Panorama of San Bernardino

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Surgery day

I opened my eyes at three a.m to the sound of my alarm.  The hospital had pushed my gastric bypass surgery up from ten in the morning to five a.m..  My husband and I drove over to Orange County nauseous from fatigue.  We arrived at the hospital early.  It was only four-thirty.  The guard instructed us to wait in the lobby.  I tapped my feet and considered bolting for the door. 

I thought about how the Fourth of July fireworks looked last night from our front yard and my nephew's shouts of delight as each one of them lit up the sky. 

The receptionist checked me in at five a.m..  I changed into a white hospital gown with nothing underneath and a blue shower cap for my head.  Adrian stayed with me as I waited to go into surgery.  Doctor Ali stopped by at seven and said surgery should be starting soon.  He told me not to worry. 

They wheeled me into the surgery room half an hour later.  The nurses joked about how much they ate the day before.  The anesthesiologist looked at them and said, "C'mon guys, no talking about food."  He leaned over me and whispered, "I will have you asleep in a second."

The next thing I remember is waking up in my hospital room moaning in pain.  I felt as if someone was stabbing me with a knife in my stomach over and over.  I screamed at Adrian, "Why did I do this?"

The next two days in the hospital were unpleasant (ahem, understatement).  The morphine helped me through the pain but every two hours or so I would be poked and prodded.  There were also mandatory breathing treatments (three a day), chaperoned bathroom trips and blood draws.  I tried to take liquid down but it was hard.  For the first time in many years, I was not hungry.

My favorite part was walking the hospital floor sans underwear.  A young nurse wrapped a second hospital gown around me like a robe and giggled as she said, "I wouldn't want my butt hanging out." 

The whole time in the hospital I didn't sleep.  I merely rested.  I couldn't even read.  My body had no energy for anything except my daily ritual of "The Price is Right".

My second night in the hospital, Wednesday night, was surreal.  A woman screamed as she gagged in the room next door.  She seemed to be having some serious complications from the gastric bypass surgery.  I kept thinking, "Make it stop."  I couldn't imagine how painful it would be to throw up with a stomach punctured by six open wounds. 

They took me off the morphine late Wednesday night.  I was sad to see it go.  Pressing the button was comforting.  "Drink this," the nurse said with a smile.  Feeling a little bit like Alice in Wonderland, I took a sip of the foul poison tasting concoction and gagged. 

"Do I have to drink this?" I asked.  "It will help with the pain," the nurse responded with a stern look.  I wanted my giggly nurse back.  The nurse watched as I drained the cup.

At about two a.m., I woke up from my drug induced coma and couldn't breathe.  My chest felt tight.  I paged the nursing station and the same stern nurse came by.  "I can't breathe," I told her with a gasp.  Her face turned concerned.  They checked my vitals and asked me if my chest hurt.  When I nodded yes, they paged the doctor.  An hour and one EKG later, I was diagnosed with gas and a bad reaction to the liquid pain medicine.

It just goes to show, our bodies know things.  If something tastes vial, do not drink it. 

Thursday morning, the young giggly nurse brought me the same liquid pain medicine.  This time I was firm.  "I cannot take that I said.  Give me something else."  She obliged.

That afternoon, the doctor released me from the hospital.  The nurse wheeled me out to my sister's car and my weight loss adventure began.

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