Still recovering

Last time I blogged I was at the end of two weeks at home, recuperating. I’ve been back at work 2 weeks, doing 4 days a week – by the end of Thursday I’m pretty worn out.

I went to see Mr Farrynt, the surgeon last week to get the MRI results. Inconclusive, because my internal plumbing is unusual even for a gastric bypass patient due to justing the surgery to allow for damage from a botched hysterectomy in my late 20s. My Farrynt wants to do exploratory surgery in the next 4-6 weeks and fix whatever he finds at the time. It’ll start off keyhole but probably end up open surgery. I wanted to delay it but he feels it will obstruct again and then he’ll have to operate when I’m really sick, as opposed to just not 100% well…

 The only thing to sort before hand is an urgent referral to ENT. My voice is still hoarse and weak; the surgeon is concerned my airway might be compromised so needs that fixed before they operate.

 The other thing I’m dealing with is that, after intubation & ICU etc, my hair has thinned even more and become sparser. We’ve cut it very short and changed the shape – it’s better but I’ll be very pleased when it recovers. I’ve coloured it for the first time in many years because I just looked so pale and unwell for a while there.

I’m down to 76.8kg, only 1.8kg off my bypass surgeon’s goal for me. I talked to Mr Farrynt and his side kick Amanda about getting down to 70kg as that would make me a standard size 14 (I think). No way! They are happy for me to get to 75kg but not lose any more than that, as they’re cncerned about my general health with all that’s gone on. So I need to learn to eat a little bit more to stop the loss. I could never have imagined that would be a problem for me! I’ll be talking to my dietician in a week anyway, so that’s good timing.

 As most of you know, I am always fiddling with art and craft, blogging etc. Until yesterday, I hadn’t touched my craft stuff since 8 April, which is a LONG time for me. Yesterday I finally put some gesso on a page and did a quick layout. I don’t have a lot of energy yet, but it was good to get messy.

 

 

Hospital dramas

It’s more than a month since I blogged or did any art – here’s why.

I’d been doing really well, but suddenly developed severe stomach pain about 5pm, just as Tony got home from Wanganui. By 6pm it was so bad we called the ambulance. Millie took me to Hawera; the Dr suspected a twisted bowel so had me transported to Base on Sunday morning. The surgeon, Mr Hadawi, spoke to Atul Dhabuwalla who thought a piece of bowel might have got trapped in a gap from the surgery, and they arranged for a gastroscopy on Monday 10th May.

Mr Hadawi did the gastroscopy late morning under heavy sedation. Unfortunately the suction unit wasn’t working properly and the nurse didn’t realise. Because of the blockage I had a lot of bile in my stomach and vomited during the procedure. Due to the suction unit not working I got a lot of bile in my lungs. I was went back to the ward but, bizarrely, there’s no handover after gastroscopy so the ward staff were not told what had happened.

My nurse, Siji, noticed my heart rate increasing and oxygen levels dropping; she was keeping a close eye on me because she couldn’t understand why I was deteriorating. Mid to late afternoon the surgeon came to get me for acute bowel surgery just as I started to really go downhill. He kept asking if I felt ok, and I can remember saying yes – tired but ok. He called the peri-arrest team (used when someone is about to have, or just had, a cardiac arrest) and I could hear them talking about tachycardia, intubation, and bag masking. Between Mum’s dramas, and Tony’s ambulance work, I knew exactly what was happening but was so unwell it wasn’t really scary. Just as I was about to say I suddenly didn’t feel well at all, they took over my breathing. Talking to the surgeon later, he said if you’re young and fit your body compensates until suddenly it can’t anymore, which if the point I had reached.

Poor Tony had turned up just as all this was happening. The Dr explained what was happening but he wasn’t allowed to see me. Ailsa and Jim were in New York and the hospital phoned her at 6am to tell her I was in ICU. She rang me most mornings and kept in touch by text throughout.

I woke up the next day in ICU after they took the tube out, and spent the next four days in either ICU or HDU recuperating from severe aspiration pneumonia. The day after they extubated they did x-rays, fluoroscope and CT scans of the bowel but none of it was conclusive. Because of the trauma to my lungs the surgeons felt I couldn’t have surgery for another month or more anyway unless they were forced into it. I spent two weeks in hospital in total, with the Drs saying it would probably take 6 weeks to fully recover.

I’ve had another two weeks at home recovering. I’ve been incredibly tired, am walking slowly, and have very little voice. The Drs think it’s just a reaction to pneumonia and intubation but if it isn’t right after a month they’ll investigate further. I’ve also had a MRI scan at Base and have an appointment with Mr Farrynt on the 18th May to get the results and plan any surgery.

Re the medical mishap that led to the pneumonia; the hospital are investigating all aspects and made some changes straight away.

Weight loss update

When I last blogged about this, on January 14th, I had lost 38kg to date. Yesterday I reached the 50kg milestone, so only another 10kg to go. I’m beginning to wonder if I could be reasonably small boned and 15kg might be a better goal, but I’ll reassess it with the nurse and see what she thinks nearer the time – probably towards the end of March.

In that last post I said I’d bought jeans off the rack at Farmers. This morning I popped down to Wanganui and replaced them with a pair that’s another 2 sizes down. I’m now a 16/18 on the top and an 18 on the bottom. Unheard of…

Here are some update photos. Hardly great shots admittedly but Tony’s not that comfortable using my iPhone!

 

Weight loss update

It’s a few weeks since I updated progress. Following my pre-Christmas trip to Base Hospital I am feeling *much* better. Having lost over 38kg so far, I’m now under 100kg for the first time in a couple of decades and am about the same weight, but not shape, as I was in my mid-to-late 20s.

I went to Farmers and bought jeans off the rack; the first two pairs were too big – unheard of! More importantly I am starting to feel like myself again, and have more like my usual energy back. Instead of going to bed at 7pm like Mum used to, I am staying up till 10pm or later, am crafting in the evenings and generally doing ‘stuff’. I’m also on the exercycle every night and, although being cautious in case of injury, I am increasing both the time and distance a little every night.

I had a couple of phone appointments this week with staff from the weight loss surgery office; they are pleased with how I’m progressing now, having been very concerned about how sick I got. They expect me to keep losing weight for another 9-12 months but at a slower rate as I eat a little more variety and quantity. At this stage I can’t increase the volume, my pouch just won’t let me, but I am trying more foods. I’m managing to drink around 1200mls a day, with only minimal nausea. So, all good finally!

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One little word – prepared

Every year I choose a word that is my keystone. In previous years I have had – mapping, balance, determined, calm and, in 2016, intention. Each has served its purpose, constantly bringing me back to what I want for myself for the year, both at work and at home.

This year I mentioned ‘one little word’ on Twitter and people suggested hope, courage, and strength. They’re all good words, but the one I keep coming back to is “prepared”. It just feels right. So, in 2017, I will be PREPARED

  • to spend quality time with Tony
  • to devote time to my art
  • to ensure I eat properly
  • to use the tool of my weight loss surgery wisely
  • to make my lunches even when I don’t feel like it
  • to drink enough each day despite the nausea
  • to use the exercycle despite the pain
  • to put enough time into my own professional development
  • to say no to things that I don’t want in my life

So often what we want is just out of reach, and what’s required is more effort or a deliberate action. In 2017 I believe being prepared will help me achieve more of my goals.I think it’s a good word for my professional life as well, and will write about that at on my KiwiLibrarian blog.

one-little-word

 

Progress update Dec ’16

Last time I blogged about my weight loss surgery I had been in Base Hospital, and was feeling better. Hmm. This last week I have been back in Base after developing a blockage, partly due to dehydration. It was two days of drama but all good again now. I have new meds and a determination to drink despite the nausea. The nurses and surgeons I saw were fantastic; patient and prepared to really explain things to me. I’ll say this though – it took 24 hours to go through two Emergency Departments to a ward and, oh my god, I was exhausted!

I’m on leave for the next two weeks and am hoping to rest and spend some quality time with Tony. He’s done a great job of caring for me, yet again, and it’s past time we had some fun. I hope the sun shines…

face-dec-16 

Starting to resurface

I sort of can’t believe it’s two months since I updated my blog – that tells you just how sick I have been because I love social media. I’ve hardly Tweeted either really. Here’s the short version.

Last time I blogged I’d been off work for three weeks and thought I was coming right. Umm, no! I’ve had almost 7 weeks off work, been in Base Hospital and generally felt totally lousy and bone tired. None of this is the surgeon’s fault, it’s just been cumulative problems due to the surgery and a bad reaction to some of the drugs. They think it could be another couple of months before I feel really better because it’s been so rough.

My sister Ailsa ended up going back to the surgeon in Wellington with me for a checkup then staying with us for over a week nursing me – thanks Ailsa. Tony has been his usual patient self – for once it’s me getting the nursing. I now know what he did for his patients for all those years on the ambulance!

Anyway, I’m still very tired, but gradually getting there. The up side is that I have lost around 35kg so far, so past the half way mark now. Here’s a recent photo:

me-november 

Making progress

Last time I posted I thought the anti-nausea pills had me sorted. I was wrong. I’m now taking some they use for cancer patients, and life is a lot better, but it’s been pretty rough getting sorted. I drank nothing but flat ginger beer for a week! In the last couple of days, I have managed a couple of flat Berocca and a few glasses of water with diet lime flavouring. So, a huge improvement but liquids still make me feel a bit sick.

Oddly enough, food is fine; this week the plan adds things like a 1-egg omelette (I can eat about 1/3-1/2), thinly sliced beef with 2 teaspoons each of mashed broccoli & lite cream cheese, or mashed egg rolled in ham. Although I often don’t eat quite as much as they recommend, I am coping fine with the tastes and textures.

As the surgeon said, most people can drink but not eat, so your case in unusual! Terrific…

In the meantime, Tony continues to be his usual patient self, helping me prepare meals, getting my breakfast ready, making me laugh with appallingly inappropriate comments. (don’t ask lol)

Someone obliquely asked me if I regret the surgery. Hell no. This is a hiccup on the way to a whole new life. What’s to regret?

A difficult few days

Last week I was sailing through the post-surgery recovery, feeling great. On Saturday the nausea kicked in with a vengeance – food was ok, but trying to drink water was almost impossible. The only way I could manage it was tepid water with a little diet lime flavouring. I went from drinking 1.5ltrs a day to well under a litre, feeling sick constantly.

Anti-nausea pills have it pretty much sorted but the combination of too little to drink and a (teeny) high protein diet induced the worst Gout I’ve had in years. Yesterday I had to use my walker and even then I was barely mobile. The nurse at the weight loss clinic said to get whatever meds I needed down me, and rely on the Losec to protect my tummy. I spent all day yesterday sleeping off the meds and today am walking with just my walking stick.  

I’m still a bit nauseous – one sip of water can be one to many – but am clearly on the up again.

On the flip side I have lost just over 10kg since the surgery 12 days ago and am 200gm off 20kg since the pre-op diet began at the start of August. My body doesn’t feel a lot different, although I am wearing clothes I haven’t worn for a couple of years, but my face us changing.

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One week post-surgery

I had my weight loss surgery last Friday in Wellington. Dr Dhabuwala and I had planned on a Roux-En-Y Gastric Bypass (REYGB) but we knew scar tissue from a difficult hysterectomy 20+ years ago might be an issue, and it was. I ended up with a Single Anastomosis Gastric Bypass. It’s popular overseas for a number of reasons but not in New Zealand yet. The good news is that he was able to undo some of the old adhesions at the same time, which should relieve some of the ongoing pain.

They made 6 ports (holes) and because of the scarring there was a lot of pushing and poking but I have experienced little pain, mainly discomfort. I was up the next morning and in the shower, then walking the corridor from time to time. My blood pressure kept dropping and at one stage they thought there might be a leak but it came right – I am still on only half the blood pressure medication I went in on.

Ailsa was with me for the surgery and spent 3 days at home with Tony and I helping me get the food organised as there’s a lot of fluffing around initially. She also exercised her stomach muscles getting the anti-clot stockings on me each morning! We could not have done it without her and I’m so grateful. My best friend Sandra was, as always, there with me in spirit.

For the first two weeks I can eat 4 teaspoons of high protein food three times a day. Initially I was only managing two teaspoons and couldn’t finish ½ a Cruskit. At week 3 the food increases slightly, and again in week 4. So far all the foods I’m supposed to try have been fine, except for the vanilla yoghurt in the hospital which made me feel awful. Oddly, I don’t want anything that has much flavor at all. I am *not* hungry at all – my appetite has totally been turned off which is a huge relief.

dinner

A typical meal. The cup is a tiny espresso one.

 

I lost 10kg in four weeks’ pre-surgery, which was essential, and have lost 4.5kg this week. I’m a bit tired, but other than that I’m good.

changing-face

Two days ago on the left, with flowers from work, and in June on the right.