Tag Archive | surgery

THWUNK ~

You know that noise that comes from pulling a cork out of a bottle? Try imagining it is reversed, where you’re trying to stuff that cork back into the bottle. I had an after-hours work meeting last night, I typically have several each year, at another venue other than my work office. I’ve been attending these meetings for 10 years now, and the chairs have never been comfortable or conducive toward “wide-load butts” like mine. Frankly, by the end of the roughly 2 hour meeting, my behind is screaming at me “never again”.

EMSTAT chair

So I was not particularly looking forward to last night’s meeting, even though it had been 4 months since I’d attended one. Anyway, after all of my meeting prep was complete, I went to sit in one of those chairs that would squeeze my hips and make them ache for the next couple of hours and afterwards. I began my descent anticipating that awful moment when the width of the chair tries to make the wider part of my butt conform to its own shape, and the uncomfortable squish and splat as my behind adjusts into the space. Instead, I dropped unexpectedly right into the seat! No squish, no conform, no discomfort ~ except the one from hitting the chair hard because there was no resistance. It startled me so that I made a verbal exclamation that caused my work colleagues, and my boss, to glance at me to see what was going on. That few seconds of embarrassment was far overtaken by the joy I found in fitting my butt into that chair with no fat resistance! More than 12 hours later I’m still marveling at the thought that, after 10 years, I can sit in one of those uncomfortable chairs and finally be comfortable! Victory!

As of this morning, I weigh 255 lbs. When I started my journey in Spring 2017, I was at 365 lbs. per my cardiologist. When I went for bariatric surgery on 8-2-2018, I weighed in at 299 lbs. That’s a total weight loss of 110 lbs. over 1.5 years. Yes, no more “thwunks”!

Thanks for stopping by and taking a look.

Many blessings,

~ Tamara

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~ Transparency

When I began blogging way back in 2012, I promised myself from that day that I would be open, honest and “transparent” about the things I write. And I have kept my promise thus far. I have posted on Facebook often of my weight loss achievements, and how good it’s going, and it is. I always want to be positive, however, like most things, there is always the “dark side” of things, and my bariatric surgery indulges in that as well.

Tammy Aug 26 2018

For at least the last month or so, I’ve been having “complications” due to my surgery. Complications that may or may not even be fixable. Complications that are very hard to cope with on a daily basis, as they are so very unpredictable. I have posted on Facebook about my difficulties with excess gas, which is not a humorous matter when it’s this severe. And it won’t go down through my system and out, it remains in my stomach and then eventually forces its way up and out through burps in an uncontrollable fashion. But, while the air is internal, it wreaks havoc on my stomach and my digestion causing often severe pain and nausea. Always pain of varying levels. I have great difficulty eating and drinking as it always feels like there’s no room for anything nutritious to get in. I’m unable to get my required allowances of protein.

I have a “proven” list of foods/drinks that I can indulge in, in very small amounts, with the knowledge that (most likely) it will stay down once swallowed, but that is never certain. I can never indulge in something “new” and unproven unless I am at home, for fear of the infamous dumping syndrome. If I am out somewhere, away from home, like at a meeting or gathering, I always try to seat myself closest to the door, and get knowledge of where the local bathroom is, just in case. Anything can happen without notice and very quickly. But living like this is causing me to become a hermit. I no longer like to leave my home, except to go to work… and if I could retire, I would!

As I’m typing this, I have a wicked stomach ache… it’s afternoon, I always have a stomach ache in the afternoon. Usually by the time I get home I need to climb onto my bed and get into the fetal position just to be able to tolerate the pain. I’m assuming it’s gas. So does my surgeon and my primary care physician. I’ve tried every type of gas/anti-acid remedy on the market. A couple have worked temporarily, but then petered out and left me back where I started. I’ve tried prescription Protonix (an acid reflux med), Gaviscon (also an acid reflux med OTC and suggested by my PCP), Tums, Gas-X, Phazyme, liquid generic OTC anti-acid/anti-gas, peppermint tea, Beano, even essential oils (Digize). Often I’m so full of these meds that there’s no room for food!

What do I actually eat? Scrambled eggs once or twice a week for breakfast, unsweetened applesauce, cream soups, breakfast sausage on occasion, ricotta bake (a special keto casserole with just cheese, eggs and a tiny bit of Ragu spaghetti sauce), sugar free pudding made with my Premiere Protein shakes, sugar free gelatin sometimes. Just this week I’ve tried a little bit of bread and a little bit of mashed potatoes, as they seem to calm things more. I’m talking ¼ slice of whole grain/wheat bread dipped in my soup, and a tablespoon of mashed potatoes for breakfast once or twice a week. For drinks I have my Premiere Protein shake and Premiere Protein Clear drinks, and sugar free flavored water. And sugar free popsicles. That about sums it up. I’m trading out the mashed potatoes for mashed cauliflower asap, and keeping the bread to an absolute minimum. I’m trying to stay carb-free. I’d like to audition some new foods just for something different, but the fear of dumping is more than very real. I have to be prepared to spend an entire day at home, sick in bed for hours and then asleep for more. I haven’t gotten there yet. Maybe next week.

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So this is my life for now, such as it is. I’ve been asked if I would recommend this surgery to others seeking weight loss. I hesitated. Yes, I would. Not everyone experiences these little complications, in fact the majority do not. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones that God has chosen to give me extra challenges for now. Sometimes I don’t feel so chipper. I can be smiling to your face but fighting off a cold sweat and gritting my teeth without you even knowing it. It’s taken years of practice to learn how to effectively hide pain and discomfort, and, by George, I think I’ve got it down pretty good!

Thanks for stopping by and checking in.  Next time I hope to have better news!

Blessings,

Tamara

 

 

 

 

Getting There ~

I’m tired.  Still.  At almost three weeks post-surgery, I thought I would be a little farther along in my recovery than I am.  My months of research didn’t tell me that, in effect, this is a major big deal for my body to handle.  I mean, I knew that in my head, but nothing can prepare you for the reality of living it.  I’ve been out of work for almost three entire weeks, and able to do… nothing.  Nothing of substance anyway.  I look at all the things around my house, inside and out, that need to be done (cleaned, rearranged, organized) and I can do none of it.  I try.  Sometimes I can accomplish small, menial tasks, but most days no.  Anything that requires lifting, bending, stretching ~ is extremely painful.  So is daytime television!  Just this week I’ve gotten back into my sewing room and have been able to do a little bit of cutting and sewing.  I get exhausted quickly and easily.  My insides feel like they’re falling out.  Gravity is currently my enemy.  The pain to stand and walk is stupid bad, and the only relief I can get is from wearing my Spanx – like 24/7.  I have faith that it will get better.

Maple Leaf 8-18-18

My new way of eating is settling in, however.  Thankfully.  I’m taking these mega-vitamins in the morning, they’re specifically for bariatric patients and our “special needs”, as well as a probiotic from the same company.  I’m able to eat about 2-4 ounces of semi-solid foods now and keep it down.  My diet currently consists of:  Sugar free pudding, sugar free popsicles, scrambled eggs (1 per meal), Spam (minced and usually eaten with an egg), pureed carrots, minced chicken (Tyson packets), and I’m hoping to add in some cheddar cheese and maybe some other vegetables this week.  I also drink Premiere Protein “shakes” and Clear drinks, to help me get all the protein in that I can.  I drink on those all day… well, except for the “30 Minute Rule”.  Bariatric patients are supposed to drink all day long, pretty much constantly, to keep hydrated.  But we have to stop drinking 30 minutes before a meal, and cannot drink again until 30 minutes after the meal.  You don’t drink before the meal to ensure the best chances of protein/vitamin absorption by having an empty stomach when you eat.  You don’t drink after your meal because the liquid will wash all of the vitamins/minerals/protein out of your stomach before they’ve had the chance to be absorbed.  You also are at greater risk of dumping either way.  Just “everyday eating” takes a great deal of planning, concentration and conscientiousness.  It ain’t easy!

So anyone who would think these past 3 weeks off work has been enjoyable, think again.  It’s been anything BUT enjoyable.  It’s been hard work trying to assist my body to heal, learning an entirely new way of eating for life, and adjusting to my “new best friend”, my “pouch” that is my stomach.  It only holds 4 ounces at a time, BTW.  About ¼ cup or ½ cup.  Think about that if you want to know what I’m going through.

Almost forgot… I’ve had my first “dumping” episode on Sunday.  What bothers me most is I don’t even know why I dumped.  I’ve been so careful to follow all the rules and safety precautions, but it happened anyway.  I had a scrambled egg for lunch, nothing else, and went outside to try to do a small task.  Task was completed, I was breathless and came back inside and it began.  Cold sweats, dizziness, nausea, diarrhea and weakness.  Fortunately, I did not actually vomit.  But the rest was violent enough to put me to bed for several hours.  From that I’ve learned that you can and should take all measures necessary to avoid dumping, but it can and will still happen at random, with no notice.  No rhyme or reason.  I just need to know that this will be a part of my life, for the rest of my life.

Stats:  I lost 63 lbs PRE-SURGERY since last fall, then another 27 lbs since surgery August 2nd.  I’m currently at a standstill for about 3-4 days.

Thank you for stopping by and checking in.

Blessings,

Tamara

Strange Days, Indeed

Nobody told me there would be days like these, post-surgery.  I have been researching bariatric surgery since December 2017, and I don’t recall seeing anyone telling about the complete breakdown of emotion (hormones) and the ensuing chaos.  I don’t recall being this out-of-control since I was around 14 years old.  And before I continue, I want to issue a “disclaimer” that this post may be a bit off-the-wall, random and wandering to different subjects without notice.

Tammy post surgery 8-7-18

Yep, this is me.  Six Days Post Op.  No makeup, haven’t even brushed my hair.  But I made it to my sewing room today!  I am a power to be reckoned with!

I’m Day #6 post surgery.  I guess I can constructively consider myself a mess, emotionally and physically.  I have been nonstop crying for two full days.  Irrational, uncontrolled ~ I feel like I can’t even trust myself, like I’m not safe to be around.  I’m typically a quiet, uneventful person.  But since I got home from the hospital, the “lash-outs” have been real, more frequent.  I’m just kinda waiting for them to “subside”, if they do, but I don’t think that’s going to be an option much longer.

Then there’s this nagging, low-grade fever.  It stays around 99-100 degrees most of the time.  Sometimes it just disappears.  I called my surgeon, fearing infection.  It took over 8 hours without a call-back, and I called them finally and was told to “take Tylenol and call us if your temp goes to 101”.  Ummmm, this did not instill a sense of calm.  Meantime, a low-grade fever seems to be impairing my functionality.

I expected to be more “ambulatory” that I am.  I am able to move about slowly, barely within my own home.  I’m unable to safely go outside, let alone physically GO somewhere.  And I certainly cannot drive yet.  I was assured that, once I stopped taking the Oxycodone (narcotics for pain), I would be fine to drive.  Um, no.  I have difficulty with any sort of exertion.  I lose my breath quickly and easily, and need to sit down frequently and for long periods.  I can’t lift anything heavier than 7-10 lbs.  I’ve spent the past 6 days trapped within these walls, looking at housework that needs to be upkept, and yard work that needs attention, yet unable to act upon either. The frustration is SO real!  **I need to say that Al has been an absolute God-send through this, and does anything/everything I ask him to do, but he has his things to do too.**

How about that “change of eating lifestyle” that I prepared for?  It’s hard, but it’s working.  The term “conscious eating” is my new mantra.  It has to be, unless I want to spend countless hours “dumping” (vomiting) from eating “wrong”.  There are very strict guidelines to go by these first few weeks, and I have been following them rigidly.  Most importantly, everything that passes my lips must be sugar free and preferably fat free.  Sugar and fat make you dump post-surgery.  So far, I’ve gone from drinking 1-2 oz of plain water to drinking protein drinks (2-3 oz) to SF (sugar free) flavored water drinks and crunching on SF popsicles.  Yesterday I took my first sip of chicken bouillon and, I must admit, it was heavenly!  Tonight for dinner, I’m excited that I’m going to try a teaspoon on SF pudding!  To date, my diet has not been an issue for dumping ~ but I keep my guard up!   ***(I just want to add info on “dumping” ~ it’s not simply vomiting, it’s also intense nausea, cold sweats, dizziness, diarrhea ~ some or all of these symptoms at the same time.  So, not a pleasant experience. No.)***

Moving on to “body changes”… nope, I can’t even.  Suffice to say (for now) that further surgeries will be warranted!

I think that about says it all at this point.  It’s early morning (8:15 a.m.) and I’m feeling somewhat sane, so it seemed like a good time to journal this.  I’m hoping this info will help or inform someone else either going through this journey or getting ready to embark.  It is way harder than I’d anticipated, but I’m assured that it’s very “worth it”.  However, my main reason for journalling this is to have it later to look at, to remember.  I know I’m going to WANT to remember this journey.

Some stats, just for fun:  Started the journey in November, 2017 at approx. 356 lbs.  Weight at surgery:  297    Current Weight Day #6 Post Surgery:  283.  And I’m melting… melting…. melting!

Thanks for stopping by.

Tamara ~

PS  I should mention that this is MY experience.  Everyone is an individual and may experience differently.  I cannot speak for what others endure.

 

Pre-Surgery Prep

***NOTE*** ~ this blog post deals with a recent surgery that I had at a Syracuse, NY, hospital.  I want everyone to know that I do not “blame” or “disrespect” that hospital, or any of the staff there.  I’m just relaying my experience(s) from my perspective.

So, yes, my day finally came on Thursday, August 2, 2018, to have the Roux en Y bariatric surgery to help me lose weight.  I had to arrive at 5:30 a.m. for a 7:30 a.m. surgery start time.  My particular surgery also entailed the use of robotics, which means we only had certain time span in order to get this done before the next surgeon would be knocking on the door for his/her time slot.  I was told my time slot was 7:30 to 11:30 a.m.

I was all about getting this party started asap.  Having said that, I also kept in mind that, for all of my life, I have been what is called a “hard draw” when it comes to IVs and blood draws.  So I had anticipated that the road to the other side of the surgery was going to be filled with painful needles and several “sticks” to get me prepared for going under.  This wasn’t my first time experiencing this, and probably wouldn’t be my last.  But, admittedly, this was the worst experience to date.

Of course, Al was right there with me, by my side every second.  God was there, too.  But we sat around for the first hour (5:30-6:30 a.m.) waiting for the phlebotomist to come put in the IV.  When she finally did arrive, she seemed harried and hurried.  She took a quick look at my arms and knew that I was going to be an “issue”, so she went on ahead to get IVs into the other patients who were waiting, and said she would “come back for me” when she has more time.  We could hear her in the hall discussing loudly with my nurse that, if she did me first and made the others wait, they would not have time enough to get THEIR IVs done in a timely manner.  Okay, well, I can deal with that.  Meantime, my pre-surgery nurse was telling me that, because the surgery for me was robotic, I would need TWO IVs, and I would need to have them long before surgery, as they wanted me to “ingest” at least one bag of fluids prior to the surgery.  There would need to be a bigger gage IV put in because of the robotics.

At 6:50 a.m. I was taken down to the surgery room – no IV yet.  But we met the phlebotomist on the way, so she tagged along with the intention of getting my IVs in place in the pre-op room.  She had also grabbed a sonography equipment in the hopes that it would help her locate a viable vein… or two.  Things kinda went from bad to worse at that point.

We’re in a small, pre-op room (about 7’ x 8’) with one wall completely glass.  It was all a very busy place.  Across from my room was the white-board schedule of surgeries for the day, and next to that was a large clock.  As soon as I was wheeled in, the phlebotomist began searching for a vein big enough to accommodate the gage needed for the surgery.  I’m used to this, so not really stressing at the time.  Over and over she was unsuccessful, over and over putting shots of pain killer into the arm she was working on… she had to “dig deep” and it hurt.  It’s now 7:20 a.m., 10 minutes from me supposedly having surgery, and I knew that wasn’t going to happen.  The phlebotomist called for assistance from someone she felt would be able to get the IV in.  All this time, Al was (at first) standing to one side of my bed for moral support, and eventually he was kinda shoved out of the room.  Meantime, my “plight” I guess you could call it, was drawing lots of attention from the other staff in the pre-op suite.  Doctors, nurses, attendants stopped to watch the progress, at one point crowding around the walled window and jockeying best for position to watch.

This was when I began to just lose it.  At 7:45 a.m. there was, finally, success ~ but it was a very fragile IV that came with no guarantees of making it through the surgery.  I was reassured that, after I was unconscious, they would make the appropriate adjustments where necessary.  I was beyond stressed out, and I couldn’t stop shaking uncontrollably.  They kept asking me if I was cold!  I thought my teeth were going to break for chattering so much!  No, I was not cold, it was an adrenalin overload.  This whole experience had been put out there for the public to watch and comment on.  I’ve never felt so vulnerable and exposed.  Later on, in Recovery and then in my own room, I would hear people refer to me as “Oh, you’re “THAT LADY’!”  Yes, the one they couldn’t get an IV into, even with a sonogram!.  Over and over.

Fortunately I’m home now, but as today has worn on, I feel some symptoms of PTSD from it all.  I haven’t been able to stop crying yet today, and I’ve developed a low grade (100 deg) fever.  Maybe the adrenalin hasn’t calmed down yet.  I can’t shake this feeling of “violation”, intrusion and being the center of a very unhealthy attention.  I’ll muddle through, but I’m going to have a discussion with my surgeon.  I would hate for anyone else to have to go through this experience.  It should’ve been handled better, methinks.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

~ Tamara