Monday, February 20, 2012

Bariatric Betty's Gastric Bypass

I was admitted to the hospital at 6:30 am on 2/16/12, very excited and nervous that something would go wrong and we would have to reschedule.  I had so many people praying for me, and had done so much research I don't think I was that worried about something bad happening/ complications, just what I would do if something made me reschedule.  There wasn't room for my husband back in pre-op, so as soon as I changed I kissed him goodbye, and told him I loved him, and I would be alright.  I had hoped that Dr. Ben Meir would meet up with us before then so he could meet my husband, and maybe I could get a picture with him, but as long as the surgery was on, I could pass on the photo op!

I can't say enough about the nurses, techs, and doctors at the hospital.  Everyone reviewed my information every single time they came in contact with me, and took the time to encourage me as well.  "You're making a great choice", "You are going to do so well".  Just after my IV was placed in my dehydrated veins (that magnesium citrate worked a little too well, and had me voiding water right until I left the house), and I got some anti-anxiety meds,, Dr. Ben Meir came back.  He was all smiles and told me that he was very excited for me, and was glad I was excited to have the operation.  I asked him if he would mind going to the waiting room to introduce himself to my husband before the operation, and he said "Of course!".  Next thing I knew, he brought my husband back in and let him take a picture of Dr. Ben Meir and me.  Plus I got an extra kiss from my hubby!  I told Dr. Ben Meir he is going into the family album.  That's the last thing I remember.

The next thing I know, I was waking up in recovery and they were telling me that it was all over, and that I did great!  Later I found out that the surgery had been delayed an hour, then gone the 3 hours they predicted, and by the time I got into my own room it was about 2pm.  My husband was right there waiting for me with a big smile on his face and a hug.  I was super tired, and super thirsty but knew I couldn't even have ice chips until the upper GI xrays showed my pouch could pass fluids without leaking the next morning.  God bless the nurses and techs - not only did they come check on me frequently, they brought mouth swabs!  I wasn't even producing my own spit, so those things were like a dream come true.  I dutifully spit out any liquid in my mouth after swabbing it so nothing would go wrong, and they would keep bringing me more :) 

My mom and sons got to the hospital later and brought me a family picture to look at from my bed - best hospital present ever.  I started walking the halls with the nurse that day, and it wasn't as bad as I feared.  My incisions didn't seem to hurt too much, and I was more tired and achey than anything.  I got four walks in that night and was allowed to go solo after the first two.  Best thing I found - having other bariatric patients on the floor!  One I knew from pre-admission testing.  The other I just met while I was there.  We would say hi from the doorway as we walked passed each other's rooms and invite them to join us.  We compared pain levels and talked about how excited we were. 

The next morning I was taken down to radiology where I swallowed some foul dye several time and they took a series of x-rays.  I was worried the first time I swallowed 7ml.  What if it couldn't get through the stoma, the pouch or the Y junction?  But it went down so quickly and easily, it even surprised the x-ray tech.  Bonus: the tech had already have gastric sleeve bypass herself a year ago!  She talked about it being the best decision of her life and looked wonderful! 

The only hard part of my day was the next 1 1/2 hours.  I was tired and wanted to go to my room so I could get ice chips (yummmmm, ice chips!!!!).  But, the radiologist was backed up and it took another 1/2 hour before he even got to my films.  By the time that he read them and signed off, it turned out that my surgeon had already reviewed them himself online and ordered the ice and water for me!  Then I waited the next hour for transport.  That was painful.  My mouth was sore from being so dehydrated, my muscles were sore from already sitting up so long, and I watched other patients being brought down and taken back up from radiology while I just sat there in the hall.  The tech felt so sad for me - she brought me a pillow and backed me against the wall so I could rest my head.  Twice transport came and took away empty beds and wheelchairs.  I was about at my wits end when transport finally came for me, and tried not to be mad as she took me back to my room.  I thanked her for coming to get me - there must have been a problem in dispatch, I don't think it was her fault.  But by the time I got to my room, the tears were flowing.  I got into my bed and ate my first ice chips, loving each one, but it took a while for my tears to stop.  More pain meds helped, and so did a little rest. Probably also helpful was that I was able to start my anti-depressants again.

I did at least 10 walks around the hall that day, and started having more gas pain (now that I actually was swallowing stuff, my intestines were befuddled).  Still, walking seemed to help.  That night I actually slept for 3 hours at a time, which was a big improvement over the previous night.  Unfortunately, each time those three hours allowed gas to build up.  Unlike my fellow post-ops, my lower intestines didn't start up until after I went home, and the only way gas could vent was by burping.  Early the next morning I was trying to walk some of it loose when the pains got so bad I started crying in the hall.  My sweet nurse helped me back to the room and told me I could lay back down for a bit before sitting up again.  I asked her to double check that none of the pain I had was near an incision cite, and they weren't.  Fear backed off, and I knew it was just gas.  They didn't want to put me on Gas-x/ simethicone at the hospital, but tried a suppository and a bowel stimulant to get stuff woken up down there.  About a day later, it finally let some gas out - yay!

Removing the drain was weird - I imagined it was much shorter, but I had 9-12 inches of tubing in me.  It didn't hurt coming out at all, and then I got to take a shower and be discharged.  Getting home was wonderful.  My mom drove me home and my husband and kids had the place all ready for me.  It took me a couple days to be able to sleep comfortably enough in the bed to make it worth sitting up from lying down flat with a sore stomach, but walking continues to help.  I haven't had any problems keeping fluids down.  I even got two protein shakes down yesterday - I was only planning on one, but when I was doing so well and still fours hours from bedtime, I figured "What the heck, I'll try another".

Best news of all  -when I was discharged I was off all my diabetes medicine.  They checked my blood sugar every four hours post-op and it kept going down: 131, 126, 118, 110, 104... Since I've gotten home it's been even lower!  Looks like my diabetes has already gone into remission, just as I hoped it would.  My mom is going home today, and my ever supportive husband is taking another day off to stay with me tomorrow, but I'm starting to feel like myself again.  A gassy, bloated, liquid-only self, but still...  My only new advice to share with pre-ops: I found that the Syntrax Nectar protein shakes are much better than the vanilla creamy ones post-op, and don't watch America's Funniest Home Videos the first week after surgery (it feels great to laugh, but hurts!). 

I came home to dozens of messages and cards from friends and family, and am so grateful for their support.  I "came out of the pantry" to my facebook friends about having the surgery before I went in to the hospital, and received only positive comments.  My friends and family support has been the greatest gift and biggest source of strength through all of this.  Now on with the journey towards health...

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