As the days grew lighter and the sun started to take up more and more hours of the day, I knew I was getting close to my surgery date.
More than that, I knew I was getting closer to ending one of the biggest phases of my life. The phase where I hated what I saw in the mirror, and coulnd't stand to let anyone see just how big I had become.
If you read my last post than you know that I finished my check offs and had was ready for surgery in February, but coulnd't actually book surgery until June 16th. Which felt like a lifetime away from where I was.
I had started this crazy diet and begun the process to get my surgery in November. I’d hoped to not have to be recovering from surgery during the summer. We only get a handful of months where we can really be outdoors and doing things in nature in Alaska, and I didn’t want to be recovering and have limitation while those months were in full swing.
Alas, there was nothing I could do.
They gave me the 12th and the was the best that I could hope for.
Was I upset?
Did I almost immediately fall off my careful diet and start to gain weight back?
But thankfully I didn’t go fully off the wagon.
With June now looming though, it meant that I needed to get my nonsense under control.
I went back to logging everything I ate, to ratcheting down the amount of carbs I was consuming. The carefully designed plan that would have me slowly trend down in both my sugar and carb intake went out the window. I had to drop down from something like 250-300 grams of carbs a day to less than 50.
And you better believe we went cold turkey.
By the time I had to start my liquid only pre-op diet I was back down where I was supposed to be and my weight was a few ounces off what I had been at in February before I’d let myself slide.
With the time off of work already secured, we bought Tim a plane ticket from Anchorage to Fairbanks the day after my surgery, and we prepared the boys to be alone for a full 36 hours. I had several contacts at work that were going to stop by and check on the boys, people that I trusted and that had gone through a rigorous background check to be employed at FECC. They had phone numbers, a ton of frozen pizza, and we were less than a three minute walk from the University fire station.
I went to work June 11th at three pm and got off at eleven. Tim and I got the bags together and loaded up the pickle. Just after one am, we set out.
The great thing about June in Alaska is that we have so much light that it never gets all the way dark. The bad thing is that we end up stuck in the that sort of twilight that makes driving so hard.
Fairbanks to Anchorage is about a six hour drive. Which you can do in less if you’re feeling up to it. Not that I would ever condone speeding or the breaking of any law ever.
Tim and I stopped a few places along the road, admiring the views and the breathtaking beauty that is the Alaskan landscape. We switched out drivers, both of us exhausted from the lack of sleep and needing a nap. I ended up taking over for Tim for the last time about the halfway mark. He slept and I drove, blasting my music on my headphones hoping that would keep me awake.
We pulled up to the surgery center at exactly the right time and that’s about the time my nerves hit.
I was really going to do this.
I was really going to have surgery!
I’d never been hospitalized or gone under the knife for any reason, ever. Was I really going to have surgery, now, because I couldn’t get my weight under control? Was I going to let them put me under and then cut me open because I was fat? It was dangerous. People die during surgery all the time. Even the most routine of surgeries can turn fatal at anytime.
This was nuts.
I turned to TIm, as we sat in the waiting room and asked him, “Do you think this was a good idea?”
He shrugged and said, “Do I think it’s a little unnecessary? Yes. But I don’t have the same issues you have. I’ve never had a hard time losing weight.”
What if I died? That was all I could think about. What if I had a complication and died?
“I’m freaking out,” I told him as the woman came around the counter to call us back.
“Don’t be,” TIm said, taking hand. “You’ve worked hard for this. We’re gonna get through it.”
A few minutes later I was sitting on a hospital bed with my hair up and back in a cap and paper gown on, absolutely shaking with fear and anxiety.
Can't you just feel the excitement there?
I felt like I was going vibrate right off the bed I was so afraid. But then the nurse offered me a shot to calm me down, I refused.
I was scared, and shakeing, yes, but I was going to go into this clear headed.
I said goodbye to Tim, told him that I loved him and that if I died to tell the boys they have been the greatest joy I’ve ever had in my life. Tim promptly told me that I was not allowed to die, it was a violation of the agreement to love him forever.
My nurse was very kind as she wheeled me back, talking about the doctor, how kind he was and how exciting it was all going to be. When we got to the operating theater I honestly thought about running. The room was so cold and the lights so bright, it was more than I could take.
But my nurse wheeled me over, introduced the team to me and together we got me on what had to be the smallest table I’d ever been on. My anesthetist gave me a motion sickness patch behind my ear and put a mask over my face.
“Now you just take big deep breaths for me,” she instructed. “ Big deep breaths and by the time you wake up you won’t remember anything else.
And she was right.
One moment I was laying on the table, talking to the surgical team, the next minute I was on a different bed in absolute agony.
The pain! My gods the pain was so bad.
I was crying and reaching out for my husband, who got the nurse. Apparently I woke up a little earlier than was expected and there hadn’t been time to give me anything for the pain after waking from major abdominal surgery.
I don’t remember a whole lot from that moment, only begging the nurse to give me something to knock me out, and Tim.
I remember seeing his hazel eyes and his brows drawn down, worried for me, and afraid. Then they put something in my IV and I was out.
When I woke up the next time the Surgeon was there. He told me how well things had gone and that everything was perfect. He told TIm where he could pick up my prescriptions, and that I would probably sleep for a very long time. I told Tim he should go.
Go get something to eat, or explore all the shops we can’t ever check out because we’re so far away.
Tim, of course, was reluctant to leave my side. But after multiple reassurances from both me, the nurse, and the surgeon, he headed to get meds and eat.
When I woke up again I was so thirsty. There were these little plastic 2oz shot glasses of water next to my bed and I grabbed one and tried to slam it. A quick note here. I have a 72oz water bottle that I take with me everywhere. It is a Bubba Keg, super isolated, and beat up from all the times I’ve dropped it while hiking or just walking around. I drink a lot of water.
Just before surgery I bought one of those big one gallon water bottles and had been taking that around. It wasn’t insulated though, so it didn’t keep things cool.
When I took that 2oz shot I instantly regretted it.
I felt like I was just going to get sick everywhere.
I was going to puke my guts out.
And nothing in my life has prepared me for the pain of dry heaving after abdominal surgery.
The nurse handed me a pillow and told me to hold it over my stomach as I heaved. Then we had to get up and walk. Having done research into this I knew that the walking was important, it helped break up the gasses that were left in my system from surgery. So, I did laps. So many laps that I almost felt like I was going to get sick again.
This was around the time I was told that Tim would not be able to stay in my hospital room with me, he would have to find lodging for the night. I had an Airbnb book for for the next day but not tonight.
My host was amazing. I reached out to her and told her what was going on that I needed a place to stay for my husband tonight and could we please edit the booking? She got it done super fast and then Tim had a nice comfortable place to stay that night.
I spent the night up and down.
I’d try to drink, and then try not to throw up. I’d take my meds for pain and nausea and then sleep. After the third time asking a nurse to help me get to the bathroom I’d had enough. I started getting myself up and taking my IV bag with me and going pee.
The first time I did this my nurse came in and freaked out. Usually people let the nurses take care of them so soon after surgery.
I told her that if I’m able to get up and use the bathroom myself, I’m going to. I’ll be careful of the IV, and call if I need help.
When I woke up in the morning tragedy struck.
My mom sent a message out to me and my sisters in our group thread letting me know that my grandfather had died.
He’d been sick for a while. So it wasn’t exactly a shock. But it was still so hard, he was the only grandfather I’d ever really known. Tim came and got me and took me to the Airbnb where I slept. Almost constantly. He got the fridge loaded with my shakes and sugar free gatorade, and then loaded everything he could into the pickle and backed it in so I could just pull out of the garage when it was time to leave.
Then he took a cab to the airport and headed home to the boys.
I would love to tell you that I was great about getting my fluids and making sure I got all the protein I needed those first few days but that would be an absolute lie.
I think I slept the first three days.
Literally just slept.
The last two days after that I barely made it up and down the stairs at the Airbnb, and the only liquids I could drink were few and far between. I existed in bed, doing nothing so much as scrolling through videos on facebook and trying not to heave up my guts.
Friday rolled around and it was stormy and gray in Anchorage and I had to get up and be a functioning adult for the first time.
Initially I had planned on all these stores I was going to visit, shopping I was going to do and all this stuff while I had five days in Anchorage. Just getting in the shower to clean myself for my follow up was almost more than I could take. I was supposed to have everything packed and in the pickle ready to check out when I went to my appointment. That way I could head out then and take plenty of time driving home. That also didn’t happen.
When I had to drive there, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it was a struggle.
At my appointment I had to get permission from my surgeon to drive myself home. Apparently I was supposed to fly or have someone drive me. But Tim was home and at work, and my car was in Anchorage, I couldn’t leave it behind. So I told them I was fine and would be good to drive. I was given permission to do so with strict instructions to stop every two hours and stretch and walk around. I still needed to get up and walk.
Once back to the Airbnb I started packing everything in earnest. I had no dishes to wash since I couldn't eat anything, but I did have to deal with all of my trash and nonsense that I had scattered in my laziness. Thankfully I was fully loaded and ready to check out just in time.
I thanked my hostess about a million times for being so wonderful about everything and headed out of Anchorage.
I did manage to make one stop at a store. There is a Target in Wasilla, the closest one to me actually. And I wanted one thing before I headed back.
I wanted my own Switch.
And Target just so happened to have the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom special edition. I got that and Tears and headed home to my babies.
I got home just in time to jump into the truck with my boys and head out to North Pole to see the house we would eventually move into.
To wrap it all up, surgery was terrifying. There's no way around the fact that it is a major invasive surgery. If I hadn't been at the end of what I could do for myself, I wouldn't have even considered it. But nothing was working and I couldn't keep going the way I was. I coudln't do anything with my family, my knees creaked evertime I went up the stairs and I just hated myself.
In the end will have to see if was worth it.