pantala reacted to Travelbug1955 for a blog entry, Surgery in Mexico at Star Medica Hospital
Saturday, August 3, 2013
After traveling all day on Saturday, August 3, 2013, my driver had already called me and left a message on my cell phone and was waiting for me at the front of the ElPaso Airport baggage claim area. Wow! We drove across the border into Mexico with no problems; they didn’t even ask to see my passport. The driver dove up to the front doors of the hospital, unloaded my suitcase (be certain that you tip the driver especially if it’s a weekend) and took me into Star Medica Hospital in Juarez, Mexico where I was met by Dr. Calderon at the admissions office. He had all the Papers in order for my admission and consent to surgery. He personally assisted the admissions clerk with checking me in, the payment and took me to x-ray for my chest x-ray and then to my surprise upgraded me to a much better room on the 3rd floor. He also took me to the 3rd floor after x-ray, weighed me and measured my height, then took me and my luggage to my room! You can’t get this kind of service In the US! ( I have had 2 deliveries and surgery 2 times in the US and believe me, I was not treated this nice at all).
After I got settled into the super nice room, two nurses came and performed an EKG, took blood and started an IV. It wasn’t long before a nice young man came to transport me to surgery. While in the pre op room there were about 5 nurses and an anesthesiologist waiting for me. They were all smiling and talking to me along with putting medicine into my IV. The next thing I remember was being wheeled into a surgery suite with nice Mexican music playing. At this point I have not met my surgeon Dr. Jose Rodriguez. He told me later, that the anesthesiologist put me under before he could talk to me, but he did talk to me anyway.
I woke up in recovery with the very same smiling nurses. I will tell you something, the nurses at this hospital are some of the most beautiful young women I have ever seen in Mexico. The young man wheeled me back to my room where I slept for a couple of hours. I’m glad I got that couple of hours of sleep because the gas pain kept me up all Saturday night. It was horrible pain! I couldn’t lie down because that is when they would start. My mouth and lips was so dry, good thing I brought my Burt’s Bees along. The nurses had 2 bottles of water in my room for rinsing and spitting only. I was not allowed anything to drink, just swoosh and spit. I took the IV with me several times out into the hallway and walked around the floor to help relieve the gas. This does work and blowing on the little horn they give you to use.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
It’s Sunday and I still have gas pains, but not as bad as last night. There is free wifi here in the hospital, but I can’t get my computer to go online. The nurses tried to help me, but they couldn’t get me online either. They told me that several of the patients can’t get on it either. My cable wasn’t working either, but the nurses called maintenance and a man came right up and got me another remote control. Now I am watching TV in Spanish. The nurse came to my room and told me I could take a shower. I took her up on that. She changed my bed and made it fresh again. The ladies come and clean my room every day.
One of the doctors came to see me this morning and said that I could get some ice chips! Yeah! He also said I could take my prescription medications if I chew them up before swallowing with the ice chips. For the first time in several years, this morning, my blood pressure was 100/60! After the vitals were taken, she did a blood sugar on me. I told her that I am not diabetic, but I held out my finger anyway and the test showed I was 126, high for someone fasting for 2 days and not being diabetic. I think is from the IV solutions they are pumping into me. The nurse came into the room with clean bed sheets, towel and new pajamas and told me that I could take a shower. I didn’t have to worry about the drain and she unhooked my IV. I felt so much better after the shower.
All 3 doctors came to see me this afternoon. Dr. Rod told me that he took 80% of my stomach, stapled it with 3 rows of titanium staples and also sutured it all together. I have stitches in the muscle of my stomach that will dissolve and the drain has no stitches. After having my first meal since Friday evening for dinner, I was given a nice lunch tray including chicken broth, pear juice, a bucket of chipped ice, tangerine flavored jello and hot tea. I could only eat a couple spoons of broth and some jello, and then I was full. Later this afternoon, the nurse came to walk me down to x-ray for the swallowing test. YUCH! That liquid was horrible; it tasted like liquid cough syrup from when I was a kid. I stood there and could watch the liquid go through my esophagus to my stomach and onto the small intestine. After the doctor escorted me back to my room, I had to brush my teeth to get that horrid taste out of my mouth. A few minutes later, the same doctor came back to take my drain out, didn’t feel a thing, and he put a band aid over the opening. He told me to take the band aid off when I take a shower (no baths) and put a new one on after. Next, a nurse came into my room and took the IV out. I’m glad because the IV was in my hand and it hurt every time they would flush it or add medication. The doctor brought me a DVD of my x-ray swallowing test to take home with me.
(By the way, I am on 3 prescriptions and they have to be taken every day. I asked the doctor how I could take them my first post-op day and he said to smash them up to swallow them)
I had to get up during the night because I had a headache and my mouth was very dry. I walked up to the nurses’ station with my empty ice bucket and asked for some ice and something for a headache. I was instructed to go back to my room and they would bring it to me. The nurse brought my pain pill and a new bucket of ice to me and told me to put the pill under my tongue. I went back to sleep after eating some ice and the pill had dissolved.
Monday, August 5, 2013
It’s Monday morning and I think all the gas is gone. I was able to lie down and sleep last night without any pain except the headache, and there is none this morning. I feel like going back home today, but my flight can’t be changed from tomorrow morning. I plan on taking a shower this morning, getting dressed into my regular clothes and just hanging out here. The time zone here is mountain time so I am still getting used to everything being one hour behind. My stomach is growling a little this morning, and then it stops. I don’t know if that is hunger or just healing. My breakfast this morning consisted of Orange jello, hot tea, pear juice and crushed ice, yummy!
I asked one of the nurses if I could weigh myself this Monday afternoon and she agreed to help me. To my surprise, I am down 16 pounds! I have had a headache since last evening and I believe it is my system crying out for caffeine. The doctor said I could have caffeine so I was delivered a large cup of hot tea with splenda sweetener. I hope this takes care of the headache because the pain pills are not.
One thing the doctor did tell me about eating is that you should eat the warm foods first to prime your stomach, then the cold. Always eat with protein first, then vegetables and add some fruit if you are still hungry. I haven’t eaten very much because I get full after a few bites of jello and a couple sips of their good chicken broth. Lunch today consisted of pear juice, lime jello, decaf hot tea and a bucket of yummy crushed ice. I never thought I would love eating crushed ice! Maybe when I get home, I will give the shaved ice people a visit and get a sugar free goody!
I have been told that the man who will drive me back to the airport Tuesday morning will be here at 8 am. Since going back into the US is worse than coming into Mexico, it could take a couple of hours. There is high security alert at this time. My flight home is at 11:55 am to Dallas, then on to Gulfport, MS. I am worried about the prescriptions I had to buy ($50) to take home with me getting through the TSA people at the border. I have a written RX for them, so I hope that will be enough. A surprise, another belly shot for blood clots, man, those things sting bad!
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
I got up early this morning, took a shower and dressed. I asked for breakfast and it was sent to me with pear juice, lime jello and hot tea. I took a few bites of the jello and that was all I could eat. Next thing I knew, the driver called my room 30 minutes early and said he was downstairs waiting for me in the lobby. I grabbed my bags and headed downstairs. He was right there and assisted me to his van. We drove to the border and it was our luck that the DEA was there today. We had to wait for 35 minutes for them to go through all of my prescriptions including the ones I brought with me! We were flagged to go through and on to the ElPaso Airport. I am here now waiting for my flight back to Gulfport, MS. I feel fine, just a little groggy. I am looking forward to being home in my own bed and with my husband and pets.
If any of you ever need encouragement or advice, please don’t hesitate to ask me. I will keep posting my progress. Thanks for listening to me!
pantala reacted to newmeIowa for a blog entry, protein, protein and more protein
I'm into week 3 and I'm 21 lbs down since surgery 40 since my heaviest. Eating less than 1/4 of a cup of food at meals, which doesn't amount to many calories, so still struggling with fatigue. BUT - I am walking a mile now in my 30 minutes of required daily walking. (PITIFUL, I know, since I used to jog 3 miles in 45 minutes.)
So I called the nurse to ask when I can swallow pills again and found out I have 3 more weeks of the nasty liquid/chewable crap. She shared with me that I really HAVE to get the 60 grams of protein in a day OR ELSE my hair will start falling out. So now I'm serious. Back to the gross protein drinks.
Thinking about going to Goodwill to find some shorts since mine are about to fall off. HOORAY!
My belly STILL looks like a train wreck, but oh well, I'll not be wearing a bikini anytime soon.
And I think I might have found a shoulder under all my vanishing fat!
Looking forward to finding a WAIST eventually.
pantala reacted to southernsoul for a blog entry, Happiness, self-esteem, and WLS
I'm going to lay out some thoughts I've been having. My intent is not to minimize the experience of anyone else, but simply to offer my own thoughts and beliefs. I know this journey is different for all of us, but I am always saddened when I see a post about how a pre-op person can't wait to "be skinny" or "look hot" or "feel good about myself again". Skinny does not equal happy. Skinny does not equal hot. Skinny does not equal feeling good about ourselves. There are just as many skinny people who are unhappy, unattractive, and down on themselves as fat people. Happiness, feeling attractive, and feeling good about oneself are characteristics generated from within, not without.
A few years ago, at a very low point in my life, happiness seemed to me like a foreign concept. I could not remember the last time I had felt genuinely joyous or happy about anything. Intellectually, I knew that there were many things in my life that were desirable. I had a good job, a comfortable house, a dependable car, some money in the bank, food in the fridge, etc. But despite these things, I was unhappy. Now, I had good reasons to be unhappy, or so I thought. My marriage was failing, I was coming to grips with the fact that I would never be a mother, I wanted desperately to change my life but felt completely stuck, and so on. I remember reading somewhere that happy is a verb...it's an action, not a passive condition. I began to wonder...if I truly felt that there was no spark of happiness or joy in my life, who's fault was that? Who was responsible for my happiness? The answer, of course, is me. I was failing myself. I was not loving myself, or being kind to myself.
I decided that if happy was an action, I was going to try and exercise my happy muscle. I was going to try and find one thing to feel happy about for a few minutes every day. My goal was 3-5 minutes a day of active happiness. I thought that would be super easy. After all, I had been able to identify good things in my life, so how hard could it be to think about them for a couple of minutes every day? Well, it was actually harder than I expected, but I stuck with it. I had to set a timer in the beginning, but I made myself do it every single day. Gradually, I noticed it got easier. Some days all I could come up with was something like the weather, or the fact that my bills were paid on time, but damn it...if that was all I had, then I was damn well going to focus on it & feel happy for 3 freakin' minutes.
I eventually began to notice that I felt happier overall. I'm not sure why, because by this time I was just divorced and trying to figure out dating at 270 lbs & maintaining my new house, etc, but regardless, I felt happier. After meeting the man who has become my 2nd husband, he said that one of the things that attracted him to me was that I always seemed happy. I'm not saying that this is somehow a magic bullet against bad stuff happening, but holding happiness in my mind for a few minutes every day helps me to deal with the inevitable downs of life. It seems to me that consciously taking time to feel happy each day has somehow made a state of happiness more accessible in my brain.
It's been almost 7 years since I began my happiness quest, and I can honestly say I feel happier today than I ever have in my life. To quote Charlotte in the Sex and The City movie, "I feel happy every day. Not all day every day, but every day I feel happy." In choosing to have the sleeve, I absolutely do not expect it to make me happy, because I'm already happy. I feel pretty good about myself today, this minute, at 300+ lbs. Yes, there are things I want to do, but I can't right now. Yes, I have pain every day & difficulty walking, but I still feel good about who I am and what I have to offer in my small corner of the world. I am aware that I am probably judged negatively by some people because of my weight, but I don't even really notice that. Today, I find it so much easier to find things in my life that make me genuinely happy. I am definitely looking forward to weighing less and seeing an improvement in my mobility, but I don't think it will make me somehow better or more acceptable or a more worthy person. I am enough, right now, just as I am. We all are, and we are all so very precious. Today, right now, at this very moment, we are beautiful, and we are valuable, and we are enough. I believe that with all my heart, and I hope you do, too.
pantala reacted to BigDaddyJoe for a blog entry, Continued improvement, bit the bullet and told my friends through Facebook
I'm feeling really good today. Like I've said, every day is better than the one before. I had my follow-up visit with the doctor this morning, and he's happy with how I'm progressing and how my incisions are looking. I'm down 15 lbs according to their scale, 20 according to mine. 15, 20, whatever it is, I'm on my way. I just got back from taking my daughter Chloe for a walk to the library. Felt good to get out for a walk. I walked around the block a couple times yesterday, but it was chilly and raining so not too pleasant. Much nicer out today.
Well, I bit the bullet and posted a note on Facebook about the surgery. I woke up at 5 am and couldn't sleep, and all I could think about was getting it off my chest. I spent the next 2 and a half hours working out what I would say. I created the note, then shared it to my wall with the following statement - "Dear friends, please read the attached note in its ENTIRETY before passing judgment. I hope for your support. Thank you, Joe"
Here is what the note said:
On Friday March 8, 2013, I had a surgery called 'vertical sleeve gastrectomy'. This is a bariatric weight loss procedure. This was not a decision that was made lightly, or hastily. I will try my best to outline my reasons for doing it, what it is, and reasons for not telling anyone.
Reasons for not telling people
First, I want to say that I was originally planning on only telling a very select few people about this. But I realize that this is probably not very realistic, as the changes will probably be pretty significant, and pretty quick. I've even outright lied to some people, including some of my coworkers and bandmates, which I am very uneasy about. I hope they will forgive me. Please don't be offended if you were not one of the people I chose to tell beforehand. My main reason for choosing not to tell people beforehand was that I didn't wish to invite any negativity, or have anyone trying to put doubts in my head as I had already made the very difficult decision and none of that would have been helpful to me. Every person I did choose to tell had the exact same comment - "you're not THAT big." I appreciate the 'compliment', and suppose I got pretty good at hiding it. Before surgery, I weighed 274 lbs. I'm sure this number will probably shock most of you, as that seems to be the universal reaction. Another comment I heard was "you could do that yourself". There have been times I've been able to shed decent amounts of weight, only to put it all back on, and then some. And each time I would do this, would make the next time even harder. I also REALLY didn't want to hear anyone say to me that I was 'taking the easy way out', as no doubt some of you reading this might be thinking right now. This would have done nothing but anger me, and would have jeopardized our friendship. Believe me, there is nothing easy about having surgery. I'm still recovering, and wouldn't ever want to relive the first 24 hours. It is still going to take hard work and exercise to get to my goal and maintain it. This is only a tool to help me achieve that goal.
What it is
There are basically three main types of weight loss surgery. There is the gastric bypass. This was never a consideration in my mind, as I view it as being a last resort for extremely overweight people, and there can be a lot of malnutrition involved. I was actually scheduled for the lap band procedure, as I know a few people who have had it done, with varying degrees of success. After hours and hours of further research, I decided against this. Basically, the lap band is a device that is implanted and placed around the entrance to the stomach. The band gets filled with saline so that it inflates and restricts how much you can eat. The 'temporary' aspect of the band (the fact that it can be removed if any issues arose), was the biggest plus to me initially. The more I read online, the more I saw people not happy with the lap band, and having it removed and getting the procedure I had, the vertical sleeve. Some issues with the band include slippage, erosion, and the long-term maintenance (you have to go periodically for 'fills' to adjust how much the band is filled). Some people just could never find what they call their 'green zone', the perfect level of restriction where they are restricting enough to lose weight but not so much that they are vomiting after 2 bites. Also, insurance concerns crossed my mind - would insurance cover the fills forever? What if I moved or had to change doctors? All of these things pointed me in the direction of the vertical sleeve. The vertical sleeve is the newest of the three types, and is basically a laparoscopic procedure where up to 85% of your stomach is removed, leaving you with a sleeve about the size of a banana. Basically, you are then restricted to eating between 3 and 5 ounces at any meal. You can eat pretty much what you did before, only MUCH less. Some people find that they don't tolerate certain foods after surgery, or don't like the tastes of some foods they liked before. It is a permanent solution. The weight loss results are comparable to the bypass, typically very good. Another benefit of this surgery is that the part of the stomach that is removed is the part that produces the hormone grehlin, the hunger hormone, so feelings of overwhelming hunger go away. People say that they go from eating extreme amounts of food and never feeling full before surgery, to having to remind themselves to eat so they can get in enough calories after. The fact that the lap band was 'temporary' and could be removed at any time, was what made it more attractive to me initially, and seemed less 'drastic'. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I needed a permanent solution that would help me make the lifelong changes I needed to make. Wanting something because it was reversible, enabling me to go back to the way I was, no longer made sense to me.
Reasons for getting surgery
First and foremost, I did this for my wife and kids. I don't want to leave them without a husband and father. Sure, I'm not happy with how I look, but looks were at the bottom of my list of reasons. I would have been perfectly happy to continue to eat 5-6 slices of pizza and being upset that there wasn't any more because I still didn't feel full, and watching my weight continue to rise every year. I 'know' what the right things and right amounts to eat are. But 'knowing' and being able to stick to it because you never feel satisfied are two very different things. I never smoked or drank or did any drugs. Food was my drug, and it was negatively affecting my health. Besides weighing 274 and growing, I had a BMI of 36, which is considered obese. I have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, erosive GERD (acid reflux), shortness of breath, a leaky heart valve, and what my doctor says is the second worst case of sleep apnea he's seen in his office. If you don't know, sleep apnea means you stop breathing for significant periods of time, which lowers your blood oxygen level, and the 'jarring' that occurs when your breath comes back could cause your heart to go into a deadly rhythm. So basically, I was a ticking time bomb that could die in my sleep at any time. I have a machine called a CPAP machine that helps me breathe at night, but I've tried it and find it impossible to sleep with it. I'm actually getting a new one today that my doctor says is easier because the air pressure level automatically adjusts based on what you need at any given moment, instead of being set at a fixed level that sometimes seems like too much and would wake me up.. I plan on giving it a try, and hopefully once I lose a significant amount of weight the sleep apnea will disappear. I also hope to be off my medications. Most people who get the sleeve are able to get off their medications and are cured of their sleep apnea. I've seen stories of people being cured of type-2 diabetes (which I thankfully did not have, yet) the day of surgery. Amazing. The apnea and medication for blood pressure, while being the result of being overweight, also become self perpetuating problems. They limit my energy level, which in turn limits my activity level, further adding to the obstacles to weight loss on my own.
How I'm doing
The surgery went well on Friday. The surgeon found a fairly large hiatal hernia, which he repaired while he was in there. The first day was basically Hell. I was in pain, discomfort, had a hard time taking deep breaths, and was extremely tired. All I wanted to do was sleep, not only because I was tired but because I wanted to avoid the discomfort. They pump your belly full of air during the procedure to maximize the space they have to work, and this air leads to gas pain which radiates to your left shoulder. This gas pain is no joke. Every day gets easier than the one before it. I am on a clear liquid diet for 1 week, basically limited to water or crystal light, broth, sugar free jello, and sugar free ice pops. I also need to drink protein shakes until I can start eating foods with protein. They want you to get between 60 and 80 grams of protein in every day, and if I can't get all of that in from food I will have to continue with the shakes. At first, it was very hard to get in the fluids, due to swelling. Very small sips. That is getting easier by the day. After 1 week, I progress to a few weeks of a puréed diet, eating mushy foods. A blender will be my friend for this phase. After that, I can start introducing some 'real' foods, slowly to see what I can tolerate. They still want you to concentrate on getting most of your calories from lean proteins and vegetables, limiting sugars and starches. I welcome my new relationship with food. It will no longer be something that I do for pleasure, consuming unlimited quantities. Instead it will be something that I will have to be conscious of, sometimes reminding myself to eat so that I can get in enough calories to sustain good nutrition and fuel my body. It will be a big change, for sure. I continue to feel better every day. The pain is basically gone, limited to what I would describe as a 'tightness' feeling at the incision sites. I had 7 small incisions, which should leave minimal scarring. The first step out of bed or off the couch is the hardest, because of this tightness, and my fear of twisting or stretching anything the wrong way. I'm walking well, just a bit slow at the moment. The tightness also makes it impossible to sleep on my side or stomach right now, limiting me to my back, which is the worst position for my sleep apnea. To counter this, I've found that sleeping upright on the couch with my feet up on an ottoman is the best for me. I tried piling pillows on the bed to elevate my head, but found that it was pushing my head forward, further restricting my airway. I will get my new CPAP machine today, and look forward to sleeping in bed with my wife again tonight. As of this morning, I've lost a total of 20 lbs, including 9 lbs lost during a strict one week pre-op diet.
I am a very private person, who doesn't like divulging personal (potentially embarrassing) information, as I've done at length here. I only just decided to write this after waking up at 5 am and not being able to fall back asleep. I hope for all of your understanding and support, and 'friendship'. I welcome any questions or comments, either under this post, or in a private message, or in person. I do not welcome any criticism or cruel comments or jokes (even lighthearted ones, as I might not view them this way). If that is your inclination, please refrain from commenting, or go ahead and remove me from your friends list. I apologize for ending this on such a down note like that, I just want to make it clear how serious I am about this. Thank you.'
So far, I've gotten all positive comments from people, except for one person. He used to be a close friend, but we grew apart in recent years, but are still friends on Facebook. It's been years since we've talked, even on Facebook. He said he was hurt that I didn't contact him, because he had weight loss surgery also and could have helped me in my decision. I had no idea he had surgery, and told him that and asked him how I would have known. We sent messages back and forth, and he still was upset, saying stuff about how he's sick of putting himself out for other people only to get nothing back (paraphrasing). I told him that I was disappointed that he chose now, a time when I'm reaching out for support and understanding, to make it about him and his hurt feelings that our friendship isn't what it used to be. Whatever, I can't worry about that now. I need to take care of myself at this point in time.