Disclaimer: Definitely NOT for the faint of heart... or for nervous pre-ops. True and [very] personal account of my RNY experience.
Wow. I can't believe almost a month has gone by... I had my RNY on June 28th. No allergic reaction to the anesthesia and no leaks! Oh! Thank The Lord! ...And thanks to my rock star surgeon as well. I still can't forget the very first time I laid eyes on my new tummy; my pouch. Drinking Barium to check for leaks, and staring blankly at the screen; I was in awe looking at my [new] tiny organ's structure. It thought to myself; "I look like an alien inside! ...Cool!" :p
Okay, I'm sort of jumping ahead here. Let me start from the morning of surgery...
It was June 28th, 2011. I was staring at the morning sun on my surgery date. No longer as afraid as I had been in the previous weeks, but really just wanting to get it all over with. I just said a quick, heart felt prayer and told myself that there was no turning back now. I'm in your hands, my Lord.
I was surrounded by my loved ones: My Mom, My Hubbs Raf, and My friend Michelle. My mom was trying to crack jokes to make us all less nervous. It worked...briefly. Bless her heart, my mom sure talks a lot when she's nervous. I could feel her tears were at the brim, as she tried hard to be strong for everyone. God, I love her so much. It was obvious to me that my best friend Michelle hadn't slept a wink the night before. She was a ball of nerves, but also kept them at bay. I could tell by the way she looked at me that she was sh*tting bricks. She barely spoke. Same goes for my very manly hubby, Raf. He maintained a straight and solemn face; Lack of sleep and hysterical worry; bubbling under the surface. He held my hand for the majority of the time. My mom says she caught him pacing the hall, red in the face and rubbing his forehead. He wouldn't even HEAR of anything bad happening to me. It simply wouldn't be. That was his stance and he was sticking to it. His philosophy was he loves me too much for anything bad to happen. I am so blessed to have these souls in my life. They're everything to me.
It felt so sudden when the head bariatric nurse came in with the anesthesiologist to explain a few things to me... To my horror, there was to be no pain pump; no morphine, dilauded, lortab, etc for surgery... and WORSE; I would have to wait 20 minutes before any form of relief (pain meds) was given to me. Yes, I would have to endure the pain of my surgery through the mild drowsiness of the anesthesia wearing off. I gotta tell ya, that made me just about jump up and run. However, being that nothing in this world is a cake walk- I decided to take my prayer, my love, and my fiery determination with me... as they began wheeling me into the OR. Kisses and tears started to flash around me. They'd all be waiting for me in the lobby when I was done... I tried to smile as I said see you later... and I fought back the tears.
Entering a large, bright room... there were nurses, assistants, techs, and the anesthesiologist. I was wheeled to my own little spot in the room. In front of me, there were two other girls already prepped, IVed, and ready for surgery. We smiled lamely at each other and waited. A kind, young tech had to try me a few times; but finally I was IVed and given something to calm down. In minutes, I felt relaxed and didn't worry as much. Cue Freddy Mercury. My surgeon struts into the OR and says good morning to everyone. This is a regular day for him. He's done this thousands of times. I'm one in one thousand. The room was really quiet, except for beeping machines and whispering nurses. Suddenly the energy shifted in the room. You know, I figured I'd be tricked, and sure enough a nurse put a mask to my face to give me "some oxygen to breathe better"... I was OUT. No "count backwards", no "are you ready"; I breathed maybe twice and I was completely out. BLACK.
When I woke up I was tied down. My brain slowly began to register this tremendous pain. OtherworldIy pain. The only way to describe it is to say that it felt like both fire and ice. Sick, twisted satanic pain; my worst fear realized. I let out a gagged, desperate cry. Then I tried to take a breath. When I tried to breath, I thought maybe the tube was in wrong, or my throat was really swollen- but I could NOT breath. Choke, choke. I began to panic. Being tied down, all I could do was tap my palm quickly, defenselessly to try to get someone to check my tube. I just kept gagging help me, help me. I began to urinate on myself. This level of vulnerability was so new to me. It was as if I was in a horror movie, falling victim to my ravenous captors. Finally a nurse approached me. She smiled and told me not to worry. I desperately tried to tell her I couldn't breathe, but it was a futile attempt. Oh my God, I thought; I'm gonna die. Just then, the anesthesiologist came to check me, and kind of wiggled the tube... he told me to breathe lightly now and that there should be a thin line of air getting through now... "the monitor shows you are breathing well now, just relax." I managed to gurgle out the word pain. "Paihhnn" I cried. "20 minutes for pain meds." Oh. My. God. I dozed for minutes at a time, trying to rise above the pain. It was just impossible. I thought these people were the ring leaders of hell, or a dark sadistic army of demons. "Lord please help me" I prayed. I was in perpetual HELL.
Minutes later, I was told to take a deep breath; and then out came the breathing tube. As soon as I breathed independently, I began to sob like a child. I begged and wept for relief of my infernal pain. I thought the pain would drive me insane. I felt like Freddy Krueger cut up my insides, and that there was no waking up from my nightmare. I think I'll be 90 years old and I'll never forget that pain and desperation. I just kept whispering "Oh my God, No No No Noooo" and urinating on myself over and over. I remember seeing my friend Michelle break in to the OR (did she hear my cries?) as people tried to pull her out, she became angry and desperate to see me in that condition. She shouted something about giving me pain meds. She was frantic and mad as hell, but mostly afraid. She kissed my head. I wished she'd kill everyone and bring me a gallon of morphine; then I'd be satisfied. Suddenly, she was gone. A nurse walked up and injected me with Demorol. She then handed me a soft, shiny pebble with the word Believe carved in it. She said it was from Michelle. I smiled, "Oh, thank you Miss"...Fade to black.
Woke up in my own private room with a large covered window. Clean and bright, with large colorful balloons and flowers everywhere. I tried to appreciate it verbally, but instead I began to cry [again] from the pain. A nurse came in and Raf and Michelle pushed her for more pain meds. She said it wasn't time. "30 minutes more." This time I cursed out loud. I think Michelle cursed too. I said "I can't f*cking take this sh*t anymore." I dozed for a few minutes and then I was given a dose of Demorol. Zzzzz. The thing with Demorol is, you feel the pain when you're awake... but it knocks you out. When you sleep, you feel nothing. When you wake; different story. I moaned a lot when I was awake. Everyone felt utterly helpless. I had never really seen Raf cry like that before. He tried to hide it, but he was miserable and desperate and constantly wiping his eyes. My poor baby, he was so sick with worry. I felt a new level of his endless love for me. Michelle was desperately angry too, her heart was just breaking to see me that way. I hated to be seen like this. Hated it. My mom cried in a corner. All of our hands were tied. The day and evening went the same.
Next day when I woke up, the room was empty except for Raf sitting next to my bed. I began to stir and whimper, so he got the nurse. She said I was being taken off of Demorol. OFF of Demorol. I was going to be given Tylenol 3 for the pain. I think I laughed. I had been taking Tylenol 3 for a year due to painful broken knee cartilage (car accident), and I had thus built up an immunity to it. Never mind the bollocks; they were sticking to Tylenol 3. "Surgeon's Strict Policy." I was screwed. Swallowing tablets after a stomach/intestine surgery is so NOT fun. Even the broken-up pills hurt as they went down. In the new pouch, it was like ingesting glass shards. The sweetest nurse (Jackson North Hospital) Nurse Patricia "Pat" was talking softly to me, trying to make me ease it down my throat and eat some soft green Jello. The Jello was kind of nice, being as thirsty as I was; and the Tylenol actually worked a little better than the Demerol. I was pleasantly surprised. An hour later, a nurse came in and instructed me to walk every hour. I thought I'd DIE when I first sat up in the bed. Pain shot through my body, my tummy, my legs, and my soul. I whimpered and tried my very best to stay strong. When I was finally standing, I felt a horrid pain in my lower abdomen. I screamed "my guts are gonna fall out!!!" I honestly swore they would fall out. I believed it. Raf pressed my tummy for a moment. The pressure evened out, and I began to walk. Up and down the long hall, with Raf's arm around me. Every hour. Raf had to help me up every single time. By the 10th hour, it started to get a little easier to walk. Raf kept egging me on saying "I'm so proud of you Bunny, look at my babygirl walking." I finally smiled. Here I was, walking tough, standing tall despite my guts being rearranged; being held by God and one of his angels, Rafael. Raf said many terrible things happened that first day; many which I couldn't even remember. Thanks Demerol. Through the next day, my lovely and wonderful friends came to visit me; first Michelle came back with a card, post op supplies, and lots of hugs. Then Gigi came with a lovely bouquet of flowers (and more hugs), then Jenni Rose came with a bunch of balloons and a soft little teddy bear... she even helped me walk the hall on that difficult afternoon. I felt so lucky. I felt so loved. My mom came back and shuffled around the room nervously and pat my hand. Michelle called me when she got home and said she'd come to my house the next day too, sending love love love. My Hanne (Raf's Mom), my sister, my brother, my grandmother all called with hope and tenderness and faith. I felt stronger with every moment...
Raf never left my side. He might have slept an hour between me waking in pain and needing meds. He was my hero. A watchman; always 30 minutes ahead of the nurses to get me my meds on time. He helped me to the toilet and (have mercy) he even helped me wipe my peepee. I literally could not bend and therefore could not reach. Yikes. I was so embarrassed, and he just smiled and said he loved me so much. I was at a loss for words. He shined with love. I never met anyone that cared about me the way Raf did. God has blessed me with the BEST loved ones. My Mother, Christine. My Michelle, Jenni Rose, and my sweet Gigi. God has sent me a dark, loving angel to light my life... My tough guy, my protector... The man of my dreams. Gosh, that is so scary to admit.
The morning of the third day, I was discharged. I climbed into Raf's Jeep (ouchie) and we drove home. It felt weird to be back in my room. Marilyn Monroe, Patsy Cline, Mike Ness, and Bruce Springsteen all smiled at me through their frames... My five pillows and prescription pain meds lulled me to sleep. Raf laying next to me, angel eyes closed.
I survived the liquid stage with my mom's delicious Consume', her encouragement, and her love. Everyday has been a little easier. Yucky water became refreshing, chicken broth became cream of mushroom, vitamins became a mindless routine, and pain became tolerable. At my first week weigh-in I lost 22 pounds. Ohhhhhh yeah ;)
Today my nerves and abdominal muscles hurt a little (I have to be careful) because they're still healing. I try to walk often, but I couldn't for two days due to the storming out here. I keep hydrated. Protein shakes are still difficult, but I'm moving to the nectar protein soon; hoping that will be a little easier. On the 21st, I'll be put on mushy foods. I can hardly wait for new stuff. I friggin hate sweet puddings and soups!!! It makes Raf laugh when I say that; he says it's like a little baby tantrum "I don't want soup!" Then he sneaks a little kiss. He loves me so much. No one has ever loved me like that. Ever. My baby. :::sigh:::
Oh man, whatever comes my way; I know I'll be okay. I'm blessed and protected. I'm strong, diligent and faithful. I have so much love. I am so very lucky. My cheeks are burning with smiling-silly happiness. It's amazing what a human being can endure. It's incredible what can happen when you just tackle it head-on and refuse to give up. You have to believe you are worth a better life. Believe it, and then go for it! ...Healthier future here I come! :)
God bless all of you for your endless support. I'm here if you need me.