Surgery Day! And The Days FollowingI went to bed Monday night at the age of 39 years and about 20 hours. Monday was my birthday, but Tuesday was to be my gift to myself. A lot had gone into the preparation for this moment and in slightly more than 5 hours, the journey would really begin. It started in April with an information session at St. Francis Hospital with Doctors Oh and Hirai. It would end tomorrow with surgery. I stayed up fairly late, 11:30, knowing that I wouldn't be able to sleep much anyway. Surprisingly enough, I drifted right off. I don't remember my dreams that night if I had any and at 4AM sharp, my alarm went off.
By 4:30, my wife, my mom and I were piled into Teri's car and on our way to St. Francis. Teri stopped for a latte at Big Foot Java on South Hill and by 5:15, we were in the St. Francis parking lot. I had been to St. Francis a number of times during the preparation for this moment, once for an Endoscopy so Dr. Oh could make sure there were no complications during surgery and another time for a battery of tests; Breathing, blood work, an ultrasound (nope, not pregnant), X-rays, etc. So I knew the check-in procedure well. It was odd checking the box "Surgery" for why I was there. But it felt right. After reviewing my ID card and having me sign the HIPPA disclosures, we waited.
About 5 minutes later a nurse came in "John!?" it was time. She led me and my entourage upstairs to the same area I had my endoscopy, asked my wife and my mom to wait while they got me ready. They took me back and had me strip down and get into my hospital robe. It seemed almost like a Tyvek suit and covered me completely, even the back. After I was dressed, I had the nurse snap a picture of my backside for Karl. She started an IV, took my blood pressure, temperature, heart rate and Oxygen saturation, then called Teri and my mom in.
We sat there for propbably 20 minutes joking about different things in the room, commenting on the decor, etc. when the nurse finally came in to get me. She escorted me out into the lobby and told Teri and my mom that my surgery would be about 2 - 2.5 hours, with another hour + for recovery and they could wait for me here. We went back to the surgery ward and I asked to use the bathroom. When I came out I joked to the nurses that I now understood the convenience of a kilt. (When I'm nervous I make lots of jokes. None of them very good, but I laugh anyway)
I was introduced to my Anethesiologist (sp?) and I remember his first name was Maan (Prounounced like the Jamaican "Mon"). Somehow we got on the topic of University Place and Curtis High School. Turns out his son played water polo too and graduated in '99. After I was situated on the operating room table, Dr. Oh and Dr. Hirai came in and said hello. I told them I scar easily so make the holes small and the stitches tight. (another joke) Then from out of nowhere there were like 5 people all doing different things. Putting sensors on my body in various locations, attaching things to the table for my outstretched arms. I quipped "I feel like I just pulled into the pits at a NASCAR race" . . . that one DID elicit a few laughs. As I was talking to Maan, the ceiling started to wiggle. "Maan, you just slipped something in my IV didn't you?"
"JULIE! You've got to take DEEP breaths! . . . JULIE!" over and over again finally I said "JULIE would you take a breath already" as my eyeys fluttered open, then closed "JULIE!" . . . open and closed . . . closed.
Next thing I knew, I was in my room and Teri, my mom and a nurse were there. I don't remember a thing. I don't know how I got there, no clue how I got into bed and now that I think about it, no clue how I got into a new gown. Probably best I don't remember that last part. The Julie thing (I'm not sure what her real name was, can't remember) was in recovery I'm pretty sure. Mostly sure.
The next 24 hours or so, I was in my hospital bed. Nurses coming in every couple hours or so for various things. Get me up to walk, check my vitals, give me pain medication, make sure I'm drinking, etc. Honestly I could have stayed there for days. I was so well taken care of I can't even describe it. Two of the nurses in particular, Karla (night shift) and Leslie (morning shift) were OUTSTANDING! They were always good to get me chicken broth, water, popsicles, apple juice, whatever I wanted, I pushed a button and I'd have it. I don't think I was too demanding. The pain came and went, mostly with the drugs. The bed was comfortable, I had cable TV and Teri was thoughtful enough to bring one of my pillows.
Wednesday around noon, I was released and we headed home. I spent most of Wednesday in my recliner watching TV and relaxing. Yes, Tuesday afternoon after surgery when I was mostly lucid, I was on my iPhone responding to e-mails and checking on things and I did much the same on Wednesday. Thursday I went into the office for a couple hours, mom in tow. Friday I went in for a little longer. Saturday I had an inspection in Lacey and today I showed one home, but for the most part have had the good majority of the week off. Tomorrow I'm back at it.
I finally surveyed the battle damage on Friday. Friday I was able to remove the dressings over my Steri-strips and stitches. I have six holes in my abdomen just above my belly button, the largest of which is on my left side. But even it isn't any larger than a dime at most. The rest would probably be on the order of shirt buttons. I'll know more as the steri-strips come off and I can really see the incisions. I'm on a liquid diet for one month after surgery and so far am surviving. The two weeks prior really set me up for success here. I've found that I'm a big fan of Tomato Basil Bisque soup from Safeway, but try to save it for a treat. It's loaded with fat.
Progress so far. When I weighed in at Dr. Oh's office in May, I tipped (and I mean a Titanic sized list) the scales at a robust 356 pounds. Dr. Oh wanted me to lose 10% of my body weight for surgery and I lost about 31 pounds weighing in at 325 at the hospital. A day after surgery I had ballooned to 331 (The IV's have plenty of salt and mostly it was water weight) but since Wednesday, I've dropped 12 pounds and am now at 319.5 on my scale. (Was 323 on my scale the morning of surgery). So 36.5 pounds lost since I was approved for surgery. I suspect that by the end of my liquid diet phase, I'll be below 300 (again, last time!!!!). I'd like to be down to about 280 by Christmas. I'll keep you posted.
Done Freakin - And I didn't call BeaconSo I think the freak out is over. Am I still nervous about what's to come? Absolutely. Have I begun to accept the path I've chosen? Yes, in fact I have. This week I've been trying to focus on what's important to me. Crossing the finish line at an Ironman Triathlon. Standing atop Mount Rainier. Riding my bike from Seattle to Portland in one day. Things like that. That and ALL the positive comments from my friends on Facebook. The outpouring of support has been overwhelming and I'm really appreciative of everyone.
Anyway, short post . . . but I'm down about 13 pounds since last Tuesday . . . another month and 5 days of this . . . I'll be lookin good!
The Freaking Out Has Begun . . .So yesterday I met with Dr. Oh, the surgeon that will be performing my laproscopic adjustable gastric banding procedure. (The lap band) The purpose of the visit was to make sure I was following my liquid diet and that I was losing weight. Since I've been approved for surgery, I've lost nearly 20 pounds and expect to lose another 7 - 10 this week. (35 was the goal and I think I'll get really close)
In addition to this, I had to sign a bunch of release forms, authorization to place the band, etc. Yesterday I think it REALLY REALLY hit me that this is happening. I'm completely freaked out. People keep giving me support on Facebook saying "Surgery isn't that bad" and stuff like that. It's not at all the surgery I'm freaked out about. I know I'm in the hands of one of the most capable surgeons for this procedure in the country, if not the world. I'm not at ALL freaked about the surgery. It's the lifestyle change that has me freaked out.
Think of something you absoluetly LOVE to do. Like you would do this 3 or 4 times a day if you could and each time, you'd do a LOT of it because it was so refreshing, so comforting, so uplifting. Now imagine someone told you that NEVER again would you be able to do that thing with the amount of exuberance you were doing it now. It would NEVER be the same.
That's what I'm freaking out about.
I have LOTS of GREAT memories surrounding food. I can remember times that the boyz and I would go somewhere for dinner and absolutely just gorge ourselves. Laughing, talking, the whole while stuffing our faces. Roll us out of there stuffed. (OK yes, there is a reason for a LONG time we called ourselves the phatboyz) Brandon and I would invite Mike over for dinner and we'd cook 3 of the biggest steaks you'd ever seen, along with a huge salad, loaf of french bread, Baked potatoes with the works. These are things that never again in my life will happen. OK, I know that I'll likely adapt. I know that eventually I'll figure out how to be social with two bites of food. It's just right now I can't see the forest through the trees and I'm freaking out.
This morning I took the smartcard in from my BiPap machine (my machine that helps with my sleep apnea) and the doctor was like "Umm, what happened this last week?" and I said "I'm having surgery next week and I'm freaking out and can't sleep" . . . Yep, the freak out has begun . . . Surgery can't get here fast enough for me.
At least after surgery, I'll have good drugs and will sleep a lot.
Off to have a protein shake . . .
Thanks everyone for your thoughts and encouragement. I love you.
It's a mental thing . . .
Day 3 - Liquid diet
So far, the first two days have gone well. I've not been overly hungry and actually look forward to my tasty chocolate protein shakes. I've had lots of V8, both regular and spicy. I've had some chicken broth. I've had some Jell-O sugar free pudding. (OK, so the diet packet says "Sugar Free Jell-O" I can't help it if they're not specific) I cheated a little with a couple bites of Teri's mashed potatoes the first night. And last night, I'm sad to admit I had a fudge brownie.
On the fudge brownie. Someone was kind enough to send me 4 fudge brownies for referring them some business. I forgot to eat even one of them before I started my liquid diet. So I felt obligated to honor their gift by eating one of them last night. Honestly, the other three are Teri's. OK, I'm making excuses already and it wasn't even the end of day TWO.
This is going to be a mental battle I'm going to have to fight. Last night as I was out late showing homes in Yelm and Roy, my tummy was grumbling. I was hungry. On my way out there, I stopped at home, had a protein shake, some chicken broth and some V8 Hot n' Spicy. (Lovely combination isn't it?) I was FULL. I mean like not even remotely hungry. But apparently my body processed all that liquid pretty quickly because within a couple hours I was hungry again. On the way home, it was all I could to to not just swing through a drive-thru and grab something. Even the pull of the Taquitos at 7-11 was alluring. And those things are NASTY.
So I know that this is going to be a mental thing. I've got to break my mind down and rebuild it to know that it's time to fuel my body, not eat.
I've got some powerful goals set for my new body and if my mind is clouded with visions of Jack in the Box and a Baconator from Wendy's, forget it. I'm starting to think this is what Heroin addicts go through.
On a positive note, I haven't been cranky and have even fixed Teri food without complaint. The really interesting test will be when someone invites me out to dinner. Hopefully they can hold off for 8 - 10 weeks. :-) Also, I've been tracking what I eat on Livestrong.com
through The Daily Plate
. They've got a cool iPhone app too that makes it really easy to track when I'm on the go. It's really sad to see that I'm only eating about 200 - 300 calories a day. (NOTE: If you'd like to follow my progress, click here
) I'm not sure how this can be healthy to do for 6 weeks, but I trust the doctor and nutritionist know what they're doing.
And so it begins . . .
T Minus 14 days and counting. Today I begin the liquid diet prior to my surgery. Yesterday, I "celebrated" by waiting for 20 minutes in the Sonic drive thru for a batch of their onion rings and a double cheeseburger. Likely the last double cheeseburger of my life. I actually didn't have dinner last night, but did splurge a bit. Teri wanted ice cream since she was sick, so I went to DQ and got myself a oreo/heath blizzard along with her soft serve. But as of 6PM last night, I've had nothing to eat.
This morning, I filled up my water bottle and carefully measured out scoops of protein powder into little snack size baggies. The jumble of vitamin and mineral bottles was too much to contend with, so I'll tackle them tonight. I did take my Kirkland chewable children's vitamins (Dinosaurs!) and my chewable 500 mg Vitamin C tablet this morning. YUM!
So for the next two weeks (And actually a month after my surgery) here's what I can have:
- Protein Shakes 2X per day @ 30gm protein per shake
- Vitamins and minerals
- Sugar free popsicles, sugar free Jell-O, Sugar free juices
- Broth, Boullion or strained clear soups
- Tomato, Snappy Tomato or Clamato juices
- Fruit juices that offer less than 12g of sugar per 8oz serving
- NO Milk and NO Sugar
- NO Carbonated beverages
- NO Caffeine
I actually stopped caffeine about 1.5 weeks ago, so I"m good there.
Tonight when I get home, I'm going to sit down with my list of supplements and figure out which ones have to be taken in the morning, mid-day, evening and before bed. Then I'm going to get out my little baggies and make up a month worth of supplements so I can just grab and go in the morning. I'll probably also do the same with the protein powders to make this as automatic as possible.
Struggling with a decision. It was suggested by a couple friends of mine this weekend that I take before, during and after shots of me, both head on and profile. I've hated having my picture taken for so long that this becomes a REALLY tough decision. Especially with me just in shorts, showing of my gut. I probably will, because I think it will be good to know where I've come from. Where I never want to be again. Don't worry, If I post any photos, I'll try to limit them to face shots. :-) OR REALLY small thumbnails so as to not upset the children.
If I'm cranky for the next couple of weeks, I'm going through withdrawal. I'm looking forward to seeing just how much weight I lose in only 14 days on this diet. I'll bet I lose 20 or more pounds before surgery? Shall we start a pool? :-) That should give me the requisite 10% weight loss prior to surgery since I've already lost about 15 since I was approved. (If you do the math, you can figure out how much I weighed to start this journey.
I'm likely to be blogging more as I progress through this . . . stay tuned, thanks for your support.
Preparations are being made . . .
I've been somewhat reluctant to post this on my blog, mostly knowing that it will be broadcast to my over 250 Facebook friends. While I count family members, friends and clients amongst my Facebook peeps, I wouldn't say that Facebook represents my "core" support group. (Although many of the core are included as my FB friends too) I guess I'm going to start posting these, with the intent that started this blog. Maybe some of my struggles will benefit other people as well. So that being said, please read this blog post keeping that in mind. If you have negative comments, I'd certainly appreciate you keeping them to yourself, but any and all words of encouragement are certainly welcome. So without further aidu . . .
I know that's shocking to most of you, but I am now fat and for most of my life have been fat. I've come to learn that fat is not necessarily equated to out of shape (Unless you consider round out of shape). While being fat in High School, I earned my Varsity sweats on the Swim Team and ran a 5:55 mile. While being fat, I propelled my body over 11,000 feet on Mount Rainier. While being fat, I've run the Sound to Narrows (twice), completed multiple 50 mile bike rides and completed a sprint distance triathlon (with a top 10 finish in the swim). Fat does not necessarily = out of shape.
I've been on every fad diet in the world, and I've come to learn one thing. They ALL work. Atkins, Abs, South Beach and Weight Watchers all worked for me. But then when I went back to being me, all the weight came back with me.
Most people would describe me as happy, well put together and confident. In most areas of my life, I'd say you're right on the money. But when it comes to my weight and body image, that's far from the truth. While I can get in shape to do some of the things I want to do, eventually my weight gets in the way. While I rode 50 miles, I wanted to ride 200. While I did a Sprint Tri, I wanted to do a 1/2 Iron. So while I can make this big body do things that 90% of the population never even considered doing because they were too "hard", I want more. And I'm tired of letting my weight stand in the way.
So on August 25th, I'm taking the biggest stand for ME in my life. On the 25th, at 0 dark 30, I'm going in for weight loss surgery. I've opted to have the Lap Band
installed. I won't go into details here what that is, but you can click the link to find out more if you'd like.
My new life starts next Tuesday however as I begin my 2 weeks prior to surgery. Starting Tuesday, I'm on a clear liquid diet that will last most of the next 6 weeks. That will transition into a "soft foods" diet for the three or so weeks following that, then I can eat normal food again.
I can't even begin to tell you how freaked out I am right now. I've realized since I began this journey, I'm no less than a food addict. Everything in my life revolves around food. If I'm angry, upset, depressed, happy, etc. I eat. I eat to celebrate and I eat to sulk. I eat to be social and I eat to be anti-social.
On Monday of this week I went to my "Pre-surgery education and nutrition class" to learn about the diet I'll be on immediately before and after the surgery and what my life will look like for the rest of my life. Now if I were able to just follow this "diet" on my own, I probably wouldn't need the surgery. But I need the surgery to break me of my addiction to food. When I can no longer physically eat 5 slices of pizza, it's going to be a good day. I know that surgery is merely a tool to get me to my ultimate goal. I know too that if I want to, I can cheat the tool and be huge for the rest of my life too.
This is a huge change for me. A change that I'm doing for me. A change that will ultimately make me healthier and by being healthier, the hope is happier. Right now I'm just asking for your support and best wishes. If I can have that, I can make it through this.
More to come . . .