Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Surgery Story

Weight loss surgery is like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.
As I started this post, it reminded me of the birth stories I posted after my children were born.  There were details on their births, the whole experience, people involved.  I realized that's just what this is, it's a re-birth story.  How fitting is it that my room at the hospital had a picture of a butterfly. 

This whole experience was like living my life in a body that wasn't really mine, waiting to go into a cocoon and be reborn into a butterfly. 

I got to the hospital at 6:30 in the morning Monday.  My surgery wasn't scheduled until 8:30 am.  By 7:15, I was prepped and ready to go when my surgeon walked into the room and announced he was ready - an hour early!  I think this was actually a blessing, it left me little time to panic.  I said goodbye to Mike and they whipped me into a holding area.  There, they put me in some compression socks, loaded me up with good drugs and away I went.  I barely remember being wheeled into the OR, in fact, I can't be sure that's what happened because it felt like a dream.  The next thing I remember, I'm being wheeled into PACU, stating very loudly (which is highly unusual for me, I'm soft spoken)  "Oooooooh!  I'm going to throw up!!!"  I said this over and over.  They kept reassuring me that I wouldn't and brought me a wet cloth to place on my forehead.  I don't remember anything else about the recovery room.  I do remember being wheeled to my regular room was painful, every bump we hit, I said, "ooow!"  When we got in there I looked up and said, "Julie!"  then looked over and saw another friend, Sandra.  That's all I remember, I don't remember anything about their visit.  Julie told me they tried to get my dark secrets out of me and I told them I didn't have any.  LOL 

It took forever for my husband to get in to see me.  I don't know what was going on there, I guess there was a mix up in communication, but I was glad when I finally saw him.  I don't remember much about the rest of the day.  Tuesday morning, I was in a lot of pain.  I thought, "OMG, what have I done to myself?"  I was having some very serious regrets, thinking that I would be in so much pain for the rest of my life.  I really wasn't thinking clearly, and I got over those thoughts soon.  It was probably buyer's remorse, this was a major life change. 

They took me for my upper GI with gastrograffin at about 8am.  My nurse told me she should have the results by the time I got back.  I stood in front of a machine while I drank a chalky mixture.  I was afraid I was going to throw up before I even tasted it, but it was fine.  I got to watch it go down my esophagus and into my stomach, it was pretty neat to watch.  They wheeled me upstairs and an hour passed before any results came.  I was getting really nervous that they found a leak, but they didn't.  They just looked at it closer because I had some swelling in my esophagus that caused the drink to go down slowly. 

When my surgeon was operating, he also did a hiatal hernia repair and fixed some scarring on my pancreas (which I only assume was there because I had a life threatening case of pancreatitis about five years ago.)  I think the pain from that is worse than the gastrectomy. 

I know this is an awful picture, but look, I'm smiling!
Once we got the all clear on the leak test, the first thing we did was take out the foley.  I was so happy to have that gone!  The PCA was taken away and I was started on liquid roxicet.  That stuff sat in my stomach like lead!  It is only 5ml but felt like a gallon.  I also started on clear fluids.  Ice chips were first because of the swelling.  Then, water, followed by diluted apple juice.  Tuesday evening I even tried some chicken broth, which sat heavy so I didn't drink much.  I went back to water and decaf tea the next day.  Did I mention that I peed like crazy because I was still on iv fluids?  I walked a bit the first night, probably 4 or 5 total.  I started doing more laps, and was able to do 2 laps at once.  I think the nurse said that each lap was about 180 feet, but I could be wrong.  I did 7 or 8 laps that day.  I also got a shower in and began to feel human again.

Wednesday morning, the sequential compression device came off, though I kept the compression socks on.  I continued to do well with the incentive spirometer.  I only used the CPAP for about an hour the whole time I was there because they decided that it wasn't necessary (not to mention the pressure is way too high.) 

My surgeon came in that morning, saw that I was doing great and released me!  I went home at about 1 pm that afternoon and I was so happy about that.  I stopped at Walgreens on the way home to pick up some nausea patches, which I haven't needed at all.  I haven't had any nausea since I woke up from surgery screaming that I was going to throw up.  The nurses on the station were also very impressed with my progress.  They called me their star patient and said I even passed up Melissa (who was previously the gold standard.)

Yesterday, I was able to get in about 50 oz. of fluid on my own.  I say that's not bad for the first day!  I'll easily make 64 oz. today.  I'm alternating water, peppermint tea, sugar free cherry limeade drink mix and diluted grape juice.  I'm drinking 1 oz every 15 minutes.  When I saw the nutritionist yesterday, she said I could progress to 2 oz every 15 minutes when I'm ready.  But, I'd like to take it slow since I'm getting my fluids in just fine right now.

My husband made chicken alfredo for dinner tonight and it smelled *so* good!  It didn't make me hungry, though, I just wanted to smell it.  It was satisfying.  I haven't tried any jello yet, but I may tomorrow.  I've been able to keep down pill form medications just fine (I'm taking Axid and Propranolol.)  Last night, I skipped a dose of Roxicet and just took liquid tylenol instead and realized that was a mistake.  I really needed the extra pain meds.  Today has been a good day pain wise, but I haven't pushed myself either.  I did manage to make it 7 hours between pain meds so that's a huge plus.

I guess that's it for now.  I'm really doing great and hope I feel much better tomorrow!


  1. WONDERFUL UPDATE!!! I have been thinking about you and looking forward to hearing how you're doing. FANTASTIC - congratulations! This story really made my evening. :)

  2. Thank you for the update! I've been waiting for this!
    So glad to hear that all has gone so well. And that you didn't throw up! Believe me, this has been on my mind! I prayed first for your safety and for there to be no complications, but after that, my biggest fear was that you'd puke. lol!!! I'm sure you could care less about it compared to how I view it, b/c I'm such a freak. But I've been wondering and am glad to know you did so well.
    I know exactly what you mean about wondering why the heck you did this! I remember thinking the same thing on the days after my surgeries each time, when there was just all that pain and crappiness. Usually my frame of mind changed at about the same time I got my first shower. haha!
    Okay, glad you're home. Happy healing. Congratulations on making it through to the other side! :)

  3. Thanks for your story, and congrats...scooting over to make room on the losers bench for ya!

    BTW, I stocked up on SF jello before surgery...what a mistake, I could not eat jello to save my life. It just tasted odd. I used it up though by putting some in my protein shakes to thicken them up a bit.