December 1, 2020

Tabula Rasa: D-Day

Okay so it’s finally time… all these months of waiting and preparing. Countless classes, doctors appointments, tests, and conversations explaining what was going to happen – now it’s time.

I wake up at 4:30 and shower with the before mentioned cleanse. I dress super comfy and my mom braids my hair because it will be a long time before I can do anything to my hair, so I wanted it out of the way.

My mom is all ready, I’m ready – our bags are packed. It is now 5:45 and we are still waiting on my aunt. She lives 20 minutes from the hospital but I do not know where I’m supposed to be, not to mention my nerves are a bit frazzled right now.

She’s taking her sweet time. She is the sweetest, bestest aunt in the whole world – but it takes her forever to get that face and hair ready to see the world. “You never know who I’ll see” she says. Ha.

At 6:30 am on the dot we come screeching into the surgical parking at Kennestone hospital. I rush inside and put my name on the list. Me, mom, and aunt Dot sit in the waiting area to be called back.

My spirits are pretty high, I’m actually in a good mood and reasonably relaxed. I got a pretty good few hours sleep and I know I’ll be knocked out for the surgery, so I’m not too worried. They call us back and we follow the nurse to another waiting area where we drop aunt Dot off to wait some more.

My mom is allowed to go back to the surgical area with me. It’s a mini hospital room with a sliding curtain and a TV. I’m told to give a urine sample, then remove all my clothes and put on the surgical gown.

This gown was no ordinary hospital gown, first off – it was huge! It fit me with plenty of room left over. I was also given these beautiful yellow slippers to use on my feet. The surgical gown had this nifty port on the side which you attached to a hose that blows air through the gown, either hot or cold.

I was freezing so I attached the hose and nice warm air circulated around my body. Super cool! Mom and I snapped a few pictures together and we waited about an hour and half in that room just chatting and playing with the hoses and TV.

About 8:15 Doctor Smith, my surgeon, comes in and asks how I am and we ask him any questions we have. He tells me about 8:20 they will be taking me back. These people are on time. The nurses come in and get me hooked up to Tylenol and fluids through the PICC line.

They take some blood, and the anesthesia lady comes in and talks to me about the process. She explains I will be very comfortable and she will make sure I’m taken care of.

It seems every person I see asks me “What’s your name, date of birth, doctor, and what are you having done today” I repeat January Runels, July 10th 1978, Dr Smith, Duodenal Switch with appendectomy and my gall bladder removed about 20 times.

They put a patch behind my ear for nausea because I get nauseous very easy and I will no doubt be sick from the anesthesia when I wake up.

They get me all wrapped up and we head out toward the operating room. I say goodbye to my mom and my aunt (she meets us as we are heading out) and I give them one last smile.

Everyone is in chipper moods and smiles and waves as I pass by all the different operating rooms and doctors, nurses, and techs. We steer into one of the rooms where a group of people are waiting on us.

The anesthesiologist leans over and says – “I just gave you something to help you relax a bit” and I thank her. I say ” You guys are about to see part of me I’ve never seen before” and that was it. I was out.

The next thing I remember I see my mom and brother for a second, then I’m out again. I’m told this was in recovery – the scary picture below with my mouth open.

Apparently during surgery something happened to my eye. All I remember was sharp pain, nausea, then sleep every time I woke up. It was like having a stomach virus as soon as you wake up and someone stabbing you in the eye.

I would wake up to feeling like I was about to throw up, my eye hurting, and everyone talking to me. This lasted for the entire day, into the next day. I don’t remember a whole lot about this time other than feeling very very very sick.

I remember people yelling at me to breath and me crying and saying I was going to throw up. I remember my mom being upset and me asking to please not let anyone visit me.

I would like to say I was brave and weathered it out, but I did not. I was miserable. My mom and brother said the doctor told them after the surgery that it was perfect. He had wished he would have recorded the surgery for training purposes because everything went so smooth and everything inside me was exactly where it was supposed to be.

Apparently this isn’t the case for most obese people. He said my stomach was abnormally large, which also is unusual. They removed my gall bladder, my appendix, and 75% of my stomach. They re-routed my intestines so that my body will not absorb most of the fat I take in.

The actual surgery day was a blur and I did not begin to come around until late Thursday evening. Apparently eye injuries are not uncommon during operation, but I still have no idea how it got injured. I was given eye drops constantly and it slowly started feeling better by Thursday night.


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