Monday, July 24, 2006

"Strong inside, but you don't know it ..."

Dear Anonymous Commenter/Tool Lyric Person: That's a really good song, lyric-wise. I want to live my life like that. Do I know you? ;-)


Nice weekend --- Jimmy went boating on Lake Keowee with a neighbor on Saturday morning. He came back happy and sunburned. All the kids came for dinner on Saturday night, and a good game of Canasta followed. Sunday, Jimmy cleaned his truck and the motorcycle ... alllll dayyyyy longgggg. I read and did laundry.


Today is my 2 Month "Surgiversary". I will weigh when I go to the support group meeting tonight, and hopefully I won't still be stuck at the same weight I've been for the last two weeks. I don't care whether a person has had weight loss surgery or not, it SUCKS to see the same number on the scale for weeks when you're doing everything right. Grrr.


Sister Kay had her appointment with the surgeon ... her outpatient surgery will be on Wednesday, the 26th. The surgeon even told her that she will likely get the results by Friday this week. It's a relief to know that SOON we will know what's going on.


Still adjusting to my new glasses. One of these days, maybe I'll post a picture of me in my new "Old Lady" look. The distance vision is great ... still not an expert at finding the spot I'm supposed to be able to read through. Ah well, the problems of the elderly ... *sigh*


Emilie's leaving for her week in upstate NY on Friday. She's counting the hours. And hating her job with a passion. I pray every day that she can find something soon that won't cause physical pain and emotional upset. Keep on keeping on, Em ... bad times always give way to good, if you can wait it out. That's life, actually ... treading water through the bad stuff until the good stufff comes back around. I love you. :-)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"Spiral out ... keep going ..."

Ahhh ... so it's just me and Amy here these days. Oh well, two's company!

Amy, thank you so much for the sweet comment you left me. I, too, wish I could have had this surgery (or lost the damn weight!) when my kids were young. I missed out on so much fun with them, either because I couldn't physically take part in it, or because I let my fear of being ridiculed take over and I just stayed home. I would LOVE to spend some time talking with your Mom ... I have a feeling we would have a LOT to talk about, not just gastric bypass! I hope you stop by here again soon, Amy. :-)


Jimmy and I made a trip to GA over the weekend. I was a little nervous about how I'd handle everything (eating, not eating, feeling tired, etc.), but I did alright. Jimmy and Michael spent Saturday in the country, working hard at trying to straighten out their Mama's house. My mother-in-law had a major stroke at the end of June, and is now in a rehab facility in Phenix City, Alabama. I went to see her on Saturday with Patti, and on Sunday, all four of us spent a couple of hours with her. She still has little to no use of her left leg, but her left arm and hand have improved a lot. Still no clue what will happen when she is released from rehab in about 10 days. Nobody wants her to go back to the way she was living ... except her.


In other stress-related news, Sister Kay is still waiting to learn whether she's going to be dealing with Sarcoidosis or Lymphoma. The first biopsy was inconclusive, so she's seeing a surgeon on Thursday to set up another type of biopsy.


Went to a post-op support group last night ... but got way more "support" from our "Upstate Ladies" group that met at McAlister's Deli afterwards. I even ordered food! I got a baked potato with grilled chicken and cheese on top. I ended up just eating the chicken and some cheese, but it stayed where I put it, and tasted good.


It's too damn hot!!! I crave November.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"Everything in its own time ..."

Are you still out there? I'd be shocked if you were. Apologies for the long break, but it's been a rough few weeks for me. I've been procrastinating about getting back in here to update, (ME! Procrastinating. I know it's a shock to you.) mainly because I want to tell you what happened to me, but I'm too lazy to type it all out.

So I've decided to cut and paste (with some slight editing) what I've written in my journal over at the weight loss surgery website. Maybe then I will feel "caught up" and can start fresh here, updating more often. Ya think?

So here we go ...


6/19/06 ~ I was admitted to the hospital on Friday, June 9th. I was having so much nausea, I could hardly function at all. And when my temp reached 101 on Friday morning, I knew it meant trouble.

On Thursday, the 8th I had my "drain removal" appointment at Dr. Bour's office. Only nothing was removed. Katie and Dr. Bour took my nausea seriously, and said the drain would remain in place until whatever problem I was having was resolved. Their best guess on Thursday was dehydration, so I was given 2 bags of IV fluid in the office. I did feel better for a bit, and hoped that would be the end of it. But then Friday, the fever happened. So I called Katie, and she said, "See ya at the hospital!"

Dr. Bour started talking about a CT scan on Friday, but said he was afraid my nausea would prevent me from drinking the "jug" of contrast medium I would have to get down before the scan. At this point, we had started to suspect a leak, and most definitely an infection. I was getting IV fluids, antibiotics, and anti-nausea drugs pumped into my arm. And I was feeling pretty awful. I had a chest x-ray on Friday that showed some cloudiness in the bottom of my left lung, so I started having respiratory therapy for pneumonia.

On Saturday, the talk of the CT scan increased on Dr. Bour's part. He was wanting to get a better look at what was going on inside me, but THANK GOD he saw surgery as a last resort. He said that I would be so sick for so long if I had to go through another surgery in the weakened, sick state I was in.

And so, late on Saturday afternoon, the contrast medium arrived in my room. They told me I had to drink all of it, and if I vomited, I would have to have more. I cried like a baby. The bottle held about 1 liter of fluid, and was flavored with Crystal Light Peach Tea. Ever since my surgery, I can NOT tolerate sweet things, fruity things ... and everything tastes TOO strong. But I had no control and no choice. It took almost 2 hours, but I drank it. Oh, my belly.

Still crying, and with a barf bag in my lap, they wheeled me to X-ray for my CT scan. It didn't take too very long, and soon I was back in my room ... on the toilet. Ugh. That stuff went straight through me. (TMI)

Dr. Bour said the scan showed pockets of infection all around my drain and pouch, and there was no massive amount of contrast medium floating around freely in my belly. It was all contained within my digestive system. He said IF I had leak, it was small, and would heal on its own. He said the drain was doing its job. It really was ... my bandage needed changing every hour over the weekend. There was still talk of surgery at this point, but I could really tell he would only do that if he felt there was no other option. We decided to continue on with the drain doing what it could, and with antibiotics in my IV.

There were some very low moments for me while I was in the hospital. I was regretting having the gastric bypass BIG TIME. I couldn't imagine myself feeling better ... or normal ever again. I cried a lot.

Dr. Bour let me come home again on Thursday, June 15th. He sent me home on full liquids, and I am eating mostly yogurt, with some strained cream soup. I get so very full. I am getting in a little over 60 oz. of water in every day, and managing about 50 grams of protein. Also taking my vitamins. I see Dr. Bour again on Thursday this week ... and he said maybe my drain can come out. It looks to me as if one side of the drain stitch has already separated from my skin, so I'm hoping it'll stay put until then. I'm sure I'd end up in a dead faint if it came out here at home!

My nausea has diminished to a a faint queasy, and every once in a while that even disappears. My main complaint these days is the overwhelming fatigue and complete lack of stamina. Once I climb the stairs to go to my bedroom, I have to rest to get my heart to slow down and catch my breath. And taking a shower is so tiring, I have to nap afterwards! I am most definitely ready to feel like "my old self" again, in the energy department.

6/22/06 ~ I had my re-scheduled One Month Checkup this afternoon. It was supposed to be next week, but Dr. Bour wanted to see me a week after my last hospital release. I have only lost 20 pounds in the 4 weeks since surgery, but considering the 1,735 bags of IV fluid I had last week, I suppose I should feel pretty good.

After telling Katie and Dr. Bour my latest dramas: still with the nausea, pain in the middle of my breastbone area, pressure in the same area when I bend over, shortness of breath when I stand or move around, and rapid heartbeat when I stand up, fatigue beyond anything I've ever known -- well, I should have known that darned drain wasn't going anywhere today. He said he was --> <-- that close to admitting me to the hospital again, but he said I looked better than I did 2 weeks ago. So the decision was made for me to have an Upper GI first thing in the morning at Hillcrest. If all looks normal, I'll get a call from Dr. Bour to come into the office, and he will "advance" my drain out a few inches. Oh Lord, the thought of it all just makes me retch.

I did tell him I thought all my problems were caused by having this darn drain tube in place for a MONTH. He doesn't agree, and says that's his only access to whatever's going wrong inside me. If I didn't have the drain, I'd have to go back to surgery no matter what. So I'm trying to love my drain. So far, I am not successful.

7/6/06 ~ I had my Upper GI on June 23rd, and was sent straight to Dr. Bour's office. (The test was torturous for me, I was so nauseous, and I had to keep sipping the stuff ... they say it's "better tasting" than the stuff they used to use, but it tasted like nail polish remover to me. I cried and sipped, cried and sipped, and after a break I had to do it all over again. Waaa!) At Dr. Bour's office, he told me that my leak had formed a fistula, which joined my new pouch with the rest of my old stomach, and the fluid I swallowed in the Upper GI was following the fistula path ... instead of leaving the pouch the right way, it was flowing into my stomach. Dr. Bour's plan for me was to go back to the hospital for IV nutrition (TPN), which would give my digestive tract a break, hopefully allowing the fistula to close on its own. Soooo ...

First stop was Greenville Memorial Hospital to have a PICC line inserted. This is a long, flexible tube that was put into a vein in my arm just above my elbow and threaded up into a large vein just above my heart. This was another upsetting time for me, as the first vein the Dr. (NOT Dr. Bour) tried ended up being too small, and he kept trying to push the tube on through anyway. He finally gave up and succeeded on the 2nd vein he tried. Sadistic SOB never said a word to me.

Off to Hillcrest Hospital, where I was greeted like family. Even though the hospital is a crappy place to spend even one night, I have to say it was a comfort to me to know so many of my caregivers. Not many folks get the experience of being hugged by their nurses!

I was being fed through my arm, but I was still so sick at my stomach. I can't remember what day it happened, but Dr. Bour decided I needed a chest tube inserted to drain the fluid that had accumulated around my left lung. This fluid had come from my initial infection after the leak formed. He's such a wonderful doctor ... he did it in the OR instead of my room, so that I could have more sedation and less pain. He told me later that when the tube was inserted, over 3 liters of fluid came out of my chest cavity. No wonder I couldn't breathe.

Seemed like how I felt changed by the hour when I was in the hospital ... I felt great for a while, then the nausea would come back. Immediately after the chest tube was put in, I spent about 24 hours in a wonderful Dilaudid haze ... and ended up semi-freaking out when I lost a day. I thought it was late afternoon, and instead it was before 10 AM ... hard to explain, but that's when I knew the Dilaudid fun had to end!

I was allowed to try some food on Saturday, July 1st. I ate a few bites of scrambled egg, some potato, and a bite of canned pears. Hospital food is the worst. Dr. Bour sent me home on Sunday, July 2nd. I had some nausea that day ... but I have had practically NONE since that day!!!

I saw the nutritionist yesterday and was put on a Soft Foods diet. All week, I've been eating and getting in all my water and vitamins. I'm sleeping well, and feeling pretty close to how I expected to feel after my surgery. Only it's 6 weeks after my surgery, and in that 6 weeks I spent 22 days in the hospital. Whatever it takes, right?!

I see Dr. Bour tomorrow morning, hopefully to have my chest tube stitches removed, my PICC line removed, and my DRAIN FINALLY REMOVED! Whoooooo!!!


So there you have it. I have had almost a week of feeling pretty good. I have lost 48 pounds ... 16 on my pre-surgery diet, and and 32 since surgery. My clothes are getting baggy.

I did go yesterday and get all my "stuff" removed. Feels great to be free of things hanging out of me. :-/ I'll see the Dr. again the first week of August, and he said he'd schedule another Upper GI then to see how the fistula looks then.

I'm eating lots of cheeeeeese. Yum. And also some soft fruit, refried beans, and eggs. I'm supposed to have 5 tiny meals a day, and I'm finding it very hard to do that. *burp*


Let me know if you're still out there.