LilySlim - Weight loss

Sunday, June 15, 2014

My Surgery Story, Part II

I lived in Pasadena from 1995 to 2001, and I consider it to be my real hometown, particularly since I don't have one. (We moved a lot when I was a kid. Sort of like now as an adult. Ugh.)

Driving through the Rose City's quiet darkened streets at 5:15 am was very nostalgic for me. I was so glad to be there and had been acting like a dog going for a ride with their head out the window, big smile plastered on my face, since Wednesday the 12th when we began our final trek toward surgery.

We arrived at the hospital about 5:20 am, I needed to be checked in by 5:30 am. R dropped me at the door to register and he went to park the car. I got my visitor's pass from the receptionist in the lavish reception area that was covered with pale pink marble--floors, walls, columns--like a hotel really, a very fancy hotel. Huntington Memorial is probably the best hospital on the West Coast.

I started getting antsy waiting for R and thought maybe I would just go check in at the surgery office so I wouldn't be late and risk having my surgery cancelled. I stood up to head for the elevators and saw R coming through the door.

By the time we got to the surgery office on the second floor it was about 5:27 am--I felt we'd cut it a little too close, but we were there.

There was a woman in the waiting room with her husband and what I assumed were her two daughters--they were crying their eyes out. I'm thinking she was having a big surgery for a much worse diagnosis than obesity. Only one person could come back with you so when she was called back there was much hugging, and the two young women were directed to the surgery waiting area.
My mom had stayed at the hotel and R was my companion to the "get-read-for-surgery" room.

A nurse came in and took my vitals and had me strip down and put on a surgical gown. Of course it was too small. She brought me a bariatric gown which was too big. Nothing in-between. I swam in that gown. I put my hair in a ponytail with a band as directed, and had left all my jewelry and earrings--including the two extra studs high up on my left here that I just leave in--in my wallet. I would later forget and not find them for some two weeks. Duh.

Then we sat there and just looked at each other in the quiet room. R asked to see my umarked tummy one last time, we embraced, kissed, said "I love you's" and then the nurse was back with friends, and they started getting everything ready. They also had my labs from the day before. The anesthesiologist came in to talk to me and I told him I was eager to talk to him as I had "bad lungs."  Anesthesia effects me badly. I'd explained my two previous surgeries (I needed a breathing treatment after one, and had stopped breathing during the second which so concerned the anesthesiologist that she'd stayed and they'd kept me two additional hours before discharging me), but this guy didn't seem concerned. "Everyone stops breathing during anesthesia," he said. Well, that was comforting. NOT.

He then proceeded to chew me out about my high blood glucose: 264 is too high. You need to get that under control," he said. "But then, this surgery will take care of that."

And I just want to say here and now NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!!! Why did you think I was having surgery? For the good pain meds. Man that pissed me off.

But then I thought: Do I really want to piss off the guy who's going to be keeping me alive? I kept my mouth shut and just nodded my head.

He poo poo'd all my asthma and previous anesthesia problems and then made a joke that lead me to believe he was gay. I'd once heard a gossipy rumour that all the anesthesiologists in Los Angeles were gay. Well, in this case, it was true. He then proceeded to argue with me about not taking my insulin the night before or that morning AS I HAD BEEN ADVISED BY THE ADMISSIONS NURSE THE PREVIOUS DAY. He wanted to argue that with me some more, I told him to call and talk to her because I was simply following directions: better too high than too low with the risk of coma. (DUH.)
Finally Mr. IKnowEverything left and my surgeon came in just to say hi and ask if I was ready. I was. I wasn't scared at all. I'd had two previous surgeries (broken ankle, eye issue), and I knew it would be okay.

He checked my labs, shook my hand, gave me a big, gorgeous smile, and off he went. Less than 10 minutes later I had a surgical hat on and was being rolled down the hallway to the biggest OR I've ever seen. R and I squeezed hands and had a last look as I rolled away. He headed back to hotel to catch some shuteye and come back after surgery was over and look out for my mom.

Mr. Smartypants, the anesthesiologist, was right there, and he put a mask over my face and said, "I'm going to put you to sleep, now." I nodded my head and said "OK," and was glad because I was starting to get nervous. I was out very quickly, maybe three seconds if that.

The next thing I knew, I was in my room, in a hospital bed that was cranked up about half way, and my mom, wearing a beautiful pink sweater, the light from the east window shining behind her was holding my hand. I mumbled something to her and she told me I was all right and I went back out.

I woke up again another time because two nurses were trying to wrassle me to into an abdominal binder. It hurt. A lot. I made some "ow it hurts noises" and then passed out again. I did this four times, coming fully awake about 4 o'clock. I had compression stockings on my leg that blew up and squeezed my legs, and it felt so good. My understanding was that I was to be gotten up out of bed after surgery to walk around, but no one came in and insisted and I didn't ask. I was doped up most of the day. About 3 o'clock my mom left and wanted to go home so R took her home. I slept on and off, and every once in a while a nurse would come in to do vitals, give me a heparin shot and some insulin. I couldn't convince them to just do the tummy every time and about 2/3rds of the time I got it in the left shoulder. I was getting four shots a day of both, so by the time I was discharged my left shoulder was very sore.

I was up at midnight when my surgeon came by to check on me, looking very dapper in his bow tie and white lab coat. He came to the foot of the bed and said, "Your surgery went perfectly, and your labs are spot-on. Any questions?" I just grinned like a fool and shook my head no. He squezed my foot, told me I was doing great, and departed.

I had two drains, one on the left, one on the right, a catheter, and four inch-long incisions and one between my breasts in the shape of a cross--like a punchcard it was so clean. I still have it. I had (have?) a fatty liver, which I knew from the previous summer's MRI for ocular melanoma so he was ready with another surgeon to help with the lifting of the liver, which covers the stomach. I'm sure the cross-shaped holepunch up high there had something to do with it. I also had square-shaped, symmetrical marks in red, like a rash, that looked like tape. It dawned on me that they'd taped my boobs out of the way for surgery after I was under. I confirmed this with an RN friend. I asked if they laughed during and she said that everyone was very professional in the OR.

I slept most of the night, when nurses weren't coming in to check vitals or stick me with a needle, but I went right back out. The food they brought me--broth, Jell-O, frozen ices (lemon), and tea were ignored by me, although I did drink the juice. A friend brought me tea from the cafeteria a few times. I was still on a saline IV so I wasn't concerned about hydration. The broth looked and smelled disgusting and I didn't touch it, but I choked down a few bites of Jell-O. I didn't eat much the whole time I was in the hospital. It looked and smelled nasty.

R was back around 8 o'clock to check on me and he spent the night in the room in the reclining chair. He didn't sleep well, however.

The next day visitors started showing up, most of them a surprise. It made me feel really good to see some of those faces, though.

Also, the next day after surgery, Saturday, I was gotten out of bed. OMG. It was bad. No doubt about that. Very painful.

To continue.

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