So, I woke up Tuesday morning, took a shower in some yummy orange antiseptic soap at the hospital’s instruction and shaved my legs so that they would be evidence that I’m not a complete slob since they weren’t allowing me to put any makeup on or do my hair. As you can see by my pre-op picture above, I wasn’t at my most glamorous no matter how fiercely I was trying to OWN that off the shoulder hospital gown!
Erik helped me pack, last minute…typical me. I don’t think I ever mentioned this, but it is probably overly apparent that I am the Queen of Procrastination. When I was pregnant with Tanner, my water broke at and there I was…running around with a towel between my legs frantically packing my hospital bag. Trust me, nobody in my family was surprised to hear this later. I think part of what was keeping me procrastinating about packing for the hospital this time was the fact that I didn’t want to THINK too much about the surgery. I still had this little voice in the back of my head that I was constantly trying to drown out saying “you aren’t really going to go through with this Michelle. When it gets right down to it, you are going to call it off so why pack?” This little voice would rear her ugly head anytime I thought about the surgery and pretty much the only way to drown it out was to move on to something completely unrelated to the surgery.
Once I was packed, I took the meds the doctor had asked me to take (blood pressure and heart meds) the morning of surgery with a tiny sip of water and told Erik I was ready. I gave my mother-in-law Margaret a hug and thanked her for coming to take care of Tanner while I was at the hospital, gave Tanner a hug and an ILY hand kiss (our special thing since he was little….we make the I Love You hand shape and touch hands together.) I bravely told him I was going to expect the royal treatment after my surgery and to get ready to wait on me hand and foot. He just grinned and told me again that I was going to be “just fine.” When did he grow up so much?
Erik and I walked out the door and got in the tiny Toyota Echo we drive, a car that was entirely way too small for my massive body and it struck me that by the time we got around to getting another car, I wasn’t going to have to test drive them all to see if I fit! I took a deep breath, looked at Erik as he started the car and just said “Can you believe we are really doing this?” Again, he reassured me that everything was going to be fine and told me how excited he was for me, God love him.
On our way there, I start to brief him on who to call, who to text and in what order. I reminded him that Dr Duperier had said that the surgery would take 1.5 hours at the most so that if they took me back at 11:00am, he would need to call my grandfather at 12:30 and give him some kind of an update so he wouldn’t worry. Out of all the people waiting to hear, I knew my grandfather would be watching the seconds tick on the clock while everyone else would be busy with work, vacations, etc. He promised that he would keep him updated.
We arrived at the hospital and while Erik parked the car, I went in to dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s on my admit paperwork. I was very paranoid that someone was going to give me morphine for pain and a prior experience left me ready to cope with pain rather than go through the throbbing headache and nausea morphine gave me! I was told to let “them” know I didn’t want the morphine when I arrived at the hospital so it was one of the first things I told the girl that was admitting me. She chuckled and said “That’s probably something you want to share with your doctor hun.” Feeling a little silly for telling her, I laughed and said “ok, but if you hear anyone talking about giving me morphine, you gonna back me up right?” She smiled and assured me she’d speak up if she was around.
After a short wait, they came to bring us back to the OR waiting room. On the way back there, all I could think was “They need to put the bariatric OR closer to the front entrance!! Seriously, the walk was longer than any walk I’d attempted thus far pre-op. I wasn’t lazy, but my calves were beginning to cramp up and my knees felt like they were going to give out on me by the time we finally made it to the waiting area! It was a nice reminder to me about why I needed to follow through with this no matter how panicked I might get prior to actually being wheeled out to the OR.
The waiting room was packed! Luckily for me, there was one fat girl seat left and I plopped my fluffy derriere down immediately to catch my breath before they could put me on a forced march to the actual pre-op area. Erik wasn’t quite as lucky as myself and wasn’t able to find a seat so he stood against the wall and made small talk until they called me back.
The nurse called me back and I immediately told her that I did not want morphine. Erik laughed as the nurse said “Ok hun, be sure to let your doctor know.” I asked if writing it on my forehead in a sharpie would be prudent, but she said that was probably going a bit overboard. Erik explained that I was a little paranoid and was telling anyone that would listen about my anti-morphine stance. She smiled again and reassured me I’d be fine. After getting all my vitals, she produced a clear cup with a blue cap and asked if I could give her some urine. Giving her a smile, I said “Oh sure, tell me not to eat and drink the night before and then expect me to produce a sample first thing in the morning under duress, that isn’t asking for much!” She laughed and told me to do my best. I found out it was not impossible to oblige even if your last drink was at the night before.
From there, they took us to where we would wait to be taken into the OR. The nurse plopped down some lovely blue non skid socks and a hospital gown and told me to undress and put them on with the opening of the gown to the back (oh yay, they still have those! I was in the mood to moon a few orderlies). I argued with her about leaving my panties on and she finally relented, but told me I’d have to remove them before they took me down. Turns out, they eventually said I could keep them on which made me strangely more comfortable with the whole process. Maybe it was feeling a little in control of things that quickly seemed to be spiraling out of my control.
Eventually Pat showed up. Pat was a long-time client/friend of my mother’s. She came by every week to get her hair done (even after my mom quit doing hair because she trusted nobody else. Later, when mom started traveling, I would take over the hair duties until we moved out of
She walked through the curtain looking just like the Pat I had seen last; a smartly dressed older woman with pretty reddish hair and a lovely warm smile. I felt a part of me instantly relax in only the way my mom or my grandfather could have calmed me at that time. I honestly can’t remember what all we talked about, but I remember her telling me that she had never really understood my lack of self esteem. She told me she had always found me adorable and no matter what size I was, she could still see that pretty little heart-shaped face in there somewhere. She also told me that she thought I was doing the right thing and that I deserved so much better for myself, but….like only Pat can do…she warned me against being my own worst enemy. We talked about my lifetime pattern of self sabotage and I assured her that I was going to be getting some help, seeing a therapist, etc. to work on those issues because I was very much aware of them and knew those patterns could very easily repeat themselves if I didn’t work on them as I slimmed down.
At some point, Erik came back in and we joked some more to help keep things light. I think Pat being there helped Erik relax a bit as well. The anesthesiologist came in, this teeny tiny woman with a clipboard and a zillion questions. Of course, the first thing I told her was “NO MORPHINE.” She wrote that down on her clipboard and very seriously began to question me about prior operations, medication reactions, history of blood clots, etc. It made me feel better to know she’d be handling the anesthesia…she was ALL business! Fine by me! I could tell she knew what she was doing and didn’t cut corners when it came to her work. I no longer feared I’d soon be on some lifetime tv special titled “I’m Still Awake! Tales from the Operating Room.”
Sometime after that, Dr Duperier poked his head in, I introduced him to Pat and Erik and he asked me how I was feeling. I reminded him that I (you guessed it) “didn’t want morphine” and he thanked me for reminding him. Erik just laughed at me as the Dr continued to palpate my abdomen and ask me if I had any questions. I didn’t.
After he left, the nurse came back in with my “cocktail” to calm me down before my trip to the OR. I asked if it was three margaritas because that was probably what I needed to keep me from bolting. She shot me up and honestly…I don’t remember much from that point on.
Erik said that they came to take me to the OR about 3 minutes later and wheeled us to the “Kissing corner” (the last place family can say goodbye to their loved one before surgery). Erik leaned over and kissed my forehead then Pat leaned in and kissed my cheek, squeezing my hand and telling me she had somewhere to go, but would be back sometime that day to check in on me. As they wheeled me off, Erik said he heard the nurse reminding me to keep my hands in the bed. Then about 5 seconds later, “Ok hun, hands in the bed ok? I don’t want you getting hurt.” A few seconds later and a bit further away, Erik heard her again reminding me to keep my hands inside the bed. I don’t know if I thought I was helping steer or if I was worried about falling out of the bed, but apparently this continued all the way to the OR. Erik said he had to laugh as he headed back to the waiting room.
Part 2: hopefully Erik will write this himself. He went through quite a bit while he waited for some word to come back about the surgery and I thought it might be nice to get his perspective. If I can’t encourage him to squeeze a few paragraphs out, I’ll give it to you in a nutshell tomorrow.
For today, I’m continuing to do well. I’m down to about 408, but in all honesty, my weight seems to fluctuate quite a bit day to day. What I can tell you is that I am walking and standing almost completely normally. I don’t know if its all the walking I’ve been doing or the weight loss or both, but I don’t care. Some of the things that have put a smile on my face in the last few days:
- Not having to sit down upon walking from my room to the kitchen. Typically I would have to sit down while I prepared my meal (which right now is usually broth or tea), but now I can walk all the way out to the kitchen, do what needs to be done, and walk back to my room without needing a rest break in between.
- Tanner looking at me today and saying “Wow mom, you are losing weight!”
- Watching my stomach deflate by the day and seeing tshirts that were snug just a month ago, now hanging off me.
I was talking to Erik earlier today and told him that I think I feel real HOPE now. Before, I had really given into the fact that I just wasn’t going to get the weight off the usual way and I never really thought I’d have the courage to follow through on the surgery. Now that I’m on the other side, I feel like I am honestly going to DO THIS. It isn’t going to be easy, but I’m ready for whatever is coming. It is nice to feel hopeful about my future again.