Life’s little Curveballs

Hey All, I just thought I would update everyone here as I will also be posting a vlog tonight too, so it will be a good cross-reference.

For those of you who don’t know, last Sunday I was thrown a curveball. I went out to breakfast with my older brother, we had a great time, I had my favorite meal at the little café we were at (albeit there was a mistake with chili Verde’ but it was a yummy mistake so I rolled with it) and all seemed great. We finished eating and I felt like I had taken one too many bites. For those of you who have been through gastric bypass, this is an all too common feeling. Those of you who are sans weightless surgery, it’s that FULL feeling you get after a big holiday meal.

I felt like I knew what was up and my way of combating that issue is walking, so Rick and I decided to hit Savers for a little thrift shopping. We ended up getting there 15 minutes before they opened and that’s how I knew right when all this hit me thankfully.  Once we got inside, I put a few things in my cart, found some AMAZING work out pants for half off, and then I had to run to the ladies’ room. I was quite thankful because going #2 usually relieves some of the pressure after you’ve taken that dreaded last bite.

It didn’t help.

In fact, I felt worse. So much worse, I left my cart, with the fabulous finds in it, and walked straight to my car after letting my brother know I was heading home. I get home and I laid down on the couch. NOT my normal Sunday early afternoon activity, usually Sundays are when I get stuff done all over the house. So when Greg got up he was quite shocked to see me miserable on the couch. I told him I’d eaten too much and just needed to let the stupor wear off.

Two hours later, it still wasn’t gone. That was weird. The pain was becoming more centralized and around 1:30pm Greg came back up and sat with me. I told him my symptoms and he felt sure, just as I did that it was probably a blockage. Greg and I have both had the Roux-en-Y gastric bypass which involves creating a small pouch from the stomach and connecting that new pouch to the small intestine, bypassing most of the stomach and the first section of your small intestine and duodenum. The opening to the small intestine from a regular stomach can adjust to the size of the food you have swallowed. If it’s large, the hole will allow for that. After a gastric bypass, the man-made hole will not adjust, so if we take a larger bite, that will literally block the hole and everything we eat after that bigger bite just piles up on top of the food that’s stuck.

Now, normally, I can get rid of the food and blockage by throwing everything up in my stomach (don’t freak out, there’s hardly any acid in our little pouches and it’s not as awful as you think). This time, nothing was coming out. So Greg suggested I lay down and help the process. There are different positions that help with passing gas, food, water, etc out of your tiny pouch – and after 13 years, I have learned them all lol.

So I tried it and couldn’t get all the way laid down without breaking out into tears. The pain was concentrated right in the center of my core, (think right at the center of your boobs about 4 inches down) and every time I moved, I would dry heave (I sound like a bull-frog when I do this, so in the Graham household, it’s called “bull-frogging” just FYI).  Still, nothing is coming out, which is very concerning to us both.

By 2:30p Greg and I both decide it’s time for the ER. I literally carry a trash bag with me because I am bull-frogging the entire drive to Daybreak Hospital. It was not a pleasant experience.

Once we get to the ER I am able to get one of their little half-moon shaped bins that make the bull-frogging a little less awful (I’m only getting my saliva up, but still, it’s gotta go somewhere). *Side Note* at some point during the ER stay someone asks if I want a “throw-up bag” and they bring me a green bag that has a round hard ring at the top. Whoever invented this thing…I LOVE YOU!!! We actually “acquired” a few from the ER for future throw up moments, and Greg has now found a source for them online and we WILL be getting a box of these for me.

Anyway (tangent)…

Now comes the most horrendous part of this whole entire situation.

First, they want to give me something called a “gastric cocktail”.  Let me just tell you, this concoction should NOT have the word cocktail on it at all. The nurse keeps telling me it will help with the bull frogging but follows up with “oh and it tastes Horrible, but it really will help”. Yea I am NOT GOOD at taking anything that tastes horrible. Flashbacks of drinking FLEET I don’t know HOW MANY TIMES before getting my surgery has given me some sort of poo induced PTSD and I am being obstinate.

I finally give in after Greg uses the ‘stern voice’ on me and I start taking sips. OH HOLY FUCKBALLS ITS HORRIBLE…its Milk of Magnesia mixed with lidocaine and its literally in one of those pill cups with a straw, and it STILL takes me a full 15 minutes to drink it. But, they were right, once it got down my throat, it started working. Believe me when I say I have swallowed A LOT of awful things in my life…this was the worst.

Or so I thought.

Next up, the CT Scan. Which all in all, it was actually very pleasant thanks to the tech that took EXTRA careful care with me. We get that done and we get back to my room. There are people waiting. Three people to be exact. They want to give me an NG Tube. A Nasogastric tube to be exact that carries food and medicine to the stomach through the nose. Or in my case, extract food from the stomach. If you have never experienced this particular form of masochistic hell, do everything within your power to avoid it. No one should have to endure it. Ever.

Now, having 3 people come in to give you the NG tube says something about the procedure, at least in my head. I’m thinking “Does it really take all 3 of you to do this? If it does, who can I take out first” because I’m thinking this is not something that goes smoothly. Now, just for background reference, on my medical ID bracelet, it specifically states “NO GASTRIC TUBES” (something ALL gastric bypass patients should wear just FYI) because our little pouches stop short of a regular stomach and thus an unsuspecting EMT/Nurse can punch right through your pouch. Not the ideal situation.

So after all 3 folks force-feed this tube through my nostril, down my throat with me screaming in pain, throwing up on the big guy,  and resisting the urge to body slam EVERYONE to get the fuck out, I sit there, throw up on my gown, cloth tape barely holding this thing into place, and them bringing in a portable X-ray machine to make sure it’s in the right place. I do inform them that if it’s not, they’ve lost their shot at the moon because “this shit isn’t happening again”. THE ONLY GOOD THING to come of this nightmare tubing ordeal is this…I know that 60 is where my gastric tube has to be. Not 65, not 62…but 60! The number shall forever be burned into my brain because I went through the fires of Mordor to find it out. The “numbing” spray they put down your throat and spray into the back of your nasal passage – fuck that shit too…thus the fires of Mordor because it burned like Frodo was tossing lava right down my throat and nose.

Thankfully, my pain and suffering was a bit softened as we are told I am being transferred to the University of Utah Hospital for Emergency Surgery (wait what?) – and in walk 2 big burly Firemen/EMT’s, which if you know me at all, makes me happy no matter what condition I am in. At this point pain meds are kicking in, I am somewhat numb and all I remember is something about mustache wax being handmade in Alabama and Greg telling me he is following us to the hospital. (Any further details will have to be provided by Greg, most of the next few hours are a blur).

Once we get to the U, I get settled into my room and almost immediately a doctor comes in and explains I have a hernia, intestines were shifted from the right all the way to the left side of my body, there’s a hole, bowels may need to be removed and it’s all going to happen the next day (Mon 10/21). Greg says he’s staying the night, I come out of my stupor and tell him to go home and take care of the furbabies because there is NO way he would be able to get good enough sleep on a chair to be able to be with me all day the next day during surgery. (This is when I used MY stern voice).

The next 3 days were pretty much one long nap, interrupted by people taking my vitals, giving me pain meds, and making sure I was able to pee because I will be DAMNED if I was letting them put another tube in my body anywhere!!!

Surgery happens on Monday and I am officially part of the bariatric surgery recipients of the U (an elite club that has a TON of benefits I only knew a little about but was jealous I didn’t get my original surgery from once I got hired at the U). I told my doc this and he was like, you could have found a less painful way to join the club. LOL well duh.

After all, is said and done, I have 5 small laparoscopic incisions, 2 on the left side, 2 on the right side and one in my belly button, with a 4-inch incision right down the middle of my body, where the pain started to top it all off.  The surgery went VERY well, all my intestines are great, nothing had to be removed, and the rather large hole that was in my abdominal wall is all closed up!  I should not have an issue again. My intestines were twisted and pulled through the hole and were actually in a completely different place than they should have been – everything is back where it belongs and I am well on my recovery path.

The hardest part of this entire situation (sans the whole NG tube fiasco) is me scaling back my everyday activities to a point I can heal, recover, rest and recuperate.  I was off work for an entire week, and honestly, sleep is what I did most. I was able to walk the day I got out of the hospital (Wed 10/23) and did 2 miles that day, but that was with the help of a girdle and a binder and lots of pain meds. Walking helps the bowels wake up and not going #2 for an entire week would put me back in the hospital (I beat it by a day thankfully). So walking was good.

Walking is all that I can do right now. Well, until today anyway. I have decided that 38.37 miles for the month of October is going to have to be enough of a win because I can’t seem to rest enough right now. I was in bed before 9pm last night because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Today, as I get back from my conference and sit in my car in the parking lot contemplating doing my walk at lunch because the snow was really lite and there was still some hint of sunlight out, the stubborn part of me gave in and I called it.

I know it’s a mental thing, I know it’s the data-driven part of me that wants to hit certain milestones, and it’s a competitive thing, I don’t want to look weak or come across as someone who gives up on her goals. And to be honest, when I look at it logically, I know it’s what’s best for my recovery. But it’s that little fucker in the back of my head that gives me that look of “see I knew you’d find an excuse to give up” – and that’s where my brain goes.  I get it when it’s hard to shut those voices up. In my case, they’re either telling me to have some cake, it will all be better with buttercream, or they’re berating me for giving in and not pushing hard enough and being weak.

And I can hear all of you screaming right now to tell them to shut up…and I do…but some days it’s harder than it should be. And that’s why I share all of this right now, because I know some of you have those same little fuckers in your head and simply knowing that other people are fighting them too helps.

At least I hope it does 🙂

Amy

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