It’s been a month since the sleeve…

8 minute read

January 19, 2020, 2:05 PM

It has been a little more than a month since I had the gastric sleeve surgery.  As of my one-month follow-up appointment with the doctor on January 7, I had lost 23 pounds since the surgery.  That is on top of the 16 pounds that I lost while I was on the pre-op liquid diet, for a total of 39 pounds lost in about six weeks.  Not bad.  I will get weighed next in the middle of February when I have my DOT physical, and so I’ll see how my weight loss is continuing at that time.

The time in the hospital was certainly an interesting experience, and my discussion of it in a previous Journal entry was a bit inadequate, since I was not quite feeling like myself again when I wrote it.  I’ve also learned a few things since then about what I experienced that I didn’t know at the time.  For one thing, I realized that the reason that I hurt all over was from the gas that they use with the laparoscopy.  As part of that process, they pump your abdomen full of carbon dioxide, and that stuff has to go somewhere once the surgery is over.  When everyone said “gas pains” about the surgery, I was expecting something more akin to bloating like when you eat something that doesn’t agree with you.  You know the kind where you go into the bathroom, you produce a little tiny Brazil nut-sized poop and then just fart a lot but feel better afterward?  That’s what I was expecting.  This was not that.  It turns out that the body has to absorb that gas, and it makes everything hurt, including things that had nothing to do with the surgery.  My upper back was sore.  My shoulders were sore.  My calves were sore, too.  It went away after a couple of days, but it definitely made for an unpleasant night at the hospital, since I was sore from that, and all of the stuff that they had attached to me made it difficult to move around in the bed.  Let’s just say that I was thankful to sleep in my own bed again the following night.  That pain from the gas was a lot more manageable when I was in familiar surroundings and not hooked up to a bunch of stuff.

You’ve also got to love the things that you say while you’re under the influence of the various things that they have you on in the hospital.  They gave me all kinds of anti-nausea meds, for one, but then when it was time to go into the operating room, they gave me some stuff through my IV that made me a bit loopy just before wheeling me in.  I got into the operating room, and I was thinking, oooooooooooh, look at the pretty lights as I studied all of the reflectors on them.  Then when they gave me the gas to put me out, all I could think of was that I wasn’t feeling sleepy.  Then the next thing that I remembered, it was done.  Later, as two nurses were wheeling me to my room on a stretcher, my hospital gown was apparently disheveled, because they asked me if my testicles were swollen.  I said, “No, I just have long nuts.”  I imagine that the nurses kind of died a little inside when I said that, but I suppose that such is what happens when the anesthesia is wearing off, because I certainly wouldn’t say that in real life.  But it made for a good laugh later on.

Then the recovery period was pretty good.  I gave myself an extra day of clear liquids before moving up to full liquids, because I didn’t feel confident about my ability to get enough plain water in me to move up to full liquids.  As it was, when I was at the hospital, right after the surgery, they gave me a tray full of gelatin, some kind of broth, and water, but I barely touched any of it.  Same thing again the next day.  I felt bad about wasting the broth, but if I could barely drink water, broth seemed too bold of a move.  Considering that a few hours after surgery, I threw up right after drinking water, I wasn’t going to chance it.  Also, because of the clear liquids that I was on for three days, along with the very little bit of residue that the pre-op diet produced, I didn’t poop for five days.  It was only after being back on full liquids for a few days that I finally did a poop again.  Along with actual liquids, I was also allowed to have yogurt and cottage cheese, because they dissolve in the stomach.

I also discovered what dumping syndrome was, as the stomach will reject something and just push it through.  I tried some ricotta cheese during this time, thinking that it would be like cottage cheese, but it went through me undigested.  I also accidentally consumed a protein shake too quickly, and that came out again in record time.  In either case, it was not a pleasant thing to have happen.

Two weeks out, I was given the clearance to move to soft foods.  That was a new challenge.  I had the liquid thing down pretty well, as I had consumed almost nothing but liquids for the month prior.  Now I had to actually get used to my new stomach, and see what it would and would not tolerate.  My stomach was still healing, and so I had to be careful.  The first thing that I tried was about the safest thing that I could think of: egg salad from Wegmans.  I got a scoop of it off of the salad bar, and had about half of it, and saved the rest for later.  So my first attempt at soft foods was a success.  I also gave scrambled eggs a spin, and they were also tolerated.

Christmas, however, was a challenge.  Elyse and I went to two Christmas events.  One was on Christmas Eve with Elyse’s father’s relatives, and the other was on Christmas Day with Elyse’s mother’s relatives.  I treaded carefully, and mostly succeeded.  On Christmas Eve, I had a little bit of turkey and some pulled pork.  Nobody can accuse me of not getting my protein in, I suppose.  I think that I ate slightly too much, but it stayed down, though I didn’t feel too hot after that.  Christmas Day, I had a little bit of deviled eggs, turkey, and ham.  I did better at that event, and we did other things after that, including some planespotting and some Christmas lights.  But when we got home, I had some leftover turkey that we had brought with us.  I made a small plate of it for myself, and tried to finish what I had put out.  I had one bite too many, and regretted it immediately.  Then I started feeling nauseous, and that leftover turkey came right back up.  I was kind of annoyed about that, but at least I could see that I did a great job chewing it up before swallowing, as I was taught in the classes with the dietitian (every class ended with a reminder of “chew, chew, chew, sip, sip, sip, walk, walk, walk”).  So that’s at least something, though there are a thousand and one things that I would rather do than to regurgitate what I just ate because I accidentally overdid it.

That said, one of the hardest things to get used to post-op was that just because it’s on your plate doesn’t mean that you have to eat it.  That whole “joining the clean plate club” thing goes right out the window, because it actually promotes overeating.  Once you feel full, stop.  I have gotten much better in determining what my limit is for a meal with my newly renovated stomach, but it still can be hit or miss.  I bought a set of six-ounce ramekins on Amazon about a week after surgery, and one of those is about the right size for a meal.  So I have a ramekin full of something, and I’m good to go.  But even then, sometimes I can’t finish.  It’s kind of funny how things work out, though.  Prior to surgery, Elyse would give me food to finish.  Now I give her food to finish.  We’ve also discussed sharing entrees when we go out, though we have not yet been to a place where that would be practical.  Lately, when we eat out, we have mostly gone to grocery stores with a food bar and an inside seating area, like Harris Teeter or Wegmans.  So I get a small scoop of something like egg, tuna, or chicken salad, and Elyse gets whatever she wants.  It certainly is cheaper now, as I can get dinner for two for under $20.  Figure that my own contribution is a few bucks, plus I don’t need to get a drink (you’re not supposed to eat and drink at the same time after bariatric surgery), and then Elyse does what Elyse does, and we’re good.  I can afford that.  I also like the way that the stomach restriction gives some structure to my eating.  I’ve always done well in structured situations, and this provides structure to eating, and I appreciate that.

Meanwhile, clothing has been interesting.  My uniform pants started to fit differently starting during the pre-op diet, and now, they are very loose.  My belt is presently the only thing standing between me and a wardrobe malfunction, as I’ve got that puppy cinched up tightly in order to keep my pants on.  I’m getting the pants altered later this week at the uniform shop, and I imagine that I will need to get further alterations done before I need to replace them (our uniform pants last around a year and some change before they wear out).  I also don’t need to wear a button extender on my collar anymore.  The collar now fits into itself just fine without strangling me.  In fact, I now have room to spare around the collar, which I always appreciate.  Additionally, my sweater vest now goes down lower than it did before.  That still has a lot of life left in it, though, so I don’t want to size it down right away (uniform stuff is not cheap).  I also had a recent occasion where I was cold all day while operating the train, which was an unusual thing for me.  I usually am warm enough in the train cab to where I can operate without a coat on, but on this particular occasion, I kept my coat zipped up and was praying to the Breda gods to give me more heat.  As far as regular clothes go, I’m down a size in jeans, and the size that I moved down to is starting to get a little loose.  Thankfully, I saved all of the pants that I had when I was last at a smaller size, and so I don’t have to buy anything there.  So as far as jeans go, once the belt becomes the only thing holding them up, I just have to dig up the next size.  At the time of surgery, I was wearing a 58, and now I’m in a 56.  Then I have 52, 48, and 44 on hand for when the time comes, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I’m also looking at joining a gym again.  Planet Fitness is still garbage, and I didn’t like the sort of exercise that I was doing there.  I have determined that I want to get back into the pool and swim again, and so I’m using that to guide my plans.  I checked out 24 Hour Fitness, which has locations near where I work.  However, one of the locations isn’t actually 24 hours, closing from midnight to 5 AM, meaning that I wouldn’t have enough time after work to get a workout in before they closed.  And in both cases, the pool was not open all night, closing before I would be able to get in there.  So that was disappointing, because they seemed like a pretty good facility otherwise.  The place seemed well-equipped, and there was none of that judgment-free nonsense that Planet Fitness hawked.  If the pool hours were right, I would probably go there.  The Montgomery County facilities are out, because they’re all relatively far from my house, and the hours don’t line up very well with my work schedule.  The problem with the MoCo pools is that they give priority to other programming, and lap swimmers are at the bottom of the totem pole, down where the dog lifts its leg.  That scheduling issue, coupled with the distance factor, is a deal breaker.  I still have to check out LA Fitness, and I have high hopes for them, though they’re not open overnight.  They have two locations in Gaithersburg, which isn’t the end of the world, as well as a location in Aspen Hill and Wheaton.  I would have to finagle my schedule a little bit to do them before work, but we’ll see, because I still haven’t seen any facilities.  After all, if the gym turns out to be nowhere I want to go, it doesn’t matter what the hours are, as we discovered with Planet Fitness.  So we’ll see there.

So all in all, I suppose that I’m doing pretty well, and hope to continue that success throughout the year.

Categories: Weight loss

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