Monday, May 9, 2016

Short and Sweet: my Failed Attempt at Weight Loss Surgery

Ok, ok, I can hear it now - it wasn't your fault, you aren't a failure, you didn't fail, the doctors did what was in your best interest.  Yes, logically I know all of this.  Emotionally, well that's a different story.

And it begins.  April 26th, the day ingrained in my whole world.  I had a countdown clock on my phone and could look at any point how many days I had left until my life would change.  Yes, I've made plenty of positive changes since my first visit with the surgeon on 12/30.  Between then and 4/24, I lost 40 lbs!  Granted, I was on the mandatory 2-week  liquid diet, which certainly helped matters, but still - 40 pounds!  I'll tell you right now that I've gained about 14 of those lbs back since the infamous failure day.

I arrive at the hospital and am almost giddy with excitement.  I may have been the only person in pre-op who was joking around and happy to be there.  I was PUMPED!  The doctor came in, telling me he had plenty of sleep the night before... whew!  My mind was at ease on that one (not that I even considered it a factor).  I was there for one reason: to start an irreversible journey.  Yes, before I move on, I know several people who have taken this journey and wound up gaining some or all of the weight back.  Here's my reality, though.  I HATE to vomit.  While I've always had weight issues, I have never even considered (even as a dancer) purging.  I know life after this surgery will be radically different.  I know my relationship to food will forever be altered and that there are foods I won't be able to eat ever again (without the whole puking thing).  It's sort of very hard to fathom right now, but the thought of never having gnocchi or my Mom's red velvet cake again may be a reality.

So, returning to the hospital.  The anesthesiologist comes in and puts in an IV.  She said that she didn't really like the vein (especially considering I'll be on IV fluids for a few days and it needs to be a strong vein), but it was good enough to put me under so she doesn't torture me while I was awake - I sincerely appreciated that, since I know I have horrible veins.  She gives me a muscle relaxant, to which I'm nearly immune, given that I used to be on something like 2 mg three times a day of Xanax.  I remember them wheeling me into the OR and putting the mask over my face.  After that, the next thing I know is that they're rushing me through the hallways telling people to get out of the way.  I wasn't really alert to know what, if anything, this meant (I mean, it could have been people on break having lunch or talking on the phone for all I knew).  I am slightly conscious and am asked if I'm in any pain, I'm shocked to be able to say "no."  I mean - major surgery brings with it some discomfort - at least - and I felt ok.

When I'm awake enough someone (either the anesthesiologist or the Fellow working under my surgeon) says "you don't know yet, do you?"  Ummm... know what?

Well, I woke up to needle sticks all over my body - from my foot to all over my hands and arms.  I don't think twice about it because the anesthesiologist said she would try to find a better vein.

So, here's what I didn't know.  They didn't do the surgery.  You read that right.  It turned out that when they put me under my blood pressure tanked.  I can't remember how low it went, but I think hubby said something about the bottom number being in the 60-range.  I was also told that when they took the oxygen away, my O2 level dropped to 80.  They tried for 40 minutes to increase my levels, but to no avail.

Everyone in the Operative Waiting Room was getting calls that their friend/family member was done with surgery, because they would get up to go to the PACU (post-operative care unit).  Then hubby saw my doc.  In person.  Coming to speak with him in the waiting room.  No other doctor did that.  First he said that I was fine and took him into what has come to be known as the "bad news" room.

I spent the day sobbing, and the rest of the week crying on and off when I'd think about it.  The Fellow came to see me often.  They ran a chest CT to make sure I didn't have a pulmonary embolism and a blood gas (I can't remember what that was for, but they had to get blood out of my artery -- in my wrist - OUCH!  That thing still stings if I hit it the wrong way).  They wanted to make sure they ruled out all life-threatening causes.  It seems that it was probably because I was on 2 bp meds and the ace inhibitor (not the beta-blocker) likely kept them from upping my bp.  Just FYI: I'm working with my GP and we think we have it figured out -- that I lost the weight to the point where it affected my need for as much medication to lower my bp.  One time when the Fellow came in, she asked if I was ok.  My typical answer for the day was "physically."  I said, through my tears, that I felt like I was over-reacting.  I have to say, she was wonderful!  She assured me that I was not...that I was truly expecting something life-changing to happen...something I'd prepared for since 12/30 by getting clearances and doing testing.  She thought my reaction was normal.  This conversation happened after I had the CT.  Prior to that one of the nurses in the PACU got an order from my doc to have lunch.  When the doc came in, he explained again what happened I sobbed to him that I could NOT do the 2-week liquid diet.  That just about killed me!  He said that he's done it and wouldn't make me do it again.  I would later find out that he'd only require 1 week.

People were coming and going and absolutely not eating in that unit, but as soon as I got back from the test, I ate (somewhat differently than had I had the surgery!).  Hubby had gone to get lunch during this time, so my conversation with the Fellow was private.  I was on that unit for the entire day!!!  The protocol/rule is that there can be 1-2 visitors at a time for up to 15 minutes.  Hubby was there nearly all day and we had a friend there who stayed for probably an hour into the PACU, but there were no seats and he was getting uncomfortable.  When my nurse came back from lunch (she rocked, by the way - hugely rocked!), she made the "isolation" room available to us.  Rather than being surrounded by curtains, it was a private area with 4 walls so I could be with hubby (and he could sit) and it could all be very private.  I'm sure anyone who was there heard the sobs, despite how discrete they were (and they really were).  I was told that the doc said he'd re-arrange things to get me in asap, which I thought was incredibly thoughtful and kind.  I found out that he did feel guilty that it didn't work out, especially since I was so excited in pre-op.

It was up in the air if I'd be admitted for the night or go home.  When they left the decision up to me I made it clear that I was in no shape to make decisions.  My depressive symptoms had reared their ugly heads and decisions weren't my "strong" suit.  The Fellow came back a bit later and said that the doc would release me if I wanted.  Somehow when she put it that way, I felt free to say that I just wanted to come home -- see my furbabies, sleep in my own bed, wake up in my house in the morning (and avoid hubby having to drive downtown again, paying another $25 to park).

I called the office the next day and the nurse said she'd have the scheduling people call me.  I heard back from them and the woman said she could schedule me sometime in June.  JUNE?  HUH?  I asked if that was the first and went into a bit of what had happened before; she said she'd talk with the surgeon.  They could fit me in on 5/24.  It is two weeks from tomorrow.  While I'm not required to do the 2 weeks of liquids, I'm going to try to do as much as I can.  I am mortified at the amount of weight I gained from my post-failure-op emotional eating.  I can't even write it down.  Hubby and I were talking on the drive home about what I wanted to eat.  Trust me, I had a good long list.  Spaghetti and hoagies from a certain place topped the list!

So, I had spaghetti for dinner tonight (with pesto - yummy!).  I've been trying to do 2 shakes a day.  Now that hubby is going to the gym at night (since there is no pressure to cook for the both of us), I'm more free to do a 3rd shake.  I'm supposed to have one within the first hour I'm awake and then every 3-4 hours later until I go to bed.  This is in addition to my 64 oz of water.  Well, with my previous overnight incontinence issues, I've tried to stick to stopping any food or drink in my body within 3 hrs prior to going to bed.  It leaves me lacking and will be especially difficult after surgery when I'm forced to take only sips of a beverage.

Ok, that was my not-so-short-and-sweet surgical failure.  I find myself less excited this time around.  I guess I'm just more aware that it's not guaranteed.

On the good side of things, we had some great coupons and rewards dollars so went shopping and I got some 1x and 2x clothes.  I held up one of the 1x shirts and thought, as I teared up, is it possible that I might fit into this?  It was surreal.

And I'll leave it at that.


  1. I know you can do this and next time will be so different for you. Your time is coming and then you can join us on the Losers Bench. Hugs!!

    1. I want to be on that bench SO badly! Hopefully in 2 weeks I'll be waking up lying on it - can't be unrealistic that I'll be sitting up as soon as I come out of surgery. I'll be out of bed and walking that night, though. Eeeeep...

  2. Oh Jen. I'm so sorry it didn't work out that day, but so happy it will happen on 5/24! I'll be praying for you...I know you'll be OK!!! I'm here if you want to chat. :-)

    1. 2 more weeks. Just 2 more weeks.... Thanks so much for your support!