Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Bariatric Surgery Experience-Vertical Sleeve Gastrectomy(long post)

My VSG Experience- March 17, 2014

After only two months from the time that I went to my Bariatric info session, I was sitting in the pre-op room waiting for my VSG surgery.  Although it was not the typical 3-6 months that I was told it would take, I had done ample research on the procedure and knew this was what I needed.  I had all sorts of emotions.  I was excited.  Scared.  Happy.  Nervous. I even felt a little guilty and embarrassed  for feeling that I “had to” go this route.  But obviously my way wasn’t working and hadn’t been for the 20 years I have been overweight.   I was afraid people would judge me.  I decided not to tell many people because I didn’t want anyone’s opinion to change my mind.  I prayed about it from the beginning and I put it in God’s hands that if this was the route I was supposed to take then I would.  So, when everything went through so quickly and smoothly(the appointments, insurance approval within 24 hours of submittal, etc) I really felt like it was meant to be.  My highest weight was 252 lbs.

I will start by saying I have an amazing support system.  I have a husband, mother, best friend, and several other great friends who I am close with.  They know me well and were totally on board with my choice.  My husband went to appointments with me, and my best friend came to the initial meeting  and support group with me.  I feel so blessed in that aspect.  I know lots of people do not have a support system, and I have been so lucky to have someone hold my hand throughout this whole process.

My Dr did not require any liquid diet before surgery.  I was free to eat what I wanted up until midnight on the day before surgery.  I had lost 9 lbs which was close enough to the 5% they requested before surgery.  I think 5% would have been about 13 lbs.  But because I was steadily losing and all my tests were completed I was scheduled for surgery.

So, there I was on St. Patrick’s Day, waiting for my surgery.  My arrival time at the hospital was 10:45.  They took me back and got me ready while sending my hubby to the waiting room.  I had my IV put in, was hooked up to fluids, put in a gown(without underwear-not sure why this was so surprising to me), given a blood thinner shot(heparin) and then my husband and best friend were able to come back and stay with me until it was time for surgery.  I knew it would be a while because the patient in the room next to me was before me, and based on what I overheard, his situation seemed pretty complex.  So when he was rolled back, the nerves started to hit. My surgeon popped in to talk briefly with me, the anesthesiologist came in, as well my OR nurse and pre-op nurse.  It was 2:00 before it was actually my turn.

I hugged my best friend, kissed my husband, and even asked for a picture of me with my surgical hat on so I could document my journey.  And off I went.  They put something in my IV to calm me(they said that is standard).  I got into the OR and it was very bright.  I think there were windows which was different than my c-section OR rooms.  They put the mask on my face and told me to take some deep breaths.  I did.  I remember just before I went out that my eyes were open but I didn’t feel like I could breathe in my chest.  I kind of fought the anesthesia for some reason, not sure why. 

The next thing I remember I was awake in recovery.  I was sweating profusely.  I don’t remember being nauseous but I later learned that must have been what it was.   I think I was moaning or making some sort of noise.  The nurses were talking to me and about me.  They were talking about my pulse being 130, and giving more meds, etc.  They took the legs cuffs(to prevent blood clots) off which  were making me sweat even more, and gave me new ones.  I don’t remember much else other than being rolled up into my room.  I was groggy but was able to clear up the confusion about what room I was supposed to be in.  They had told my husband and I a different room than they were told.  The room they were told was already occupied. 

The nurses rolled me in, and my husband and best friend were there waiting.  They asked how I felt and I jokingly(and druggedly) told them I was okay and to get me a Whopper!  The nurse explained that she was not cheap on the drugs and that I should be feeling pretty good.  I was.  I looked up at the clock and it was 5:00.  Three hours had passed and I had been through surgery and recovery.  My husband said the surgery only took about an hour and 15 minutes.  He said it was quick and that the Dr. came out and said it went well. 

I have six incisions in my belly, but only one of them really bothered me.  It still does. I would later find out it was the one that my stomach was removed out of.  And after watching a VSG on YouTube(after the surgery) I now can totally see why!  These incisions had  steri-strips.  For anyone interested, watching the procedure was not nearly has gross as I thought it would be.  Actually, I was quite fascinated by it!

I had a private room which I was pretty excited about.  As the hours went on I realized that my biggest discomfort was actually laying in bed.  My back hurt and it was just an overall uncomfortable feeling regardless of what position I was in.  It was the gas that they had pumped into me. I wanted to be up and walking all the time.  The first night they made sure that I had someone with me while walking.  I was hooked up to the monitors and IV so it was kind of a pain because I knew I couldn’t get up every time I wanted to.  I knew the nurses had other patients.  The first night seemed to be a busy night for the nurses on the floor.  But even so, I was given great care.  In hindsight, I should have used the pain button I had more often.  I didn’t realize I could use it whenever I wanted and I was only using it every hour or few hours.  It wasn’t until the next day shortly before they took it away that I realized that I could use it every few minutes if needed.  And it did help.

On day 2, I did not have any kind of a swallow test that I hear so much about.  And from what I saw on the videos I watched on YouTube it can actually be done during surgery.  So all I had to do was sip one ounce of water in an hour’s time.  If that went okay, I could sip 2 ounces of water in an hour, and then finally three.  On that second day I was able to walk myself if I wanted to.  My kids came to visit, and some friends.  I was switched from the pain button to crushed Percocet pills as I have had an issue with Lortab in the past.  Lots of people stopped in from the hospital.  The surgeon, Occupational therapist, Physical therapist, case worker, nutritionist, etc.

I didn’t sleep much while in the hospital.  I woke up a lot. They were always giving me medicine or taking my BP/temp.   I walked a lot.  The gas pains were less but still there.  On the 3rd day I got to go home.  They told me that I would be out by 11:00 and to my surprise I was. My hospital experience was actually pretty great.  I had my own room, great nurses (with the exception of one nurse assistant I didn’t care for), and a fancy bathroom with Corian counters and beautifully decorated walls.  The only issue I had at this point was that my blood pressure would not go down. It was pretty high at 164/100.  They didn’t like that, but said it was most likely due to pain and the fluids they were giving me.  So they gave me some pills and sent me on my way.  I was pretty still and quiet the whole hour drive home. 

When I got home my mom and grandmother had arrived in town to help take care of me.  I rested and made a chart for when I need to take the medicines. The first night home I woke up and didn’t feel good.  I took my pain meds and Zofran,  and I got up to walk around.  All of a sudden I started getting hot, sweating and felt nauseous.  I did not throw up and it only lasted a few minutes before the Zofran kicked in.   After that night, I took it right before bed for the next few nights so that wouldn’t happen again.  I called the office the next day and they advised me not to have my protein drink so close to bedtime.  Between those two things I was okay.

After a few nights I found myself waking up on my side which is how I normally sleep.  I would tire out during the day and take a little nap.  I was keeping track of my fluids and protein to make sure I did not get dehydrated.  Having my mom, gram, and husband here was a huge help. 

I made the choice to go back to work at 11 days out.  I should have taken longer but it will be okay.  My first day back was a lot of sitting which I don’t typically do.  It seemed that sitting aggravated my incisions more than standing and walking around.  And my bra was hitting/rubbing on two of my incisions.    At two weeks out I am down about 20 lbs from surgery date.  I am following my eating plan to a T.  I have been in touch with the nutritionist who has been fabulous with answering my questions.  I don’t see or feel the weight loss yet, but I know I will soon.  It usually takes about 30 lbs for me to feel/see  a weight loss or gain. 

My feeling of full at this point is much different than before surgery.  I eat very slowly.  A bite every 2-3 minutes as instructed.  When I start to feel full  it is kind of like a burpy feeling at the bottom of my esophagus.  Nothing like the full I used to feel.  It’s a learning curve and I am paying close attention to my body.  I eat 3 meals a day and sip protein drinks and water throughout the day, as long as it isn’t within 30 minutes of a meal.  I do hope that with time I can eat more than what I am eating now.  I truly do enjoy food and cannot enjoy much right now!

This is just my story.  I am sure other people have different experiences, but I thought maybe this would help some of the newbies like me who are looking for what to expect.


♥ Drazil ♥ said...

Good to hear you are doing so well!

LuckyMama said...

I'm glad your surgery went well!

divad said...

Jennifer - I've been so worried about you! I'm glad you're okay and that you are able to describe the experience thus far. I'm rooting for you girl! Your highest weight was mine too. We will get there and be free from obesity. I can't believe you're back to're a strong lady. xxx

Trebor Yocum said...

Thank you so much. I'm scheduled for surgery on June 18. I'm nervous. I'm excited. I am glad to admit I need help. No one understands what it's like to be obese ... Unless you were or are.
When did you first get up and walk?

Ashmita said...

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