Sunday, November 11, 2018

Recovering from complications after weight loss surgery.

Well...weight loss surgery is done. The actual surgery itself was no big deal to me. I was pretty calm the whole time leading up to it. I got to the hospital with Mike bright and early, they did all the pre-op stuff. No problems. As they started to wheel me away and I looked at Mike and saw the worry in his face, that's when it set in what is about to happen. I get to the OR and the whole staff was awesome. The nurse put some Phil Collins on and set it by my ear. By the second song I was out and didn't come to until after the recovery period. I have NO idea how long that was. I just remember getting to my hospital room at some point.
The couple of days in the hospital after the surgery went better than expected. I was walking around not long after. I even had the energy to take a shower the next day. I couldn't drink or eat the day of surgery so I was super thirsty and my lip kept sticking to my teeth which made for some pretty funny pictures. The day after I could have clear liquids which was awesome to be able to drink water and drink some warm chicken broth, that was so soothing. Mike and I would take small walks around the floor to help keep things moving. I had lots of visitors which was so nice to feel the love. The biggest headache while I was there was the drama with my IV. The first site did fine for a day then it started to burn real bad when the fluid would push through. In order to find another vein, the nurse had to get one of those ultraviolet light gadgets to help locate a vein. This took forever with lots of unsuccessful pokes, but he finally got one. The next day this location started to pool the fluid under my skin, so this IV had to be removed. Now, the pros had to be called in. I was without an IV for about 6 hours, which meant no fluids. This guy brought in an ultrasound machine to locate a vein. I apparently have small wavy veins that are deep and roll around. Lovely. Again, this attempt took forever with lots of poking and at one point causing numbness in my fingers. Ummm. I don't think that's supposed to happen. Finally, he found a winner and that one stayed put till I was discharged.
The biggest worry with having the surgery was my history of  Pulmonary Emboli (blood clots in my lungs). I had 3 clots in January 2016 and then 4 clots again in August 2017. After this episode I was put on a blood thinner medicine for the rest of my life. Before the surgery, my Hematologist was managing my blood thinner medicine. I did what was called a "bridge". I stopped taking my normal medicine on Sunday, gave myself an injection of a different medicine on Monday, no medicine on Tuesday and then surgery on Wednesday. After the surgery, they resumed the injection medicine (not my normal stuff) because I couldn't swallow pills. The dose they gave me was based on my weight. When my Hematologist came by to check on me he thought the dose was too high, so he ordered a special blood test. It was a Friday so he wouldn't get the results till Monday.
I went home on Friday and the next 2 days went just fine. The only thing that worried us was a small bruise that was on my leg on Friday had spread like wildfire all over my thigh over the weekend. We called the on call doctor and they ordered an ultrasound to rule out infection. It was just a deep bruise, no infection detected. At the end of the day, the blood test came back and I was prescribed too much blood thinner. So, the doctor called in the correct dose and I started taking that.
Little did I know, this extra blood thinner was creating all kinds of problems internally that I had NO clue was brewing.
Over the next few days I was struggling with pain of what I assumed was gas pains. I knew the gas pains were no joke and all apart of the process. But, this pain was nothing like I've felt before. And, I'm usually pretty tough and have a high threshold for pain. We called just about every morning and walking was what I was directed to do. I did my best to do this and get up and move around. Everyday I was doubled over in tears leaning against the kitchen counter from the overwhelming pain. I was getting piercing pains that made me wail out in pain. Mike and the kids were terrified and just stood there staring at me not knowing how to help. I was dependent on Hydrocodone, which only helped partly for a couple of hours, I took Tylenol and tried ALL kinds of gas medicines. Nothing was helping this pain go away.
Saturday morning at 3am I got up to go to the bathroom and was able to pass a lot of gas (TMI 😉). I went back to my chair and got up at 6am needing medicine for the pain again. I went back to my chair and rested till Mike got up. I got up to go to the bathroom and this is when everything hit me SUPER hard. I was lightheaded to the point of passing out, beyond exhausted and winded and I kept getting a flood of heat through my body. This was NOT normal!! Mike took me to the ER. By this point I was experiencing a flood of different things. I was miserable, in pain and scared.
This whole day was the worst day of my life!
The wait and multiple doctors, multiple pokes and OF COURSE the headache of finding a vein. Not to mention I had a UTI to top it all off. Every inch of my body was under stress!!
I got into a room and they got the results of the blood work. I was severely low in the hemoglobin count. It is supposed to be 12-14 and mine was 8. The hemoglobin is the red blood cell count that carries oxygen through the blood. They sent me in for a CT scan which showed that I had a belly bleed. Two large hematomas (big bruises) in my abdomin. These bruises were causing the pain in addition to soaking up my too thin blood (remember my medicine dose was too high for several days). While in the ER room they started treatment to help me. BUT...I was at my wits end by this point. It was a small room and I was in pain and stressed out. When the nurse tried to put an antibiotic into my IV and couldn't get it to pass through, she kept trying and twisting and asking another nurse to help. I couldn't take it anymore. I LOST IT!! I got up and sat at the side of the bed experiencing what I call a nervous breakdown. I got up.., Mike told me to sit down. I didn't care. I needed air!! I literally wanted to strip down to nothing! I made my way to a chair in the room to sit down...with no pants at this point or hospital gown. I ripped off the pulse ox thing attached to my finger and all the heart monitor wires and just sat down in that chair in pain, in tears and heat flooding through my body. I could not calm down, I was hyperventilating thinking "this is it! I'm a goner" Mike was finally able to get through to me to slow down my breathing. I slowly came to and settled down.
Now...time to find a vein again. Three different people came in to look. They were all so kind and compassionate and understanding with my breakdown. They each did the best they could to find a vein without a ton of digging around and knew when it was time to pass me off to the next nurse. After several minutes, one of the nurses picked a winner and it lasted the WHOLE hospital stay!! Thank goodness!!
My surgeon showed up, made me get back in bed and explained what was going on and ordered 2 units of blood to give me a blood transfusion, along with meds to help with the UTI. I was then admitted and sent to a room to continue treatment. By this point, I was beginning to feel better and able to relax. Mike...not so much. For him to witness all of this and not being able to help was terrifying for him. He was an emotional basketcase too.
So now, it's all a waiting game. Every day and night I got blood drawn to check my hemoglobin level. Which was no picnic because depending on which phlebotomist I got I could end up with a blown vein, a big bruise, a very painful poke in my knuckle or wrist or on a rare occasion no pain at all. I never knew what to expect. I also had to get my vitals checked on a regular basis, so sleeping all night was not a luxury I had. I also still had the pain and bloat in my belly. I was uncomfortable ALL the time!!
I was in the hospital for 4 days. My blood level was inconsistent, it would raise then it would drop. I ended up getting 3 units of blood. My blood sugar numbers skyrocketed again, so I got put
back on insulin. Finally, I had several tests in a row where the numbers began to stabilize. My surgeon and Hematologist and the hospital doctor checked on me everyday to watch my progress and once everything looked stable they agreed to start me back on my old blood thinner medicine. I was off all blood thinners during this hospital stay.
I'm back home now. Slowly recovering. I'm not out of the woods yet because they are still checking my blood level to make sure it continues to raise. The bruises in my belly make it hard for me to bend, I'm still exhausted with little effort and my legs have swollen up big time again,  so that adds more weight to lug around. I'm trying to gauge how much activity I need to get better, but also how much rest I need to heal. Each day is different. My flexibility is getting better because the bruises are healing. But, my body looks like it's been used as a punching bag because the internal bruises are surfacing.
I haven't lost weight yet because of all this extra water weight. I'm getting used to the new way of eating and understanding the signals my stomach gives me when I'm done.
I am excited to get past this and start feeling better again. I can't wait to see the pounds and inches drop and live life in a smaller and healthier body.
I am so grateful for all the medical staff that took such good care of me. I am grateful for all my family and friends that checked up on me AND Mike to make sure we were doing ok. I am grateful for parents that give me kisses and tell me they love me and just sit with me during those long days. Most of all, I am thankful for my husband that has been my rock and nurse and has had to take care of me in ways that no one likes to ask for. True love.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Countdown to weight loss surgery. Goals and dreams of a fat girl.

It's surreal thinking that it's only a few days until my weight loss surgery day. 😲 I remember when our insurance said that there will be a 6 month required medically supervised diet along with several other specialist visits I'd need to do in order for the surgery to be covered, I thought, "SIX MONTHS! Ugh!! That is forever!!". But, honestly...it has flown by. And, I am so glad that I was forced to wait 6 months. I've went through a lot of mental growth and emotional reflection and acceptance over this 6 month period. Not to mention, I have been able to notice and feel how my body reacts to certain behaviors and habits. I never wanted to accept that what I eat makes all the difference. I loved eating unhealthy food and a lot of it! I kept going to the doctor for varies symptoms and ended up with another medication suited for it, which would bring on a different symptom...and then another medication. I was getting so frustrated and depressed at the decline of my mobility, endurance and independence.
My decision to get this surgery was actually brought on without me even questioning it. I had gotten a CT Scan for some chest and lower abdominal pain which showed that I have an umbilical and hiatal hernia. I was referred to a general surgeon to get them fixed. While speaking to this doctor he said that he wasn't comfortable doing the surgery on me because of my size and blood clot history, so he was going to refer me to another surgeon that specializes in weight loss surgery, but also does hernia repairs. After that conversation, I began to seriously think about this option. "Is weight loss surgery my next step??" I've always had the mindset that I wanted to lose weight the natural "no help" way because I was the one responsible for gaining it. Kind of a punishment to myself for my irresponsible way of living. One evening at a family get together, all of the women were sitting around talking and I brought up the option of getting surgery. To my surprise everyone thought it was a good idea. That was very comforting. We all realize that if I continue on this unhealthy path, that my risks of dying young are way higher than the risks that go along with getting the surgery. So...surgery it is.
The surgery I will be getting is the Gastric Sleeve. This surgery will remove 85% of my stomach including the part that produces the hormone that boosts the appetite. Originally, because of the amount of weight I have to lose, I wanted the surgery that involves bypassing part of the intestine because that increases the weight loss results by malabsorption in addition to a smaller stomach. But, my surgeon recommended I start simpler with the sleeve because of my other health problems. If I am not happy with the results of how much weight I've lost after about a year then he can go back in and do the rerouting part to get off the rest of the weight, if that's necessary. I am happy with that plan. I don't have a desire to be thin...I'm not built that way and I love having curves and being "comfy". The desire that I have is to be healthy, to feel better and to have fun with my family again.
In preparation for surgery day, I have been on a liquid diet for over 2 weeks now. This diet consists of protein drinks, broth, sugar free jello, sugar free popsicles and sugar free Crystal Light drinks. I am actually VERY surprised at how well I have done on this. I thought for sure, I'd be hangry all the time. I thought my moods would be awful. But, I have no appetite most of the time. I do miss the action of eating...biting into a big burger or burrito, chewing and swallowing. I miss PIZZA! I don't miss sweets. I miss the habits of going out to eat lunch, making popcorn and drinking soda during movie night and what I miss most is eating with my family.
The changes that I have felt in my body over the past 2 weeks is amazing. For years, my whole body ached all the time, walking was very difficult most of the time and my energy level was non existent. Lately, the tenderness and aches have decreased tremendously and my mind is alert and I have the desire to be productive again! You can't imagine what that feels like! I feel like I have been trapped in my body for a LONG time! This is beyond exciting for me!! I am getting my quality of life back!!! I have always been SO blessed with love and happiness in my marriage and relationships with my kids, family and friends, but there has always been a void because I was so limited with what I could do with them. I am seeing that void starting to diminish. I know in time my body will shrink, my health problems will start to fade and I will be able to do the things I've been missing out on very soon. I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
Thinking about the future and what it holds is a very positive thing for me now. I know in time, with hard work and dedication my world is opening up with possibilities. So...here is a list of things I have to look forward to...
GOALS AND DREAMS OF A FAT GIRL...things I'm looking forward to.
Some are simple things that are taken for granted to most, but all are exciting for ME.
1. Being able to climb a ladder so I can decorate my house by myself.
2. Being able to climb stairs without a handrail AND carry something.
3. Go to restaurant and be able to sit ANYWHERE. No more "A table with a chair please".
4. Being able to fit in a chair with arms and not get bruises on my hips.
5. Go to events and concerts and sports games and be able to sit in the stadium seat comfortably.
6. Not worry about parking and the walking distance to wherever I am headed. Or a vehicle parking too close to me.
7. Going shopping without getting tired right away.
8. Fit in ONE airplane seat without my fatness spilling over.
9. Play sports with my kids. Show them that mommy is actually a very good athlete.
10. Show Sydney that it really isn't so bad to look like me. 😉
11. I want to go on more outdoor adventures...maybe even go camping. 😏
12. I want to go on trips and see all around the United States and other countries and not be limited to our activities because of my size and stamina.
13. I want to shop in normal stores and not in the plus size section.
14. I want to wear cute shoes.
15. I want to start up my own crafting business and bring in my own income.
16. I want to grow old with Mike and sit on our front porch, holding hands, drinking hot chocolate with the firepit burning and reminisce about our life together and all the happy memories we have together.
17. I want to watch my kids get married and have kids.
18. I want to play with my grandkids and teach them how to have fun, be thoughtful, always look on the bright side and smile. AND...be silly and enjoy a good laugh.
19. I want to be there for my kids for a LONG time to hug them, encourage them and see all their accomplishments.
20 MOST importantly... I want to make my family proud. I want to make myself proud. I want to prove to myself that I can do hard things.

I have no regrets. I am where I am right when I need to be. I have enjoyed the positives because I have experienced the negatives. It takes failure to appreciate success. My heart is full with love for all those who have been by my side, wiped my tears, cheered me on and assured me that things will get better.
Onto the next stage of the weight loss journey to fat girl freedom. I AM READY!!


Monday, July 30, 2018

The importance of a strong support system.

Last time I posted a dear friend asked me how my family was helping me on my journey, more specifically, with this new way of eating.
I thought that was a great question and it got me thinking about the importance of a strong support system. 
Everyone struggles with something in their life and having a cheerleader or a "rock" is crucial in getting past hurdles. Some people need a whole cheering crowd, some people need a tough coach and some people need that teammate that's always by your side. I need all of it. The tough coach is one that I have a hard time with though. I am very sensitive so this approach quite often backfires. But sometimes the tough love will strike a chord and make an impact.
I can't imagine how hard it must be for a loved one to watch their spouse, child, sibling, friend, etc. suffer with an addition and feeling useless in helping them. I really don't like calling myself an addict. To me, food should not be something we get addicted to. But, when I stop and think about addiction, it's not really the vice that people get addicted to, it's the feeling they get when they use it. This thought is based on my own experience. The only other thing that I have done in my life that I would classify as an addiction is smoking cigarettes. 
I started smoking for a stupid reason. My best friend during my junior high/high school years was part of the "stoner" crowd...a very entertaining crowd to hang around with. :) I was not into drugs, I had no desire to partake in that experience. However, smoking did interest me, it was a way for me to feel like part of the crowd. I started with just blowing silly smoke circles which lead to inhaling which lead to something that I enjoyed doing. At first it was just an activity I did while hanging out with my friend and her friends. But, as time went by I started to notice another side effect that made this new activity of mine even more appealing. I wasn't craving food. I wasn't hungry. I have struggled with weight and the love of food my whole life. So this new found possible weight loss tool was pretty exciting. This lasted about 5 years. It helped me lose 30 lbs during my first stint at Weight Watchers my junior year. What made me finally quit were several things, Mike was the main reason. We almost didn't become a couple because he hated it so much. But, ultimately my good looks and charm won him over. LOL. ;) The other reasons were cost,guilt and nausea. Every time I would pull out a cigarette, I felt guilty. I actually really enjoyed smoking,in fact, I still would if I started up again. But, I hated seeing that look on Mike's face and I loved him too much to continue. Fortunately smoking is something I can just quit because it's something that I don't need. Food on the other hand, I do need. 
By quitting smoking, it has now freed up my hands and mouth for food. Between that, being young and uninterested in cooking, my weight began to raise (rise?). Add kids into the mix and forget about it. My weight was a concern, but my sanity and lack of energy needed that constant food high. So, I ate and I ate. My family became more and more concerned. They could see how this new addiction was creating more problems.
So, this leads me to the need for a strong support system. And the answer to the question, how is my family supportive? 
My parents have been a steady source of support. They have joined Weight Watchers with me, my mom will go on walks with me, they look up different diets or articles that may be helpful, my dad has given me incentives. It's a continuous search to find what will work for me. It's hard for them to 
force my hand. They do everything they can, but it has to be ME that's ready to listen and take action.
Mike has been extremely patient with me. He doesn't have the love for food that I do, so it's really hard for him to relate. He "eats to live" and I "live to eat". Over the past 20 years that we've been together, I have joined Weight Watchers countless time, joined Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and bought a cart full of healthy food that went to waste repeatedly. I have opened gym memberships that went unused over and over. I have bought exercise equipment that collects dust. I have cried and cried wondering why I can't stick to anything. I have promised again and again that "this time will be different".  Yet, he STILL holds my hand, wipes my tears and says "We'll do whatever it takes."
Over the past couple of years, my body has changed quite a bit. I'm experiencing the effects of my Diabetes. This is something that I never paid attention to, but now I am. I am slowly learning what my body needs. Starting the low carb/Keto way of eating has been the most eye opening. 
This is something that has changed the way Mike is showing support. I have started watching videos on how to make foods more Keto friendly and have tried a few recipes. Well...to my surprise, Mike has become very excited about this new approach to cooking. He is fully on board for changing also. So, are the kids...mainly because they want to help me. My parents are looking into starting this way of eating too. By them doing this also, it helps me out tremendously. We're not only eating the same, but I have buddies to help with finding new recipes and such. It's very encouraging and exciting.
Besides my immediate family, I have a huge support system. My cousin is always looking for ways to help me and is often my coach. Starting this blog has been incredibly helpful by giving me the cheering squad that I need. I can't thank all of you enough for your "likes" and encouraging words. It helps me more than I can say. It's also nice to know that by me sharing my struggles, it could help someone else with theirs.