Saturday, 29 December 2007
I am very very weary and fatigued. CDB warned me that the blood transfusion would leave me tired for 3 - 4 weeks and it has. There is so much I'd like to be doing with the children this holidays, but mostly I'm just lying around. Went to sleep last night at 10pm and didn't waken till nearly 11am; I'm not being lazy (which would be quite possible :-) I am medically exhausted.
Then I got up and ate some chocolate - not a wise decision, but lunch didn't stay down at all. So maybe that makes up for it calorie wise.
now later afternoon and I still don't feel like food, just like sleep. Oh well, here's hoping next Christmas is very different :-)
There is no way I am feeling strong enough for exercise right now; and I'm beginning to wonder if the scar on my tummy will have healed enough for CDB to access the port on the 11th. Don't fancy an injection into a raw scar - tho maybe the port isn't there exactly, I can't feel it.
Do many of you feel yours?
I get depressed reading about people who are two stone down two weeks out; I am not going that way at all; but then I don't have much mental energy to put into healthy eating or exercise; I am more just in survival mode right now
Thursday, 27 December 2007
The band is making me stop and consider what I am putting into my stomach; before I just ate - while talking, watching TV, typing, reading - I never eat meals at the table if I can help it, I am always too busy.
And when you eat without thinking you over eat. Or I do.
Now I really need to get my head round some sort of eating plan. All my life (my mom wasn't great for routines or discipline of any kind - we never ate regular meals, brushed our teeth or tidied our rooms) so I've grown up just eating what I feel like when I want.
The concept of three meals a day just doesnt' exist for me - tho, strangely, I am very careful to make the children eat 3x a day sitting at the table. I just don't do it with them.I need to plan ahead what I am going to eat, and stick to it.
That will be hard for me, I have no self discipline. But I also have no excuse not to.
If I am going to graze all day on whatever takes my fancy, my band is not going to work. And that is a very painful thought
Despite the research and stories I'd read, I didn't realise that every single thing that goes into my mouth has to be thought thru carefully, chewed carefully, swallowed carefully and may yet still come back up less than carefully.
I spent the first week on liquids only, which was ok, so long as I took ages to drink them. I'd never before realised how much I "gulp" fluid instead of sipping it. Might have to resort to drinking from a teaspoon.
Then I moved on to soft food, and that has been a disaster. A few carefully chewed mouthfuls of scrambled egg and I feel like I am choking - and trying to drink water to flush it down is hideous, the water just comes back out. There is nowhere for it to go. And it hurts like mad.
I've been sick several times a day over the last few days and have put myself back on to a liquids only diet for a week to see if that will let things settle down. I only have 1ml in my band and am due for a fill on Jan 11 (15 days)
The odd thing is that it is not always the same, sometimes I can eat a small portion of cottage pie or something soft like chocolate mousse or jelly; other times that seems to choke me.
I am beginning to wonder if this was a good idea. In fact I am quite sure it was not! But give it time, I tell myself. Christmas is not the easiest of times to have restricted food intake since there is so much (lovely) food around. My self control is rubbish, so sometimes I just eat something hoping for the best, and of course it hurts and I'm sick and I feel stupid.
As stupid as a goose and as stuffed as one at Christmas!
I am also realising that I am hopeless at telling myself when to stop eating, even "good" foods like soup or protein drinks. I've been trying to analyse it (not much else to do, as I am lying around exhausted most of the time after my blood transfusion). I have discovered that unless there is food in my stomach I feel slightly nauseous, so without thinking I go to eat something else.
I am not sure if this is related to my reflux problems, over production of stomach acid or what. Any of you who have been pregnant might know what I mean, if you get too empty you start to feel sick. But I've not been pregnant for years, so that isn't the reason.
Old habits die hard. I just hope I don't die along with them :-)
I'm still in quite a bit of pain from my wounds, esp the long one with the stitch still in it; and am very very tired from lack of blood. Glad dh is home to help with the house, I've done nothing much else but get on the PC and watch TV - tho I am too tired to watch that often.
Didn't weigh myself today; and going to try to only weigh myself once a week, as it is too disspiriting seeing the scales go up and down and up again.
Friday, 21 December 2007
Because of pain and medication I have spent the first week with next to no appetite, in fact my biggest concern has been lack of fluid. You are meant to have 2 - 3 litres a day, yet only 100 mils at a time, with 15 mins between each drink. . .that is 400mils and hour. So the first week I've been concentrating on drinking water. Not hungry as such, but so used to eating food when I am tired, crosss, happy, angry, sad, bored, fed up, excited, have nothing to do, have something to celebrate etc, I have a lot to unlearn.
I am booked to go back to Belgium on Jan 11th/12th for a double fill and hopefully that will help some. I also need to get moving a bit more, but till now my stitches have been really painful, and I'm quite bruised, and with losing so much blood pretty weak, so not doing too much round the house.
I need to learn to treat food like fuel. Not like an end in itself.
It is now one week post op and I am slightly heavier than I was pre op. Must be fluid retention cos I've hardly eaten anything. I hope it starts to go down soon. It is dis-spiriting to hear of people losing 30 lbs in their first three weeks, etc.
Outside the hospital:There was a bit of a hiccup in that the taxi which was meant to take me to Bruxelles Midi had been told he was to take me to the station at Vilvoorde, and he had no intention of changing his mind. So he dropped me in Vilvoorde. Since it was daylight I felt fairly confident about doing the journey (and saving myself 60 Euros in the process:-)
Once I was on the platform I realised why (in daylight) people say you can't miss the Campanille. . . and felt rather foolish that I hadn't found it easily when I arrived on Thursday.It was an uneventful trip back - tho I admit to travelling first class (never done that in my life either :-) Because I had to buy a ticket at short notice (my original £29.50 ticket was only valid for Saturday) it was going to cost £154 anyway, and for £200 I could go first class - and save myself from being cramped into a corner like I was on the first journey - the journey went fast, and I met dh at St Pancras very quickly.
The small dressing to my right is where the leak was found, and where he stitched the muscles to each other (or something) and it was by far the sorest part for the next couple of days - that and the site where the port is placed. So I am stuck, I can't sleep on my left side cos of the port, nor on my right cos of the bruising from the stitching.
The bruising and pain got worse over the next couple of days, but I guess that is inevitable, since the pain relief wears off and real life kicks in a bit.
CBD was quiet and confident and very competent. I asked him for the second time as they were strapping my arms down, if my life was in danger. Again he said no. But then he added, I am not God. Which I found reassuring. I know statistically that patients die from bleeding that can't be stopped and sometimes there is no reason why they can't stop the bleeding. I prefer a surgeon who says he will do his utmost, and that he believes he will do it without error or ommission; yet it is good of a surgeon to know that he is not God.
What is the worst thing that could happen? I asked him.
I am not sure if he was stressed or just doesn't have a sense of humour, since he said "I have already told you the worst, we check your - not sure of the word he used, it meant keyholes - and find the one that bleeds and sew it up, that is the worst"
(lol, I know lots of other things could - but for the grace of God - go wrong, but he wasn't even going to consider them)
(when I had my hysterectomy, I asked the same question and the doctor said deapan
"the worst thing that can happen is always death; but I think that is unlikely, and if you want to know the worst thing that ever happened to me in an operation is that one of the lenses of my glasses fell out : -)" - which made us all laugh and kind of relieved the tension. )
How many patients have you lost in surgery, I asked CDB? None he said, emphatically, out of more than 3000 operations.
"Oh dear, doesn't that mean that statistically it is bound to happen soon?" I joked. Everyone else laughed.
CDB looked at me sternly and said (maybe getting fed up with my levity - I was just trying to stay unstressed)
"From now on you must trust me. Leave the worrying to us; leave it all to us; you will be fine"
I said thanks, and once again looked at the huge theatre lights. This time I was more aware of maybe not coming round in this world. I thought of each of my children and what I would have wanted to say to them; but again I was not distressed or upset or crying; very calm, God gave me a lot of peace.
They tried to knock me out via breathing oxygen - I've seen this done with some of my dc being operated on, but I could not breathe deeply enough because of my low bp; so I saw a nurse draw up a needle full of fluid, and woke up at 2am
The nurse who had stabbed me in the wrist had not managed to get much blood out, and the lab had sent it back an hour later, asking for me. So she had a long difficult try again and got some, and I tried to settle back down.
Till I woke with four nurses round my bed. One immediately took two full syringes of blood. My immediate thought was "that is them taking blood to cross-match for a transfusion"
(when I've had babies, there have been worries I might bleed, and I know the procedure whereby they get blood to the lab to be cross matched and typed and ready -looked very much the same procedure in Belgium)
What's up I asked. Mumble mumble, no one wanted to say too much. It wasn't a language gap, just an information one. Finally I asked what my last hb had been. No answer.
Then she told the other nurse in Dutch - and I do know a tiny bit of Dutch, having lived there for 5 months one summer as a student 20 yrs ago) - and I asked straight out did you say it is down to 8?
Yes, my hb was down to 8, and she said, it is now necessary that we give you blood, but also maybe re operate. (thankfully the Ultrasound doctor had warned me about this, so it wasn't the shock it might have been)
Ok I thought, I'll have blood. I got the impression I was to be given blood, then wait an hour or two, then think about re-operating.
Wrong again, I'm afraid.
I did not have time to ring dh before they ran my bed back into theatre. No blood yet, reoperate first apparently.
CBD joined the team pushing my bed and explained that he thought one of the keyholes had not closed properly and was leaking too much blood, he'd have to re-sew it. Nasty thought.My stiches had been healing for 12 hrs now he wants to cut them open again?
I asked him several questions about how much blood loss I had, how he was sure it wasn't an artery/vein leaking or that he hadn't nicked an organ during surgery. I also wanted to know my current hb and bp, as well as risk factors and other possible complications. . .
He looked at me quizzically and asked if I had a medical background when I asked all these questions. I said no, I just like to research a lot. (I was going to add that knowledge is power, but he didn't look like he wanted that kind of response)
I asked was my life in danger, he said no, not now, but if he'd left me till the morning it would have been. "So that is why we operate now"
I became aware of a tension in their voices as they spoke to each other when they came back to get another blood sample an hour later - and even tho I didn't understand a word of it, there are things you can understand without words; they were beginning to worry about me
My bp started being checked every 15 mins, and the nurse was clucking and shaking her head. I had a quick squint at the machine (one of the modern electric one) and it was 90/50; not a disaster for me, tho obviously it was concerning them. They then put up another drip "this one to stop the bleeding" they said. I was a bit confused, cos you are meant to be on anti-coagulants after surgery, not something to cause my blood to clot.
(there was a very funny moment just before all through this. I'd come to the hospital complete with painkillers and valium for getting me home safely, since, unless I didn't mention, I was meant to be going home alone the Saturday after Friday surgery) While rifling in the locker drawer for my watch, I knocked strip of valium out on to the floor. Major panic. I couldn't leave them there (is valium possession legal in Belgium - and would they think I'd taken any and refuse to give me any more medication), but could I pick them up?? It took about ten mins to struggle into sitting on the bed with my legs hanging off. One nurse looked at me very quizzically and I promptly stuck my foot over the pills. She must have thought I was batty.
The anti-embollism stockings are sort of open on the sole . . which turned out to be a blessing, cos try as I may, there was no way I could get my hand down to grab the foil strip. I sat there, covering them up, and when no one was looking, managed to get them stuck on to my toes and picked up. Wheeew! I'd have thought my bp would have been thru the roof by then!)
I asked what my blood count was (haemoglobin, tho I notice mostly they work in haemocrit which means nothing to me) and it was 11 - I said that is ok for me, but since it had been 14 on admission a few hours ago, they weren't happy. They upped the "stop the bleeding" drip so it ran faster.
Next blood sample I was getting dozier which was just as well cos it took her ages of poking around wiht a needle inside my arm to try to get blood - if I'd been with it I'd have yelled.
That sample came back as 10. They broke the news to me that I had to go for an examination. The nurse didn't know the English word, but from her signals I guessed an ultrasound which was right, she said "like when you have baby".
And suddenly it was fast and furious, four of them ran my bed into the corridor, into the emergency lift - the pressed all the lift buttons and were muttering come on, come on, to the lift which seemed to take a while to arrive.
I was then pushed, running, into the ultrasound room, where a doc did a scan of my tummy. I watched the screen, and could see black pockets (fluid) - and my bladder. I asked if that was my bladdder, yes he said, and pointing to another big black bit, that is fluid.
Do you mean blood I said? (let's call a spade a spade, I thought :-)
Yes he told me. He was very frank and pleasant, looked at the collection box I was draining into and said that I had lost a lot of blood, and if it continued I would be back to theatre for "reversion surgery".
Not what I wanted to hear, but I like to know the truth. I think the drugs and lack of oxygen from low haemoglobin meant that nothing much bothered me too much.
I was on a saline drip, so I wasn't really dehydrated, just thirsty. I started practically halluciating (think of people lost in the desert) about mirages with a huge glass of diet coke with ice. Oh no. I'm going to make a rotten bandster if my immediate post op thought is for huge mouthfuls of fizzy drink! (which will never be a good idea, far less 2 hrs after the operation)
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Wednesday, 19 December 2007
(lifts at the waiting area)This poster about hygiene says "You are in good hands" - I thought it was amusing; I hoped I was in good hands!
Was quickly taken to a waiting room, then to a very clean, tidy and spacious (if you are used to London hospitals) ward. On reflection, to be fair to our NHS, most hospitals (if not all . . .) I've ever been in here have been old. They were built in the Victorian era a lot of them, or the 60s or 70s; or they've been converted from some other equally elderly building, so no matter how "upgraded" they've been, they still can't look as impressive as a bright, shiny new purpose built hospital is bound to look.
I am not an assertive person normally, but after ten mins of poking it, comparing it to past experiences of cooked chicken, etc, I called the waitress and apologised for the food being raw. She said nothing, returned to the chef, and left me waiting for 20 minutes. She then brought me a new one of the same.
I said I was sorry, there is no way I could think of eating that dish again - having nightmares of food poisoning. It would be a shame to have got so near, and then go down with I-ate-raw-chicken-and-got-food-poisoning.
So I ordered an omlette, which took another 20 minutes, and the chef himself brought it to me.
I'm not criticisin the Campanille, these things happen with that sort of ready-prepared food; but I wish I'd taken photos; it wasn't just a little pink; it was plain white sort of translucent uncooked chicken. Bleugh. And I'd eaten some of it.
The omlette was great, but I'd kind of lost my appetite by then and left most of it. I noticed a largish man near me order soup and two omlettes and immediately wondered if he was having WLS or a band adjustment, since that is bandster kind of food. Or maybe I was being paranoid.
I have to say I did look hopefully at everyone with a BMI over 30, just in case they were going to CDB or the hospital same as me, but no luck. I don't think CDB had any English patients except me on Friday. But then, as it turned out, I kept him busy enough!
So I took very little with me; lol, not sure whether to be proud of my achievement in travelling light, or to think I was crazy :-)
That is it; money belt; hair brush, painkillers, tissues, nightie, slipper socks, underwear and a journal (had a pen in my money belt along with cash and passport and tickets)
Carried in a small rucksack. Wasn't heavy, tho, lol, heavy enough when it came to getting home. And of course I had my camera - I never go anywhere without it.
The train was stopped for about half an hour, but thankfully two young Asian girls opposite me translated, and explained that there was a technical fault with the train in front and we'd be sitting tight till that could be resolved.
Wheew, at least we didn't have to change trains, etc.
I finally got into Vilvoorde about an hour late, and set off for the Campanille Hotel, which "you can't miss".
LOL, when I saw it later in daylight, I agree, but it was dark, I was tired, hungry, dehydrated and kind of losing touch with reality. The effect of being alone in a strange place when you aren't used to that.
Wandered around for ages, looking for said hotel, but in the end swallowed my pride, went back to the station and asked a young woman, who spoke good American English. She explained I'd been going completely the wrong way, and that I had to go out, turn right, go under the bridge and turn right at the lights. Dat klopt (that worked!)
So I arrived - nice little hotel, like a Travelodge, but nicer I thought. At last, safely in one place for a while. Big sighs of relief.
Tuesday, 18 December 2007
Monday, 17 December 2007
I got on to Eurostar and was shocked how old and tatty the train was - just cos St Pancras is new, doesn't mean the trains are. And worse I had one of these seats in the corner of four, with a table; and worst of all, the ignorant goat opposite me decided that all the leg room under the table (heck and under my seat) was his. I could not move without hitting his knee (and he grinned at me a few times till I felt like spitting at him), and as soon as I thought I'd get slightly comfy he'd put one of his feet down on my toes, and expect me to move my foot. Where too? There is only so much space and he had huge legs and feet.
As the journey went on he got tireder, slid further down his seat till he was practically sitting on my lap; and no, I was no prepared to stick my legs out in between his knees to get comfy - it would not have been comfy - morally or physically.
His partner sat next to him, I nearly asked if I could change places, so he could squash her, not me; but chickened out. Next to me sat a slim, elegant, professional black lady - about late 20s? She had just as little leg space as me, as the Mrs Goat seemed to think the leg room was all hers too; but slim elegant lady next to me pulled her knees in and sat slimmly and calmly the whole journey, only moving once to answer her blackberry, and once to cross her legs.
Oh to be slim enough to fit into a Eurostar seat. Brought it home to me what this surgery is all about. . .you (I) get so used to be "large" that I've forgotten how it feels to be normal, and to fit into normal spaces (even tho we weren't being given "our" half of the available leg room. Slim elegant woman next to me didn't shuffle or scuffle or strain or twitch trying to get comfortable, she just sat and relaxed, while I inwardly groaned and whinged all the way to Brussels.
I am off in a few minutes to the station to meet dh (dear husband) at London Bridge, for Eurostar at 12pm, Brussels 16.03 etc.
Weight this morning was 91.12kg - BMI 31.9. So I suppose I am within limits, depending on height and clothing. Kind of wish I wasn't. I feel like if I had stuck to the "pre op diet" for more than a week I might have lost enough to take my BMI under 30 - but then I might not have been eligible for the op, and sure as eggs is eggs (where does that saying come from) I'd have put all the weight back on as soon as I knew the operation was off
I'm a hopeless dieter, it wasn't until I only had 8 days left till the op that I got round to dieting and all I did was take appetite supressants (they work for me short term), and drink Cambridge Diet sachets (to make sure I get all my vitamins etc) (The Cambridge Diet also works for me short term, till I have a crisis of some sort, or get fed up or down or lonely or hassled, then Food comes along promising instant help, relief, and comfort and every time I believe it, and slam, into a week long binge I go (or more than a week) and any weight lost comes straight back on
As of today, Thursday 13th, I haven't had anything to eat for just ages, (just diet drinks) don't think I will have much today. I don't like eating while travelling esp while stressed - IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which rarely bothers me, might rear it's ugly head and leave me rushing around looking for loos in foreign places.
I hate the waiting to go somewhere like this, once I've made up my mind I like to go now, and I am bound to be far too early. Why am I always far too early? Hope I don't die too early.Will report back later, DV (Deo Volenti, if God will)