Friday, July 4, 2014

My gastric sleeve experience.

Well, the surgery is over and done with. I decided to tell everyone my experience before, during, and after the surgery. All the gritty details that I can muster.

During the weeks leading up to surgery I was very nervous. I knew people that had this done and they all assured me it was easy, but I didn't want to bomb them with questions every time one popped into my head. So this will be a good entry for those of you that are considering the surgery.

Before I get started, please remember that everyone is different! My experience may be different from yours.

First of all, if you are scared, stop it. They aren't kidding when they say it's not painful. Now that I got that out of the way, let's get started.

For 1-3 weeks leading up the surgery, the surgeon will put you on a diet. Every surgeon has a different diet. Some do all liquids, some do a super low calorie diet with shakes, protein bars, and 1 pre packaged "meal" per day, and rarely, the surgeon may not put you on one at all. This is literally the most miserable part of the entire surgery. I'm serious! It is very important that you follow the diet and don't cheat. The diet helps to shrink your liver and makes the surgery easier. Some surgeons will actually cancel the surgery if you don't stick to the diet! You will only be miserable for about 4 days. Then the diet gets easier.

A couple of weeks before the surgery, they will do a host of tests. Bloodwork, EKG, Endoscopy, Chest X-ray, ETC. If anything comes back as "not ok", then the surgery may be postponed so the other items can be treated. For instance, they found 5 ulcers and H. Pylori in my stomach during the endoscopy. Luckily they didn't postpone the surgery. He just gave me a prevpac, and told me to take them. If you have an abnormal EKG, they will make you see a cardiologist to get a release that you're safe for surgery.

Then, typically a few days before your surgery they will do one more blood test to check your blood type. That's it!

So, I rolled into the hospital at 5:30 AM on 6/23/2014. My mom brought me. I went into a room and changed into a gown, and laid there for about 30 minutes before a nurse came in and started my IV and put an anti nausea patch behind my ear. About 30 minutes later, they wheeled me back to some type of triage. My parents were still able to hang out. The anesthesiologist came in and explained to me what type of meds I'd have and asked a few questions. A few minutes later the Dr. came by and said hi, and checked my chart. Then about 15 agonizingly anxiety filled minutes later, the nurse came and wheeled me into a freezing cold OR. Seriously, it must have been 55 degrees. They moved me onto the OR table and strapped my arms and ankles down. My arms were stretched WAY out to my side. The anesthesiologist told me I was going night night. He put the oxygen mask on me, and I suddenly felt not nervous, and then went to sleep.

I came to, and I couldn't breathe. The anesthesiologist was telling me he needed me to breathe, and I suddenly realized that I still had a tube down my throat. I was trying to gasp for air, but I was panicky, and suddenly, I vomited. He sucked it out with a little wand and pulled the tube out of my throat. I still don't understand what happened there, but it was pretty terrifying.

From there, they wheeled me to recovery, which I have ZERO recollection of. From there, I was in my room. I awoke and saw my entire family in the room with me. At this point, the ONLY pain I felt was a sore throat, and an INSANELY dry mouth. I remember the next hour or so in bits and pieces. I was really stoned. When I finally came to, the nurse was giving me 1/2 teaspoon of crushed ice. That's it! I could have 1/2 teaspoon of crushed ice per hour, and it felt like the Sahara desert in my mouth, and all I could have was crushed ice!

It was shortly after this, that I realized I had a catheter in, and I also had a small amount of pain in my side. When I looked, I saw a drain hose sticking out my tummy that led to a bulb. This drain would be the BANE OF MY EXISTENCE for the next 10 days.

I had a pain pump on the side of my bed that only made me sleepy. I had a small amount of pain from the drainsite, but mostly it was my intense thirst that was bothering me. The nurse came around about bedtime, and checked on me. I explained that I wanted my CPAP, and she said I couldn't have one. This was my first surprise. I asked to see the Dr. He came in and told me NO CPAP for 6 weeks. I was instantly pissed, because I need it to sleep, and I wasn't expecting to not be able to use it. Apparently, it promotes the swallowing of air, therefore, had the chance of ripping my stitches.

They kept coming in to do my vitals and complaining of my oxygen saturation. NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Because I can't breathe without my CPAP. They finally put me on oxygen, and sat me up to sleep. I stayed in the hospital for two nights.

Gas pains came to me on the second day. Not the type of gas pains you think. You see, they inflate your abdomen with air for this surgery. Some of this air gets trapped in your body cavity and causes a lot of pain. Mainly when you breathe in. It was manageable pain though. Kind of like when you are out of breath and you have a catch in your side when you breathe in. That's what it felt like. These can last up to a couple weeks. Mine lasted about 5 days.

When I got home, they brought oxygen supplies to my house, since I couldn't have a CPAP. Here is where things get reallllly crappy.

Fun Fact. IF you have gout, as I do, you will have a flare up. I promise. It's common for post op patients, and I promise, it will be INTENSE. After 2 days at home, my gout flared up in BOTH ANKLES at once. I was absolutely completely immobilized. Here's the worst part. They can't treat it. No anti-inflammatories as they eat your stomach lining, no pills yet, No steroids because they prolong the healing period of the surgery. Nothing except for pain meds. For anyone who doesn't know how painful gout is, a female podiatrist said that it is more painful than when she went into labor. So, don't dismiss me. Gout is no laughing matter.

I felt NO pain other than gout pain for the next week. I couldn't even feel my surgery wounds. So, I'm sure it would have been easy without that issue.

Now let's talk about this drain. It sucks. Not because it hurts. It honestly doesn't. Until you are laying on it and try to roll over, or get up and forget it's attached and let it fall to the end of your hose and yank on the suture. Showers sucked too, you have to hold it in your hand or pocket constantly for a week or more depending on your surgeon.

I finally got the release to take colchicine and percocet for my gout. It is still flared up at this moment, and has made my recovery lengthy because I am unable to walk. It's important to be able to walk after surgery to relieve gas pain and promote drainage. I finally got release on Wednesday to work from home next week, but I am still not even released to drive yet. They don't know it, but I was working from home last week as well. Daddy has to pay the bills.

In 10 days, i have lost 35 lbs. That's right. 35 freaking lbs! I weighed in at 349 yesterday.

I'm not that hungry, I feel good (except the gout). The most important thing I can tell you is to SIP WATER. Constantly. Sip all day to stay hydrated. You will be miserable otherwise.

If you guys have questions, post them here. I'll be blogging my progress as it happens!