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 🙂

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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.

I’ve Got A Lot of Catching Up To Do!!

I’m going to list all of the things I want to cover then cover then as time allows.  I’ll first start by telling you that I had my surgery on Monday, October 17, 2011 at precisely 9am.  I came home from the hospital on Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 and I have not looked back or regretted the decision to stay on this journey to a new, healthier me. I have absolutely NO REGRETS!!

Things I want to tell you about in detail includes:

  • Pre-Op testing including the Endoscopy, Stress Echo, Registration, and TWO weeks of liquids before surgery
  • Planning and preparing for the kids while I was in the hospital
  • Getting to the hospital
  • Being prepped for surgery
  • Going to the OR and how I was treated
  • My hospital stay
  • The people who took care of me
  • My surgeons
  • Coming home
  • What I’ve been doing since I got home
  • Things I’m looking forward to

I believe I have covered everything up to the point of pre-op testing and I may have touched on this subject just a little bit. However, for my sanity and to be able to reference it later I want to cover it in full detail.  Today you’ll get the rundown of pre-op testing and the end results.

Once we went through the process of Insurance approval it was time to begin scheduling the Pre-Op testing. Those test included an Endoscopy, a Stress Echo, Chest X-ray, additional Labs, and registration.  On Wednesday October 21, 2011 I arrived at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Asheville at 7:00am for the scheduled Endoscopy.  I’m still not certain how I felt about having this procedure. I knew it was common, painless, and one of the major requirements for the surgery I was having.

After a quick history I was taken to a room where I had to undress only from the waist up, had an IV started, and additional medical history taken.  Soon the doctor performing the procedure came in to let me know what to expect and almost immediately I was taken back to the procedure room.  There was two people in the room besides the doctor. They both starting hooking me up to monitors. One nurse began injecting some medication into my IV while the other had me open my mouth wide and he sprayed some sort of numbing medication on the back of my throat.  That’s about all I remember until I was being spoken to in the recovery room.  The entire procedure took less than 15 minutes and within 30 minutes after I went to recovery I was ready to go home.  My throat was a little sore, and the meds they put in my IV were kicking my tail but other than that I felt fine.  Mama was with me and she drove home. I don’t remember the drive home or much of anything else that happened for most of the day.  The test results came back on September 23rd and I received a call from my surgeon’s office that I would need to immediately start a two week dosing of antibiotics for something called H-Pyloria Bacteria that was found in my stomach.  This is a bacteria that causes ulcers and is treated by giving high doses of two different antibiotics, Metronidazole 500 MG and Clarithromycin 500 MG. I also took a 14 day dosage of Prilosec.  I started these medication on Friday, October 23, 2011 and took the last dose on Friday, October 7, 2001.  I couldn’t tell any difference in how I felt so apparently the H-Pyloria isn’t something that makes you feel anything physically, unless of course you end up with ulcers.

The next set of tests scheduled was the Stress Echo and the chest X-ray.  Chese X-ray … nuff said. Nothing special there. Get undressed, have a couple of X-rays taken of the upper chest area … done!

The Stress Echo however … a whole new ballpark.  I still say today that if I never have to do this one again … It will be way too soon! The people were awesome, very nice, and very encouraging. The test is just horrible.  I couldn’t eat or drink anything 4 hours before the procedure and since it was at 12:55 in the afternoon I went in to this test both hungry and thirsty.  I was ushered into a room where there was an Ultrasound machine, a Stretcher, a Treadmill, and a heart monitor.  I again had to undress from the waist up and put on a cover that opened in the front.  I laid on the stretcher and the tech did an echo/ultrasound of my heart.  I had an IV catheter inserted and some sort of dye injected. They immediately did another echo/ultrasound. This whole time I’m hooked to an EKG monitor and could see my heart beats and rhythm.   The Cardiologist PA came in and told me how the procedure worked. The only issues they were concerned about was my being able to get my heart rate up to the level needed for the stress part of the test due to the blood pressure medication.  If the walking didn’t bring the rate up where it needed to be then they would have to do it with medication. I wasn’t thrilled about either!!

When they finally put me on the treadmill they started pretty slow and I had to force myself to stay with the machine and not force anything more. Every 10 seconds it would increase both in speed and in elevation.  I stayed on the treadmill for almost 7 minutes before my heart rate hit a level they though would be sufficient for the stress echo. This is where things got horrible. Rather than being able to decrease the treadmill speed it had to be turned off immediately and I had only a few seconds to be back on the stretcher, on my left side, and only a couple of minutes for the stress echo to be done before my heart rate was out of the ‘stress zone’.   When they turned the treadmill off it all happened so quick I was left feeling weak and faint. They said that was normal and I would recover.  I did … and I passed.  My stress echo test was  a success and the final results were perfect so the only hurdle I had left was the two week liquid diet and pre-registration.

Stay with me on this journey and watch for the next installment of my journey to and beyond Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass.   During my next post I’ll tell you about registration and what I did to prepare the kids and myself for hospitalization.

Preparing For a Two Week Liquid Diet

Three days into a two week liquid diet, in preparation for surgery on October 17th, and I can honestly say it’s not bad, not bad at all. Sure I’ve been a bit hungry but it’s a different kind of hunger. Sometimes you experience hunger simply because you smell food that … well just smells delicious. Sometimes you experience hunger when you see food or find a new recipe you’d like to try. Sometimes you experience hunger and you really are hungry. Sometimes you experience hunger and you’re actually thirsty.

With all of these I’ve walked a very thin line this week. I started with liquids about 7:15 on Monday morning. By bedtime, with nothing of consistency all day, I was starting to panic thinking I would not be able to do this. I woke up Tuesday morning and I thought I was totally famished. I drank a glass of water and proceeded to get ready for the day. I soon realized that I wasn’t hungry anymore so maybe I was just thirsty. This morning when I woke up I didn’t even think about food or drink. I felt fine.  Each day has been tough, but not as tough as I expected. My goal is to keep my diet high in protein, low calorie, and low carbohydrates. Monday I consumed a total of 86 grams of protein. I did this with protein shakes and Greek yogurt.  Tuesday I consumed 55 grams of protein. I had a meeting Tuesday night and forgot to drink another protein shake before bedtime.  So far today I have consumed about  65 grams of protein. If I have another protein shake tonight then I’ll top out today with over 80 grams of protein.  I’m trying to keep calories below 1000 each day. I think I’ve stayed below all three days.

Another friend is Crystal Light Metabolism + Green Tea Peach Mango (that’s a mouth full!).  After while, drinking nothing but water gets old. Adding flavor not only helps, but this particular flavor is really, really good.  I haven’t had a diet soda, not even a taste of one, since Sunday. I was expecting the caffeine headache but so far I haven’t gotten a headache at all.  I honestly haven’t even thought of a diet soda.  I prefer my soda with hearty solid food and since I can’t have those … why bother?

I weighed myself on Sunday morning and knew what my goal was for surgery. I needed to lose 13.5lbs. I had put some weight back on since my visit with the surgeon. It’s easy to do and I knew the liquid was coming so I ATE. Not excessively, but thing that I should not have been eating.  End of day Monday I hopped on the scale again and kinda freaked. I had gained ONE pound. I struggled to not give up. Tuesday night when I weighed I was down FOUR pounds. I believe the weight gain on Monday was from fluid. I ran myself crazy on Tuesday and hardly had any fluid retention at all. I’m anxious to see what the scales say tonight.  This weekend I will also go back on my Lasix fluid medication to pull off any excess fluid that may be trying to hang out and weigh me down. I want to be well hydrated for my surgery, but I don’t want the excessive, unnecessary, crazy fluid that I normally have.

What else … OH YEAH!  What did I do over the weekend to prepare for what I knew Monday morning would bring?

I enjoyed eating of course!! Friday evening we went out for dinner.  I enjoyed my most favorite meal of all … Prime Rib, baked potato, salad, and yeast rolls. Heather ordered a huge hot fudge brownie for everyone to share for dessert … I had one bite and it just wasn’t appetizing so I skipped it. While it was a lot of food … it was pretty healthy so I wasn’t worried.  Saturday morning I made homemade biscuits & gravy for breakfast. The boys could eat that three times a day and I knew it would be a while before Nanny made biscuits & gravy again. I enjoyed that with sausage and over easy eggs.  We had dinner out at a special open house celebration with a local volunteer fire department. Dinner consisted of hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, and chips.  I finished Saturday off with a Nestle Ice Cream Cone.  Sunday morning I fed the boys breakfast of cold cereal and milk then I hopped in the shower to get ready for church. By the time I had everyone ready to head out the door for church I realized that I didn’t have time for breakfast so I grabbed a protein shake and headed out. After church we went out for lunch and once again I enjoyed Prime Rib with all the trimmings.  I considered this ‘my last supper’.   However, that wasn’t the case.  Heather ordered pizza for dinner and I enjoyed pizza for my last supper. After the kids went to bed I had a chocolate bar and prepared for what was to come.

Do I miss eating … Sure!  Wouldn’t you?  I would give anything to go home to chili beans with cheese and cornbread for dinner … or maybe grilled ranch burgers … or even grilled BBQ chicken.  But I can’t! Plain and simple … I can’t eat solids and I’m honestly okay with that.  I will enjoy a cup of creamed chicken soup then have a small dish of sugar free/fat free pudding later. I will finish off my day with a protein shake.  I’m doing it … and I’m honestly okay!

Thank you for taking this journey with me. Today I am 12 days away from having a surgery that will change my life forever.

It’s Official!

All of my testing is done. If I had to choose the one I hated the most, it would, without a doubt, be the Stress Echo. Oh My Granny! That was the most horrible thing I honestly believe I have ever endured!  Now that all of the test are behind me it is time to move on to the important stuff … SURGERY!

I am excited to announce that I have an official surgery date scheduled. I have pre-op testing on Friday, October 14, 2011. That will pretty much be an all day event. I will see the surgeon to confirm that my weight is where it needs to be and that nothing new has occurred since my initial visit with him. I will then go to the hospital to preregister and visit with Anesthesia. There may or may not be additional blood work done by Anesthesia. Of course my hopes are .. NOT. I’ve had enough testing to last me a lifetime.  I was a little surprised to find out that my surgery is actually at the St. Joseph Campus of Mission Hospital System rather than at Mission itself. It’s ok … just surprised is all.  My mama had her knee replacements both done at St. Joseph and she did okay. I don’t have to worry about eating hospital food so my only concern will be my care. I just hope they don’t stick me down on the end of a hallway and forget about me being there 🙂

Once everything is completed on the 14th I’ll spend the weekend ‘putting my affairs in order’.  This will include pre-packing as much of the boys lunch as I can and matching outfits for them to wear to school while I am in the hospital. Hopefully only two days!  Peyton will stay with my Mama so his clothes will have to be packed. I’ll have to prepare a bag for myself and charge my laptop so I can keep up.   Heather will be home for Brady & Chance but I’m the one who always does these things, so to save confusion, aggravation, and worry I’ll do as much as I can before hand so all she’ll have to do is toss Brady’s lunch in his bag and get them dressed for the day.  Shouldn’t be to tough … right??

Bright and early on Monday morning, October 17th, 2011,  I’ll head on over to Asheville for the day I’ve waited for since early spring. I have to arrive at St. Joseph Hospital at 7:00 am.  Surgery is scheduled for 9:00am. All is well and at peace in my heart about this surgery.  I have considered all options and at this point I believe this is the best option for me.

On Monday, October 3, 2011 I will begin a high protein liquid diet. The liquid diet will continue for two to three weeks after my surgery. Does this bother me? Of course it does! I am a meat and potato person.  Can I survive on liquids alone?  You bet I can!  It’s part of the process and something that isn’t foreign to me. I’ve known since the beginning a time would come when I had to stop eating completely … no solids … no meat … no potatoes. Only thing I can put in my mouth has to be considered liquid.  NOW … that does include things like sugar free jello/puddings, low fat/fat free yogurt, and sugar free popsicles.   I will be drinking a lot of diet green tea, three or four protein shakes per day, lots of water and Crystal Light.  I’ll have beef and chicken broth with added protein powder and the final downside … I will have to completely give up my Diet Pepsi.  I’ve cut way down … now it’s time to give them up for good.  I do, however, plan to go out this weekend and have a large ribeye steak, baked potato loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon, a salad, and a glass or two of sweet tea.

Keep an eye out over the next couple of weeks … I may post some recent photos and some photos of my liquid diet. I will definitely have surgery day photos and post surgery photos. Hopefully as the weight comes off I’ll find myself wanting to be in front of the camera more often.

How’s It Going?

Well … I’m getting there! It seems like things are dragging and taking forever but honestly they aren’t.  I could conceivably have my surgery by mid to end of September. If it’s later than that it definitely won’t be because I’m dragging my feet.  My biggest struggle is to get off the required 5% weight loss. HOWEVER … I am doing it … slowly.  In the beginning I had 17lbs to lose. 12lbs of that has to be lost BEFORE I can go to the surgeon. This is in addition to everything else that is required before the initial visit with the surgeon. On August 11th, provided I have hit the -12lb mark I will be ready to go to the surgeon.  On August 11 I have my third medical visit and the final dietary class. The first dietary class was really informative. I took the new knowledge to the grocery store with me earlier this week and it made me realize how important it is to read labels and know what you are eating.

How is the weight loss going?  Not bad actually.  It could be better but I’m not complaining. I have lost a total of 6.4 pounds.  I need to lose at least 5.6 pounds before my visit on August 11th. I’m working hard and increasing my activity/exercise so hopefully I will be successful, then it’s on to the surgeon.

A lady I work with has received her surgery date and I’m excited for her. She has been a big encouragement for me and I look forward to walking this journey with her. I’m praying for a successful surgery for her and look forward to seeing how she does afterward.

I’ll let you know how my appointment on August 11th goes!

2nd Medical & Psych Eval

Several more hurdles have been crossed on my journey to weight loss surgery and I’ve had several successes in the process. I want to document now, before I forget any of it, what has happened over the past month.

On June 29th I did the physical catchup. It had been about 5 years since I had taken time to actually see the doctor for me instead of one of my daughters or my grandsons. After the initial visit with the doctor at the Weight Loss Center I was armed with a long list of tests that needed to be done. Fortunately they were good with having Dr. C do those test along with my physical exam. Without going into detail, other than my blood pressure, everything else was sort of okay. My blood pressure was still pretty high, even on medication, so he again increased my BP medicine.  When my lab results all came back they looked almost okay.  Vitamin D and Vitamin B-12 levels were on the low side of normal so I was put on a 50,000IU dose of Vitamin D once a week for eight weeks and 1000mg B-12 once a day for 30 days. I am also taking Biotin to improve the overall health of my hair, nails, and skin. These three things seem to be the first things that are neglected when you have the surgery as they are the last things to receive nutrition. I want them to be as healthy as the rest of me so I don’t end up bald, with hangnails and horrible skin after my surgery.

On July 7th I had my initial visit with a registered dietician. Super sweet lady and she spoke frankly with me about eating habits and dietary habits. She kept using toddlers as examples. She said that if adults would follow a toddlers eating habit we wouldn’t have the worry of obesity that we have today. It really did make sense.  Babies are born with the knowledge of eat and hunger. We feed them when they are hungry and when they are full they refuse. As those babies grow into toddler-hood they still have the knowledge of eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. WE as adults are the ones who teach them bad eating habits. We insist they clean their plates, even though they are refusing and telling us they are full. For me it comes from growing up being made to clean my plate.  We are all guilty of labeling our child as a bird eater or a picky eater when in fact they are perfect eaters.  It’s our job to provide the healthy and it’s their job to eat it. If they don’t like it they will move on to something else but we should still offer their dislikes as they grow their taste and affections for different types of food. I took this information home with me and have practiced the change at home. When the boys stop eating I ask if they are finished, have them clear their place, and they go about their business. When they ask for snacks I make sure they are healthy and give them one. They eat when they are hungry and what they eat is healthy. When they are full their done, nuff said! I’m trying to do the same thing with my eating habits and it’s working in my favor! I’ll explain more later.

Yesterday, July 14th I had the dreaded Psychological Evaluation that is one of the requirements before having Gastric Bypass. I was concerned that it was a pass or fail test. If you fail then you wouldn’t get to have the surgery. Fortunately I didn’t ‘fail’ anything and the test doesn’t set a precedence of the status of your surgery, only as part of the recovery.  It helps determine if you may face some struggles post surgery and need some ‘help’ to get through the rough spots.  The morning started out early. I had to be in Asheville by 8:15am for the evaluation.  I arrived a little early and they had my room all setup and ready for me. Dr Carr came in and we chatted for about an hour.  I had heard different things to expect from him and was a bit worried that our personalities would clash. Fortunate for both of us we meshed and our personalities got along just fine.  During the hour spent with him we did the formal paperwork for confidentiality purposes then the test started. He first asked me a series of about 12 questions/statements and I had to define what they meant to me or what my answer was.  Sort of like the questions asked during the Miss America pageant.  He seemed amused by some of my answers and interpretations. The next part of the evaluation was the dreaded Ink Blot test. He showed me a series of about 12 cards with various colors and shapes and I had to tell him what my first impression of each was.

That finished, he then gave me the LONG part of the evaluation … The fill in the dot section.  It reminded me of those horrid end of grade test where you had to color in the circles on the answer sheet.  This part of the evaluation was in two parts.

The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory – 2 was the first part.  This test included 567 questions and took about two hours to complete. It is full of some of the most outlandish and insane statements I have ever heard. Every answer is either true or false. The answer sheet is attached to the inside back cover. The first page of the statements flow out the the last line of circles to be filled in. Each page of statements gets more narrow so that they line up with the next column on the answer sheet and the sheet works from right to left.  You read each statement, fill in the circle, complete page one and turn the page, wash, rinse, repeat until you have finished the last sheet. When you flip the last page you reveal the entire answer sheet which can then be removed from the book and put through a scanner that scores the completed exam. The answer sheet, completed, looks like:

The second fill in the circle part of the evaluation is called Duke Health Profile (The DUKE). It is made up of 17 multiple choice type questions, 36 true/false statements, 16 select the one that best describes you statements.  This part of the evaluation took about 25 minutes.  By the time I had finished everything and delivered it back to the appropriate lady in the office I had given them 3 1/2 hours of my morning.

This left just enough time to make a quick trip to Dicks Sporting Good, grab a bite of lunch and head over to the Mission Weight Management Center for my second medical visit. I was worried about this one because I just wasn’t sure that I would show any great success with weight loss or anything else for that matter.  When I had visited last week for the dietary consultation I had actually gained .2lbs and since my birthday was the day before and I had just had lunch I knew I was going to show more weight gain and just down right hate myself for it. BOY WAS I SURPRISED!!  I stepped on the scales and I had LOST 4.2lbs!!! That in itself was enough for me to be excited.  When the nurse took my blood pressure, instead of being 190/98 like it usually is, it was 120/70!  I can’t remember when my blood pressure was that low.  I was so excited I almost cried.

I’m required to lose 17lbs before my surgery so that leaves the magic number at just under 13lbs left to go.  While talking with Dr. Hathaway I asked her to give me a conceivable time frame for having my surgery. We talked a minute about insurance requirements and with my not being as stringent as most she said that I could possibly have my surgery within a 6-8 week time frame.  I have to complete two dietary classes, one more medical visit, and have to be within 5lbs of my required weight loss in order to be referred to the surgeon. Once I see the surgeon then my insurance will be filed for approval, pre-op testing setup, then I’ll have a surgery date.

For the record my first dietary class is August 1st, the second one is August 25th,  and my next medical visit is August 18th.  If by the 18th I have lost 8 more pounds I can be referred to my first surgical visit which would most likely be after the 25th so I’ll be ready for insurance filing, pre-op, and surgery.

If you have read all of this and you are following me along this journey – Thank you! I appreciate your support.  With the long medical stuff over I will entertain you with a few cute little boys that I love and hold so very dear to my heart…

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