Friday, 18 October 2013

What to expect at the Surgeon's Appointment

Hello everyone! Well the surgery is fast approaching & I'm trying to get everything at work all in order before I fly off to Germany.

I thought this post should be about the actual surgeon's appointment as it was one of the most stressful parts so far & I didn't know what to expect.

Firstly I had to wait over 16 months to see the Surgeon. Professor Schmeller at The Hanse Klinik was recommended to me by Professor Mortimer at my diagnosis appointment at Parkside Hospital in Wimbledon.

Once I'd been given that referral I had 99% made up my mind that I was going to have the surgery. I've been suffering with this horrible, ugly disorder for nearly all my life and I was determined that nothing was going to stop me from having better legs. If you are a fellow sufferer you will understand that the physical pain is much less than the mental torture I have every day. It was also at this point I decided that given I had been diagnosed with an actual medical problem, then my legs were nothing to be ashamed of and if anyone else had a problem with the way they look, then they really need to get over it or deal with it themselves! These are brave words, but I started to wear knee length skirts & dresses, something I hadn't done in perhaps 30 years! The first day wearing such a short dress really caused me some anxiety, but I held my head high and fronted it out. I'm so glad I did that now; it has freed me not only from wearing maxi length dress & skirts but also mentally. Sure I still get looks from young kids and old ladies (why are they so rude!?)but I feel more confident in myself. For the most part, anyone who looks at me can see I have a problem, I'm a size 14 at the top, size 16/18 at the bottom & no-one normal has legs like these!

Anyway, I digress...When I first rang for the appointment it was Sept 2011. I was told that the clinic was so busy that they weren't even taking appointments until Mar 2012. Talk about a let down! I then rang in March 2012 and was given an appointment for January 2013. I couldn't believe I had to wait so long! Fortunately my boyfriend had proposed so I had something to occupy my time.

I was very nervous at the appointment. I'd waited such a long time. We flew into Hamburg and then got the train to Lubeck where the clinic is. When we arrived for the appointment I was told that the Professor was in surgery and that he was running late. Well, I had waited all this time, so hanging around wasn't really a problem. The clinic was modern and spotlessly clean! The receptionist was very friendly and gave us tea & coffees.

The Professor came in from his surgery in scrubs & took both of us to his room. It is large & modern with a massive library books about liposuction.

He asked me lots of questions including what did I think lipedema was & why did I think I had it?. When I didn't give him technically the right answer he was quite challenging. He asked what type of massage I was having, what did it feel like, where had I heard about lipedema, how did I manage to find him? Perhaps if I had been less anxious & nervous about the appointment I wouldn't have felt like some of the questions were some sort of trap (I will come back to this). I then had to have a physical examination which I fully expected. I was asked to undress to my underwear. I was weighed and measured. He squeezed my arms and legs quite hard in various places, which obviously hurt. I don't like to make a fuss so didn't say 'owww!' immediately but maybe I should have.

I was then told to stand in front of a wall which had black paper on and I was photographed front and back, with close ups. This was the bit I hadn't been expecting and to be honest if my husband hadn't been there I would have found that a bit weird, suspicious even. I understand why now he does that. He needs to have a clinical photographic record.

After getting dressed and expecting him to say 'yes, no problem' he went on to say how he dis-agreed with some of the diagnosis by Professor Mortimer and that he didn't believe I had lipedema in the tops of my legs but another condition called lipohyperdystrophy, which is where the fat un-naturally masses to one area but he did agree that I had lipo-lymphedema on the bottom parts of legs. At this point I burst into tears because I felt like he was saying the fat on the tops of my legs were my fault (which he wasn't). With that in mind he said that he would remove the fat from my calves and above my knees, but not from my thighs or bottom.

Professor Schmeller is a very direct clinical surgeon & scientist. He calls it as he sees it. That's not to say that he's not a nice or kind man, just brutally honest & direct. He said he gets women crying in his office all the time and had tissues to hand.

And this is where I will finish for now....lots more to add but this is becoming a very long post!

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