~Taylor~

Getting Sick During Early Post-Op/Complications

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I am 10 days post-op from having my sleeve done. All of a sudden Thurs I started sneezing like crazy (so much fun, doesn't hurt at all). Within a few hours I had stuffy/runny nose, sore throat, some light coughing with mucus, I'm a wreck. At first it felt totally like an allergy attack - seems weird to get in the winter, but could be some new household irritant, I guess. Took Claritin Thurs, felt a little better.

By Thurs night, the rest of the symptoms were kicking in...sore throat, coughing, etc. Realized I might be getting full on sick on DAY 9, and panic set in. I have taken Mucinex Cold & Flu, Benadryl, you name it. Started to feel a little nauseous for the 1st time since surgery and thinking all these cold/allergy meds aren't a great idea, but I don't know what else do. I am completely miserable and pretty desperate.

Felt worse when I woke Fri morning. On my way out the door I went to grab another Mucinex and the pack I had originally taken from was empty. So I just grabbed one from the next pack...popped it in my mouth...took a swig of water...swallowed it...noticed how huge it felt sliding down my sore throat...and realized I had - being on auto-pilot - just swallowed a huge gel-cap! Like huge, huge. And thought, "What the Hell did I just do?! What was I thinking?!" (I wasn't, obviously). It was too late to undo it, so as my son drove me to the eye doctor's I just kept sipping on my water hoping all would be ok and I didn't pop a stitch/staple with this ginormous pill - or whatever else might go wrong as a result, I don't even know.

The eye doctor appt took 2 hours. A lot of sitting, leaning forward, carefully bending down to look at frames, etc. By the time we left I was NOT feeling so good. My voice was extremely froggy, throat dry and sore (forgot to take my water bottle in w/me, of course). I felt really tired, and I started getting some cramps on the left side of my abdomen. Sort of felt like menstrual cramps - def partially around the ovary area - but then some slightly higher. At first I was really worried, but then I got home, my son brought me home Liquid cold medicine - whoo hoo! It's so gross...but anyway...I had some chicken broth...a little vitamin water...promptly fell asleep watching TV w/hubs. 

He woke me at 8:30 and sent me off to bed. I took my usual night time meds for my Fibro/Back Pain/UTI prevention/Migraine prevention/Cholesterol (whew I really hope I can get off some of these one of these days). Anyway, I have an adjustable bed, so I had the head raised and was going to do some stuff on my laptop til the meds kicked in bc I was feeling a little awake by now.

Next thing I know it's 3:30 a.m., my laptop is still on the bedside cart (I never even got far enough to pick it up...?). Get up to use the bathroom and notice my stomach is really distended. It feels all big, round, and tight, and one of my incisions is really sore - which they have been healing fine. So I take a look and I think it looks ok (incision) but can't believe how huge my stomach is! This was a busy day and I ate less than usual due to being sick and having the long appointment. So one protein shake, one cup of chicken broth w/added protein powder, a sugar-free popsicle, a vitamin water, and lots of regular water surely were not the cause of THIS?

Feeling super worried, but take more cough medicine, try to fall back to sleep. Notice that while lying more flat now it feels like there's a tight band around my abdomen. Like when I breathe it feels like there's a tight but stretchy belt between naval and sternum that stretches out when I inhale, and back in when I exhale. It's pretty scary because I've only ever felt anything similar when I was hugely pregnant (nope, not a chance)...So I get up to consult Dr. Internet, and I can't even find a complication that matches my symptoms! Huh. No nausea/vomiting, no fever/chills, no real issues taking fluids (hurts some/get gurgling still if I accidentally swallow too much at once or too fast, but that seems to be the normal response to accidentally doing those things this early on).

Maybe it's a lot of gas bloating for some reason? Maybe I'm premenstrual and this is super-duper fluid retention? I don't know, and Dr. Internet is being of no help.

Anyone else get sick in the early post-op days and/or ever experience something like this (especially after swallowing a big pill/chunk of food etc. that already has you concerned)?

Edited by ~Taylor~

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Are you able to contact your doctor or their staff? It sounds like something they might want to take a look at, honestly. I'm glad you're not having additional symptoms (nausea, vomiting, etc.), though! That seems promising. 

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13 minutes ago, Cardamom77 said:

I'm glad you're not having additional symptoms (nausea, vomiting, etc.

Yes I know, I was just looking up signs of leaks and similar complications and it seems as though the abdominal pain/distention are obviously not good and could be signs of something like that, though those issues are also normally accompanied by fever, chills, nausea/vomiting and a few others. Besides some abdominal discomfort and all of my cold symptoms, I feel fine. I can still eat and drink normally.

I just emailed everyone from my team at OCC. It is still early down there so I may not hear back for a bit. I have offered to send pics of my abdomen/incisions (which I think the incisions look fine, but one is sore...) and if they feel I should go see someone, I will. Crossing my fingers and saying a prayer that this doesn't turn into something big/bad, especially requiring an open surgery. That would put a real damper on things. Of course so would dying of sepsis, so...

Thanks for your response!! :):) 

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Hope you hear back from them soon. Don't forget the impact that stress can have on your body... the anxiety of possibly doing something wrong can cause bloating and distention from built up gas all on its own. Rest assured that it doesn't sound to me like you have done anything to cause serious concern, so try not to worry before you have to ;) I'm sure your WLS team will get in touch with you very shortly to make sure everything is A-Okay. In the meantime, be sure to keep yourself moving so you don't get any gas cramps, as they are never pleasent, and try your best to stay hydrated. -_-

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Give a call to your PCP, but also call your surgeon to ensure on what you can safely take that soon out. I wasn't able to have uncrushed pills for nearly a month unless they were itty bitty. 

The phenylephrine in Mucinex (and sudafed, and basically any "cold and flu" medicine) can be pretty harsh even on a tummy that isn't brand-spanking new, and I honestly wouldn't continue taking it unless you get the go-ahead from your surgeons office. Guaifenesin (the main ingredient in any mucinex or anti-mucus product) isn't a trip either. You have mucosa trying to heal, and guafenesin isn't going to be kind to it. 

While distention after belly surgery isn't cool, without pretty noticeable pain, I'd wait to hear from your docs. If you notice any sudden or severe pain or have dry heaves/repeated vomiting, that's when it's time to skip ahead straight to the ER. 

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Thank you everyone for responding and  your advice. Did have to take a few more doses of liquid Mucinex, but am feeling about 65% better today! I emailed Dr. Ortiz my incision photos and he thought they looked fine. He reassured me that since the cold pill did not get lodged in my throat and I am still taking fluids fine that is a sign that it went down w/o a lot of fuss. He also said the gel-tabs begin dissolving rather quickly so it was good it was that type of pill. 

The other surgeon, Dr. Martinez, called me last night at 10:00 (well, 7 their time, but still) and spent 20 minutes describing most issues that could cause my discomfort and that while complications are still possible at this stage, that being 10 days post-op meant there is a very small chance of a leak at this point, unless there was an out of the ordinary situation such as impact from an accident or something. He said obstruction or stenosis are more common complications now, when they do happen, and just to be really careful about what I'm eating and to continue taking plenty of fluids.

He felt that the pressure I was feeling on my abdomen and the distention were likely some swelling still and, you guessed it, gas in the large bowel. His suggestions, in case anyone else wonders, were movement, definitely, gas-x or similar product, a warm heating pad, and to be sure not to use a straw obviously, but also not to "slurp" liquids - especially with hot broth or tea, as that lets in a lot of air that has no place to go. He gave me quite the anatomy lesson, actually. It was very informative! They have been really great and I feel much more relaxed about it now. But as always, appreciate the forums for when panic sets in and doctors are not available :) 

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On 1/7/2018 at 12:34 PM, ~Taylor~ said:

... His suggestions, in case anyone else wonders, were movement, definitely, gas-x or similar product, a warm heating pad, and to be sure not to use a straw obviously, but also not to "slurp" liquids - especially with hot broth or tea, as that lets in a lot of air that has no place to go. ... But as always, appreciate the forums for when panic sets in and doctors are not available :) 

FWIW I took a probiotic for quite some time after surgery and had not one gas pain or abdominal complaint. Maybe I would have done fine anyhow but just noting it...

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Good point. I have been on probiotics for many years to help combat my IBS-D and don't do well if I run out. I don't really think I have a lot of gas - I know a lot of people complain about surgical gas pains trapped in the chest/shoulder area and then extreme intestinal gas pain post-op. This wasn't necessarily a lot of pain, just some cramping and then the "squeezing band" sensation. That's kind of what concerned me were sensations I'm not used to and since my surgeon isn't in the area I can't just pop in for a check-up. Plus they are so repetitive about how much to swallow and when, I just thought maybe a big capsule could be more of an issue that I would normally think, but thankfully, no. Just happy it was nothing serious and now that they've told me so much I don't feel like I have to stress over every little pain or sensation - a big relief. I definitely agree on the probiotics though, and would recommend them as well :) Thx!!

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