26 Days Later

My barium swallow is tomorrow at 7:30am. As a person who is regularly unable to fall asleep before 5am this is going to be really interesting.

Since I last wrote my recovery has been progressing slowly but surely. I'm no longer experiencing dumping symptoms, but food is also no longer traveling through my digestive system without help. I'm still nauseous all the time. This is the way things were pre-surgery so I'm hoping that they don't stay like this. If they do... I don't know. I suppose I'll be able to call these operations total failures. I don't want to, but I don't like what my body is telling me.

Things have been hard. Hard is an understatement.

For the greater part of every day I find myself wondering if it'd be possible to pinch myself and wake up from this nightmare. I don't even try to lie to people who ask me how I'm doing. I'm doing terrible, thanks for asking.
I thought that time- and the ability to eat a wider range of liquids- would abate my cravings for solid food, but that hasn't been the case. I think about eating all the time. I dream about it. I would do terrible things for the ability to eat a sandwich right now. All I want in life is a sandwich. After all of this is over I don't think I'll ever eat soup again.
I have been tolerating slightly chunkier soups. Other forays into soft foods- such as thin cheese slices and pasta- have not been as successful. I've also been having issues with cold drinks, which is is common, but difficult because drinking anything that isn't ice cold makes me nauseous. This means I also haven't been drinking enough, and my poor body is having a really hard time keeping up.

Have you ever almost passed out inside a Target during a pre-Christmas rush? It's not a pleasant feeling. Similarly, I almost fell over dead at my grandparent's house on Christmas because I had done too much on too little during the day.

My weight loss has continued and I'm officially at 17lbs, though I believe some of that may be my usual pre-period bloat. Interestingly, my period is exactly a week late today but there is no chance that I'm pregnant. I think that's really saying something about how damn undernourished I am right now.

In other news my stimulator has been turned off since before surgery, so when I can finally get in to get it turned back on I'll be able to easily see if it's really helping me or not. Wouldn't it just be a kicker if it too wasn't helping me at all? What a year!

But to end on a happier note; we had a wonderful holiday, N continues to be my rock, and R the light of my life.

How sweet is this?

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday as well!



After a week of low-calorie clear liquids, the first thing I wanted to do when I got home from the hospital was have a giant bowl of creamy soup and a milkshake. Unfortunately this plan did not work out very well. I'm not sure if it's dairy, sugar, or just the fact that I'm putting anything in my GI system, but eating or drinking anything (except for water and green tea) almost immediately makes me feel awful. It's possible that I have in fact developed dumping syndrome, but my digestive system is still healing so a lot of wacky things might be happening now that might now happen in the future. I refuse to have any hope though.

I'm so burned out on broth and jello that I've been mostly drinking smoothies lately- with varying success. My food intake has been averaging one smoothie a day plus water (plus iced tea when someone brings me it) and therefore I have very little energy/ motivation/ will to live. I need to pick up some instant breakfast shakes (I refuse to ever have Atkins, Ensure, or Boost ever again) and see if I can get some calories that way. I've lost 10lbs since surgery and trust me, this is the worst diet ever. I would gain many, many pounds in exchange for a normal digestive system.

I'm not sure if the fact that I literally can't eat real food makes things psychologically harder or easier than when I was on the pre-op diet. I'm actually leaning towards harder because I know that no matter how hungry I get, there are very few things I can actually ingest. A few nights ago I got desperate and ate a chip. I made sure to ground it into mush in my mouth before swallowing it, thinking that was good enough and IT WAS THE WORST MISTAKE OF MY LIFE. (Only slight hyperbole.)

I believe that the chip mush got stuck in my wrap (the bottom part of my esophagus that they wrapped my stomach around) and the pain was horrifying. I actually considered going to the hospital. The best way to describe it is someone wildly stabbing you in the stomach over and over, in really intense waves. What my body really wanted to do was vomit the chip mush back up, but because this surgery has made my body unable to vomit all I could do was gag and dry heave all the while my mouth was watering profusely. I had done a stupid, bad thing and I paid for it dearly. I do not want to make that mistake every again.

Unfortunately I think the chip incident has damaged my wrap a little, and set my healing process behind. I've had reflux the past two nights which has been really concerning. And then last night I tried to eat very mushy (and very thoroughly chewed) scrambled eggs and I was hit with the same stabbing pains. Luckily I didn't start gagging and heaving again. The eggs tasted so good but I just couldn't get them down. I gave the plate back to N crying. I've been doing a lot of crying lately.

I've been asking myself again and again if it's been worth it. I got these surgeries in order to be able to eat without nausea, bloating, and constipation. But right now I can't eat at all without some nausea, a lot of pain, and the opposite of bowel issues. The difference now is that I physically can't eat things that make me suffer (to an extent, i.e. chipgate 2014)- something that I used to do every day.

I have a long, long couple of months ahead of me and if I don't stab anybody at the various Christmas dinners we attend it's really going to be a Christmas miracle. Be thankful if your body has the ability to eat, digest, and expel food properly. I wasn't. And you never know what you have until it's gone.

Operation Week

From Friday the 28th to Wednesday the 3rd I consumed a TOTAL of less than 1,600 calories (I was keeping track with My Fitness Pal.) Obviously this meant I had no energy and felt constantly as if I was about to fall over dead. I was dragging prettyyy hard by Wednesday and just barely got R to preschool and then myself to a pre-op appointment where my doctor turned off my stimulator for surgery.

Thursday the 4th was my surgery. I wasn't allowed to eat anything after midnight but I wasn't really hungry because I was running on adrenaline. I checked into the hospital at 11am and my surgery was at 1pm. I believe I got into recovery around 4, but everything post-surgery was kind of a blur. I woke up in a lot of pain and had a little bit of nausea which worried me because this surgery means I can't throw up, and I'd have been in a whole mess of trouble if my body had tried. I wanted to avoid the recovery nurses having to give me painkillers, but about half an hour into waking up I was involuntarily moaning in pain so they blessedly gave me a couple doses of fentanyl (great stuff) while they waited for a room to open up.

When I got up to my post-op room N was there (bless him) and I was in a lot of pain again so the nurses started giving me dilaudid (not as great) and IV phenegran (painful but knocked me out.) I was scheduled for a barium swallow in the morning to make sure my pylorus incision wasn't leaking, so they wouldn't let me have anything other than ice chips. I wasn't that hungry anyway, but I felt like I was dying of thirst. They almost took my ice chips away and I was like, over my dead body. I slept for the majority of that evening/ night and into the morning.

On Friday morning they still would only let me have ice chips (so it had been a full week since I had really eaten) and my barium swallow kept getting pushed back. The nurses wanted me to start walking the halls to ease my shoulder pain from the gas they use in laparoscopic surgery, but I was running on literally, LITERALLY nothing so there was no way that was going to happen.

They finally wheeled me down to the x-ray room around 1, and I had to wait outside for another hour because the woman who had gone before me threw up everywhere. Yeah, barium tastes like urine flavored car fluid. It is AWFUL. But this time I didn't ugly cry and managed to get through the whole test. The test came back showing a significant motility delay (duh) but it showed that my pylorplasty wasn't leaking which meant I had the ok to go home. Unfortunately my oxygen kept dipping and I was in a metric fuckton of pain, so I decided to stay one more night.

On Saturday morning- despite not getting up to walk once- I managed to get out of the hospital which was a blessing and a curse. I missed my own bed and no longer wanted a giant needled shoved in my arm (and a giant drainage tube stuck in my side- that was interesting) but I was going to miss IV pain meds and friendly nurses. Seriously, bless nurses. All of them. What a job. I love you.

I laid in bed for the rest of the weekend, and tried not to take many painkillers. My shoulders were killing me, and my abdomen was very sore. As the week has gone by I've been moving around more and more, and I feel like my body- aside from my digestive track- has healed from the surgery. Externally it wasn't as difficult a surgery as my last one, but internally it was much more complicated and thus my recovery has been a lot more complicated. More on that in the next post!