My plication procedure took place November 29th with the days preceeding consumed with excitement, fears, preparations and of course, shopping through the Thanksgiving weekend. By Thanksgiving morning I had met my 5% pre-surgery weight-loss goal. Friday morning I had to lose 1 pound over again but the two day liquid diet easily covered that pound and another as well.
I have to be honest that I had moments of sheer panic, thinking that I was actually insane for taking this path to weight loss. In more lucid and calm moments the realities of surgical risks and recovery were more manageable. I had fears of dying or of becoming very ill in Mexico. I made a decision to not tell anyone in my life about this procedure except for one very close friend. She's known me for many years through all of our mutual weight struggle ups and downs. I knew I would not get the doubt and questioning from her that I would from others in my life, others who have never dealt with the pain of obesity and the frustrations of yo-yo dieting and the deep self loathing that occurs at each loss of control and resulting weight re-gain. For me it is just so personal that I want my privacy, even from my family.
I arrived in San Diego on the morning of the proceedure feeling both excited and nervous. I did meet the clinic driver in the airport, but he was about 20 minutes late. Once in the van it took about 30 minutes to get to the clinic. Morning traffic was heavy, but once across the border the drive to the clinic was about 2 minutes!
I arrived at the clinic around 8:30am and was greeted by a young woman behind the counter who explained my morning. I made my final payment, had blood drawn, an IV started, an ECG, a consultation with the anesthesiologist and the nutritionist. They were all very nice and informative. Their review of my medical history was very thorough. They answered my questions, reviewed the procedure, recovery and nutrition to my satisfaction. They all spoke/understood English extremely well.
The hardest part for me was the waiting. I was the last of four plications scheduled for that morning. I sat in the waiting room with two other patients, watched them get called into the clinic area and wondered when my turn would come. I had too much time to think and because of the anxiety I couldn't get myself distracted for longer than 30 seconds at a time.
Around 11am I was finally called into the clinic and given my room that I would occupy for the next few days. The room was very nice, clean, had a hospital bed, bedside table, small couch and TV (with several English stations). There is a shared bathroom down the hall with a shower. I was given a hospital gown and a pair of sexy paper panties! Changing into the hospital gown made the reality hit me. I became more anxious and quite tearful...biting my tongue to inflict enough pain to distract me from the fear that was beginning to overwhelm me. I sat on the couch for another 30 minutes before the nurse finally came in with some Ativan...thank goodness. I was also given an anti-emetic, antibiotic, pain meds and something to reduce stomach acid production. The IV Ativan gratefully has an immediate effect!
The only thing that I would have like to have been different in this process is that I would have liked to have had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Ortiz prior to receiving the Ativan. By the time I did get to speak with him I was fighting the woozies. I can't recall the details of the conversation, but do recall asking my questions and feeling satisfied with the answers.
Shortly after that conversation (this is where time awareness is lost) I was escorted into the OR, positioned on the table...and next thing I new I could hear the clipped beep, beep, beep, of my heart rate on the pulse oximeter as I woke up and returned to the room. The night is pretty foggy, I wasn't terribly uncomfortable, was able to get up and walk down the hall, had an IV and was thirsty.
The next morning I awoke feeling really good! My abdomen was definitely sore but I didn't hurt. My stomach was making some sensations that were unfamiliar to me...hunger-like pangs...spasms I was told. They were tolerable but confusing. I was given my first bottle of water in the morning. I viewed it with both great desire and trepidation...how would my stomach react to having something in it? I cautiously took my first sips and waited. More in tune the feelings in my stomach than ever before I slowly and successfully consumed water and tea throughout the day.
I got up and walked often, at least a short distance to the nurse's station and back once an hour if awake. Late that afternoon I experienced the first "pain." It felt like my stomach was being stabbed by a thousand sharp needles. I was immediately given pain medication. I have to say that the staff was completely and immediately responsive to the needs of all of us there those days. There were three other patients who had plications and we were all being tended to very closely. I didn't have to wait for that pain med and it took care of it quickly. I had a little bit of nausea and vomiting but much less than I had prepared myself to deal with.
Wednesday morning I awoke feeling very good, a bit more sore in the abdomen, able to consume liquids easily but slowly. Just taking sips frequently rather than trying to take a "drink" really worked well. I was cleared to go home, got my medications, final instructions and the ride to the airport. I was very surprised to find out on the journey to the airport that I was going to have to walk with my luggage across the border. While it wasn't a really long distance it required more effort than I had energy for. I do believe it set me back for the rest of the day. I was really fortunate to have only an hour and a half flight.
By the time I climbed into my bed at home I was exhausted...but I had a big smile on my face...not only happy to be at home with my sweet little dog on my bed next to me...but excited about a future absent of the obesity and self-loathing that has occupied my world for so long.