I went to Brugge with DH on 28th August, the week before surgery, to have a gastroscopy to make sure that everything was ok for the band to be removed and the bypass done at the same time. The gastroscopy was great and showed nothing untoward except a teeny tiny patch of pink from indigestion/acid reflux. It must have been small as, as far as I knew I'd never had acid reflux!
I was really worried about having a gastroscopy; I'd never had one before and I was petrified of choking or something similar. I had nothing to fear. It was all totally fine, minimally annoying and after about 30 minutes, like it never happened!
We spent the rest of the day chilling in Brugge having a beer and enjoying the food. It was our anniversary weekend too which made it even nicer, so apart from the gastroscopy, it was a really lovely day out. When you consider it also cost us £1000 less to go to Belgium and have it done too, I was even more pleased!! ;-)
Then I travelled back to Brugge on 5th September and checked into the hotel ready to have all my pre-op tests and my surgery.
All my pre-ops were done on 6th: ECG, Bloods & Barium Swallow. I then had a meeting with the Dietician who gave me my post operative guidelines. Basically it would be liquid for a day and then puree for 6 weeks. Not too bad really. I then had a meeting with Dr. Dillemans who looked over all my Pre-op tests including the gastroscopy. Usually its a 95% possibility of Band to Bypass in one operation, but after reviewing my images he said that I had a 98% chance of having it in one operation as my band was in a good position and there was no erosion or slippage.
I then went in to see his secretary and handed over my bag of cash!
We went back to the hotel and chilled for a bit and then later on went out for a slap up meal in the restaurant De Carre. That was the same restaurant that I had my last meal before my band too! It was divine!
On the 7th, I had to be at the hospital early at 6:30am. I was taken to my room at about 7:30am, initial ops were all completed by 8:00am and then the first problem occurred! I had a fever.
My temperature was 38.6 oC!! This is very high, but I wasn't feeling ill at all. I had no idea how I could have been totally fine beforehand, and now had a high fever. It sent the nurse into a bit of a panic and she called a doctor. Another nurse quickly took my blood to check my CRP level and white cells. This came back clear and of no note.
Then, Dr. Dillemans, in full scrubs, came up himself and checked me over. He made me cough and stuff and felt my skin and looked at me and decided that maybe I was just hot from the room (It was BAKING!) and the fact I had got some sun the day before. With the blood results negative for inflammation or infection they were going to go ahead.
It was a huge relief! I had insurance, so if they had had to cancel my operation, then it would not have been the end of the world. It would have just meant that I would have had to wait and that would have been seriously annoying as I had psyched myself up for it.
So they prepared me for surgery. I was probably the first to go down to surgery that day I think because they finished my obs and extra blood tests and stuff all by 8:45am and Dr Dillemans had been up too… but I went down to Surgery at about 9:00am!
My room was lovely by the way: Separate sinks, toilets and everything. Such a pleasure to know you don't need to permanently carry antibacterial wipes about with you like you do here in the UK. There was also only 2 beds in the room! Much better!! So sterile.
I came out of surgery into recovery. The operation itself took about 50 minutes altogether, but I was in recovery for a long time though and not back in my room until about 3:30pm. I slept and was super dopey for the entire evening, although I didn't have that much pain. I had a drain in my side, but it didn't cause me too much bother at all. I was just worried about pulling it out!
I managed to take a couple of after shots. I had a massive bruise and fat lip too, which I assume is from where I was intubated or where they inserted the large bore gastric tube to make my new stomach pouch. It really hurt!
I was also super hot. Literally burning up and was spraying myself with the remaining water in the Evian atomiser can. I had a flannel too that I wet and left on my head. It was ridiculous. The temperature didn't go down until the evening on day 2! However, I had nothing wrong with me at all. I felt 100% fine at all times and I didn't get sick even later on.
I found it really difficult to focus on anything over the next couple of days, which was different to when I had the band. I also found it hard to swallow cold or room temperature water; coffee was much easier. The sensation of drinking and eating afterwards was totally different to when the band was there. There was no resistance at all, just a full sensation. I was super careful while eating my first meal on day 2.
I had been nil by mouth for the entire day of surgery, just using the atomiser of Evian to spray into my mouth to wet it. It helped a lot although my mouth tasted like butt!
The next day I was water only until about 6pm when they gave me a yoghurt to eat. I managed half before I could not eat any more. Im not sure why I couldn't manage more… I think it was just because I felt a revulsion. I feel that now, its like a "Urgh, I don't want anything else" feeling rather than a full feeling. I have not been hungry at all since my surgery.
This yoghurt was particularly gross. It was plain, set and just yuk, but I ate it. I got my parents to buy some Petite Suisse from Aldi near the hotel for when I got out as they are low in fat and high in protein.
My breakfast on day 3 was more usual, but not what i was expecting so early on. There was some toast, coffee and a yoghurt! It was impossible to eat that much. Just looking at it made my head swell.
The toast was like a thick Melba toast. Very dry and crispy and therefore breaks down easily. There was margarine and cheese spread or jam to have with it. I went for cheese spread as I did want to risk dumping on the jam. The coffee was amazing but it took me so long to drink that it was cold by the time I'd finished. I have to eat and drink separately, so I made sure I got my caffeine buzz first!!
I didn't even bother with the yoghurt. It was pointless even trying.
The nurse came into the room about midday and took my drain out as there was no more effluent from it and removed it. JEEEZ that thing is LONG!! It was causing me no bother at all, but when it came out YOWCH! Mine was about 6 inches. I hadn't been in much pain at all, and I was absolutely amazed by this and at how easily, if tentatively, I could get up and all about. It was hard to get out of bed and stuff, but it wasn't that bad once I was up. It was a massive improvement on how I felt after the Lap Band surgery for sure… so to get this crazy pain after removing the drain?... I just wasn't expecting it. Thankfully it settled down after a few minutes and it didn't bother me again.
The nurse put these bandages on and I was to leave them for 10 days. The drain was under the one on the far right and the old port scar was under the one next to that. The biggest tool they use goes through the one on the far right too, and both of those are quite big incisions.. just over and inch each. The others in the centre were painless and they are quite small: about 1/3rd of an inch in size. The one on the left is again quite big but not as big as those on the left. Its about an inch wide and although panels for a week or so, niggles occasionally now and then.
About 1:30 on day 3 I was released, so I got a Taxi back to the hotel. Mum and Dad were waiting for me and had been enjoying the sunshine as Belgium had been enjoying a strange and fortuitous period of late summer. It was good that there was an outdoor pool and they used it every day.
Everything went swimmingly. We left Belgium on the 11th September and I drove home. Yes, I drove! I was in great shape and in hardly any pain. It was fabulous.
However, things were about to change. You might have been wondering why I hadn't written about this until now…well!
We got home Sunday night and all was great. I went to bed and stayed there, and I stayed there all Monday too. Obviously I got up to mooch about and stuff, but just tried to relax and take it easy so that I recuperated nicely. But, I had a pain in my side.
The pain was liken a stitch. It was in my lower left back. It was really sharp sometimes, but mostly it just caught me when I burped, moved, or breathed in too far.
The pain of this stitch got worse and worse over the course of the day, and I though "here we go, here's the gas pain.. its all been too easy", because I'd had nothing at all, and it had been such a walk in the park. I jammed a pillow under my left elbow and tried not to move too much.
When I came to lie down that evening though, it was agony. It took me ages to get comfy and sort out my position. Obviously at that time I couldn't lie on my side, but lying on my back was really awful, so I was sort of half sitting, half laying down. During the night I was awoken several times by massively sharp pains like I had been drawn through with a sword. It was the sharpest, longest pain I have ever experienced. It took your breath away, and you couldn't even breathe in as breathing in hurt too much.
I couldn't cough, breath in, blow my nose, sniff, take an inhaler even though I was wheezy, move much or do anything. The only relief I had was when I was standing and panting like a dog.
At 6am Tuesday I rang my surgeon in Belgium. He did some diagnostic tests over the phone and said that he suspected I had a Pulmonary Embolism or PE for short. He said I should get to the doctor immediately and they would check me out. So that's what I did. I went to the doctor and he did few things, listened to my breathing, chest, back, sides etc… Then he made me lie down to hear my bowel sounds and I nearly died. It was the most hideous pain ever. He didn't think there was too much wrong with me, and that I would be home and tucked up in bed again by tea time. How wrong was he!
He sent me into hospital for them to double check me over, but didn't think it was anything to worry about. Considering I'd gone form a 1/10 kind of pain to a 100/10 pain within 24hours I KNEW something was wrong!
When I got to hospital I had a barrage of tests… D-Dimmer, CRP, Chest X-ray, ECG and eventually a CT scan. The D-Dimmer was raised indicating a PE, but so was the CRP (130 when normal range is less than 10!) so indicating an infection.
My worst nightmare about getting a leak was freaking me out. I was literally climbing the walls of my mind and praying, a lot!
They told me I had a PE, but also that I had significant fluid on the lung and my lung had collapsed. This only briefly made me feel better because fluid on my lung and a PE could still mean I had a leak. Then one of the nurses freaked me out because the treatment for a PE is blood thinning, which breaks down scabs as well, and as I'd had surgery so recently they thought I might start bleeding from my incisions… Well that had me terrified! I was not so much worried about my incisions coming apart, because they could stitch them, but my 2 new internal anastomoses where they had joined my bowel to my stomach!! I was going mad inside.
Heres a picture of my buggered left lung:
I made a call to my surgeon who reassured me that the anastomoses were made using a circular stapler and that they were very strong. He really put my mind at ease that I wasn't going come apart inside, that I had no other symptoms of a leak - fever, chills, pain in my shoulder sickness and nausea etc, and that it was all going to be fine. So I started to calm down about that, then started to worry about the clot moving and having a stroke! Honestly I was a mess.
After a couple of days in the hospital things started to calm down. I hadn't died and they said the clot was breaking down ok… but I now had an infection and pneumonia, so I had to start on IV antibiotics. This wasn't so bad, and I gradually started to feel less breathless, need less morphine and less oxygen.
Things started to return to normal and after a week I was released. I am still on bed rest, but I'm able to potter about. I am feeling gradually better and better and brighter in myself. I only get breathless when I climb the stairs or do something too quickly like stand up too fast and immediately start walking. I have to stand up then wait and then crack on. Very weird!
So now I am home, recuperating and taking things easy. I have also lost a significant amount of weight in a very short time. I am kind of worried what people are going to say because I haven't told many people about the bypass. Most people who know me know that I have a band, and they know that I've been in hospital having the band removed. I have failed to fill them in on the full details though.
I am in 2 minds about this. I told so many people about my band that I wished I hadn't because it didn't work. I don't want to tell anyone about the bypass for similar reasons, but also for the fact that I just don't want people judging me again like they did when I had the band. I got a ton of negative comments and looks, and smugness when it didn't work but just ruined my life daily - the "I told you so" kind of thing.
But then on the other hand, if I lose a ton of weight, people are going to ask how. I have a few friends that are obese, and a few that are morbidly obese too and I don't want to say "yeah I just dieted" and then have them think "why the hell can't I stick to it too" and feel bad about themselves. I guess I'm going have to cross that bridge when I get there.
One things for sure, everyone thinks its totally fine to comment on your weight loss or lack of it, and give you tips on how to do it. It's like a free subject for them to comment on, when in fact I think that kind of thing is more hurtful. You wouldn't comment on someones disability, or offer advice on how to rehabilitate oneself, and when you are morbidly obese like I am/was, then you are basically disabled. No amount of tips help. It just shoves your face into that pie further because someone has noticed you're fat, when you and often your nearest and dearest have been telling you for ever that no one cares and no one notices you anyway. Hmmm yeah right.
Anyway, my surgery is done, and I have to prepare myself for the barrage of comments.
I weighed in at 124kgs - 273lbs -19stone 7lbs on 7th September.
Today I am 115.6kgs - 255 - 18stone 3 on 24th September.
That's 8.4kg or about 18lbs in just over 2 weeks. BRILLIANT!!
I haven't weighed this little in about 2 years I don't think :-)