Thursday, February 11, 2010

Silence Explained

I have been a little inactive here for the past three weeks. I don't have much of an excuse really, but at least part of it is because I don't want to post the same type of picture of the cow(s), the pony, the chickens, etc, again. The rain has made everything a big mess in our yard and I feel really bad especially for the cows. They were literally standing in water and I had to let them out. So much for my trying to let a little spring grass grow for them to snack on later.

The bull's pen is also very mucky, but since it's just him in there, the pen is a fairly good sized one, and there's a little spot that's sort of sheltered by a eucalyptus tree, he's still okay to leave in. My plan doesn't include letting him out with the big cow until a week after she's had her baby.

The ram's pen (I still have him) is the driest and he has a house he can go into. Flora, the pony has a nice overhang in her pen so one third of her pen is protected. She's made a couple of trails from the dry area to her water through the mud.

Carli and the baby moved into the house about three weeks ago. They are taking over the middle room, which is where the treadmill is, and all the papers and receipts I haven't filed yet (lots of those!!). The treadmill has been folded up to make more room. This move came about because she was fast losing track on her bills, mainly due to a legal issue (FB friends know, I won't go into further detail).

Now for my latest big news. This was something I wasn't even sure I was going to discuss at all, or maybe much later if I were successful! Since October 2009 I've begun the process to become a man! No, no, no, NO!!!! I'm just kidding. Actually, I started the process of getting a lap band, since I'm considered "morbidly obese". Just take a look at some of the past photos of me and you can't deny it.

Anyway, I was becoming more depressed and unhappy about my weight issues, including my inability to keep weight off. And the fact that I was taking 12 prescription pills every day for high blood pressure, cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

I had asked my doctor about a year ago about getting a lap band, but at that time he put me off saying my insurance would not cover it (which at that time it probably would not have). Fast forward one year and you can't get away from the commercials on tv about lab band and losing weight and feeling great.

So I tried again, only this time I used a different tact. I attended a lap band seminar first. At this point I still thought my insurance wouldn't pay and I actually thought I would be a self-pay. Well, one thing led to another, and I discovered that since my husband and been layed off and rehired he changed the insurance at rehire (I vaguely recall talking about it now), I found out through the seminar people that my insurance would pay for the surgery after qualifying. I made an appointment to talk to them, filled out my packet, and had the appointment.

I qualified. Next I had to go to my doctor because the insurance required a note from him, along with notes about every time we discussed weight loss in his office (which was every time I went in). He was still less than enthusiastic but said he would do what he could.

One day during this waiting period I got a call from the insurance coordinator from the bariatric office. She said she thought the insurance would need maybe just one more visit from me to my doctor. I really wanted to do everything right so I made an appointment (unnecessary in my mind). Just prior to the appointment the insurance coordinator called again and said the insurance approved me. My doctor must have written one heck of a letter! (I cancelled that appointment.)

The next steps involved having all the required testing done. These tests included meeting with a psychologist, going to the lab and having about fifty vials of blood drawn, EKG, abdominal ultra sound, upper GI (ech!), echocardiogram, and attending a dietician class. I met with the psychologist. (A strange experience. I couldn't help thinking of the movie Dead Bang starring Don Johnson. If you haven't seen it, watch it and I bet you'll know the exact part I'm talking about.) I had the option of going to whatever facilities I wanted for testing but getting it all done in one fell swoop was easier so I had that all done at Mercy SW which is where my surgery was going to be.

Finally was the meeting with the surgeon. He basically said everything the same as in the seminar and then checked my paperwork and gave me a quick checkover.

A few more appointments to be made and the clock was counting down to surgery day: Monday, February 1, 2010.

I had one more thing I had to do, which is required of all bariatric patients, and that was go on a liquid diet for the last two weeks before surgery. I really thought that would be hard but it actually wasn't. They like you to do this to lose ten pounds to: 1) prove your commitment to the program (you definately have to change the way you eat!), and 2) make the surgery as safe as possible (losing just ten pounds of inside fat makes it much easier for the doc to maneuver around).

Some of the people that knew of my upcoming surgery asked if I were nervous or excited. I always said I was excited, because I could picture a healthier, happier, better looking me in the not so distant future.

My arrival time was set for 8 am. I was taken to the pre-op room and got my not so stylish gown, and hat, and the nurse hooked me up to these leg squeezie things that are supposedly to help prevent blood clots. After what seemed like a long time it was time to hook up to the iv and say goodbye to the family, who had been waiting with me. They left and I was wheeled into the OR. Can I just say it is freezing in there!!! Soon enough it didn't matter though because I remember making small talk with the anesthesiologist and then he said "you should be feeling a little sleepy now". Before I knew it I was in the recovery room and not much later I was being taken up to my hospital room. The hiatal hernia that was discovered at the first upper GI test was repaired and I now had my lap band installed.

The plan is to stay overnight. All I'm allowed to eat is ice chips. The next day a test is done to ensure that there are no leaks and everything looks positioned properly. After that I'm given a lunch of protein powder, chicken broth, and cranberry juice. If I can keep that down for two hours then I will be released to go home.

Just looking at it made me sick to my stomach. I went ahead and tried to swallow two sips of each but I knew then if I had more I'd throw up. When the girl took my tray I don't know why I didn't say anything but I didn't. Live and learn.

I went home and it was bad. I couldn't even swallow my pain medication. I tried to keep hydrated but pretty soon it was apparent that nothing was working. I would be rocking with pain, then suddenly I would have to throw up. Immediately afterwards I felt great. But that was only temporary because the cycle started repeating itself.

Finally on Thursday I couldn't take it any more and called the surgeon's office. He was in surgery, of course, but did call me back within an hour. He sounded extremely concerned and told me to get to the Mercy SW ER and get checked in. He would let them know I was on the way.

THAT took forever. That intake nurse is going on Santa's naughty list this year for her rude and unprofessional behavior. (More on good nurses vs bad nurses in another story.) Finally I was back up in the bariatric ward, just two doors down from my first room. The room was a little nicer but the bed was not. The feet part didn't work and there was a big, sunken hole in the mattress where the big, saggy butts of the bariatric patients sit.

The thinking was that maybe my bowels weren't moving (I hadn't had a movement or any gas since the day before surgery) and we just needed to get things moving along. That night I was given a Fleet enema. Well, that didn't work.

The next morning I was given a suppository. Well, that didn't work.

And now there was a new development. When I threw up it reeked of ... well, let me put it this way. One of our dogs, Chester, has been a poop eater since day one. Usually he tolerates it very well, though we don't. Occasionally Chester will go on a "poop pork out and purge". This is where he may have a tummy ache or whatever but can't resist eating the poop. Of course he's also been nibbling on the grass. Then he finds a semi-secluded spot in the house to purge.

That's what my vomitus smelled like.

Friday was another barium type test. That's the one where you have to sip the disgusting liquid while the X-Ray doctor is taking constant pictures. It tastes like cloyingly fake sweet syrup with a sharp bitter after tone. Gaaagghhhhh. They didn't really see anything on that one.

I was getting desperate. My husband was starting to get angry and panicky. Not good. Most of you know he carries a gun.

Saturday morning, first thing, I was scheduled to get a scope down the throat so they could actually see a clear picture. I would like to have seen that. While I was waiting the first assistant started setting things up. She grabbed a plastic covered roll of tubing and stood over the garbage. As she split the plastic the tubing went "PLOP", right into the garbage. I saw her eyes flick my way and she dropped the rest of the packaging into the garbage and went to get another. This time she was a little more careful. Good girl!

A nurse came in and got my iv incorporated into their iv. The doctor came in and it was kind of the same as the first time in the OR ("you should start feeling sleepy now"). The only thing I remember from that was the nurse telling me to open my mouth so she could spray some numbing stuff and then to swallow it as best I could. Then came the tubes and I recall my pathetic gagging/retching noises and I was thinking "what if I threw up? No I won't. Good I didn't."

Then I was back up in my room and the doctor came in. He said the test showed that the band had slipped way down my stomach, creating a way-too-large upper pouch, and it was shutting off the bottom part of my stomach. Not to mention all the ulcerations they saw. Get ready for surgery in one hour.

At last I had an answer. I don't know why I was throwing up to begin with, but the act of vomiting exacerbated the problem and it just went downhill from there.

I was whisked back to the operating rooms. I can always tell when I'm close because the temperature drops so drastically. The first time I asked the nurse why they keep it so cold in there. It's to inhibit germ growth, basically. Duh. Also because the lights get hot and the doctors are all gowned up, but mostly for the germs.

This time there was no small talk. I got on the table and within five minutes I was out.

When I woke in recovery I just knew it was going to be better.

When the doctor came in to see me a little later he explained what he did. When he first got in he noticed that two of the three stitches from the hiatal hernia were gone. So he redid that. Then he totally removed the lap band and repositioned it in the proper place. Now he wanted to keep me in an extra day or two because I had developed a slight fever. Fine. I guess I was in the right place for that.

I did have to undergo another one of those nasty swallowing tests and the surgeon was there to watch the entire procedure. He was satisfied with the results and I was sent back to my room to recuperate. I was allowed the bariatric diet of protein powder, cranberry juice, and chicken broth. This time it didn't make me nauseous.

I was released for the second time on Tuesday, February 9th. One of the first things I did was see if I could swallow the pain medication I had from the first time. I am happy to report it went down without a hitch.

Yesterday I still wasn't 100% sure how things were. I felt super swollen and extremely tender. I guess that's only normal though after being cut open twice. Today is already much better. My next appointment with the doctor will be on the 19th. I hope I have good things to report then.


Roberta said...

Oh, my! I'm glad you're feeling better. Keep us posted!

Lots and lots of good wishes . . .

Anonymous said...

Wow, Tina! You've been through the ringer...literally.

SO glad you're home and feeling better. It's time to just get on with it, eh?

Carli did a great job of updating.

Love, LC

Anonymous said...

WOW, that was amazing, and painful! I hope you feel
like you could call the Dr. and ask LOTS of questions, don't wait until the 19th!

Anonymous said...

What an ordeal! (I wish I wasn't an empath! OUCH!) It's extremely delightful having you back home, out of distress and on the mend!!

Prayers are said, God be with You,

Love You, M