This is about my VSG experience at Cleveland Clinc Weston. I am going to try and be as detailed as possible. Because I was so nervous throughout this experience, it really helped me to read detailed accountings, so I hope this will help someone else.
My surgery was scheduled for 7:30AM on Monday, August 20. I got to the hospital at 5:15. At 5:30 we started filling out some simple paperwork. Because I was a self-pay, it went pretty quickly. We were told to go to the surgery area. After waiting a few minutes, one of the attendants came out. She told my family they would have to wait while we got set up. This is when I really started to get nervous. I felt so alone. I was given a package with booties and a gown. The nurse gave me a cup to do a urinalysis. I changed and went to my bed. The nurse came over and asked me a bunch of questions, while reading my chart. She then attempted to get the IV in. Could not do it. She tried over and over. I was really starting to get upset. The anesthesiologist came over to talk me. I just loved him. He made me feel really good. He explained what he would be doing and how he would put me to sleep and wake me up. He put the IV just under the crook of my arm, which throughout my time in the hospital, would be very painful.
They let my family come sit with me and we joked around. My brother took some pictures of me. At 7, I could see that something was going on, as patients were coming in, but nobody was going to surgery. I really wanted my “happy shot.” At 8:15 or so, things really started to hustle. They said they were ready and we said our goodbyes. I could not stop crying. I remember the anesthesiologist saying he was going to give me something to make me woozy. I remember being in the OR and I said, “this is where you do it?” It looked like a closet. I saw hands over my head and voices and the next thing I remember is the anesthesiologist talking to me, he had an urgent tone to his voice, I think he was calling my name and telling me to cough, but I can’t remember.
My husband told me that the nurse came out and told him that the procedure started at 9:03AM. They give the family a pager, like you get at a restaurant, so the nurse can page a few minutes before the doctor comes out. My family sat in the surgical waiting area and my husband told me that the doctor came out to see them at 9:50 and said that everything went well and that I’d be in recovery for a few hours.
The next thing I remember is this intense pressure or pain and I was moaning. The nurse told me that I was in recovery. The pain was really intense and I was crying (I'm really not a crier, seemed liked I did that a lot today!). She told me that she would give me something soon, but that she couldn’t give me the morphine until we got upstairs. I’m all about time. It makes me feel better to know how long something is going to take. I didn’t have my glasses, but I could make out the minute hand on the clock. I asked her when and she told me and I kept closing my eyes and focusing the clock. I remember being in my room and the nurses doing things and one said, “go get the family.”
I remember my dad and husband in the room. I know my brother was there too, but I don’t remember. I said to my husband, “I really did it” and he smiled and said, “yes you did.” OMG, I’m crying (there I go again!) as I write this, because, this was such a hard thing for me to go through, all the preops and the surgery, I was just so scared. I feel like I finally did something good for myself!
I was very uncomfortable for a few hours. I wouldn’t call it pain, more like a pressure, and it hurt to move. It was the gas pains. They were putting pillows under me and trying to make me comfortable. I dozed on and off. I used the morphine every chance I could. I was hooked up to IV’s, a heart monitor, compression booties and an oxygen monitor on my finger. There was a screen in the room which showed the rates. At 4PM, it was like a switch was flipped. I started talking and was more alert. My voice was very hoarse, which I assume was from being intubated and that didn’t clear up for about a day and a half. I felt better with every hour that passed. It was amazing. They wouldn’t let me out of bed until the following day when they did the leak test. During the night, they checked on me frequently. Three times a day I was given shots to prevent blood clots. Even though they are given in the stomach, they really do not hurt. They emptied the drain and the catheter a few times a day. I was also hooked up to a blood pressure cuff which sent a reading every hour. Blood was taken a few times during my 4 day stay. I met with the bariatric coordinator every day. She gave me a teddy bear which was used could be used as a splint to help any pressure build up. I didn't have any use for it, but it's a cute bear! My husband spent the night with me. Even though I was feeling better, I could not imagine spending the first night alone.
The following morning, two super nice guys came down to take me downstairs to radiology.. It took a while to get all the tubes from the IV organized. I went down in a wheelchair and was taken right away and did not have to wait. I like how it’s set up in that I wasn’t taken through the entrance where outpatients where. It was like a back hallway. I had to drink about ¼ cup of a liquid similar to the one during the upper GI. It went down with no problems. I felt slightly nauseous afterwards so the tech gave me an alcohol swab to sniff, which helped. This was the only time I felt nauseous. I know a lot of people suffer from it, but I did not. I was taken back to my room and put in the chair. I chatted with my family and nurses and felt really good. I had some gas pains, but that’s it. I was burping up a storm.
I walked the halls a bit with my IV pole and that nasty catheter. I have to say, it was very uncomfortable at times. The respiratory tech came in that day and told me that it was very important to use the spirometer to build my lungs back up and to prevent clots.
The nurse came in and told me that I passed the leak test and they would be sending up my tray. She gave me some one ounce cups, like you get with Nyquil, and told me to sip one each half hour whenever I was awake. My tray arrived and it consisted of yogurt, Special K and milk and some other covered up items. I have to tell the preops – knowledge is power. Be informed and learn all you can. I knew full well that I couldn’t have yogurt until Week 2 and cereal, not for a long time. I told the woman that wasn’t mine and she said that’s what the doctor ordered. I had her check the name, and of course, I was right. She apologized and my tray arrived a few hours later. Some broths, tea, sugar free ice pop and sugar free jello. I had a few bites of the jello and a few licks of the ice pop and I was done.
I walked the halls a lot. I had the most amazing nurses, I can’t even begin to tell you. This part is pretty gross and I’m surprised that I never read it in any posts or profiles. Again, I’m only writing this for the benefit of those who haven’t been sleeved yet. The stuff they give you for the leak test comes out via diarrhea in most people. I did not know this. I was having gas, but nothing was coming out. I went into the bathroom and exploded all over myself. My dad and brother were in the room and I told them to get the nurse. I was hysterical. I was so embarrassed. There was no way, with one free hand, I could clean the mess up. This nurse came and hugged me. She laughed, in a good way and said, ”Congratulations, you pooped, I’m so glad!” She proceeded to clean me and everything up. I was never so mortified in my life, but so grateful to her.
I slept in the recliner in the room, as it was much easier than the bed. My husband had to go to work the next day, so I sent him home. I felt so alone that night. My brother, dad and MIL all offered to stay but I turned them down. The following morning, Wednesday, they took out the catheter. It was uncomfortable but didn’t hurt at all. My IV’s were removed as well. They kept the EKG leads on. It was pretty cool in that when I wanted to walk around or sit in the chair, which was actually most of the time, I hooked myself up to a portable pack which still allowed the staff to monitor me. In fact, one time I was walking the halls and stopped to talk to the nurse and the monitor guy called the nurse to tell him that my heart rate was going up. She laughed and said I was walking the halls. I checked out that room and the monitor guy showed me how he kept track of everyone and then alerted the nurses when something was amiss. The nurses also had access to the monitors at their station, but this was just an additional assurance of making sure that everything was ok. I walked a lot and was getting pretty bored.
I was in the bathroom when there was a knock at the door. It was my doctor and his fellows. He is very proper and at times has an accent which is hard to understand. He said, “are you having any ….” and I had no idea what he said. He says in a straight voice, “are you farting, are you passing gas” and the fellows burst out laughing when I said, “oh yeah like a truck driver.” He asked me a few more questions and said that I should be able to go home the next day. He put his hand on my shoulder and wished me all the best..
This morning came and I was ready. One of the fellows came in and took off the bandages. I believe I have 7 sites plus the drain. I have staples which will be taken out on September 4th. He said he would back after the blood results to discharge me. He took out my drain, which did not hurt at all. The nurse took out the rest of the IV and I was given my discharge instructions.
I’ve been home for a few hours now and feel like getting back to normal. I had a 4 oz protein shake and it went down with no problems. I’m going to start on my water shortly.
All the best to those of you considering this surgery and to those of you who went before me, thank you all for your support and wisdom. Feel free to write to me with any questions.