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4/17/17 and Recovery Week 1



TLDR: I'm a little behind on posting post-surgery, but I'm very glad that the week went as fast as it did for recovery!

My VSG surgery was Monday 4/17/17 and the morning before the surgery, I felt very numb to it all. I kept expecting myself to freak out at some point, but whenever someone asked how I was feeling, it didn't make me anxious to think about it. I think it helped that I didn't need to check in for surgery until 11:15am and it was such a whirlwind before hand making sure that I had everything taken care of before walking out the door. My mind was running a mile a minute so I didn't have much sleep and was up by 4:00am to do work and school things, so maybe the extra adrenaline just felt me from feeling tired later in the day. Lol. :) I'm very thankful that my mom was able to come up from Georgia to stay with me at the hospital and for the few days after surgery to make sure I would let myself start to heal. I get most of my fear of all things medical from her however, so she was anxious enough for both of us. 

When I was all check in for the procedure, the nurses came to collect me for preparation and getting my IV in. I signed all my documents, stripped down to put on the stylish hospital robe (ooh la la), took out my contacts (which made me as blind as a bat), and then laid down just trying to focus on breathing. When they came to draw my pre-surgery labs and insert the IV, my veins did not cooperate at all. Typically they're hard to find, but this time I blame all the water they had me drinking and the cold because they could find the veins but they would roll. It took 3 people for the labs and 3 people to get the IV in. (Still today I have little punctures all up and down my arms.) And of course by then my aura of chill had worn off so that I laid there and cried the entire time. Pillow was soaked. There was a brief bit of levity before I was chartered off to the back: the doctor came up to check in with me and see how I was going, but literally all I could make out was a fuzzy light blue talking blob so I just went along with it. He left saying, "I'll meet you in the back in 15 minutes and we'll have a good time," to which I replied, "sounds like a game plan." My mom snorted and started laughing while adding her two cents, "you'll just go along with anyone propositioning you." And then they gave the this nice stuff to calm me down and I don't really remember much after that except a faint recollection of scooting myself over to the operation table and spreading my arms out to the side so that they could strap me down. *insert the soundtrack to Stigmata*

I did NOT enjoy waking up in the recovery section and I was back to crying the entire time. Every part of me felt raw and I was alone except for an occasional check in from the nurse, but I could not get myself to calm down. They ended up having to redose me with the nice stuff to calm me down and I slept again until I woke up in my hospital room. From check in to outpatient release, I was in the surgery center a total of 21 hours and 27 minutes and while I still did everything I possibly could to get myself home earlier; I didn't hate it or freak out about it as much as I thought I would. I pretty much slept the majority of Monday until the calming meds wore off completely. Also, I was recovery from someone taking a part of me out, so it's was tiring stuff. My mom was with me in the room and I bless her for that because the little bed they had did not look that comfortable to spend the night in. My brother and sister-in-law also came to visit and help me laugh a little bit. And then my dad showed up, which I appreciated but also kind of made me moody because his girlfriend didn't come with him. :( (despite I had talked to both her and him on Sunday and she was all game for it until she heard my mom was going to me in town. I'm still a little disgruntled about that. *deep breath* moving on.)

The saving grace of the whole stay was the PHENOMENAL nurse staff that took care of me: Melinda, Allison, and Lacey. Melinda I mostly slept through, but she drew me a really nice smiley face on my whiteboard that wished me well before switching out for the night nurse Allison. I spent a lot of time with Allison because by that point I was awake, and would not really be sleeping again except little cat naps through the night. It was odd because after the surgery my heart beat would settle around 48-51, but also annoying because less than 50 would cause the machines to beep. In addition to that,  I was very much aware of both the drain (mainly the large hole in my side) and the catheter. So I feel like I was punked a little bit by my brother and sister-in-law when they said I wouldn't notice it. Outside of my walk testing in the evening to see if I could move around, I had my bed in the perfect prop position and I vegged on the Food Network channel all night long since they were having a marathon of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Allison thought I was torturing myself, but honestly I was in no way hungry, so I didn't crave anything I saw on tv which was a nice change from the pre-op liquids diet. I also did not like the way that the morphine drip made me feel so I asked for an alternative, which she ended up giving me some extra strength IV Tylenol equivalent and Toradol. Both of those really helped with the pain, and helped me keep my head on straight too. The few times I hit my morphine button (4 total) was directly after she had me walk or readjust on the bed. Pain, lots and lots of pain. So I did my best to move as little as possible after. Right before Allison left her shift and switched over to Lacey, she removed the catheter. ... it was quick, but unpleasant. Holy hannah I can't describe the sensation - like a vacuum-y/suction feeling coming from inside of you that at the same time scratched all the way out. For a bit afterwards, I felt raw and a little like I was leaking. And when Lacey removed the drain in the morning, it was the same type of sensation, but coming from an area that was cut open and bleeding. Very intense and sore. I held my side for a while after that.

Tuesday morning, once my dressings were changed out and I was unhooked from all the machines, I was released for recovery and I limped myself out that front door as fast as possible. My mom and I ran to Wal-mart to fill my prescriptions and while we waited I insisted on walking the entire time. In hindsight, it might have been too much too soon since I felt very weak and dizzy, but using the cart to lean on and just taking my time to keep up and around eased some of the cramping in my side from the incisions after sitting in the car. When we left and went home however, I should have saved some stamina for the three flights of stairs up to my apartment. :S For the rest of Tuesday and pretty much Wednesday, I would do little walks around my apartment 4-5 times like instructed to get myself moving, but overall I was still very weak and stiff and not looking to do anything but sit on the couch. By Thursday I felt more like a human being again and stretched myself with a walk outside to the little grocery store up the road. My heart felt like it beat 1,000 miles a minute by the time we got back but the rest of me felt good, so once I caught my breath we made plans to join my brother's family out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. Mom was leaving early Friday morning so I wanted to make an effort and figure that I would sip on broth while everyone else got to eat the tangible things. It was funny though because my broth was the last thing to come to the table since the waiter first brought me a bowl of steamed cabbage. Lol. Not sure where that came from. The dinner was lovely to see everyone, but at the same time killed me a bit from the suspension in my mom's car. Sitting down in that position put a lot of pressure on my stomach (incisions, gas, and all) and I bounced the entire time from one side to the other hanging on to the door and seat for dear life. The fastest we went was 40mph. I would highly recommend to anyone traveling after surgery: recline as much as possible with a pillow and drive in smooth cars only. I worried a lot about my staples ripping with the vigorous bouncing movement.

After she left on Friday, I still relaxed most of the day and into the weekend but still pushed myself until I was walking a little longer, eating a little more/trying different things, taking all my meds, and working on getting the liquids down. I also dreaded the injection shots. Having to give myself a blood thinner injection for seven days post surgery solidified the face in my head that if I had an illness that required daily injections for me to survive - I would die. I did not handled the injections well and honestly only got through them at all due to having my family members administer them instead and using ice on my skin for about 20 minutes to numb the injection spot. Once my skin was cold and numb, I could not feel the initial stick of the needle, but would still feel the pressure and sting of the medicine. My body would unconsciously spasm and lock up for a few moments afterwards because it's all in my head. *sigh* So for anyone else who fears they will struggle with the injections I highly recommend to use the ice to numb it, don't look at the injection while it's happening, and tell whoever is administering it to not push down so hard/fast on the plunger which will lessen the sting of the medicine.

I've been very lucky so far that nothing I have eaten or drank has caused my to be nauseated. Monday I was able to add scrambled eggs to my diet and they taste amazing! but there have been a few times that I catch myself eating too fast and it's a sharp pain in my stomach because of the pressure. Thankfully the gas pressure eased up about Friday with the walking, but still today I have to remind myself to drink small/shallow sips and to nibble on food instead of biting. I am also still struggling to get in enough liquid every day. Once I hit 16-24 ounces, I feel pretty satiated, but should be aiming for 40-50 ounces at this point. So some nights have been a little later than others until I can get it all down. I did feel severely dehydrated once during the recovery process and felt like my entire body was rebelling against me at the same time. I was starving, weak, hard to think, headache, hot, fast heartbeat, and an acidic taste in my mouth despite no nausea. All of that solved by drinking my clear fluids. Drink drink drink. It is so important!

My one week post-op follow up appointment was meant to be two days ago, but unfortunately was canceled because of a family emergency with the doctor. It was rescheduled for tomorrow morning at 10:00am and I'm very ready for it. Beyond remembering my small sips/nibbles, the staples are the last major reminder of my surgery and still catch me off guard sometimes when I feel fine, but then sit down too sharply / fast and the pain will remind me. I know I also have the internal staples and stitches on the muscle that won't go away so quickly. But once the outside staples have been removed, I think I will be sleeping a lot better. I'm primarily a side/stomach sleeper and having to fight myself in bed to stay on my back ended up with me sleeping out in the living room on the couch recliner. I've gotten it down to a pretty comfortable routine of taking my pain meds and then using the pillows to prop me up and try to limit the tossing and turning, but I miss my bed and I don't think my butt has ever felt so flat from sitting/sleeping in the same position for over a week now. My bed calls my name and after tomorrow, I should be back to it! *fingers crossed*

I think I'm in a recovery stall a little bit while my body rewires itself, but day of surgery I weighed in at 285.9 and this morning weighed in at 276.3. That's almost 10 pounds! I know that there is still a long way to go and especially needing to get my exercise added back into my recovery, but each day the fear and anxiety of the surgery fades away and now I'm just excited about all the future possibilities.


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Congrats on being done with your surgery! So sorry about the IV fiasco. Torture! I'm so nervous about those injections! So glad you had so much family support! I can't believe you're already tolerating eggs. Awesome! We have to wait much longer for those in my program. You're well on your way! So happy for you!

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This is a great resource for anyone curious about the surgery - so many great details! I'm glad you're recovering well. It sounds like you're doing a good job of following doctors orders about water and walking. Good for you. Looking forward to more updates as you move along through the process :) 

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