Saturday, May 1, 2010

I'm back, b*tches!

I hope that title doesn't offend anyone.  It just gives me the triumphant attitude-filled title I was looking for.  Probably the fact that I'm apologizing for it just neutralized any of that fabulous attitude I had worked up, but hey, that's the magic that is me.

Here's the update.  On the day of my 3-month surgiversary for gastric bypass, I went back in for another abdominal surgery--an umbilical hernia repair.  Back when my bariatric surgeon told me he found a hernia and stitched it up "while he was in there," I was thrilled that I was getting away with two surgeries for the price of one.  But folks, there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.  Umbilical hernias have a nasty habit of needing extra reinforcement, being one of the body's natural weak spots, and stitches (especially impromptu stitches) don't usually hold up.  So I had another 2-hour surgery, 6 new scalpel marks on my belly, 8 days off from work, a mesh panel implant in my belly, an overnight hospital stay, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Despite all this, I am extremely lucky.  I got in for the surgery just in time, since my bowel had started to work its way out of my abdominal cavity (which can be really serious if it isn't caught).  I was able to schedule the surgery in advance so that I could make plans to be off work.  I have a job working for amazing people who are understanding, and I have FMLA protection to boot.  My parents were already planning to visit me the same week I went in for the surgery, so I had support and assistance from my family.  And, luckiest of all, I already knew how to be my own health care advocate. 

I've said it before--when it comes to your health YOU must be the one to stand up for yourself.  You cannot depend on the government, your insurance company, your doctors or nurses, or your family to do it for you.  I was reminded of this time after time while in the hospital this go-round.  Some highlights:
*I remembered to tell the anesthesiologist that I woke up from my last surgery unable to feel or use my feet (and that I still have some residual neuropathy in my toes).  She was then able to figure out a way to pad my lower back during surgery so that there was no unnecessary nerves getting pinched.
*I had to fight with them on the pain meds they gave me.  And I mean fight.  I had so much bruising and pain because of all the issues and they wanted to give me Advil when I went home.  I insisted on getting the same meds that the bariatric doc gave me post-surgery, and thank goodness for it.
*They had no idea how to feed me.  I told the nurse "act like I'm diabetic" first, and then realized she was putting in my chart that I had diabetes.  I told her to change it and put down that I was on a "no sugar added diet".  Even so, twice I had to question people who came into my room to get my blood sugar.  They had seen "no sugar" on my chart and assumed I was diabetic.  Luckily I caught them before I was force fed juice or given any insulin.
*I had to practically beg to get a bag of saline pushed into my IV to help give me a hydration boost before I left.  I explained that I dehydrate very easily now, and that I can't always drink enough to keep from getting constipated.  And trust me, constipation when you've just had your 2nd abdominal surgery for the year is a fate up there with "please just kill me now."
*No one came by to get me out of bed to walk around.  As I learned from my last surgery, you need to get up and move to help prevent blood clots and to get your circulation going.  Good circulation = faster healing, yet I had to keep reminding them that I wanted to move around on a regular basis.

So yeah, you can't just lay back and expect them to know everything you need to get and stay well.  You have to speak up.  It's best to do it politely so that you are just a person who wants to heal and not "the pain-in-the-ass in room 810"  (although I've probably also been that person once or twice).  But learning to advocate for myself is a huge step.  Not only will it help me get the care I need, but it reminds me that I am WORTH getting that kind of care.  Those of us with serious weight issues need to constantly reaffirm that we deserve good healthcare, and that we have the right to speak up in order to get it.

I also just want to say to all of you, thank you, everyone, for hanging in there with me.  Every time someone joins my list, reads my blog, or posts a comment I am reminded that life is worth not just living, but also worth sharing.  And I like to think that if my random ramblings make you laugh, or make you think differently about something, or inspire you, or reinforce your confidence in being your own advocate, that my struggles are worth it.

1 comment:

  1. OMG. You are SO cute! With your tough response and then completely apologizing for it. YOU CRACK MY SHIZZLE UP.

    In other news, I'm glad that you're okay...I was worried!

    AND I'm proud of you being your own advocate. I've learned that if you won't do it, no one else will on your behalf. It's sucky...but true.