Monday, March 8, 2010

The Surgery Saga

My hubbie suggested that some people might not know the process involved in having lapband surgery.  It can be very involved.  I first talked to Paul, my husband, about this in December.  I also talked to my primary care doctor.  My doc was not totally for it as he had several patients who had lost the weight and then gained it back or had not lost the weight at all.  I can actually see how that can happen and will post about that later.  Paul and I attended a seminar that gave us more information and also checked out our insurance and surfed the net for as many sources and opinions as possible.  I also talked to my cardiologist who gave me a hardy thumbs up because of the weight loss issue for me and my cardiac health.  My PCP (primary care physician) really wanted me to lose the weight because of several health issues so he also endorsed the surgery.  I had to have a clearance from the cardiologist, a letter of recommendation from my PCP and then I went to see the surgeon.
A funny note about that visit.  The surgeon that I used was originally at the hospital that I work at and after several years switched his practice to the hospital that Paul works at.  This was a plus for us because Paul's insurance covered the surgery but mine at my hospital would not.  That was one of the reasons for this surgeon to move.  However, when he walked into the room, he obviously had looked at my chart and knew who worked where because he looked at me and said "Bad guys" and at Paul and said "Good guys".  We all laughed because we understand the hospital dynamics.
After seeing the surgeon, I had to go through a psychiatric evaluation.  They decided that I was crazy but I told them that they were just jealous that the little voices didn't talk to them, so they okay'ed me for surgery.  Then I had to have a nutritional consult.  We talked about how often I would eat after the surgery (6 times a day but no more that 4-5 oz at a time) and what types of food would be best.  I'm still working on that part since I'm still on liquids, then I go to mushy foods for a few weeks and then I can eat what I want.  However, good choices will be important because who wouldn't rather have 5 oz of M&M's rather than 5 oz of salad? 
After this I was cleared but we had to wait 2 weeks for the hospital and the insurance to get their contract in place (we thought it was already in place as of January 1).  They got their act together and Paul went with me to a pre-op appointment that gave us all of the information for pre-op and post-op.  Then they scheduled the surgery. 
My surgery was scheduled 2 1/2 weeks after this appointment so I had to start immediately on the pre-op diet.  I was allowed two protein shakes (had to have 30 grams of protein per shake) and a meal with no more than 1200 calories per day.  I was definitely used to eating more than this and I was very hungry but I stuck to it and wrote down what I ate and how many calories.  I had to go through the stuff you always do before surgery, blood work, EKG, etc. a week before the surgery.
The day of surgery we got to the hospital at 0630 with surgery scheduled for 0830.  I suppose they are used to people always being late because we sat for 45 minutes before anything happened.  Then they took me back, got me ready for surgery, asked a billion of the same questions and wheeled me into the operating room. 
Next thing I know, I'm waking up and having pain where you would expect, the abdominal area, but also having chest pain.  This is always disturbing to the nurses and doctors around you so they did all of the normal things, like EKG, blood work,  check the monitors, etc.  Then they said I couldn't go home but had to stay overnight.  Knowing that this was a possibility, I had all of the important accoutrements with me, like laptop, quilting magazines, other magazines, coloring to do and a book to read.  Did I mention quilting magazines?:)
  They put me in the CCU stepdown unit and I confused them there.  I was a cardiac patient who had just had lapband surgery.  I couldn't eat their cardiac diet, the hospitalist doctor thought I was there because I had sleep apnea so he ordered respiratory therapy to come in and hook up my CPAP machine (I don't have one!).  The nurse I had was one I had before and she is a wonderful person.  She straightened everyone out on what was happening and we settled in.  I had my computer so I surfed the net between sleeping from the pain meds and watched TV and checked out my quilting magazines. 
They made me get up and walk to try to avoid blood clots (I agree with that!). 
The food was interesting and actually good.  They gave me soup with protein powder in it for dinner with sugar free fruit drink and milk.  Interestingly enough, they gave me 2% milk so I asked them to trade it for non-fat milk (which I'm used to).  I had to eat very slowly but it was good soup.  For breakfast the next morning, they gave me a very runny cream of wheat cereal with protein powder. I had been warned that this tasted terrible but I guess I'm strange because I liked it and made it for myself at home.
I was very glad to get to come home but also very sore.  My energy level has been low since being home.  I'm off work for another week and am just trying to recoop. 
I hope this helps some of you thinking about this option for weight loss.  It has been a huge step for me and I have a very long way to go and will be doing this for the rest of my life.  But, as my dad used to say, the alternative is rather grim.

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