I did it. December 1, 2014 at 7:40am, I entered operating room 11 and underwent Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass surgery and changed my life forever.
I got to the hospital about an hour before that and was shown into my pre-surgery room. I was given the obligatory hospital robe, placed on a bed, and hooked up to the IV unit. I was visited by my surgeon, the anesthesia team and several nurses. My wife was allowed to be by my side at this point. When all was ready, I said a tearful “I Love You” to my wife and they wheeled me into the operating room. They gave me a mild sedative just before rolling me into the operating room. I remember seeing the team in the room, and a giant overhead lamp, and the next thing I know, I was awake and in the recovery room.
My surgery took longer to perform than usual. My surgeon is one of the best in the Boston area, and took some extra time to make sure things were done slowly and perfectly. The surgery was a success, and my new life had begun.
My wife was allowed to quickly see me in the recovery room, and I do remember seeing her in there, but don’t remember much else from that period. I was wheeled into my room, and luckily was given a single room. I slowly woke up and was pleased to see my wife was there by my side.
On surgery day, I was on “nothing by mouth” – so I was very dry. They gave me some swabs in a cup of ice water to moisten my mouth with. (TIP: if you are going in for weight loss surgery, don’t forget your lip balm!) I felt wonderful. The only time I has pain in my abdomen was if I lay on my side, which I avoided. I had seven incisions – 6 for the laparoscopic procedure and 1 for a drain.
I did experience a lot of discomfort while in the hospital. Due to the length of time I was on the surgical table, the area of my tailbone/upper buttocks was very e. The pain wasn’t unbearable, but kept me from sleeping well. Also, with my arms outstretched on the surgery table, I awoke to a numb sensation in both of my hands. My left hand wasn’t bad, but I had no feeling and no use of my right hand, which was scary. A team of doctors came in and checked me out, and found my hand’s temperature and pulse was normal, and that over the next day or so, the feeling and function would return to normal, which it has. Late that evening, I was getting restless in my bed, so I asked the nurse if I could get up and walk a little, and she allowed me to, which was a big step that everyone was excited about. (TIP: while in the hospital, walk as soon and as often as you can!)
On the morning after surgery (pictured above), I was visited by my surgeon and she told me I could have ice water and would start the Stage 1 diet: clear liquids. Within moments, a nurse had a cup of ice water for me, and I tell you this – the first sip was the greatest thing I’ve ever consumed (ok, I exaggerate, but it felt so good going down!). For each of my meals that day, I was given six small cups – three with Isopure protein drink, and 3 with diet cranberry juice. I had no issues with any of these going down or being digested.
During the day I had several family members visit me, and all of them said I looked great. Best of all: I felt great. Several times during the day I walked the floor with the help of an assistant, and I was able to sit in a chair for most of the day (the bed got old real quick). I had a catheter in place, which was removed that afternoon. I was given a portable urinal to use (the nurses had to measure my urine amounts) and I didn’t pass urine on my own until late that night.
On day 3, I was advanced to Stage 2 diet. For breakfast, I was given Carnation Instant breakfast. The nurse came in and checked things out, and removed the IV from my hand. Shortly after, another nurse came in to remove my drain. I was free! For lunch, I was given some cream of chicken soup, which was wonderful. My wife came in, and with the help of a nurse, we were both shown how to administer blood thinner shots at home. I have to do these shots for 2 weeks due to having a BMI over 50 (mine is 70). Shortly after 1:00 that afternoon, I was given my walking papers and was discharged from the hospital.
Sleeping at home has been a challenge due to the pain in my lower back, but I’ve managed to do well in a chair. I’ve gotten up to walk around the house as often as I can, and each day, my wife and I have gone out to run an errand so I can get some extra walking in (it’s been raining and cold all week her, so walking the neighborhood is not happening.)
Food has been very well tolerated by me so far. Being on a blended food/soft food stage, I’ve had several things to eat (ranging from cottage cheese, pumpkin soup, refried beans and I tried hot sauce – thanks Rob!), and each has had no issue.
Here’s the strangest part of this journey so far: I have no hunger or cravings for food. That is VERY foreign to me. I have to remind myself to eat. Food still tastes great, but it’s just odd to not have any feeling to eat at this point.
Yesterday marked 9 days since the surgery, and I am down 25 pounds. I have no regrets. I did this for me. This surgery was the most selfish decision I’ve ever made, and I know I am worth it. I know there is a long road ahead, and I understand there will be bumps in that road, but I look forward to it.