I think Becky would like to begin with an apology to the nurses who took care of her the one night she spent in the hospital after her gastric bypass surgery. Suffice it to say, she will not go down in history as a so-called compliant patient. She confesses that “Tuesday night I guess I was an absolute pill to the nurses.”
The following night she was home in her own bed, feeling pretty wiped out but in no pain. In fact, physically, she has been feeling great. “I feel really, really fortunate that I’ve had no complications,” she reports. “I’ve had no pain. I’ve taken no pain medications. I’ve been up and around doing things since I got home, and I’ve been driving since last Friday.”
She has also been exercising — mostly taking her dog out for walks and getting on the treadmill. And, she’s been following all of the instructions given to her by her surgeon Dr. Jamie Loggins and the staff at the Central Maine Bariatric Surgery Center.
As for what she can eat, the day after her surgery she had to pass a water challenge — 16 1-ounce cups of water every 15 minutes — before she could go home, which she did with no problem. Since her first full day at home, she can have protein shakes, water, pudding, broth, and popsicles.
She says she’s not really hungry, but that next week can’t come soon enough. “I get to eat eggs, ground turkey, and canned tuna or chicken mixed with fat-free mayo, “she describes. “I’m looking forward to getting texture and food into my mouth, not just liquids. I have to mash it up with a fork and really make sure that I chew it thoroughly before swallowing. Chew, chew, chew!”
She’s excited about eating real food but admits to also being worried about how her body will react. “I have always been the type of person who worries about things I have absolutely no control over. It’s something I’ve dealt with my entire life. I do waste a lot of energy worrying!”
Which brings us to other things Becky worries about and that sometimes overshadow how well she feels physically. When she first got home it was blood clots, which are a real concern. She had to inject a blood thinner twice a day for several days to prevent any from developing. You read correctly. Becky gave herself a shot in the abdomen twice a day — “Pinched my skin, dabbed with rubbing alcohol and jabbed myself. It didn’t hurt at all.”
She may be a worrier, but she’s a brave one.
Another thing she worries about is hair loss, which is sometimes a temporary side effect of gastric bypass surgery. “Most people will NOT experience any hair loss,” says Dr. Loggins, “but some may. On those few occasions that someone’s hair thins, it is usually that they notice more hair than normal in their hairbrush rather than something anyone else even notices. When this does happen, it is likely just a result of the body diverting its limited energy resources to the things that are important, like the heart and brain and muscles, which sometimes leaves less for things like nail beds and hair follicles.”
“My family laughs at me,” says Becky, “because I am so vain when it comes to my hair and my face. I spend so much money on anti-aging products and stuff for my hair, and they’re like, ‘How did you let yourself get so fat when you’re so fixated on your skin and your hair?’ I ask myself the same question. I have to stop worrying about it now and just be grateful that things went as well as they did, which I’m very happy about it.”
The other day she celebrated her gratitude with a little pampering.
From the time she started on a liquid diet about a week before her surgery until now, she has lost 28 pounds. She’s not ready for pictures yet, but says her winter coat feels looser and her family has noticed that her face looks thinner.
“There were a couple of days that I had buyer’s remorse and felt crappy,” she says, “but when you have a significant amount of weight to lose and you haven’t had any luck doing it on your own, this surgery really is a good tool to get you where you need to be.”
She warns that it’s important to make sure you’re mentally prepared for the surgery. She thinks she might not have been well enough prepared for the whole journey. “I’m worrying so much about things I knew were going to happen,” she explains, “but I felt so desperate to lose the weight and not get diabetes. I guess I’ll just have to live with the consequences. If I lose any hair, I can always get hair extensions. Like I said, I’ve always been a worrier!”
We’ll check in with Becky again next week to see how she’s doing. If you have any words of encouragement or questions, please post a comment and I’ll make sure to pass it along.