The Little Things

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Let no one ever tell you that laparoscopic surgery is a painless option. It just aint true.

Now, don’t get me wrong. It is a vast improvement over the old “split ’em down the middle” surgical options that were used in the days before the scope. But, still, having a series of holes punched into your stomach muscles requires some getting used to.

The holes themselves don’t look all that big, really. But, here is an experiment for you. Take a sheet of paper. Hold it with one hand, and try to punch your finger through it with the other hand. Not real easy, right? Now put 5 small holes in that piece of paper, in a roughly star-shaped pattern. Now try pushing your finger through in the middle of those holes.

Punched right through, didn’t you?

Yeah, that is the problem with the after effects of this surgery. All the structural integrity of your core muscles is suddenly gone. Climbing stairs, sitting up, raising your arms above your head, for goodness’ sake – all are now major efforts. Hiccups and coughs make you feel like you are being torn in half. Lor keeps reassuring me that the discomfort doesn’t last for long, but my goodness it sure doesn’t feel that way right now.

Stamina is also a thing of the past. I can walk just about 5 laps around the inside of my little house before I need to lie down and catch my breath. Luckily, there is a benefit to all this lying around: I am getting to catch up on my binge-watching. I finished a 4-hour documentary on Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers yesterday, then started on the Foo Fighters’ “Sonic Highways” last night. Good times.

Overall, I am actually coming through this a little faster than was expected by Lor and my medical team, believe it or not. I would already be trying to walk around outside, were it not for the fact that our current heat wave would squash me like a bug if I ventured out into it. Hydration hasn’t been a problem either – I am simply sipping something every 2 minutes (I have a timer and everything), and that is keeping me well above the 64 ounces a day mark. Today I should pass 60 grams of protein for the first time since I got home. Progress.

I can hardly wait until everything knits back together, so I can start working out again and fight off this body-wide case of “sag” that I am currently undergoing. Only a few more weeks to go!

Good Thing I Still Like Protein Shakes,

– Hawkwind

 

Daybreak

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Daybreak. More aches, more pains” – Roger Zelazny

So, the good news is that I did get released from the hospital, and am now at home, in bed.

The bad news is that getting out of the hospital became a whole lot more complicated than any of us had anticipated.

Yesterday, at 6:15 AM, Dr. Tyner (my surgeon) came in, took a look at my incisions, had a chat with me about things to do at home, diet restrictions, and the like, then told me I would get released from the hospital right after “breakfast”. (You know, 2 1-ounce protein shakes and a cup of broth.) I would be out by 9 – 10 AM at the latest.

At about 9 AM, Lor began loading bags down to the car. As she left, I noticed that two of her were leaving. Well, I was kinda tired, double-vision can happen,  so I just decided to close my eyes for a minute.

When I opened my eyes again, nothing was in focus in the entire room. I must have looked walleyed, because any time I had both eyes open, everything looked juxtaposed, like the effect from bad 3-D glasses. This was alarming enough that I decided I had better call Lor. Only then did I realize that her phone was sitting on the table next to mine.

By the time she came back, I was in the midst of a full-blown seizure.

Now, looking back, it seems very clear that I maybe could’ve, I don’t know, used the nurse call button right next to me? I can honestly say it never occurred to me. As it turned out, the seizure was the least of my problems. Immediately following the seizure, I suddenly had the dry heaves, broke out into a cold sweat, and just for funsies the room would spin around any time I opened my eyes.

And this, my friends, was my very first instance of  “dumping syndrome” – too much material winding up in your reduced stomach pouch, causing all of the above symptoms. After about an hour of this, my nurse finally had to come in and shoot me full of Ativan, to prevent a further recurrence of seizure activity. The Ativan did what it always does,  and it was lights out on Planet Hawkwind.

Somewhere around 2 pm Lor woke me up to inform me that if I wanted to get out of the hospital at all yesterday, I was going to have to get my mental faculties together enough to answer some questions to the discharge nurse. Ativan does lovely things to short-term memory before and after its application, so I don’t remember the exit interview. I must’ve gotten through the question and answer session, because next thing I remember I was in a wheelchair, headed down the elevator to our waiting car. My light sensitivity was still so bad that I kept my eyes closed the whole way home, then slept most of the afternoon and evening.

So, a summary of the surgical experience? The last day in the hospital was a nightmare. I am sore as heck, especially any time I cough or have a hiccup. One of my meds tastes so bad that I am having trouble eating anything else for hours before and after I take it due to the nausea it creates. And any time I am out of bed I am still shuffling around as if my feet were taped to the floor.

And I wouldn’t trade it.

I once told my primary physician that I was going through the surgery because I was finally more afraid of my weight than I was of my seizures. Yes, the seizures are disappointing. But, just with the weight loss I have accomplished so far I have the option of pursuing healthier activities to try to get a handle on them. I am no longer tied to a couch or a computer chair, doing nothing but eating while waiting for the next attack to arrive. The more weight I lose, the better my seizure control becomes.  Sounds like a 2-for-1 special to me.

Now I just have avoid driving Lor crazy for the next two weeks while rehabbing my punctured core muscles.

Not Trusting Anyone Who Says They Were Back At Work The Day After This Surgery,

– Hawkwind

I Made It Out Alive!

The breakfast of post-bariatric surgery patients!

We have officially made it through surgery!

After 6 months of waiting, diet changes, and emotional roller-coasting, at about 9 AM local time yesterday, the greater curvature of my stomach was removed. The struggle made manifest, the dream is real, and any other pithy sayings I can come up with may be applied, In short: we are done,

The surgery itself went pretty well, I am informed by my surgeon The aftermath was a little chaotic, though. In recovery, I was in agony from gas pressure from all the various gasses pumped into my body during the procedure. My inflated abdomen was so distended that it was pushing on my incisions from the inside out. In my post-surgical logic, I asked both Lor and the recovery nurse for a pen or pencil, so I could put my own hole in my abdomen to release the painful gasses. They declined my request.

The incisions themselves are not nearly as dramatic looking as Lor’s were. I don’t look like I have been in a knife fight – I look more like I made poor life choices involving climbing a barbed-wire fence.  The holes themselves are still very painful, but the nursing staff here have kept right on top of administering pain meds, so the majority of the time I just don’t care about the pain.

My surgeon has already been in to see me, and informs me that I could be released as soon as tomorrow morning if I stick with the program here. Doing everything I can to get home soon is foremost on my mind. Though the staff here are awesome, it is still a hospital, and I do not like hanging out in them. The sooner I get home, the better.

The real mind-blower came while visiting with my parents yesterday. Apparently, Dr. Tyner went out to meet my family after the procedure was done, and made the observation that since I had done so well in my weeks of prep before the surgery, he would not be surprised if I lost 100 more pounds post-surgery.

Let that number sink in for a minute.

Another 100 pounds down would leave me at 148 pounds. This is what I weighed at 16. Pretty sure that, whatever my “goal weight” ends up being, it will not be that low.

But, boy, the concept of weighing in at 180 at the end of this all? That is pretty remarkable.

Sorry for the later than normal update today. I have been spending most my time walking around the hospital or sleeping, We will catch you all again on Thursday!

Now, How Long Before I Get Back To Solid Foods?
– Hawkwind

Showtime!

Lor and I on July 23, right before my surgery. I am at 248 here. She is at 188. She got a 6-week headstart. Cheater.

At the point in time when this is posted, I am getting prepped for surgery.

However, when I am writing this, I still have a few hours to go. I had been getting increasing frantic as the days went by. Lor finally had all she could handle on Saturday and decided to force me out of the house.

Here’s where we went:

This, my friends, is what we call “The Valley”. A little tiny town in the Northern part of New Mexico, sitting alongside the Rio Grande. It also happens to be where I grew up – as did 4 generations of my forebearers.

When I was younger, I was convinced my hometown was the ass-end of the Universe. The moment I had the chance, I got the heck out as quickly as I could. No small town life for me, nope. I was destined for bigger things – a bright and glorious life that could only be achieved in “The City”. And, over the years I have grown to love Albuquerque, and come to consider it home. I certainly have no regrets about moving here.

But…there is something about the place where your roots are. I am forever spiritually invested in the place that gave me birth and acted as my home until my twenties. The graves of my grandparents and great-grandparents are all within a few miles of The Valley. While spending just a few hours up North on Saturday, I could feel myself growing more centered – my anxiety sloughing off like a snake shedding its skin. Sure, I can do this, I was able to say to myself. Northern New Mexico produces self-reliance and toughness. It was a glorious reminder and yet another demonstration of Lor’s wisdom in hauling me up there and then stepping back and letting my ancestors do their work on me.

The end result? I am back to feeling great about the surgery and the changes that will result from it.  By the time you read this, I am probably already done with my surgery and watching the pretty lights in recovery, or possibly getting settled in the room that will be my home for the next two days.

Tomorrow I should be back behind the wheel of Misdirected and will let everyone know how it all went. Thanks for tuning in, and for all the support you have provided the two of us with over the past few months!

See You On The Other Side,

– Jeremy (aka Hawkwind)

One Last Look Ahead

Well, this is it.

After 5 months and 90 blog posts, this is the last post I will make before the day of my surgery (July 25, 3 days from today.)

On Monday, at 7:30 AM (MST), I will get taken back to pre-op, and within a couple of hours, my whole life will change. Again. After 80% of my stomach is removed, I will get moved out to the general population of the hospital for a couple of days. There, I will sleep or shuffle slowly back and forth around the hallways, hauling my IV rack around behind me. Until, on Wednesday, they send me home, where I will collapse into a real bed for about a week or so.

Where am I getting this vision of the future from? I just watched Lor go through it, about 5 weeks ago. It took her three weeks to really get her feet back under her, and I know darn well she is tougher than I am. I am resigned to some quality bed time post-surgery.

I will continue to keep everyone informed as usual – my next blog post will be from the hospital, either immediately pre- or post-surgery. Let’s go with “pre”. Lord only knows what I would say if I wrote something immediately after surgery. Anesthesia can do some strange stuff to the mind.

How do I feel about it? A mixture of dread and relief. Dread because I hate hospitals sooo much. Relief because I will at least be done with waiting. Lor even informs me that I will be done with feeling like I am constantly starving, so there is that to look forward to.

Curiously, I am not afraid of the procedure itself. We have picked some amazingly competent surgeons in a world-class organization focused exclusively on bariatric surgery. After some of the horror stories we have heard and read about these procedures being performed by less experienced doctors, we are so glad that ABQ Health Partners Bariatrics was available to us.

I am, admittedly, kinda worried about the “5 shanks and a boot knife” results, but 5 weeks out Lor is already rocking and rolling with pretty much full use of her core muscles, so I suppose I have real evidence in front of me that it isn’t as bad as it looked. ‘Cause boy, did it look bad.

Mainly, I am ready to get home on Wednesday, so I can lie around and binge-watch all the shows I have been stacking on Netflix, and go through my old DVD collection.

I will keep everyone in the loop as things progress. Only 72 hours to go.

Ready For That Tasty Hospital Food,

– Hawkwind