Will Normal Ever Get Here? A lesson in patience....

Oct 04, 2008

It's been two months since my ileostomy reversal, hernia repair and pannicula removal and I'm still not back to work. 

As can happen after ileostomy reversal I'm having some issues with my hemoglobin.  Well nobody told me that.  So as I was going along healing fine at home I got a bit lazy with my protein and vitamins.  Without my body having all the ammunition it needs to fight off germs I wound up with cellulitis 2 weeks ago. 

When I went to the ER with a high fever and violent chills and retching, I didn't know what was wrong.  Was I dehydrated?  Did I have an abcess?   I was very scared.  Oh, and it didn't help that my husband yelled at me the whole way to the hospital. 

After lots of blood work and a CT scan, Dr. Davidson came in and said it was cellulitis.  That was a kind of relief until I got re-admitted to the hospital and told my blood work was all out of whack.  

Because of low iron, hemoglobin, and protein Davidson put off stitching the wound shut.  My husband blamed me for what happened which has sent me to about the lowest low I've felt since this entire ordeal began last November.  After 5 days I went home with strict orders to follow all the rules.  

Then we had concerns that the wound wouldn't close right so we consulted a plastic surgeon.  He said my wound is actually healing extremely well on it's own with the wound vacuum and that he'd just let it continue to heal closed on it's own.  More surgery would just expose me to more potential problems.  So then we talked to my wound doctor and she agreed. 

And they've all said I should just go back to work. 

So in about another week I will.  But it might well be up to 12 weeks before this wound closes completely.  I'll probably be off the wound vacuum next week, switching to some kind of dressing that I'm praying will protect me from getting another infection.  I've been planning for a year to camp out at the NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway in early November and I just don't know if that's going to happen because it might not be safe for the wound.  I can't tell you how dissapointing that is.

Yesterday I went shopping for clothes because I literally only have 2 outfits that fit.  Before I left I discovered a pair of 14/16 pants I had purchased this summer actually fit!  I've now lost 156 pounds.  And to think a year ago I weighed about 330 pounds. ...

As I stood in the changing room at Penny's with the first jeans I've had on my body since November 7, 2007 I looked at myself sideways and gazed in awe at the reflection.  I looked at my face and just didn't recognize the woman looking so befuddled.  Was that really me?  What I was feeling inside didn't come at all close to what I was seeing in that mirror.  I was thin! 

I think I need more of those moments.  A lot more of them. 

Right now I'm feeling the crushing weight of a year's worth of health complications.  My marriage is very strained and I'm fairly certain counseling is in our immediate future to help us deal with the stress.  I'm truly not far from regretting this entire gastric bypass.  I've found myself fondly recalling those days of food binges.  But I'm not diabetic, my blood pressure is normal, I'm not afraid of being seen in public ,  a pair of 14/16 pants made it onto my body and the curves I have are really nice ones.  I'm clinging to those revelations like a life raft.  And somehow I'm going to make that frickin race!


Aug 31, 2008

I crossed into Onederland August 25, 2008. 

My husband was getting dressed as I stepped on the scale.  Something told me this was going to be the day so I told him to stay close.  As I stepped on the scale I anxiously awaited the number...and there it was: 198.7!!! 

I called hubby into the bathroom and stepped on the scale again.  Yep.  One-derland!  And boy did the tears come. 

August 11th I went in for my ileostomy reversal, hernia repair and pannicula removal. 

The reversal has been a success.  I was passing loose stools within 36 hours but I had a lot of gas in my colon.  So they wouldn't let me drink or eat anything until that resolved.  If I was going to have a failure they wanted my colon to be as empty as possible.  After a week I was finally passing that gas and they let me start drinking and eating.  Other than avoiding high fiber foods my diet is pretty much that of any other gastric bypass patient now.  I am so glad the bag is gone and I can enjoy the simple fun of a good loud fart. 

The pannicula removal is amazing.  They took off 10 pounds of skin.  My belly is flatter than I've seen in years. 

The hernia repair has been the most problematic.  Mesh is the best way to close up a hernia but it carries an increased risk of infection.  I'm prone to infections as it is so Davidson has been extra careful.  The incision across my belly is about 27 inches.  He left it open and it's packed with sponges, foam and closed with tape.  A wound vacuum is sucking extra fluids from the area to speed healing and reduce the risk of infection.  Every other day the dressings are changed and the wound inspected. 

While I was in the hospital they did find some evidence of infection trying to start so they had to clean it out.  And the dressing changes were unbelievably painful because they were peeling foam off of freshly healing tissue.  Probably the worst pain I've ever had and I was on a lot of pain meds.  I'm talking screaming and crying and begging and pleading for it to stop kind of pain.  I try to be very strong and brave and stoic, but there was no holding back for this.  The pain was one thing...but to not have any mental control over how I dealt with it was embarrassing, crushing and demoralizing.  I think of Civil War soldiers who had to have limbs amputated...that couldn't have been much worse than what I was feeling. 

They discharged me with the wound vac on Saturday the 23rd.  So I've been going back to Presby for dressing changes.  They keep finding little pockets of infection which has pushed back stitching the wound up.  But I am feeling better and having less pain this weekend so I'm hopeful that means when they do the dressing changes this week they'll see enough progress and feel confident enough to close me up for good. 

Davidson says he may also remove more skin when he stitches me up. 

It's been another tough road, but I think everyone is doing the best they can to see me through it.  The nursing staff at Dallas Presby is notably better than when I was there in November-December.  There are still a couple of idiots on the nightshift, but overall the staff is better. 

The Wonders Of Indoor Plumbing

Jul 24, 2008

Soon, my complications will ALL be behind me!

To date I've lost 134 pounds!  I have a  blood pressure of 117/74 without medication...my diabetes is officially resolved...my cholesterol is at 148...my triglycerides have plummeted from the 800s to only 25 points above normal and my knees are feeling so much better.  I have a lot of energy and tons of confidence!  All my blood work is coming back normal so I'm not having any nutritional issues either. 

Recent tests have shown I have about half my colon left and that it's pink and healthy and ready to get back to work.  So coming up on August 11th Dr. Davidson is going to reverse my ileostomy.  No more bag!  Sure, I had complications but it's all resolving just like he said it would. 

He'll also fix the hernia I have and remove a lot of the excess skin on my belly.  Now he's told me "this won't be a ten thousand dollar tummy tuck", but it's gotta be better than it is now.  And in a way, I'm kinda lucky to have had the complications.  I mean, a similar gal who had surgery at the same time as me would have to wait a lot longer to do a pannicula removal. 

All clouds have silver linings I guess. 

I still have no regrets and with the ileostomy gone it's going to be full steam ahead.  Onederland, here I come!

Below 250!

Apr 06, 2008

I hav't seen this number on the scale in forever.  I've lost 76 pounds so far.  Its been a little slow in the last couple weeks but I don't think that's terribly unusual.  I've lost nearly 100 in the last year. 

My biggest challenge is the ileostomy.  I have a sizeable open wound that is close to the stoma.  Because it weeps it degrades the wafer and seal around the stoma allowing for leaks.  And the leakage is murder on my skin.  It's a frustrating cycle requiring daily appliance changes.  

It is cutting in to my exercise plans.  I leak at work and have to dash home and get changed.  I never get back out to exercise because I have to be still for so long.  I'm thinking of getting a treadmill instead.  At least then I would have no excuse.  I could walk after dark. 

My wardrobe is about to completely turn over.  I have so few outfits I can wear anymore.  And I decided I'm no longer shopping at Catherines.  Their clothes leave me looking like Marie Barone.  I can now shop at the Avenue and will be stopping in at a Lane Bryant Outlet soon.  

I have an appointment with Dr. Davidson tomorrow.  It's great how closely he's following my progress.  As soon as he says I've lost enough to be reconnected I'll be thrilled.  I expect he'll order some blood tests.  I want to check on my thyroid.  I'm often cold and I'm still losing hair.  Am I absorbing my Synthroid or maybe I'm getting too much.  

Overall I feel pretty good.  I keep pluggin' away at it!  It's so encouraging to see results and not be obsessed with foor 24-7. 

An Update

Mar 04, 2008

Wow, I really meant to write sooner.  So much has changed and I'm doing really well.  

I'm down 66 pounds from surgery in November.  I'm down a total of 85 from last March.   I'm no longer diabetic.  I don't take blood pressure meds anymore.  My last reading was 130/80.  Without meds.  I started buying some smaller clothes and I feel very good.

There is a problem from the weight loss in that my tummy is sagging and wrinkling.  From the post op infection I wound up with an ileostomy.  The bag I'm wearing to collect the poo is often leaking because the wafer comes loose from the skin around the stoma.  It's been a real PITA to manage, especially at work.  

Fortunately the skin around the stoma has healed and the area is mature enough that I can progress to an appliance properly made for an ileostomy.  The bags I've been using aren't even meant for that.  It was part of a unique solution to a unique problem.  I'm hopeful these new, smaller wafers and flanges will be more dependable.  I'm almost afraid to leave the house!

My blood tests show I'm having few problems with vitamins.  My iron is slightly low but climbing.  My vitamin D is low so I have to up my suppliments there.  My potassium is off a little too and Dr. Davidson has prescribed some liquid potassium.  It's nothing major.

I am losing hair, but in light of my very good bloodwork it's not because of nutrition.  Doc says it's stress from the operations.  It's not noticible at this point.  Not to others, at least.  

I'm encorporating more real foods.  Had 3 ounces of filet mignon Saturday and it was DELISHUS!  But I could really go for some sugar.  Won't happen, but I sometimes get big cravings for it.  I am stronger than it is though...

It's All Up to Me Now...

Jan 07, 2008

Paid a visit to my friendly surgeon's office for another follow up today.  

Nurse Sandy removed my gastric feeding tube!  I can sleep on my left side again!  More importantly I can wear a bra  go out in public!  Pedicure, here I come...

But now I have to be the one to eat and drink everything I need.  No longer am I getting extra feedings of protein and fiber and vitamins.  It's all up to the pouch.  

My wound continues to heal but I'm still a ways away from getting the ostomy appliance.  ::: sigh :::

I'm now down 35 pounds from surgery date.  Trevor at Davidson's office said they prefer to look at it as weight lost from the day I walked in.  Well, in that case I'm down 58 pounds from last spring!.  

My blood pressure is down and there's no use for the diabetes drugs either.  Yes, this ileostomy still sucks...but I've come a long long way so I don't feel much like complaining tonight!

Big Time Complications

Jan 02, 2008

I'm a statistic.  I'm one of the few who had major complications following RNY bypass.  

November 6 I had surgery.  Right off the bat Dr. Davidson was challenged by adhesions in my belly, left over scars from my ruptured appendix in 1997.  He spent hours cleaning them up before he ever got to the bypass.  Other than that, it was a great success.  

I passed my leak test and after 2 nights in the hospital I went home.  

A few days home I started not feeling so well.  But I didn't have symptoms bad enough to be worried.  I called once and they said not to worry.   But the next morning was a different story.  It was the day of my one week follow up. 

At Davidsons office I was burning up and had wicked diarrhea.  I was so weak I had to use a wheelchair.  They quickly got me to the ER at Presby Dallas.  At first Davidson wasn't sure why I was so sick.  He consulted with other docs and decided to get me in surgery so he could have a look inside.  

Ten days later I woke up in the ICU.  I'd been on a ventilator and missed the last NASCAR race of the season and Thanksgiving.  My mom had flown in as had my MIL, the nurse.  

A combination of bacteria.... c-diff, cholera, etc...had destroyed just over half my colon.  It had to be partially removed.  I was badly dehydrated, had sepsis and peridontitis and was near death.  I awoke with all kinds of tubes coming out of me, including an ileostomy.  When I asked when I'd be home Davidson said "We hope to have you home by Christmas".

I wept.  

How?  Why?  Why me?  Why the hell did I have this surgery?  One look at the worried faces of my family incited huge waves of guilt.  I felt as if I was being punished, and frankly, I still feel that way.  

My husband told me this wasn't my fault.  It's not fair, but I just got dealt a lousy hand.  Everyone says it will be worth it in the end.  

Eventually I made it out of the dreary and depressing ICU and onto a regular floor.  I had three more surgeries to close my belly.  I slowly got strong enough to take long walks.  

If you're reading this and think Davidson screwed up somehow, let me say this.  The man saved my life.  I knew there were risks and I accepted it.  Before surgery I once asked  "what if I have complications"?  They said "We'll fix them".  

He consulted with other surgeons and docs.  The total team assembled included gastroenterologists, infectious disease specialists, physical therapists, psychiatrists and wound care nurses.  Plus my MIL nurse who kept everyone in line.  When he told me and my hubby I was finally well enough to go home he said he was the third happiest person in the room. 

I was home days before Christmas with my healing ileostomy and a feeding tube..   My MIL has stayed on, even though her job in Phoenix is begging for her return.  She is starting to get pushy and annoying but I owe her so much.  I don't know how people in my position manage with just home health visits.  My dear husband has been a rock and is daily proof I am luckier than I deserve.  

The community really rallied around me too.  So many prayers and well wishes and generosity.  A blood drive was organized on my behalf and two dozen pints were collected to more than offset the 5 units I used in my surgeries.  Two different families loaned my MIL a car for free since a rental would cost too much to allow her to stay for two months.  I am simply astounded by all of it.  

Now the challenge is to get my diet stabilized.   Because I'm stil healing I have to keep the calories up.  And a high fiber food I get in my tube keeps the ileum's output to a consistancy that works better with the bag I have to use.  Once the ileum matures and my wounds close more I will get the stomach tube removed.  Some things a normal bypass patient can eat won't work with the ileum and vice versa.  MIL wants it all understood and in practice NOW because she wants to go home.  I'm anxious for that too.  

However I am losing weight.  I'm down 30 from surgery date and won't ever see a 3 as the first number of my weight.  And the ileostomy?  Hopefully its temporary.  Davidson says once I lose about 100 pounds he should be able to reconnect my ileum with whats left of the colon.  Probably July sometime.  I'll still have a far shorter tract than most, but I pray he'll be able to do it.  The thought of pooping in a bag the rest of my life depresses me.

So there's my story; my tale of woe.  I don't know what lesson there is in this or if there's one at all.   But I'm still here. 

The Reset Button

Nov 02, 2007

I'm done with work.  I won't be back til after Thanksgiving.  There is a part of me that is looking forward to the time off nearly as much as the surgery!

The road to this surgery has been a long one.  At the same time work has been more demanding on account of new management.  I'm thrilled about the changes but I can honestly say that for the first time in some 20 years I haven't been able to focus on my job as much as I'm used to.  I'm focusing on myself and myself only for the first time in.....well, forever.  

It's All About Me.  

People say I'm doing a fine job, but I haven't been able to throw myself into it.  And I'd love to walk into my boss' office and pitch a project or ask to be more involved and look for opportunities but I don't want to get committed to anything until I can get on the other side of this RNY.   

It's the reset button.  I see life doing some major changing after Tuesday.  A new attitude, a new focus and eventually a new wardrobe.  I won't have to worry about a surgery date getting in the way of work so I will be looking for new projects.  I'm kinda sick of coasting.  

Tomorrow my friend arrives to help me.  I have my Monday pre op appointment at Vista and then the next morning I'll be there at 6:30. 

The Wedding

Oct 31, 2007

My sister's wedding in Hot Springs last weekend was wonderful.  

Everything went off without a hitch!  My sister was so beautiful in her gown, she truly was breathtaking.  The ceremony was at the Lookout Point Inn and the gardens were nice and green.  Butterflies flitted about during the vows bringing a magical sense of happiness with them.  

I worked my butt off Friday to get the reception food ready.  It was my first attempt at vegetable lasagna and everyone said it was delicious.  Thank goodness I had a lot of helpful people around because I pretty much ran out of steam.  My right knee is pretty torn up. But I really don't care.  

The home we rented for the reception was perfect. In fact, I want to buy it.  When I hit the lottery I'm making an offer for it.  It sat on a hill overlooking Lake Hamilton and we had the benefit of a sweet sunset.  Then the luminarias around the pool really sparkled.  There was a firepit where a large bonfire was constructed and we all hung out there and drank once the first wave of guests left.  

I think I drank nearly 200 bucks of champagne and I got the hangover to go with it.  It's now back on the liquid diet for surgery next week. 

Every one of my family members had nice things to say about my surgery.  Some of them had even watched it on TV so they were very knowledgeble.  My 90 year old grandmother refers to it as "Kristine's Fat Surgery".  I couldn't help but laugh.  

Then she cried as she recounted my grandfather telling her she was too fat to sleep with anymore.  It explains much.  She was never fat.  At best maybe 30 pounds heavy.  I guess that's where my own judgemental mother was tutored on her attitude.  She follows her father's actions.

My mother apologized.  She came up to me and said she was sorry for whatever she may have done that forced me to turn to food.  Yes, she really does have much to apologize for but there was no reason to beat her up over it.  That accomplishes nothing.  So I told her the truth.  That we all have baggage we're trying to deal with that our parents gave us.  I hope she has a chance to deal with hers someday.  

The next morning we were all walking wounded.  I was hungover well through Monday.  Must have been the last bottle of champagne.  But I'm now wagoned up and on the straight and narrow to next week's surgery.  

With the wedding over, I am now focusing on the surgery.  The anxiety over it is starting to come through.  Well, that and some pretty severe knee pain.  I really hope once I get the weight off I can avoid another arthroscopic on my knee.  But we'll cross that bridge later.  At least I have pain pills coming my way soon. 

Why My Stomach Churned...

Oct 17, 2007

I went to my pre op appointment at Dr. Davidson's today.  There were about 6 other folks there also doing their pre op stuff. 

Individually we went in to be weighed and get our blood pressure taken and then were handed this enormous binder which is essentially my new "Operating Instructions".  I had a list of questions when I walked in but the book answered nearly all of them.  I was very impressed with how organized it was.  

As a group we went to the conference room and watched a presentation of the most important part of the journey:  what we have to do pre and post op.  When they got to the part of drinking a bottle of laxative at noon the day before surgery I realized I would have to take that day off work too.  That news makes me so happy I could shit!  LOL

When we returned to the office we had individual consults; health screening, money and scheduling.  

I already know my surgery date, but when Mickey told me what time it was going to be that's when my stomach churned.  Wierd, huh?  9 am.  Gotta be at Vista no later than 7.  

Afterwards me and hubby had a nice steak dinner.  Filet, steamed broccoli, piece of bread, plain iced tea...what a nice change from Lean Cuisine!!!

I'm really impressed with how organized Davidson's staff was.  He popped his head in to say hello once and to commend me on my 18 pound weight loss.   He said to "keep it up".  I remain convinced I made the right choice.  

Just wish that surgery date would hurry up!

About Me
Dallas Suburb, TX
Surgery Date
Feb 21, 2007
Member Since

Friends 9

Latest Blog 29
Will Normal Ever Get Here? A lesson in patience....
The Wonders Of Indoor Plumbing
Below 250!
An Update
It's All Up to Me Now...
Big Time Complications
The Reset Button
The Wedding
Why My Stomach Churned...