Toss the salad, gimme the scrambled eggs

Twelve days. Nearly two weeks. Still taking baby steps, but teetering oh-so-close to that edge of just leaping off into a pile of scrambled eggs…..

scrambled_eggs_101_1_vert
This has been my fantasy for the last four weeks. I know. Weird….

Thanks for all the comments and concerns about my health. This adventure comes with some aches and pains, but with more growth (well, mentally. Physically, it’s shrinkage) and changes that will be lifelong.

You’ve asked how I’m feeling. OK. My stomach looks like a drive-by shooting happened in the OR, with four bullet holes in a line just above my belly button. (For the laparoscopic surgery, they put four trocars into your belly, blow your abdomen up with gas and then go to work with a camera and stapler and a hose to get rid of that pesky stomach tissue. You come out of the anesthesia with a drain and three big bandages. I prefer to think of it a crime scene. The “bullet holes” are healing, but underneath, apparently I’m developing scar tissue, because I get a really sharp pain to the left of the navel when I stand up, or when I curl up in the fetal position while I sleep.

adult-black-bat-wings
That flapping sound you hear is just my Batman impression. Do not be alarmed.

They told me there would be loose skin. I’m already starting to see that on my tummy, and now, I noticed my upper arms, formerly referred to as my “flying squirrel” arms, have now shriveled a bit and are beginning to resemble bat wings. While I believe in the dictum “Always be Batman,” I don’t think this is what they meant.

The muscle aches I used to get are going away, even though my weight loss is just beginning (although from my heaviest weight to today, I’m down 44 pounds). This is good because I have to walk or exercise (Aquatic Center lifeguards be warned: I’m coming back for that aerobics class!) and it’s a little easier. That was the point.

My knees, however, have not completely bought in to the program and we may have to have a talk soon. Of all the things that this surgery is supposed to eliminate or soothe, arthritis is not on the list.

Early last week, I thought I’d look on YouTube for a video of my surgery. I watched it and was fascinated! It made so much sense to do the liquid diet before (to shrink the liver) and watching the technique, I was in awe. I got a great mental picture of what I look like inside and it made the baby steps I’m taking now much more clear. If you’re thinking of having the surgery, or if you’ve had it already, I recommend watching the video. I learned so much!

IronHorseTrail
Iron Horse Trailhead. An old railroad bridge from the 1880s. Perfect place to change my own history.

I wear my Fitbit every day and was thrilled to see it logged nearly a mile on my walk today at the Iron Horse Trailhead. For 20 years, I have covered ribbon cuttings at these things, but never set foot on any path. Santa Clarita deserves kudos for the massive amount of trails criss-crossing the city and the scenery along today’s walk was amazing.

I had my follow-up appointment with my surgeon this week and had to wait nearly 45 minutes in the exam room for what I knew was going to be a five-minute visit. When he walked into the room, I told him I didn’t appreciate the waiting, only to have my concerns blown off. He looked at the drive-by site, said the bullet holes were healing and that the stitch of pain on my side was probably scar tissue, and if I moved more, it wouldn’t hurt. I explained to him that I was having trouble with walking by myself – I am much more comfortable sitting at my desk, writing and keeping in touch with the outside world from a keyboard, and am loathe to haul my lazy butt out of the chair to walk around the block. Plus it’s boring. So I have set up walking dates with friends who will make the steps melt away with their companionship. I shared this with the surgeon, and his remark was that I was going to fail if I didn’t exercise. I know this. I was explaining my coping mechanism and he was dismissing me. Again.

It was everything I could do to not use some colorful language and tell him that a good doctor would encourage my “date making” efforts at exercise and tell me to continue. Instead, he made it a negative experience. Really negative. When I began this process, I was warned that he had no bedside manner. I think it’s more than that. He thinks he’s a god. I think he’s a plumber (with apologies to my real plumber, who I love). But this guy goes in, fixes the pipes, then kicks the dog on the way out of the house.

One tip for people considering the surgery who are married or have a partner living with them. Revert back to your college days of marking, hiding or locking up your food. I drove home the other night thinking about the cup of tomato soup I had in the fridge, dreaming about warming it up and dropping in a scant spoonful of cheese and spices, only to open the refrigerator door and see a blank spot where the soup used to be. Apparently my sweetheart had a grilled cheese sandwich that needed company.

Ninety percent of the food in the fridge is out of my league and he takes my favorite part of the 10 percent! He was apologetic, but take this as a warning: Be prepared to defend your soup, yogurt, pudding and juices against predators.

waterbottles
Sip-sip-sipping away. All damn day…

Having this surgery didn’t take me out of the social circles. Last week, I went to a reunion with a friend from Florida, where delicious and desirable plates were passed before me. I sipped…and when I say sipped, I mean slo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-owly…an iced tea. Took me all night. Needless to say, I’ll be the cheapest date in town from here on out, since I will only be able to consume a few bites. I promise to tip generously, even if I order the child’s plate. And my newest constant companion is my water bottle. Sip-sip-sipping is my new habit.

And the mental games continue. Sometimes I wake up thinking I can walk into the kitchen and make a platter of bacon and cheesy eggs with toast. Then I really wake up and realize that I will be able to have one egg, scrambled (can’t WAIT, that happens Saturday), hold the toast and bacon, and substitute a little fruit and thinly sliced ham. It’s the next step in the new me. In the meantime, it’s time for a new ’do. This redhead is picking up speed and it’s time to sass again.

 

Special thanks to the people on the Facebook Bariatric Sleeve support page. The questions and answers are invaluable. I’ve never felt so much support from a group before and I appreciate each and every one of you.

 

Questions? Comments? Leave me a note, I love to hear from my readers!

Can I stomach this big change? Yup.

So, how did it go?

Not too bad. Big change. But not too bad.

Last Friday, I was a guest at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center for my bariatric sleeve surgery. I left about 36 hours after I arrived, bearing five war wounds across my abdomen and a significantly smaller stomach.

So many of you have asked questions about my experience, I will share my recollections and revelations here. I hope this openness has sparked some conversations about this tool in so many people’s struggles with weight loss. It’s not for everybody and yes, I have had my moments where I wondered why I wanted to do this. Now that it’s done, I am focused on making the best of this body revision and what it can help me achieve.

First of all, kudos to the nursing and medical staff at Providence; they were friendly, professional, supportive and made my stay very comfortable, despite the frequent wake-ups Friday evening. It’s good to have people around you that are familiar with your procedure and can gently advise life changes that will make your surgery worthwhile. Got a lot of good information from all my visitors.

PuffySuit
The amazing Bear Paws warm air puffy gown. Whoever invented this deserves an award!

Additional kudos to whoever invented those Bear Paws inflatable gowns with vents where they pipe in warm air. No more freezing on the gurney waiting to go to the OR. I didn’t want to take it off. And now I have a whole slew of silly questions for my friend the surgical nurse (at another hospital) about what else happens after surgery. Somehow, someone got me out of the puffy warm gown and into a cloth gown that wrapped around me comfortably so that I could get out of my bed to do laps around the nurses’ station (required before we could go home) without mooning anyone. That’s definitely a skill!

There’s a huge memory gap that starts when I saw the anesthesiologist, a lovely Irish lass with a beautiful accent, after I shifted to the operating table and ends sometime after I arrived at my room. I remember seeing family and friends waiting there, along with bits and pieces of conversations, peppered with a lot of giggling when I dozed off mid-sentence – over and over again. I seem to remember everyone was happy that I was safe in my room, then they all left to get lunch, leaving me to blissfully snooze.

I think.

SarahWalks
Daughter Sarah took one of the first Friday laps

Later that afternoon, I started my laps, escorted by various friends and family, each making special symbolic marks on my white board to signify completion. I continued the laps after they left, our daughters taking their dad out for dinner and leaving me to rest. Walking past the rooms of fellow bariatric patients (there were four of us that night), we bonded and encouraged each other to continue to walk, because moving more is key to us becoming shadows of our former selves.

It was deja-vu, back to the liquid diet, when they brought me dinner, a tray filled with broth, tea, juice (that had to be diluted) and an orange slushy. Broth, juice and half the slushy went down easily, in little tiny sips and spoonfuls, to accommodate my shrunken stomach. I guess I did pretty good, because they took me off the IV saline that night, saying I was sufficiently hydrated.

SquishyInPink
Who wouldn’t be incentivized by this cutie patootie?

Breakfast the next day was more of the same, as was lunch. I dozed off and on Saturday morning, family arrived to chat me up and keep me company as I walked more laps. My daughters sent pictures of my granddaughter playing at our house as incentive to keep walking and late that afternoon, the nurse brought me an armful of paperwork and we were headed home.

 

Other than feeling a little twinge in my middle from the war wounds (surgery was laparoscopic, four of the holes are from where they put in the trocars that accommodated the camera and surgical tools, the last is where the drain was installed), I felt pretty good. Of course, having Sadie at home to cuddle might have influenced that, but I didn’t have any residual aches or pains. I took the pain medicine prescribed because I thought it would help me sleep, but the constant interruptions of the night before assured I would sleep like a hibernating bear.

I did. Clean sheets and a familiar mattress are simply little bits of heaven.

BreakfastYogurt
Protein-enhanced yogurt. Eaten in little, baby-spoon-sized, tiny bites.

In the last couple of days, friends have been generously bringing homemade soups and asking if I need anything. I asked a friend to find some unflavored protein powder (I have to try and take in 70 grams of protein a day to keep up my energy) because most powders I’ve found are either vanilla (gak) or chocolate (doesn’t mix with chicken broth very well). She arrived with a huge container of Isopure, which is flavorless, but doesn’t seem to mix in very well. Maybe it’s my technique – could be like making gravy, takes an expert mixer.

By the time I figure it out, I’ll probably be on to foods that actually have protein in them, like eggs and tuna.

I think most of the people who have come by are amazed that I’m not more tired or sickly. Honestly, I feel great.

I also think that a lot of the credit for that is the positive reinforcement I’ve received from my readers and friends and people on the Facebook page Gastric Sleeve Support Group who unselfishly share their experiences, challenges and offer solutions for whatever anyone asks. I’ve even heard from friends who had the surgery that never talked about it before, reaching out now that we have a common bond.

Now to make a schedule for all of those offers to walk. Gotta get those laps in, before I need another nurses’ station. And figure out how to mix that damn powder.

 

I love to hear from my readers – feel free to comment and of course, to share!