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

Surgery: It’s A Thing, Man.

But you should see what the other guy looks like.

It has been noted in the past that significant life events seem to happen in groups. Boy howdy, does that seem to be getting proved out around these parts. Here in our household both of the lovely ladies I cohabitate with, Loralia and Vixen (pictured above), have now had surgery in the past two weeks, and for both of them, the surgery has looked like No Fun At All. Leaving me to speculate on the upcoming surgical procedure that awaits me in 25 days.

I am not sure where I got this impression that surgery was going to be no big deal. It has certainly not been my experience in the past. My VNS installation and later repair were certainly not life-shattering surgeries, but my knee surgery in 2014 most certainly was – I was in pain for months afterward, and to this day have to wear a knee brace when expecting to walk anything more than a short distance. Surgery is invasive. It hurts. And it takes a long time to recover from.

Watching my ladies suffer through the recovery from their surgeries has made me hyper-aware of the fact that this train is coming for me too. Once upon a time, I had been concerned only with the difficulty of the liquid diet before the surgery and the greatly reduced diet post surgery, not thinking too much about the procedure itself. Nowadays, I find that I am thinking more and more about the surgical process, and wondering what it is going to do to me and mean for me.

Just like Lor, I am going to have 5 holes punched into my abdomen to insert instruments, along with a sixth just below the breast line to work on a hiatal hernia. 80% of my stomach is going to be chopped off, then pulled out of my body via a slit only about an inch wide. (How is THAT for weird?) The hole that remains is then going to be stapled shut, creating a tube-sock looking stomach remnant about the same size of a small banana. My belly will inflate like a gigantic beach ball (again) due to all the gasses being pumped into my system. The surgical team will then super-glue the holes on my abdomen shut (not a joke – I have seen the stuff on Lor’s post-surgical wounds) and call it a day.

Just like Vixen, I do not respond well to anesthesia. It takes me longer than normal to recover from the effects, and it occasionally causes me to have seizures in recovery or shortly after surgery. Recovery is painful and takes a few weeks. And I am not a great patient, which will surely test everyone’s patience with me.

These are the things that go through my mind as I have been caring for first Lor and now Vixen after their surgeries. I am doing my best to be just as kind and considerate as I can be – trying to develop myself a positive balance on the post-surgical care karma card. I am not exactly afraid of the surgery (though I am still quite afraid of the hospital where I will be staying for 3 days.), but I am no longer thinking of it as a short and easy phase that will be passed through without any trouble.

I just keep reminding myself that this, too, will pass. 2 months from today I will be looking at this whole thing in the rear-view mirror, right? Let’s hope that I get through it as well as the ladies in my life have.

Trying Hard To Imitate My Stoic Ladies,

– Hawkwind

Keeping It Real

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I find it really interesting that I get so much feedback off of my most depressing posts. Whether because of synergy or empathy, or just because the world is a really depressing place, folks talk about, comment on and send me emails about the really depressing stuff happening as part of the Great WLS Experiment. (My readership even goes up by about 25% for these posts. Odd, that.)
I honestly am not trying to be a downer to everyone here with these less-than-cheerful posts. But, this is the experience as I am living it. To create the impression that I do not have doubts, or bad days, or serious problems with the whole thing would be totally dishonest. And it can be very easy to lose sight of victories for short periods of time when overwhelmed by details and defeats. But writing things down and sharing them with the Misdirected family is my way of identifying my issues and starting to work through them. It is as if I have a pool of talk therapists with several hundred people in it. Thanks for the great hourly rates, by the way!
Speaking of therapy, Lor came up with a solution to the whole psychiatric evaluation problem yesterday afternoon. Since our preferred provider is suddenly no longer accepting my insurance, we’ve just scheduled with an out-of-network provider. Seems simple, right? Cheapskate that I am, it never occurred to me that the problem could be solved by the application of money. But, the cost of a single evaluation when weighed against the total health benefits of the surgery doesn’t work out to a whole lot.
I’ll probably make the money back just in french fries I don’t eat next year.
So, the evaluation is set up for next week, right after my 2nd dietary appointment. Wish me luck – I should have a surgery date by this time next week. I am back today to being excited about the concept – if I can be a little successful without the tools, imagine how much better I will be with the tools, right?
And thanks to everyone who reached out to me, concerned that I was jumping off the surgery train. I am very fortunate in that I am partnered up with someone who wasn’t about to let that happen, and was ready to provide solutions to my issues. I hope I can be as supportive to Lor as she is with me.
Make sure you tune back in next week – we’ve got some exciting stuff coming up right around the corner. I can almost see my surgery date from here!

The Past Is Prologue,

– Hawkwind