Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Surgery and the Hospital Stay

So I had the surgery on 19 April.  It was a struggle finally getting the date and I'll tell that story another day.  I was the first surgery of the day so we had to report to Bethesda at 0530.  I set my alarm clock for 0415 in order to get there in time.  A friend took the kids at night in order for Artie to bring me to the hospital by himself.

I checked in while Artie parked the car.  About the only time you don't have a problem finding parking at Bethesda is 0530!  Vitals, pregnancy test, blah blah blah.  At 0615 we went to the pre-anesthesia room.  This is a large bay with many many beds.  I met my anesthesiologist (he was a Marquette grad) and he was nice enough to numb my hand with some lidocaine before putting in the IV.  I've never had that before, it was a nice bonus.  My surgery team came around, just the residents though not my surgeon.  They marked up my belly and asked if I had any questions.  I told them that I couldn't take Percocet because it made me vomit and I requested to be put on Actigall post surgery.  Both things were noted.  My surgeon stopped by, said a few things then left.

My anesthesiologist came back with his boss (I'm pretty sure he was a resident) and they gave me something. The world went a bit fuzzy around the edges then but I could still talk and stuff.  I said goodbye to my husband and they wheeled me away.  I switched myself to the OR table, they gave me another shot of something.  I remember talking to them but don't know what I said.  A mask went over my face and lights were out.

I woke up being wheeled down a hallway and rather vocal about feeling nauseous and being in a lot of pain.  I vaguely remember the anesthesiologist saying something along the lines of "that's because you shouldn't be awake yet".  I metabolize drugs very quickly.  I always tell the doctors this and they always dismiss me.  I wish they'd listen. They gave me something and the next thing I remember I was in a post-op bay again with my husband sitting next to me.  I moaned about nausea again and the nurse stuck an alcohol rub under my nose.  All that did was piss me off!  I went back to sleep.

At some point my husband said the surgery took 4.5 hours because they found extra stuff to do while they were in there.  Apparently, in one of my many horse back riding accidents of my life I damaged my spleen enough to fuse it to my stomach.  I also had a big hole in my diaphragm and now my stomach would be small enough to fit through the hole.  So they patched all that stuff up.

I know that my surgeon stopped by at some point or it could have been a dream.  My husband had left around 2pm to beat rush hour in DC but I don't really remember much of anything until 8pm when I took my first walk around the ward.  Because I have sleep apnea I had to sleep on the post-op ward with more monitoring.  Unfortunately, there were some rather vocal patients there as well so I didn't get much sleep.

Bright and early the next morning I was moved to a regular ward.  At around 11 I had my swallow test which makes sure my staple line in my stomach was holding and there are no leaks.  Everything was fine and when I got back to my room my catheter was removed (yeah)!  Now walking was much, much easier.  My family came but between the drugs and the surgery I wasn't much company.  They stayed a few hours and I continued to walk.

I also was started on taking fluids by mouth.  Just 2 tablespoons an hour for 2 hours then I could have 4 tbsp then it was upped to as I could tolerate.  That night though, I must have not taken much of my pain meds (I had a pump) and I woke up in a LOT of pain.  They had to call the doctor to give me some extra, they called it a bolus.  All was well then and I managed to sleep 2 straight hours.

On the third day (Wednesday) I was able to start protein drinks.   What I thought tasted good before surgery was now sickening sweet.  It took me an entire day to finish one 8oz protein drink but it was nice to be able to do things on my own.  Finally, at 9pm my doctors released me and I got to go home.

The first night was really rough, I slept in a reclining chair, but it was so nice to be home I didn't care.  I'll write more about the first two weeks as they are a real struggle.  You feel run-down and you can't drink enough, water or protein so it just makes it worse.  I'll leave that for tomorrow though.


Ashley, Bronson, Jackson, and Ellis Lee said...

Kudos to you! I am so thrilled to find your blog. I live in the D.C. area and am just beginning the consult/research phase of WLS and I would love to connect with you and learn of your journey. I too have two young children and a husband who is crazy busy and need to think of all of the stratagies to make this work. My email is ashleykernlee at gmail dot com

Renee said...

Thanks so much for responding, it's nice to know someone reads it. It's definitely been a journey and will continue to be one. The pre-op phase is just important to me as this post-op phase so you'll see more of that to come.

DCarter said...

Congratulations! How exciting to find a recent blog! I am finally at my wits end with my weight. I tried last November to get a referral for WLS and was shot down. Now I'm sitting at a BMI of 45 and miserable as ever. We fortunately have Portsmouth Naval 30 mins away and I really was wondering what the difference was for approval going through an MTF. It's all so confusing to figure out if I approve or not. My PCM told me I'm crazy last November so now I'm thinking I need to see someone else. Any words of advice?

H. Renee Ford said...

DCarter - It is different going to an MTF. Because the surgeon sort of sets the protocol rather than Tricare. The cool thing is, if your surgeon performs it, you can get a VSG which you can't get through tricare. Ask for a referral from your PCM, I might recommend you go ahead and schedule a sleep study as I can all but guarantee it will be required and any comorbidities will help with the approval process.