I can hardly believe it, but it’s been almost a month since I had LAP-Band™ surgery. I feel like I’ve been pretty quiet as far as the blog goes, the occasional post containing relevant news articles notwithstanding. The absence of new posts hasn’t been due to a lack of subject material, however, but more due to the fact that I haven’t really had the energy for much. But now that I’m back to feeling human again—at least most of the time—I figure it’s time for an update.
I mentioned I’ve been tired a lot lately. If you’re in the midst of pursuing some kind of bariatric surgery, let me warn you now: Your doctor will tell you that you will be tired following surgery. No matter how empathetic a person he or she is, unless they themselves have had bariatric surgery, they only have a conceptual idea of what they’re talking about. So the word “tired” doesn’t even begin to describe it.
In my case, it was more like a feeling of being constantly sapped of all energy forever. My energy levels were lower than they were when I had the flu, and impossibly even lower than when I had what I lovingly refer to as the Martian Death Plague*. This made total sense, of course, as my body was trying to repair itself after surgery and not getting a lot of external energy in order to do that. (It’s thanks to this that when I post Status Update #1, the first in what will be a new series, your eyes may bulge out at my new weight.)
Frustratingly, although I felt constantly sapped, I wasn’t really tired enough to sleep. Or perhaps that was just me stubbornly wanting to stay awake and watch horrible movies on Netflix. (The marathon continued, by the way—if you’ve never seen it before, “The Hunt for Red October” is a good movie.) In any case, after surgery, you will not just be tired. You will be the most drained you’ve ever been in your life, at least if you’re anything like me. I did read an account or two online of band patients taking only a day or two off from life, but I gather that such is not the norm.
Following surgery, I was of course also on a liquid diet for a few days. After that, I was on a puree diet, then next a soft food diet, and finally on Wednesday, I will be back to eating solid food. The hardest thing during all of this has been eating enough—which is a very unusual thing for me. It’s also been difficult to make sure I’m properly hydrated, and that part is still a little touch and go. But I’m working my way toward some kind of balance, and I think I’m finally getting there.
So now the next step will be to make sure that what I’m eating is as nutritious as it needs to be. I have some guidelines for that, thankfully, so here’s hoping that it won’t feel like as much of a shot in the dark as it has in the past.
Now for something that absolutely no one warned me about. This wasn’t in any of the preparatory materials given to me either by my doctor or by the pre-op informational interactive animations my health network sends out, and nobody mentioned it at the seminar I went to last spring when I first started looking into doing this to myself. I really wish that someone somewhere had talked about this. Thankfully I have a friend at work who’s been through multiple surgeries and said, rather offhandedly, something that made me feel a whole lot better.
There is every possibility that, immediately following your surgery, you’ll wish you hadn’t had it.
Seems impossible, right? I mean, in my case, I spent almost a year looking into LAP-Band™ surgery, going to consultations with the surgeon, meeting with the dietitian, researching things online, and yes, fantasizing about what it would be like to be remarkably thinner. I wanted this thing so much I went through three months of supervised weight loss, was willing to run the risk of paying through the nose for whatever my insurance didn’t cover**, and, when I was approved but couldn’t proceed due to finances, came back after four or five months and raised my hand for it again.
And yet for the first three or four days, I was terrified of what I had done to myself. I couldn’t believe that I let someone cut me open and wrap a medical device around my stomach just so I would lose weight. I felt horribly guilty that I wasted my team of medical professionals’ time, and that I’d made such a big fuss on this blog and in my family and social circles. I felt like a terrible person.
But apparently it’s not uncommon for surgery patients to not be terribly pleased with the state of themselves a day or three after surgery. Psychologically, that makes perfect sense. I was in a lot of pain (though not so much I felt it necessary to take anything but the anti-inflammatory medication prescribed by my surgeon). I was abnormally worn out. And I think the knowledge that I had a foreign object wrapped around one of my internal organ just gave me the heebie-jeebies. Nothing can make you recognize your own mortality quite so much as knowing, in a way that isn’t just conceptual, that you are a bag of meat.
So if you elect to have bariatric surgery and then afterward start to wish you’d never even heard of the idea, you’re not alone. Don’t beat yourself up over it.
The next hurdle was going back to work, which I did this past Monday after taking off two more days than I originally intended. I needed those two days. And in fact I needed Tuesday, as well. But I was able to finish out the work week, and I feel a whole lot better for it. Getting out and being active has done wonders, I think. I figured at one point that if I didn’t just do that that it would take longer for me to feel able to do so.
On that note, if you’re mobile enough to do so, make sure you’re talking walks. Even despite how tired I’ve been, I’ve still be going for twenty-minute walks when it’s nice enough out. Not only will the exercise make you feel better, but being out in the sun and the air will, too.
This week I also forced myself to go to a scheduled band practice despite being tired, and am glad I did that, too. And let me tell you, it’s nice to be singing without tears in my diaphragm.
Also, all of this craziness becomes more and more worth it every time I look in the mirror. It’s nice to have days where I actually feel thin, as opposed to feeling like a blob all the time. I can already see the positive change in my weight, as can other people. My skin feels firmer in the baggy places, too. And yes, I did get stupidly excited the first time I saw the barest hint of shadows around my collar bone.
I have a one-month post-op meeting with my surgeon on Monday. I’m not completely certain what will happen during this meeting, so we’ll see how that goes. I do know I will be weighed, and I intend to post my updated weight and possibly a photo as a Status Update. Since I’ll be meeting with my surgeon once a month over the next year for band adjustments, expect this to be a regular thing. As I mentioned, it will be a new series.
Until then, happy spring.
Note that what you can’t see, because my camera’s not that good, is that it’s actively snowing.
*The Martian Death Plague was an illness I had in January of 2011. It was memorable not only because of how it made me feel, but because of the residual cough that lasted for four and a half months that then led to my being diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. This illness did not involve vomiting, thankfully, but I am nevertheless convinced it was some sort of flu. It was the worst an illness has ever made me feel in my life.
**My insurance covered everything but about $1,400.00 and for that I have money in reserve. My husband has a Flex Account through his employer. If you remember, it was this account’s being empty that kept me from having surgery last year.