I mentioned in a post that Mister recently had surgery. I didn’t mention any more than that, mostly because I wasn’t sure that Mister would be ok with me telling you all of the gory details. But we talked about it, and he doesn’t mind, so here goes.
Due to various factors – herniated discs in his back being a huge one – Mister’s weight over the last year or so has gone up. And up, and up, and up. It got to the point that getting out of the car and walking around it to pump gas was too much physical activity for him. When we flew to New England for our vacation last fall, we knew there was no way that Mister would be able to walk all the way from the car to security to the gate, so we asked for wheelchair assistance. Being first in line at security and first on the airplane was a nice trade-off, though. Anyway, I point this out because Mister was fat. Way fat. Having herniated discs put him in a Catch-22 situation. He couldn’t do any significant exercise because of them, so he packed on the pounds and the weight made his back feel worse. It sucked all around.
We knew some people who had weight loss surgery and had seen some success with it. A couple different friends here in town had the Lap-band done, and one of my imaginary internet friends had the RNY. Adam talked about his experience getting the Lap-Band. Those are basically the only two options available at the local weight loss surgeon’s office, as we found out when we went for an informational seminar. They did mention another procedure, the vertical sleeve gastrectomy, and it sounded like it would be the best choice for Mister, but the local surgeon said that it’s not available in this country. So, with a lack of any other options, we settled on the Lap-band.
Insurance companies are funny about weight loss surgery. If they cover it, they usually don’t contribute much (not as high a percentage of the costs as say, an emergency appendectomy). Which is kind of funny, because losing weight alleviates a lot of health problems. When they do cover it, they usually like you to go on a doctor-supervised diet for 3-6 months and do all sorts of other things that NO ONE else having any kind of surgery has to go through. Those things right there are enough to stop some people from doing this. Lucky for us, Mister’s parents offered to gift us the money so we didn’t have to do that.
Mister was also not too set on the Lap-band. He definitely did NOT want the RNY, because he really didn’t like the idea of someone rearranging his plumbing. Nor was he keen on the risks of malabsorption and dumping syndrome that are common with that procedure. As far as the Lap-band goes, we knew that it was easy to eat around it, and didn’t like the fact that it left this foreign object inside you for like, ever. Further research showed that if we were to ever move out of the area, we’d be hard pressed to find a surgeon who would do the fills required to keep the Lap-band doing its job. Also, I found out through another one of Adam’s posts that the reason one needs fills all the time is because the saline dissipates over time – it is not because your esophagus gets smaller as you get thinner, like the surgeon at the seminar we went to said and like I see a lot of people saying on various message boards. This makes it a lifelong maintenance item, in addition to the lifelong lifestyle changes that need to be made. It was too much. Again, fate stepped in and led us to a doctor that does the procedure Mister wanted.
One of Mister’s relatives in the SF Bay area had a vertical gastrectomy done at Laparoscopic Associates of San Francisco and highly recommended them. This worked out perfectly, since Mister has family in the area that we could stay with during the initial recovery before coming home. So, Mister got in touch with the doctor and after some consultations with the doctor, dietitian and such, the surgery was scheduled for December 16.
I initially did not want to go up to the hospital to sit and wait for him. I didn’t think I’d be very good at doing that without making myself and everyone else around me crazy, so I planned on being at work and going up that weekend to drive him home. At the last minute I freaked, called into work, and packed a bag so I could go up with him. When it came down to it, being there for him was more important to me than my own sanity. That and being with him as much as I could be calmed me more than not being there. So the day before the surgery, we drove up to San Francisco, met the doctor for the first time (and one last consult before the surgery), and drove back down to the south bay to see the in-laws. We got settled and arranged a wake up time so that we could be at the hospital for 6am. It wasn’t a very good night’s sleep, but I don’t think anyone sleeps well before something like that.
The next morning we all piled into the inlaw’s land yacht for the trip into San Francisco. We got to the hospital, checked in, and waited. When Mister got called back, I went with him. I wanted to stay with him until they kicked me out. I helped him get into his oh-so-stylish hospital gown and packed his clothes in the regulation hospital “patient property” bag. He joked with the nurse a bit as she got an IV started on him. Mister and I have very similar humor styles, so some of the jokes were in stereo, or so it seemed. Good spirits is always a good thing. The doctor came in to say hi and took off again. Then we walked back to the OR area. The surgical nurse hooked Mister up to the warmer. We weren’t sure what this meant, but they guy came at Mister really fast with a big hose and started fumbling around in the genital region. Turns out that the gown has two layers and has a vent area to hook the hose up to so warm air can be delivered. The vent on the gown just happens to be near the nether regions. Anyway, Mister met with the surgical nurse and the anesthesiologist – more questions, looking, and last minute checks. Then it was time go to. The doctor likes to have patients walk into the OR if they can to help reduce the chances of blood clots, so off Mister went, and I went back to the waiting area. Walking out of there, it was hard for me to not lose my shit, because if I did I knew that there was no way I’d be getting up off the floor anytime soon. So luckily I was able to let that feeling pass and got back to where the in-laws were waiting.
We were told that we could wait downstairs in the lobby, and I could check in at the desk for information. They gave me one of those flying saucer things they give you when you’re waiting for a table at a restaurant. The surgery was scheduled to take about 2 hours, so we ate breakfast at the cafe and browsed the gift shop a bit, then sat down to wait. Finally, just past 11am, my buzzer went off. I ran over to reception, where they told me that Mister was in recovery and that I’d be able to see him in about 2 hours. Yay! More waiting, but he was OK. About 20 minutes later the doctor came down. He gave me a paper with some post-op instructions, and a copy for our doctor here at home, and told me that the surgery went well but that Mister woke up from the anesthesia swinging and ready to fight. Mister’s never been under or had surgery before, but this definitely sounded like him. I was happy, and continued waiting anxiously to see him.
We ate lunch at the cafe again, then went to find Mister since I should be able to see him. After walking around and being led back and forth a bit, I finally found out the room he’d be in and was able to wait there. They kept him in recovery a little bit longer because his blood pressure started to rise, but pain meds took care of that and he was finally able to come down to his room. When they wheeled his bed into the room, Mister had a goofy smile on his face and was doing a modified version of the Royal Wave. Yep, he’s definitely going to be fine.
The recovery wasn’t as easy as Mister initially thought it would be. He thought that the pain would be no problem, but this was a bit more than he wanted. For laparoscopic procedures, they fill the belly area with gas, and it takes a while to dissipate – which is done through burping and farting. Plus, while the doctor was in there he fixed an umbilical hernia, which was the most painful of Mister’s incisions, so he wasn’t fully expecting that. But Mister got exponentially better with each passing day, and once we survived the awful California freeways, the only complaint that Mister had was drinking those blasted protein shakes all the time.
The diet is different now. Mister was on thin liquids for 2 weeks, and since he needs to make sure he gets enough protein, he was drinking those awful vitamin store protein shakes. After that was soft solids – things like cottage cheese, eggs, etc. – and more shakes to make sure he gets the protein in. The focus is protein, so that comes first, before any kind of carbs, which he maxes out on at 40g per day. He’s on solid food now, and needs to make sure not to eat too much at once. His stomach is now a thin tube instead of the giant pouch it was, so it’s 2-4oz at a time, no snacking, and chew thoroughly. It’s a big change, for sure.
So how’s he doing? Great! Mister is really doing awesome. He weighed in at 422 as he was walking into the OR. We didn’t have a scale at home that could weigh him, but the doctor recommended one that could (and looks just like a regular bathroom scale), so we ordered that. As of this writing, exactly 1 month after surgery, Mister is down to 368. He has more energy now – not enough to be running a marathon, but enough to help me out with some light housework. Also? This will sound very strange to you, since he has to go down to eating practically nothing, but he’s got a renewed interest in cooking. He said that since he can only eat so much and he needs to make every bite count, he wants to make sure that what he eats is as flavorful as possible. I’ll admit that flavor isn’t one of my strong points in cooking (Bland is Grand!), so I think we’re both happy with Mister cooking more.
That’s what’s been happening with us lately. It’s hard to have so much going on and not be able to write about it, but now you know. It’s already brought about a positive change for Mister, and I hope it will bring a lot more positive changes for us. Mister and I both want to be healthier, and this certainly puts him on a path in the right direction. If I’m going to be eating what he eats (but in normal stomach sized quantities) and making sure I don’t bring tempting foods into the house, then that will be good for me as well. I’m already down about 3lbs this month, so hopefully I’ll continue on that path too. Here’s to good health and my incredible shrinking husband!