I keep not writing this and I don’t know why. Maybe I’m so grateful that it’s finally over I just don’t want to go back and relive it. LOL.
It’s not that the experience was bad, necessarily, it’s more that I’m so focused on an “eyes forward” mentality that any type of looking back seems like a bad move to me – but I need to get y’all caught up! So here we go…
By the time my surgery date rolled around, my brain was numb and I felt completely raw. I was scared, excited, and just…exhausted. I was so tired of beating myself down with the “what if’s” that I just wanted it to be over.
The drive to the hospital is an hour and a half from our home. Sure, I could have gone with a closer location but that would have meant giving up the surgeon I chose – and I wouldn’t have given him up for anything in the world. HMH and I got up super early that morning and drove up to the hospital and checked in. They gave HMH a piece of paper with a 5 digit number on it and told him that he could watch the monitors on the wall to see where I was at any given time. We sat and waited for my name to be called, watching other patient’s numbers go from In Facility to Pre-Op to Surgery to Post-Op to Recovery.
While we waited, HMH tried to keep my mind off of things by joking with me or talking about this and that. There was nothing that could shake me out of my “Oh my God, I’m having surgery” mode. I was scared…and I think most people would be. Surgery is a scary thing.
When they called my name, I had to go back by myself to meet with my pre-op nurse. She took my blood pressure (pretty high, go figure) and my temperature before giving me a delightfully awful paper gown to change into. As I sat in the room waiting for her to come back and put my IV line in, I just kept thinking “Okay, here we go…here we go…”
Poor HMH. My surgery was scheduled for 11:30 am and they didn’t come to get me until 1:20 pm. I had several meltdowns in those hours where I’d just start crying for no reason. All I could think about was what I was about to do. I was afraid of waking up in pain, afraid of something going wrong, afraid of the hospital being raided by zombies in the middle of my surgery. Every minute that ticked by gave me another opportunity to create hysteria in my head.
Finally the OR nurses and anesthesiologist came to see me and soon I was wheeled away from HMH, prompting another bought of tears. I think everyone has that moment where you wonder “Am I going to open my eyes again? Am I going to see you again? Am I going to be okay?” I had about 3,000 of those moments in the 2 minutes it took them to wheel me into the freezing cold operating room.
Once I was in the OR, the nurse explained that I was laying on an inflatable hover cushion and that they were going to inflate it and float me over to the operating table. It was a surreal experience. They’d given me something in my IV to relax me because I was crying, so here I’m feeling sort of relaxed and scared at the same time and it suddenly feels like I’m laying in a life raft in the middle of the ocean. Air is blowing all around me and they effortlessly pulled me over to the operating table. They deflated the cushion, but I guess I was on the table crooked so they told me they were going to inflate it once more and straighten me out.
At this point, my surgeon appears above me. He smiled down at me and said “I think they just like play’in with that thing, Dianne…” and disappeared again. My OR nurse, who was just about the sweetest person ever, could see that I was still upset – even on drugs. She took my hand and told me to squeeze it if I was afraid…and told me that she’d be there with me when I fell asleep and the whole time I was out. She explained that she would be there when I woke and that she wouldn’t leave me…and that everyone there was going to take such good care of me. I probably squeezed her hand right off, but I was so thankful for her. For all of them. The last thing I remember seeing was a water stain on a ceiling tile above my head.
Two hours later, I was conscious. My surgery was only 45 minutes long, but I was in recovery for a while. The first thing I remember was choking on the ventilation tube as they pulled it from my throat. Most people don’t remember this, so if you ever have surgery please don’t worry about it. I’d had two surgeries before this one and I didn’t remember it for either of those.
When I woke up, I was in a massive amount of pain – mostly from the gas in my body, not from my incisions. It was overwhelming. My voice was hoarse and raspy and I kept hearing myself say “Oh my God, Oh my God, Oh my God” over and over…like a broken record. My recovery nurse’s name was Daisy and it pains me to tell you that I did, in my drugged up hysterical stupor, say the following…
“Oh…my favorite flower. Ow! Ow! Ow! Oh my God, oh my God…ow! Ow!! Daisies are my favorite…Ow!!! Oh my God…”
I could barely open my eyes, but I’m certain I saw her trying not to laugh. LOL. Poor thing. I’m not trying to discount my situation, but when I think about it I just giggle. Recovery room nurses are a special breed of people. God bless ‘em all.
Daisy mercifully administered some kind of drug and I was pain free before I realized it. In fact, I was still say “Ow! Ow! Oh my God…” when she scooted over to me and calmly said “Dianne, I know it hurts but you have to stop panting if you want these meds to work. Slow your breathing….caaaaaaalm…..” I focused on her words and started breathing deeper and deeper…and only then did I realize that the pain was gone and that I could relax.
Two blonde nurse dudes showed up to take me to my room before I even had a chance to thank Daisy for patiently listening to my hysterical ramblings. I just remember looking up at one of them and thinking “Thor….?” I have no eff’in idea what the hell their names were.
As soon as they wheeled my bed into my room and I saw HMH standing there, I thought….home. Safe. Normal. I’m okay. He’s here. We’re okay. Thank you, God. There was never a sweeter sight than my scruffy look’in hubby standing there, reaching to grab my hand, telling me everything was ok. Thank God, thank God.
There was the normal hustle and bustle of nurses coming in and setting up my chart, writing on the white board, introducing themselves. I had a private room, thankfully, and HMH had a nice couch to stretch out on if he wanted to. After a couple of hours, I felt awake enough to crack a joke or two…and I decided it was time to walk.
All of the information that had been thrown at me since I started this journey came flooding back – and I remembered quickly that the best thing to do to move the gas pains along was to walk. So I called the nurse for help and I started moving.
I had 5 incisions across my belly, some tiny and some not so tiny. None are more than 1.5 inches in length. They were angry looking and bruised, but I expected that. Just as my surgeon had warned me, the one on the lower left was the one that hurt. I couldn’t feel anything from the others but that one on the lower left hurt like a mother. That’s where they did all the work. That’s where they put in the tool that pulled out 85% of my stomach after it was cut away…and in order to do that, they had to cut through muscle.
The nurse helped me up and I walked into the restroom for a quick pee and then walked about 50 feet down the hallway before I instinctively felt that it was enough. By the time I got back to my bed, I was feeling a little woozy. I looked at the clock and realized that HMH had been with me well over 12 hours. He had an hour and a half drive home. Certainly, the dogs were wondering what the hell was going on because one of us is always home. I sent him on his way and told him to be back in time to pick me up at lunch time. Why make him come back first thing in the morning when I’m just going to be scuffling along the halls in my slipper socks…dragging an IV rack with me. Things like this are hard on both halves of a couple. I wanted him to have a break.
I slept a little that night, but how much can you really sleep when they’re coming in to take your vitals every hour? Not much. I left the tv on, but I don’t remember watching anything but one episode of Downton Abbey that I happened to catch. Most of my night was a dreary routine of laying in bed, getting up, shuffling down the hallway, and coming back to bed. Each time I walked, I made a point to walk farther than I had before.
Most of all, I just kept thinking how grateful I was that most of the scary stuff was over. The only thing remaining that I was worried about now was passing the barrium swallow test in the morning. I wasn’t allowed any water or ice chips or anything until I passed that test in the morning. In the meantime, I was given a sponge on a stick that they let me wet with water and rub around on the inside of my mouth.
Sleep, walk, rest…sleep, walk, rest…and pray that I passed the swallow test in the morning. That was the path I was until morning.
Questions? I’m all ears…and I’ll be back soon to talk about discharge day.
I’m scrambling to catch up because I haven’t even blogged about my surgery yet and yesterday was my 1 week “surgiversary”. Recovering the right way takes a lot of my brain power, apparently.
I fully intended to write one more blog post before my surgery day, but those plans were dashed by a sadistic little bitch called “Day 7 – Pre Op CLEAR liquid diet”.
So let’s talking about the pre-op diet that my surgeon requires of all patients. 7 days of liquids: 6 days full liquids, 1 day clear liquids. Here it is:
PreOp Full Liquid Diet
3 – 4 Meal replacement shakes (from approved list) per day
At least 64 oz of water daily
Tea and coffee without sugar or cream/milk
PreOp Clear Liquid Diet (day before surgery)
Gatorade/Powerade/Vitamin Water Zero
**NO RED OR PURPLE DYES IN ANY BEVERAGES**
The pre-op full liquid diet of protein shakes and sugar free jello isn’t that bad. The first day, you’re excited. Then it wears off. Then you start remembering all the restaurants you didn’t get to have one last hurrah at. Shit.
Honestly, I handled that fairly well. One of the nice things about gastric sleeve surgery is once I’m healed and eating regular food, I can eat anything I want. So if I felt a little regret creep up about not getting to go to Razzoo’s one more time, I just reminded myself that I would be back there again soon if I wanted to. Their blackened chicken po-boy sandwich is GORGEOUS. After surgery, I’ll only be able to have a couple of bites of the grilled chicken in the sandwich – but that’s the best part! I won’t be able to eat the bun. I’m okay with that. Eventually, I’ll be able to have a bite or two of it if I choose. The main takeaway is that I’m not losing anything, I’m just being forced into finally learning moderation.
Most of the time, I just kept my nose to the grindstone. I felt myself starting to go a little numb around Day 5-ish. I was getting tired of avoiding food and focusing on the protein shake thing. I was starting to obsessively worry about facing surgery. It’s totally my thing. I get all melodramatic and stupid. I start wondering if I should leave little notes around the house in case I die so that HMH knows which niece to give my Grandmother’s watch to or which of my friends to offer my needlework supplies to. Not to mention the notes I’d have to leave around the house to remind him about housecleaning ‘n shit.
By the time Day 6 rolls around and you’re facing the clear liquids on Day 7, you’re ready to cry. I sipped leisurely at that last protein shake, my friends. Leisurely.
As it so happened, there was a winter storm approaching north Texas the night before my pre-op appointment. It was quickly looking like the roads were going to ice over and I wouldn’t make it to my mandatory pre-op appointment on time. The hospital is an hour and a half north of our home…and my appointment was at 8:30 am. On a work day. Add an ice/sleet storm to that and you have a recipe for disaster. So I did the only thing a Hot Mess Princess with a plan would do: I drove my ass up there the day before and I stayed in a hotel. Mother Nature better think again when she tries to keep me away from something important!
The nice thing about it was that the hotel was basically right next door to the hospital…and my room was its own little studio apartment. I had a full kitchen and a kick ass bathroom. Free wifi. I was all set up to hunker down and watch the storm roll in. The bad thing? We didn’t want to kennel the dogs for this, so HMH stayed home while I camped out all by my lonesome. Plenty of time for me to lay around and obsess a little more.
Here’s another tidbit of wisdom if you’re thinking of having any type of bariatric surgery: beware of the mental meltdown/shutdown. Not necessarily about food. I think mine was caused by my talent for obsessing mixed with a genuine feeling of being overwhelmed by all the shit I was going to have to go through. Although I took my tablet and about 7 needlework projects with me, I spent most of my time in the hotel watching tv that I really didn’t enjoy…and staring at the wall/laying on the bed. I just sat there and festered. Not healthy. Wouldn’t have happened if HMH had been there to distract me.
The next morning I made it to the hospital for my pre-op appointment (I had my frizzy hair tied back so they wouldn’t mistake me for a patient from the mental observation wing). In the waiting room, I met a fellow patient named Laura. Same surgeon, same surgery date. In fact, her surgery was scheduled just before mine. We insta-bonded over the following questions:
Are you scared or nervous? (Yes, we both were.)
Have you tried the protein water yet? (I hadn’t, she had…she warned me that it’s not pleasant.)
What’s been the hardest part for you? (I don’t think either of us narrowed it down, we just chatted back and forth about what an experience this whole thing is.)
It was wonderful to have a new friend to experience this with. Together. Someone to compare notes with as we go along. We exchanged phone numbers and promised to visit each other in the hospital the next day.
After the pre-op testing we headed across the street to our surgeon’s office for our final stop: a visit with the bariatric nurse, who took our measurements and gave us exercise guidelines, and an open forum question/answer session with other patients that was led by our surgeon. By the time I was headed home, I had a big smile on my face and a nervous feeling in my tummy.
That last night at home was pretty brutal. All I could think of was surgery. Was I going to be okay? Would I have any complications? Am I really doing the right thing? What if I’m the exception to the rule and I still can’t lose this weight? The musings got more sensational as it got later, so finally I just popped an Ambien and knocked myself out.
I’ll pick up tomorrow with a blog about surgery day – but I just want to say this about the pre-op full/clear liquid diets: it’s hard. It’s very hard. It’s challenging mentally, emotionally, and physically. The hunger is difficult to ignore at times. I wasn’t always hungry but there were times that I felt a little crazed. The fact that my surgery was looming in the distance kept me in line. I didn’t want to cause myself any complications because I couldn’t toe the line. So I didn’t.
For me, the worst times were when I would just zone out and stare at the wall. I had lots of things to do that I’d pre-planned for but none of them were motivating when I was actually in the thick of it. The last two days of the pre-op diet were miserable for me and, even though there was pain associated with the actual surgery, in many ways I consider the pre-op diet to be the hardest part of this process so far. It’s definitely not to be taken lightly – but if you plan ahead and approach it with an open mind and have lots of support, you can do it.
If I can do it, anyone can.
I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about surgery day. In the meantime, if you have questions please feel free and ask…or tell me about your own surgery experience. I’m all ears.
Hey y’all -
I’m working on a blog post but it’s taking longer than I thought.
Here’s the quick and dirty:
Since my last blog post, I’ve gone through the pre-op full liquid diet, the pre-surgery clear liquid diet, the pre-op lab appointment, and the surgery itself. I was in the hospital overnight, suffered through a miserable lab test and was released to go home.
I’ve been home recovering since Wednesday and it hasn’t been easy. There’s a lot to say, but I have to find the words and way to say it – and right now, I’m not getting enough nutrition to figure out what those are. The clear liquid diet after surgery is a shocker to me. It’s better that I’m not hungry, but I’m also trying to recover from a major shock to my body while only ingesting about 100 calories a day.
I have five incisions across my abdomen ranging from tiny to just under 2 inches in length. I have bruising all around the incisions, which is normal. They’re sealed with skin glue. My abdominal area is very swollen – to the point that I don’t think some of my pants would fit me right now. Thank God I’m walking around the house in my fabulous sweat pants, right?
To add insult to injury, the 7 Dwarfs of the Menstrual Apocalypse showed up today.
TMI ALERT!!! Don’t read this next paragraph if you don’t have a strong stomach.
I have developed unpredictable projectile nuclear diarrhea. You’re welcome. I can’t control much right now so tomorrow I’m off to purchase the ultimate undergarment: adult diapers. Imagine the horror when I realized I was too sore to turn far enough to clean myself up. Turns out, though, half of a pain pill is enough to get me through it. No need to call HMH for help and ruin the remaining mystery in our relationship.
I’m also dehydrated, but my sleeve prevents me from drinking anything rapidly. As a result, I have to take tiny sips all day long – which is weird as hell to get used to. I alternate between regular water and vitamin water zero, which has electrolytes in it and is recommended by my nutritionist.
Glamorous, yes? Not really. Believe it or not, there’s much more to relay to you…but right now that half of a pain pill is demanding that I close my eyes for a little while. I feel completely out of sorts, but I haven’t quite hit that moment when I wail to myself “What the fuck did I just do???”
That moment may be coming but so far I’ve tried my best to stay strong and handle all of this.
I’ll be back soon.
This has been a hell of a week.
I started the pre-op liquid diet on Tuesday morning. Day 1 wasn’t bad. The novelty of it all made it a challenge. I’ve done a day of this before and ended up with a migraine, so I was curious to see if I’d get one again. I didn’t!
If you’re thinking about having any kind of bariatric surgery, I can’t stress enough the importance of weening yourself off of all or most of your vices before you hit the liquid diet phase. I think it’s made all the difference in my experience. When I started the liquid diet, I had already quit diet soda, coffee, and fast food. As a result, I haven’t had any migraines or headaches. The only side effect in all of this has been a few dizzy spells due to low blood sugar (my nutritionist told me how to fix that) and some very snarly hunger pangs.
Days 2 and 3 were pretty awful. I had growly hunger most of the time. The protein shakes take some getting used to as well.
Day 4 wasn’t so bad. I was getting the hang of it, the shakes weren’t bothering me, and I was distracted by my excitement over getting to see “Catching Fire” on opening night.
Day 5, today, has been a real bitch. It’s Saturday. At work, I had my job to distract me. Here at home I have nothing to keep my mind off the fact that I can’t eat anything. It’s not even about my “vice foods” anymore, it’s just about not being able to eat at all. I know it’s just my mind and my situation, but every other damn commercial on tv is food related. Today has crawled by.
Finally this afternoon I made myself get up and go check the mail – and imagine how happy I was to see my November Birchbox in the mail. Yay! Something fun. I opened it up and came face to face with this:
Seriously, who’s got the HMP voodoo doll? F*ck a duck…
And here’s the best part: there’s a huge winter storm coming our way. We’re expecting sleet and ice. It’s a bad situation for the DFW area…the day before my surgery. Getting to my pre-op appointment is going to take some serious ingenuity…and here’s hoping the roads clear by Tuesday and my surgeon can get to the hospital. Seriously. I will kill someone with a plastic spoon if I have to be on this liquid diet one day longer than necessary.
I’ve known for a long time that I’m comforting myself and emotionally eating when I eat my “vice foods”, but what I never understood until now is that I have an emotional connection to just…eating. Maybe it’s normal for everyone to have an emotional connection to regular eating, but I never connected with it. I thought this would be hard because I wouldn’t be able to eat the bad things anymore, but what really makes it hard is not even being allowed to eat the healthy things I enjoy.
I feel like an enormous wuss for even writing this, but it’s how I’m feeling right now…and I promised to be honest. I’ve been near tears all day long – and while I think I’ll be able to put my head to my pillow tonight without actually shedding a tear, I feel like a walking talking open wound right now. It’s wearing on me today in a way that I didn’t expect…and the idea of spending most of tomorrow away from HMH isn’t making things easier for me.
All day long I’ve been praying for the moment when I can take an Ambien and make myself go to sleep. It’s that kind of a bad day.
Monday starts the clear liquid diet. That’s going to be absolute hell. I’ll get no nutrition from anything but sugar free jello and broth. And I hate all broth. I just went in the kitchen and made more to see if I’d changed my mind. Nope. Still a gag fest.
Tuesday will be no nutrition or water all day. Surgery right in the middle of that. When I get back to my room, there’s no water or ice chips waiting for me. I have to wait all night without even ice chips. The next morning I’ll go for a barrium swallow test, which will determine whether my new stomach has any leaks. If I pass the test, I get liquids again.
The rest of the week will be clear liquids, followed by the full liquid diet of protein shakes again. I won’t get to try real foods for a few more weeks. It’s getting to me.
I hope most of this has been coherent. I took an Ambien in the middle and I can see myself spelling badly. Please forgive.
I’m going to go zonk out now…positive thoughts and prayers are most welcome.
I love y’all.
I slept fairly well last night on a full Ambien. I decided last night that it’s really ridiculous of me to expect to quit Ambien in the middle of the worst part of this process. I’m not sure what I was thinking there. All I know is that there was a point last night when I thought to myself “I’d be happier if I was unconscious.” LOL. Ambien will be staying in my life for now.
Yesterday was the first day of the seven day pre-op liquid diet. It was about as hard as I expected. It’s not a pleasant thing to go through, but I am relieved about one thing: no migraine.
If you’ve been reading my blog from the beginning, you may remember this post from a few years back when I was thinking of having lap band surgery. Before I committed to the idea, I went on the pre-op liquid diet to see what it was like. It was good to look back and read that this morning. I wasn’t ready for surgery back then, it’s obvious. What a difference two years makes.
Yesterday’s calorie count was 450 calories. It wasn’t fun, but it could have been a lot worse. Hopefully it’s like everyone says: the first few days are the hardest. I’ll be in a movie theater this Friday night…smelling popcorn. I don’t want to bust into tears or run over to the glass case of candy and press my lips against it while screaming “WHY!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs in front of my co-workers. That shit’s embarrassing.
I had a fleeting temptation to step on the scale this morning, but got all mother hen on myself. No. I just don’t need that shit right now. I’d rather focus on getting through this liquid diet with my sanity.
For those of you who are considering surgery as an option, I can say this: the pre-op liquid diet is a real eye opener. For me, it’s not so bad at work when I’m distracted by the tasks I have to complete every day. It’s more of a challenge when I get home. I’m usually by myself for several hours. It’s hard to fight the auto-pilot that sends me into the kitchen for a snack and then plants me on the couch to watch the news. I wanted to make Vitamin Water Zero popsicles last night, but I couldn’t. They’re in a bin at the back of our pantry and HMH has all his BBQ gear shoved up in front of it. I simply didn’t have the mental balls to get in there and move things around – especially when I saw the bag of tortilla chips. I got out quickly.
I do miss regular, healthy food the same as my experience two years ago. On the way home from work yesterday, all the restaurants I didn’t get to say goodbye to popped into my head. I stopped that shit in a hurry. By singing showtunes. Yep. I sang showtunes at the top of my lungs while driving my busted up Hyundai down the highway and I don’t give a shit who saw me. I was warding off the food demons and the song “Mandy” from White Christmas seemed to do the trick. I’m quite proud of that.
Day two, here we go!
Muscle Milk Light, Cake Batter, 1.65 Pound