Fair warning ahead of time: this post is going to be very picture heavy with some somewhat graphic photos.
This past Monday, April 24th, my dad and I both had a vertical sleeve gastrectomy performed. One of the first things they do after you go through registration is to weigh you.
I weighed in at 240 lbs, which means I lost a total of 9 lbs during the preop liquid diet and a grand total of 28 lbs from my heaviest last summer.
Dad weighed in at 257 lbs, which equals 12 lbs lost during the preop liquid diet, and a grand total of 26 lbs from his heaviest last year.
All in all not too shabby at all in my opinion.
Next thing they do is have you strip down to your birthday suit and put on a patient gown and some lovely bright neon yellow textured socks. The nurse puts in an IV and asks a bunch of questions about your medical history and medications that you take. My nurse was super nice but wasn’t exactly the best at putting in IVs.
She tried first my right forearm and blew it really terrifically, then tried my right hand and also blew that one. She then went to get another nurse to try who got my left forearm on the first try with no issues. So now I’m rocking some pretty awesome bruises on my right arm and hand, while you can barely tell that the IV was in my left arm at all.
Dad’s surgery was an hour behind mine so he and my aunt came a bit early to hang out before he had to get pre-oped. After they he was ready and we were just waiting they let me go down to his preop room to wait with him till the OR was ready for us. Our surgeon was running a bit behind, so that was nice. And let me just tell you one thing, Versed is awesome! It’s a relaxing med meant to decrease your anxiety and also has an amnesia affect so you don’t remember the scary later. It felt like I did about 4-5 shots of hard liquor in under 2 minutes. The room didn’t quite catch up to my eyes, if you know what I mean. If they offer it up to you, do not turn it down.
These pics are from after we’d been transferred up to our inpatient rooms. They kept us overnight . This was done in order to do a test in the morning to make sure there were no leaks, make sure our pain was under control, make sure we could pee once our foley catheters were removed, and to make sure we could keep fluids down.
After surgery you’re not allowed to drink anything until the next morning at your leak test, so your mouth gets extremely dry. Like after 5 minutes of swabbing with a moist swab it feels like you just walked though the Sahara kind of dry. The contrast they have us drink was terrible. It tasted a lot better than I thought it would. The radiologist stands you up in front an x-ray machine, swallowing the contrast while they shoot a series of images. I was totally falling asleep in my wheelchair while waiting on him. The dilaudid pain pump is a wonderful thing but it made me so freaking sleepy I could barely keep my eyes open for any length of time. Within 3 minutes of pushing my pump button I wanted to take a nap. Anyway, the images he’s looking at show if the contrast travels easily through your esophagus into the new gastric sleeve and then out again. I passed with flying colors. Dad did not. His contrast got stuck in his esophagus. They blamed inflammation causing swelling and kept him an extra night to give it time to settle down and try again Wednesday morning. He passed on his second time around and was given his freedom.
The above are the intra-op pictures taken by my surgeon of my new sleeve, who’ve I decided to name Madame McSleevey. Awesome right?
One of the main things the nurses and aids try to encourage you to do is to get up and walk at least every hour. It helps with the gas pain, helps prevent blood clots, and just generally gets you moving. It felt very weird walking around with a foley dangling from my very drafty girly bits. A sensation I’m not really wanting to repeat in the near future.
After the leak test is passed they remove said awkward foley and then it’s just a waiting game till you can be discharged. You have to pee at minimum 200-250 ml to prove that you can before they’ll give you your wings. If that isn’t accomplished by shift change at 730pm you get the privilege of spending an extra night. I succeeded at exactly 655pm, just in the nick of time.
Once home I attempted to sleep in our bed, but it stretched out my abdomen too much and I kept wanting to turn onto my side which hella hurt. In the wee hours Wednesday morning we had a venue change due to this and moved downstairs, where I’ve pretty much been camped out since. I rotate between icing the belly, sipping water and protein shakes, taking my lovely percocet, eating jello etc, and taking mini walks around the house.
My loving and incredibly supportive (figuratively and literally) husband has been right there next to me the entire time in case I need something. I know he’d rather be sleeping in bed rather than on the couch but I haven’t heard a single complaint, other than he wishes he could give me a big strong hug but is afraid he’d hurt me. Right now he’s even running an errand to get my sewing machine repaired for me so that I have something other than the TV to do during my convalescence.
The main pain I’ve been having hasn’t been the from the gas as I was expecting. I expected pain from the actual incision sites and some discomfort from the gas they use to inflate the abdominal cavity. What actually hurts the worst is caused by the abdominal swelling around the incision sites. The swelling is pulling on the suture lines, shifting every time I move, hurting like a mofo. Keeping up on the icing and perocet help some. Coughing. Coughing also sucks great big hairy monkey balls. I’m thinking that it’ll improve as the swelling goes down. The worst one is the site on the right. I’m betting this is where they removed the gastric remnant, the part of the stomach they removed to create the sleeve. The swelling is centralized above the incision line, creating a little dunlap of tissue which is pushing down on the incision line when I sit upright. So right now my abdomen looks weirdly lumpy bumpy.
If you’re in the process of getting a sleeve done, or any weight loss surgery, you’ll find lists everywhere with suggestions of what to bring to the hospital. Here’s mine: comfy slippers with traction bottoms, long phone charger cord and phone, chapstick, and clean undies for when you get discharged. Everything else I brought I didn’t end up using. I wore the exact pajamas out that I wore in, and didn’t wear them at all while actually in the hospital. I had brought a book but was never awake long enough to read, thank you dilaudid. I had also brought a bunch of toiletries but taking a shower there was the last thing I wanted to do. When I did eventually take a shower it was glorious, though I did need major help from the husband. It hurt to raise my arms too high, pulled the tummy. My Dad didn’t even use a bag. His overnight bag was a plastic Kroger bag consisting of pajama bottoms, undies, and socks. My husband actually had the most of all of us. He stayed overnight with me. He had pajamas, laptop and charger, phone and charger, clean clothes, and snacks.
On a slightly hilarious sidenote, the husband just came home from his errand of dropping my sewing machine off at the repair shop. While out he stopped off at one of his favorite places for lunch and was challenged to an eating contest. Not one to back down he accepted and won! His prize? An awesomely tacky baseball hat he’ll never wear, a major stomachache, and double the bill (they didn’t cover the food). But hey! He won! Ironic, no?