Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mail call!

Looky what I got! Can't wait to try it out.

In other news, I'm not hungry. Like, at all.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Back to work

and boy am I exhausted. I wasn't prepared for the back pain and the stomach pain from sitting in my office chair all day. I tried to walk around as much as I could, but I was busy. I had to fight a lot of questions about my "vacation" and a lot of "I did more work last week 'cause you weren't here"-type bitching and whining. Wahh, wahh.

Made my first smoothie yesterday. Ehh, the smoothie place sure does it better. My recipe needs tweaking. I could barely drink it, so into ice cube trays it went. Six cubes with a splash of milk made my breakfast - which I sipped until nearly 3pm. Later I had some soup that I had leftover from the diner. I got a big quart of cream of chicken from the diner on the corner last night. It is sooo good. Way better than canned.

I tried to get some broccoli cheese from Chili's yesterday but -gasp!- they don't make it anymore. What! That was such delicious soup. No Macaroni Grill around here either - they have very yummy soup. Oh well.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Oh dear.

I have a confession. Two actually.

Today was transition-to-home day. Meaning I left the sweet, comfortable confines of my mother's house for my oft-grimy, smells-like-a-locker-room-cause-I-live-with-a-boy house in the other part of the state.

Confession one: I went to ritas early this afternoon, on my way home. I ordered custard. Yes, with sprinkles (that I chewed). I had about five small bites and felt a little sick (febrile, actually). I threw it away.

My roommate was happy to see me and even cleaned the house up. I spent the afternoon in bed and watched two movies (2 Days in Paris and Killer at Large, a documentary about obesity).

I came downstairs and started catching up on some DVRed shows. I sipped on a boxed protein shake but I couldn't shake the overwhelming urge to EAT something.

Confession two: I ate a piece of Melba toast. One piece. Chewed liberally to paste. It felt wonderful.

Then I foolishly sipped some Gatorade and felt sick, like the liquid was sitting on top of the mush. Not a good feeling. I walked around and it feels better now.

I hope I got that out of my system. I don't start mushies until Thursday.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Find yourself another place to fall

It's been a few days!

I celebrated one week post-op yesterday. My sister and baby nephew came to visit/keep me company. I've been sleeping well and I'm totally off pain meds. Not napping everyday either!

Fluids go down much easier now. I discovered my bariatric pantry here at my mom's house - I stocked a shelf in preparation for my surgery back in Sept when I hoped to get the band removal/sleeve revision all in one (due to immense scar tissue and a very angry tummy that sort of fused to my liver with scar tissue, I had my revision in two steps, six months apart). Anyway, I found my box of health wise hot chocolate. 15 grams of protein and 100% delicious. I forgot how good this stuff is. YUM!

I had a challenge on Monday night when my mom made pork loin with garlic in her crockpot and left it to cook and smell amazing all day. I took a shower around 2pm and did not return downstairs until 11am the next day. I got so nauseated during my shower I had to lay down and it lasted for hours. I got really scared and thought I might throw up. I thought it may have been the Isopure I had for "lunch" - my first Isopure since surgery (and my first in years - haven't had that since my first year of banding). I hate that stuff and it produces the nastiest gradu on the back of my tongue. It was probably a combination of the Isopure and the cooking smells. I just had it. My mom felt really guilty (well, I mean, that was kind of insensitive, don't you think? I'm not asking you to suffer with me, but jeez).

The next day was Tuesday and I felt much better. That afternoon, my sister and nephew arrived to spend a couple of nights. I told her in no uncertain terms that if she wanted Popeye's chicken (as she tends to do when she visits), she'd have to eat it there. Enough of this shit. I'm tired of my family parading their food in front of me. Side note: I remember when I was at Curves a few years ago and my mom was visiting. They asked me to pick up dinner: they wanted pizza "and get yourself a salad or whatever." I remember that I was working so hard on my diet at that time, and my family - the people who are supposed to support me - wanted me to go to a pizza place, order myself a special "fat girl" meal for myself, and drive home with a delicious-smelling pizza on my front seat, to give to my thinner relatives to enjoy. Ridiculous. I've explored this at length in therapy. Sometimes your family just isn't who you need them to be.

I digress. Pizzapocolypse 2012 happened on Tuesday night, after I told my sister about Popeye's. I overheard her dinner plan when I was upstairs. She was to make chicken cutlets (pan fried, then baked) and pasta with garlic, oil, and lemon. Pretty much one of my favorite meals of all time. Not to mention INSANELY delicious-smelling. I didn't want to be a brat (since, when I balked at the pork crockpot fiasco of the day before, my mother retorted, "I'm just preparing you for the real world! There's food out there!" Yes mom, there's food out there. But I'm five days post-op and I can only drink broth. Since your ridiculous food issues helped get me here, d'ya think you could throw a sister a bone?). I asked my sister politely if she would consider a cold meal, something that didn't require, I dunno, frying, sautéing, etc. She basically said no. I don't have the energy to fight, so I resigned myself to an armchair in the living room and watched her cook.

You know what? I was ok. I didn't join them at the dinner table. My aunt came by to visit, so we sat in the living room and chatted, her with her tea and I with some chicken broth. Did the food coming out of the kitchen smell amazing? Yes. Did I want to eat it? Yes. Am I more freaked out about the three rows of staples in my stomach than anything else right now? Besides missing work, yeah.

So I made it through the night. Had a little health wise hot choc and all was well.

I still can't lift my nephew (he's about 6x my 5lb limit, ha!) but it was good to see him. Yesterday, I ventured out of the house for the first time since I came home from the hospital. Mom, my sister, and I went to wal-mart (against my convictions) and walked around (I got some gatorade g2, some carnation instant breakfast, some honey, some refried beans for next week's mushies, and a can of mashed sweet potatoes that looked yummy). Their prices really are very good.

Next we went to the local outlet mall to walk around. It was a chilly day and I was going slow, but I was loving it. Walking around, moving outside! It felt great. I drank an iced tea (a few sips, at least) from a vending machine while my slim sister chowed down on a sugary, buttery pretzel from Auntie Anne's. The same pretzel she and I each ordered the last time we were at the outlets. I didn't even care! I really think I'm over some imagined hump. I'm feeling good.

My drain had been very uncomfortable, moreso the past few days than ever. It was draining well and I'd been good taking care of it, but it started to really hurt.

Today was my one week follow-up with my surgeon. I was so excited. Could he puh-leeze take out this drain?! And answer some questions?!

He weighed me (337.8) - I have to check what I was on my scale at home. Can't really remember, and since I didn't see the surgeon just before this surgery, he didn't have a comparison number. It really doesn't matter right now, anyway. Numbers so ain't my focus.

He did a quick exam and said everything looks good. My four incision sites are VERY itchy and are getting red and raised - a definite reaction to the surgical glue, he said. He showed me how to peel it off and gave me the green light. Yay! I love peeling surgical glue. It's like picking at scabs, but it provides somewhat instant itch relief.

The next part was the part I was freaked about: he took out my drain. Here's what I knew going in: I had a hole in my abdomen about 1/4" in diameter. Out of that hole was about 12" of plastic tubing, and attached to that tubing was a small, grenade-looking plastic bulb. At the skin, it appeared that the plastic tubing was attached to my skin with a black stitch. I had no idea what was under the surface. I imagined that the end of the tubing was about 3-4" inside and secured to some muscle with stitching.

"Will this hurt?" I asked, getting the doctor's favorite response in return: "Everyone is different!"

"Great," I said, turning my head to look at my mom, who had a grin on her face, "that means it'll hurt."

I didn't want to watch (and couldn't, exactly, since I was laying down). But, here's what I heard and felt. I heard the surgeon clip the suture and then I felt a pull.

PULLLLLLLLL... ahh. It was out. I looked inside the hazmat container afterwards - I had to see this thing. My ideas of it being a few inches of mere tubing were wrong. It was about a FOOT long and had very thick white plastic around the tubing. It wasn't attached to anything inside, but it floated free in the cavity where 85% of my stomach once was, and the bulb at the end of the drain acted as a vacuum for the fluid (if the fluid is left inside, it could over-collect and cause infection. Now that the drain is out, my body will absorb the fluid).

Here's how I describe the feeling: it feels like you have an enormous amount of plastic tubing inside your body that is up under your diaphragm and the surgeon pulls it out of a 1/4"-diameter hole in your abdomen. That's how it feels. I can't describe it better than that. It didn't hurt, but it was weird. And I felt better instantly. My mom even said my face changed after the drain came out. I relaxed, even felt happy. Free!

Cleared to progress to stage 2 of my progressive diet, and having made my one-month followup appointment (and paid a $50 copay, hurrah hurrah), I practically skipped out of the office.

I asked my mom to stop at my favorite breakfast place in the city where I worked last year - my surgeon's office is just outside that city, which is about an hour away from my mom's house. I was dying for one of their smoothies. Now that I'm on stage 2, thick liquids, smoothies have been given the green light. I figured I'd try to learn how they're made at this place while I was there.

I got my banana flip smoothie (and had it put in 2 cups to split with mom since I'd never be able to drink one on my own). It has peanut butter, bananas, and fat-free vanilla yogurt. For $1 extra I added a scoop of EAS vanilla protein powder. SO DELICIOUS. And no, she wouldn't give me the recipe. No worries, I can figure this out on my own.

We went to GNC to buy myself a new multivitamin and some protein powder for smoothies. I joined their gold club and already it's paid for itself.

Next we went to the supermarket to pick up some full liquid-diet friendly stuff. I got a few cans of cream soup (cream of shrimp, cream of chicken with herb, cheddar cheese, and butternut squash), some jell-o chocolate pudding, a box of farina, and some greek yogurt and bananas for smoothies, (already purchased some all-natural peanut butter).

When we got home I wanted to lay down. I was just.. tired. It's been a lot on me the past couple of days. We walked a lot yesterday, much more than I had done in over a week. Plus all the emotional and physical stress from going to see my surgeon and walking around the store - I just wanted some horizontal time. Well, I sort of took an impromptu nap. For five hours!

Mom woke me up around 6:30 and I've been hanging out in the living room ever since. I've been sipping on gatorade and catching up on the news. I decided to bite the bullet. I made some farina. Man, oh man, was that runny, creamy, wheaty cereal amazing. I probably ate about 1/4 cup.

Welcome to full liquids - it's a joy to be here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Resurrection, indeed.

It's Easter Sunday. Where are my chocolate bunnies?!

Seriously, I'm actually feeling hunger today. I've been thinking about food non-stop, I've been walking better and faster, and the pain meds are really only taken at night to help me sleep. I may even skip them altogether tonight.

I just want a _________. Fill in the blank. Whatever food item in there. I'd even eat a mushroom at this point, something I'm only recently starting to enjoy.

I'm dreaming of mushies. Yummm, farina. Yummm, mashed potatoes with gravy. Beyond mushies, I was watching some terrible movie on Netflix instant and this guy was eating the most amazing, perfectly-cooked steak I'd ever seen [obviously not true, but to my hungry eyes it was]. I started salivating. Salivating!! Jeebus.

Given the fact that I've probably consumed about 200 calories a day for the past few days, and I'm healing, it's probably normal to feel hungry four days post-op. I did consume about 75% of an 11oz protein shake today. It took two separate meals, but I did it!

Tomorrow I'm calling the doc to see if it's okay to add some thinned farina to my regime. My drinking has improved vastly over the past few days. Less gurgles, and what does gurgle, I deal with. Burps are still painful, as is crying (watched To Kill A Mockingbird last night) and coughing (walking and reading out loud at the same time produced that).

I've been thinking, since today is Easter, that this surgery is sort of like my chance at resurrection. Death to an old life, birth to a new one. A healthier one. It also is not lost on me that my surgery date is exactly six months prior to my 30th birthday. I didn't plan it that way. It's a coincidence. But an interesting one. Half a year away from a new decade in my life. The end of my twenties. Look at how much time I wasted. Look at how much life I've wasted.

Just some clear liquid food for thought.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

3 days post op!

I'm alive and doing well!

In the hospital, I had a great team. It's a teaching hospital and they do a fantastic job. I had an anesthesiology resident do my IV and it was flawless - probably the best I've ever had. Never felt a thing, going in, while it was in, coming out - no bruising either. Amazing.

My surgeon is very well-respected in the hospital and everyone I encountered had good things to say about him. Of course, I already knew that - why would I choose otherwise! Surgery lasted about 45 minutes from what I understand. I don't remember much of being in the recovery room, other than my mom was allowed in a few minutes at a time to visit and I didn't get a a bed in a room until 9:45 that night. My surgery was at about 2pm I think.

I do vaguely remember being extubated. I also remember panicking a lot when I woke up, and telling the doctor "panic.. pain.." I was given morphine, which helped a lot.

My roommate was a real pain in the ass, moaning like nobody's business. She sounded like a real wimp (this is my bitch coming out), complaining about EVERYTHING (I don't want that drug, it gives me gas, give me this other drug). She needed a NG tube and you would have thought she was 5 years old the way she carried on. I get it, we're in the hospital and we're in pain, but man up, lady! Put on your panties and let's GO.

I didn't have a pain pump (darn it), but every couple of hours when I was rounded on I asked for more drugs. I had fitful sleep, in and out, all night. My bed was nearest the door, and I had to ask the curtains be drawn so the hallway light wouldn't bother me. It really is true - you don't get any rest in a hospital.

Morning came eventually and I was whisked away for my gastrografin study. I had a couple of these when I was banded. They stand you up on a tilt table (this one was already tilted up), take a few x-rays of your belly, then have you take a small sip of the nastiest stuff you've ever tasted, then take more pics. When I was banded these were done to make sure my band hadn't slipped or eroded. Now that I'm sleeved with three rows (!) of staples through my stomach, gastrografin studies are done to ensure that my stomach is leak-free. So far, so good, said the doctor examining my pics. That's what I thought.

I went for a walk around my floor several times. I felt ok to walk. Then I got a visit from food services (after my surgeon saw me and my films). Here's what I got:

I sipped about half the decaf, sugar free iced tea - over about 5 hours. I tasted the chicken consommé and contemplated spitting it out. Of course, I didn't even open the jello. I was delighted to find italian ice on my tray! It took about an hour, but I got through about half of the 4oz italian ice. My mouth had been so parched from not drinking for 2 days. It was heavenly. Slow going, but heavenly.

I was contemplating asking for a second night stay at the 5-star hospital. I was concerned about hydration (no IV at home), pain meds (nothing is as good as what you get here) and all-around panic about taking care of my drain (yeah, I have a drain sticking out of me.. so sexy!). Doc came by and discharged me. Really no reason to stay.

(BTW, my GI doctor stopped by when I was in recovery and again the next morning when I was in my room. He did my endoscopy in prep for my band removal last fall, and he also did my colonoscopy. He's great! I love that he knows my surgeon's schedule and took the time - twice - to check on me. I really am lucky that I have such caring physicians.)

We got home around 6 and I headed for bed. It took over an hour to get home from the hospital and I was exhausted. I gave myself a sponge bath, washed my face, brushed my teeth, and with mom's help, built a pillow fortress in my bed. More like a nest than a fortress, but I digress. I made myself a roll-over-proof place to crash. I took 2 teaspoons of tylenol with codeine (see? not as good as dilaudid or morphine they give you in the hospital) and conked out. I woke up around 3am in pain, so I took a half dose of the tylenol. It helped and I slept until almost 8!

Yesterday I padded around the house, watched a movie (Morning Glory, thanks for askin!), took a dose of tylenol and took a nap. I walked around the living room. Mom made me some tea that took me hours to drink. I had some sugar free hawaiian punch that I could barely get in (really gross, that sugar free stuff. Nasty aftertaste and - TMI warning - that stuff gives me wicked gas. I can't tolerate sorbitol at all, and some other sugar substitutes are giving me grief too). I'm contemplating buying some G2 and cutting it with water. I think that will taste better.

I took a shower yesterday! It was glorious. Not glorious - having a drain. I had to take all the gauze and tape off and had to see the tube coming out of my skin. Gross. And of course, it made me so freaking nervous, klutz that I am, that I would yank on it accidentally. Knock wood - so far, I haven't done that.

Anyway, I'm on a clear liquid diet. Yesterday it was so difficult to drink. Every -tiny!- sip resulted in a massive amount of gurgling and a resultant painful burp from my new teeny tummy. I poked around on the VST website (a sort of social network for sleevies) and found that this is totally normal. It's uncomfortable, though, and it definitely hindered my fluid intake yesterday.

Had a bit of a restless night last night. Woke up this morning and saw that my urine was really dark, so I am bound and determined to get more fluid in today, gurgles be damned!

The fluid in my drain yesterday and the day before was really bloody (even clotty - eww). When I woke up today, it was clear yellow.

Uh-oh. Was that something I was supposed to be on red-alert for, infection-wise? Or was that dark yellow? I couldn't remember, and the panic on my face was clear. I called the doc's office (at 10am on a Saturday) and left a voicemail. Then I emailed the office with this picture and just explained that I need some reassurance. Here's the amazing part - and I'm not exaggerating - less than one minute after the email was sent, my phone rang. It was my surgeon, calling to tell me that it looks fine, good even! I'm still in shock that not all doctors live up to their nasty, standoffish reputations. My surgeon really cares about his patients. Even on the office voicemail, they give the doctor's personal cell phone number to reach him after hours. How awesome is that? I didn't use it because I knew this wasn't an emergency, but the fact that that's out there, well, that's just wonderful.

So now I'm hanging out in my mom's living room, sipping tea. Sip, sip, sip!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Here we go.

I'm in the car on the way to the hospital. Mom and my aunt are with me. I'm scared.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

'Twas the night before surgery...

...and all through my brain, not a rational thought was stirring, not even "IT'S FOR YOUR HEALTH, STUPID!!"

I'm kinda freaking out.

My main three fears:
1) getting sick all the time like I was with my band.
2) surgical complications like a leak
3) needing to be out of work for more than a week/being completely unable to work next week (I took off 6 days) - especially since I've got a very high-stress job and I'm in the surgical closet.

Please God, I want to be NORMAL. I want to eat normal food like a normal human in normal portion sizes feeling normally FULL (whatever that feels like) and wear normal clothes and live an extraordinary life.

BTW, I'm fricking STARVING.

Monday, April 2, 2012

counting down the minutes

Things have been insane at work. Of course, as soon as I decide to take a week "off" (ha!), the world implodes. Great, more for me to worry about when I'm away.

I finished updating my living will (do you have one? you should). Had my roommate witness it. Got hugs and well wishes. Kinda weird, in a way.. like a last send-off, even though it isn't.

Today was my last day with food.. which included about a half dozen protein shakes
and a piece of grilled chicken at like 9:30 when I got home. Tomorrow I have to do clear liquids all day. I have tea (mint! organic! with a little caffeine) and a can of chicken broth. I need to get more at lunchtime. Deeeelish.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Allowing a little food

I'm a few days away from my surgery. I cannot live on liquids alone pre-op (I've done this a couple of times before, remember?) so I allow myself a piece of grilled chicken and a little Bibb lettuce once a day. I'll be doing all clear liquids the day before. But this was dinner:

How did I get here?

Where's my beautiful house?

I wonder all the time - how did I get here? Almost four years ago, I was banded. I was so hopeful. So determined. So.. naive.

After more than three years of eating more than I should one day and puking my guts out the next, I was genuinely worried. I had over a hundred adjustments on my band. I had two under fluoroscopy. No leaks, no slippages, no ulcers. Just weird fluctuations that never caused me to have the same day twice. It was infuriating and exhausting, not to mention disheartening.

I did research, as I tend to do, and decided to get rid of my band. There goes $20k, of course.. since I paid cash for my band (my insurance at the time was deplorable). No matter. Lessons learned. Besides, my band was the first and only tool I've used in my nearly 30 years on earth to lose and keep off 70lbs. That was the most weight loss my poor body had ever seen.

What I decided to do once my band was out was a whole other discussion.

Gearing up

I went to whole foods today. On liquids and feeling shite. Bought some organic chicken and this: