My 3rd year post op in an indepth review.

Sep 18, 2009

Today is my 3 year surgiversary. Its been a thousand years and just a few moments since my 2nd surgiversary. Its amazing how time flies and stands still all at the same time.

This past 12 months were very stressful for me. I spent September through January waiting for my plastic surgery date. There were issues with the hospital, 1 of their 3 plastic surgeons left and the others were scrambling to make up the difference. I called the scheduling department every month to get word on when I might see my date. One month theprediction would be just a few more weeks and the very next it would be a year. I basically put off doing much for Halloween and Christmas, my two favorite holidays, for fear my date would come up and the house wouldn't be ready for my recovery time.

I was also spending this pre surgery time taking care of my mother. Her husband was working in a gold mine where he had 28 days on and 14 days off shifts. I took her for all of her errands, and doctor's appointments. I bought all of her neccesities and usually stayed over night a few times a week to clean and keep her company.

I finally received a letter on December 29th that I would be having my surgery February 2nd.

I spent most of January in bed crying, literally. My depression was at a moment of lifetime rock bottom. I thought of suicide daily and did not take care of myself at all. My husband actually had to run my bath, undress me and bathe me as I had no will to live much less care about hygiene. He worked from home and made all of my meals and got my drinks as I had stopped eating entirely. I should have been excited about finally getting surgery and hitting this huge milestone in my journey to being a normal thin person but instead I was more concerned with ending it all.

Obviously a third hand opinion would be I was stressed about the upcoming surgery but the truth is it was not. The depression was brought on by an event I cannot share, but needless to say it was not surgery related.

My husband said if I did not get better he was going to put me in the hospital, commit me, so to speak. So I pretended to be better just enough to keep him secure I was better off at home.

When the end of January finally arrived I was slowly getting excited about surgery and somewhat mentally ready to do it.I spent the last week before surgery getting my bedroom and bathroom ready to be my permanent living quarters. I drank protein shakes everyday and made sure to up my vitamins so my body could handle the huge shock it was about to receive.

February 2nd came and surgery was a success. There were no complications and everything went better than we had hoped. My waist at my highest weight was 67" around. I was literally bigger around than tall. I lost all of that midsection weight and the trauma to my skin was bad, Im guessing the worst my surgeon had ever seen, and though he never said it outloud he said much with his eyes. My skin was completely empty and weighed very little in comparison to how much there was of it. The horizontal section he removed from my pannus was 43cm long, (17"). All in all it was about 10 pounds of empty skin just from my hip to hip area. It wasn't an easy task for him to make me look "normal" but I have to say he did an amazing job. He even fixed my girl bits which was the left overs from obesity I was most ashamed of.

I came home the day after surgery and had extra mural nursing care everyday. Everything was going well until a few days after surgery I started running a very high fever, 40*c. It was the weekend so the nurses just told me to take tylenol and keep an eye on it until they could talk to my surgeon on Monday. To which he replied a high fever with no other symptoms is likely infection and should not be treated with tylenol else I wouldn't seek medical attention when it was absolutely neccesary. Keeping in mind I was recovering from major surgery and a trip to the ER was the last thing I wanted to do.
So happily my fever passed but I started getting sick to my tummy after I ate. Then began getting an intense pain in my gut early one evening which proceeded to get worse all night. I had already stopped taking pain killers for a few days and wasn't really interested in starting them again if I could suffer it out. I have a very high pain tolerance so I was just going to do the mind over matter and breathe that pain away. By morning I was in agony, I asked Garrett to take me to the hospital. His eyes nearly fell out of their sockets since its kind of a family joke that I would need to be almost dead to willingly go to the ER. He was more flustered than an expecting dad when moms water breaks and ended up taking over an hour to get me to the hospital when it should have been 10 minutes.

I called my surgeon's office to let them know I would be missing my follow up appointment as I was going to ER. The nurse said NO go to the wound clinic because my surgeon was working there that morning and he could see me. The wound clinic is first come first served, unlike the ER which is worst come first served. I spent about 90 minutes waiting for him to see me, he of course had no idea I was even there. I am certain if he did he would have seen me immediately. So about 4 hours after the pain had gotten completely unbarable, I get to see my surgeon. By this point I had been doubled over in pain, trying to sqeeze it out of me, pacing trying to walk it out of me and basically spending a huge amount of energy trying not to cry in front of strangers.

Once I was alone in the hospital room I let go, I let the pain take over and I wailed, screamed, begged for death. I was vomiting every few moments which actually felt good as the heaving seemed to ease the pain for a nano second, which I was glad for. When the surgeon came in he determined whatever interal issue it was, it was not surgery related (umm I think I knew that all along why did I listen to his nurse?). He could not give me pain medicine without knowing what was wrong with me. He sent me for tests. I was in too much pain to walk, plus I need to dry heave every few minutes so Garrett wheeled me to xray for tests. They took me right in and sent me back to the room I was in to wait for the tests. Still no pain medicine. Finally the tests came back and it looked like my gallbladder was very infected, swollen to a massive point.

18 hours after the pain began and 6 hours after the pain became too much for me to take, they gave me a shot of morphine. The pain was reduced back to just agony, but not kill myself agony. They took me to ER on a stretcher that I quickly curled up on, burying my face in the pillow and sobbing with some version of relief. Within minutes of getting to the ER the pain was becoming unbarable yet again. They gave me another shot of morphine. This was all I could have until the interal medicine doctor looked at my xrays and gave me a bit of a physical. They want you in enough pain that you can tell them where it hurts as they poke at you. He did all of this and determined it was yes indeed my gallbladder. They gave me another morphine and then a delaudin (sp?) shot and the pain went away, finally.

That night and the next day the sent me for every type of xray possible from barrium tests to ultrasounds to MRIs. One of the technicians joked that everyone in the hospital had seen my gallbladder by the end of it. The consensus was that my gastric bypass made it impossible for them to clean out my bile ducts via some vacuume type device as per normal. They would have to do open surgery. Laproscopic gallbladder surgery is considered minor surgery with a 2 - 5 day recovery time. Open gallbladder surgery is considered major surgery with 4 - 6 weeks recovery time.

The gallbladder was too infected and swollen to even think about touching. They had me on IV and clear liquids with antibiotics for 5 days while my gallbladder settled down. I had my surgery on Valentines day and spent another 5 days in hospital recovering on IV and delaudin. The pain  after surgery was much worse than my abdominoplasty so I was quite happy to stay stoned and passed out. I was let out on a Thursday during a huge snow storm, I think the drive home was almost as bad as the drive there.

The next day my mom was put in the hospital. My mom had severe diabetes related illness and her extra mural nurse felt her good leg was looking dark. I couldn't go see her or comfort her and it killed me. After a couple days in hospital they decided they needed to amputate her good leg above the knee. She cryed on the phone telling me and I re-assured her it would be ok. Her husband and I would take care of her and everything will be fine. My mom is a survivor though, she has lived through things that even Oprah couldn't handle listening to. After a day of mourning she was OK with the upcoming surgery.

Bad news came, her heart was not strong enough for surgery. It was cute how she was a little pissed off by this since she had mentally gotten to the ok with losing her leg place. Saddly both her husband and she did not truly comprehend what this meant. They actually thought it was good news. They put mom on lots of pain killers and antibiotics and pretty much knew she was going to die.

In all honesty I didn't really think this would kill her. She had been through so much in the last 15 years with her diabetes that this seemed a little pale in comparisson. My mom is a lot stronger than the doctors ever gave her credit for and she overcame much of what they said she couldn't.

So about a week after I had been home recovering from gallbladder surgery I was strong enough to go visit her in the hospital. She had her own room in isolation as she had been a carrier an antibiotic resistant strain of virus. We had to gown and glove up to see her. The first few days she was ok. I took her magazines and stayed with her as long as my tummy would allow me to sit up. She never asked to go home. She always asked to go home the moment she got in the hospital. She was getting scared and a little loopy from the drugs so I had the nurses bring in a cot and I stayed the night with her every night until she stopped being responsive.

Basically she was dying. I am her next of kin and the decision maker for her when she was incapacitated. I had a few big decisions to make on her care. Let her die or do emergency surgery to have the leg removed and go for the slim chance she makes it. I know my mom would rather live without the leg than die so I went for the hail mary pass. She was weakening to the point they had to intubate her and put her on life support before surgery, wasn't the plan and not good news, but we were still going to go for it. She survived surgery. She wasn't getting better though. The chance to save her had passed. Next decision was the DNR (do not recesitate). Even though she was on life support her heart was still weak enough to fail. They told me she would never come back from another heart attack. I agreed to the DNR.

March the 14th at 4am (my moms usual time to wake up for about 15 years) her heart started to fail. We were called in to say goodbye before they turned off the machines. I stayed strong, I talked to her hoping she could hear me and did my best to pacify her husband. At 4:45 she was gone. I didn't cry in front of the nurses, Im just not that kind of girl. I was not allowing myself to feel much of anything.

Garrett and I went out to breakfast while waiting until a decent hour to phone the family and give them the news. I saw a friend at the restaurant and she said "hi! long time no see, how are you?" to which I replied with a normal tone, "My mom died this morning" she was a little taken back and it was quite awful of me to say it so matter of factly. I wasn't going to be openly emotional over it though because I'm strong.

I arranged the funeral, picked the preacher, the casket, the urn, the music, the flowers and her charity of choice. I even got her usual hair dresser of 20 years to come to do her hair one last time. I went shopping at the plus sized store I hadn't been to in over a year. I bought her a beautiful purple blouse and matching pants. I got her matching lipstick and nail polish. On the day of the visiting I went early and removed the paint from her nails and repainted them a matching mauve. She looked beautiful to me. I wanted to climb into that casket and cuddle her.

I housed family who came from far away and organized a small wake at the restaurant she owned for the last 11 years of her life. It seemed fitting, like that is where her spirit will always be to me.

Mom never planned to die, no will, no life insurance, and no savings. Garrett emptied his RSP's to pay for the funeral. My sister chipped in a grand too. My stepfather was out of work and simply couldn't deal with the financial burden at that time.

Then it was all over. Garrett went back to work after spending most of two months taking vacation time to take care of me and working from home when not doing that.

The loneliness is undescribable. I spent so much time with mom these last few years I had no idea what to do with myself. So I did nothing. I stayed in bed and played online games day and night. I didn't talk to anyone or go anywhere.

All of these issues took me to a new low weight of 127 pounds. Literally I was bone thin. I was gaunt, pale and sickly looking. I needed to gain weight. This was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Deliberately gain weight. The fear and panic that I held in was immeasurable. No one could know I was terrified of gaining all of my weight back as they would think me insane. A skeleton worried about being fat is simply ridiculous to normal people. I think you all can imagine what that fear would be like.

I spent most of the spring and summer trying desperately to get the motivation to take my life back. I would be super active and on the go for a few days and then back in bed for a couple of weeks.I was still very weak from the surgeries and muscle loss so it was mainly recouperation time rather than laziness but in my mind I was just being lazy.

By the end of August I was going out every week, cleaning everyday, getting dressed and clean everyday and actually happy. The first good news of the year came. My nephew, who is a sweet but troubled soul, had decided to move in with me to go to a different high school and get a fresh start. He failed last year because he just didn't try nor care what happened. He has been doing very well since he moved in with me. He does things his mother could only dream of him doing at home. He does his own laundry, keeps his room tidy, gets himself up for school, and does his homework everynight.

So I think I'm finally over this bad year, Im taking care of myself and making improvements in all areas of my life. Im not perfect but I am feeling good physically and emotionally.

On Monday I found out my stepfather isn't giving us the $2500 check from the government to pay for moms funeral. Garrett and I are up to our eyeballs in debt and that was going to take some of the edge off. That news paled in comparison to his other news, he had a girl friend living with him.

I immediately reassured him that I understood, and I really do. He loved my mom more than anything or anyone but he can't live life alone. He's a talker and a homebody. I imagine that lonely house made everyday feel like a year without mom there to joke with and talk to.

The repercussions of this news hit me hard later that day. I cried and cried and cried. I subconciously knew that I could go to mom's house and touch where she touched, sit in the furniture she sat in, smell her smell even. In my mind she wasn't completely gone because I could go there and revell in the life she created for herself. Now there is a foreign scent and touch in her house and I have nothing left of her to cling to. I think I am mourning the loss of my mom for real now. The saddness is overwhelming.

I returned to OH this week because I knew I would let this recent news ruin my progress. I knew I would push the feelings away and eat, hide and pretend it didn't bother me. Some how in my mind I'm stronger if I don't feel anything. I must suffer physically than if I let it out and feel emotionally. Emotions are for the weak.

So here I am 3 years out of surgery and finally admitting that I am weak and I need the help of group support. I have always come to OH to give support, rarely to get support. I've made over 5000 posts here and am just now seeing it as a place for me to get help. I had spent my life eating my emotions away. I simply couldn't do that for the first 2 years post op due to new anatomy. Now that I can, I used my the need to gain weight as an excuse to indulge in everything, everyday. In 5 short months I gained 30 pounds which was 12 pounds more than I had intended to. If I don't stop it now I know it will be 50 or 100 pounds down the road before long.

I stood in my bathroom looking at the scale with crossed fingers whispering, please please please be nice to me today, like I did when I was a newbie. I am officially down 4 pounds and a mere 8 pounds left to go to get back to my happy place of 145 pounds. I did this by coming here and reading your posts, sharing mine and reading profiles.

Thank you OH for being here and thank you to my friends who didn't give up on me :)



About Me
Surgery Date
Oct 27, 2006
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