It has been one week since my surgery and I am happy to report that I am doing much better than I expected. I have only had to take three doses of my liquid pain medication; two on Tuesday and one Wednesday evening before bed to help me sleep. I have not experienced any real episodes of nausea, I felt a little light headed after I over exerted myself on Thursday, but other than that, it’s been remarkably pain free — other than the gas. They say that you spend the first week just trying to pass all of the gas that they fill you with during surgery and let me tell you, that is no joke! I spent the better part of four days doing whatever I could to get the gas bubbles out; what’s the best thing to alleviate gas you ask? Walking, lots and lots of it. The hospital staff actually have you walking right after surgery for this very reason, in fact, I had to walk from my gurney to the chair in my room as soon as they wheeled me in. They didn’t want me lying in my bed, if the sun was up, I was to be in my fancy-dandy recliner. I actually slept in the recliner anyway, since they never brought my daughter her roll-away bed and she slept in the hospital bed. I say slept, but considering someone was coming in just about every hour to do breathing treatments, take vitals, take blood samples, make sure I was drinking, etc. there wasn’t much sleep to be had.
There are certain milestones that you have to reach before they allow you to come home from this particular hospital after bariatric surgery. Four hours after surgery, the nurse (my nurse was Colleen and she was the absolute best!) gives you small amounts of water to ensure that you are able to swallow and keep liquids down. They start with one ounce every hour for four hours, then they increase it to two ounces every hour for four hours. If you can master that, they then allow you broth and popsicles. My schedule was a little off, because we started a little late and I am a bit of a rebel and actually slept when none of the hospital staff were in there poking and prodding me. I got it all in though and around 3am, they finally brought me the beef broth I had been asking for — for the record, I didn’t even drink it, because I slept and it tasted THAT bad.
My surgeon did his rounds early and came to see me around 7am, He told me how the surgery went, he went over a sheet of things I could and couldn’t have and a list of things I could and couldn’t do and he then told me I was able to go home — as soon as the dietician and pharmacist came by with more guidelines and an overview of my meds. Shortly after he left, Colleen came in and released me from the hell-storm of wires that had been connected to me since the surgery, leaving only the IV, and allowed me to get dressed in my personal clothes; and then I waited, and waited and waited. My oldest daughter had escaped once her dad and sister got there but the rest of us sat in complete boredom, well I walked the halls a few thousand times to pass the time, by the time I saw the pharmacist and dietician and was able to go home, it was after 2pm.
When I got home late Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling pretty good, but I was afraid to do anything more than sip water. That had been all I had tackled in the hospital and I was fearful that anything thicker would be painful to swallow, or worse, make me feel sick. Everyone told me to only focus on getting in liquids, staying hydrated is the most important thing during these first few week (and even after) but by Wednesday, I started worrying about protein and caloric intake anyway, but I was honestly afraid to even attempt swallowing thick liquids and foods such as protein drinks or yogurt because I am a baby when it comes to vomiting, and I was going to do everything I could to avoid that nasty problem. By Thursday, my husband, concerned that I wasn’t getting enough nutrients pretty much told me to buck-up and start drinking more than just water, and being the good wife that I am 😉 I complied. I sipped my first protein drink very slowly (as I am supposed to) and was very happy to discover that my stomach was able to tolerate the thicker fluids without incident. By the end of the day, I had had two protein drinks and a 6 ounce cup of yogurt, and didn’t have to make any emergency trips to the restroom; I was a happy camper.
The days since have progressed at what I feel is a pretty normal rate. I am supposed to get in 1.5 – 2 liters of fluids and 50 – 60 ounces of protein each day. Luckily, my protein drinks count as a liquid so I have been able to reach those goals the past couple of days. However, if I never see another protein shake again, I will be a very happy girl. I’ve never been a fan of thick liquid drinks, so making them my primary source of caloric intake the past two weeks has been challenging.
I have my follow-up appointment with my surgeon on Thursday afternoon and I am hopeful (very, very hopeful) that he will promote me to the stage three diet which includes soft foods – such as eggs, chicken, deli meat and cooked vegetables. Keep your fingers crossed for me!