Skinny-Sized Teacher

A blog about life before and after gastric bypass

Day 3: I’m coming home & week 1

January 21, 2012

My surgeon woke me up about 6:30 to check on me, and asked if I was ready to go home. Heck Yeah! He gave me the office’s Post-Op diet for Gastric Bypass patients and instructed me that I needed to get up and walk every hour.

I was so happy to get out of the hospital, mainly because I smelled. I feel like my body odor has changed since surgery. *Gag*

The APRN came in shortly after to tell me she was going to expedite my paperwork so I could go home before it started to snow heavily. I called my parents to let them know to start driving towards me and that I would be discharged soon. Thanks to a comedy of errors, which is par for the course at my house, my parents didn’t arrive until nearly 11.

The snow was thick and fluffy, so it took us close to 2 hours to get home.  Other blogs suggested that I bring a pillow with me for the ride home, and I was glad that I was did. It helped to absorb some of the shock of the bumps. I had to take out my nose ring for surgery and was stoked when I could get it back in!

On the way home, we decided to stop and pick up my painkiller and Prilosec. I found out that my local CVS does not stock many liquid medicines– great. Does anyone know if I give them a few days if they can get them in stock?

Once I got home and properly kissed the kitties (including Spook, the love of my life), I settled into organizing my recovery. I’m a teacher, I’m super organized. It’s funny though, living with my parents, since I have very little control of the rest of the environment, my tiny childhood bedroom is pretty cluttered, which I would not stand living on my own.  To help me keep track of fluids, medicines, you name it, I put together a log book with a place to write down times, types, and amounts of fluids including checkoffs for vitamins. On the back I’ve been keeping records of anything noteworthy–including weight (I haven’t been able to resist weighing myself every day), temperature, and other meds I’ve had to take. I know that I won’t be able to be this organized in the future, but I don’t want any complications preventing me from going back to work on time. I miss my students.  I’m in my tenure year at work, so honestly I’m afraid that my sub will be a better teacher than me and take my job away. It’s funny but I made it perfectly clear to my principal exactly HOW much material I was leaving my sub. Those gorgeous PowerPoints, quizzes ,and tests–those are mine.

I spiked a temp (99.8) that night, so I took some liquid painkiller and went to sleep. I woke up sweating in the middle of the night, so I know the Tylenol helped me to lower my fever. I’ve been sleeping on the recliner because its easy to get in and out of.

January 22-25, 2012

The past few days since I’ve been home have been a matter of sip.sip.walk.sip. and making sure I’m getting enough liquids so I don’t end up in the hospital for dehydration. So far my urine is clear, so I don’t have anything to worry about. I did find out I have an infection not related to the surgery, so I’ve had the added joy of crushing up medications and getting them to go down the hatch.

Fact: some crushed meds taste disgusting.

I’ve also been trying to keep tabs of things at work through my email.

Most importantly, I’ve been trying to catch up on grad school work, though I don’t seem to have much attention span these days. I spoke with a nurse from Bliss 8 today about that and she reminded me that I went through major surgery less than a week ago. My body is healing and I need to not fight it. She suggested I call the doctor’s office and get a note to send to my grad school about restrictions so I’m not continually docked for late work.

I’ve spent lots of time surfing the net and I’ve discovered some wonderful communities. ThinnerTimes is a great forum and The World According to Eggface is a food blog focused on life post-Gastric Bypass. I’m planning on going back to her site once Hell Weeks have passed and I’m able to eat real food. I can’t wait for that. I’m so tired of “clear liquids!” I start on full liquids tomorrow! Huzzah!!

Going to try driving today so I can get my nails done (and get out of the house!)

 

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Day 1.5 & 2 (Jan 19 & 20, 2012)

January 19 (PM) & January 20, 2012

Thank goodness for text messages. My conception of time was so off after anesthesia. I’m cross referencing my memory with the texts I sent to my mom to make sure I’m right on times.

I didn’t sleep much that night. I had a catheter in, so I didn’t have to get up to pee. I wasn’t in any pain, per say, just a tremendous amount of gas pressure. It actually felt like I had a hot air balloon under my stomach. The RN said that walking would help move the air through my system. For those of you not familiar, in order to do the surgery laproscopically, they fill you up with air to give them room in your abdomen to work. They do suck some of the air out, but it’s up to you to pass the rest out of your system, naturally, through flatulence.

Adding the bloat, I found out I got my period during surgery. Right on time—guess I really wasn’t preggo. Yay!

About 6 pm on the night of surgery, my nurse came to get me out of bed. They gave me two robes to wear so that I wouldn’t expose my behind.  I was a bit dizzy/nauseous on that first walk around the ward, but I soon got my sea legs and tried to walk every hour. The ward was warm and I wasn’t cold while walking.

A nurse practitioner came into check me out and everything was fine. Dr. Papasavas also came into check on me that night.

When I wasn’t walking, I laid in bed trying to watch Disney movies on my Netflix on my Iphone. I couldn’t concentrate. I flipped through some of the magazines I brought, but didn’t read any articles. I just couldn’t concentrate. I dozed on and off.  Played with Facebook. I had an RN and a PCA to take care of me.  The PCAs came around every few hours to check vitals–They started me on Tylenol with some pain meds, and I sweated it out during the night. Nurses came in and out, checking my vitals and giving me shots of Heprin. Sometime in the middle of the night I spiked a fever of 101 and they worried I was developing pneumonia.

I woke up around 5 am the next morning a little bit more clearheaded. I wasn’t allowed to drink—so I kept wetting my mouth with the dental sponge they brought me, and using the Burts Bees Pomegranate lip balm.  I got up to walk as much as possible—the gas pain hurt unbelievably bad.

Around 7 am, my RN removed the catheter which was SUCH a relief. It didn’t hurt to take it out, I just did the Lamaze breaths and as I exhaled she pulled it out. I was given a “hat” for my toilet and instructed that I needed to pee 300 ml (not sure about that unit) each shift (so by 3 pm). Luckily, I didn’t have trouble with that.

Around 8 am, they took me down for my GI scan. Basically, they wanted to test to make sure my pouch wasn’t leaking. I had to do basically the same test as I did before surgery, with much thinner barium. The test came back totally fine, and I was given a lunch tray featuring a bottle of water, a cup of hot tea with Splenda, a cup of crystal light, and a cup of beef broth. As dry as my mouth was, I was terrified of drinking and getting sick. I drank a cup of raspberry crystal light for lunch—and I did it sitting straight up to help it make its way into my stomach.

Deana, a blogger who blogs over at A New Normal  wrote in her blog that she was told to eat sitting up with her feet on the floor to keep her esophagus in line. I wasn’t told that, but I definitely took her advice. Another piece of advice that she gave was that if you have long hair like mine, put it in two braids to avoid bed head. I did and it definitely worked!

My parents and sister arrived around supper time, and we did a few walks together around the hallway. They also brought me a wicked cute teddy bear and some more magazines. More doctors and nurses visited. Around 7pm, the gas pains started to hurt really bad, and I wondered if I had made a wrong choice about having the surgery. What if it hurt this bad forever?I had brought a heating pad with me to help break up the gas pains, but I wasn’t allowed to use it.

Luckily, I talked with a male friend, who I’ll refer to as PA, who is a physician’s assistant at a local hospital. He reiterated that I made this decision carefully, and that it wasn’t a mistake. He’s been wonderful throughout this process—I’m wondering if after I heal more will develop between us. We’ve been casually dating since summer, but our work schedules and distance from each other interfere. Hmm.

At that point, my nurse gave me some pain killers and I slept through the night.  I also passed gas, yay! I was so excited that I texted my mom. lol. The Rns were happy too because flatulence is a sign that your stomach is waking up and everything is working normally!

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Surgery Day: Everything Happens for a Reason

January 19, 2012

The week before surgery were nerve wracking– leaving my eighth graders for over two weeks involves making lesson plans, quizzes, reading guides, etc. On Wednesday, my long-term sub shadowed me, and I introduced him to my students. They were pretty upset that I was leaving them for two weeks, and I had to make it perfectly clear that I was coming back and the surgery was nothing serious. One of my Aspberger’s students was in a tizzy: “If your surgery has anesthesia, the anesthesia could kill you!”  Gee, thanks, kiddo. That’s the type of confidence I needed to hear the day before surgery. Adding to my discomfort, my father chose to tell my grandparents about the surgery, and my grandmother spent an hour crying on the phone about how big of a mistake I was making.  My father–normally my biggest critic– hugged me and said he was behind me 100%. I don’t think he has any idea how much that meant to me.

Thursday dawned bright, cold, and early, and my mom, sister, and I began the long drive to Hartford. On the way there, I had the usual doubts about “what I am doing?” and even typed out letters to loved friends and relatives in case I didn’t make it through. Once I arrived at Hartford Hospital, however, my road to the OR was full with signs that this was definitely the right idea.

I’m a strong believer that everything happens for a reason. I even have that tattooed on my foot.  That there are signs out there–sent by the universe,  God, or some  consequences of our actions– that if we pay attention to them, we will be able to find the right path for us. There were signs, even early on, that C was bad for me. But I ignored them. Last Thursday, I was open to those signs, and received them into my heart and they comforted me throughout those anxiety-filled hours.

After arriving at the Hospital, I was sent to the admissions unit, where I met with my nurse, Mandy, which was also the name of my best friend of 22 years. Sign #1. She did my admission’s physical, including taking my weight: 234.8, which was 5 lbs down from the weight I started the pre-op diet with. I changed into my Bair Paws gown, which is an ingenious type of hospital gown with ports for warmers to keep me warm during surgery. I only got to enjoy it fora  few hours because they didn’t have one in my room. I want one or home!

During the admission’s interview, I had to pee in a  cup so the nurse’s assistant could do a pregnancy test. Meanwhile, they put me on the stretcher in the hall to go down to surgery. The Nurse’s assistant ( a man) emerged from my room, holding the pregnancy test with this weird look on his face and wanted to speak to the nurse. Oh.Fuck.no.  kept going through my head for the terse 3 minute conversation. Finally the nurse’s assistant looks at me and was like “Oh, your pregnancy test was fine.” I was so tense that I literally yelled, “You CAN’T do that to a girl!” The nurse started laughing hysterically, and apologized (the guy really was a young’n, but STILL).  lol

My mom, sister, and I went down to the OR waiting room ( really, I have no idea what you call it), and met with the anesthesiologist. They plugged my Bair Paws in– warmth! Dr. Papasavas came to check in with me, then it was time to go down to theater, right on time for my surgery of 10:45 am. I met with the anesthesiologist’s assistant, who had the same first and last name as that of one of my favorite students. Sign #2.

We arrived in the theatre and there were a ton of people there and country music was playing. Right before they put the oxygen/anesthesia on me, “Red Solo Cup” by Toby Keith came on. Sign #3 It was the same song that Trina, Chase, and I had listened to the night of her birthday dinner/ my Last Supper. I instantly relaxed and was ready for them to do what they needed to do.

I thankfully don’t remember anything about surgery or recovery–though I know the anesthesia and intubation made me sick.  Once I got to my room (816) on the Bliss 8 ward (An aptly named ward, and 8/16 are numbers of personal significance to me- Sign #4), I started to wake up a little bit, but I was pretty out of it. I know that my mom and sister left about 5 pm to beat the snowstorm home (the hospital is about a two hour drive from our house), and I texted my mom at around 5:30 to tell her that I was okay–but drifted in and out of sleep for the next couple of hours.

I had an RN and a PCA to take care of me.  The PCAs came around every few hours to check vitals–sometime in the middle of the night I spiked a fever of 101 and they worried I was developing pneumonia. They started me on Tylenol with some pain meds, and I sweated it out during the night.

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Day 6 of the preop diet:: Progress

On Day 6 of the pre-op diet… the “blah’s” are starting to fit in. I’m starting to miss being able to eat a variety of food and getting sick of chocolate Atkins shakes, chicken broth, and jello. I’m eating a ton of sugar-free Popsicles too. I’ll admit that I’ve “cheated” and had a few crackers here and there. Going without carbs cold turkey is the hardest part! I’m definitely going to nix any carbs from here on out, because surgery is four days away!

I’ve also gotten a nasty head cold. Some friends have suggested it could be from the sugar withdrawal, but the death cold is going around at work. I called my surgeon, and the nurse said it wouldn’t necessarily prohibit me from having surgery, as long as my chest isn’t congested.  But she cleared me to treat it with acetaminophen-based products. For some reason, in my area, Tylenol cold and sinus (my go-to drug) is not on the shelves, so I’m taking DayQuill & NightQuill (confirmed with the pharmacist that it is safe for pre-op) as well as Affrin nasal spray. I’ve also been drinking Emergen-C, which the nurse cleared, but told me to limit to two packets a day because each packet has 5 grams of carbs (the same amount in my protein shake!) Here’s hoping that the cold lifts before Thursday!

Weighed myself this morning… 236.6, which means I’m down 3 lbs since Monday. Not spectacular, but encouraging. I also took my measurements:

hips: 57″          waist: 46.5″     bust: 50″   thigh: 29.5″     arm: 14.5″

I used to work at Weight Watchers, as a receptionist for four years (more on that at a later date), and know that while the scale sometimes won’t show progress, your measurements definitely will.  Like I said in the previous post, since my breakup with my ex almost 8 months ago, I’ve gained 30 lbs and I don’t have alot of clothes that fit, especially work clothes…. I either need to lose weight or buy bigger ones, and I haven’t since I know the surgery was approaching.

At times, this blog might take a personal turn from time to time, which I hope is okay with everyone. The truth is, I’m terrified of going into this surgery alone. Yes, my family will be there and a few close friends are planning to be at the hospital the day after, but I wish that I had someone special there. To be quite honest, the breakup still weighs heavily on my heart, and while I’m lonely, I’m not ready to date again. The relationship, and the breakup, was abusive and crazy-making…. and even 8 months later, he and his new girlfriend continues to find ways to hurt me.  I just  don’t trust men anymore, even though I still dream of falling in love, marrying, and having a family.   To top it all off, this school year has been insane. I’m in my tenure year at work, and also in my last year of grad school. With all that, meeting men is impossible, and I frankly don’t have time to date, even though I want to. I do have a fwb, that I see occasionally, but the security that he offers me is temporary, which just makes the loneliness worse.

So I live my life alone, with the companionship of a few female friends that I grew closer to after the breakup, and my cat and horse. Unfortunately, I lost my best friend, Tom, in the breakup.  That’s one of my biggest regrets about everything… hurting him. It’s been almost a year, and I’ve tried to contact him, but he won’t speak to me. Short of going to his house, I don’t know what to do. I wish that I could at least apologize to his face before the surgery. The surgery has its risks, and I just wish I could go into the hospital with a clear conscience, because he does deserve an apology. He’s the only person I could ever have a long, deep conversation with, and I wish that I could talk to him about how I feel about the surgery, since I think he’s the only one that could understand.

To end this post on a light note, I’ve started packing my bag for the hospital. I’ve done a little bit of research about what to bring with me. So I bought a warm, zip up “breakfast” robe, with some slippers, Burt’s Bees lip balm (since I’ve heard many hospitals will not let you use petroleum based products when you are on oxygen, since there’s a chance it will explode. ) I’ve also brought some air freshener (in a non-food scent) to make the room smell better.  Those will all go in the bag with a few pairs of fresh undies, bras, and pj pants, plus a pillow, cell phone with charger, and my teddy bear. I’ll probably also pick up a few magazines. Any ideas?

 

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The Last Supper

Trying desperately to keep my mind off of eating… For dinner, I had a protein shake with chicken broth with some carrots and celery. The chicken broth was disgusting plain all by itself, so I added a ramen soup noodle seasoning packet to it. Gonna pick up some chicken bouillon cubes, onion powder, and Goya Sazon tomorrow to add to make “soup.”It was nice to eat a hot meal, even though I don’t mind the Atkins shakes.  I did “cheat” a little today, and had a bagel thin with weight watcher cream cheese. My surgeon recommended a 7-10 day preop diet and I’m 10 days before surgery. I’m hoping that I’ve given myself enough cushion.

Definitely feeling spacey as my body detoxes off the food. Today on my way into my therapist’s office, I got out of the car, locked the door, and then shut the door on my thumb. The door wouldn’t open and I screamed my head off until someone came over, got my keys out of my pocket, and unlocked the door. It’s pretty bruised, but luckily not broken. I’m blaming it on the sugar withdrawals. I’m also pretty tired. Grades are due for work, and I didn’t do anything tonight besides work on a project for grad school. Going to make sure I have some coffee tomorrow to help compensate.

On Saturday, I went out and had my “Last Supper.” Though doctors advise that you shouldn’t do that, I know it’ll be quite some time before I can eat the foods I enjoyed (in smaller quantities of course) and drink.  I’m not an alcoholic, but I love a few glasses of wine occasionally. The night happened to coincide with my friend Trina’s birthday and so she and I got dolled up to go out. Of course, after several years of being plus size, I just found a site  http://www.citychiconline.com that sells youthful plus size dresses. I bought the Tiffany dress, on sale for $30, and I got a lot of compliments in it. The dress is a bit tight, so I’m hoping to get a few post-op nights out in it before it gets to be too big. I have to admit, I’m looking forward into fitting in my old clothes and new ones before summer. After the BreakUp with C, I gained about 30 pounds. My clothes, including work clothes, are super tight, if they fit at all, and I’ve been postponing buying new ones. I did breakdown and buy a pair of OldNavy jeans (size 20, ugh) to wear to work, since my AmericanEagle ones are a bit too tight and low slung to wear to work.  I only have to make it through another week before surgery, and if I need to pick up a few pairs of pants in recovery, I will.

My ex, Chase, also came out with us on Saturday…this was not the most recent ex, but the one before, and we’ve had discussions about unresolved feelings between the two of us. However, for many reasons, now is not the time for either of us to explore those feelings, so we’ve been working on building a friendship. It was reassuring to have him there. He is one of the few people that won’t blow sunshine up my ass, and I enjoyed talking to him. Chase has his own brand of charm, and can come across as arrogant. Strangely, he was a perfect gentleman that night, including helping me in and out of my jacket, which he didn’t even do when we dated. He also rescued me from a guy who sent me a drink at one of the bars we went to, and then expected much more than a thank you. Luckily, Chase, former Marine that he is, dealt  with that by pushing me up against the wall and kissing me. Problem solved, but it left a burning butterflies in my stomach. On second thought, hanging with Chase is probably not a good idea when neither of us is ready for it. Hmm….

Anyway, we went to Via in Worcester, MA, which is my favorite restaurant. I enjoyed freshly baked bread, salad, butternut squash risotto, and eggplant Parmesan with a few glasses of wine before we went to a few other bars on the same street. It was funny, though, with the surgery about two weeks away, I think I’m subconsciously preparing for it, because I didn’t eat as much as I know I’m capable of. I ate enough to be satisfied, and stopped. I also haven’t felt 100% since getting the stomach flu over New Year’s. The celebration continued until about 4 am.

My official last preop meal was slices of cheese pizza on Sunday night at my cousin’s birthday party. Again, I didn’t eat as much as I thought I would. I was exhausted from the night before, and wasn’t very hungry. I did, however,dream about a ham sandwich (?) and woke up wanting one this morning. Go figure.

On a side note, I want to take my body measurements before getting too far into the preop diet to see if I’m going to lose anything. Definitely going to pick up a tape measure tomorrow after work.

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Pre-Op Diet

Began my 10-day, pre-op diet this morning.

Starting weight:  239.6

Since I’m 5’2”, my BMI is  43.8                      .

From reading other people’s blogs, I’ve noticed that the pre-op diet differs from surgeon to surgeon. Dr. Papasavas directed me to begin my diet ten days before surgery. Daily, I’m allowed to have 3-4 high protein, low carb shakes; 2 other forms of protein (egg, yogurt, milk, 1 oz of deli meat), 1 c. of vegetables, and as much sugar-free liquid as I can drink, which includes Crystal Light, Diet Snapple, sugar free jello and popsicles, and fat-free broth. The purpose of the pre-op diet is to mentally prepare you for the early stages of the post-op diet. Most importantly, it shrinks the liver so that the surgery can be done safely laproscopically.  Since liver is the site at which most of the sugars get stored, a high protein diet, low carbohydrate and fat diet will result in significant shrinkage of the liver. Because some folks can not stick to this diet, many doctors believe the best way to make the patients comply is placing them on a protein shake diet.

I’m thinner than most folks having gastric bypass so I have not been given a specific amount of weight to lose, but I am hoping to lose at least some weight as a result of this.

I’m already jonesing for a soda–I adore diet ginger ale and Sprite Zero; giving that up is the hardest thing! My doctor said I’m allowed to have coffee with a bit of CoffeeMate. I’m very glad I don’t have to break up with my boyfriend, “Joe,” yet.

Reading through the preop diet, I noticed that I need to do a bowel cleanse the day before, which I don’t remember hearing about at the pre-op doctor’s visit. I’m going to call the nurse and check; if so, I’m going to take January 18 off too. I don’t think it will be a good idea to teach if I need to constantly be running off to the bathroom.

In other news, I am working hard to get my plans done for the two-weeks I’m plan to be out of work. Grad school starts this week, adding more stress to my already busy schedule (Mothers, don’t let your children grow up to be English teachers). I’ll be pulling a few all-nighters, I’m sure, to be prepared.

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Introductions

I have no idea how to begin a blog–how do I introduce myself to you–unnamed reader without any particular demographics.  To make you care enough about my story to click “follow.”

The basics: My name is Aurora and I’m a 26-year old Language Arts teacher in New England. Since the end of May, after a pretty traumatic breakup, I’ve been single and focusing on grad school and getting tenure. I’ve pretty much sworn off relationships, which, according to “The Playbook” episode of How I Met Your Mother, means I’m about to meet the One. The jury’s still out on that one–I’ll keep you posted. Besides teaching and being single, I enjoy spending time with my animals, family, and friends.

I’ve been researching gastric bypass since 2010, and saw a Boston-based doctor in early 2011. I started the pre-op testing and plans were delayed due to discovering some medical complications. Thankfully, my wonderful doctors were able to take care of me. Due to insurance reasons, I switched to a Hartford-based surgeon, Dr.  Papasavas, with the Connecticut Surgical Group in Summer 2011, and finished my pre-ops. My surgery is scheduled for January 19, 2011.

I initially investigated LapBand surgery, because Iwasn’t keen on rearranging my anatomy. After the pre-reqs were completed though, it revealed esophogeal motility disorder, which means that my esophagus does not deliver food to my stomach normally. My surgeon felt the motility was not severe, but since my father has the disorder quite badly, I felt that it wasn’t safe to continue with LapBand, since the band can slip. In addition, the International Diabetes Foundation is encouraging those with type 2 Diabetes to consider surgery, since the surgery can increase the hormones (incretin) that stimualte the pancrease to produce insulin. Many patients leave the hospital without needing insulin, even before they lose the weight.    My father was not supportive of the surgery until these studies came out, but after that he was supportive, and even looking into the surgery himself.

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