.  But just in the split second, as I was about to ask if they had updated information to reach him, the secretary offered me his new number. That saved me from tracking his butt down to the four corners of the World.  And can I tell you, when I thought about things, my mind went back to my experience with Dr. Newman’s office.  If you go see this post


you’ll be reminded how uncomfortable I felt in a big practice with a sincere lack of personal attention. Perhaps the move would be a good one for both myself and Dr. Veitia.

I phoned the new office, and was given an appointment within a week.  I was thrilled!  I was traveling back from Orlando the day before the appointment, but I was going to make it, no matter what.  I got lost, ended up running about 15 minutes late as a result, but the new office was so warm and welcoming, it eased the stress I was feeling about the late arrival.

The nurse-type person brought me back to the room, and was so sweet, as she provided the gown and the instructions.  She talked about Disney, which, as you know, is my happy place, so it was nice to be transported for a few minutes back to the “World”.

I knew, as soon as Dr. Veitia walked in, broad, beaming smile and warm handshake, that I had made the right decision in staying with this surgeon.  There is just an aura of calm about him, and even through the awkward plus sized porn shots all plastic surgeons must take (well, not those that only operate on skinny women), I managed to stay collected.  I hate having those photos taken.

A plan was put into place, and we decided as close to June 22nd (which was the last day of school) as he could schedule me, the better.  After a few days, insurance was approved for the parts they were going to cover, a date was set – June 24th – and I was on my way….

Alpha-1 and Some Pretty Great People

Remember the flight home from Orlando I had a few weeks ago?  The one where I ranted and raved about the woman sitting across the aisle from me?  Well, let me share the story of the OTHER people on the flight with me.

As you all probably know, my mom was diagnosed a few years ago with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease).  As a life long smoker, my mom used to always feel very proud of herself that despite numerous bouts with bronchitis, and that chronic smoker’s cough she had, every lung x-ray and test always came back normal.  And then things got bad fairly quickly.  A bronchitis she couldn’t shake turned into something more asthmatic, and eventually, the COPD diagnosis.  It wasn’t an unexpected diagnosis, and COPD is something that most people are well aware of.  There are television commercials, loads of literature, and you’ll see commercials for some of the medications that are widely available for the treatment of the symptoms of COPD.

But I had never heard of something called Alpha-1.  Alpha-1 is a genetic disease that you can pass on to your children, and the disease has some of the very same symptoms you might encounter if you have something like COPD.  Alpha-1 sufferers experience:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chronic cough and sputum (phlegm) production (chronic bronchitis)
  • Recurring chest colds
  • Decreased exercise tolerance
  • Non-responsive asthma or year-round allergies
  • Bronchiectasis
And if you turn up at a doctor’s office with these symptoms, you are most likely NOT going to be tested for Alpha-1 first, even though diagnosis of the condition is done through a very simple blood test.  I wonder if the reported incidents of Alpha-1 are low because there are Alpha-1 sufferers who are being treated for COPD?
Next to me on the plane home were Larry and Marian Hoffman.  Larry was diagnosed not too long ago with Alpha-1.  The Alpha-1 Association flew Larry and Marian down to Orlando for the 19th Annual National Education Conference, and treated them like royalty.  And let me tell you, these are two people who absolutely deserved the royal treatment.  Larry couldn’t have been any nicer, despite being dealt a blow that altered his existence in this world; and Marian was absolutely amazing, supporting her husband, taking on the role of a volunteer with the organization, and still being one of the nicest people I could have met.
It is wonderful to hear stories like their’s – especially knowing that in an effort to help them deal with the disease they are battling, the organization invested the time and the money in making sure they are armed with the latest information on how to treat and what to expect.  When you are looking for causes to support, consider the Alpha-1 Association – their investment back into the education of Alpha-1 patients is something I don’t think I’ve ever heard of with other organizations.
For more information on this condition – including how to see if you might be an Alpha-1 sufferer, visit their website at http://www.alpha1.org/ .
Larry and Marian, thank you both for taking the time to talk with me and share with me the information on this condition.  I know it is with the help of your warm and friendly personalities, and your commitment to the education of others about this condition, that others will benefit in finding the proper diagnosis and treatment.  Love to both of you!