I have been accepted for bariatric surgery in the form of a gastric sleeve. I asked the surgeon about other options and he said options like a balloon or gastric band don’t work as well, and other options, like a by-pass, are more serious and best left to a last resort.
He said the sleeve, which is where they cut off the bulging part of the stomach leaving a stomach that looks like a sleeve – hence the name – will remove about 80 percent of my stomach including the portion of my stomach that generates hunger.
I’m not sure that will help me. I rarely eat because I am hungry. I eat because I am bored or I want the taste of what I am going to eat. Sometimes I eat because I am peckish or because I have to take pills that must be taken with food but most of my eating has very little to do with hunger.
The surgeon said we have to do a gastroscopy to make sure there are no nasty surprises inside my stomach for when he operates so I went and had that done last week.
Thanks to COVID restrictions my daughter couldn’t stay with me while I had it done. She had just drop me off at the hospital and pick me up later.
The hospital recommended not bringing valuables with you to hospital so I was in a quandry. Normally I could hand my bag to my daughter to hold until I could take over it again but she wasn’t going to be able to help me out this time.
I had to hang on to my credit card so I could pay for the procedure and I was pretty sure I’d need my phone to be able to check in for COVID contact tracing purposes and to call my daughter to come pick me up so my first task was to figure out how to secure those two items while I was unconscious.
I fished out my tourist money belt and put them in that. It fastened around my waist and stayed under my clothes so that was as good as I could come up with.
My daughter dropped me off and I waited. The waiting is why we are called patients. It’s because a ton of patience is required to be a patient!
First I waited for the receptionist to acknowledge me and tell me to sit down. Then I waited for the same girl to call me back and take my money, get my signature on some papers, and tell me to sit down again. Then I waited for another girl to come and call my name and take me upstairs. She took a blue folder from the reception girl, checked my name was the same as the name on the folder, then she escorted me upstairs, handed me the blue file and pointed me to a waiting area and another reception desk before heading back the way we had come.
I walked to the reception desk and saw a sign that said “Ring bell once and sit in waiting area”. I rang the bell once and looked around. There were two waiting areas but only one was labelled bariatric surgery so I sat in that one and waited.
Another girl came and took me into a little room where she asked me questions about allergies and past surgeries and so on. She filled out more papers, ticked boxes, and worked through the sheaf of papers. When she was done she added the papers to the blue file and escorted me out of the room.
At this point I spotted a ladies loo and asked if I could use it. She gave permission and told me to return to the waiting room when I was done. I used the loo and went back to my seat.
Another lady came, rang the bell once, and joined me in the waiting room. We waited.
Then my name was called and I heard one lady say to another “Just bring her straight up when you’re done” and the lady she had spoken to agreed then, a few minutes later, she called my name.
She took me back into the little room and asked a few more questions before putting a blood pressure cuff on me. It was an automatic one so it inflated itself and pinched my arm like a vicious cannibal checking for edible meat on the bones. It came back with a reading of 198 over 99 and the girl frowned. She put the machine on the other arm and it pinched me even harder before telling the girl my blood pressure was 207 over 98. She frowned even harder and muttered “That can’t be right” then said she was going to have to take my blood pressure manually and she would have to go and get the manual one.
I told her I do have high blood pressure and I am not taking medication for it. I asked her if that meant the procedure would have to be cancelled. She said they usually won’t go ahead with surgery if blood pressure is over 189 because there was too many risks.
She went off to get the manual blood pressure cuff and came back with it but her phone rang before she could use it. It was the doctor saying my blood pressure didn’t matter and to bring me up.
She took me upstairs and a man escorted me to another room where, again, I waited.
Another man came in and introduced himself as the anaesthetist. He asked me about previous reactions to surgery and told me what was going to happen, asked me if I had any questions, then left.
Another girl in surgical attire came and escorted me into a room with a trolley bed in it. She told me to keep all my clothes on, including my shoes, and lie on it with my head up on the pillow.
I climbed up onto the trolly and made myself as comfortable as I could given I was so fat I was hanging over the sides. Someone covered me with a blanket and they wheeled me into another room.
The man who is going to be performing my surgery when the time comes came in along with the anaesthetist and they began preparing things. One of the things they prepared was me – for the anaesthetic. The anaesthetist inserted a needle into the back of my hand and taped it down.
They asked me to roll onto my left side as much as I could and a lady put a plastic circular thing in my mouth and told me to bite down gently on it. The anaesthetist said the anaesthetic might sting a bit going in but it was nothing to worry about.
I asked if it was time for me to start counting backwards, or, I think I asked but I did have a big plastic thing in my mouth so I’m not sure about that and that’s all I remember of the procedure.
Next thing I knew I was being told it was all over and how was I feeling.
I felt wide awake. I’ve never had an anaesthetic wear off so fast but, apart from that, it was back to waiting.
The surgeon came in and said everything went well and there was nothing to worry about then he left and I waited.
Someone was on the right of me behind a curtain and they were asking him how he was and someone was across the room in a section of the room that had butterflies on the roof and walls and they were calling his name and telling him it was “all over, time to wake up now”.
I waited. And waited.
Then they wheeled the lady from the waiting room in, put her on the other side of me, and pulled the curtain across. I noticed her bag was on the trolly under her.
Typical of me to make things harder for myself than they need to be!
They started calling her name until she said she was awake and felt fine and she started talking to the man on the other side of her.
I waited some more then the man to my right was taken away and I got hopeful it would be my turn next.
I waited some more and they kept calling the little boy to wake up which he finally did and then they let his dad come in.
Finally a girl came and escorted me out of the recovery ward to another waiting room with a row of recliners lined up around the wall. They had numbers on the wall above them – there were ten of them.
She gave me a sandwich, a glass of water, a glass of apple juice and a little packet of cheese and crackers and told me to make myself comfortable. I chose recliner number eight and settled in.
I had been fasting, as instructed, so I was hungry. I inhaled the sandwich and drank the drinks but I was still hungry although not for the cheese and crackers. I decided I would leave them behind for someone else when I went.
The lady from the waiting room was escorted in and offered hot chocolate. I never got offered hot chocolate. I would have accepted hot chocolate but she said she just wanted hot water. She got some cheese and crackers too and she started eating.
We talked. She had already had the surgery but she was having problems so they were thinking of doing a by-pass on her.
Then the man from the other side of her was escorted in and HE was offered MUFFINS!
I changed my mind about leaving the packet of cheese and crackers behind. There was no extra cost for the food. It was part of the procedure. I decided that meant I had already paid for the cheese and crackers so I would take them home and eat them later.
We all waited.
Another lady was escorted in and offered food and drink. She just wanted water. She was skinny. She was antsy and wanting to leave. They gave her water and we all went on waiting.
My phone rang. It was my daughter wanting to know where I was. I said I was waiting to be released. She said she was waiting out front. I decided I was done being patient and I got up to leave. I headed out the room and was met by another lady who wanted to know where I was going.
I said my daughter is waiting for me so just point me to the elevator and I’ll be on my way. She said she would take me down and we returned back the way I’d come only to be met by the antsy lady who said her ride was waiting too. The nurse said she would see if anyone else was ready to leave and she poked her head into the room and asked.
The man joined us saying his wife was downstairs too. The other lady said her husband was not here yet so the rest of us headed for the lift. Two seconds later the other lady joined us saying her husband just rang and he was not far away. He would be waiting by the time we got downstairs so we all went down in the lift and made our escape. The other three went one way and I went another as the nurse had stuck by my side. She wanted to see my ride for herself so she escorted me out to the pavement, saw my daughter waiting, and left me to it.
My daughter stopped off for fish and chips on the way home and that was the end of that experience.
It reminded me of all the reasons why I hate hospitals and I am not looking forward to the surgery!
The next step is a ‘pre-op assessment’ scheduled for next month. I think it’s mostly just to check my heart is ok.
The Australian tax office has approved my application to use part of my superannuation to pay for the surgery and I sent the paperwork off to my super fund on Friday the 13th. I hope all goes well with that and there are no issues or hold ups.