Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bariatric Betty's a Hot Mess

Day 7, which means I had surgery 8 days ago, because in bariatric world, you count the days from the first day you drank liquid.  Things have been going smooth - and it sort of feels like the calm before the storm.  Like when your kids have been playing quietly together in the other room and suddenly you realize that it's TOO quiet and know that they are up to something.  Or I'm paranoid.  Could be either.

I'm drinking at least 64 ounces of fluid a day.  The liquid is mostly water (hot or cold), Crystal Light, and Syntrax Nectar Protein drinks.  Twice I've had hot Cream of Mushroom Soup (strained through a sieve) and it was a nice change.  I'm drinking at least two protein shakes a day, which is actually the goal for the second week, which starts tomorrow.  Cool.  I've lost 6.4 pounds according to my home scale, which I think is friggin' fantastic!  I was prepared to barely lose anything the first week because of all the fluid retention from surgery. 

I'm surprised at how few problems I'm having.  Other than occasionally gulping when there is no room in my pouch for gulps, everything goes down easily.  Nothing I've drank has made my stomach upset - although I did find out that the smell of cooking edamame with soy sauce is NAUSEATING.  My husband has been wonderful, and only went back to work for a full day today.  The boys are helping pitch in, especially my 11 year old.  My eight year old switches between being helpful and being upset that Mommy isn't doing her normal stuff.  If it's his idea to take the dog outside, he's proud to help.  If I ask, he might get ticked and throw a blanket over his head until he says quietly "I don't want to".  He's also been acting out more at school, but change is hard for everyone.  It doesn't mean his acting out is OK, but I know where he's coming from.

Because as much as I am a glowing success physically, I'm a hot mess inside.  What started as weird dreams definitely influenced by my pain control medicine, I realize now is a accurate picture of the psychological landscape inside my head.  My dreams have repeatedly involved someone (a friend, a realtor, etc) pointing out that I've left something a mess - lots of clutter, childhood toys, some things my mom dropped off when she downsized that I had no purpose for.  Sometimes they're in my house, sometimes I have apparently left them at a friend's house sometime in the past, and she's nicely saying "Ummm, you need to come get these out of here.  Now." 

It's fascinating, because as I realized in the middle of the night last night, it's kind of like as my fat is being burned off by my body it's almost like I'm remembering aspects of what made me put it on there in the first place.  Like a beach eroding and showing old trash (maybe treasure?).  Feeling embarrassed - ate extra servings of pasta.  Felt like a failure at keeping the house up - ate some ice cream.  Felt proud of my baking skills - made extra cookie dough to make cookies for friends, but then snacked on the dough.  Felt noticed and unsafe - ate more of anything so that nobody would make advances or threaten me.  These are all real feelings, and ones that I've prepared myself will NOT be hidden under fat anymore, and the weird thing is, I'm not feeling them now.  I'm feeling the MEMORIES of them, and they're coming out in my dreams. 

Of course, in the middle of the last night, I didn't FEEL like that.  I felt miserable.  I wrote all of the above like it was about some other person - clinical, removed - but it's about MY past, which affects my current feelings.  My current feelings include feeling proud of doing exactly what the doctors said - liking stepping on the scale.  Being impressed with myself for getting all my fluids and protein in - telling people how well I'm doing.  But it also includes feeling guilty because I can't take my dog for long walks like we used to. Can't even do short ones, really, because when he pulls on the leash it could affect my stitches and cause a hernia.  So I have his sad eyes (and bored chewing teeth) looking at me all day (and destroying every pen or marker her can find).  Feeling guilty because I can't empty the trash, or have enough energy to even just go with the family to the Rec Center (just sitting once we get there).  Feeling impotent as a mom, because I have to keep myself off the painkillers all day to be able to drive to the store to get some fresh fruits and vegetables for the rest of the family.  Then being too sore to lay down and cuddle my son goodnight.  And while housekeeping isn't normally my greatest stregth, knowing that I can't take a load of laundry downstairs to get it started, or bring one up yet means that I'm watching the laundry pile grow. 

Luckily, I've got my husband, who patiently listens to me in the middle of the night while I explain these feelings.  While I tell him that I feel super hormonal like PMS brought a friend, and that it's only by sheer willpower that I'm not biting people's heads off when I'm slightly irritated.  And that I know that some of these over-emotional mood swings are normal for post-ops, because THANK GOD I've been reading posts from so many others who have had he surgery over the past 5 months.  So I know I'm not really going crazy (crazier).  I know it's temporary.  And I know that if I keep doing what I'm supposed to do, I will stabilize and continue my success. 

I'm so thankful my husband and friends are willing to listen (especially my husband who loses sleep doing it).  Because talking is helpful, at least for that moment.  It let's me get back to sleep.  Or stop feeling like crying.  And get back to work following the Rules, working the plan.  And blogging all about this, because it is feeling cathartic, too.

I want to start working out, and maximizing this "window of opportunity".  I won't until the doctors clear me, but I think about it A LOT.  I want to stop taking any painkillers, but I know that if I push myself too hard I end up hurting and unable to do anything.  So I'm praying for patience.  I'm asking my kids for understanding.  And I'm looking at my dog and telling him I love him even thought he's not getting the exercise he needs, and giving him a new chew toy.  This too shall pass.  I'm thankful for the gift of this tool, for my family, for my friends, and for all the prayers that have been said for me.  I look forward to paying it forward.

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