Stomach surgery : The surgery and hospital stay

WARNING – THERE’S TMI IN THIS POST. I decided not to hold back, because it might happen to someone else about to get the surgery and I wanted to be as honest about the experience as I could.

I’m now one week out from my surgery and am happy to report that everything has gone well! I’ve decided to structure this blog post in a more day-by-day format to really show what I’ve experienced over the last week. Here is some info about my experience with the surgery and the hospital stay – if you’re looking to have this surgery, you may have a different experience to me for various reason, but this will give you some idea of what I went through.

Day -1 (Sunday): The day before my surgery I was so scared of having any food in my stomach I only consumed two shakes, and a lot of water, and nothing else. I made sure to relax, I had a two hour massage (one hour foot reflexology and one hour aromatherapy – didn’t want to be too sore the next day!). That night I packed my bag for hospital and made sure I got a good night sleep.

Day 0 (Monday): I woke up at 5:15am on the morning of my surgery and immediately went to weigh myself. I was at 118.4kgs, 4.3 down from the weight I was when I started Optifast two weeks before. Happy that I’d lost some weight, I went about getting myself ready for hospital. My sister and I left the house about 6am, travelling to the other side of town to Calvary Private Hospital. It was so early when I got there, hardly any of the doors were opened! When I approached the Private surgery desk, the nurse had to start up her computer – she’d only just gotten there too. I filled out some paper work and paid the estimate for hospital fees I was given on Friday ($6407 – for three nights stay in a shared room) – I’d paid for the surgery to Canberra Bariatric the week before ($6,000).

After I paid up, I was taken to see the admissions nurse who gave me a run down of proceedings and took some of my vitals – the first of many blood pressure and oxygen readings. I was taken in to a room with about 4/5 reclining arm chairs, where my sister watched TV while I got changed in to my sexy hospital gown. Actually, it wasn’t too bad – it has clips up the top and a bow on the side, minimum butt view! The nurse assisted me to put on the ted stockings – similar to the ones you’d wear on an airplane to prevent DVT – and gave me a shot of a anti-clotting medication. The shot went either in my stomach or my thigh – I chose the thigh. It stung like a bitch!

After a short wait, the nurse took my bags and I was then popped in a wheel chair and wheeled to the operating holding area. I didn’t have much time to say goodbye to my sister sadly, it all happened rather quickly. I was put in to a bed and snugged in warm blankets – after which point I realised I still had my bra on! Whoops. So I called out the nurse and put my bra in to a bag with my details on it (including the detail that I am an atheist – not sure how that’s relevant to my belongings, but this is a religious hospital, I guess).

The anaesthetist came in to speak to me about my allergies – sulphur and ibuprofen – and that it will mean that I’ll probably get sick. He was such a lovely guy, sweet and funny – he definitely made me feel at easy about the whole thing.

I was wheeled in to the “waiting bay” of the Operating theatre and there I sat for a good 20 minutes, wrapped up under my blankets, watching the anaesthetics nurse run back and forth. My surgeon came to say hello and told me they were running behind because it was a Monday and apparently there was some big meeting the hospital staff had to attend. Thankfully I wasn’t too nervous, cos I probably would have been freaking out at this stage!

I was wheeled in to the operating theatre about 8:45 (45 mins behind schedule), while the nurses and doctors were all still rushing around madly. My surgeon, Doctor Mosse, was in his element. You can tell he prefers surgery to clinic, he was happy and excited and really confident – it was infective! The anaesthetist tried to find a vein for while, as I have deep veins – he found one on the underside on my right wrist. Hurt like a bitch going in, but I don’t remember anything after that…so it must have worked!

I woke up around 12:30pm in the ward to discover I was in a private room. Score! I wasn’t in much pain, but my stomach felt tight, like something was resting on top of it. I did, however, have a bitch of a pain in my right shoulder and my chest. I had expected this, thanks to my research before hand. When you’re in surgery, they pump you full of gas to get in and play, but once their done the gas accumulates within those areas. I knew that this would pass through movement.

Naturally I was groggy and the next couple of hours passed in between nurses visits and dozing off. I was still wearing the TED stockings, but I also had a machine around my legs that gave me a massage every couple of seconds – despite literally attaching me to the bed, that was awesome!

My Dad came to visit around 3pm and I used this as an opportunity to get out of bed for the first time. I had to do this by rolling out of bed, which I’m sure was super sexy! The nurses had to unplug me from the wall and walk me to the bathroom – the door had a divider on the floor that meant it was impossible to drag the drip over it, so I needed a nurse to help me get the bloody thing through the door. Stupidest idea ever!!!

As I was stationed outside the nurses office, it was loud and bright, but it meant that when I rang the bell for toilet assistance, it was never far away. At least not on that day.

I had to pee quite a lot that evening, and so I got out of bed quite a few times. I was still quite tired, and when I looked in the mirror I noticed I was very pale. My saline (sodium chloride) had to be changed in the middle of the night, when the new shift nurse realised I’d been getting 400ml an hour instead of 100ml – hence all the peeing! I was also really dry in the mouth, so I was sucking on a lot of ice chips.

That night I dozed on and off, my sleep interrupted by the nurses forever checking my BP, Oxygen and temperature. I also had a few needles, clexane (for DVT), antibiotics etc.

Day 1 (Tuesday): I woke up on Tuesday morning to a blood test. And then more needles. Yaaay. After that I got myself out of bed and sat on the chair in the room, reading my phone and sucking on ice. My shoulder/chest still really hurt, but I forced myself to have a shower. When I finished my shower, I realised how hot and flushed I was. My legs were cold, but my whole chest and face were burning up – apparently a side effect of the anaesthetic (and it lasted the rest of the week).

My friends started to visit from lunch time, so that took my mind off things. I had friends with me for the next 8 hours, which was good and certainly lifted my spirits. While my friend M was visiting, the farts started. I was confused about why the nurses kept asking me whether I’d passed winds. Oh yes, the gas in my chest had to come out somehow. LOTS of farting.

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I’d had a lot of pain from my cannula spot over the day, and it was starting to really annoy me. It was in my right wrist, and as I am right handed, every time I tried to grab my ice chips I would hurt myself. I was also getting an excruciating sting in my right arm every time they would load the panadol in to me, and my hand would go numb. I mentioned this to one of the nurses and she said that it happened to some people. That evening, also while M was visiting, I started to feel a little funny, then I noticed how swollen my right arm was. I called a nurse who freaked out when she realised how cold my right arm was. My drip was immediately removed, but the cannula was kept in place. The nurse got another nurse, someone higher up than her, and then told me that the drip had been feeding fluids and pain meds in to my tissue – not in to my blood stream. The head nurse told me she would have a go at doing a cannula on my right arm, but she would only try once before she called the Doctor back in. And thank god she only tried once. She was lovely, and she kept talking to me through out the whole thing – and bless, M, who stayed with me – but my god it hurt so so badly. She was just digging around trying to get it in the vein, with no luck.

The Doctor was called and was told “it’s no rush” – meanwhile I had bloated up so badly, by the time M left and my siblings came to visit, I looked like this:

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Now, I am big, but my stomach is not THAT big – my siblings thought it was so funny they decided to take a selfie with me. Hilarious.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long for the Doctor, who was amazing – so sweet and lovely, and he took the time to find my vein (even put a hot towel around my arm to draw them out). Most importantly he gave me a numbing wipe before he stuck the cannula in, so I didn’t feel it…and he got it straight away!! He was my hero!

About 2am that night I pressed the “pain” button, which was delivering a steady flow of panadol to me, to get a larger dose of pain meds and the machine started beeping like crazy. The nurses took 10 minutes to realise the reason it was beeping was that it wasn’t actually connected. I’d been receiving fluids, but no pain meds since my last antibiotic shot (when they remove the pain one to put it in the drip – 6 hours before). While they were working out what was going on, I took the time (and the nurses on hand) to get out of bed and go to the toilet – however, as soon as I got out of bed I started to shake. The nurses were quite worried about me, so they let me tinkle and then  put me straight in to bed. As soon as I was stationary, I stopped shaking. The funny thing was, I wasn’t cold. At all. The nurses put it down to being tired, reattached the pain meds and left me to sleep.

Day 2 (Wednesday): Wednesday morning they took my pain meds away from me, but they weren’t working anyway and I honestly wasn’t in much pain at all – the chest/shoulder pain had subsided quite a lot (with all the farting). I was upgraded to slimy panadol in a cup, to be taking orally. Ew. I had to sip it, because I was still on small mouthfuls – which just made the whole thing awful.

As my surgeon was happy with my progress so far, today was my first day on free fluids. Here’s my breakfast:

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My surgeon told me later that he’d been fighting with the hospital for 12 years to get a meal for gastric patients – because I couldn’t eat 60% of what was on this tray. I could have the apple juice and the milk, but porridge, yoghurt and custard weren’t allowed for two more weeks. I slowly sipped on my apple juice – 110ml took me nearly an hour and a half! I kept the chocolate milk, cos I was honestly just excited to be able to have it. I was only able to drink 40mls or so, before I felt full. It’s such a strange sensation to not feel hungry – despite not eating anything, I had no desire to! I had three meals that day, mainly juice and the odd sip of milk. Lunch was pumpkin soup, which I hate, but I sipped some of the tomato soup they gave me for dinner.

I had a little trouble at first with swallowing the liquid, and I over did it a tad – my mouthfuls were too big. I certainly felt it passing through my now stitched up hernia! I slowed down my sipping and got through it, just really slowly.

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Wednesday was probably most memorable to me as the day I shat my pants. Twice. Yep, you read that right. Around midday, just before my shower I had done my first poo since the op and it was just a normal poo, no worries. Later that day I had the runs. Then later that night, while I had visitors (of course), I thought I was going to fart…only it wasn’t a fart. So, that was fun. Thankfully all my friends and siblings are decent human beings and recognised that the reason I was shitting myself was not my fault. I must admit, I had not expected this to happen. Thank god, it only lasted that one evening.

That night when I got up to go to the toilet the shaking happened again. I told the nurse about it and she told me to speak to my Doctor the next morning when he came to decided whether to send me home.

Day 3 (Thursday): The on-site Doctor came in to visit me first thing on Thursday, as one of the nurses had told him about my shaking. I had to pee in a cup, and they took my blood. While all this was happening, I was also disconnected from my drip and had the cannula taken out. I was able to shower without the drip, which was quite a liberating experience – I was also able to put my own clothes on. The surgeon came to me just before lunch and said that my blood/pee looked fine and he was going to send me home, if I wanted to go home (he did offer to keep me in another 24hours at first). He did say he thought the shaking was a result of the antibiotics I’d been getting, so they stopped that early that morning. He also gave me this fun toy, designed to make me breath deeper:

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And so I went home from hospital… in my Dad’s four wheel drive… Two of the nurses took me down and Dad had a case of XXXX waiting as my step in to the car, it worked surprisingly well. I was wearing a dress and my TED stockings (which I have to wear for another 2-3 weeks), and I had no bra on, so I’m sure I was sexy! Dad dropped me off at Mum’s and I snuggled up on the couch with the first of my popper like drinks. It took me three hours to drink an Up& Go – sip sip sip!

I decided to weigh myself that afternoon – I was 119kg. I’d put on 600g, despite not eating anything since Saturday! Thankfully, I was pretty sure there was a lot of gas contributing to this, so I didn’t worry too much.

Since the chest/shoulder pain had subsided on Wednesday, I wasn’t in any pain really. My stomach didn’t hurt at all – it was more of an uncomfortable feeling, like when you get so hungry that your stomach feels like it’s in knots. Or a little like someone is sitting on your stomach, but not in a painful way. I was cold, which is unusual for me – I’m very hot blooded – but the stockings were cutting off blood to my feet, and when my feet are cold, so is the rest of me. I sat under two blankets and watched TV for the rest of the day.

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2 thoughts on “Stomach surgery : The surgery and hospital stay

  1. Great idea about the foot massage and aromatherapy before your surgery! I’m stealing that. I can’t believe all the issues you had with things being delivered to your tissue and not your bloodstream, too many fluids, and the pain meds not working. It sounds like some of the hospital staff were HORRIBLE at their jobs!

    So sorry about all the “sharting” – LOL.

    I loved reading all the details. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes – I highly recommend getting the massages before, if only to easy an anxiety!

      I think the problem was mainly that I had a different nurse every shift, so they weren’t always ware of stuff that had come beforehand – bad handovers I think. They were all lovely, though.

      And no worries, happy to over-share 🙂

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