Well, despite being quite the workout for my surgeon, my internal hernia repair went well and I was back in my room within a few hours. I was in a good bit of pain, but had the “magic button” dispensing morphine when I wanted it. So far it seemed my gastric bypass surgery complication was under control.
The hospital, however, despite being a “center of excellence” for gastric bypass surgeries and doing boatloads of them every year, had no idea how to handle a patient who was a prior bypass patient in for something else. It was the third meal they brought me before my ‘clear liquids’ were all sugar free. And when I was bumped up to “gastric bypass stage 2″ (which should have been mushy stuff heavy on the protein) I got things like pancakes and grits.
Overall, it was pretty uneventful and by Saturday morning (October 18th) they let me go home. Unfortunately, my troubles were not yet over.
All Is Not Yet Well
I was on stage 2 foods, so mostly I ate soup. But on about Monday, I began having problems. Whenever I would eat anything thicker than chicken broth, I’d get terrible cramps. In fact, it started feeling a whole lot like the pain that took me to the ER in the first place.
Wednesday, October 22 was my follow-up appointment. By that time I could eat nothing at all and was only drinking Propels. I had lost 10 pounds over the prior 7 days. Not the way you want to do that.
As I came in for my appointment, my nurse was very reassuring. She, too, had had the exact same complication 2 years out from her gastric bypass surgery. She agreed with how horribly painful it was, but assured me that it would pass and that it wouldn’t interfere with weight loss. In the long run, it would be a blip on my radar. She’s very sweet, always positive and encouraging. And she is quite the picture of gastric bypass success. But she’d not had problems eating after her incident.
The Doc came in, very chipper, teasing me about what a challenge I’d been. Then I told him about not being able to eat, and he got a very serious look on his face and all joking ceased. “Don’t look at me like that!” I said, because he was really making me nervous.
“Well, we’ll have to check it out to see if there’s still any twisting or blockage,” he said. “I’ll schedule you for an Upper GI.”
He then said we’d remove half of my 46 staples as it was now 1 week after my surgery. I asked if he’d be doing it and the man who’s now performed 3 major operations on me said, “No way – makes me nauseas!” and left. Laughing like that was painful but did make me feel some better.
The next day I had to be back at the hospital at 7:30 AM. My family has already been thrown into a turmoil with me unable to do anything for anybody. My husband has used up all of his time off at work. But he has to be there at 7:30. My kids go to a Christian school so we have to take them and pick them up. The earliest they can arrive is 7:30. How would we work this out?
We got the kids up early and left them as they were getting ready for school (thankfully they came through and did what they needed to do), and my Mother In Law was to arrive about 20 minutes later to take them to school. My husband took me to the hospital, got me into a wheelchair at the front door and then had to leave me there. I could tell that nearly killed him, he hated to leave me. But I told him I’d be fine.
I was still in a LOT of pain. The upper GI consisted of drinking contrast and barium and then being X-Rayd. As I drank the first round of “goop” and stood before the machine, half a dozen people stood in the room watching this stuff progress into my digestive system. I felt very important.
One Great Wow Moment In The Midst Of My Misery
There was one great Wow moment in the middle of all this. The Radiologist was training someone new. The table you lay on could also stand up, and it had this little ledge at the bottom you stood on. The Radiologist was telling the trainee, “You set it up one way for people who are bigger. But when you have someone who’s a fairly small person, like this lady here, you can leave it like this.”
Did you catch that? I’m “a fairly small person.” I’ve never been called that before. Even in the midst of all this pain and anxiety, I couldn’t stop smiling over that one.
Well, it took several hours but the “goop” finally made it’s way all the way through my system. It gave me no cramps at all. And when all was said and done, the radiologist said he could see no problems at all.
“Which is good news and bad news,” he said. “The good news is there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong. The bad news is there’s nothing we can fix. If we could just send you home on a diet of Barium, you’d be good to go. But that’s not very nutritious.”
So I went home again. I thought well, maybe whatever was wrong is better now. So I tried some more soup that night, and OMG it hurt like I don’t know what. Something was obviously still very wrong.
I found out the next day exactly what – and how bad – the problem really was.