Surgery was on Monday at 8 a.m., and Friday was the first day I felt like a person. In fact, I felt magnificent. I made all the beds, got myself and untitledson dressed for the day, and fixed him breakfast and lunch. I also did some surfing online and one load of laundry. Oh, I also rode my exercise bike for 15 minutes at my target heart rate of 150. I never thought I’d feel this good on day five, after feeling so lethargic, emotional and sore for the previous four days. Pain pills only do so much.
The hardest part physically is sleeping. It hurst like hells bells to lay on either side, or to make the journey from back to side. This sucks ass, because I am a side sleeper. I have learned that I get my best sleep on our sofa sectional, where my back is semi-propped, and I am supported on one side by sofa, and the other side by a big pillow. Ain’t nothin’ right if momma’s not sleeping.
On Tuesday – Thursday, I was having plenty of throat discomfort (very strep throat-like, from the surgical breathing pipe) and stomach pain (like 70 percent of the pain from a c-section, from the five one-inch incisions). The surgery itself (laparoscopic Roux-en-Y) took five hours, from what I’m told, and it went textbook. The found a hernia while they were in there (a by-product of my 2003 c-section), so they fixed that. I never noticed it, because my belly fat protruded more than the hernia. How sad is that? Hernias often lead to bowel obstructions, which can be deadly. I probably would’ve brushed it off as bad Chinese and died on the turlet like Elvis, all because I was so fat.
I made sure to ask my surgeon if I had managed to shrink my stomach and liver down adequately, given I had spent my last three weeks on the bemoaned blended diet. He said there was plenty of room, which instantly made me think what a tool I was for not getting in more “lasts” (french fries, sesame chicken, chicken fajitas with white queso). Oh dastardly trans-fats, why do you mock me so?
One thing that’s kind of bizarre is this abdominal (Jackson Pratt) drain coming from my stomach. From the outside, it looks like 12 inches of small clear tubing with a clear rubber grenade at the end. I empty this grenade twice a day (about 1.5 ounces of what looks like the most disgusting white zin on earth). The rest of the time, it stays tucked into the waistband of my pants. I am strangely intrigued by this foreign pathway to my inner sanctum. I find myself pulling the grenade out of my pants a few times a day, inspecting my juices for pulp and whatnot. It’s the same instinct that forces me to open my Kleenex after I blow or inspect my toenail clippings. I mean, when else do you get to see what’s floating around inside your abdomen? The JP comes out next Thursday, so I have to enjoy the freakshow while I can.
These past few weeks have been bizarre, watching the world eat while I sip. The whole blended diet thing changed my relationship with food (but don’t think for a moment that I wouldn’t re-kindle that love affair, if even for a moment, if my stomach wasn’t the size of a walnut). I have a gamut of emotion, from pride to isolation to sorrow. Normal people are eating PIZZA right now. But alas, normal people don’t weigh 300+.
Before surgery, I would read how people would say this procedure made them “not hungry.” This made me nervous, because I need to be more than “not hungry” to eat. Well, I am happy to report that I am full. Like Thanksgiving Day, god-I-need-to-burp full. I get this full from a few ounces of skim sugar-free chocolate milk, or 2 ounces of broth. Seriously — it’s bizarre. Food still sounds damn good, so I devote a few minutes each day to mentally “eating” anything I want. I find a quiet chair, close my eyes, and actually make small chewing motions. Of course, untitledson views this as his opportunity to ask for the twentieth time if our Jeep is a race car and “Why Not?” “Can’t you see I’m EATING here?” It sounds a little whack, but it does help. I guess it depends on how good your imagination is. Next week, I can move on to full liquids (like tomato soup, etc.). I slowly ramp up my foods until by two months, I am eating a relatively normal food (albeit healthy, and in small quantities). The day I can eat solid chicken sauteed in fajita seasoning, I will let EVERYONE know. There are some foods I may never be able to eat again, but I won’t know what these foods are until they make me “dump” (nee hellacious two-hour bathroom sessions).
Here I am rambling, and you all just want to know the stats and see the “before” photo. Well, here goes (I can’t tell you how painful it is to type this first number):
Original Weight (before pre-surgery diet): 366 (but I was a slim 366, OK?)
Day of Surgery Weight: 343
Current Weight (five days after surgery): 338
Surgeon’s Goal Weight for Me: 212
My Personal Goal Weight: 199
Here is my “before” photo (I weight about 345 here):
Here is what I eat right now (this is per day):
24+ ounces of ice water
22 ounces of skim sugar free chocolate milk
4 ounces of fat free low-sodium chicken or beef broth
Here is what I do every day, in the way of exercise:
15-30 minutes of light cardio (walking or recumbant bike)
Due to water gain during surgery (and every month for that matter), I was given the sage advice to pay attention to the tape measure. In five days, have lost four inches around my waist. My body is apple-shaped (OK, Michelin-shaped), so I gain and lose in my abdomen first. I would expect this is where I’d see the most dramatic numbers. But still, four inches in five days. That’s pretty fucking cool. I tell you now that there will be weeks where I loose nothing, and then lose 10 pounds overnight. This is typical. But for now, let’s meditate on those blessed four inches (ohhhhhhhm).
Even though this last week has been physically challening, I am still glad I did it. I feel hope. I feel in control. And I look forward to buying clothes in stores other than Lane Bryant. I find myself wondering why I didn’t do this 15 years ago. I always thought I wasn’t fat enough (even though people around the 250 range have this surgery). I did have an “a-ha” moment at my surgeon’s office after I got all my pre-surgery tests back. My blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate — everything was normal. My nurse told me that biologically, my body is perfectly happy weighing this much (but that it would eventually catch up to me). As a result, my fat cells fight like hell to stay fat when subjected to a diet. They send out heroin-level cravings for food when I deprive them, so they can maintain their lifestyle. They are also extremely efficient at shutting down the metabolism when faced with hunger. For once, I didn’t feel like a weak snod for not being able to simply resist, to push away from the table. I hope this makes it all easier for normal-size people to understand how hard it is for us big people. This surgery gives people like me a tool to fight through those cravings and succeed.
Well, at any rate, I’m glad to be on the losing side of this process. Did I mention that the stairs are already easier?