Ok, ok, so it's Monday...at least I'm making an effort. Besides, I did a lot of cleaning, chores, special projects and worked a show in Delaware. But enough excuses, back to business. Today's grateful post goes out to Marissa, the admin for Dr. Murayama's office.
I first encountered Marissa in the summer after my initial appointment with Dr. M. He had told me that she would help with making sure all my appointments were scheduled and that I didn't miss anything on my way to getting approved through my insurance company. Until this point, I had only dealt with a few doctors in the Penn system and, while my experiences were largely positive, had grown accustomed to getting calls back from a variety of people from the same office on a single topic. So, when I couldn't get her live on the phone on my first call, I left a message and then set about calling the various other departments that I would need to be by (radiology, pulmonary, lab, etc.). It took a considerable amount of time, effort, and patience on my part, but I felt that if I was going to be serious about this journey, what was a small investment like this in the big picture?
Marissa called back later that afternoon and was surprised to see that I had almost everything already scheduled. She got my information session medical weight management appointments (MWM) set up, and told me that she'd had the Sleeve surgery a few months prior, was very open about it and would be willing to talk with me and answer any questions I might have. She spent the next 30 minutes answering questions and relaying her own experiences to me. It was reassuring to have someone who was not only a post-op success story to talk to, but also someone with "insider" knowledge of the field and approval process. Clearly, if she was colleagues and friends with people who performed these surgeries, she would have an above-average knowledge of complication rates and other issues that might arise, and if she had still gone through with surgery, what was there to stop me?
Over the next couple months as I jumped through the many hoops to surgery, we didn't have much contact. As I neared what would have been the end of the process if it weren't for my mystifying liver enzyme results, Marissa called to check in and see when I would be ready to submit to the insurance company. I updated her on the new information and adjusted timeline. Even though it seemed like an eternity, 4-6 weeks later I was calling her back to say that I was ready! She again came through like a champ, getting all of the information together in record time, answering every piddly little question that I came up with, and keeping me updated with to-the-minute information all along the way. When she called me the day before Thanksgiving to tell me that I had been approved by my insurance company, I realized that I had never met this woman who had been instrumental in not only the approval process, but in providing support. When I visited the offices for my pre-op final physical and nutrition class, we finally met. Although we knew each other predominantly through technological means, I felt as if I was greeting an old friend.