Tag Archives: Puget Sound Surgical Center

First week out

Today marks one week since the surgery. Valerie is getting better and better as each day passes. She has only taken pain meds one more time since we stopped after the initial 24 hours and that was a half a pill that night.

Valerie continues to watch her favorite cooking shows, much to my chagrin, but she pointed out that it really doesn’t matter which shows she watches, there are ads for food, restaurants etc. EVERYWHERE. ‘Tis true. I compare it to the break up of a relationship. As soon as it happens, you hear every flipping love song ever written on the radio, even on the Muzak systems in stores, back to back. They’ve been playing all along but you don’t notice them until you experience their meaning. With this type of operation and permanent change in a life, there is a certain amount of mourning that transpires and I think perhaps Valerie is practicing “immersion” therapy.

Every day means more movement and that’s good. She’s able to sip more liquids at a time, but isn’t getting all 60 ounces per day that they recommend. She says it doesn’t appear that she is dehydrated from the color of the urine, but I’d like her to get more in. We were able to change-up the liquid intake to add some chicken broth and some cream of mushroom soup – strained so there are no mushroom pieces – and some thinned pudding. She is starting to get a bit frustrated by the diet, though she understands the process and the need for the progression. She just wants to be a the stage where she can have something more “substantial”. She has said that she just wants to chew something. Her mother said she should take a bite of chicken, chew and then spit it out, but that’s a whole other eating disorder! 🙂

For the two weeks prior to the surgery I followed along with her on the 40g a day carb diet and lost 8 lbs myself. Since the surgery I haven’t been eating normally. I can’t seem to pinpoint the exact cause. I do not want to eat in front of her at this point. She tells me its ok but I just don’t want to be THAT person and eat the things she can’t. I know I need to eat but it seems like my mind isn’t quite following along. When I had to go out for appointments of my own and/or shopping expeditions, I found myself hitting the drive thru’s of McDonalds and Wendy’s. Hostess should never have come back, ’nuff said. Since the Sunday prior to the surgery I’ve had daily bouts of IBS and while it’s partly due to the diet, I am sure it is also due to my nerves about Valerie, the surgery and the aftermath. I have always had my nerves manifest themselves in different ways. Even when I have eaten relatively healthy items, the effects have been the same. I guess it’s something I just need to work through. A friend, and neighbor, who has been through this surgery told me that I will lose weight too — which I’m ok with — but I don’t think it’s meant to happen this way.

Today marks the first day she is on her own. I have to return to work. I left her with some of the things she can eat and drink, but beyond that I won’t be there to take care of her. She has done very well and honestly I haven’t done too much except be there for her. Valerie is very independent and while I am glad, I get frustrated with her when she tries to do too much. I know she’ll be fine, but I worry just the same.

Tomorrow we go see Dr. Landerholm for a follow-up. As of yesterday,. Valerie has lost 13 pounds. Despite the fact that a liquid diet will cause that effect, she is thrilled. We both are.

**CORRECTION** Valerie has lost 19 pounds to date, not 13. ☺

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Surgery day

It’s here. Finally. Check in was at 1:15 and we managed to get up to the area about 12:30. First time we’ve been early for anything in quite some time. HA! I went to the hotel and they had my room ready so I checked in and took my little bag in. We then drove to the Puget Sound Surgical Center and made sure I had all the contact info for everyone that I was supposed to text when this is done.

Valerie prepped

They didn’t get us into the prep area until about 2:45pm (surgery was scheduled for 2:30). There we just waited and went through the questions each group of people had to ask: What’s your name, what’s your birthday, who’s your surgeon, what are we doing for you? etc. Then they started the IV and we chatted with the anesthesiologist and the Surgeon. They took her back about 3:20. Now I just wait. I ran to grab a bite quick because I hadn’t had anything since last night. Now, it’s the waiting game. She should be about done with the surgery as I write this and I will probably see the doctor in about 20 to 30 minutes.

Valerie and I talked about the surgery and all it entails — emotionally and physically– a bit over Thanksgiving weekend, but quite a bit on the way up here this morning. It’s scary… really scary. She was really apprehensive and the question of whether this was the right thing etc. The main thought is “most people don’t usually go in and ask that a perfectly healthy organ be removed, or partially removed”. I told her that maybe the organ is healthy but it’s causing issues with the rest of her. She’s afraid of failing and getting right back where she is. We agreed that we will be looking at the positive things she will be getting out of this. We are going to make a list of the things she is looking forward to: crossing her legs, sitting comfortably in seats at the theatre, not having to purchase two seats for a plane ride or ask for a seatbelt extender, being able to go to a restaurant and not be concerned whether or not they have chairs with no arms. It’s not like this list will be a check list in the sense of a barometer of whether or not she’s successful as it will be a way to celebrate the positive outcome(s) of this surgery. It’s not going to be easy, we both know that. I know that she’s ready for it. The permanency of it all is a bit daunting for her at the moment, but she’ll get better with that.

While we were waiting for them to take her back, Valerie said something that I thought was a bit funny..not ha ha, but just interesting: she thanked me for letting her do this. It took me back a bit. I think I understand why she said it, but in all honesty, this is something she wants and I am just her support. I want to help her get to where she wants to be. I want only the best for her. We have been best friends for over 35 years and partners for over 12. Because of my commitment to her as a friend and partner, and because I love her I will do anything to help her achieve that goal. I know it’s not going to be an easy road; it’s a major lifestyle change. And it won’t be easy for me either. I am an enabler by nature. I call myself a “hunter/gatherer” but I know that Valerie needs to do most of this by herself. I am going to be there for her every step of the way. I know we will both come out on the other side of this together and happy. I will need to push her a bit and she may not be happy with me at times, but dems the breaks. 🙂

The doctor came out about 5pm and showed me the pictures from the surgery. He had been worried that she had a hiatal hernia too. Valerie hasn’t had any issues, but he felt a really hard lump at the top of the incision from her gallbladder surgery years ago. Turns out she had three hernias! He said the other techs in the operating room kept saying “and she wasn’t in any pain?” She’s a tough cookie, to be sure. The Dr. was able to repair one of the three, and reduce the scar tissue on the others. He said typically he would repair the upper one, but to do so properly it would require a mesh and he doesn’t want to introduce a foreign body when he took out a good portion of the stomach. He said if it give her problems we can go in and fix it later, he just wants her to heal more from the bypass first. Even though I had good feelings about the outcome and expected exactly what I heard, I was very relieved to have him tell me all that. Now I just have to wait a few hours before I can see her. I will only get to see her for about an hour and then I’ll get kicked out only to have to pick her up between 5 and 6 am tomorrow. I am looking forward to seeing her and getting here home to start the next part of the adventure!