Welcome to the other side

I am back everybody!

My surgery was on Monday and I was released to go home on Thursday and since then I caught up on stuff that piled up in my time away. But you are not here to listen to my boring pile of emails and such. So let me tell you how it went! This post may become a little longer with some pictures.

Monday morning at about 4 am I got up to get myself ready, 5:30 me and my boyfriend left the house and went on our 1.5-hour drive by bus to the clinic where we arrived ahead of time. I was checked in and had a lovely room, which was more like a hotel but a hospital room, to be honest. Single bed, massive TV, free Wi-fi, free landline, my own bathroom with a shower and everything. The view from my window was green and lovely and the nurses were super nice.

After waiting for a bit more than two hours they wanted me to change into the hospital gown (which was way too small so I only had it thrown over like a blanket) and get into the bed. At like 9:30 they came to get me to the prep area. My boyfriend stayed in my room, he hadn’t slept the night so I was sure he wanted to doze a little. In the prep area I was pricked and prodded with needles to find a good spot for my injection needles and such and then I waited.
Let me tell you lying around for 20 minutes all alone is not good right before major surgery. I was so bloody scared that I cried. I know that most people come out of this well but there is always a risk and my mind went crazy with ‘what ifs’. I am not very religious, I have my beliefs but I’m not a prayer. Oh boy, did I pray at that moment to whoever might hear me that I would get through this okay. This fear had been why it had taken me so long to even get to this point and thinking that they already had given me something to calm my nerves I don’t want to know how strong it would have been without that.
Around 10 they wheeled me in and I scooted on the very well cushioned operating table to get a comfortable position. The weird feeling of being strapped down in an eagle spread position gave me a quick chuckle of the operating room being a bondage chamber. An oxygen mask was put on my face and I was told to take deep breaths and only moments later I was gone.

As you can see by the overwhelming proof of me writing this post, I didn’t die. Yay me! Or I am a ghost, but I think I just am still alive. 😉

The first thing I remember is that something was pressed on my face and I panicked trying to get it off. But they told me it’s oxygen and that I need to take deep breaths and only shortly after it was better. I remember the pain and got something against that. The wake-up room was an in and out of consciousness for half an hour and another half hour I was back in my room with my boyfriend. Alltogether I had been gone for four hours, not too shabby.

Since then things had gotten better and better. That bit of pain was gone and I didn’t have any other than my throat, which was gone after a day and some lovely tea. The gas pain I expected was more like a burp stuck in my chest, a bit of tapping and it comes out. My incisions didn’t hurt at all, still, don’t. I believe the worst pain I had in this whole thing was from the hospital bed being too hard.

I could stand up only hours after surgery and get into my own nightgown and such. I could go outside and walk on day two. And I loved going out there. The hospital park is beautiful.

I went out there a couple of times, enjoying the lovely weather and fresh air. Just being cooped up in my room was boring anyway. I am so used to multitask, working on writing or other stuff while watching a movie that only watching a movie felt strange.

The first food I had on Tuesday. I tell you, clear broth has never tasted so heavenly. My first breakfast was a yogurt which was superb too. But to my utter surprise, I have not been hungry since surgery. I went into it halfway starving and then it was just gone and has not returned yet.

It is one thing to know that your hunger will be gone when you read about it, another when you feel it. After almost 40 years of being almost always hungry, this is such a surreal feeling. So right now I am putting up reminders for myself to remember to eat, which is a whole new thing.

So Thursday morning I was discharged and have been home since then. After reading about the surgery and everything that can happen for about 20 years, I am completely blown away by how smooth it went. I had no complications at all, I had no pain other than the initial one, I had no issues, the gas pain was and still is slight pressure on my chest.

Right now I am not on my diabetes meds anymore, but checking at least daily to make sure my levels won’t go up. My blood pressure and heartrate have been much better already and I actually lost 1°C in body temperature.

I am well aware that challenges are ahead, the hardships will come and I might as well still face issues but right now I feel pretty darn good. So yes, the horror stories might come true, but they don’t necessarily have to.

So welcome to myself on the other side of surgery in my new life that will be full of first ones. I got this!

 

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Surgery Approved and Date!! Excitement unleashed

((Public Service Announcement: If I am writing all caps it is because I am super excited, not yelling.. okay yelling in excitement!))

OMG MY SURGERY HAS BEEN APPROVED AND I GOT A DATE!!!!!!!

So yeah, I got a call in the middle of the morning – I am a night owl so it actually woke me up – from the MIC Clinic with the great news of my insurance approving the surgery. I was over the moon because I was really was nervous about them declining for stupid reasons. Everyone who sees me or reads my stats knows I need this. Either way, that wait is over.

Today I had my last pre-appointment at the clinic. A chat with my surgeon and my anesthetist later I finally have my date: June 25th!

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First I thought it is still soooo long, but then I have to do two more things to take care of. For one I have to get an exercise EKG and echocardiogram from one doctor and a new small bloodwork from another. Other than that I am all set!

I’m excited beyond belief. It’s going forward, and in a bit more than a month I’ll be on the other side 😀

Getting there

This is just a super quick update. I have been anxious I handed my paperwork in at the Adipositas center. It took a long time and I already thought that I had done something wrong or things were missing but eventually the paperwork was sent to my insurance.

The person in charge for my proposal sent me a letter to confirm that they got the paperwork and had sent it in to the medical assessment office. I actually had to check online why they had done this and if that is normal. And yes it was. The people at the insurance have no medical knowledge, or little, so they ask the experts if the surgery is medically necesarry. You know I get that, but if you look at my data which was included, you see a 6’3” tall woman with over 470lbs on their bones. Who needs a doctor to know that I need this? Well they do apparently.

It took another week when I finally heard something. In the morning – I had just slept for 2 hours – my boyfriend woke me with the phone in his hand. The clinic! I was wide awake right away. They informed me that the insurance has approved the surgery, which means they pay for it and it can finally happen!

Before even getting a surgery date I have to have a pre-check appointment with the anaesthesiologist and the surgeon. Those will happen on the 22nd this month. On that day I am supposed to get my surgery date. If you ask me they can just keep me there and get it over with. I can hardly wait!

 

A trip to the ER

his post technically has nothing to do with my weight or the WLS coming up, but I’m posting it anyway, some thoughts I had had to do with weight, but even if it hadn’t, my blog my stuff I wanna tell. 😉

So two days ago I woke up with horrid pain in my right leg, mostly the upper thigh and especially when trying to walk. After that, it got worse. It started to hurt always when sitting, laying, certain leg positions, and only hours later other leg positions and walking became pretty much impossible. I broke down crying of pain and after telling friends about it they suggested it could be a blood clot (especially since the thigh was also warmer than the rest of the leg) and I should have it checked out. Well, blood clot or deteriorating bones are pretty much my nightmares. So my boyfriend supported me and brought me downstairs to the taxi we called, made sure I can safely get in and out and off I went.

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I was lucky and didn’t have to wait for long, well in the beginning until I was called in to sit on a lounger – these things are bloody hard. This hospital didn’t have the capacity to do my gastroscopy because their loungers couldn’t carry my weight. So I was pretty worried about being on one. Let me tell you it made strange creaky noises whenever I moved, but it did not collapse. Luckily.

My bp was so high they needed to check me through an EKG. But it was just the exhaustion from hobbling through the hospital plus my weight being a factor too. EKG showed my heart is fine and that my BP went down to normal after a while of rest. The nurse took my blood and that was when the actual wait began.

The internist came in maybe 1.5 hours later, telling me that from what he can see there is no sign of blood clots in my bloodwork, so that was a huge relief. There were signs of an inflammation in my body. He wanted to wait for the rest of the blood work. Another hour later he came back with a new blood kit telling me that if my results are right, I would be lying unconsciously on the floor, so something went wrong. He took blood from a different spot on my other arm and went off again. Since they had to start anew it would take a while.

2 hours later he returned, everything was okay. Awesome, so why the pain. He then checked out my leg, pressing here and there and when I howled in pain he said that this was the hip bone. Oh the joy, now he would tell me that my weight is causing it to break apart. But no he didn’t. Instead, he told me he’d call the orthopedist to check on me and left me alone again.

By that time I was in so much pain, not only from my leg but also from that ‘bed’ which was hard and uncomfortable. I also have this bit of ass that gets squeezed together into a roll when I sit or lie and that hurt like a mofo. So I got up or tried, it was hard. And painful. That squeezed roll got stretched and blood shot through it and the pain was incredible. Then standing hurt my leg but I couldn’t sit. At some point I had to sit again and mind you this continued (sitting, standing, bending halfway over the bed, laying down, standing again etc) until I left to go home! That was the most painful part of the whole thing.

So a while later a really friendly looking Orthopedist came to me and told me they are going to do an x-ray. It only took a few minutes until the nice orderly came by to push my ‘bed’ through the hospital. Once there I had to get up to stand for the pretty picture. The woman doing the x-ray tried to be friendly but was very obviously low key judging me by making comments about my weight. I just ignored her and after the pics were done I was rolled back to the ER.

Well, here even more fun followed. By then it was midnight, meaning that I was in the ER for 6 hours. I have seen people come and go, some were committed to staying others were driven home by an ambulance. And then I sat and waited… and waited… and waited.

Around 3 am the night internist – a lovely Turkish doctor – came by to apologize for the delay. She had wondered why I was there waiting and sitting for hours and checked in for me. The Orthopedist had surprisingly being called into surgery. So that explained it. It was half-past 3 when he finally arrived. X-Rays were clear and didn’t explain why I had the pain.

He then said based on that and the bloodwork, he assumes that the inflammation they spotted is in my hip joint. He gave me pain meds and suggested an anti-flammatory pain gel to spread all over my hip and thigh, hoping that’ll help. I hope so too. If it doesn’t get better in a few days I am to check with a local orthopedist. HA! Funny. I can’t even walk to the loo without supporting myself on everything I can get my hands on.

So when I came back home, 11 hours had passed. Longest ER visit of my life tbh. And most painful. My ass still hurts. But compared to other folks I have seen that night I was lucky. They were much worse, to begin with. I am relieved though it wasn’t a blood clot since those are freaking dangerous.

Right now I am still in a lot of pain. No matter in which position I am in I am in pain. Last night I slept only 4 hours because no position I found was good enough to stay in and sleep without pain and discomfort. I had to take a break several times while writing this because sitting hurts too. I’m feeling very much a burden on my boyfriend who has to do all kinds of things now that I usually did. He has to work and I keep him from that by asking for water or something to eat or helping me to stand up. I feel absolutely useless and hate that feeling. I couldn’t do much, to begin with but now it’s even less.

I hope the gel will help and that it won’t last too long until I can at least sleep without much pain and get my own drink and food. So cross your fingers.

 

One step closer

Yesterday I got another step further in my journey to WLS. I had my gastroscopy to check if everything is okay with my stomach and intestines. I thought that I could post a bit of a more detailed account of that, for me and maybe for someone else who is curious. If you just want to know about the result, scroll to the second to last paragraph! 🙂

If you know me, you are aware that I’m a nightowl, sleeping at day, getting active at night. So having to get up at 5:30 am was horrid, but I managed. It was the first time in ages that I went out and still could see the moon outside.

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In my effort not to come too late, I was actually almost an hour early. It gave me enough time to read the paperwork they gave me properly and make sure I didn’t miss anything. I was the envy of the other patients, because in contrast to the hard stretchers they got, I had a cozy and soft hospital bed, because I’m too heavy for the stretchers. It was so comfortable that I almost fell asleep on the spot. It was really early for me after all.

Then the fun began. I was asked where my doctor usually gets my blood drawn. So I told them, right back of the hand. The nurse didn’t like that and wanted to try the ‘regular’ spots first. Told her that my veins are shy and even if she thinks she has one nobody has been able to actually get something from them. Apparently she didn’t believe me and after attempts on 3 different locations she finally went to my left hand and surprise – not – she got blood right away. So she cannulated my hand, for the drugs to make me sleep.

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I went back to waiting, because there was another patient inside the gastroscopy room before me. I got a really cute hospital gown though, and I was super duper thrilled that they actually had one in my size. I never get anything in my size. I’m a EU size 68  (I think it’s like 38 US, not sure) so that was really special. It even had some more room in it. Look at these cute little smileys (it’s the logo of the Hospital).

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Either way after some waiting I was wheeled into the room and prepared with the same questions I had gotten several times already in the last hour. Made me wonder why I fill out the paperwork if they ask me anyway, but I didn’t mind to keep my mind from wandering. We joked around for a while, which was nice too and I had the exciting moment of hearing that my blood pressure was ‘perfect’.

The big moment came with the doctor entering, showing me the tooks he’d be using and explaining the procedure. I remember the nurse pushing the drug into my hand (didn’t feel that hooray) and she told me that I’d feel weird in my head. I did only a second later and because I already had the mouth piece in and couldn’t talk I did a lasso with my hand as a sign that I’m getting dizzy.

I expected to have time and that I would notice to feel more tired. But one moment I was there wide awake, laughing at the nurse’s jokes, watching the doctor to pull the tube out of its plastic wrap… and the next moment I wake up and saw I had been out for an hour.

Other than a bit of dizziness in the start I didn’t have any problems of after/side effects. And according to the nurses I was surprisingly quick to get back on my feet. Only 10 minutes after waking up initially I was out in the waiting room to get my results.

Back at home I eventually started to feel tired so I napped away several hours but I felt really well, still do. And my stomach seems to be great, nothing should be in the way of surgery based on my stomach at least. I’m glad to know that.

Next week I have to hand in my nutrition diary for the last two weeks and hand in the paperwork I collected. It’s so close. Cross your fingers that thing will progress quickly from then on 🙂

 

Shit’s getting real

I knew that as soon as the new year is here things would start rolling, though it feels like it’s all at once now lol

Today I received an email to confirm my lab appointment for bloodwork on Friday morning, after that I got an appointment at my diabetologist’s office for Monday morning and when I thought that’s enough for now, I received an email with my first date for the nutrition course, which will be next week Tuesday evening.

So, things are starting and I’m buzzing with a mix of excitement and nervousness. So the usual. 😉

I’ll be groggy af, but I can’t wait to get started!

Weight Loss Surgery – Oh my

I can hear the gasps of surprise. I am still here! Things have happened, lots of attempts, lots of fails lots of giving up. But then while sitting at my diabetologist’s desk I made a promise that I didn’t think I would ever make. I promised to have a talk in an Adipositas Center of a Clinic about Weight Loss Surgery because neither I nor my doctor believed that I can do it alone and I need help.

So I decided to get back on this blog and will be using it to write about the whole thing, every step of the way from now until whenever. Back to the story.

I never even thought of going the WLS route, not because it’s bad, but because I am so afraid of surgery that I get panic attacks only by thinking of it. Not the surgery itself, but the general anaesthesia, or more precisely not waking up from it. I have had a near phobia of death ever since I was a child without even knowing where it came from since the first death I remember was when I was a teenager, many years later. When I was 20 my doctor told me that if my weight doesn’t change I won’t become 40. Well, my weight changed, in the wrong direction. Because I am an emotional eater.

Either way, yesterday I had my consultation at the clinic and it was a day full of surprises. First of all the people, patients and doctors alike were all super nice. Not a single judgy look to be seen, no whispers behind one’s back. The chairs didn’t look like they’d collapse when I just look at them. I could have jumped on them and they would have been fine. As someone who isn’t overweight, it might not be special but if you had chairs collapse under you or cut off your circulation, or did not even fit you because the seat was too small, this is heaven.

After my initial talk with the front-man, who was a humorous, happy young man who enjoyed talking a lot and made me feel welcome from the first second, I had to fill out a bunch of papers while I waited for my first of several talks. I had just finished when I was called in, which surprised me since I had been told to bring a lot of time. Not that I minded. The first talk was actually just measuring and weighing me, ugh.

To my utter surprise, I must have either shrunk 4 cm or I never was as tall as I thought. Still 1.86m so tall enough anyway. Maybe if I keep shrinking I will one day look UP to my boyfriend lol I also have gained weight, more than I thought I gained. So full disclosure, starting weight is 214.2 kg (472.23 lbs). That makes a BMI of 60.1. My waist diameter is 179cm (so almost as much as I am tall), forgot how much my hips are, but a lot.

So after that initial shock and surprise, I waited once more, not more than 10 minutes on a heavenly comfy chair before I met with the Surgeon. She was a very friendly and patient woman, explaining everything in detail and answering my questions. So a few things here. She would want me to get a gastric bypass (Either Roux-en-Y Gastric-Bypass or an Omega Loop Gastric Bypass ) because of my diabetes. It would eliminate the need for Diabetes meds from the moment of the surgery. There is a chance that some parts needed for the rearrangement to be not too fatty, are too fatty and won’t hold securely enough. In that case, the doctors would make the decision to do the Sleeve instead during Surgery.

Bypass

One of my burning questions, of course, was the risk of the surgery. The clinic I went to has performed over 400 surgeries by now, some patient with a weight higher than mine, and they haven’t lost a single one. Some had some problems later on and had to go back under the knife, but went out of that well as well. While it did not just snap away my fears, it quieted them down a lot for now.

In the end, my weight and its negative effects are a higher mortality risk than the surgery. Now isn’t that a scary thought?

Other questions also were answered, like yes I can still have kids without problems. The hospital stay after the surgery would, in general, be 3 nights. Leaving the stomach in there won’t cause any problems, on the contrary, it still has a function so it’s needed. Yes, I’d have to take vitamin supplements and be under constant control with blood tests and such. And my life would change radically.

Usually, before this kind of surgery, patients have to visit a nutrition course for half a year and proof that they tried to lose weight with help of a doctor. Here is where my BMI comes in because patients with a BMI above 60 don’t have to do that beforehand. That means two things. If I decide to do it, it could be much sooner than I expected. And I still need to do the nutrition course – or rather it was suggested and I want to do it – because it shows not only healthy eating but also helps to adjust to the life with food after surgery which will be a huge change.

There were more questions answered but I don’t remember them right now. If you are curious about anything to feel free to ask in the comments and I’ll see if that was one of the things I asked too 😉

The next talk was with the nutrition Lady. She went with me through my food diary for the last week, gave me points where I need adjustments, gave me tips for alternatives, went through the food pyramid with me and gave me a couple of things that I can already ‘train’ myself to do. Changing habits and all that. All things that would be important to me after surgery as well. And they are all things I don’t do now, so it’ll be hard, but helpful. Lemme see what it was.

  • Eat slowly, take your time and don’t do anything next to eating. Focus on it and enjoy it.
  • Take small bites, really small birdy bites.
  • Chew each bite 15-20 times. (How in the heck am I supposed to chew birdy bites that often?)
  • Make sure your food is like a mash before swallowing. Later after surgery especially in the beginning, it can cause trouble otherwise.
  • Eat fewer carbs and sugar, add more protein. (Did you know there is an eggwhite bread? I had NO idea. Got some today, will see how it tastes.)
  • Veggies are your best friend. Starving? Eat veggies as much as you want. But remember to chew a lot.
  • Drink water, but stop 30 minutes before your meal and after your meal is done, don’t drink for another 30 minutes. Otherwise, your food will just drop and wash out through your stomach and didn’t get all the great digestive stuff it needs. (I know it is more complicated but that’s the gist in short.)

I have tried it for the first time today. My bites were still too big, I did chew until I violated the not doing anything rule and read my emails and gone was the food without chewing, oops. I didn’t have any veggies and I drank in the middle of dinner. But it was the first day of breaking a 38-year-old habit. I’ll just have to break through that and be more mindful.

So after the conversation, there was done I had a brief talk with the psychologist. She wanted to know about family history, illnesses, mental health of course, what my biggest wish is to achieve with this surgery and most importantly if I have a support network. As this is a life-changing surgery, a support network is so very very important. To go through it alone would be so hard. So I hope everyone doing it does have one. I am lucky because I know I do.

My last visit was back at the front desk, where I got a nice folder with all kinds of information and a list of what the Adipositas Center needs from me for my application. Once I got all that together I can hand it in and they will fill out everything for the insurance, to make them pay for the surgery. I am relieved that I don’t have to fill that out myself because these forms always frustrate me.

The Center calls me as soon as the next nutrition course begins so I can start that right away. Most likely January. It’ll be once a month and goes for 6 months. A group of 5-6 people who all are in the process of getting that surgery. Yay for no fat judgy people, we’re all in the same boat.

The biggest piece of information I got from the lovely man at the front desk. He suggested to start the process right now and get the stuff together as soon as possible. As soon as the insurance agrees to pay, that agreement lasts a full year. What that means is, since he knew that I’m afraid (I wear my emotions on my sleeve), he told me I can change my mind at any time up until the day of surgery. So basically, if I am too scared the day before I can cancel and thanks to the 1 year ‘warranty’ I can try again later. It is good to have that piece of safety, the knowledge that I can change my mind if I really feel I can’t do it.

So right now, it’s holiday time, doctor offices are closed so I can’t do anything. But I have decided to start the process. I’ll talk with my doctor, do the courses, collect the paperwork and hand it in. And then if all goes well and I don’t get cold feet, I’ll go through with it. And if not, I know it is okay. That helps my stomach to not want to hurl constantly right now. That’s good, that’s always good.

So, here it is, step one into a future, in which I have a chance for a normal life (with a lot of work (after all surgery is a tool, not a magic spell to do everything for me) and change but better than now no matter what).

Wouldn’t that be something?