VSG Surgery

Oct 29, 2010

 OK, I'm a flake and posting this really late, but since I do get contacted by others interested in surgery in Mexico, I thought I'd better update. 

My coordinator from the hospital arranged transportation to pick us up at the hotel and take us to the hospital. Us is my husband and myself. Check in was really easy, a little paperwork and a blood draw for labs. Then we were take to our private room. Pictures of the hospital room are posted in my photos. There was a couch/bed for my husband to sleep on, and it was expected that he would stay in the room with me. The nurses were nice, and for the most part did speak at least some English. I was introduced to Dr. Castaneda's team, given a description of what would happen, and had any questions answered. 

I was nervous. I was not having second thoughts, but had never had surgery before. Even when I had my children, I had one at home and after the other I left the hospital after a couple of hours. I was trying to use my calming meditation, because stress increases pain. I was able to keep my mind calm, but I was shivering and my eyes were leaking. I wasn't actually crying as such. My breathing was normal and I wasn't making any mournful sounds. My eyes just wouldn't stop tearing, which I took as an indication of my stress level. After all, surgery, any surgery, does have the potential of complications - including death. The worst part was leaving my husband in the room and being wheeled into the surgery alone. The team were so sweet, they kept patting me, trying to sooth me, and asking if I was OK or needed anything. I felt silly and just explained I was nervous, but OK. I had decided long ago that the benefits of getting healthy far out weighed the risk of death. Especially since death is inevitable at some point, and I really wanted another chance at life!

They put the warming support hose on my legs (not an easy thing to do to a fat woman!), got me positioned on the table (there were huge lights everywhere), then put something in the IV to make me sleep. My surgery was about three hours long, which is longer than most. But I had a tubal ligation as well as the VSG.  I groggily woke to my name being called. Dr. Castaneda was saying it was all over and it went very well. Then came the most bizarre part - they asked me to exhale. As I did, they pulled the intebation tube out of my throat. I'd never been intebated before, and was still quit very very out of it, it was surreal to feel it slip out of my throat, yet I wanted to swallow but it was going the wrong way. It didn't hurt, but was so bizarre. 

The next awareness I have is of them lifting me off the gurney onto the bed in my private room. This was not pleasant. Not that it hurt, but definitely not good. In that movement I became aware of just where in my abdomen incisions had been made, which organs had been moved around and still weren't back in their original configuration yet, and just how challenging it was to breath deeply after trauma to the abdomen. I was told to relax and to sleep. I was very happy to see my husband. He held my hand and I slept off and on. Dr. Castaneda did check on me again, and the nurses came in fairly frequently just to check or to offer pain medication. Don't try to be brave - use the meds when you need them. Unnecessary pain is a stressor your mind and body does not need!

When the anesthetic finally wore off and I was coherent again, I became aware of just how uncomfortable I was. Movement was not my friend. Yet, getting moving is exactly what I knew I had to do. Moving made my abdomen muscles clinch up, which hurt like I'd had the wind knocked out of me and did make deep breathing a challenge. Not only was my stomach traumatized, but my internal organs now had to try to resettle, plus I had drainage tubes, and an IV to contend with. I decided the best thing was to remain immobile. Not a good idea. Yes, it hurt less and was less uncomfortable, but it also made things stiff. Which made it worse when I did have to move. So I decided to force myself to walk 10 circles around the room every half hour. I did not enjoy this - at all. But, the more I did it, the easier it got. To the point that on Saturday, when Dr.Castaneda came in to check on me, I actually hopped up on the bed (I'm short, so it is how I'm use to getting on tall beds so I didn't think anything of it). He was astounded that I was doing so well. It was decided that I could leave the next day if I felt up to it. 

That evening, I did take a shower at the hospital. They had a huge marble shower and brought me a chair. It was a sinfully delicious experience. I felt so icky before and so refreshed after. It was easier to sleep after a shower. 

I did have a problem that night. Apparently I was feeling well enough to turn in my sleep (which still made my stomach clinch like the wind was knocked out of me). During one position adjustment I must have hit my IV and pulled in not out of my arm, but just out of the vein. So the fluids were still going into my body, but only into my arm. This didn't hurt, but I awoke about 2am with one forearm the size of my thigh!! My husband was full of popeye jokes! The nurse simply removed it from one arm, and then inserted it in the other to continue the IV (in 48 hours my arm had returned to normal size). From then on, I decided not to take the pain medication, just the fluids. This would allow me to see what it would be like without them. I wanted to know, so I knew if I wanted a RX for pain meds. Honestly, yes it did hurt, but it wasn't horrible or unbearable. I did decide on taking the RX for pain meds to use to help me sleep and during the long plane flight home.

Sunday morning, Dr. Castaneda himself took me down to do the leak test. He was very kind and personable. The stuff I had to drink wasn't good, but it wasn't the worst thing I've ever swallowed either. They did an x-ray and found no leaks. So I was cleared me for discharge. After returning to my room, the nurse brought me a simple lunch. Since I hadn't eaten since Thursday night, I was hungry. Eating was odd and I wasn't sure what to expect. I only ate the jello and the warm tea. Just like the shower the night before, I felt much better afterwards. 

Dr. Castaneda gave me the Rx's (one for pain and one for a gall bladder med) and some post surgery instructions. We stayed a few hours more, only because we didn't realize we could go. We kept waiting for someone to bring us discharge paperwork to sign. Nope, there wasn't any. When we were ready, we just had to tell the nurse and she called our coordinator. We were then driven back to our hotel. The culture is very laid back and doesn't rush you out. 

The drive back was hell. Recent abdominal surgery and driving over cobble stone streets do not go well together. The driver was trying so hard to be soft, but there was no way. It made me laugh, which only made my abdomen clinch more. After getting to the hotel, the walk to the room was soooo slow and uncomfortable. But I felt accomplished. Like I had just begun a grand adventure. And so I had!