Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the importance or reaffirmation

      Last night I took a couple of friends to the weight loss surgery seminar my doctors give once a month. They both had express interest in learning more about the procedures offer by the office. I am a huge supporter of the office and cannot say enough about them to anyone that will listen. I figured this would be something that both needed to here and learn about. I did not realize however that I was truly needed to hear it all again as well.
      As I drove to the seminar to meet my friends I noticed what a dreary evening it was with fog and rain making the commute nerve racking at times. Despite the weather and a long draining day at work, I was excited to get to the seminar and see the doctors and staff again. I pulled into the all to familiar parking deck and parked and remembered how I felt that night I went to my first seminar back in April of this year. It seems like a hundred years ago. That night I remember walking from the parking deck and having to stop twice because I was out of breath and thought about sitting on the benches outside the entrance of the hospital (which is where the seminar is held) so I could catch my breath. The only reason I didn't was out of plain embarrassment. The people outside saw that i was only walking a matter of yards and could not stop from panting. I figured if I passed out at least I would be in a hospital lol. I smiled to myself as I walked briskly into the hospital and still breathing normally and through my nose, not hyperventilating through my gaping open mouth.
     I found my two friends and we proceeded to enter the auditorium. I introduce them to the surgeons and some of the staff. I also saw that a number of former surgery patients where there. They come to share their success stories with the potential patients. They asked if I was here to speak but no not this time. Just here for moral support. As we listened to the patients speak I started to feel a sense of pride in them and myself. I realized this really is work. The surgery is nothing more than a tool and to get the best result a lifestyle change was in order and I have been doing just that .. right ? RIGHT ??? Well this is where things go south.
     I started to realize that I was letting some of... ok more than a few of my old habits back into my life without even realizing. One of the bad habits they bring up in the seminars is snacking. Now right after the surgery snacking was out of the question. It just was not physically possible. But about 3 months after I was able to have a piece of chocolate or a potato chip without being stuffed. Now i have realized that I have been mindlessly increasing the snacks I have eaten through out the day. I am still losing the weight because my overall consumption of calories is still limited but I have been on this road before and I know its a steep and slippery road.  I also have fallen into one of my other detrimental habits of using every excuse there is not to go to the gym. The two combine is a terrible combination.
     Now one of the things that has changed with me is I am no longer feeling helpless about my choices and I know this is a lifestyle and one bad day or week is not going to throw me into a cyclone of doubt and hopelessness. In fact the seminar and my realization got me re-energized about my decision and my goals. I felt a sense of re-affirmation and I could not wait to get back to the healthy habits that have helped me lose 100 pounds since august 17th of this year. A mear 3 and a half months ago. I think every patient should get a chance to go back and remember where they started from. It will help to see just how far they have come and how far we can still go. This was not my last seminar but next time I will be one of those speaking and telling my story.
 Here is a glimpse at how far I have come .. A pic from May 2011 and December 2 2011.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Three Random Numbers ...

511. There is nothing extraordinary about that number. Just three random numbers placed next to each other. That’s is until you add three random letters after them. LBS. All of sudden those numbers represent something. 511 lbs, that is the weight I was at my largest during my weight loss journey. It represents difficulty breathing, immobility, fatigue, inability to get a restful sleep and it also represents shame. This is the first time I have let anyone other than a medical professional in on my dirty little secret. Of course it was hardly a secret when I look back at the pictures from early in 2011. However I was trying to fool myself and everyone else I knew. Even one of my best friends who joined weight watchers with me didn’t know my exact weight. Every week we go to our meetings and tell each other what we did or didn’t lose but never was my actually starting weight discussed and I wasn’t even over 500 pounds then (but I was very close).  Just three random numbers however when said a loud, they summon gasps and “oh my goodness”. So why now am I coming out of the fat boy closet??  I am no longer embarrassed about where I came from and perhaps it will help someone else in the same place.
Today I had my 3 month doctor visit and here is what the scale has to say: from August 17th to today I have lost 86 pounds. However from June 21st to present I have lost 134 pounds. Those are some impressive numbers. However that is not what has impressed me. What does impress me is fitting into a booth at a restaurant for the first time in 10 years. For quite a long time every time I went out to dinner with friends I would have to remind them to please get a table. Even if I was able to squeeze into a booth my gut would be hanging on the table and I would be in a lot of discomfort both physically and spiritually. But on Saturday I joined a bunch of friends already at dinner and they were sitting in a very large booth and I hesitated for a moment but was able to slide right in. I didn’t say a word to anyone but I had a sense of pride and worth that I have faked on the outside for many years. Another small yet impressive event was buying a watch. Simple, no? well when you have very large wrists sometimes the answer really is no. This time the answer was yes. I walked in, picked out the watch (that looks awesome on me by the way) and walked out with it on, in fact it actually now needs to have a link removed.  I know also do not have to stop to rest when walking into work and actually find myself speeding up to catch the elevator full of people instead of slowing down so they wont see me gasping for air.
I have gained a lot of little wins by these great losses on the scale. I was speaking to Dr, Forrester today at my appointment and he asked me if I was happy. I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I had this surgery and I told him I was very happy I choose to have my particular procedure. He told me that it would be terrible to regret choosing to have the surgery. I reminded him that for about one week about a month or so after the surgery I had “buyers remorse”. I was upset that I had lost the ability to enjoy eating. What I really lost was the ability to sit there and gorge myself. I think the philosophy of most overweight people and perhaps any addict is that a little taste good then a lot must taste even better. Thinking back I cant believe I thought that was a loss when what I gained was much greater, Life!
 Stay tuned for more.

Before Surgery 

After Surgery 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Importance of Being Honest.

     Everyone goes through dark periods in there lives, actually we all good through quite a lot of them but there is always a beacon of light. A source that tells us everything will be alright, we will get through it and prevail. Sometimes its faith, a friend, family or even help from a stranger. In my case it was my doctors. As you may have read I was going through a whiny stage last week and was tired of not feeling "incredible". I have read so many other patients comments about how great they are feeling and even though it was only 4 weeks after surgery I wanted that as well. I had some pains and aches that I just didn't understand. So most people would have made sure they asked their physicians all about it. However I was so tired of being examined i actually thought about just telling my doctors everything was fine and dandy and I felt "incredible". YES! I was going to lie, sue me! Today however I realized just how important it was to be honest with your surgeons. I encourage any patient especially the bariatric patients that maybe following me, if you have a question.. ASK IT!
     My doctors happen to read my blog so she knew what I was going through. To say that going to see my doctor lifted my spirits would be an understatement. They are my beacon through my darkness! She was not concerned with the pains I was having especially since I had no pains unless I was breathing deeply or stretching or lying in a wrong position. This should all go away, all I need is patients. Funny, I think I have heard that before. My incisions have healed beautifully, save for one stray stitch that is sticking out. That however should dissolve OR I am cutting it out lol. All this and the fact that I have lost 90 pounds since I started this journey with them is the reason this group has made me feel great. I leave that office every time feeling like I am special to them and they care deeply for my success. Of course I know that they treat every patient the same way and make everyone that goes to them feel like a rock star.
     Dr. Jack also made me feel confident that I am eating correctly. I was a bit paranoid that I was not getting enough nutrients. The amount of food that I actually eat now is so minimal compared to my ravenous appetite before surgery. It was not uncommon for me to be able to eat a whole pizza pie in a night then have a midnight craving for something else. If I didn't polish of the pie that night, you can guess what was for breakfast the next morning. Now I will make scrambled eggs from one egg and an egg white and can't finish. There is no possible way I can be getting everything I need. Again Dr. Jack squashed my fears and said that was exactly where I should be. Now if she could only do something about the cravings for junk food I am having, LOL. Although Dr. Forrester did tell me if I can get through a few weeks of the cravings they will diminish. Fingers crossed.
     What has diminished though has been my clothing sizes. I tried on shirts that had been in my closet for almost two years with the tags still on and not worn because they were too small. They were a size smaller than I was wearing however they are two sizes smaller than what I should have been wearing. I didnt want to ever go up a size so I just wore what I had even if they were getting to small. Those days are joyously behind me. I am looking forward to going shopping at a store with a name that doesn't start with Big and ... stay tuned.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Buyers Remorse

     Have you ever wanted something so bad and even though it was very expensive or frivolous you needed it, then afterwords think, did I really need that. Buyers remorse.. I am suffering from that a little right now. I am sure this is a phase and perhaps something others have gone through as well. However right now I have to be honest and say I wish I never had the surgery. I know that sounds shocking to people who know me and know just how big and sick I really was from this but I just don't feel as good as I think I should almost 4 weeks after the surgery. Don't get me wrong I know I look better and am healthier already. My sleep apnea is going away and I can walk longer without losing my breath. There are just some things that I didn't expect.
     One of the problems I am having is sharp pains when I yawn or take a good deep breath. There are two specific spots these occur and they have me a little concerned. One of the pains happens in my lower left side of my back roughly where my kidney would be located. Sometimes I think its getting better and then net thing I know the pain is just as sharp as ever. It almost feels like a kidney punch. I was having problems getting enough water into my system until just recently so of course I automatically start thinking there is a kidney problem happening. The other pain is occurring in my lower chest again on my left side. This feels almost like a bruised rib. It hurts with deep breathes, bends, turns or when getting up from a chair. I know I am still healing but shouldn't this all be getting better by now? Fear not my friends for I do have a doctors appointment coming up this week. That however poses another dilemma. Do I tell the doctors about these issues or not?
     What?, you ask!. How could I not tell them? Well to be honest I am so tired of doctors office and hospitals. I just want to feel normal again. I do not want to be examined, poked, pricked, palpated, x-rayed, cat scanned or anything else for that matter for a long long time. I just dealt with over 3 months of constant testing or preparing for a test etc. I just want to be left alone to heal and get healthier. I know that if I tell them and there is no quick automated response like "oh that happens to a lot of people", more testing will be in my future.  I sometimes think that when I lost the 48 pounds pre surgery that I should have just continued on that path. Continued with the meal replacements and started working out more. Perhaps I would have been successful that time, even though I have made that promise to myself many times in the past.
     Eating is something else that has been getting me down. This use to be something I loved doing. It made me feel better, passed the time away and was just a joy. Now every time I eat I have some form of discomfort. From just a extreme full bloated feeling to real pain and nausea. Now I have never thrown anything up since the surgery, quick someone knock wood for me! There is nothing enjoyable about eating anymore. Perhaps that's a good thing since too much of a good thing is never actually good at all and the reason I am in this mess but I would like to be able to enjoy the tiny amount of food i can eat without the pending discomfort. The feeling only really lasts 10-15 minutes and once I start digesting I am at status quo. I do understand that I need to take more time when I eat and I am trying to get a rhythm down so that I know when I have become full before I eat too much.
     I know that I need to be patient and I hope that everything will be better soon. I want to be able to yawn and not fear what is coming. I want to eat a meal and be comfortably satisfied. I will be patient I mean there is nothing else I can do LOL. I can only look forward now and be strong. I will tell my doctors how I am feeling and deal with what comes after but sometimes you feel like whining a little. So that's what I did.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

almost three weeks down and so is the weight.

     Tomorrow, September 7th will be exactly 3 weeks since my surgery date. I can finally scrub my stomach in the shower and get off these scabs and whats left of the Dermabond (skin glue). The healing is under way and I am really not in any kind of pain. For the most part LOL. I am still a little tender on one of my sides especially when i yawn or breath deeply. It almost feels like i have a bruised rib. Was I beaten while I was under?? My stomach still does not look very pretty a few of the incision sites are black and blue and it looks like i was beaten with soap stuffed in a sock. However it does look much worse than it feels. I am at the "soft food" stage of my diet meaning my meals consist of scrambled eggs and tuna fish. I still have a week to go with this and I am already at the point if I don't see another scrambled egg for a year I will be quite alright. The weight however is definitely coming off. I was able to fit into a shirt that was one sizer smaller than I wear(and two sizes smaller than I should have been wearing). God knows I did not want to believe I had gone up a size back in the spring before this whole thing started. As of this morning I am down 80 pounds from my heaviest, pre-surgery and 32 pounds from the surgery date. Of course I think this is all due to the fact that I now eat like an anorexic bird.

     When I first started eating the soft foods, I thought they must have made a mistake and took out more than 85% of my stomach. My first meal consisted of one egg white and one whole egg, scrambled. I was only able to eat about half of it. REALLY?? Before the surgery that would have been topped with cheese and extra bacon and slid into a bagel. Then I would wash that down with another bacon egg and cheese on a bagel. GOD no wonder I got this way. Why didn't someone tell me to eat a salad LOL? For lunch I decided to try the tuna fish. One 5 ounce can mixed with low fat mayo , some salt , pepper, a dash of hot sauce and we are all good. Except I was only able to eat less than half of that can and was so uncomfortably full I had to sit down and relax or I thought I would be sick. There is just no way I am getting enough protein in my diet this way. Not to mention how painful it is to eat past a certain point. Really goes to show that you must take your time eating and make sure not too eat to much at once. By the third day I was able to just about finish the egg and a half but I am still amazed at how little I can physically eat. Add on the fact that I am usually not hungry and I see great success in my future.
     The only dark spot that worries me is that I do feel hungry when I know I am not. I was always an emotional eater. If I was stressed, depressed, worried or even happy food was there for it. I also eat out of boredom. This is what has been rearing its ugly head lately. I have been out of work now since 06/21/11 and sitting at home there is only so much Maury, paternity testing I can watch. I feel myself wanting, craving something to eat, just to have something to do. I am also concerned as to what will happen when stress comes back into my life and I do not turn to food. On top of all that, although this has not been an issue yet, I have to deal with the fact that I am addicted to food. There have been times when I see chocolate out at work and I say I no its not worth it, but the next thing I know I am walking away with a handful and planning on when I can go back and get more. Almost happens against my will. Looks like I wil have to find a way to strengthen my resolve. One thing that does help me control my cravings and desires is when non scale victories happen and I see that I can do this and what joy losing this weight will finally bring back to my life.
     One such victory happened yesterday. For months I had wanted to go to the zoo in Philly. However after looking at the map and seeing how far some of the parking was from the actual park. I realized I would not be able to physically walk it and then the park. However yesterday Gus and I took my two nephews Georgie and Ryan to the zoo. We parked in one of the furthest lots from the entrance. In a very "special" part of Philly too. I mean I thought I left the hood years ago and hear we were right back in it, with a bum asking us for change for the bus and everything. Now we didn't see the entire park and I was quite wiped out by the time we left but we all had a great time and I got some much needed walking done. It was an excellent day and I was proud of myself, something that hasn't happened very often in the past ten years or so. One of my souvenirs fro the trip was a T shirt Gus bought. It was the largest size they had and of course I knew i could not wear a 3X yet but it was a goal. I tried it on this morning and although I could never wear it out of the house I WAS able to actually get it on. Bring it baby!! I will be wearing it by Thanksgiving.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The First Week After... and then some

      It felt so amazing to be home. Even though I was not all that uncomfortable or in pain, being home just makes everything seem like it is going to be alright. As soon as I walked into the front door I saw the decorations there. Balloons and different colored signs all over the fireplace welcoming me home. It brought a huge smile to face. However all i could think of was how tired walking up those steps made me and God I need to sit down. So I staked my claim on what I knew was going to be my temporary home for the next few days. The recliner! I would be sleeping on that for a few days because it would support my body easier then lying flat on my back and i could not turn onto my side which is how I naturally want to sleep. AH! The recliner feels so comforting and warm. This should be a nice quick easy recovery. Famous last words!!
     The rest of the first afternoon went pretty quietly and quickly. Hunger was not a problem, however getting enough water in was, so I tried as hard as I could to get as much fruit punch flavored crystal light into me. Not a bad start for the first day. It was now time to get ready for bed. I had Gus help get up and to the bathroom. As we were walking back from the first floor bathroom to my recliner, Gus asked what I had on my shirt. To me it looked like I spilled crystal light. No big deal , right? Unfortunately I was wrong and it was blood. One of my incision sites was bleeding and it soaked through my t shirt and onto my shorts. Quickly I sat down and Gus ran to get some napkins. One napkin flooded, another and another. Jesus was this going to stop. We put pressure on the wound and it finally stopped. I knew that the discharge instructions had said if there was bleeding to call the doctor, but there was no way I was going back into the hospital. I knew i would be ok and I could call him in the morning. I settled into my recliner with some gauze and tape covering my incision. Gus settled in on the couch for the night.
      I would love to say that I slept wonderful and woke up to a closed wound and not another problem. Yeah , NO! I did not sleep well. I kept checking the gauze to see if it was bleeding again on and off all night. Plus I was already getting a sore tailbone from sitting in the same position for so long. The only thing that wasn't bothering was hunger. They were right when they said some patients have to remind themselves to eat. That was my case. In the morning I had to tell my self to drink a quarter of my protein shake just because it was breakfast time not because I was hungry. And although I was thirsty I could only take small amounts of water in at a time so getting the 64 ounces they wanted I knew was going to be hard.
     After eating, it was time to hit the bathroom again. Help was not very far away as I sat there and luckily so. It seems sitting up in that position had made my wound bleed again. and the next thing I knew the gauze was completely saturated in a deep claret red color. Again, between Gus, my mom and I, we got the bleeding to stop with pressure and a anew bandage. Well I guess it was time to call the doctor. I left a message for the office and he would be calling back shortly. That was the case, Dr. Forrester called me back and I told him what was going on. He advised that I should just put pressure on the area and it should stop. I told him that was what we did and it seems to be ok now. Perhaps I was just telling him that so I wouldn't have to be seen. Making the doctor think, it was better than it was. The fact of the matter was for the rest of the weekend, every time I walked around or went to the bathroom or sat in a chair other than the recliner, I would bleed and it bled more than I thought it should but it always stopped. Truth was I was getting very nervous and depressed. Why ? Why was this happening to me? Why wouldn't it just stop already. Plus I could see that my mom and Gus were also worried although they tried to hide that from me.
      By the time Monday morning came around I knew I had to call the doctors office. It has bled for too long and I was now getting paranoid about the other symptoms to "look out for" on the discharge papers. I just knew for a fact my legs were swelling and that I MUST have had a fever, despite what the obviously broken thermometer I was using told me. I called the office and they had Dr. Jack give me a call back. She said it would be ok, that I should come into the office and it might just need a little stitch! Sorry, WHAT ?? I have never gotten stitched in my life unless i was under anesthesia. It's true, never cut a cut or anything like that deep enough where I had to get stitched up. Once again, all i could think of was the unknown pain, I did not want this to happen at all. I sat there thinking, "what's wrong with you? You just had major surgery and you're worried over one stitch??" DJ, (Dr. Jack as I call her only to myself in my head) knew I didn't want the stitch and calmed me down telling me she wold use a topical anesthetic first then the needle, then the stitch I wouldn't feel a thing. For some reason I believed her. OK DJ you know what you are doing. I told her I could be at the office after 4 pm.
     3:30 that afternoon, Gus and I were on the road. That is after another bandage change in the car which we brought with us in case they wanted to see just how much blood was coming out. We got there and into the office without any more bleeding and up I was on a table. Dr.'s Jack and Forrester were both there and they took a look. Turns out I developed a hematoma. Which is a collection of blood outside the vessels and just under the skin. It was old blood and needed to come out. I was NOT  bleeding to death. This was good news. Dr. Jack showed us how to press down on the wound to express the trapped blood and I was NOT going to need a stitch. I would have leeped off the bed in joy if Dr. Jack didn't have her entire body weight pressed down on my stomach getting old blood out of me. Of Course while I was at the office I had to asked to be weighed in. I was very excited to see what I lost already especially since I have had nothing but protein shakes and water since Wednesday.  I was never really hungry so this should be good. I took my shoes off, wallet out of my shorts, got on and .... WHAT ???  One fucking pound?? ONE ??? Well the receptionist gave me they well you are probably holding fluids still , etc, etc, etc. Talk about a depressing blow. I was just a school kid at recess when I learned the bleeding was not bad and I was getting a stitch and now this.
     I had no choice but to shake it off and know that there is more to come, I was still healing. SO back home we went. I started moving a little more and walking as I was suppose to. However every time I did there was more blood coming out. This time however instead of stopping it we would push on the area to help it get out. This continued on the rest of the week. As did the forced water drinking and the reminding myself to "eat". I was amazed at how hungry I really wasn't and how too much water at once would make my stomach hurt. Things seemed to be going well, I had no constipation and no vomiting of any kind. Now if this damn hematoma would finally empty and close up. A change was on the horizon and it was coming in the form of Wednesday.
     Wednesday morning came around and I had now transitioned to sleeping in my bed. I woke up and after a bathroom break realized I was bleeding again and had to change the bandage. Every time I did this I would apply pressure and blood would drip out to sometimes pour in a slow stream. I would continue until it was dry. This morning however, we hit the mother load. I applied pressure and a geyser erupted. A steady tiny thin stream not even as thick as an eyelash shot out of the wound. WOW this is new, I hope this is normal! This continued off and on for the next hour or so and really ran free in the shower. It was like a scene from Psycho. Until finally it stopped. I think it best to keep my dr.s appointment I had scheduled for Friday with the new development. I told the office on Monday I would call them to say if I wanted to keep Friday open or not since I had just seen them. I called and told them with the site still bleeding I would like to come in. They asked if I would come in on Thursday morning instead. HELL YEAH I WILL!! All throughout the rest of Wednesday I was waiting for the bandage to show new blood. I sat up, went to the bathroom, sat in different chairs, nothing!! Could this have stopped? I was starting to feel like I was now in the clear. Low and behold the night passed blood free. I was done. However there was another monster about to rear its ugly head. This however is not a complication it was a two pronged villain of cravings and self doubt.
     Thursday morning as I waited to go to the office, I was still not hungry but I wanted food. I wanted to chew, I want to eat. Watching the Food Network all week did not help either. LOL. With this new craving came the fears I had of can I do this? I still am the same person. I still hate vegetables that has not changed. Will I have the resolve I need to try different things until I learn to like them? I don't have a choice do I? I could not have gone through all of this to let myself falter. But I know it is going to be a struggle. Well fighting inner demons was going to have to wait. Its appointment time. Were I would find an ally in my fight.
     We got to the doctors office and I informed them that the bleeding had stopped so this was handled as a regular visit. I got called back, blood pressure taken and OH NO!, weigh in time! Please let me have lost at least another pound or so. Did I just see that number correctly?? Oh Thank God. Eight more pounds since Monday. I lost eight pounds in 4 days. Some quick math in my head and I have lost 57 pounds in total and 9 in one week. Jim meet your new ally against self doubt. Everyone was very excited. Especially me. I had not been this weight in two years and this is just the tip of the ice berg. The story only gets better.
     For the rest of the week right up until this morning things have been great. No bleeding, Losing weight and still not feeling hungry. I am still struggling to get the full gallon of water in they want a day but its getting better. I am really starting to look forward to week two where i can eat soft foods, something substantial. I have all my necessary inventory ready. We bought a bunch of stuff before the surgery just to be ready, Things like crystal light, jello, tuna fish as well as my supplements. One of the things I also got was a scale. Not a big deal right? Everyone has one. The only difference is, I have not been able to weigh myself on a standard bath scale in many many years. the one I found had a higher limit than most, but I was still too big for it. FOR NOW! I would be there soon I knew. SO this morning just for fun since I was close to the limit on Thursday I decided to get on it. With Gus standing beside me we look down. What ? Can that number be right ? Is this thing really working for me? I went down another eight pounds since Thursday afternoon. I have now lost a total of 65 pounds since June 21st and 17 since the surgery a week and a half ago. I just know I AM going to do this!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Surgery

     Well August 17th finally arrived and I have to say I met the morning with a very quiet nervousness mixed with excitement of the future to come. However this was still a major operation I was about to have, so every minute that morning seemed to fly by so quickly. It was a quiet car ride up. My mom in the backseat and Gus driving as I stared out the window taking in the beautiful scenery on route 78. I love that highway, it always looks so pretty to me and I thought this would be an even better ride in the fall with the different color leaves. I guess anything to get my mind off the surgery LOL. We finally get to the hospital and I have to say my nerves started to wind down this was going to happen no matter what and I knew my surgeon was great. First thing I had to do was check in and register which they did very quickly. Then it was off for my blood work. One small pinch, a new vial of blood. OK so far no sweat. Now it was down to the pre-op area. This is were things were going to start happening quickly. Within just a few minutes a nurse called me in the back to have me fill out paperwork, and get weighed. This was it my VERY last weigh in before the surgery. I got on there and realized I had just lost 48 pounds. 48 pounds from 06/21 - 08/17. I jokingly said to the nurse oh i am out of here i don't need any stinking surgery. Unfortunately she was not 100 percent sure I was joking. I had to assure her I was going to go through with it. She took me back to my "bed" wear i got into my gown. Its funny, I know that every patient in there has to do this and stripped down to nothing with just a thin curtain hiding them but i swear i ripped off my shorts and shirts and had that gown on in nano-seconds LOL. Like anyone was going to come peeking through the curtain. The nurse came back and put on my monitors and puti in my iv. I was all set now. I just needed my family and the doctors.

She brought my family back to stay with me and the anesthesiologist came to give me his pep talk. Lucky for me he gave me a little something before we went into surgery so I was already feeling good by the time I was in the operating room. I don't remember much after that. Lets hear it for drugs!!

The Recovery
     The next couple of hours of course to me only took seconds. However for Mom and Gus waiting it was a different story. Overlook Hospital however has a system where you can watch a board and see just where I am in the surgery procedure from Pre-op through to Post-op. It reminds me of being at an airport. See ? 

I am the second blue bar from the top. Meaning I survived the surgery and was resting peacefully in Post-op. At least that's what it was suppose to mean. Nothing, however works out exactly that perfectly for some people. That day I was one of those people. What should have been a two hour wait for me turned out to take over 7 hours for my family. As we know by now, I have sleep apnea and would rather cut off my nose then wear that HORRIBLE c-pap contraption. Well this was affecting my blood oxygen levels in the recovery room. Every time I nodded off my levels would tank. Now this is probably been true for me for the past 20 years but no one was ever monitoring it before. And even though I was feeling fine, I could not go to a normal room in this condition. I was truly feeling fine after the surgery. Of course there was pain but it was more discomfort then horrible pain. In fact anyone who has been in the hospital knows the infamous pain question, "from 1 to 10 whats your pain level"?, I was never higher than a 5. Since the anesthesiologist needed me to be monitored around the clock I had to be sent to the ICU. Yes folks, My first night was spent in the ICU where i was checked on every 15 minutes. I did spike a low fever over night and had to get a Tylenol suppository. The family was allowed to stay with me until later that evening. 
     Now the thing with ICU is you have your own .... no not a room, I would say cubicle. However they are opened to the floor and you can hear lot of things going on. Especially an senile old woman in the next bed who continued to call out for anyone that would listen to her. I literally heard her all night crying out "miss", "nurse" over and over again. The next day she was calling for her nurse, "Nurse Hathoway" now there was no such nurse in the hospital but i think she was reliving E.R. episodes in her head. My favorite outburst had to be "My God help me, my arm is falling off!!" Who knew I was going to get a show with recovery. The best thing about it was how all the nurses just continued to walk around her as if they didn't hear her. In fact if I didn't joke around with them about it I would have thought I was the senile one. I spent most of the next day in the ICU, where it was very warm. I was waiting to go for a test. I would have to drink this solution and have pics taken of my new stomach to make sure there were no leaks. I was not able to drink anything until this test was performed. So now I have not had anything to drink since 10 pm on Tuesday night, It was now Thursday morning, it was hot, i had oxygen being forced in my nose and mouth, everything about my mouth was bone dry, It was almost torture. Finally i begged for some mouth swaps so i could get a little bit of relieve from the dryness. I have to say though I was a bad boy when it came to the swap. For those of you who do not know what it is, basically it is a small sponge on a stick that you did in ice water and you rub that on your parched lips and gums. Every time someone swapped my mouth for me I clenched down on that thing for dear life savoring every tiny but precious drop of liquid heaven. I literally only got a few drops and they absorbed directly into my gums and cheeks so I really was drinking anything. But God it felt good. 
      By early that afternoon, I was going to radiology for my test. THANK GOD. Water was soon to follow. I get into the room and am giving this small paper cup that is halfway full of a yellowish liquid. Of course my first question is "how bad is this going to taste". What followed was a typical hospital fib. "oh, its not really that bad." Later that same woman would say to me," i know it is horrible right?" REALLY?? It was quite a bitter tasting swill with a metallic after taste. Almost like drinking a bad shot of whiskey. Then again I have never had a good shot of whiskey. Brown liquor is bad. LOL. I had to stand in front of the machine while they took the results and I was feeling nauseous from the slop I drank and a little light headed, GOD lets make this fast. Finally the physician assistant from my surgeons office came to the waiting room and said it looked good, no leaks. PLEASE! Can I have some water? There was a fountain just a few feet from me with dixie cups. PLEASE! He was a benevolent PA and he got me my first sip of water in over 40 hours. The cool elixir spilled over my tongue and throat like the first rains in a desert after the dry season. Then came the reality of my new stomach. I have to drink slow small sips when all I want to do is down this cup in one gigantic gulp. But that is just not physically possible anymore. So, I had to take it slow. 
     Unfortunately I was not able to go into a regular room yet because they were not ready for me. So back to ICU I went. I spent a couple of more hours there waiting to be in a normal room and Gus and I were being entertained by grandma nut job across the hall. Finally the PA came in to tell me I would be moving up to the 9th floor and he was going to get me ready. He took of all my monitor wires. I was excited to be busting out of here, until I heard those terrifying words. "Your Foley Catheter". He had to remove it before I was to be moved. His instructions ... take a deep breath in now ........ exhale. As i exhaled he pulled and pulled like he was reeling in a fish. Now I can't say this was painful, but very uncomfortable and felt like pulses of electrical shock running through a very delicate area. But it was all worth getting out of ICU and into my own private room. 
      IN ICU ... 

My first sip of water.
     Finally, I was in my own room. On the 9th floor. At this hospital the surgery rooms, recovery, icu and radiology are all on the 4th floor which is actually below the ground. I finally saw daylight and a nice view from my room. It was like being freed from a dungeon I was not meant to be in for so long, The new digs also came with my first meal. I was very happy to see that coming. However I was not really hungry at all. In fact my first meal consisted of 6 ounces of crystal light and a spoonful of sugar free jello. With that I was too full. Almost sick. Now this is a weird feeling. there were times were i could put a way an entire large pepperoni pie and ask for dessert. Of course that usually came with a side of shame sauteed in self loathing. But I can't physically do that anymore and hopefully emotionally wouldn't let that happen ever again.
     My last night in the hospital was pretty good, I wasn't in much pain at all and in fact did not ask for any pain meds. Of course they are very strict with getting people up and walking right away. So I decided to beat them to the punch and Gus and I strolled the halls of the 9th floor a couple of times. The nurses were very happy to see my initiative. The truth is I just hate having people tell me what I have to do especially when I am feeling sore. This way they will leave me alone.
     The rest of the night was quiet, I had a few family visitors and I was anxious to rest. To my surprised I actually had a some what restful night. My temperature was normal everything was looking good. I could not wait to see my doctor in the morning for him to say I was out of there. Dr. Forrester did not disappoint, he was in my room somewhere around 9 am. Even though he had a big smile on his face and asked how I was feeling I saw a familiar look in his eye. Before he even said it, I knew he was going to bring up my white blood cell count. He said it was a little higher than would make him feel better but I reminded him that that is just my body it runs high and what would make me feel better and ultimately lower my count was to be home. He agreed and said we would be out within the hour. Hmmmm !! more hospital jargon. I can assure you it was no where near an hour. I do know that was not his doing, his part was pretty much all done but we needed the paperwork et., to come through. 
     Well there was nothing much for us to do while we waited, so I just laid in bed. Then a few minutes later Gus and I heard a strange noise. Almost like one of the many alarms that were part of the patients monitoring system. Like when my fluids were empty. However this one was not being checked on. Gus decided to go see what was happening. As he gets to the door of my room a nurse tells him its the fire alarm and we are to stay in the room with the door closed until further notice. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? This only happens to people on nighttime medical dram a shows. Next thing they are going to tell me is a shooter is loose in the building. Well there was no smoke to be seen or smelled so i must not have worried because I took a nap. Next thing I knew the sirens had stopped and the door was open. But still no nurse to discharge me. Because I am sure thats all she was worried about during the fire, my discharge!. Turns out one of the other bariatric patients had to be taken back down to surgery during it but of course the elevators were shut down. She did eventually come in and tell me it was time to go, she removed my IV. AHHH that's when you know its official. Gus went to get the car as I got dressed. So i was dressed for a good ten minutes now and waiting, I finally went out into the hall where the hurse saw me and came over. She asked if I was ok to walk down? HUH??? Did she not know 85 percent of my stomach was just removed and the rest stapled and sutured. MMM No i would rather not walk down. Eventually the transport man came for me and took me to my chariot. This part of it was finally over. The new beginning is up next.