Monday, August 14, 2006

I'm Ba-a-a-a-ck

Was out of town for a few days, on a speaking tour! I went to speak in three cities at gatherings for morbidly obese folks who are considering the GB. This was my first “official” time as a public speaker and I was very nervous.

I didn’t speak at medical facilities or surgeon’s offices. I don’t regularly align myself with doctors because I’d be speaking to the converted. My peeps are the “should I’s” of the world – not those who are already scheduling their surgery date.

Well, I do not think I could have been made to feel more welcome by any crowd, anywhere. And I loved the questions! I’ll tell you something – people are so intelligent and do NOT sit still for letting doctors just fill their heads with propaganda. They want to know everything and they want details. And you know how I feel about THAT.

So I hit ‘em with details. Every ugly detail there is.

I thought it might be helpful if I used a few of the questions they asked me right here, for my readers who might have been wondering the same thing, so here goes:

Did you have to spend any money at all? Was there anything out of pocket?

I paid for the one psychologist visit that I was made to go through so the insurance company could have professional analysis of my intentions and understanding of the procedure.

Aside from this, nothing. Not a dime. My health insurance paid for every single thing. Three pre-surgical visits to the surgeon’s office, the procedure itself and hospital stay, and five follow-up visits to the surgeon’s office, wherein I did things like: sit with his nutritionist (Bad. I learned from this to not expect the surgeon to have the finest nutritionist on his payroll and to seek outside nutritionist information and advice.), get my stitches removed (owtch!), get weighed in and have the surgeon check out how I was feeling/doing. All of this was covered by health insurance.

How much pain do you go through during recovery? And then at home?

The pain is so minimal in the hospital after the surgery. I mean, they’re giving you pain killers often and you’re hooked up to an IV drip that they regularly refresh with pain killers in it. Also, if you are feeling achy at all, you ring the nurse, she gives you a little shot and you feel ALL better immediately. That was my experience, anyway. The one thing you may experience in the hospital – if you are anything like me – is utter boredom. So bring a lot of books, crossword puzzles, and a Gameboy. They suggest that you walk as much as possible through the hallways of the place and I did that non-stop which my doctor suggested is the reason I was let out of there in 3 days. The walking thing is key because A)you need to work the anesthetics out of your body and walking helps this along, B)walking helps eliminate the risk of blood clots gathering in your legs during recovery.

At home I was equally pain-free. While this is a huge surgery, obviously, it doesn’t have the painful recovery of many other surgeries. The tiny spot where your lower intestine and your stomach meet has just been attached and so it's swollen and needs to heal very well but that does not cause you pain. Unless, of course, you try to stuff yourself with food instead of liquids in your first few weeks at home, which some try to do. I met a man, just a few days ago, who tried to eat STEAK in his second week at home. Can you imagine what he must have felt? He told me he’d wished he was dead during that episode. All the chewing in the world (“chewing” is about to become the most important function in your world, btw) cannot make a healing stomach capable of taking down a steak.

The hospital did send me home with a handful of Percocet but I never took one.

The biggest difficulty I had was sleeping on my back for MONTHS. Well, maybe it wasn’t months. Just felt like it. It was probably 7 weeks. And you won’t be in agony if you try to sleep on your belly in the beginning days at home – you will just be uncomfortable.

I heard you have a large breathing tube and you might still have it in you when you wake up! Will I be awake when they remove the breathing tube?

Ohmigod the breathing tube. I was so panicked about this issue while I was researching! I was frantically asking around about this for months beforehand. I learned that there was a very tiny percentage of people who had the tube removed while they were awake. I also learned it has become even more rare now. I was unable to find one person who had it removed while they were awake. My breathing tube was removed while I was still asleep and of course I don’t have any memory of it.

I will continue to add more Q&As from my speaking engagements as we go...

The GB Girl


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