Beyond Surgery & Hospital Stay

If you haven’t read my previous posts please do so before reading this one so you’ll be sure to know what’s happened up to this point!

In my previous post I detailed what I remember about the day of my surgery. As time passes it gets even foggier. I wish there was someway to remember that day forever. I mean clearly remember every detail, but after all it was a medicated sleep induced day so I guess it’s meant for you to only remember so much of it.  As I mentioned previously I did sleep most of the day when I had surgery. I vaguely remember different nurses coming in to check on me, to give medication, and take vitals. I remember late in the afternoon asking when I could get out of bed and was always told that I would be able to get up ‘soon’.  I believe it was around 9:30 or so that night when a CNA came in asking if I wanted to try to get out of bed and go for a little walk. I was READY!  Getting up the first time took a few minutes. I had to figure out the best way to come up from a laying position to a sitting position, then to a standing position and make sure that I didn’t get light headed in the process.

Getting up the first time was probably the worst part. I was stiff and sore from laying in bed for so long and it had been a while since I had received any pain meds. With the caring assistance of a CNA I was able to lower the foot of the bed, raise the head of the bed, then use my arm/elbow for support to help turn and sit on the side of the bed. At this point I still had the IV and still had a catheter so that made it even more challenging. However, I finally made it to a sitting position and was able to halfway get a robe on and my slippers. I figured I would make it to the hallway and be done! Surprisingly I made it that far and wanted to continue.  The hallway circled around the nurses station and the staff elevators. It made just the perfect circle for a first walk. It took a few minutes and the CNA never once left my side. He pushed the IV pole and stepped in tune to my pace and around the hallway we went. He was very supportive and encouraging. Everyone I passed in the hall had words of encouragement.  I made one trip around the circle and I was ready to call it a day!  It was a tough walk but it was a kickstart to recovery.

I was glad to get back in bed and to also receive pain medication!  I believe I pretty much slept the rest of the night or at least until the early morning hours. Somewhere around 2:30-3:00 in the morning a couple of different nurses came in to give meds, change the IV fluids, empty the drainage tubes, and check my output. All was well so they left me to sleep on for a few more hours.  Around 5am they came in once again for vitals and to remove the catheter. They made sure I was fully alert for this so that I would understand that, from that point, I would have to be getting up to go the bathroom.  There was a little bit of concern that my input was greater than my output so they did give me a “push bolis” of IV fluids.  Shift change happened around 7am and my night nurses all came in to wish me a good day.

The day shift came in and they too were wonderful.  They repeated what I had been through all night with vitals, meds, IV fluids, and added a trip to the bathroom.  While I was up to the bathroom I decided to make a trip around the hall and get some more exercise. Apparently the nurses found it impressive. I have to admit that I was pretty impressed with myself too.  After walking the hall a couple of rounds I laid back down and waited to see what happened next. I knew the morning would involve a swallow study which I kind of dreaded but was also kind of looking forward to the opportunity to get something to drink. By this point it had been about 32+ hours since anything wet had crossed my lips and I was parched to say the least.  The IV fluids were keeping my body hydrated in general but my mouth needed something wet and I couldn’t have anything until after a successful swallow study.

Ahhhh the swallow study!  This was my ONLY bad experience throughout the entire process. NOT the study itself but transport down to radiology was the WORST every.  The lady shows up with a stretcher to take me down for the study. She doesn’t introduce herself. She doesn’t tell me what she is there for. She doesn’t tell me where I’m going, fortunately I was expecting it so I already knew. She shoves this stretcher into my room between my bed and the wall, then stands there staring at me like I’m the crazy one.  I slowly started getting myself out of bed and she starts moving the stretcher around. There is clearly not enough room for me to get out of my bed an onto the stretcher so she starts shoving my bed sideways in the room.  Needless to say I screamed out in pain and made it clear to her that I had just had surgery less than 24 hours before and to please take it easy.  She threw attitude and started rushing me, as if she got paid by the number of transports she did rather than by the hour.  I finally was able to get out of my bed and turned to get on the stretcher which was elevated to high so I had to wait for her to lower it. I was finally able to sit down but I was on the wrong side to be able to lay back easily without a lot of pain. She grabbed my feet and tried to throw them up on the stretcher and I told her to STOP and be patient until I could do it myself.  I took a deep breath and fell back on the stretcher, lifting my legs onto it at the same time.  MAN THAT HURT!  She then started pushing the stretcher out of my room without even covering me up. I was PISSED!  I asked for a blanket and you would think I had asked her to give me her first born or something.  She finally got a blanket to cover me with and down the hallway she went .. no compassion what so ever. She hit the wall several times with the stretcher. Going around the corner toward the elevator she turned so quickly it tossed me around on the stretcher and she did the same thing again turning to push, or should I say SHOVE the stretcher into the elevator and slam it against the back wall. I had tears in my eyes.  She had NO COMPASSION what so ever for my situation and she was VERY rude.

At any rate I made it down to radiology and she disappeared. I prayed to never see her again. She shoved me in a dark corner and walked away. I had not been there long when another lady who was very nice came and started taking me out of radiology. I asked where we were going and she said “back to your room”.  I thought for a second and asked if I was not going to have my study done to which she informed me that I did that already.  I told her she was mistaken so she did a wheelie in the hallway and back to radiology we went. She shoved me back in the dark corner and went away. Shortly after that I saw her leaving radiology with someone else who happened to be the correct person she was supposed to be escorting back to their room.  I was getting worried that with all I had been through just to get to that point that the treatment I received from the study techs would be horrendous.

Alas … I was mistaken.  A very nice young lady and young man came to take me back to the room for my swallow study.  They introduced themselves and were very accommodating to the fact that I had just had surgery and was very sore.  They made it very clear that we would do this on my time, not theirs and to take what time I needed to be as comfortable as I possibly could. That was very reassuring for me.  They took me in this huge room with a weird piece of machinery that I would be standing behind for them to do the study. They explained everything to me even before I was asked to stand and told me they would go through it all again when the study started. They carefully helped me off the stretcher to my feet and helped get me in the proper spot.  We were joined by an older gentleman who would actually be watching the study and moving the machine as it needed to be moved. What an awesome experience.  The study took no more than 5 or 6 minutes and I was ready to go back to my room.  They had even taken time to put clean linens on the stretcher and a new warm blanket.  I was worried about transport back to my room though.  I prayed for a better experience.  Out of nowhere I heard this cheerful mans voice and realized he was the one who would take me back to my room.  Out the door, down the hall, into the elevator, through this weird storage room area, down another hallway, and back to my room. Not one time did he hit the wall, he was very gentle in going into the elevator, turning corners, and overall just a pleasant kind person.  I thanked him for being considerate. He got a funny look on his face and I told him my trip down was so pleasant to which he actually apologized and asked if I wanted to speak with someone about it.  At that point all I really wanted was pain meds and something to drink.

That’s exactly what I got too!  My nurse was waiting when I got back in my room with another shot for pain, another shot of heprin, and told me she may be right back with something for me to drink. Sure enough, less than 5 minutes later she came in bearing a ONE ounce cup of water.  I was going to be allowed ONE ounce of clear fluids every 30 minutes for the first few hours and if I tolerated then then I would be increased to TWO ounces of clear fluids every 30 minutes for the remainder of the day.  I asked for ice chips and ended up chewing on those the rest of the day, along with drinking my 1-2 ozs of water. It was heavenly!

IV pain meds were discontinued at that point. I started receiving them orally and they seemed to not only last longer but were more effective.  I was able to get a shower and that made all the difference in the world.  Day two in the hospital, after the swallow study involved drinking small amounts, resting, and walking as much as I felt like walking. I was up and down several times. I tried sitting in a chair for a long time to avoid laying in bed sleeping. It felt good to sit up but when I finally went back to bed that felt good too. I was tired, whipped, beat, and ready for a nap.  They continued to watch my input and my output, pushing to get me fully rehydrated.  It was a slow process that continued throughout the evening and night.  I was starting to look forward to going home though … I missed the babies and was getting lonely.

Early on Wednesday morning at shift change I got a new nurse. She was checking my IV site and didn’t like the way it looked. I hadn’t noticed but it appeared that my IV had blown and my hand and arm was swollen pretty bad. That basically meant that for sometime during the early morning hours, up to that point, my body wasn’t receiving the fluids being pumped in correctly. They were being deposited into the skin surrounding the IV catheter. She removed the IV and hoped to not have to put another on back in. After talking with the doctor and reviewing my output they decided that I would need another IV started to be able to receive a couple of rapid boluses of IV fluids in order to make sure my hydration was where it needed to be.  The IV team was called in and within a few minutes she had another IV going and I was hydrating again.

I wanted to go home.  My doctors both came in and decided I was well enough to go. My ride was there and all I needed to do was get dressed, pack up my things, and get out of there. I was tickled to say the least. Overall I only had one bad experience and that wasn’t enough to make me regret my decision to have Gastric Bypass.  To this day I still do not regret having the surgery. For me, it was possibly the best decision I have ever made. Time will tell 🙂


Surgery Day!

Monday morning October 17, 2011 saw me rising early after only a few short hours of sleep. I had a long day ahead of me and I knew there would be plenty of time to sleep after my surgery.  I already had everything packed for the hospital so I grabbed a quick shower, using the last of the special surgical sponges I was given during Pre-op.  I woke up my daughter that was going to ride with me. When she was ready we loaded up and headed out.  It doesn’t take that long to drive to Asheville but I wanted to allow myself plenty of time in case something happened and I also wanted to have time to pick Stasha up something for breakfast. I had to be at the hospital at 7:00 so we left about 5:15.  YES, I drove myself to the hospital. It was a well laid plan and one that took some time to figure out but driving myself was really the only option. Since my true support person had broken her are a mere 9 days before and was still hyped up on pain meds having her drive wasn’t an option. No one else offered.  Heather had to be in Asheville for school that morning and she had made arrangements to ride to Asheville with her professor, then additional arrangements for one of her classmates to drop her off at the hospital when they were finished so I knew my driving myself would work out.  Stasha would be there with me until I went to surgery, Heather would be there when she was finished with school, and when they were ready to come home they could drive my car home for me.  It all worked out.

We made good time getting to Asheville and had plenty of time to pick up some breakfast for Stasha. She had never been to Bruegger’s Bagels so I stopped in and introduced her to one of the best bagels she would ever eat.  She kept it simple with a plain bagel but she spiced it up with pumpkin cream cheese. It was tough watching her eat knowing I couldn’t have one. At this point the only thing I had ingested in the last two weeks had been liquids and I would have loved to have just a small taste of her bagel, but I didn’t and she enjoyed it along with a cup of coffee that I would definitely skipped, even if I had been allowed.

We got to the hospital with just a few minutes to share. I went through registration and was soon taken back to a pre-op room.  To my surprise I was not nervous or scared in the least. I was thirsty and that was my only chief complaint.  I was told to remove all of my clothing and given this special gown to put on. Now … I expected your typical hospital gown so I was a bit surprised when it was more of a paper gown with a special plastic type lining. I was also give a surgical cap to cover my hair and surgical hose for my feet/legs along with those cute little surgical booties.  I was one more looking mess!!  Don’t believe me? See for yourself … LOL

While I may have looked pathetic I really was excited

The gowns were pretty cool actually. They had places in them where the hoses from that blue box you see over my left shoulder could be hooked to them and warm air would be blown into the gown to keep you nice and warm.  I never got hooked up so I can’t testify to exactly how awesome it really was.

At any rate … I got all gowned up, made  a couple of trips to the restroom, visited with my lovely daughter …

and waited … and waited … and waited.  I honestly still don’t understand why I had to be there at 7:00am for a 9:00am surgery when it took a total of about 20 minutes from start to finish to get me ready for surgery … once they got the ball rolling and begin the prep.  REALLY!  I had a nurse come in about 20 minutes till 9:00 and ask me a bunch of questions. She then started my IV …

and got me comfortable to wait a little while longer …

About 10 minutes until 9:00 things started hopping and about this point my heart started racing and the nerves started kicking in. I had another lady come in and introduce herself.  I noticed on her name badge that she was a surgical supervisor. Very nice lady! She explained that she would be with me through the entire procedure and she would also be the one to keep in contact with my daughter while I was in surgery. She stayed with me from that point on.  A gentleman from Anesthesia came in to quickly look over my chart and let me know what his job would be. He then checked my IV placement and started to inject something when another nurse yelled for him to STOP!  We all wondered why then she said that the Dr hadn’t been in and thought maybe he should wait. Within minutes Dr. Soosaar walked in. He asked me the technical questions: What procedure I was having and was I absolutely certain this is what I wanted  He then told me that he had said a prayer that morning for me and for God to guide his hands during my surgery.  Lord that made me feel good to know that he trusted in God to see us through.  With that they unlocked the wheels on my bed, I said goodbye to Stasha, the guy from Anesthesia injected some medication into my IV, and down the hall I went.  I remember looking back at Stasha to tell her I loved her only to see her in tears.  I didn’t want her to cry 😦 The nurse who was to be with me during the procedure patted my hand and assured me they would take care of my daughter to and on our way past the nurses station she asked that someone please check on my daughter, make sure she made it back out to the appropriate waiting area, and that she was taken care of.  Off I went to the OR.

From there I remember a few people speaking to me in the OR and I vaguely remember moving from the gurney over to the OR table. I remember them stretching my arms out on these covered boards on either side of my head then starting to hook up different machines.  I must have started freaking out or something because the special lady from before was instantly by my side, rubbing my arm, and telling me that she was there with me and everything was going to be just fine.  I heard a gentleman tell me he was going to put a mask over my face and for me to just breath normally. The last thing I remember is seeing the special lady smiling.

Sometime later I woke up in the recovery room. It felt like I had just fallen asleep but apparently I had been out for about two and a half hours or so.  It’s all pretty vague. I remember then asking if I was in pain and giving me pain meds. I also remember then hooking up my C-Pap machine and putting it on me.  I remember them telling me they were moving me up to my room and feeling nauseated when they started moving the bed.  They gave me more pain meds and meds for nausea when they got me to my room.  I remember my daughters being in my room. I remember them leaving … other than that … everything is gone until later in the evening when I really started to wake up.

If you have read this far … thank you … stay tuned for my next post when I talk about everything that happened during my hospitalization.

Two Weeks Liquid, Pre-Registration, & Getting the Kids Ready

Sure sounds like a lot to cover but really it isn’t.  This installment of my journey to Gastric Bypass will go pretty quick.

I began the required two week liquid diet on Monday morning October 3, 2011. In preparation for what I knew as to come I did the proper shopping and made sure I was well stocked with liquid nourishment high in protein then I ate … and I ate … and … well you get the picture.  I enjoy my final weekend down to the last supper which was pizza. Some of the foods I ate over the weekend included prime rib – twice!, baked potatoes, salads, rolls, biscuit & gravy, pizza, and I think we even had fast food once. I don’t remember everything but I do know I ate and I enjoyed it.  On Monday morning I woke up with a new thought process and that was to get through this liquid diet on a positive note and be successful with where my weight needed to be at my Pre-Op appointment so I could have my surgery.  I hit a few hurdles along the way but for the most part the two weeks went smooth, I didn’t starve to death, and most importantly I got my weight and BMI where it needed to be for surgery.

On Friday, October 14th I had my final visit with the surgeon and received my pre-op instructions. There weren’t many. The hardest was reducing my already tough diet to clear liquids on Sunday before my surgery. I was also given a couple of special surgical sponges to bath with. One on Sunday night and the other on Monday morning.  I was then sent to the hospital to pre-register. That process was relatively painless.  I had to answer a bunch of questions and have some blood drawn then I was on my way home.

The weekend was crazy!! That’s crazy to say the least.  It was a constant run.  I felt like I had to get everything together including the boys stuff for the next week and also wanted to do some dishes so that Heather wouldn’t have to worry about meals while I was in the hospital.   Peyton was staying with my mom so that also meant that I felt compelled to make food to take there as well.  Over the weekend I made a chicken noodle casserole and a pan of stuffed shells. I knew this would cover two meals and I was hoping to be home by Wednesday which meant that if necessary I could make dinner at home myself.  In addition to the cooking I took time to match up clothes for the boys to wear which meant three outfits each, everything included and I individually bagged each day and labeled them for which day they were for.  I then laid out, bagged individually each days lunch for Peyton & Brady with instructions as to what needed to be added from the freezer or refrigerator.  It was a tedious task for me but it made it very simple for everyone involved.

Once meals were cooked and Peyton was packed I headed off with him to Mama’s late on Sunday afternoon.  While I was with Mama I had to help get her bath since she is still recovering from her broken wrist and shoulder blade. I didn’t mind at all … it was just time consuming.

After I got back home I still had my thing to get together and just clean everything up in general.  I wanted to leave my house in the best shape possible and hope that’s how it would be when I came home.  Needless to say it wasn’t … but it could have been a lot worse.   I packed my bag for the hospital, gathered all of the papers I needed for the next morning and about 11pm I headed to get the first shower required with the special surgical soap sponges.  After my shower I went to bed hoping to get some sleep. I had to leave by 5:30 am on Monday morning to be at the hospital by 7:00am.  Sleep didn’t come easy but I managed!

I am grateful my daughter, Stasha had come to spend the night with us and she was going to be with me on Monday morning. I also knew Heather would be there when she was finished with her school things.  It was comforting to know that my daughters were going to put their differences aside and spend the day supporting me and my decision.

Stay tuned for more and I do promise … pictures and numbers are coming!