Friday, March 19, 2010

Transforming the Body

The primary "re-birthing" experience I am engaged in today actually began over a year ago, when I went to the first informational meeting to learn about Bariatric Surgery at the Riverbend Hospital.  My daughter Kate went along with me (it's always helpful to have more than one pair of ears when it comes to medical mumbo-jumbo).  We left that meeting with piqued interest, and I began a year-long process to qualify for weight loss surgery.  Early on I contacted everyone I know who had already been through surgery, and my friend Janet gave the best advice when she said, "I've discovered the most critical thing you need for this surgery is patience."

She was not kidding!  Between satisfying health insurance requirements and completing all the classes, testing, lab work and weight loss on my own (20 pounds before I even entered the hospital), I learned how to jump through hoops with patience and grace.  So much so that it came as a great surprise to me when the nutritionist told me the last week of January that they could schedule me as early as February or March!

March 15 turned out to be a much better day for me than for Julius Caesar.  After 2 hours on the operating table and a couple in recovery, my friends and family found me at home in my room - still breathing (thank God!), and beginning the process of recovery.  Because I am blessed with many friends and family members who truly care about me, I keep getting questioned about what exactly happened, and what life is like for me now... (yes, Dr. Kate, I am happy to report, I am NOT circling the drain!)  So, read on if you have one of those inquiring minds that just wants to know (skip this part if you really don't need the details)...

The surgery I had is called a Laproscopic Roux-en-y gastric bypass, the "gold standard" treatment for severe obesity (this sounds better than the medical term, "morbid obesity" - yikes!), because of its low complication rate and long term success in not only losing weight but keeping it off.  In this procedure, a small pouch is separated from the top of the stomach and is then sealed with staples (and, I'm told, a little bit of crazy glue).  The small intestine is then divided and attached to the new stomach pouch.  The section of small intestine that descends from  the bypassed stomach is reconnected to the small intestine descending from the new pouch, creating a "y" shape.  After dividing the upper stomach, the surgeon divides the small intestine in the upper jejunum and connects it to the small stomach pouch with an opening approximately the size of a dime.  The other end of the jejunum is reconnected, creating another "y" shape.  Food does not begin to be absorbed into the body until the point where the two pieces of jejunum come together. -- See?  I told you there was a lot of medical mumbo-jumbo involved!

But here's the good part.  In the first year, the average person loses as much as 100 pounds, or about 2/3s of their excess weight.  Because the pouch is limited in size, hunger is not the issue it used to be, and keeping the weight from coming back is much more possible.  If you still want more information (maybe a few pictures), check out bypass.

I spent two nights in the hospital and was released home on Wednesday (St. Paddy's Day).  Now I am learning about how to best care for my newborn pouch - see, there's that re-birthing theme again!  Before surgery I scoffed at the suggestion that I take two full weeks off work.  Now I'm wondering how I'll make it back after two weeks - not because of pain (which is noticeable), but because it just takes so L-O-N-G to eat or drink!  To give you a little better idea, here's what I did today:

7:45 am Got out of bed when daughter Kate left for school.  Our puppy hates to be the only one up when he knows I'm here.  But that is proving to be good incentive to get up and moving.

7:45-8:30 am Took a shower, dried, changed the dressing on my surgical wound, etc.

8:30-10:00 am Ate breakfast:  1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce, 3/4 cup protein shake,
vitamin D, multi-vitamin, calcium, plus two prescription medications

10:00-11:30 am Watched a movie ("Have you heard about the Morgans?" - an entertaining flick)

11:30-Noon Cleaned the kitchen, started the dishwasher

Noon-12:30 pm Checked email

12:30-2:00 pm Ate lunch:  1/4 cup unsweetened lowfat ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup pureed strawberries.  Also visited with a friend during this time
2:00-3:00 pm Cleaned the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, set up my blog

3:00-3:45 pm Rested, talked with Kate when she returned home from school

3:45-6:00 pm Went to the bank, then to the Coumadin Clinic to check blood levels

6:00-6:45 pm Rested, made dinner for Kate (it looked really good)

6:45-7:30 pm Ate dinner:  1/4 cup strained cream of chicken soup, 1/4 cup applesauce, vitamins, calcium, etc.

7:30-8:15 pm Played games with Kate... now it's off to rest again soon.

So this gives you an idea of the excitement around this house.  No wonder the puppy is bummed.  I promise I won't go into this kind of detail in future posts (how boring!), but perhaps this gives you a better idea of why I have "nothing new to report" when you call.  Oh, but there was one other highlight of the day... the weigh-in and the 4 pounds lost since Monday.  Off to a good start!
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