I had my surgery November 2. No “before” pictures, no videos to provide a male perspective on this surgery, just a great deal of wondering, “Would I recommend this process now that I’ve had surgery?
I was continually asked, “Are you nervous?” I wasn’t until I was walking into the hospital Wednesday morning before 6AM. I was wondering what would change when (ok, and if) I walked out in a few days. It was nothing more than the fear of the unknown. The day before had been clear liquids only, and that was a little tough. I did discover chicken broth was tasty, but also discovered that even the low-sodium version is still a lot of sodium. I thought a lot about never eating pizza or fried chicken again, but soon realized that my inability to handle the responsibility such food and my body demanded was part of the reason I was drinking clear liquids.
I had a scare a week prior, when I went in for my last visit with the surgeon. It was a Friday afternoon, my sister was with me as my medical proxy (it turns out I’d divorced my other one four years prior), and I weighed in at 280. Why is that a big deal? Because I was down to 265 and at one point went on a carbohydrates bender, which caused me to gain seven pounds in 3 weeks. I still dispute the actual number on the surgeon’s scale, because I went home and my home scale, which I know to be a scant 4 pounds different from the scale at the clinic downstairs from the surgeon’s office, put me at 268. But my surgeon said she was flagging my chart, and if I gained even one more pound I would be over my goal weight and ineligible for surgery that day. That threw enough of a scare into me that I went totally low-cal, down to protein shakes and one meal a day, plus a minimum of 12,000 steps a day. It did the trick. I weighed in the morning of surgery at 266.
The intake nurse, Kellie, was nice. We went through what seemed like a million questions, an IV port inserted, and my temperature brought up to above 98.6 degrees. I spoke with the nurse anesthetist and a few other nurses, as well as the surgeon. I don’t really remember being wheeled into the operating room at all. I was told I’d be brought out of anesthesia in the recovery room, and when I was awake I’d be brought to my room on the surgical floor. I don’t know about recovery, because when I woke up I was in my room on the third floor, and I was in some serious pain. Not an uncomfortable amount of pain, but serious, PLEASE-GOD-LET-ME-DIE pain.
My daughter was there, her boyfriend showed up, my sister and brother-in-law were there (all of the I know because it’s what I’ve been told), I had a flower delivery I did not respond kindly to, and I was in tears, screaming for someone to help me. No one would. Apparently they had given me pain meds that were only supposed to be given every four hours, and they couldn’t give me another dose for some time. In the meantime, I felt like I had been ripped viciously apart and left to bleed. I wasn’t bleeding, but it felt like I was being ignored. While I was bleeding.
I have nothing good to say about the initial wave of nurses assigned to me post-surgically. Should I not say anything? I will, because it will serve to highlight the care I received later, but the first batch was led by Nurse Ratched who would not allow the LNAs to help me do anything, groused at them and me, talked back, and couldn’t have been less helpful. Someone eventually told her that if she wasn’t there to help me, she could leave and not come back, and she did just that.
A sweet LNA named Krissy came in and started setting things right, and an RN named Laura did a fantastic job helping a very aggravated patient get squared away without losing her cool. She was calm, cool, collected and nothing but professional. The overnight nurse continued the trend and was so sweet. My daytime nurse was a guy, and I had a male LNA, Chris, as well, and it was great. I like people who speak my language, and these two did. A bit of conversation, just being cool and getting things done, went a long, long way. I was fortunate enough to have Dustin, the RN, again on my final day. The night nurse on my last night there, Kelly, was fantastic. I was a little iffy on her at first because it seemed like she was not patient-focused, but I was wrong. She gave me her hospital direct dial so I could skip the nurse’s station, which was huge. I let slip at one point that I had never been ignored more anywhere I’d ever been. I’d call for pain meds, and despite the fact that the floor was not very busy at all, it would be a half hour before they’d call down again and ask how they could help because the call light had not been shut off. So I’d remind them, and it would be another 15 minutes to half hour. Again and again and again. Thank God I had a catheter. If I had to wait for them to come get me to take me to the bathroom, I’d have wet the bed and sat in it for an hour before anyone noticed. I was still on attended walks when I got tired of waiting, got up, unplugged everything, went to the bathroom (after the catheter had been removed), went for a walk, walked the entire floor by myself, marched right past the nurse’s station into a “Staff Only” kitchen, grabbed myself a popsicle and went back to my room, where I plugged myself back in and got back into bed. No one said a word. No one noticed. I took off the DVT leg wraps and shut the machine off because it was doing nothing but alarming out. Not a word again. That part really concerned me about my stay, but that’s different for every hospital, I’m sure. My grandmother raves about the same hospital, and what do I know from post-bariatric surgery protocol?
I’ve been home for two days. Friday night was difficult, but I slept upstairs, albeit sporadically. Yesterday I felt nauseous all day long. I was going to go to Target, Marshalls and Hobby Lobby with my daughter to get my walk in. I made it most of the way through Target before I had to go back to the car. I felt feverish, and nauseous at the combined smell of Starbucks and popcorn. I had just had enough. I came home, took pain meds and slept most of the day. Needless to say, I’m behind on my water intake, though I think I’m good on my protein. I’m waiting for my drain site to close so I can shower. I slept better last night. I didn’t feel like I was ripping open when I moved, I was able to move onto my right side for a few minutes to alleviate back pain, and I didn’t take any pain meds. It is still very hard to pick things up off the floor, but it’s getting easier. I’m passing more gas, which is good because my stomach is less swollen which takes pressure off the six sutures. (TMI?). I’ve felt feverish. I’ve been really cold. But would I recommend this surgery to anyone else?
Still too early to tell.