Saturday, January 31, 2009

Pouring rain but I see the rainbow in the horizon

So I found my 3rd and 4th shoe to drop since my last post. Monday the 19th, they put my dad in the hospital to relieve some fluid from his lungs so he can breathe. He has emphysema, diabetes, neuropathy and congestive heart failure. So a hospital trip is not all that unusual for a man with his illness' however it was 3 days prior to my surgery and I was concerned. I was thinking of post poning but my mom cried and asked me not to because I had fought so hard and I needed the surgery so I didn't end up in my dad's shoes 25 years from now. So I kept my surgery day even though I really wanted my mom's help, I knew I would be ok on my own and with what assistance I could get from my sister in law and kids, besides from everything I have read there was a pretty quick turn around after surgery.
Surgery day was scheduled for Jan 22 at 12 noon. My daughter and I meet up with my sister in law and we go in, put on the gown, get hooked up to the IV and now we wait. Get a phone call that my doctor was running late, surgery is post poned to 1:00. We wait some more. I had not had anything to eat since 9 pm the night before (and even then it was clear liquids) so I was starting to really feel hungry about 12:30 and feeling a little anxious and agitated. They wheel me back and once the mask went over my face, I don't remember anything else until I wake up in recovery. So some of my time frames will be from what I have been told by others. So I came out of surgery about 4:30, they got me a room and sent my family to my room to wait for me. I remember the nurse telling me to take deep breaths and I can hear her talking on the phone saying things like . Blood pressure dropping, oxygen levels are 75, draining 150 cc's in 10 minutes. All I know is I am saying I am in pain, please give me something! My family says at 8:00 they become concerned because I haven't been wheeled up yet so they go to inquire and a few minutes later a nurse rushes them down stairs to sign some papers for me to have a second surgery because I am bleeding internally and my vitals are crashing. I thought for sure I was going to die. All I remember is Ashley holding my hand and me not wanting to let go, the man saying we have to go before she flat lines and telling Karen I was scared to please pray. Oh, the pain was horrific. When they moved me from the bed to the table I just hollered and moaned and groaned, it was awful. So I get out of 2nd surgery and come to find out, one of the original port sites where they went in nicked a blood vessel on its way out and it began to hemorrhage. I was placed in an ICU room about 1:00am. I had to receive 8 pints of blood over the next several days in ICU and was moved to a regular room on Sunday afternoon, January 25. I should have been home by now! They did my first leak test I think sometime on Friday and I remember the pain of moving from the bed to the table was again awful and the chalky barium swallow made me sick. I threw up. They tried another leak test Saturday morning. I survived this one but not without the pain and naseua, just no throwing up. So now I get to start eating clear liquids. Spent the next several days in a regular room and came home on Thursday Jan 29, one week from my surgery date. I was sent home with oxygen because they felt I might still have some fluid built up around my lungs and once I start moving around, it will relieve it self plus I lost so much blood they think I just might need a little bit of time to rebuild my red blood cell count, iron and oxygen stamina. I tell you, being tied to this oxygen machine is torture. I hope I never ever pick up another cigarette again in my life and if I think about it I hope God has etched this memory in my brain so it remains fresh and I remember that a cigarette is not worth exchanging it for an oxygen machine later in life.
My dad is still in the hospital and is having his ups and downs. I managed to get up there yesterday to see him and mom. Mom and I sat in the sanctuary together and talked for a little bit and cried a little bit after such an overwhelming week.
Each day it gets better. Right now my biggest struggle is getting in my fluids everyday. I will be posting example menus in another post but I never thought I would say I had a hard time getting 20 oz in a day and that is food and water combined. I am supposed to be getting in at least 32 oz of fluid and at least 30 grams of protein a day. It ain't happening! I am going to GNC tomorrow to try to get some supplements to help me out with the protein part so I can concentrate on fluids so I can start getting my max in. This will surely aid in recovery. So it is still raining in my neck of the woods but the clouds are rolling out and I see a rainbow in the horizon.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

I have always said everything happens in 3's to me. If something slightly goes awry, 2 other things generally fall into place; usually within a week or two of each other. Even deaths in our family usually happen in 3's. Granted and thankfully it is not always 3 of our closest relatives, it might be a distant 5th cousin I have never met but you get my drift. So this weekend is supposed to be a relaxing weekend before surgery, I was going to get my house in order, go shopping, pack but this is how it has gone so far as I sit here Sunday morning exhausted and none of the above has gotten done.
It ALWAYS rains (whether it is a slight drizzle or a pour down) during my parade, Ok maybe not always but 99% of the time. I always say if it wasn't for bad luck, I wouldn't have any at all.. Friday was my birthday, things are going pretty good and after dinner my 18 yo decides she wants to go out..I advise, you don't need to drive your car, it needs a new thermostat, you're gonna blow the motor. Oh no mom such and such said it wasn't that it's fine....1 hour i am broke down and the police are making me tow the car, I need you to bring me money for the tow. Grrrrrrrr!! Now mind you my van was already acting up but was going to work on getting it fixed when I got my taxes back. But now I have to get my van fixed sooner b/c she can't drive my van while I am in the hospital with it messed up like it is and then on top of recovering from surgery, I have to figure out what to do with her car. So I did what any normal self sabotager, food addict would do, I came home and ate some no no food. And Sat. morning I woke up with the sniffles (wonder if that hand anything to do with standing in the 20 degree weather with a BROKE DOWN CAR) I thought nooo I can't get a cold..I am having surgery next week! Tow guy wanted 200.00 to tow it to our home 35 miles away and 85.00 to tow it to my sister in law's 6 miles away so split second decision..tow it 6 miles and I'll pay the 85.00. There's #1...So Sat morning I head over to my brother's because he used to be a mechanic but hasn't done it professionally because of his back but was nice enough to try to help me because he knows I don't have the money to pay for labor. We go get parts for what we think is the problem, he works on my van all day. In the meantime, I rent a dolly from UHaul to get my daughter's car back to my parents place so we can figure out what to do with it..that was another 45.00. (PS for another 70.00 I could have saved myself the aggravation and had the guy tow it there to begin with) I drop my oldest off at work and go to pick the car one is home. I read the instructions but it appears to be greek to me LOL Luckily someone came home and was able to help me get the car on the dolly. I drive my mom's van back to her house, pick up my van and youngest daughter as well as my brother's dog b/c my youngest was crying that it was going to freeze to death and how could I be so cruel...Deep Breath. Take her home, discover his dog and my dog don't get along so my dog rides with me to pick my oldest up from work at 9pm. Could I use a cigarette right about now? I prevailed although I could have smoken a pack in about 30 minutes! Here comes #2 (unless you see a number 2 that I missed, maybe the milkshake and the dog or the theater incident is number 2?? I'll get to that in a minute).....on the way home, my brother calls (he has his kids this weekend) Sis, I need you to come over, I am coughing up blood and mom is taking me to the emergency room and I need someone to sit with the kids AND someone to pick Gabby up from the movies at 11:30. I thought Lord, I have done given the man pneumonia from being in the cold all day. I knew he didn't feel good b/c he told me that morning but he insisted he was fine enough to work on the van. Besides my brother is a bit of an exaggerator so we never really know when to take him seriously, you know the boy who cried wolf...that's him. So I get home to drop off my dog and pick up his dog, since I am going over there anyway and as we are trying to dog gets loose and his dog won't get in the van and my daughter spills milkshake all over her. Drama queen she is, she starts crying (she does that when she gets really flustered and things aren't going smoothly). Get the dogs where they need to be and we are on our way. When we go to pick Gabby up from the movies there are like 50 police cars..come to find out there was a shooting, someone got tazered, there was a fight. Just added to my craziness. I get in touch with my sister in law and she decides to come get the brother gets home and she arrives at the same time. By the way, he had an upper respiratory infection and the doctor gave him antibiotics. I swear I am not lieing! This all really happened. LOL So where's the other shoe, my three? Did I miss it? Or is it yet to come....

Friday, January 16, 2009

My new birthday

Wow! Surgery date is scheduled for Jan 22nd, just a week away! I have been so nervous and scared and excited all rolled into one. I went for my last consult appt with my surgeon on the 13th to go over last minute questions I had and what I needed to prepare for surgery(listed at the bottom of this post). The scales say I had lost 6 lbs doing the low carb and he was very pleased that I remained smoke free. Today is day 9 by the way :) I told him I was trusting him and he assured me everything was going to be fine. I went ahead and bought my chewable vitamins from the dr. office because it had everything I needed (multi, calcium, b12 and biotin) in one vitamin and it was only 26.00 for a month supply.
I went yesterday for my pre-op registration at Rex Hospital. It was pretty painless, went through the paperwork, insurance, did some bloodwork, talked to the anesthesiologist and got weighed. Their scale said I had only lost 4 lbs but I am going to stick with 6! Everyone was super nice. The registration lady said something to me that took me aback for a second but then I got it. I have been so nervous and questioning my decision and of course the what if I died on the operating table, right. Well the lady was asking her questions and asked my religion (denomination) I replied non- denominational, she kept typing , then she stopped looked at me and said "you know, there is a spirit of peace about you and that can only come from one place" (as she points up) and she goes back to typing.
I feel that was God's way of telling me it's ok, you made the right decision, I led you here and I am with you. I think it's all gonna be okay.

Questions for my surgeon and his answers
*Every surgeon has different views so answers vary from surgeon to surgeon

What kind of blood clot prevention does the hospital do? What can I do?
A: surgical hose, feet pumps and lots of walking
What kind of tubes will I have in me when I wake up? (catheter, ventilator, drain, ng tube)
A: possibly catheter and drain
What size bougie?
A: 34
Can I take my meds day of surgery?
A: yes
How long will I be in the hospital?
A: 1-2 days
What has to happen before I can go home?
A: Have to be able to walk, pee, drink and pass a leak test
How soon after I wake up can I have ice chips?
A: Once you pass the leak test that evening after surgery or the next morning
Is there anything that would make you switch from laproscopic to open surgery?
A: If he was unable to complete surgery due to unable to maneuver via lap
Is there anything that would make you switch surgery types?
A: Not without your consent
What kind of things should I be alarmed over enough to contact you after I get home?
A: High fever, severe pain, extreme nausea, unable to eat, drink, passing out, vomiting
Will you prescribe me pain meds, nausea meds and/or gas pain meds prior or when I am released?
A: Cross that bridge before your release
Do all my meds have to be liquid or chewable after surgery? How long before I can start taking pill form again?
A: For about a month or two
Pre-op diet?
A: Low carb 2 weeks prior, clear liquids day before surgery
Post-op diet?
A: Clear liquids, week one - Full liquids, week two - Pureed/mushies, week 3
What kind of protein do you recommend?
A: As long as it is between 50-75 a day, I don't care

Things I am buying to have at home after surgery

Calcium Citrate
B12 Sublingual
(Bought the Bariatric fusion chewable that has all vitamins plus biotin in it)
Chicken and beef broth
Small dishes/spoons
Liquid tylenol and anit nausea medicine
Gas X strips
Water bottles
Measuring cups
Food Scale
unflavored protein
Isopure protein punch
Magic Bullet (I am buying the Hamilton 18 piece set that compares to Magic Bullet at 25.00 less)
Carnation Instant Breakfast - sugar free
Atkins shakes
Sugar free popsicles and jello

Taking to hospital

2 sets of pj's and underwear
small fan
phone and charger
sugar free peppermints

Thursday, January 15, 2009

A letter to myself

Dear Evolving Teresa

I just feel the need to remind you of a few things for when you are having a rough day after surgery and you are feeling a little down and perhaps having some regrets. You knew going into this that it was not going to be a breeze. There are certain sacrifices you have to make in order to be healthy and live a full life and one of them is food. I know this has been your best friend for 20 plus years but trust me, it really is the enemy. Remember overeating and all the bad carbs, and junk food is the reason you escalated into the person who can't put on her own shoes and socks without almost passing out. A simple task like washing dishes hurts your back. Like today for instance, after doing low carb for 2 weeks and actually feeling better than you have in a long time and the upcoming surgery, you decided a cheat day was in you eat some bad carbs and you feel like crap. Food is your fuel, not your friend. Eat to live not live to eat. Also, remember the suffering you have watched your dad go through with the breathing problems and diabetes. Don't think it can't happen to you, it is in your blood line. Here is a list of things fat Teresa does/needs/can't do because of overeating:

Never enjoys the party because you are constantly looking for a place to sit down because your back is in piercing pain or because you feel uncomfortable in your own skin and also because you are not sure if the lawn chair the party giver has provided will hold up so you sit very tense and uneasy~ Never enjoys amusement parks because you can't fit on the rides and your back and feet ache from walking ~ Can't enjoy shopping because you have resulted to using a scooter and you are embarrassed by it and you can only shop at limited stores because you do rely on a scooter so you can only go to Walmart or Target~ Fat Clothes are expensive and they never fit right, they are either too tight in the stomach and too lose on the legs or just don't fit at all~ You can't wipe your rear end without becoming a contortionist and even then it's sometimes not enough ~ Avoiding cameras or when a picture does get taken of you, realizing your head and body make up for 2 of someone else ~ Your house is in a constant disarray because you can't clean it, you can't get on your knees or stand for more than 5 minutes without being in pain ~ You don't like having company or want your daughter's friends over because you are embarrassed of your house and yourself ~ Your youngest daughter doesn't want to walk next to you because she is embarrassed ~ Your oldest daughter is going to end up in jail from getting in a fight if one more person stares at you lol j/k but she is very overprotective and that is not fair that she has to be for that reason ~ Not able to walk into a restaurant without scoping it out first to make sure they have tables to accommodate a fat person ~ Walking into any room (friends house, work meeting, doctors office) and have the overwhelming sick feeling and stomach in knots for fear you might not be able to fit in that chair ~ Having the arms at the nail salon pop open over and over because your fat keeps bumping them so you end up holding onto them and not really enjoying your pedicure ~ Getting out of breath from walking from the office to the parking lot ~ Sweating while shopping even in the winter ~

You want to set a good example for your daughters. You do not want them to hurt and suffer the way you have physically and mentally. There are hundreds more I could list and I might come back to add to it as I think of them but for now that is enough. You deserve to feel beautiful.

Something else that you need to know, remain humble and don't forget who you are and where you came from. I know you will change some and that's ok. I want you to have more confidence and maybe speak your mind a little more so you don't get walked all over but don't get so overconfident that you over speak and hurt people's feelings, especially your daughters. Remember what it was like when people said things to you about your weight so DON'T DO IT TO THEM. NEVER make them feel that you of all people do not accept them for who they are. Don't forget who your friends are and don't get so busy with your new life that you forget to stop and talk to the ones who have always been there for you. Don't stop loving people in general, don't become judgmental of people's size, looks, circumstance...stop and lend an ear or helping hand; you were once them! Last but not least, DO NOT SETTLE for the first guy that comes along. With losing weight WILL come new found attention from men and you have not had that in a while so don't let it go to your head. Remain true to yourself and your girls (remember you are setting an example for them). Remember what your expectations are, he needs to love you for you, respect you and your views, be financially stable, intelligent, be accepting of your children. Meet his family and pay attention to how he treats his mama and sisters. Remember everything you have tried to teach your girls. And no hoochie mama clothes....ok maybe once you reach goal one night you can go out with the girls and act a little unlady like but don't make a habit of it. That is not who you are! You have class and style yet down to earth, carry yourself that way. Most of all be beautiful, you deserve all the happiness you have missed out on because of this prison of fat. Just don't lose who you are in the midst of losing weight.

Take care of yourself, take your vitamins religiously, exercise and make good food choices. Yes stop and smell the roses once in a while and have that bite of pie or pizza, just don't make that your food on a daily basis.


The former Teresa

Friday, January 9, 2009

Taking my life back

So day 5 of low carb and you know what I noticed yesterday that my steering wheel didn't rub up against my stomach. I was like hey! That's a start. It is amazing the things skinny folks take for granted. I bet they never think about their stomach touching the steering wheel. I can't wait for all the other little victories to start happening. Today is day 3 of no diet coke, water only and today is.. drum roll please.......Day two of no cigarettes!!! I am really wanting a cigarette today though. I went and found me some quotes to remind myself that I am in control, not the junk food or the cigarettes. Here's my quotes:

I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.
William Ernest Henley

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do!
Johann von Goethe

Fear not that life shall come to an end but rather fear that it never began.
John Henry Cardinal

What you do today determines where you'll be tomorrow.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I really like the first one and the last one.
I didn't think I had it in me to give up the cigarettes but I guess it is all mind over matter. I told myself that I only had to quit for 30 days, just til surgery. Oh yeah! I forgot to mention...THEY OVERTURNED THE DENIAL AND APPROVED ME FOR MY VSG SURGERY!!!!! WOOT WOOT! OH YEAH! LOL I called my daughter on Wed and was like did I get a letter and she was reading blah blah blah and then I heard: The external review board approved your request for benefits. I said whoa! Read that again....and as she did I just felt the lump in my throat and wanted to ball. I think I shed a tear or two but I was at work so I tried to compose myself. I just didn't think it was going to happen for me. Nothing ever goes my way so that night Jan 7 at 9pm I smoked my last cigarette. Miss pack and a half a day put them down, that's how bad I want this. I am tired of just existing, I am taking my life back.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Procrastination, Making changes and Hope

Well it is a new year and 2009 has to be better than 2008. Between almost losing my dad, my brother and sister in law going through a sepearation, the gaining of 80 lbs to my body just shutting down and being tired all the time to the insurance denials for my VSG. But I have a good feeling about 2009.

I started low carb dieting today, making changes. I know if I get this surgery approved, I have to drop some weight prior to surgery for my liver's sake and I should have done this a long time ago. That is where the procrastination comes in. Same with smoking! I just got flustered with each denial and gave up in a sense. Same as I always do..self sabotage. Went back to eating all the wrong foods and smoking like a freight chain. I had my "last suppers" this weekend. All the fast food, sweet tea, carbs, chocolate and junk I wanted. I got water today instead of my diet coke and it has taken me all day to get through 16 oz when by this time I have had 2 diet cokes or a 32 oz sweet tea. Ugh! I hate water! But I will learn to love it!! LOL I have 5 packs of cigarettes left so I will start my zyban again tonight and try to slowly ween myself off again by not smoking in the car or the house so maybe when I put them down again this time, it won't be so hard. Caffeine will be the next to go. I am changing my coffee over to half and half..same with my beloved hazelnut creamer..I will be converting to sugar free by doing half full creamer and half sugar free until I can tolerate the sugar free. I have to change my mindset that I am not giving up all my comfort foods but instead making a change for a healthier lifestyle. I am a true food addict and chain smoker so this is not going to be easy. Then again I guess if it was I would not need a tool like the VSG to help me. I would have already done it on my own.
My hope comes from the meeting with the 2nd level appeal board on Dec 30th. I was told before the meeting that BCBS and myself would each state our case to a general surgeon. He or She was the deciding factor. They would hear us out and decide whether or not BCBS had to pay for my surgery. I asked ahead of time would it be a bariatric surgeon and the ins. lady said they could not guarantee the general surgeons specialty, it could be brain surgery for all she knows; that they just go down a list. So when we met, the general surgeon introduced himself as Dr. B, general surgeon, specializing in bariatric surgery for 12 years. In my head I was saying cha ching! Yes.. Yes! Thank you God Yes! So we go through the ordeal and to make a long story short, the ins. folks kept referencing gastroplasty and banding and being unsuccessful and this is the reason for denial and it being not medically necessary. Dr. B said you do realize gastroplasty and gastrectomy are TWO different procedures. There were crickets in the room, then some shuffling of some paper and stumbling over some words. I stated my case, Dr. B asked me about my sleep apnea and then I was dismissed. I was told I would receive a letter within 7 calendar days. I have great hope that this time it will be approved. How could it not?