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  Now, do not quote me on this, as I was in a morphine haze when discussing this!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

 

….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!!!!