So I went through with Roux-en Y Gastric Bypass surgery. Guys. This ish is hard. I’ve never had surgery before, much less spent any time in the hospital.
Prior to surgery I needed to go through 6 months of being monitored by a PCP or other doctor to document my weight and attempt at weight loss. This was required by my insurance, Blue Cross Blue Shield.
In October 2013 I found out that I have sleep apnea, and the doctor’s recommendation was to lose weight. He referred me to the related weight loss clinic to go through a 6 month supervised weight loss plan. I made an appointment but did some further research. I found out that they specialized in weight loss surgery (WLS), and since it was close to benefits enrollment time at work, I also had just found out that my insurance covered surgery. I decided to go to an informational class to see what it was all about. In the meantime, I researched the web up and down and read numerous blogs by people who had gone through WLS. It was rather depressing when I found out that I was heavy enough just to qualify for surgery. To qualify one needed to have a BMI of 42 and over, or a BMI of 35 with comorbidity such as diabetes…or sleep apnea. So I was covered in both categories.
After Hubs and I attended the informational class I made an appointment immediately. I had to wait another month so I just did more research online. Once I finally had my appointment, it wasn’t so much as a discussion on whether I was going to have surgery, but here we are starting the process. Appointment #1 of 6. I was guessing I would have surgery sometime in Summer 2014.
The clinic itself had some requirements for me to qualify for surgery. I had to lose 5 lbs. I thought that would be easy. It wasn’t. My dietician also had me work on about 3 goals per month to start establishing the habits I would need after surgery. I had a laundry list of things I had to start doing/not doing before surgery. I thought it was a long list. After tackling a few per month, it didn’t seem so bad. The months passed quickly. Once I finally started to exercise the weight started to move downward. Not quickly. But enough. My dietician approved me to meet with the surgeon at my 6th appointment.
My surgeon is cool. Full of energy and a talker. He’s the one that lead the information session, and I knew right away I wanted him as my surgeon. I get along best with warm and fuzzy people, and he definitely had warm and fuzzies. When I met with him he went over the risks of surgery and made sure I was choosing the right one for me. Knowing that I had never stayed at a hospital or had surgery before, he took the time to let me know that the hospital experience is a very different one. He was very caring and very passionate about what he does. He wouldn’t give me a numeric goal because he said he just wants me to be healthy. If I had a certain number to reach I might end up feeling weak and gaunt. Not to mention, I think, the pressure that comes along with a specific number. I loved, loved my team.
I should also mention that I had to visit with a psychologist and take an MMPI test. This was to be sure I was mentally stable enough to go through surgery. The psychologist gave me his blessing to have surgery, on the condition that I seek help when I need it since I have had some issues in the past with depression and anxiety. I promised I would and went on my merry way.
I finally came to the point when my file would be sent to insurance to be approved for surgery. They estimated this would take two weeks. It took four days. I got the call from the clinic and scheduled my surgery date right away. My date was exactly two weeks away from that call. Thursday June 5th, 2014. Commence stomach butterflies.
I immediately ran over to my lead at work to tell her, and I was giddy and practically skipping all over the office the rest of the day. I was just so happy and excited. I told all the important people and my mom scheduled a flight to come take care of me.
I took two days off work prior to my surgery date to prep my house for myself being indisposed for several weeks, as well as clean for company coming. My mom flew in the next day, the day before my surgery. I was on clear liquids only that day and let me tell you, I get hangry. It was not fun. I also realized I wouldn’t be eating anything at all until the day after surgery. Boo. I had to drink a bottle of magnesium citrate that night to make sure my intestines were nice and empty to give my surgeon lots of room to work. Well, it didn’t really work. I felt quite ill but I can’t say it emptied my intestines at all. I went to bed late after a nice anti-septic shower and prepared for a very early morning.
I woke up before everyone else so I could take another anti-septic shower and make sure I had everything I needed in my hospital bag. We were to be at the hospital by 5:30am. Gross.
Once we got to the hospital I was still feeling just fine. Not scared at all. I thought for sure by this point I would be terrified, but I wasn’t. I was taken back to pre-op and my family was left in a waiting room. I changed into my operating outfit and warm fuzzy purple socks with paw prints on them. This is where the fun started.
My pre-op nurse was a complete dope and seemed like it was her first day on the job. Okay, whatever. After playing 80 questions with her and repeating my name 20 times, she attempted sticking an IV in my hand. Apparently my veins were boycotting IV’s that day. I had never had an IV before. After her successful attempt at wounding me, she pulled in another nurse who proceeded to poke me another several times. This is when I started to get stressed. My surgeon came in to check on me and I teared up seeing a face I knew I could trust. Eventually the anesthesiologist had to give me the IV himself, using an ultrasound machine. I think I was stuck at least 12 times in their attempts. My hand was swollen after one of their failed attempts, and I had at least 4 or 5 sticks on the inside of my arm on one side. IV’s are not my friend.
Now I had to try to pee. I thought I had to go earlier and they wanted to take a sample, but being off any liquids since midnight I didn’t have anything to squeeze out. They needed me to try again because they needed to see a negative pregnancy test before they could do surgery on me. I finally was able to squeeze out two drops (one actually made it into the cup!) and was cleared to go to the OR. My family came to see me off very quickly and I vaguely remember feeling emotional at this point due to the IV trauma.
My OR team came and put my “party hat” on and wheeled me to the
ice chamber OR. The OR I had
was at the end of a hall and close to frosted glass doors that looked like “the
light”. The student anesthesiologist was
incredibly friendly, young and pretty. I
already felt like I was in more capable hands.
They blew up the air mattress I was apparently lying on and I went on a
fun slide onto the operating table. They
were securing my arms in place and I was looking around at all the lights and
wondering why it was so damn cold in there.
And I mean cold. Really, really
cold. I asked my student friend and she
said it was surgeon’s preference.
Apparently my surgeon was extremely warm blooded or something. The anesthesiologist came in with his Star
Wars head cover and started chatting with me while they put me to sleep.
This is where my clear memory ends. My memories from the first week are fuzzy. I woke up in recovery and was able to see my family. I was wheeled to my room, which was the nicest room I could ask for. I was at the end on the corner, so I had two big windows and no roommate. Room #327. I remember being in pain but apparently I didn’t rank it high enough (I’ve never been good at the 1-10 pain scale) so the nurse said they wanted to wait to see if the pain killers they were giving me would kick in. Two hours later, they did. I was given a fun button right in my hand that I got to press every 30 minutes to deliver more
heaven pain killers. I was allowed
to eat ice chips which I never knew the glory of until that day. Ice chips are wonderful. My family had the sense to put my phone on Do
Not Disturb mode so I could receive calls and texts but it wouldn’t make noise
or vibrate. They updated the necessary
people to let them know I was alive after being cut open and sewn back
together, then they left me to sleep.
I slept a lot. When I was awake I was falling asleep. I had some people want to visit me, but I was in pretty rough shape. I asked my family to let them know I wasn’t up for visitors that day. My successes for the day was going to the bathroom on my own and taking a few very slow and painful walks. I have to say I’m so glad I shaved my legs before surgery.
The next day I was wheeled to the X-Ray area to make sure the new plumbing worked properly. I drank some funky liquid in tiny tiny sips as they watched it move through my innards. I was free from leaks and approved to start eating. By eating I mean clear liquids. My first meal consisted of broth and a small glass of cranberry juice. They were both delicious. There was jello on my tray as well but I fell asleep long before I reached the jello. Yes I fell asleep while eating. This was not the first time I fell asleep while doing something in the hospital.
I felt much better this day so I sent messages out letting friends and family know I was up for visitors. I got lots of flowers and a few visitors and I felt so loved and happy that I’m cared about so much. I still slept a lot and ate my fill of ice chips.
My third day in the hospital was harder. I felt worse when I was supposed to be feeling better and getting released that day. I don’t remember much of this day except feeling awful, in pain, and sleeping. I almost had to stay another night but I was released at about 8pm.
My pug monster was ecstatic to see me. After a quick greeting I was able to take a shower. It felt so good. Difficult, but good. I couldn’t bend at the waist at all. Lord help me if I dropped something. I practically lived in our recliner for a week. I slept in it for the first two days. In fact I slept most of the first week. Pug took it upon herself to live on my lap to “protect” me. My mom brought me food and made sure I was taking all my meds. I had one complete meltdown. It’s been hard, I can’t deny that. So there is the tale of my first week.