As a pre-op, I always watched for the newly pouched freaks to post their experience in the hospital, so I thought I'd pass along my experience as well! I hope it helps someone else along the way!
Well, my hospital is an hour away from home, AND I was the first one on the docket, so I had to be there bright and early to check in at 5:15. Which meant getting up around 3 to get me, the hubs, and my daughter all out the door.
We got to the hospital, got checked in, and got my wrist band...then we sat down to wait for them to call me. My husband looked over at me and said, "Are you SURE you want to do this???"
After 10 minutes or so, they came down to get me, and we all walked back to the pre-op area where they gave me a HUGE gown to change into, and then had me get comfy on a bed. The nurses updated my chart, weighed me, and made sure I had actually lost more weight since my visit with the surgeon the week before! I confess, I cheated a couple times on my two week low carb thing, so I was glad to see the scale didn't tattle! I had lost another 4 pounds.
While I was laying there, my surgeon popped in to say hello. I asked him if his hands were feeling steady this morning, and he assured me they were. (OK, can I just say that this man has the most adorable twinkle in his eyes when he smiles? Not that I'm crushing on him or anything
of the sort, but let's just say God put the brother together quite nicely...especially for a surgeon! Y'all know what I'm sayin'.)
Then the nurse wrapped both my arms individually in warm blankets...said it would help with starting the IV. When she left the room, I had to do my best impersonation of having robot arms, from one of our all time favorite SNL commercials with Sam Waterston from Law and Order: (You really MUST watch this!)http://www.hulu.com/watch/2340/saturday-night-live-old-glory
So then the nurse came back to start the IV. I casually mentioned that they usually seem to have good luck with the back of my hand. She looked, and poked me with her finger.....and looked, and poked some more.....and decided that the side of my wrist would be a dandy place for an IV. Then she took the needle and poked around in there, occasionally exclaiming, "Darn it!", and then finally admitted that she had gotten it in, but it wouldn't thread right. So I casually mentioned once again that they usually REALLY seem to have good luck with the back of my hand! This time she listened, and popped it right into the back of my hand with no problem. My husband looked over at me and once again said, "Are you REALLY sure you want to do this?"
Then the anesthesiologist dropped in and chatted about my prior surgical history, and explained what would be happening from here on out, and once we had talked through everything, he suggested that my hubby and daughter come over and give me a big smooch, because once he started the happy drugs, I might not remember anything after that. (Obviously I did, or I wouldn't be telling you about it!) So they did, and then he started the drip, and within a few seconds I knew I was feeling loopy. Then it was time for the train to start a-rollin', and they wheeled me off into the OR. I don't remember too much of what happened once I got in there. I remember looking around at all the equipment and thinking there sure was a lot of stuff in there! Now I kind of wish I had had more time to look around at stuff! I'm really fascinated by it all, but I suspect they konk you out before most people would have a chance to change their mind at the last minute. (Or let their husbands talk them out of it!)
The next thing I knew, I heard voices telling me everything had gone just fine! I don't know how long I was in recovery...it seemed like only a moment, but I'm sure I was either dozing, or just don't remember it. I never realized this, but the anesthesia drugs actually cause some amnesia! He told me ahead of time that if I woke up and felt the tube still in my nose, I could remove it myself, but I probably wouldn't remember it. (I guess it's a good sign that you're conscious and aware if you have enough coordination to remove it.) So I have no idea whether I took it out or if I just slept. Then I remember being wheeled into my room! My husband and daughter were there, and I remember feeling like everyone was talking at once. The nurses were getting me comfy in my bed and getting the IV stand all straightened out, when I realized that I seriously had to pee. I mean SERIOUSLY! I remember telling the nurse that I had to go to the bathroom, and she assured me that it was just pressure from where the catheter had been. I tried to think about that for a second, but decided I knew whether I had to pee or not, and I HAD TO PEE! My husband says I wouldn't let it drop, and insisted that I would not go back to sleep unless I went to the bathroom first! I figured they'd bring me a bed pan, but instead, a couple nurses helped me up out of bed (10 minutes out of recover, mind you!) and plopped me down on the toilet. I was trying so hard to stay awake, but sure enough......I was right! I think I peed a river! The nurses were quite impressed and said that patients don't usually have such good bladder awareness right out of surgery. Hmmm. I guess I've always been an overachiever!
After that, I was definitely ready to sleep, so the nurse tucked my morphine button into my hand, and hubby and daughter went home. Of course, the rest of the day was spent napping and being pestered by nurses. Oh, they were all very nice, but don't expect to get more than an hour's sleep at a time when you're in the hospital. It's like having a new born.
I did get up and walk that night. The CNA asked if I thought I could make it to the nurses station and back, and I took her all the way around the floor! Zoom!
The next day was a whirlwind of activity....I had my leak test in the morning. It was kind of cool actually, because they had the screen right there where I could see it too, so I could actually watch the barium dripping down into my new little tummy. The radiologist looked like he was about 17 though. I was starting to wonder if I was on the set of a Doogie Howser remake. BTW, don't expect the barium to be anything to write home about, even though you're seriously thirsty and haven't had anything but a little sponge soaked in water to suck on for about the last 36 hours. But seriously, MIND OVER MATTER! If you go into this with a "no drama" mindset, you'll survive the leak test. Fortunately, I was proclaimed "Leak Free", and they took me back upstairs where my first post op meal of broth, decaf tea, 1/8 cup of juice, and 1/8 cup of SF jello was waiting! It took me an hour to finish it....partly because my trip down to radiology had actually kind of tired me out a bit, and I kept falling asleep in my chair in between sips of broth!
Later that day, they unhooked my IV, although they left the needle in and still gave me shots of pain meds through the port. It was nice to sleep without being attached to something! Besides, it seemed like every time I'd really fall asleep, either my IV bag would run low and start beeping, or my leg compressors would get a kink in the line and start chirping! That night I did about three laps around the floor. My pain level was minimal...honestly, the only thing that really hurt at all was where my JP drain was. Oh, also, on Tuesday I started to run a little fever. The nurse told me that it was most likely because I had some fluid in my lungs. Sure enough, I stepped up my sessions with the little breathing exercise thing (which I confess I wasn't doing as much as I should have been), did some coughing, and my fever went back down. Amazing! So for those of you heading into surgery....DO YOUR BREATHING EXERCISES! I know it hurts at first, but Mind over Matter, remember?!
Wednesday morning, my surgeon's Nurse Practitioner came by and said I was doing great, and that he would most certainly let me go home. Normally he hadn't been making his rounds until evening, but she said he would stop by earlier to officially discharge me. Woot! That morning, I got to take a shower (heaven!) and the nurse came by to yank my JP drain out. I had heard so many reports on this event.....from "it hurts like hell", to "well, you wouldn't sign up to do it again, but it's not bad", to "it just feels like you're giving birth to a small alien." I think my nurse had a good technique. She kept talking to me to distract me, then asked me to take a deep breath. Once I did, she told me to blow it out, and when I did that......blooooop! She pulled the tube out and it was done! No pain....but it did sort of feel like giving birth to an alien. Not that I would really know what that feels like, of course. (Bwahahahaha!)
Once I got my discharge from my (very cute) surgeon, they gave me one last shot of drugs and then pulled the needle out of my hand. Ahhhh, to be completely free of needles, tubes, and leg compressors! I trotted my laps around the floor like a free woman, singing "I'm a FREAK! I'm a FREAK!" in my happy heart. I could have hopped onto the elevator once I put my street clothes back on, and no one would have been the wiser! When hubby and daughter got there to pick me up, a nurse came with a wheel chair to take me downstairs, but she couldn't find anyone to carry my bag, CPAP, and flowers, so she looked me over and said, "Do you think you can just walk?" No problem! So I walked and she carried my stuff!
I rested at home the rest of the week. Saturday I finished my daughter's Halloween costume, and Monday I went back to work. Don't get me wrong...I'm definitely taking it easy. No lifting or anything like that. By Thursday, I was a bit tired, so I took the afternoon off and bummed around at home. I told my family that sometime this weekend, I intend to check out for a nice long nap. But honestly, I can't even believe I just had major surgery less than two weeks ago. My incisions look no worse than a cat scratch. I have a more dramatic "battle wound" from the botched IV attempt on my wrist!!!! That sucker is black and blue halfway up my arm and down my thumb, for heaven's sake! I also have little bruises on my tummy and leg from the blood thinner shots I got twice a day. One helpful hint--they hurt less getting them in your tummy, believe it or not, so if you have a choice in the matter, skip the leg. They rotated with me. It's a tiny needle, so it's not all that bad either way, but it did sting a little more afterwards when they did it in the leg.
I realize that everyone recovers differently, and I'm sure my recovery was easier with a lower starting BMI (between 39-40) and my general decent health. But I also think that I went into this feeling like I could handle anything short term....I don't like IV's, but I'd only have it for a few days. I don't like shots, but I'd only have to get them for a few days....I really am sort of freaked out over the idea of being unconscious while someone plays around in my insides, but I had to have faith in my surgical team, and Faith that God had lead me to this point and He would see me through. Mind over Matter. I'm not discounting people who genuninely have complications and pain. Honestly, I'm not. I wish that I could hug you and help you get past the hard parts. But please go into this as much as possible with your big girl panties on, and just be fiercely determined that YOU ARE STRONG, and YOU CAN DO THIS! You will amaze yourself.
I waited 7 years for this, and so far I have no regrets. I don't particularly enjoy my chewable vitamins or my protein shakes (yet!), and I'm quickly growing tired of full liquids. But it will get better, so why bother whining? I have a pair of size 10 jeans that I bought at least 10 years ago. I got them on eBay because I didn't want to pay full price through Spiegel. They are many sizes too small, since I'm currently a 20-ish, (down from a 24!) but they were my "someday I'm going to fit into these" jeans. Honestly, they are probably so dreadfully out of style now, that it's not even funny. OK, I'll tell you.....they have slits down the outside of each leg, with criss-cross lattice strips going all the way down, so that you can see bare leg through the lattice. I don't know why, but when I first saw them in the catalog all those years ago, I couldn't have imagined anything sexier. (Yeah, call me crazy, I don't care!) I've gone to Weight Watchers, done South Beach, Atkins, Low carb/low fat...you name it, and never got into those jeans. I've packed them up and moved them across the country twice, all the while thinking that SOME DAY I would fit into them. Well, this is my chance. And in the process, I've realized that I'm stronger than I ever thought I was. I'm more tenacious than I ever realized. And I'm just plain blessed to have had this opportunity, and I plan to make the most of it. Oh, and gosh-darn-it....when I fit into those size 10 jeans, I'm going to plaster my picture on this board for y'all to see. Just promise you won't laugh if they're now the farthest thing from high fashion, OK?
That's my story, and I'm stickin' with it!!!