Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Hello again

Let's all just admit I'm shit at blogging continuously and move on shall we? No need to dwell on the month(ish) that's passed since my last post...

So, how's my sleeve going? I hear you ask. That's very kind of you, I'm glad you're interested in my well being. Friends like you are hard to come by these days!

The sleeve is going well. I'm slowly adjusting to it and there have been a few issues, but nothing major. Mainly the fact that I'm a bit of a slow learner and keep doing stupid things. Like getting distracted while eating so I forget to chew enough. Trying to hurry and eating too quickly. Drinking whilst eating. All of these things = a trip to Porcelainville in the county of Barfalot. Or if you you don't make it there in time it can also result in a trip to Looklikeaskank at Letsvomitintoarubbishbin.

Don't forget your passport, the last place is a bit foreign...

Dr D says that the vomiting is quite normal since my tummy is still healing but it should clear up in a month or so. He also thinks that as slow a learner as I am, I should get up to speed soon and won't have to think so much about what I'm doing. I'll just start to stop before I go all Regan on everyone's arses. Speaking of the divine Dr D, I've just gone to see him. He'd told me the previous time that if I could lose 4kg by this next visit he would be very happy and might even smile *gasp*. Well I was positive that I would stand on those dreaded scales and would turn to find a Scottish grimace of disappointment instead. I had stalled, I was eating shite, small quantities granted but still nothing of any nutritional value, I wasn't getting my protein and I wasn't drinking enough water. He may have removed most of my stomach but he left my brain in and it seems to be that bastard traitor causing most of my issues.

Digressing aside, I ended up with a smile as I had lost the 4kg :) I'm down to 93.5kg which all up is a loss of 14.6kg. Gotta be happy with that! The feeling of dread leading up to that appointment got my sorry arse motivated and I've started back on two opti shakes a day (getting the nutrition I need knowing I won't barf them back up), I'm making a real effort to drink at least 1200mls of water a day, though if I can do 1800ml that's even better, plus I've started some light exercise.I've been swimming/drowning/floundering a couple of times, gone for a couple of walks and tomorrow night I'm doing a Zumba class with some girls from work. I had a bad weekend mentally last week but I'm starting to feel really positive now. I'm going on a girly holiday with my sister to Singapore in 11 weeks time. I'm going to push to lose 8kg by then, if I can be 85 by the time I go, I would be stoked. Dr D says I should aim for half a kilo a week so if I could lose 6kg, I'd be happy. But 8kg would see me over the moon.

What's that? You'll be my cheer squad? Honestly, you're too good to me ;-) I'll keep you posted on my progress x

Sunday, 7 July 2013

One month down

Yesterday marked the four weeks from when I started on opti, the point at which I feel I really started on this journey. There's been a few hiccups along the way but all in all I'm feeling really good about my travels so far. I did a weigh in and measurements yesterday and have had some amazing results. I'm not going to be one of those people who lose 30kgs in six weeks, I know my journey will be slower than that. My starting weight was towards the lower end of those who have this surgery done and so I can't expect to lose everything I have to lose in a matter of weeks. As long as the scales are heading in the downward direction, I'm happy.

Weight - 98.0kg (loss of 10.1kg)
Waist - 104cm (loss of 7cm)
Hips - 127cm (loss of 5cm)
Under Bust - 96cm (loss of 6cm)
Over Boobs - 119cm (loss of 6cm)
Thigh (R) - 62cm (loss of 4cm)
Arm (R) - 40cm (loss of 3cm)

Gotta be happy with that huh?

Now, I've been told that some people find this blog to be rather funny and entertaining and I'm worried that this post will be a little too prosaic for them. In an attempt to remedy this, I present the following photo.

 Moving on...

So, yeah, pus. I've had to deal with so much pus! As far as post op complications go, this one is pretty common and if you catch it early, like I did, it's not a huge deal. Apart from the pus obviously. Cos that shit makes itself a big deal!
I was really lucky that my post op follow up was scheduled almost a week earlier than it would normally have been because Dr D got tired of removing tummys and was going on holiday. I'd gone to see a GP the day before (this was last Tuesday when I removed the final dressing and discovered a volcanic lump under my main incision site which was bright red. That plus the green ooze on the steristrips and the pain left me in no doubt what was going on) and I was put on antibiotics. I went and saw Dr D and the first thing he did was get a giant needle which was attached to an even bigger syringe, jab it into Mt Vesuvius and start drawing out as much of the inner disgustingness as he could. He warned me that what was inside would try to get out (a little like the chest burster from Alien), prescribed me some horse tablets and told me to come back the Monday he got back.

Speaking of horse tablets, please enjoy the winning entry from 'A Song for Ireland '96' My Lovely Horse, by Father Ted Crilly and Father Dougal McGuire! 

While I was with Dr D, he also told me the results from my pre-op blood tests. My cholesterol was a smidge high at 4.9, which left me surprised as I thought it would be much worse. My vitamin D levels are rather low, sitting at 27 when they should be over 50 on whatever scale they use to measure vitamin D and so I've been put onto supplements. Everything else was fine apart from my fasting sugar levels. I can't remember what they were but they were rather high and show a level of insulin resistance. This can lead to Type 2 Diabetes and this one fact, for me, completely justifies this entire operation.  I would much rather get on top of all this stuff now, and live a longer, healthier life, than to have to deal with the consequences down the track.

Someone who wont be getting diabetes is Charlie the Unicorn who went on an adventure to Candy Mountain. 

I've moved onto soft foods now and am slowly transitioning to more solid foods. I'm having scrambled egg, baked beans, yoghurt, mince dishes (bolognese and savoury mince), cruskits, quiche and today I even had one and half chicken tenderloins from Nandos. I'm trying to make sure I have protein at every opportunity and I have some flavourless protein powder that I've been adding to milk to use in my hot beverages. I've also bought some small protein bars to keep at work when I go back so I have something there I can snack on. I'm trying really hard to make sure I eat something little every two hours which is hard sometimes especially when I'm not feeling hungry. I have found though that since I'm having real food, not just liquids that I'm actually feeling hungry now. I guess my metabolism has risen from the dead.

I am finding that I tire very easily now and if I go out somewhere after a couple of hours I'm exhausted. I have one more week off work and I'm hoping that I find some more energy between now and when I'm back. It takes me about forty minutes to drive home from work and I really don't want to fall asleep on the way home! 

I'll keep you all posted on how I go. I shall leave you with one of my favourite Julian Smith videos. Just cos he's funny. Ciao. 

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

It's a Post-Op Infection and only A-Listers are invited!

Welcome to the social event of the post-op calendar! Almost a week of festivities with all your favourite stars along for the ride!
Severe Pain showed up early to the event and partied hard in her towering stilettos, stomping the dance floor from dusk till dawn. Arriving shortly afterwards, and joined at the hip were Giant Tennis Ball Sized Lump and Red Red Skin. These two canoodled together so much that insiders are already touting them as the new 'It' couple.
The science geeks who are so hot right now, Antibiotics, arrived mid festival. This group has always been known for their ability to improve any party, mainly due to their sexy science secrets and interest in the group has risen to an all time level. The blogosphere was awash with reports that almost directly after their arrival, the daring diva Severe Pain tried hooking up with one of their members. ThisIsSoLame wrote ' Severe Pain was so into AB1, it was obvious to everyone there. But he showed absolutely no interest and eventually had to tell her straight that nothing was gonna happen. SP was totally embarrassed and mad and she left in a huff!'
Hip Hop group Ewww Gross arrived amidst increased paparazzi activity as they are well known for causing trouble at events such as this. They lay low for a short period but it wasn't long until they clashed with event security company Giant Mother Fucking Syringe. Three of their members, Pus, More Pus and Holy Shit How Much Pus Can There Be, were ejected from the event, however Lurking Pus and Could be Swelling Not Pus were allowed to stay. At this point Horse Sized Antibiotic had arrived and calmed everyone down.
There are still several days of this festival left, stay tuned to hear all the latest goss about your fave celebs.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Scarlet gets sleeved!

Six days post op today and yes, I realise I'm a lazy cow for not blogging before now. How dare me! I shall give myself twenty lashings but perhaps I'll do it after this post so I can still type. Is that ok with you? It is? Splendid!

So, last Tuesday I was up and about very early for a 6:30am admission at Glengarry Hospital. It didn't take long to be admitted, have my stats taken and see the anesthetist; before I knew it, it was 7:45am and I said goodbye to my hubby and was wheeled down into surgery. I remember having the oxygen mask put on me and that's about it! According to my surgeon I was chatting away to him but I don't remember any of that. Apparently I didn't say anything embarrassing so that's always a plus!

I'm not sure when I first remember being really conscious after the op. My sister had come down to keep Christian company and she said I kept waking up, would apologise for being boring and then go back to sleep. I always remember how hard it is to wake up after an anesthetic though; you hear someone saying your name and asking you to wake up and it's so hard. You just want to sleep but you have to keep swimming out of it to talk to a nurse and then you sink like a stone back into the depths of sleep.

I remember I needed to get up to pee at some stage and I went to stand up and promptly started to fall on my arse. I refused the indignity of having a bedpan bought to me and instead chose to hold it. Barb had been telling me that I really looked like a zombie (as opposed to a zombie hunter) but I didn't understand what she meant until I managed to shuffle to the loo a short while later. It wasn't the numerous IVs, drains and oxygen attachments that made me look like one of the walking dead, it was more the fact that I had dark rings under my eyes and my mouth was completely stained blue! During surgery I had either savagely killed and eaten a smurf or they had poured blue dye down my throat to check for leaks.

My money is on the smurf massacre...

So, what should you expect in hospital after being sleeved? After surgery you are nil by mouth until usually the following day when you have your barium swallow done. You will be hooked up to an IV to keep you hydrated but they also gave me two little cups of goodness which helped so much. One contained a lip balm type substance for my lips (duh) and the other was a gel that I could swoosh around inside my mouth to keep my mouth wet.
For the first day I was on oxygen and was hooked up to the BP, O2 and heart rate monitor all the time. That stupid machine kept beeping at me because it gets grumpy if your heart rate drops below 50bpm. Barb told me that when I was still unconscious it threw a right spak because I dropped down to 30bpm.
I also had a lovely drain in the whole time I was there which makes trips to the loo very fun as you have to juggle not only your IV stand but also a plastic container slowly filling with the dripping goodness of your innards. Funnily enough, no one ate around me...
I wore the very fashionable TED stockings the entire time and also had Vena Press compression wraps on too. These would alternately blow up and deflate to simulate walking which helps reduce DVTs when you're stationary for such long periods.
I had a chest cannula inserted for administering of injections although this was rarely used. I think they used it for morphine once or twice but the majority of the time pain meds and anti nausea meds were administered via my IV or by a shot to my arse.

The first day I was very tired and couldn't stay awake for long periods of time which made me a delightful companion. I did find however that one of the affects of anesthetic is very much like motion sickness. That night I would be fine when in bed but once I got up to go to the loo (they really pump you full of fluids and IV or not, you still gotta pee them out!) by the time I got back to bed I would be feeling so sick. I don't know how many sick bags I went through that night but the night nurse took to calling my and my roommate (we both had the sleeve done) the Barfing Duo. RM would start heaving so I would call the nurse for her and then I would start vomiting and she would call the nurse for me. We were told we were the nicest patients there and really looked out for each other!
One thing I didn't consider would be what I was barfing up. Obviously my tummy had been cut open and stapled shut and most blood gets sucked out during the op but a fair amount of it stays in your tummy. Barfing up blood all night is not at all attractive, especially as it's a blue black colour thanks to the smurfs. If I had a craving for brains I would seriously have thought I'd not had my tummy removed but had the zombie virus injected into me!

It was a long and restless night but the following day we were told we were going for our barium swallow earlier than expected. The thought of being able to sip on water was divine and I promptly threw up.
The radiology place was opposite the hospital but for insurance purposes we weren't allowed to be wheeled across the road, we had to go via taxi. Our IVs were disconnected and we were given cute little bags to pack our drain bottles into so we wouldn't scare the locals. Dressing for the occasion was out of the questions so off we went into our jarmies, dressing gowns and fluffy slippers. I was given an anti nausea shot before I left but man, the motion sickness feeling got a lot worse when in a moving vehicle. I managed to not ruin the nice taxi man's cab, however I did end up using my sick bag whilst in the waiting room. If it came to it, I always had my drain bag as a backup...

The barium swallow was a very quick procedure. You squeeze behind an xray plate (um hello, fat people have this op done, most of us can't fit through that tiny gap!) and then they make you take a mouthful of this horrid chalky aniseed flavoured stuff and then hold it in your mouth, just to saturate your taste buds. Once the full torturous effect is felt, then you have to swallow. As thirsty as you are, trust me, this does not help! I had to do this four times and the third and fourth times I got to watch which was pretty cool. The braium goes down your esophagus and within five seconds it's through your new tummy and into your upper bowel. It's crazy quick!

Once we got the results back, we could start sipping on water. So we waited. Every time the nurse came in we would ask if they were back. Radiology faxed back the OK but we had to wait for Dr D to sign off on it. So we waited. And waited some more. Damn surgeons operating on other people! By 5pm that night the head nurse made the executive decision to allow us to have some water. And it was glorious! In teeny tiny amounts. As thirsty as we'd been, we had to take it very slowly.

The following night I was only sick once or twice which was a huge improvement. I slept a little better but I was totally over the hospital bed. Damn those things are uncomfortable! My back was killing me. Of course that could also have been the residual gas. Wait, I haven;t mentioned that yet, have I? That stuff is a bitch! It just wallows around inside your cavity, causing pain and taking it's sweet arse time being absorbed. It's favourite hiding place was up under my diaphragm and across my shoulder blades, not so much the shoulder tips as everyone warned me about.
At 7am the next morning we were rudely awoken by Dr D coming to do his rounds. My irritability of being blinded by every light in the room being turned on at once (he's an awesome surgeon but he has the bedside manner of a gnat) was quickly subdued by his words 'You're doing well, if you want to stay in another night you can but I'm more than happy to send you home today'.


I was on the first train outta there! I could not spend another minute more than I really had to in that uncomfortable bed! I had my dressings changed and went through the awfully weird sensation of having my drain removed and I was ready to go!
Christian came and picked me up and then dropped me off at home before heading out to pick me up some juice for me. I sipped on apple juice that morning and then had some V8 juice that night. Man was it good to be home.

Since then I've been recovering well. I'm still very sore and tender around my incision sites but that wasn't helped by me crouching down suddenly when I was walking with a friend's little boy holding my hand and he fell over. It was instinctive but damn, it hurt! I've been having Up&Gos, V8 juice, some runny egg custard Barb made me and a little strained Cup-a-Soup but yesterday that just didn't feel like enough. My dietician told me that when I started getting the urge to eat more solid foods, I could give it a try. It wouldn't be a 'hungry' feeling but it would be similar and it's my body's way of telling me I've healed enough and it wants to move on. So yesterday I had some Chobani yoghurt for lunch and that was fine and for dinner I had a few teaspoons of mashed potato. I'm still going to take it slow but over the next couple of days I'll see how I go and might even have some scrambled egg.

I'm seeing Dr D for my followup appointment on Wednesday so I'll keep you all posted as to how that goes.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Packing for a hospital stay/zombie apocalypse

I have this quirk I do when I want to be organised, which is compiling lists (some would could it OCD but let's not split hairs shall we?). As tomorrow is D Day, today I have to pack and so I hit the interwebs to find lists people had made for what to take to hospital with them (I never said I only complied my own lists - I'm not above cheating every now and then). I was rather disappointed. Most of the ready-made lists I found contained the items lipstick  and mascara. 

Really people? Are you fucking kidding me? I'm not going to some fandangled resort to have a holiday and pick up blokes. I'm having major surgery. I only tart myself up a couple of times a year as it is, I'm certainly not going to worry if my lips are the right shade of 'Berry my Treasure' pink the moment I wake up in recovery.

I guess as the saying goes 'If you want something done properly and you don't have the money to hire someone much more qualified than yourself to do it, then suck it up and do it yourself'. So here is it...

Scarlet's List

  • Jarmies, dressing gown and fluffy pink slippers (if you don't have pink slippers, then make sure they are at least fluffy)
  • Comfy granny undies and a wire free bra. We're not going for sexy here, we want to be comfy. After major abdominal surgery the last thing you want is to have tight, restrictive knickers with lace that gets caught up in your glued up wounds and who wants a wire digging into your armpit while you lounge about in bed? However we do not want to scare the locals so some form of chest support is a must.
  • Basic toiletries. Obviously toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, shower gel, deodorant, perfume etc. I'm not bothering with shampoo and conditioner as my hair will be fine for three days without being washed and it takes forever to dry so I don't want to stink up the ward with wet hair smell for 12 hours.
  • If, like me, you have broken eyes remember to take contact lens solution and a case but also backup glasses for when cleaning fake eyes become too much of a bother but you still want to see.
  • Mobile phone and charger. Staying in touch with the outside world is important. If the zombie apocalypse occurs whilst you are in hospital, you need to know to bunker down. This is, strangely enough, the overnight bag I'm taking. Paranoia? Or Preparedness? You decide.
  • Lip balm (NOT lipstick). Fluids will be withheld until the Barium Swallow test  to make sure there are no leaks and it's common to get a very dry mouth and cracked lips. Lip balm will help reduce the homicidal urges you feel towards the PSA as she flits past your bed and give coffee to everyone else in the room bar you.
  • A Kindle/e-Reader/Book. Some heathens do not enjoy reading but I have the Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection by Sir Arthur to occupy the spare moments when my adoring fans aren't visiting.
  • Chewable vitamins. My dietician said to start chewing vitamins as soon as I'm allowed to swallow more than saliva so I have me chewable multivitamins, calcium and iron tablets from Bandbuddies 
  • Some people have suggested that your own pillow, a sleep mask and earplugs can be useful if you find it hard to sleep in hospital but to be honest, the nurses are going to be prodding you awake all through the night anyway so why bother with extra baggage?
  • Comfy clothes for the drive home. These can be the same clothes as you arrived in since the fashion police rarely patrol hospitals so you should be able to make it home without a fine from them. 

With packing out the way, I'm all good to go! I did my final weigh in this morning and at 101.5kgs I'm really happy with that pre-op loss. I just hope my liver is all pretty and slim for Dr D.
The next time I speak to you, it will be from the sleeved side! Wish me luck! xxx

Thursday, 20 June 2013

How to not die of boredom on opti

The VLCD stage before surgery is very different for everyone. It all depends on your surgeon, your dietician and your BMI. Some people have to go on a strict, complete opti replacement diet for up to six weeks during which they may have to have 3 or 4 meal replacements a day. Others have to do this intensive phase for two weeks. Some get to do two replacements and one meal consisting of protein and veggies. Some lucky buggers don't have to do opti at all. People who start off with a higher BMI normally have to do the VLCD for longer periods but it's not set in stone. You won't know what you have to do until you see your surgeon. 

For me, I had my appointment with the dietician exactly two weeks before my surgery date. I chose to start the diet early however and did the intensive phase for three days prior to seeing the dietician, for the sole purpose of being able to have a 'normal' meal the Friday before my op a(s plans had been made about six weeks prior for that night). I figure three extra days on the strict phase would more than make up for one regular meal out, especially if I don't over do it. Friday is tomorrow and man am I looking forward to that meal! Opti hasn't been as hard as I thought, mainly because I'm lucky enough to be able to have that one protein meal a day but still, I'll looking forward to the variety! As great as it has been to have the option of one meal of 'real' food a day, it has been a challenge to make those meals interesting. I can't tell you how quickly one tires of chicken salad! 

And so here's a selection of some of the things I've been having for dinner, just to give you some ideas :)

 Stirfry veggies

Obviously this doesn't have the protein in it, but it's easy enough to add some chicken or beef. Some nights, usually when I'm hungrier than normal I find it more filling to have a meal of veggies followed by an opti 'dessert (eg. gloopy pudding).
For the stirfy I combined capsicum, onion, cabbage, broccoli, beans, bean sprouts, garlic and carrot and added two tablespoons of soy sauce mixed with a teaspoon of crushed garlic, a dash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of powdered chilli.
Very simple and easy and very yum.

Spaghetti Bog, Opti style!

I really miss my pasta dishes at the moment and if I had a first born child, I'd willingly trade it for a lasagna right now! But one must make do with what one is allowed and so I settled instead for spaghetti. The quantities for this can be increased or decreased depending on how many you're feeding, in this case it was enough for two large meals for my hubby and two meals for me. There was approximately 80gms of mince in each of my servings.

400gm lean beef mince
Large tin of diced tomatoes.
Six or seven cloves of garlic, crushed (yes, I like my garlic, you can put less in if you're a pussy)
Large dash of paprika
One large onion, chopped.
Cabbage, chopped into long strings.

In a saucepan, combine everything bar the mince and bring to boil, then allow to simmer for about 30-40 minutes. Brown mince in a fry pan and then add sauce.
In a separate pan heat a little garlic oil (or plain oil if you're a pussy) and then saute the cabbage. Use cabbage in place of pasta and enjoy!

 Garlic salted chicken with seasoned veggies

So I like garlic, so what? Go judge someone else :P

This delicious dish is so simple to make and I must admit, I lived on it for the first five or so days of opti. I also find an extra piece of chicken is lovely cold, cut up on a salad for my real meal the following day.

'Palm sized' piece of chicken, schnitzel thickness (thinness?) is good 
'Free' veggies - I used carrot, beans and broccoli
Garden Fresh Vege-Spice - a little hard to find, I think I finally found it in a Coles somewhere near the spices/stock cubes
Garlic Salt - also found in the herb and spice section

Rub garlic salt onto both sides of chicken. Heat a small amount of garlic oil (or normal oil if, you know the drill by now, you're a pussy) over low to medium heat and cook chicken. Cook chicken slowly or you'll just end up burning the garlic salt on the outside and have raw chicken on the inside and end up with some nasty tummy bug and an exploding arse.
Steam veggies and drain very well in colander. Once drained, sprinkle some Vege-Spice over veggies and shake thoroughly (a good idea to keep them in the colander whilst doing this or you'll end up with broccoli on top of your fridge and other inappropriate places).

Serve and enjoy. Nom nom nom

Another tip I've found useful to help break up the monotony of opti is to utilise flavoured essences. A couple of drops of peppermint essence added to an opti dessert makes it a choc mint delight as opposed to a gloopy chocolate pudding. Peppermint or orange essence also tarts up a choc shake and I've also used lime essence (with mixed results) with the vanilla shakes. Yet even the times it wasn't quite the right  amounts, it was still something different to the everyday flavour of the shakes. If you can't get coffee shakes at your local chemist, dissolve some coffee powder in a little cold water and add it to the vanilla shake (but be sure to use decaf if that's what your dietician has ordered. If this is the case Caffeinated Anonymous meets on Tues nights, come join us as we weep into our fake coffees).
You really have to experiment a bit. Yes, sometimes it won't work and you might waste a shake but for the times it does turn out, your taste buds will thank you for their flavour orgasm.

On a final note, sugar free mints are a must, if you're not a pussy. You know, for that garlic breath...

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bye bye fluid

Yesterday morning marked one week on opti and time to do my 'first' weigh in. Of course, like most people who are serial dieters, I'm also a serial weigher and jump on the scales every bloody morning. Not healthy I know but I've given up food and caffeine, don't take this away from me too!

So last week I weighed in at 108.1kg and after 7 days on the VLCD  my scales were reading 103.3kg.
Now, let's be realistic shall we? A loss of 4.8kgs in a week is pretty much unheard of and far exceeds the recommended 'safe' loss of 1-2kg a week that most dieticians and doctors preach. And you know what? I haven't lost 4.8kgs of fat. The majority of that change on the scales is my body getting rid of all the excess fluid it's been holding onto. To be sure, I was obviously holding the equivalent of Mundaring Weir and I'm glad to have shed it but what I lose in the following week I'll know is actual yucky fat.

The past two days I've started getting that gross taste in my mouth that signals my body has gone into Ketosis which means it's no longer using carbs as an energy source but is now burning the ample supply of fat I have. I'm quite aware that the scales won't drop as dramatically as they did the first week and if I can get to 102kg by my scales by the time I have my surgery, I will be stoked. I'd love to think that maybe I could crack the infamous 100kg mark before then but I really feel like that would be an unrealistic goal and then I'd just be crushed when I didn't make it.

I can't believe how quickly the time is going, in 10 days exactly I'll be on the operating table. I'm getting so excited and am really looking forward to being on the sleeved side. 10 days and my life begins again!