Friday, April 22, 2016

Natalie 2.0

The day finally arrived! My surgery date was Monday - and I'm not sure I could be more delighted to just have it over with! Between the too-long liquid diet leading up to it, and the nonstop freaking out over all of the possible horrible outcomes, I was exhausted!

Sunday night I got to take an hour long shower - seriously - that what they wanted me to do. I soaked in the tub for a while, and then took a 25 minute shower. That is the best I could do. After the shower I had a packet of towelettes I had to wipe down with in a very specific order. They claimed I might feel sticky for a bit while my body dried. Lies. I was still sticky the next morning when I woke up. No food or liquid after midnight, and no shower allowed after the cleansing procedure Sunday night, I was mostly just fueled by nerves.

My sister Wendy picked me up and drove me to the hospital. I got checked in, and Wendy was given the buzzer (like one of those buzzing/light up things you get at a restaurant when you're waiting for a table). She had to wait downstairs while I was taken up to a tiny little room to get my blood drawn, vitals taken, changed into my sexy surgical gown, wiped down with more towelettes and my IV started. Oh! And they needed me to pee in a cup for a pregnancy test. I told them I hadn't had anything to drink for hours, so it might be an issue.... All of this was done while sweating profusely. My nerves were manifesting themselves in the form of perspiration. Once I was done with everything they had me lay on the bed, and hooked this hose up to my gown. It actually blows air through the gown, and cooled me down right away.

After the student tried unsuccessfully to get my IV started, and my nurse took 2 seconds to get the needle in my arm, my family could come up. Wendy and my Mom joined me in the room for the last hour+ of wait time. We all chit chatted, met many on the anesthesia team and my surgeon, and tried not to mention the fact that we were all freaking out a bit. And then it was time. I was wheeled down a couple of short hallways and into another room. They had me switch onto another bed while the 4 people in the room got my arms strapped down, my compression boots on, and warned me I'd get getting very sleep soon. That's about all I can remember until I woke up in recovery. First thought: YES!!! I WOKE UP!!!! Yes - there were plenty of days that I thought it was a very distinct possibility that I wouldn't. I wasn't wearing my CPAP machine, so knew things must have gone alright. My next concern was the chest pain I was having. I would learn that the air/gas they pumped into me for surgery would be my biggest issue over the next couple of days. I have no concept of time - I was in and out constantly. I was kind of freaking because the chest pressure was making me feel like I could barely breath. Two nice folks came to move me to my room (thank God I didn't have to share) where we had to deal with my next biggest issue: nausea.

The nurses got me going on some more meds, somehow magically got my gown changed, and then there were my sisters and my mom. I was still high as a kite. In and out for the next few hours. Got started on some ice chips. I was then told our goals for the day were to get me out of bed and into the chair right next to it - and then I'd go for a short walk. Oh goody. But by some miracle, I was able to move myself. I basically got out of bed and into the chair on my own. I did the sip test (basically drinking a shot glass of water in 1/2 hour). I needed to do 2 of them. No problem. Down the hatch. Then it was time to get on my feet and go for a short walk. I expected my legs to just not work after being bedridden for so many hours - but it was no problem. Very short walk, but it was a success. Then I also used the restroom. I would come to find out all of things things are good things.

I slept  like crap on Monday night - nausea and gas pain wouldn't allow it. Was feeling much better by Tuesday, but basically slept the whole day away. My sisters and dad came to visit, but I basically slept through that. I tried to reply to messages on my phone, but felt like I was going to hurl every time I looked at it. Went for walks and slept. That was it. Wednesday morning it was time to get sprung. The nurse showed me how to give myself shots in the stomach once I got home - - apparently the shots prevent blood clots. After a visit from Dr. Jones, I was on my way.

Nausea again on the ride home, but otherwise everything was great. My sister had everything unpacked and put away before I even got to my chair to pass out! She went and got my 5 - yes FIVE - prescriptions. Anything I could need she got me. I have the greatest family. I have the greatest friends. And I am so grateful to all of you for making this terrifying experience as manageable as it can be!

Now I'm at home. Walking and sipping. I was told about 3422 times that the reason most people have to go back into the hospital is due to dehydration or pneumonia. I'm definitely going to try and avoid that shit.

I've decided - possibly partially due to the fact that I likely still have the Oxy in my system - that is time to share the last tidbit of my story. I've been pretty open and honest about things up until now - but I've never actually shared my weight. Likely because I knew deep down I was going to be heading right back for that number, and likely a higher one, when my latest weight-loss attempt failed miserably. My starting weight at my first appointment on September 9, 2015 was 495 pounds. Nearly 500. Holy shit. It is no longer that shocking that I couldn't walk, or stand - or that I was in constant pain. That was my highest by far, but I also KNOW I will never see anything near that number on my scale again. When I weighed in the morning of my surgery I was at 424.8 pounds. I'd lost 70 pounds on my own. I'd done what was needed of me before my surgery to insure it could be done as safely as possible. I had worked hard. I'd proven that I'm willing to do what I need to do to change. I haven't had a soda since February. Fast food is a thing of the past. I have made changes, and will continue to make changes, because I will never see a number like that on a scale again. My body is going to be so damn grateful, and I can't wait to see what I can do once I'm not hauling all of that around with me all the time. This is literally day 5 of my new life, and I am so damn excited to be a part of it! And I am so glad you are joining me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Chronically Hangry

I should warn you before you get started - - my current experiences are leaving me incapable of hearts and butterflies (aka: positivity) and tend to make me cuss like a sailor. I would completely understand if you want to turn back now. For those of you choosing to continue - here is an honest summation of my last 17 days.

Being on a liquid diet is absolute bullshit. It sucks. There is only one positive - weight loss - and that is so overshadowed by all of the negative crap that it is nearly impossible to appreciate it.

There is a reason that the average person going for this surgery is only put on a liquid diet for 10 days, and that reason is that 21 days is too fucking long. TOO LONG. I remember at my meeting with the surgeon when he told me a tale about a guy who kept postponing his surgery date (so he could lose more weight prior to surgery) because he wasn't hungry, and the liquid diet wasn't bad. I can assure you - these were lies!! Unless that man had nothing to do all day, and an insatiable thirst - there is NO WAY he wasn't miserable.

The truth of the matter is - I  had a couple of days around days 6-10 where I didn't spend every minute hungry. Not sure how, or why - but they were tolerable. The other 15 days have been unendingly unpleasant. I drink my shakes, which I am just so damn tired of. I eat sugar-free jello. I drink my spark drinks. I eat popsicles. I've tried some broth. I've had some tea. But seriously - a person can only drink so much! And I'm not really good at forcing myself to consume things I have no interest in consuming!

I've managed to get through work with a decent attitude - - but the issue is that I've sucked up all of my limited patience and tolerance there. I have zero left to give outside of those walls. I am miserable, and irritated, and cranky what feels like all the time. Having to sit at work and smell the non-stop buffet (tacos one day, a literal buffet all day Saturday, people cooking pizzas, free nachos for the Twins home opener) doesn't help either. I have one day left. I'm really trying to focus all of my energy on getting through those 9 hours tomorrow and getting the hell out of there for a few weeks. And I am not mad at my co-workers. They should be able to eat and enjoy everything they want to enjoy. A couple of them even cooked their pizza in a closed room to try and help me out (SO NICE)... but being around things that smell delicious when you can't have a damn thing is...bullshit.

I still think about food constantly - but as an added bonus, these thoughts are now invading my dreams. The last few nights I've had dreams that I cheated. That I ate things. I can't remember what I ate, but I know I wake up with this sinking feeling that I just messed everything up - and than it dawns on me -- I have zero food in my house. I couldn't cheat if I wanted to! But really? On top of everything else, my unconscious needs to completely screw with me as well!?!?!

So here I am... hungry all the time with guilt dreams. Kind of pissed off all the time. Basically just miserable. And I know I'm a whiner. I know it is a means to an end. I know I should keep my eye on the prize. I know I'm almost there. I know, I know, I know. But that doesn't make this any better or any easier.

Four. Days. Left.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Liquid Diet: Week 1

One of the pre-surgery requirements for gastric bypass surgery is to do a liquid diet prior to the actual date. The minimum number of days, at least with the program I'm working with, is 10 days. I was told on March 2nd that I would need to do 21 days of a liquid diet.

I was assuming this was in large part to get me down to a weight that would make it safer to have this surgery. I was also told the length of time was, at least in part, based on what they needed my organs (specifically my liver) to do prior to surgery. I'd had an ultrasound done earlier that day - and based on those results it was determined I'd require a longer liquid diet. I wasn't particularly shocked to hear this news - nor was I jazzed.

I was able to enjoy my Easter - eating as many cheesy potatoes as I could handle at the time. I even allowed myself a piece of aunt Linda's french silk pie. I knew I had my liquid diet sentence starting the next day, so I tried to enjoy every bit of it.

Here is what I can have: 65-70grams of protein a day through protein shakes made with milk, protein powder or carnation instant breakfast packets. Broth, Tea, Propel, sugar-free jello, popsicles and Crystal light (I was approved to use Spark instead)

Monday morning came, and I did a little shopping. I bought 2 gallons of milk (which is more milk than I've probably had in the last 10 years combined) and used the protein powder I had on hand to get a couple of shakes mixed up. I was sad to discover that Costco didn't have a huge case of sugar-free jello. I guess there isn't a real need for fruity flavored air in bulk quantities? I'm going to confess - I thought to myself "maybe 2 weeks and 6 days is enough - -I could have one more day of eating". It was short-lived, and I didn't do it, but the thought crossed my mind.

My trainer Scott had shared a secret with me earlier - if you mix up your protein shake, and put it in the freezer for about an hour, it tastes icy and delicious when you drink it. I decided this was going to be my secret to success. I mixed up the 3 shakes as described by my dietician to get me to the appropriate amount of protein. I supplemented that with a couple of Spark (fruity powder you mix with water - made by Advocare) shakes. Monday was long, and boring - but it was the first day so I was naively feeling confident.

Then day 2 hit. I was starving! I had to work that day, so I was grateful for the distraction. I had my 3 protein shakes again that day, had a couple of Spark shakes, and decided I was definitely going to need to get a couple of other things on my extremely limited list of approved items to supplement this thing. I went and bought sugar-free jello, sugar-free popsicles and carnation instant breakfast. The carnation packets are lower in protein than my protein powder, so I'd be able to have more of them. I had a new strategy for the fight. I had a popsicle as soon as I got home, and it may have been the most delicious thing I'd ever eaten.

Wednesday I had 2 protein shakes and 2 carnation shakes. Two sparks shakes, 2 cups of sugar-free jello and a couple of popsicles. I was still hungry. Every. Minute. This is also the day that I really started to notice a couple of the less-than-pleasant side-effects. I felt like I was on fire much of the time. I am going to go ahead and blame the feeling of starvation for the increase in body temp. I also started experiencing - and I apologize in advance for being so graphic - a fair amount of gas. How is this even possible, with the limited things I'm consuming!?!? But it's the reality.

Thursday was the same. Friday was the same. I started praying that one of these days I would turn the corner and not be hungry every second of every day. Gratefully, that day came on Saturday. I finally realized I wasn't starving all the time. Don't get me wrong - that was day six, and I hadn't experienced anything close to feeling full in all of those days....but it was the first day I noticed I wasn't actively hungry all day long. It felt like such a victory. I added some broth in on day 7 after a couple of friends on my page urged me to do so - and it was so delicious. A different flavor from the chocolate or fruity I'd been experiencing for 6 days. I totally recommend.

I am now on day 9. I'm down a total of 54 pounds. I have 13 days left of this liquid diet, and then it's the big day. But there are a few things that haven't changed for the better in these 9 days - - I still think about food constantly. I catch myself planning out my next meal. I spend my time on social media hiding all of the food ads/videos I come across. I turn the radio when food commercials come on. Unfortunately, I have to go to the store to get my rations. I almost dove face-first into the Doritos display right inside the door at Target this morning. I keep expecting to wake up one morning having had a dream where I was wrapped lovingly in a pizza.

The truth of the matter is - this is pretty miserable. I'm trying to keep my eyes on the prize. I'm trying to remember why I'm doing this - and focus on all of the things I'll be able to do in 6 months that I can't do now. I'm trying to...maintain some semblance of sanity. I try to forget the fact that I'd be done tomorrow if I wasn't a special case. I try...but a lot of the time I just don't win.

Here's to the next 13 days flying right by!