Tom is the CEO of American Kitchens Incorporated, Florida. He shares his reasons why he decided on the surgery, his choice of Medical Tourism Corporation as the facilitator, his choice of Costa Rica as the destination, medical journey and his progress. The interview was taken seven days after his surgery.
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Transcript of the interview:
”I am Tom Vravis and I’ve been a business owner all my life since I was 19, I was a Chicagoan for 40 years and a Floridian for the last 18. So if you can add them up, I’m 58.
I decided after trying every diet in the world to go and get some type of surgery and I researched all the different ones, I researched the lap band, theRoux-en-Y and the vertical sleeve. For me and my personality, the vertical sleeve was the way to go. Like everybody’s got to make their own decision but for me this was the best.
So after going to US hospitals and getting a run around and I actually told one it was okay I’ll do the surgery, I just want to do it right now, I don’t want to have to wait and they said we’ll call you right back and I didn’t get a phone call back for well now it’s probably about a month and a half. So, I started looking. Other than that, I found you [Medical Tourism Corporation] and I said, ‘Well, okay. I love Costa Rica, might as well see what theyâ€™ve got.’
You responded. Now these are the reasons why I did it. You responded right away, I donâ€™t care if it was 8 o’ clock at night, I got an email right back, you answered all my questions, you didn’t dodge anything and you didn’t kind of give me half answers. You gave me real answers, so when I went through it all, I was okay, you get some security that way.
The fear of going to another countryâ€¦ because Americans have this thing, we’re the greatest, we’re the best. But, in reality when I went to Costa Rica I found out I would rather do surgery there any day of the week than do it here [in the US]. I was much happier doing it there and Iâ€™ve been in US hospitals and they do not compare to the service I got in Costa Rica.
Now, it was just unbelievable service. They spoke perfect English, there was just never any communication gap, the anesthesiologist spoke perfect English, and every one of them was so professional. I mean I just never had a problem because at the hospital they got a great staff that walk you every single step of the way.
And if I had another surgery coming up, I would definitely go back to Costa Rica and have it done because it was so much easier and less expensive.
Yeah, I had a lot of trepidations of going overseas, I wrote to several people that I know in Costa Rica, [to check about the hotel/hospital] if there was you know some jungle hut that I was going to and then I talked to a couple of other friends of mine that were down in Costa Rica, I had them go look at it actually and walk through it and they came back with, ‘No, it’s perfectly clean, everything is first class.’ So, that lessened the problems.
One or two [of my friends] said, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t go to Costa Rica, I would never do an operation outside the United States. Are you sure you’re going to be okay, you know because it’s out of the country.’ Because back to what I said, Americans think American hospitals are the best and that no body can do it like America can do it.
You get in a [Costa Rica] hospital and you see how clean it is and my wife is a German. There is no body who cleans more than her. If you came to my house, it’s spotless. If I leave something on the counter, I can bet that five minutes later it’s gone and I lost it. Well, she looked around the hospital, she looked under the bed, she looked at the base board, she looked at the shelves, she looked at everything and she said that it was the cleanest place she’s been in.
So as far as cleanliness and equipment, they got everything, they’re not lacking anything in equipment, I mean that hospital is well loaded, whatever they got as a budget, they’re doing great. The suite is, it’s huge, your wife or significant other can stay with you, you’ve got a lazy boy chair, you’ve got a huge room, that’s perfectly maintained, you’ve got walk-in shower with the best shower head I’ve ever seen and you’ve got set toilet.
I mean the bathroom is probably 300-400 square feet and as far as the nurses there, one time I pushed the button for the nurse, I had three nurses within seconds, it was like they were running and they’re, ‘Signor Tom, are you okay?’
I feel great [after the surgery], I went back to work. I have my surgery on Friday night at 6 o’ clock and it was two-and-half hour surgery. Saturday I was released from the hospital at about 5 o’ clock and after that I got to my hotel and believe it or not a nurse came in, took care of me and made sure I was okay.
And then Sunday the nurse came twice and I walked a lot because one of things you got to do is walk. I never had any pain, never any, I mean you have aches, but I have aches everyday so it’s you know, once you’re certain age you always have aches and you moan a lot so, no it was, now I went back to work Thursday, I got home Wednesday in the afternoon, had a full day of getting back home and worked all day yesterday from probably seven in the morning to six at night and then today I got here at about 8 and I’m a little bit tired and I need another couple of days and I’m glad it’s weekend because I’ll sleep and be a little happier so but all in all I feel fantastic, I’ve lost since the start of the pre-diet because you got that one week of dieting to right now I’ve lost 24 pounds (in 15 days) Yeah, so in 14 days I’ve lost 24 pounds. So to me that’s fantastic.
I thought I would be in a lot more pain, I thought I would be really miserable because I’m a person that loves to eat, I mean eating was my thing, I could cook the best meals, I could eat the best meals, I never skipped on anything.
I’ve been good to myself in my life, and the thing that amazes me the most about this whole thing is that I’m not hungry. And I think everybody that does this surgery sits there and goes, ‘Well I got two weeks of having liquid diet, that could have been the hardest thing in the world.’ I went with my wife for lunch at a deli and she had turkey sandwich and everything else, my sister went with us, she had something.
I was fine, I actually looked at that food and thought, ‘Oh my god. If I eat that I’m going to throw it up.’ I was just so full, and the biggest thing is that I’m not hungry, I’m not wanting a snack, I’m not walking into the kitchen and grab the ho-ho’s and sit down and have a couple of that, I can watch other people eat and not be jealous and think oh man I want to eat that too, and there were several times, my biggest thing is bread, I’m a bread eater and my wife brought in a loaf of French bread and they were making sandwiches and looked at that French bread and thought oh maybe just a little bite and then I thought, ‘Oh no, no room in there for that.’ So, that was the end of that.
And you really feel good with the protein shakes and everything, you’re full, I had to keep telling myself that I have a staff here and they come in here every hour to tell me, ‘Hey, did you drink something, did you have your Gatorade, did you have your soup?’ Because I probably would forget, because I’m a workaholic and I like to do my stuff.
Without a doubt, you guys were first class, there was never a time that I thought you were trying to just sell me something, you were just trying to do something that was underhanded, you know. It wasn’t that you didn’t care and it was better. Like I said, better than I ever thought, I just did not think that the hospital, you and everybody else would have performed like they did and your whole family there, the people that you got were fantastic.
I mean I have zero complaints, I mean my stomach feels good, I lost 24 pounds already I can say it just was a great experience, anybody that’s going to do this [gastric sleeve surgery] should know youâ€™re going to have all the trepidations, you’re going to have all the worry, you’re going to be sitting and second guessing yourself and I second guessed myself, all the way to the table. I was lying on that table and I said wait a couple of seconds, and I went through my check list and I looked around at the nicest medical facility I have ever seen in a surgery room, it was all first-class. And you know I said my little prayer, asked the gods to take care of me and talked to my saints. If there was anything in there that was bad, I mean I would’ve walked out, so no we’re not doing this and I wouldn’t have cared but everything was great.”
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