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  Now, do not quote me on this, as I was in a morphine haze when discussing this!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.

 

Surgery

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!

 

 

 

Hurry, Please, Hurry!

So now it’s Sunday….it’s been 3.5 weeks since my information session.  They told me it would take 2-3 months for the first of the assessment appointments to begin.  That means it is approximately another 4.5 – 9.5 weeks until that happens.  I would be thrilled just to get the appointment made so I could schedule my life around that.

Have I been making changes to my lifestyle?  Well, surprisingly, I have been able to maintain the walking over the last week and a half.  I’m pretty happy about that.  (Today I am being a complete loaf because I am feeling really tired for some reason.)

Another change they suggested we adopt is to chew food slowly, methodically.  We are supposed to be sure the food is well macerated.  This should slow down our eating process, as well as help in the digestion of food.  This is not one of the things I have been cognizant of.  My goal for this week, in addition to the continued walking, is focus on slowly, thoroughly chewing my food.

They also informed us that breakfast should happen within 2 hours of waking up.  I’m not really a huge breakfast person, not that I’ve ever struggled with having breakfast, I just prefer to have a couple of cups of coffee then start to consider eating something.  It’s usually around 3 hours after waking that I am ready to eat, so I guess this is a pretty easy shift that I can incorporate.

The one thing I cannot seem to incorporate is eating less calories.  I keep weighing myself, somehow thinking that the scale will miraculously go down.  There is no real change to my diet, so I don’t know why I think that will happen.  Maybe the walking will magically melt my pounds?

My husband has changed his diet completely to address some health issues he was concerned with – nothing too serious, just some reflux and asthma.  He has eliminated caffeine, sugar, white bread.  And of course, his stomach weight just melts away.  I was actually getting snarky with him when he was lamenting a plateau.  He was getting no sympathy from me, because he was so easily able to adapt to a healthier diet.  He has dropped about 15 – 20 lbs over the last few months.  But he is happy to eat a boiled egg and salad for lunch, a protein shake with mango and pineapple for breakfast, and a horrible fillet of tilapi for dinner with some veggies.  Yuck!

The protein shakes for breakfast would be o.k. with me if I made it with things I like, maybe some bananas instead.  And the salad would be fine, but would need something substantial to go along with it to sustain me through the afternoon like some cheese and crackers or a sandwich.  I don’t know how he works all day with that in his body.  Part of my problem is that I just don’t think I can eat that little and make it through a day.

Last week I needed to go to the hairdressers to have my roots done.  This is not an experience I enjoy anymore because of a couple of things – the huge mirror that sits in front of the chair, and the chair.  The mirror shows everything about the body sitting in front of it.  All day long, I avoid looking at myself.  The mirrors in my house are positioned not to show much of me, and I avert my eyes when walking by plate glass windows.  Having to stare directly into the mirror just a few feet in front of me is not a pleasant reality.  Then there is the chair.  Definitely not made to fit a large posterior.  Actually designed to curve up the sides of your hips and squish everything into the middle.  Thank God for the big black cape that eventually gets billowed over the body!  I usually block out the process of the hairdresser pumping up the chair height.  I tell myself it’s hydraulic, not hard for them to do……I keep telling myself that with each pump….

In my mind I am already thin.  I have already transitioned to the life I want to be leading.  I just need time to catch up with my imagination…..Hurry, please, hurry!!!!

 

Pure Vanity

So, it’s Monday.  Always the day for starting a new regime.  But I don’t need to start over, I’ve actually been adhering to my plan for the last few days.  Curious as to what motivated that?  Pure vanity.

I may have mentioned that I’m not really in the flush of my youth, somewhere in my late 40’s.  I used to be really pretty, even though I was hefty.  And I had smooth skin, energy, strength, and to some people, sex appeal.  Now….none of those things.  The skin around my eyes has started to wrinkle, there is a saggy double chin, my silhouette is not curvaceous, my skin has no youthful glow, and believe me when I say, there is not much anyone might find sexy about me these days.  My strength has disappeared with my lazy lifestyle.  Now I just look like some fat, old woman who needs help from the strong, handsome young men that might once have had a flirtatious gleam in their eyes.  Sad.

Some of that is the reality of aging.  But certainly not all of that.  I think of Sophia Loren, and that is what I want to be like at this age.  Mature, but sexy, beautiful – vibrant and alive.

I had a conversation with a handsome young man last week, and immediately started to feel vibrant, but then started to realize what I looked like on the outside.  That put a big damper on my confidence.  Actually made me feel sad.  The sadness started to pass once a feeling of resolve starting to kick in.

I don’t need to be this way.  I can make changes.  I can control myself.  It is not easy, but it is important.

20160307_090156_resized

As I said, that was last week.  For the last 5 days or so, I have been walking or being outside being active.  Nothing major, no big production.  No changing into special cloths, packing a water bottle, going to a special spot and taking 2 hours out of my day to get a bit of movement into my body.  I just put on my boots and coat, got the dog and walked a mile.  I’ve done that 3 times now.  I also took my daughter outside and helped her build a snowman, then we went to hill to go tobogganing.  It was all I could do to walk up the hill without panting and huffing and puffing.  I didn’t want to embarrass her with that.  Needless to say I was not going down the hill on the toboggan.  I did what I do most times she is involved with some kind of physical activity, I stayed on the sidelines.  I absolutely cannot imagine getting my butt onto that little toboggan and bouncing down the hill.  Tonight, her Brownie troupe are going tubing and I will not be attending.  Her dad will go with her.  I always feign distaste at snow activities, but the honest truth is that I am too fat to find warm winter clothes that I can wear that don’t make it more impossible or more uncomfortable for me to move.  So she looses out on some fun activity time together, and I stay sedentary.  This can’t go on.

There are a couple of apps I love to use on my phone.  One is the S Health that is part of my Samsung.  It has a widget that shows the number of steps I take each day.  And it can translate into kms or miles.   There are a ton of other things it will do as well, however, with the tracking widget, I just have to glance at the screen to see where I am.

The other app I love is the My Fitness Pal.  This app is an amazing tracking app for food, weight, measurements, discussion forums.  It makes it incredibly easy to track your food by typing in the name of what you are eating, or, better yet, it scans the bar code and finds the info for you.  Almost every fast food restaurant has been included, and practically every food you could think of has been entered.  Ignorance used to be bliss, but knowledge is power.  Now, if I choose to eat Ruby Thai (never heard of them?  my fit pal has), I can still track my consumption.

The other great thing about this app is that it lets me track the macros I eat.  This way, I can keep to my balance of fat/carbs/protein along with the amount of calories.  Tracking the macros make choosing foods a lot easier.  Once I understand what the food is made of, I can decide if I should eat it.  Of course, this is only helpful is I actually track my food.

For the last few days, I have managed to cut out the high fat, high calorie, late night snacks.  I heard someone say that the late night snacks are a reward for getting through the day, and that really clicked with me.  My days are often difficult and long.  My daughter has high functioning autism, my husband commutes to work a full time job and has his own business on the side, my mother lives nearby and requires a lot of care that needs me to get groceries and run her to numerous doctor’s appointments.  I also run my own business.  It gets exhausting.  The last thing I want to add to my to-do list is take care of myself.  But I need to.

Check back in a couple of days and we’ll see if I have still kept up the walks and better eating.

Self Loathing

In general, I am a rather confident person.  I believe in my abilities, I know I have self worth, I’m important to my friends and family, and I am reasonably successful in my work.  And most of the time, I am o.k. with who I am.

But every once in a while, I start to feel really discontent with myself.  I feel my belly bulge out or my thighs rub together, and there is an actual rush of repulsion.  I wonder how could I be confident when I am this big?  Who could take me seriously, as a professional, when I look like this?  Do I embarrass my daughter in front of her friends yet?

I feel the tug of my pyjama top around my upper arms, and feel it ride up my back.  The legs of my jeans get snug.  A new roll tips out of the back of my bra.  I find myself doing a funny bend when I drop something – the kind of bend where you spread your legs first then bend over….I guess this allows my belly to have freedom to hang down and not get caught in between.  Pretty image, isn’t it?!

And here’s something new – my lap seems to be getting shorter.  My laptop doesn’t seem to come up as close to me as it used.  Something seems to be forcing it further down my lap.  Ugh!  It’s that belly again.

As much as I try to joke about things, I really do feel a blast of self loathing every once in a while.  Today is one of those days.

I keep thinking about how I might be after the surgery, in another 9 months maybe.  I’m hesitant to think too much, because there are still so many assessments to get through before a determination is made to do the surgery.  I dream of seeing people I hadn’t seen in a while and feeling so free.  I wonder if I’ll dye my dark hair blonde, as I have always wanted to do.  Will I have a lot of saggy skin?  Will I have more energy?  Will I start to jog, then start to run?

So many possibilities.  In all the self loathing, there is still some optimism…..fingers crossed!

Dr’s Appointment

So, on one of the most winter-y days of the winter, I had a doctors appointment.  I made the long, dangerous trek in the slippery storm, witnessed 3 cars facing improper directions while others tried to move past them, and got myself to the office.  I was worried about cancelling the appointment in case I was charged or the doc wouldn’t fill out the paperwork.

There is a LOT of paperwork with this process.  After getting 4 handouts at the information session, as well as filling out a 5 page questionnaire, my family doctor also had to fill out a 3 page questionnaire making sure my medical history was all included plus to be sure I understood the procedure and the long-term requirements of the surgery.  One stumbling block was the statement required for him to sign saying that he would be responsible for all future issues with my health – not a reasonable request if he is no longer my doctor at some point in the future.

Regarding the long-term commitments, these include taking multi-vitamins for the rest of my life, as well as calcium, as a body can become malnourished from the process.  That’s a bit of disconcerting thought…..  No carbonated drinks, nothing with high sugar or fat content.  I’m a bit sad to think I may never gulp down a big glass of ice cold water.  There is also the possibility of hair loss.  I went through that after my daughter was born, and did not enjoy that process!

The literature says my stomach will start out holding 2 ounces of food, then eventually settle at 4-6 ounces of food.  Wow!  What a difference that will be.  I always thought a stomach was the size of a fist, however, the info session described it more as the size of a football.  I can easily fill a football with food.  

For now, I have yet to make any changes to my diet or life.  This probably shows badly for my commitment to my health.  I guess I better think pretty seriously about doing this.  I have never made myself a priority in my life, everything else always came first.  After all these years, maybe it’s time to start taking care of me.

Everything in Sight

So, after Friday’s information session, I some how had it in my head that I am on my way to a life of skinny bliss.  It would seem my mental outlook resembled a death row inmate pardoned and released to live free.  Meaning, I felt I could eat whatever I wanted!!

Friday evening was Chinese buffet.  Saturday chocolate covered raisins, Big Mac and fries, and later at night Smartfood popcorn.  Sunday was chips in the afternoon, a big bowl of pasta with garlic, wine and feta over scallops.  Then for a snack later in the night, rice crackers with cream cheese and smoked salmon.  Wow!!!  I don’t even want to figure the calories, fat, salt, etc on this weekend!

But, this is Monday…..every dieter knows that Monday is always the first day of a new chance.  So, it was healthy (so far), 1/3 cup of granola and blueberries and a boiled egg.  We’ll see how long this lasts.

Those small changes that I told myself, while sitting in the information session, I would start, walking 3 times a week, have not yet materialized.  But, hey, it’s cold out there!

I’ll let you know how today goes 🙂

The Beginning

 

Friday was the day for the first session in the process of having gastric bypass surgery, also know as bariatric surgery.  I was to arrive at 8:30 am to fill out the paperwork and be ready to attend the group information session starting at 9:00 am.

I left extra early, because I did not want to be late.  It was made expressly clear in the preliminary info package to be on time and to not miss appointments!  Given that this is something I would love to have done years ago, you can bet I will not be late or wait a minute longer than needed.

After navigating the parking garage, I found my way to the Bariatric Clinic on Level 1 of the Humber River Regional Health Centre.  The hospital was large, bright, open and modern.  I checked in with the receptionist and took a seat.  Here’s a really nice thing I found – they had double wide seats!!  For once, I didn’t have to wedge my butt into a tight seat with metal arms digging into my flesh.  Thank you to whomever was thoughtful enough to order those chairs!  The waiting room was quite full, I would estimate about 40 people.

At 9:00, those of us there for the information session were guided up to the 3rd floor and instructed on to a conference room.  We signed in, gathered up more papers and information packets, and found a seat.  The session was lead by a dietitian, with no condescending mannerism towards fat people.  The session lasted about 3 hours with a quick 15 minute break for a coffee.

During that time, we learned about the actual procedure, the process of eating before the procedure as well as reintroducing food after the procedure.  We touched on ways to prepare ourselves for the change in eating.  It was suggested to start making small changes now to be sure that you have those well integrated into your life by surgery time.

Our homework, prior to the next visit/assessment, is to familiarize ourselves with the procedure, know the stages of food after the surgery, and keep a journal of our eating to help recognize our habits and weaknesses.  We are also encouraged to commit to a small change and record our progress.  I’m thinking I should start walking 3 times a week.  I guess it needs to go beyond thinking and just put my damn feet on the pavement and move!

I’ll let you know how it goes!