Went without pain meds again last night only this time without the hot water bottle. Not a great idea. Not only is it still chilly in O-Town, I had some mildly annoying gas pain in the neck when I laid down. To top it off, I thought it might be a good time to stop staring at the ceiling and try sleeping on my side again. Yet another BAD IDEA!
I was comfortable and relatively pain free so I thought I’d give a rotation a try. I slowly rolled over to my left side and initially felt fine. Then, seconds later, out of nowhere I felt the familiar tearing sensation of Days 1-5 on the muscle near my port site. It’s painful in such an annoying way that when it happens I just freeze up for fear of making it worse. The only way to stop it is to place my hand flat over my port site and press against my stomach. It’s like when you bump your knee and instead of just walking it off you bend down and rub the pain away. Only NO rubbing.
So, I could just barely roll onto my back without screaming my head off.
But I was being stubborn so I still went without the pain meds. This meant I had to lay there wishing the burning sensation away for some time before I fell asleep. The pain didn’t subside until well into this morning either. I shan’t be rolling over again anytime soon!
On the plus side, today is the last day of the ‘full liquids’ stage of Slimband’s post-op plan so I spent it finishing up some of the great soups I’ve been eating for the last 5 days and ensuring I’ve got all the ingredients I’m going to need for Stage 3: Mushies ie puréed soups and stews, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, applesauce etc.
The full liquids stage hasn’t really been all that much of a challenge since the Slimband recipes have been pretty tasty and easy to swallow. I’ve been sticking to their meal plan quite strictly and I’m really pleased with my progress. I’ve only had a few instances where it was difficult to get things down the hatch and they were way back around Day 6. It’s only been easier since then. I even managed to eat out with my family once this week which really helped with my morale. It gets pretty lonely having to eat only the foods that I’ve prepared every 2-3 hours for days!
That being said, I’m told moving on to mushies can be a bit of a challenge what with the immanency of yacking around every corner. Apparently, it’s quite difficult to get these foodstuffs down to the old tum via the little one. It’s okay for me to eat just about anything again but it’s got to be puréed. I’m not entirely sure how many blended meals I could tolerate but if I don’t blend them well enough, I could quite literally blow chunks!
I’m thinking it won’t be so bad. I’m hoping it will be a little like Days 1-5. There were times where I couldn’t swallow water without first tipping my head back as far as it would go to ease the liquids down my esophagus. But I got through that just fine.
I picked up some of Mom’s homemade chicken stew to purée for tomorrow’s lunch and I honestly can’t wait. Another nutritious and delicious dish to get down my gob. I feel like instead of hating food like I thought I would, I’ve simply solidified my undying love for new kinds of nourishment. Then again, I suppose I’ll see how I feel if I have to bolt to the bathroom every time I try a new kind of sludge. Which, I gotta say, is another thing -albeit unhealthy- I could have done to lose weight WITHOUT spending $16K!
Woke up feeling pretty fine today. I opted for a hot water bottle on my shoulder rather than drugs in my tummy but honestly, I didn’t really need either. I didn’t feel much in the way of pain at all last night so I was pretty pleased. That being said, I had a toasty top half despite the significant drop in Ottawa’s temperature last night!
One thing’s for sure though, if I’m gonna be using my little orange provider of warmth and comfort again anytime soon, I’m gonna need some help from Liliana the Hottie designed by Montreal’s own Janice Yan-Yan Wu. I absolutely adore her! Not only would she be soft and cuddly, she would most certainly help me keep the stink of cheap rubber from rubbing off on my 400 TC sheets. And with eyes like hers who could resist??
Friday was my first day out and about on my own since my surgery. I woke up feeling pretty great. I got ready for the government job test I was heading to with little effort and only a slightly lighter head than usual. Since I still couldn’t do it myself, my grandmother played handmaid and helped me heave myself into my sports brassiere which provides the support I need to keep The Girls away from my incisions.
I was a little over-confident in my recovery and stupidly forgot my pain meds. I wasn’t feeling much pain when I left the house so I figured I’d be fine until after the test. Sadly, no less than 30 minutes into my 3-hour test, the gas pain returned to my neck and shoulder so severely I couldn’t finish it (not that I wanted to anyway…the job turned out to be something completely different than the ad).
Anyway, I got out of there and went to wait for the chariot that is public transpo.
I was concerned about the 1.5 hour ride back from Gatineau to the East End of Ottawa but quickly found that the bus was exactly the bumpy ride I needed. The bumps seemed to alleviate most of my gas pain in not time at all. But thank eff I was wearing my sports bra!!
I had some port-side pain which I suspect was a result of the bra pressing on my incision but it was very short-lived. I find that when I get up, if I press my hand over the top of the incision, it dulls the pain significantly. Otherwise, it feels a bit like a burning/tearing feeling which I’m not sure is because I THINK my port is pulling because I know it’s there or because it’s actually pulling a little because it’s still healing.
The gas pain of the afternoon subsided for a few hours but returned at bedtime. I still didn’t have my meds so it was two children’s chewable Gravol to the rescue. They tasted pretty great, considering. At least I didn’t have to crush them into shot glass half-full of water like I’ve been doing with the demerol. So, down the hatch they went and Gravol played the hero of the day by conquering the dreaded gas pain and knocking me out in less than 15 minutes flat.
Well, today was a much better day than yesterday. I woke up with a little more pep in my step and am feeling pretty fine. Slept through the night with the help of my good friend demerol and only had a tiny bit of gas pain. Even managed to roll over to my side for a short 10 minutes rest.
Had a nice chat with Aftercare Coordinator Michelle from Slimband today. I’ve been having some post-op issues that I just wanted to ask her about. The first is my exceedingly dark pee first thing in the morning. It’s fine throughout the day but seriously this stuff is florescent orange. In this past this would only happen when I’m super dehydrated but apparently this is normal.
I’ve also got some serious itching/stinging going on in my top incision. This little effer is the source of some great discomfort over the other three. Apparently since this is also normal I can look forward to this sensation sticking around for the next week or so. I seriously don’t know how I’m ever going to get a bra on.
Finally, and this is a bit of an overshare, but I’ve got a bit of a traffic jam going on in my rear garage. I seriously haven’t been to the bathroom properly in nearly 10 days. Since I’m an IBS sufferer I have experienced similar congestion but I was concerned so I asked the dear Michelle and this is also normal. Traffic should be speeding through in the next couple of days. Lucky me.
So, after my tantrum yesterday I decided to do some exploring for foods I’ll be able to get down once I’m through with the liquid/full liquid diet. I spent most of today on a an utterly fabulous website called TasteBook.com.
It’s a website that uses a search aggregator to search across popular recipe sites using one search box. You can also upload your own recipes to the site. The coolest part is that you can bookmark all of your favourite recipes then have them printed in your own personal cookbook! I just love it for gifts or for taking all of the recipes I’ve collected over the years and finally getting them bound into one beautifully printed book with MY name on it.
Since I can’t eat anything right now, I can spend some time putting together a collection of recipes for foods I CAN eat. Then I’ll always have them on hand. I guess food can still be fun after all.
Monday’s surgery recovery went quite well. Only woke up once through Sunday night from the dreaded gas pain but decided against the midnight demerol and awoke in the morning feeling quite good. I only had a few pains to the left of my rectus abdominus so it wasn’t much of strain getting out of bed. In fact, I could actually do my morning squirm before I rolled myself out of the sack (you know the one I mean, where you twist and stretch your ENTIRE body in a most inhumane way and make involuntary moaning noises in the process?). It felt awesome!
That being said, I gotta say, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the impact of wounded abdominal muscles until it happens to you. Now that I’ve spent the last 3 days wandering around my house like a hunchback with my torpedoes at the ready, I now know the full extent of the power of core stability. I shall be investing a great deal of time on this area as soon as humanly possible to ensure I never feel this way again.
I’ve been suffering some major irritation from my bandages over the past couple of days.
I started to peel the tape away from my very thin flesh and realized that if I’d kept going I was going to need skin grafts which would neither speed up nor aid in my recovery. I did a Google search to seek out some assistance in removing the surgical tape only to stumble across this article from eHow.com. Talk about advice from the Department of the Bleeding Obvious!!!
But I’d once tried a similar method in the waxing incident of 2002 and decided to be a bit more inventive. I raided my mother’s medicine cabinet and settled on two tried and tested beauty products that really are second-to-none: Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream and Q-Tips®. It took me 30 painstaking minutes of delicate prepping to get the bandages off with no additional removal bruising at all. I highly recommend these products for any bandage removal project.
One note, I was pretty weak for most of the day and getting pretty tired of the clear liquids. Bordering on gagging just from the pure monotony of it all. And the smell of the stocks is really starting to get to me. Had a few mentally hungry moments but no real physical ones. Looking forward to full liquids on Thursday!
Today I’m feeling pretty great. Slept through the night without waking up for more drugs and got out of bed with minimal effort. Stomach is still pretty tight and I can’t quite stand up straight just yet. Only had one demerol so far as still have some gas pain in my left shoulder and neck area but only low-mid level pain. Nothing like the first night thank goodness!
What feels very weird is that I can’t actually wear a bra. Now, for most women that wouldn’t really matter all that much but I’ve got some pretty huge hooters and they need their support. Especially since they’re putting a lot of pressure on my incisions. The main problem is that there’s an incision just below the spot right between my boobs in precisely the place my bra would sit against my chest.
The result is that I have to walk around the house (or anywhere else I’d like to go) holding onto my boobs so they don’t put pressure on my wounds. Needless to say, I’m not going anywhere until that changes! Unless of course, one of these Hand Bra’s (pictured) shows up in my mailbox in the next few hours…
So, my gastric band surgery went well. All things considered the whole process was pretty fantastic. I arrived at Slimband promptly at 2pm and was outta there by 6:30pm that evening. It was pretty amazing and an incredibly smooth process.
Shortly after I arrived at the incredibly posh Yorkville Prince Arthur Clinic that houses Slimband, I met my consultant Niki very briefly. She helped me through this process from the beginning so it was great to meet her in the flesh. She’s had this surgery before and it was pretty amazing to see how great she looked.
Then a lovely woman named Michelle took some pictures to go in my Slimband folder and mark this very special occasion. I opted for the clothes-on option instead of the top-off Biggest-Loser-style pics. I thought it was best for all of us.
When it was time to prep for surgery a nurse (the lovely Stephanie) came and took me inside to check my stats and to brief me about the process of the day. I met my anesthesiologist (Dr ….) and Dr Yau came to say hello and impart some of his wisdom upon me. After having completed 3500+ gastric band surgeries he’s certainly got information I want to hear!
He told me about the surgery and mentioned the possibility of having to repair a hiatus hernia. Apparently this is quite common for patients that suffer from GERD. It is often what makes GERD symptoms so severe in some patients. Having suffered from some pretty painful heartburn for most of my adult life, I had to wonder why previous doctors had never considered this before.
After our chat I was lead into the operating theatre where I hopped up on a pretty squishy table, got comfortable (they put massagers on my legs to help with circulation), Dr…got my IV in one try and he knocked me out. I’ve never been unconscious before so it was a pretty cool experience to be awake one minute then asleep the next.
I woke up in the recovery room and felt pretty good. Coming out of the anesthetic was such a nice feeling! It was kind of euphoric. I didn’t really feel much pain, just a bit of stiffness all over. Dr Yau was there and explained that I did indeed have a “medium sized hiatus hernia” and he’d repaired it. I was barely conscious but I was definitely grateful!
My recovery nurse was one of the sweetest nurses ever. I don’t remember her name but she was from Argentina and was just lovely. She stayed with me from the time I came out until the time I was allowed to leave about 1.5 hours after the surgery was over. She helped me right out to the car.
The whole process took about 4.5 hours but the surgery itself only took about 20-30 mins. Amazing what can be accomplished in that short timespan!
I felt okay for most of the evening. I still wasn’t allowed to eat but I could drink lots of water so I did. I’d been warned of ‘gas pain’ in my chest, neck and shoulders from the gas they used to fill up my abdominal cavity. I’d started to feel it a bit so had a demerol and enjoyed that for a couple hours before hitting the hay.
Had a rough first night. Woke up half way through in quite a bit of pain in my neck and abdomen and needed help to get up to take more drugs. Had a few tears from pain and frustration. Wasn’t pretty but I survived through the rest of the night.
I’m only allowed clear liquids like herbal tea, apple, grape or cranberry juice and any clear broths for the next 5 days. I’m still pretty weak from the pre-op diet and the surgery so I’m also drinking Pediatric Electrolyte to get my electrolytes up. I was ready to eat just about anything that would fit in my stomach when we travelled back to Ottawa Mom got me some Tim Horton’s chicken soup broth and it never tasted so good!
I took some more drugs and slept a little on the drive back to O-Town. Been resting in bed with a movie for the evening with the occasional Slow Melt Mighty Mini Popsicle. And here I am. Only had medium level gas pain so far.
When I met Dr Yau he spoke about the importance of having a strong support system of family, friends and fellow bandsters. Well, I certainly have that taken care of! I’ve had so many well wishes I’ve lost count (thanks guys!), I’ve got a fellow bandster in the family and I’m already a member of some super helpful forums, so I think I’m on the right track!
He also mentioned one thing that really struck a nerve with me. He said its important to realise that there are two organs involved with this procedure: the brain and the stomach. I think it’s crucial to one’s success to be aware of this when considering gastric band surgery because, as I said, it’s not a cure-all. It’s just another tool to help me along the way. I’ve still got a lot of work to do to get me where I want to be but I’ve got a pretty amazing support system so I’m sure it’ll be great!