The Days Following….

Waking up as I was going to my room, I was a little fuzzy.  But very glad it was over.  At least the surgery was over.

I was taken to my room, which was a single (private), even though I didn’t have special coverage.  It seems the new Humber River Regional Hospital has a philosophy that says a person’s health responds better when they have a private room, and their family is allowed to visit at any time, and a large reclining chair in the room allows for someone to actually sleep in it comfortably.  Now, do not quote me on this, as I was in a morphine haze when discussing this!

Let me tell you about the bed….have you ever had to stay in hospital bed and experienced how incredibly uncomfortable it is?  How every joint grinds against the thin mattress, and your skin gets clammy because you are lying on a plastic cover?  How every unsupported niche, like the small of your back, or your hips, ache?  Welcome to the new generation of hospital beds!  This bed was magic!  They called it an air mattress, but not a “blow up” kind.  This kind is responsive to your body.  When you lay down, or move around, or rise or lower the bed, it will wait about 20 seconds to be sure you are settled, then it will start it’s magic.  Something (baffles?) will inflate under you, giving you support wherever your body is not supported by the mattress.  And this happens in a million little places all underneath you.  Not once did I have a sore back or aching joints.  Amazing!

Looking around, I saw I was strapped to an IV for fluids to keep my hydrated.  This was good because I could only drink 1 tablespoon of water every 15 minutes.  While it was good to stay hydrated, it meant going to the washroom every hour.  After the first couple of hours, I realized I wasn’t releasing much.  Then I was starting to feel pretty full in my bladder.  I spoke to the nurse, she checked with an ultrasound and found I was full!  Solution – catheter.

Oh boy!  This was not going to be pleasant, but I had to go so bad, I was just happy there was going to be some relief.  Or was there?  My very kind nurse (who looked no more than 21 years old) was getting the equipment ready, and I asked her how many she had done.  She hesitated, which is never a good sign.  Then said, “Plenty.  Enough to be efficient at it.”  But, it was already jinxed.  She couldn’t get it in.

So, she called another nurse,who looked about the same age.  They struggled.  And finally, decided they needed to call in the shift leader.  Again, maybe 24 years old!  And she brought another nurse with her.  Great – 4 young nurses trying to stuff this rubber tube into my bladder.  This was not embarrassing at all (sarcasm font implied).  But, finally, relief was to be had.  I was emptied out and happy, then disconnected.

The hope was that was all that was needed to “wake up” my system, which seemed to still be under the anesthetic.  For a few rounds, it worked, then started to fall asleep again.  By this time, I had a night nurse who was wonderful.  She popped that catheter in in seconds, and left it in for the night so I could sleep.

Unfortunately, pain got the better of me.  I don’t think it was pain from the incisions, but gas pains.  Either way, I finally asked for another dose of morphine.  That let me drift off to sleep happy…..for about an hour.  Then it was time for another vitals check.  Oh well.

Soon, the pains came back, and the nurse suggested walking some more to help release it.  So, I took my IV pole, wrapped myself up in my gown so nothing inappropriate showed, and took to the halls.  While there, I met another lady who had the surgery on the same day as well.  We kibitzed a bit as we passed each other.  She was quite perky and chatty, so it was nice to socialize a bit.

Later in the day, my nurse came by say I was good to go home.  So I called my hubby, and after he picked up our daughter from the school bus, they headed down to pick me up.  It was exhausting trying to get dressed, pack my back, and walk myself down to the elevators and to the front door.  But, hubby didn’t know where I was and I figured it was just easier to make my way down on my own.

Soon, I was homeward bound.




Monday was surgery day.  We woke 4:30 to be at the hospital for 6:00 am.  Surgery scheduled for 8:00.

Because we have a 9 year old daughter, who has already missed 2 weeks of school for our family vacation, I had my hubby drop me off at the hospital and head back home to get our daughter onto the school bus.  This means I was going to face everything on my own.

I’m pretty independent, I figured it would be fine,and it was.  The intake process was pretty smooth, easy and not intimidating.  I think I wasn’t really focused on the actual surgery, or the recovery, just getting to the other side and losing weight.

Once registered in the pre-op department, patients are led to the next area, where we are given a gown, a house coat, booties, and bags to hold our stuff like shoes and sweaters.  I brought a little carry-on suitcase for my toothbrush, brush, pajamas, and change of clothes.  They put a sticker, with all my relevant info, onto that bag, as well as the bags they gave me.  These bags followed me, somehow, to my room.

Thanks to technology, they have a device that can track your progress and notify your family as you move through the system.  It is a tag they hang on your gown, with buttons that are pressed by a variety of departments, as you pass through their hands.  This device is connected to your loved ones’ cell phone, and they receive a message when you enter surgery, when surgery is finished, when the patient is going into the recovery unit, and when they are allowed a visitor.  This kept my hubby completely up to date with the progress without having to check with someone all the time, or worry that he had been forgotten about.  Very smart technology!

The reality of the actual surgery hit me when I was lying on the operating bed, and they strapped my  arms out to either side, like I was about to be hung on a cross.  (Apologies for inappropriate metaphor, but easiest image in my foggy state).  Then, the mask comes down with the some kind of inhalant, and the juice went through the I.V. into my hand.  I could feel the heat flush through my body and then nothing.  Until I woke up.

Waking up…..that was not what I expected!  I thought I was having a heart attack.  It felt like an elephant was sitting on my chest.  I couldn’t hardly take in a breath for the pain.  I started to try to talk, but was so dry from the intubation tube, my lips were stuck to my teeth and my tongue would hardly work.  They swabbed them with ice water on sponge.  Pure bliss!

But now, the pain!  They called for an EKG just to be sure, and thankfully, it came back normal.  It was a scary feeling.

I think at that point, they may have given me some morphine, and happily, I fell back to sleep, and stayed that way until travelling through the elevators to my room.

Stay tuned to hear the rest of the adventure!


Liquid Diet

3 days until surgery…..

I’ve been on the Opti-Fast diet for almost 2 weeks now.  And it’s really not bad at all.  At least, not nearly as bad as I had thought it would be.

When I was speaking with the nurses, and other’s in the support group, and they all suggested adding things like coffee flavor, or mint flavor, other types of syrup flavors that you can get to add into coffees, but I haven’t.  I got one case of vanilla and one case of chocolate.  They are both tasty!

Opti-Fast 900

I mix the powder with 300 ml of water, usually toss in an ice cube or two, and shake it up. It’s frothy, and just sweet enough not to be overpowering.

4 shakes per day, along with 2 cups of green vegetables such as celery, cucumber, lettuce and green peppers, water, vinegar or lemon for seasoning, and clear broths such as chicken or beef, is the extent of my diet.

I eat my cucumber and celery usually in the afternoon when I am wanting something crunchy.  The cucumber is usually with vinegar and a sprinkle of salt, the celery plain.  I often have the chicken consume for lunch or later in the afternoon and evening, as well.

Lots of water and lemon, as usual.  I cut out coffee with caffeine months ago, when I knew the surgery was going to happen.  However, I had recently started having decaf in the mornings with cream and Coffee Mate, so yummy and creamy and sweet!  But, once again, had to stop that.  I am allow coffee and tea plain, but without cream/milk and sugar, it’s just not worth it.  

The biggest stumbling block?  Night time, after my daughter has gone to bed, and sitting quietly watching tv.  This is the most killer time for me.  I would murder a bag of chips with onion dip, or a big bowl honey nut cheerios…..carbs are my downfall. 

But, each morning the scale moves a little further down, so I persevere.  So far, 7 lbs down.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings!  

….A Year Later…..

So, it seems a year has passed since my last post, and am now at the cusp of getting the surgery.  What has transpired between then and now?

On July 19 of last year, I met with the surgeon.  He gave me some details about the surgery, checked to see if I had any questions, then said I could expect to do the surgery around November or December.

The next day was an appointment with the Internist.  They ran a small series of tests to be sure I was healthy enough to undergo surgery.  They did an EKG, checked blood pressure, listened to my heart and lungs, and asked lots of questions regarding my health and confirmed I did not have any type of sleep apnea.

Now, it’s into October, and I had meetings scheduled with the Bariatric team.

I met with the Nurse to discuss vitamins and calcium.  I was weighed and measured, and tested on my knowledge of the surgery.  That part went just fine.

Then, into see the Dietitian.  This is where things started to stall.  She asked what changes I had made since the last assessment.  I was supposed to start living like I had the surgery, meaning, eating slower, eating healthier, doing small bites, chewing numerous times, all the changes they said would need to take place after the surgery.  I didn’t realize this was supposed to have happened by this point.  So, instead of giving me a pass to move forward, she scheduled a follow-up assessment 4 weeks later.

Last was the Social Worker, who helps you deal with the changes in your life, the challenges, and to help you see why you eat as you do.  She got stuck on the fact that I like to eat later at night, after my daughter and husband have finally gone to bed.  Seems that time of night is my favorite time to indulge in chips or cereal or some other high calorie, carb-filled food as a reward to getting through my day.  She also wanted to reassess in a month.

Fast forward 4 weeks to the phone re-assessment.  The Dietitian is pleased that I have lost 12 lbs, have been tracking my food, and stopped drinking coffee.  The Social Worker is satisfied that I have stopped snacking late at night.  They tell me all is good to go!

So, I wait patiently for the call.  And wait.  And wait.  Nothing comes through, so I start calling to see when I can plan on the surgery.  I leave messages, but don’t hear back.  I finally remember the surgeon has given me his card so I can call his office directly.  His receptionist is super helpful, and returns messages when needed.  She arranges my next meeting at the surgeon’s office for January 3.  I guess the surgery is not going to happen in November/December.  I was really disappointed with this, as I was heading to the Caribbean in January and hoped I would have already dropped a bunch of weight.  But, there is no hurrying the process.

At this meeting, I purchased my two week supply of OPTIFAST, which cost $110 per week.  I would be on a liquid diet for 2 full weeks immediately preceding the surgery date.  Surgery date is set for March 20.  The OPTIFAST is not bad at all!  I have chocolate and vanilla, and both are just fine to drink.  I just make sure the water is really cold, and I mix it well in my shaker.  Along with 4 packages of OPTIFAST per day, I am allowed 2 cups of green vegetables such as pepper, lettuce, cucumber, celery, and broccoli.  I can drink clear fluids such as broths, diet drinks, decaf tea or coffee.  I am almost through the first week!

Next step is the Pre-Operative Assessment.  This involves a series of meetings including one with a pharmacy technician to review any medications I take.  I only take one, which in the world of bariatric surgery is unheard of, as most people getting the surgery have an extensive list of health issues.  The next meeting is with a nurse to discuss pre- and post-op preparation and information.  She notices my Internist appointment has been more than 6 months ago, so we schedule another one immediately following the pre-op assessment.  Then more blood work, I don’t know how many vials they take because I can’t watch it.  More waiting, then finally meet with the anesthetist, again another super fast meeting due to good health.

Once that was all done, I headed back over the Internist for more blood pressure, EKG, and questions.  All clear!

Now, I wait…..9 days to go!