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

Fear of Failure at the Finish Line

Photo Credit: schiiiinken via Compfight cc

After another grueling 8 hours across the desert (including 4 different multiple-mile construction zones) we have returned home. Arizona is safely behind us, and we will not return until the average temperature drops 20 degrees.

At least.

An interesting (and discouraging) shift took place while we were there, though. Throughout the process of switching to a low-carb diet, I have rarely actually been hungry. Even the first 6 days of the liquid diet didn’t make me hungry – just cranky and stupid. Oh, I have had cravings, of course. But real, live hunger? That had not been an issue.

Until our first day in Tucson.

Since our arrival there 5 days ago I have been ravenous. I have never been closer to breaking diet protocol than I am right now. I am so ready to throw it all away so I can go have a waffle. Topped with blueberries and whipped cream. With 6 fried eggs, and maybe 12 pieces of sausage. And a cheeseburger for dessert. That kind of hunger. My stomach has literally hurt constantly for 5 days straight.

This is not only discouraging, it is frightening as well. I am afraid of “falling off the wagon” and eating so much that I regain enough to disqualify myself for surgery. (Not sure how I would regain 53 pounds in 4 days, but who said fear is rational?) I fear sneaking out behind Lor’s back to go binge somewhere and then lying about it when I return home – you know, addict behavior. I am even afraid to be in proximity to pretty much any “real” food right now. When Lor threw away half a boiled egg last night that she couldn’t finish, I almost cried.

The real fear, though, is what happens after surgery? I know that removing the greater curvature of the stomach takes with it the majority of the ability to produce ghrelin – the hormone responsible for hunger. But I can’t wrap my head around how that will feel right now. My biggest fear is that I am going to come out of surgery and feel exactly the way I feel right now – that my whole life post-surgery is going to be a constant, gnawing hunger that I am fighting off 100% of the time. I know myself well enough to know that I won’t succeed in that case. And then all this, including having the majority of one of my major organs removed, will have been for nothing.

Lor keeps trying to encourage me, pointing out the fact that I have been taking in only 600 calories (plus or minus) a day while expending more than 3000 a day in moving activities every day that I have felt this way. I am difficult to encourage. I just know that I have 4 days left until surgery, and I don’t want to fall flat on my face, here within sight of the finish line.

87 hours until I cease eating entirely for surgery prep (at 10 pm on Sunday). Wish me luck in keeping the faith until then.

Dying For A Quarter Pounder,

– Hawkwind

The Struggle To Stay On Track

Photo Credit: Patrick Dirden via Compfight cc
Ten percent of me is gone.
I mean that in a good way, I suppose. As of Monday of this week, my pre-surgical diet and exercise program has resulted in me dropping from a high of 302 pounds down to 272. My friends and family are all congratulating me. I should be elated. But I am not.
Because now I am having doubts about my upcoming surgery.
The real problem began about a month ago, when I was informed that there was a mysterious “holdup” in processing my claim through my insurance. My (federally required) psychological exam had never been approved by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Upon calling the insurance company, the mystery deepened – my claim was “pending”, and had been since the middle of April. No one could tell me why. The insurance reps seemed completely baffled. “Call your doctor.” was their advice.
I called my doctor, who said he would get it straightened out. And then…nothing. For two weeks I have been waiting for an approval to move this whole process forward. and have heard not a word. Without the psych eval I can’t have surgery – and if it doesn’t take place by mid-June, the whole process will be delayed for who knows how long.
Upon talking about the problem to family and friends, I keep hearing a similar train of thought: I am doing great on the pre-surgical diet, so I could potentially stick with that even if the surgery never gets approved.
Did you catch that? It goes by pretty fast. The general thought is, if I am not approved for surgery due to an insurance snafu, I can just press on and lose the weight on the basis of the work I am already doing. Sounds very encouraging, until I ask myself: “If I can do this without surgery, why am I having the surgery?”
It is not as if I haven’t tried to lose this weight before. I’ve been obese for better than half my life, I have had the opportunity to try just about everything. I finally fell into weightlifting in my late 20s and early 30s because I could be obese and functional at the same time.  But, something has always come up that interferes with my success, Seizures. Boredom. Transportation problems. A couple of very bad food intake days leading to frustration after which I would give up. Believe me, I have been there and done that. I have turned to bariatric surgery hoping for a final solution, a weapon to use against my own food issues.
So, what happens if that weapon never materializes? Will I be able to commit to these changes without the physical modifications I was counting on?
If I can’t succeed without surgery, how it is going to impact me watching Lor go forward without me?
If I can succeed without surgery, why the hell am I am going under the knife in the first place?

The Wheels In My Head Go Round And Round,

– Hawkwind

The Hospital Nightmare

A lot sooner than expected (maybe the lack of caffeine contributed), I have begun having to deal with an issue of Gastric Sleeve weight loss surgery that I thought I would be free of for at least another couple months. But, last night’s nightmare has announced to me that it is already time to start dealing with an issue that I have kept quiet until now: I am terrified of hospitals.
I am not so afraid of surgery, really. I’ve had 3 pretty minor procedures in my life (My Vagus Nerve Stimulator surgeries and a meniscus repair), and they all turned out OK. But hospitals…man, that is a whole other thing. I have spent so much time in hospitals in the last twelve years, and none of it was pleasant. I have been under observation for a week, sleep deprived (on purpose) so neurologists could study my seizures. I have been poked and prodded, scanned and x-rayed, had gallons of blood removed from me a vial at a time as various medical professionals have tried to get a handle on my epilepsy. (None of it has ever worked, by the way.) And let’s not even talk about how many times I have woken up in an Emergency Room, post-seizure, not knowing where I was, or who I was, or who these strange people all around me were. You know, people like my wife, and my parents.
Yeah, hospitals just aren’t my thing. And I have been very carefully not thinking about the fact that I am going to have to spend at least a couple days in one come my surgery date, and that’s if everything goes right. Apparently my subconscious has gone right on worrying about it without me, if last night’s dream (about being prepped for the wrong surgery without being able to tell my doctor he was making a mistake) is any indication.
I can’t even be really sure that everything is going to go correctly – I have searched and searched, and have been unable to find a single example of someone who has intractable seizures going through Gastric Sleeve surgery. I am sure people like me are out there, but they are sure not talking about it online. My case just seems custom designed for “complications” – the kind that stretch out my hospital stay. Ugh.
Most days I have been pretty excited about this whole process, but today has just been kind of a downer. And I still have 5 months (or so) to go! Maybe I will find some encouraging info between now and then, but for right now I am not feeling real great about this whole “hospital stay” thing.
And The Hospital Gowns Suck Too,
– Hakwind