Friday, December 31, 2010

The Dawning of a New Day

Well, I made it! One night home and one day on the run, I mean road : P Roger created a pretty neat spreadsheet last night and has been an amazing cheerleader when it comes to encouraging me to get in my protein. He went to Wal Mart last night to get me water bottles so that I can take my supplements on the go, and it wasn't until this morning that I was super grateful (this seems to be a common theme... learning to step back and see that some of his ideas are pretty genius!). So now, for my protein that I must consume for they day, I carry around a little 12 oz tupperware jug thingy. See me above modeling the jug with my stunning hair-do and eyeglasses and sweatshirt. Believe it or not I did brush my teeth today! Step forward!!! haha
Last night everything went fairly well. I have come to a some conclusions... the first is that anyone who elects to have a c-section because they are afraid of stretching their girly parts is a complete moron. Read carefully about why this type of election bugs me. There is nothing funny about the pain of an abdominal incision, and mine isn't even that bad!!! It is about an inch long. So the thought of handling a newborn or MORE kids with one by choice... so ridiculous.
The second realization was a bit of buyers remorse. Yesterday as I was in pain from every sip of water I took, I really thought to myself "Wow, apparently I did not take this as seriously as I should have." I definitely think that a part of me just expected to go in fat and come out where all I could eat was liquid, and in a month or 2 I would be skinny. WRONG. There is nothing fun about what I am going through right now other than the consolation of me not being able to eat is the fear that anything I did or would eat would hurt so bad I would reach down my throat and pull it back up!
The third is really that every person going through an experience is so different. I have done considerable research on this procedure, have read blogs, watched v-logs, etc. But for some reason I thought everything would just come naturally to me. As I was telling Roger just now... it would be different if you had the ability to take away 1 discomfort and focus on the other. I.e. "it hurts when I sip and burp, but at least I can lay down and it all goes away." or "I am in pain when I lay down but if I stand and sip it goes down better and I am not so gassy." Yeah no. I get the worst of both worlds!
The one thing that I have come across is a magical pill called Ativan. It is my very new best friend. According to the label is is anti nausea - anxiety - and helps me sleep. It did all of that the last moment I took it. Looking very forward to my 6pm dose! I will say though, that aside from my one larger incision, I barely even notice the other 4. The biggest thing is the constant hiccups and burping. And if I try to swallow a pill it is a good 5-10 minutes until I feel comfortable again. I have yet to even start my vitamin regiment that it supposed to be going along with my 2 liters of liquids. CRAZY!
I did get a very surprising (to me) dose of encouragement in the form of a card from RB today. It basically said that he was really proud of me for making a choice to better my life and that he is here to support me every step of the way. I know it has been just a few days but he really has bent over backwards to help me succeed. Can't express enough gratitude for that.
Right now we are at my mom's house saying Happy New Years Eve before they head out to celebrate their anniversary. I have about 2 oz of protein drink I need to get down before I can start on another glass of water.
A friend of mind who has undergone weight loss surgery told me that I would have an eating disorder after surgery. And now that I have, I agree with her 10000% I am completely obsessed with everything that goes in my mouth along with the nutritional content. Protein shake anyone???

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Home Sweet Uncomfortable Home

Well, after 2 nights in the hospital, we made it home safe and sound!

A recap of my experience:
Tuesday morning I woke up very very ready for everything to happen. Unfortunately I was the last scheduled surgery for the surgeon and he was running late so we waited in the pre-op area for over 5 hours. At that point all I could think was HURRY UP!!!! It wouldn't have been so bad, but I hadn't eaten in forever so I just wanted to get it over with.

I was finally walked into the OR (yes I had to walk myself which scared the crap out of me) around 6:15pm. I had to climb up and lay on the operating table by myself. And the doctor or RN guy asked me if I had anything I wanted to say before they began. All I could think of was "Please don't kill me." Everyone in the room had the same reaction : WOW!. And I hated to be morbid but that is all I could think at that point. I just wanted it to be over with and to start a new chapter of my life!

Within a minute or so I was fast asleep and only remember waking up slightly in the recovery room. After waking up more I found out that I unknowingly had a hiaial hernia that needed to be repaired before the sleeve could be performed. So my 1-1.5 hour surgery turned into a 3 hour surgery. But, on the bright side, the other complication would have been another separate surgery eventually had I not gone in for this one. I have 5 incisions now. 4 small ones at the top of my stomach and one larger one by my belly button (Roger said none of them are bad). They all have glue holding them together rather than stitches and no drains, which is pretty darn awesome. I also bypassed having a catheter which is great.

I am tired as everyone said I would be but my biggest complaint is that my back is sore, which is from what I was told, based on the hiatal hernia fixer-upper. They had to really jiggle my shoulders and neck. Ew. So when I try to stretch my back out I pull my stomach, which is only sore down by the belly button but WOW does that incision hurt!

So after all of this, I have come to realize that thankfully, but not thankfully I am not hungry. It's great because I am not freaking out about eating but it stinks because I have consume quite a bit of liquids. And my mouth is bigger than my stomach, so I am hyper-conscious about drinking too large of a sip. Today I didn't get in nearly enough protein so tomorrow we are going to start charting my liquid and protein intake to make sure that I don't get dehydrated. Roger's nerdiness is really coming in handy for this situation because I am so fly by night that the thought of charting doesn't make me very happy, but it delights him so that is great. Right now the only thing I want to chart is my next dose of pain meds! The doc was kind enough to prescribe a very nice cocktail that puts me to sleep pretty well. It includes an anti-anxiety med which in my humble opinion is super smart because I am so crazy about drinking too much at once that I am not drinking enough at all. I swear my brain is too active most of the time.

My biggest question is when do I start to feel "normal" again? When will my stomach stop hurting? When will I be able to drink a sip of water and not freak out that it won't come right back up???But I think the pain thing is the most important right this very moment. Walgreens had a 1.5 hr wait so in about 45 mins Roger is headed out to pick up my meds. I am needing them right now. Oh and he was also a trooper about taking pictures of the journey. The recovery nurse yelled at him for taking my picture so I had to "ok" him doing it. I am sure they are convinced we are looney tunes. BUT I also had him take pics of my incisions which I can't even look at! Hoping that a month or 2 from now I will be able to look no problem.

Just got out of my first shower after surgery and managed to not see any incisions. Boy does it feel great to be clean! And I now realize how important it is to have someone here to help me. Sometimes I get a little too big for my britches and times like these make me realize just how helpful Roger and the rest of my family really is.

And now.... off to bed. I am already scared. Good thing I have anti-anxiety meds to take to drift me right off!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My final day as a big girl

Well, the day of surgery has arrived and I am having kind of a weird indifferent feeling. Not indifferent about getting the surgery, because I am 100% sure I want it, but indifferent like life around me goes on as this momentous occasion happens in MY life.

I have been on "clear liquids" for 2 days now, today is my 3rd. I am ready to eat my arm at this point. It is AWFUL. All I can think of is how hungry I am and how this surgery if anything, better make me un-hungry like everyone keeps telling me it will! I am proud to say though that yesterday I was very strict with the clear liquids and after talking with my surgery coordinator who informed me that no, diet pepsi does not consitute a clear liquid, I haven't had any soda. Yesterday my diet consisted of 1/2 a can of arizona green tea and 1 can of vegetarian vegetable broth, which I must say looks pretty gross. It is like a pinkish orange broth. But I choked 3/4 it down before Benji put his foot in my bowl and that ended my meal.

One thing that has really surprised me is the amount of support that my friends have shown since posting my blog on FB. I knew people would read it, but wasn't sure if they would think I was nuts. But this morning I was flooded with positive thoughts and well wishes which I have to say I am EXTREMELY grateful for! I shouldn't be surprised, afterall, we get to choose our friends in life, but I guess I am just really lucky and picked some good ones! haha.

Roger ended up calling in today to be able to take me to the hospital. I am very grateful for this because my mom was my original transporter and although I love her dearly her track record for time keeping is beyond horrible. So this morning at 6am I rolled over and said "I want you to take me." Typing that it sounds pretty romantic, but I meant to the hospital! LOL. He understood about my mom and will now be with me throughout my hospital stay. Big relief. Aidan is with my cousin Tina who graciously accepted my offer of Aidan crashing their holiday visit to see her brother and spend the night with them. She is one of Aidan's very favorite people so it made it a LOT easier this morning to give her a kiss and have her cheerfully say goodbye to me. Benji is with his Nina, as usual, and again it is such a relief to know that he is enjoying himself. Let's just say that today has gone much more smoothly than yesterday did.

So, I am about to go take my final shower pre-surgery, I'd say eat my last meal, but I can't do that, and I need to pack my bags.

See you all on the flip side with 3 holes in my belly and a 2oz stomach!!!! WOOHOO!!!! Oh and I promise to post some "before" pictures with my next post, along with some hospital ones. I am sure the beauty will astound you : P

Love you all!

- AJ

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Life's Rough before a Sleeve

Let me preface this with the fact that I have tried to blog before and unfortunately I was very bad at consistently posting. With that said, my life is about to change drastically and from what I hear, I need to provide myself with an emotional outlet for self realization. To start from the very beginning, here goes. And I do apologize for the length of this post but I feel like I need to get it all out!

In March of 2010 I realized that my weight was really effecting my life negatively. I used to joke about getting weight loss surgery but knew I was never really heavy enough, but as my clothes kept getting tighter and larger in size, my self esteem and confidence went by the wayside. I knew that my joke was quickly becoming a very real option. So, I scheduled an appointment with my primary care doc and he referred me to Dr. John Rabkin, the king of the duodenal switch. His office suggested that I attend a surgery support group meeting to get a sense of what their patients go through post op, and since that day I knew that weight loss surgery was in my grand plan for life. What I didn't know however was that over the course of 9 months I would be presented with individuals and information that provided multiple "aha!" moments to lead me in the right direction.

Over 9 months I fought with an insurance company until I was blue in the face. I started a new job with an HMO, unknowing that I should have chosen a PPO in the hopes of getting surgery covered. Roger lost his job which then allowed us all to be on a PPO. And miraculously, 5 days before my initial $15k out of pocket surgery was scheduled, I discovered that my insurance company decided that the procedure is medically necessary and not investigative. So, I canceled my initial surgery date, found a new surgeon, got approved by the insurance company, and am scrambling to get all of my pre-op orders complete before my surgery date.

Ladies and gentlemen, on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 I am getting a vertical sleeve gastrectomy. Or, as I like to say "I'm getting my stomach cut off". And guess what??? I CAN'T WAIT!!!!

With all of the change and drama surrounding simply scheduling the surgery, I will be the first to say that I am grateful to have gotten to enjoy the holidays and all of the delicious (non-nutritious) food and alcohol that Christmas festivities bring! So my last year stuffing myself with cookies and martinis was well spent. But I am definitely ready to reprogram my brain into "your stomach is now 2 oz." mode.

Today I started the first of my 3 days of clear liquids pre-op diet. I was not exactly a stellar patient. I did go to Starbucks and got a non-fat peppermint mocha. I know, I know, dairy is not clear. But by golly I was starving and thankfully that held me off for the majority of the day. Hoping the 8oz of milk that I consumed will digest and be gone in 72 hrs. I also cracked at the movies and ate 1 kernel of popcorn. Yes, that's right, exactly 1. The rest of the day was filled with a whole lot of diet coke and 2 cans of chicken stock. Exciting stuff. My stomach is grumbling as I type this. I spoke to a good friend who had gastric bypass and she swears that after surgery I will be much more satisfied by clear liquids, but for now, all I feel is HUNGRY!

What I did notice today is how often I reach for food. In the morning, I had to stop myself from eating a piece of bacon that Roger had made for Breakfast. I had to remind myself that suggesting we go to my very favorite restaurant for breakfast had no purpose because well.... I can't eat anything anyway! We got in the car, and I had to stop myself from grabbing a few skittles that were in a bag on the console. In Starbucks I had to deny myself the pastry that I would have normally ordered. At my mom's I had to open the fridge and close it again, reminding myself that I can't eat anything. I did this easily 5 times this evening. At the movies, I had to not eat the delicious bucket of fresh movie popcorn that Roger and my cousins were enjoying. At my Grandma's I had to not eat, to close the fridge, to not eat the remainder of Benjamin's plate. Same at my mom's. At dinner I had to not eat Aidan's leftovers, or eat a few bites to convince the kids how great the meal was and to eat their dinner. And once again back in the car, there were Ritz crackers that I was dying to eat because at this point I am just so darn hungry I would probably enjoy just about anything. But the moral of the story is... I just like food and I sure as heck like to eat! Probably a lot more than a normal person. But what I also realized is that this is WHY I need the surgery. Because for some crazy reason, food is like medicine for me. It calms me down, it makes me FEEL good. It has a power to do more than just provide simple nutrients. And I have a funny feeling that going through weight loss surgery is going to force me to find out why that is. Scary thought.

The purpose of this blog is to share my thoughts with my friends and family, people who support my decision, and those who are skeptical. Either way I hope that my personal experience can affect someone positively whether it be to look into surgery, or to just understand where I am coming from. So, I hope that sharing my thoughts is positive, even when I am feeling negative.

And my last thought for tonight: I sincerely hope that this decision is the very best thing for myself, my family, and most importantly my 2 little monkeys, Benji and Aidan who I love more than anything in this world.