My experience of Gastric Sleeve surgery, by Jim Crayne:
This is day 9 of my gastric sleeve surgery, which was done through the services of Baja Group in Mexicali. I just wanted to make a few notes of what I have felt, and experienced thus far. Maybe my experiences can be of benefit to someone else, who is getting ready to go through this too. I wish I had read up on what to expect, so I would have felt more assured as I went through certain things. If you are prepared, and know what to expect, I am sure it will make things easier.
First, I wanted to mention that where I had the surgery done is a small private hospital where they have a couple of operating rooms, and some private rooms for patients that require nursing care for a few days. Although the gastric sleeve surgery requires a 3 day stay, most of the surgeries done are out-patient plastic surgeries, or those that require one or two night stays. The operating rooms are modern, and well equipped. The clinic is very clean, and the staff is well trained. The best thing is that all the surgeons are very experienced. The bariatric surgeon, who did my surgery, has done over 15,000 procedures.
The worst thing I went through was the first few hours after waking up in the recovery room. My mouth felt so very dry, and I felt like my throat was going to stick closed. I felt anxiety and tried not to panic. At first, I couldn’t even rinse my mouth out because since it was just after the surgery, even a drop of water down my throat would not have been good. After an hour, the nurses let me rinse my mouth, but I had to spit it all out. However, this did little to relieve me because my mouth was not producing saliva. Eventually, after 5 or 6 hours, my mouth did start to produce saliva, and I felt much better. After that, my mouth was never dry, probably because I was hooked up to an I.V. for the entire time in the hospital. The next day I was allowed to start sucking ice chips. The third day, I could sip a little water.
As for pain, I was surprised at how little pain I have felt from the incisions. My muscles are still a little sore, but it has never been any big deal at all. The thing I have disliked the most is the drain tube place in my side. The tube goes into a plastic bulb to catch the liquids. The air in the bulb is squeezed out, and a stopped is placed in the air vent. This causes a constant vacuum, so that the fluids and blood in the periodontal cavity are sucked out. The problem is, the bulb dangles at the end of the tube, and it makes it awkward. While I am dressed, I just shove the bulb in my pocket. But when I bath, it just dangles. It does cause some discomfort and bugs me. The doctor told me that in two more days, he will take it out. He said that when no more fluid drains out, it will be o.k. to remove.
After getting out of the hospital, the doctor will put you on a strict all liquid diet for the first week, which then graduates to creams and purees. They told me it will be about a week before I can eat small portions of real food. The truth is, the whole time I was in the hospital I never felt hungry. When I first started to sip broth, it tasted sooo good, I tended to want to sip a little too fast, and it would hurt and feel uncomfortable. I had to learn to take it very slow. Although I have not felt strong hunger, I have years of feeling I need to eat a certain amount to be satisfied, and now if I let too much go down the hatch, I feel some discomfort and a little pain. I guess that this is how it is supposed to work to retrain me to always eat small amounts. After the first week, I can tell that I will eventually be able to eat almost anything, but in small amounts. It will be important to never overeat, because it can start to stretch your stomach back to where you can eat the same amount, and I don’t want to start gaining weight
Psychological factors: I am a pretty stable person, not given to a lot of mood swings. So it took me by surprise when I started having anxiety and depression. I realize that no matter how strong a personality a person has, it is normal to have post-operative anxiety. I just was not prepared for it. When it hit me was on the day after I got home. I was trying to drink some water, which has been the hardest thing for me to drink. It was uncomfortable to drink and it hurt a little. Suddenly I started to feel a little panic, like I was suffocating, and the though hit me, “You are never going to be able to drink normal again, nor ever enjoy eating a meal for the rest of your life”. I remembered how I loved eating, and how good it felt, and I started to feel like what a terrible mistake I had irrevocably made.
I wanted to put this down for readers, because you will probably feel the same thing. Be prepared to feel regret over your decision. The thing is, the feeling is not based on reality. It is based on the after effects of anesthesia, and having gone through a major surgery. Just know the feeling will go away. I also felt anxiety over other little things that had nothing to do with the surgery. What helped me was to talk to other people who had gone through the same or similar procedures, and taking some valium. The valium took the edge off the anxiety, and talking to others gave me the assurance that I really would be able to eat things again. In a couple of days, the anxiety has disappeared. I realize now that I actually could regain the full volume of my stomach, because it could eventually stretch out, and that is the last thing I want, at least not until I lose all the weight and get healthy. The thought of getting diabetes, or having a stroke, or dying of a heart attack, which is what will happen if I gain the weight back, keeps me motivated.
Concerning the psychological issues, the best way to deal with
it is to be mentally prepared before the surgery. Know up front that you may
begin to feel anxiety, and know that it will go away. Don’t be afraid to ask the
doctor for a prescription for a sedative that you can place under the tongue for
those bad moments. Before the day you have your operation, make contact with others that have had this type of surgery, and use them for support when you go through the valley of emotions.
What can you expect in the first weeks? We are all different, so it is not the same for everyone. The heavier you are, the more weight you will lose, but the results will vary. I found that my pre-op diet caused me to lose 10 lbs. How much was real, and how much just water, I don’t know. The pre-op diet was plain yogurt and water for three days. The day after I got home, 3 days after the surgery, I had gained 6 pounds of the 10 pounds I had lost. I had not defecated since 2 days prior to the surgery. When I started defecate, at first it was small amounts that were hard like constipation. Then the diarrhea hit me. The diarrhea stopped after a couple of days, and I am normal now. Starting with the pre-op diet until today, 12 days in total, my weight has dropped 23 lbs. I believe this is real weight loss. (People all say that they can already see a difference). I have decided that I will weigh myself only once a week, for the first two months, during the greatest weight loss. After that, I will only weigh myself once a month. I don’t want to be obsessed with the weight loss, my main goal is to get healthy, and in better shape. I also know that there are ups and downs in the weight loss process, and there will be times that a week or more goes by, with no visible change. By waiting enough time between weigh-ins, I won’t get discouraged.
This blog is here to chronical the experiences of actual patients at the Baja Dental & Medical Network. The purpose is to be a help to others who are anticipating similar procedures.