Sunday, April 17, 2011

My Hospital Experience

Surgery Tuesday went very well. I didn't know what to expect since I've never had surgery but my mom gave a fairly accurate portrayal of what was to come.

I was very impressed with the hospital and it's staff. They kept me for 3 days which sounded like a long time but ended up being perfect. When I was to have my surgery done with Kaiser they were going to kick me out the day after and I can't imagine trying to make the car ride home feeling like I did the day after.

The hospital has a Very Special Person program which allows significant others or family members to stay with you in your room overnight or past visiting hours. I was fortunate enough to have a private room so my mom could be my VSP. She ended up staying at my sister's but she could stay later and still used the cot to rest on when she was visiting.

Tuesday April 12th (Surgery Day)
I woke up at 2:30am to use my antibacterial scrub and get on the road to San Diego. I did my best to nap knew I'd have plenty of time for rest in the coming days so I did my best to listen to my mom's experience with her multiple surgeries over the years.

We were supposed to be at the hospital no later than 5:00am but got there more like 4:30am so we sat in the car for a bit and talked. We headed in around 4:50 behind a woman and her husband, the woman was to have surgery at the same time as me. We got to the surgery check-in and found it empty so we waited to be called in.

My mom was right about many things, once I went back they weighed me, let me go to the bathroom one last time, and told me to change into a hospital gown, socks, and thin leg coverings to protect my legs from the compression garments I would have to wear post-op.

As I suspected it took the nurse a few tries to find my dehydrated veins, I stopped counting around 4 tries but we finally found a good spot in my left hand which helped me make sure I didn't rip anything out in the coming days.

Once they had the IV drip in my parents were called back and we briefly saw my surgeon and the anesthesiologist. I still wasn't nervous at this point. Actually if anyone asked me what I was feeling I was going to be honest and say hungry! I was even joking with my mom that they were monitoring my heart beat because whenever my grandmother goes to the ER she tells us it was serious because they put something on her finger.

When they were ready to take me back a nurse wheeled me in and it was like a big ride to the OR. I saw he was wearing a Bodybugg and was amazed when this lean and fit nurse told me he had undergone gastric bypass 3 years ago.

Once in the OR they moved me to the operating table and they started putting me into anesthesia and I barely remember anything more.

I woke up in recovery with reminders from the staff to breathe when I would hear beeping from the monitors behind me.  One man named John had a lot of difficulty with this because I kept on hearing the nurses yelling reminders at him. I was fairly out of it at this point but remember I was in a bit of pain and confused but gladly accepted anti-nausea and pain medications when asked if I needed them.

I next woke up when I was getting to my room. Scripps Mercy has a program that allows a Very Special Person to stay in the room with you which also grants you a private room. Score one for me. I woke up and my parents were there and I was going in and out. I was hooked up to a pain pump and from my mom's advice became well acquainted with it. I know my sister came and we visited but I really was not entertaining for my family that first day. I also had leg compression garments on that basically massaged the blood around in my legs to avoid blood clots. It was like being at Brookstone with good drugs.

Luckily I was fairly mobile, I was woozy on my feet but made a few laps around the ward which was marked as 1/16 of a mile. It is important to get on your feet after surgery so even though I didn't feel like it I made a couple of attempts to move around. To keep my mouth moist they gave me lemon flavored swabs.

My sister and her girls came by to pick my mom up and I showed them everything medical. My 8 yr old niece is very interested in medical things right now so she took an interest in what was going on. 

That night my night nurse needed to change my pain pump at midnight. I knew that it only administers medicine at specific doses over a certain time but she made me feel like a junkie. I'm sure she was trying to determine if I needed anything stronger but she insinuated that the amount of meds I had gone through would have been appropriate for a bed ridden open procedure.

This was the only service issue I had at the hospital, I would press the call button and nobody would come in. I was unhooking myself to go walk and go to the bathroom but by my last spin around I was so dizzy and nauseous I sort of laid halfway in the bed until someone came to check my vitals.

Wednesday April 13th
I started to ween myself off of my pain pump and overnight and in the early morning got very nauseous. I was afraid it was from the lack of pain meds but after going to the support group they hold on weekdays there I realized it was from the anesthesia and the pain meds were blocking the nausea. I immediately started hitting the green button on my pump as often as possible and put myself to sleep most of the time.

I was literally dry heaving when physical therapy was talking to me about the support group meeting and have to credit my mom for dragging my butt to the session. The coin it as a exercise class which is true but it was great to see people felt as awful as I did and hear the people who had surgery on Monday tell me that was them the day before. I literally puked in a washcloth on my way back to my room. 

I wasn't hungry in the least but savored the ice chips they gave me. The instructions was 1 oz per hour which I fell short of. Amazing to think that I did liquids Monday and ate nothing on Tuesday!

I spent much of Wednesday in and out of consciousness but was feeling better by the evening when my sister, her husband, and the girls stopped by.

By then I had a routine where I would put myself to sleep after my mom left at 8:30pm and then I would wake up around 11pm for a round of walking. It was hard to keep count but I tried to do about a mile every time I did a round. The night staff would be cluttering the hallways but not many people would be walking around that time of night. I would then start to knock myself out again and they would take my vitals around midnight.

By Wednesday night I was unhooking and rehooking myself up to the machinery myself unless my mom was with me. I was a model patient.

Thursday April 14th
By Thursday everything was routine. I always had new nurses but everyone was very friendly after that first night. I only used my pain pump a few times to knock myself out but read, played on my iPad, and watched TV most of the day. I even snuck out to take a walk while my mom was napping.

I also got to take a shower which was heaven. I wish I had had my own products but it was great nonetheless.

The support group was great, I could do more of the moves (look up non-stripper chair dancing exercises and you get the drift). I then got to be the reassuring face encouraging the Wednesday surgery patients on.

When I was walking the halls there were actually 3 ladies making their rounds that had not been at the meetings but had surgery the same day as me. I actually had not seen them up and walking around either which seemed strange to me.

They have me Hawaiian Punch and chicken broth to drink which I was told to drink an once of every hour. The Hawaiian Punch didn't really make sense since it's loaded with sugar but it tasted good. The broth was okay but they have me a huge cup of it and I drank it cold except for the first "dose" I had. In all I probably had 4 oz of broth and 4 oz of punch.

Friday April 15th
Happy discharge day to me! This was the day when I sad F-It and started hitting my pain pump to enjoy the naps before my dad came to get me. They gave me Jello and it was okay. I felt great but was afraid I wouldn't be able to fall asleep once I got home.

 I also got kudos for attending a third exercise class.

On the way home we stopped at the grocery store and picked up some puddings and soft foods. I was really craving chocolate but was put on clear liquids through Saturday. Instead I had a sugar free popsicle as soon as I got home. My mom made me some broth and I ate about 3-4 oz of that as well.

I actually slept well at home. I propped myself up and was able to fall asleep at night without a problem.

Saturday April 16th
I took it easy on Saturday and worked on the computer some, caught up on some TV, and tried to move around. I was tempted to try a chocolate protein shake but I don't want to push my limits or risk my new sleeved stomach so I decided to wait.

Against my better judgment I weighed myself and it appears I have lost 12 pounds since surgery!

Sunday April 17th.
I ran errands with my parents today to San Clemente and Home Depot and still had energy afterwards. I drank a few ounces of protein shake in the morning and was completely stuffed when I had 60% of a pudding cup for lunch. At this point I'm buying more full sugar or no sugar added products, sugar free is great for people who may dump with the bypass but I don't want to become reliant on unnatural sweeteners which really aren't good for your body anyways.

I finished the pudding cup and had some more protein shake for dinner. 

I took an afternoon nap and watched TV the rest of the evening.

I have no regrets regarding surgery. When I get hunger pains they usually go away on their own or are easily solved. I do, however, get a panic at those moments and when I sometimes wake up on my side in pain during the night I have damaged the staples. I think they must be more resilient than that, but I went through a lot to get surgery and want to do what I can to honor it.

At this point I'm not pushing the soft foods I can have because I don't want to grow tired of them. Instead, I'm relishing my pudding cups and protein shakes knowing that soups, eggs, and tuna are all possibilities. 

I have 5 incision sites that are very small. They were actually covered by band-aids post-op and my surgeon removed them on Friday. Now there are strips of surgical tape holding them in place but they are beginning to fall off. They are almost more like zits than open wounds which is very exciting.

At the hospital my sugar levels were all over the place. I was pleased that my fasting glucose was 93 on Monday and before surgery it had dropped to 78 from the clear liquids. I've run as high as 105 and 99 is technically the cut off for having Type 2 Diabetes as opposed to being pre-diabetic.

They pumped some sugar in my IV during surgery so my levels were dropping from 150 back down to the 90s during my hospital stay. As of now I am off of my metformin which is a big relief to me.

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