With seven surgeries under my belt (c-section, gastric bypass, gallbladder removal, two small bowel resections, emergency ulcer perforation repair, and most recently, a hysterectomy), you can definitely say that I’ve been around the surgery block a few times, and I’ve come to know what to expect both before surgery, after waking up from surgery, and for the first few days and even weeks at home. Surgery isn’t easy, but there are a few things you can do to make things a little easier and a lot more efficient for you and the people who will be helping you afterwards.
Clean the house.
Clean the kitchen, bathrooms, kids’ rooms, mirrors, windows, etc. Run the dishwasher and make sure that it’s emptied the night before surgery. Sweep and mop, too. The cleaner your house is before you go in for surgery, the longer it will stay clean after surgery. Added bonus: your spouse will appreciate having a bit of a break from the debris and dirt while he’s busy tending to you.
Stock up on food.
This is a no-brainer, but one a lot of people, myself included, overlook. This is particularly important if you have a family – significant other, children, other family members, etc. Make ahead of time or purchase quick and easy meals, and stock up on quick foods and snacks for yourself, too. By the time you’re three to four days out from surgery you’ll be fine with fetching your own food, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to want to stand there and cook it. Grab things that can be enjoyed straight from the fridge, or require nothing more than microwaving or heating up in the toaster oven.
Put things within easy reach.
Think books, cell phone chargers, remotes, a big bottle of water, pain medication, etc. Keep these things with arm’s reach of wherever you’re setting up “camp” at. Your family members most likely won’t mind helping you get things or assisting you with standing, bathing, changing clothes, etc.; but that doesn’t mean you can’t help them by doing on your own the little things — like turning on the TV, or getting a drink of water.
You won’t need much at the hospital. Personally, I recommend a loose, comfortable pair of underwear, a sports bra and/or a cami with a built-in shelf-bra, and loose fitting pajamas (or even a t-shirt and lounge pants). Skip socks and shoes and opt for slippers or a pair of flip-flops instead. Leave all jewelry at home, and bring nothing more than your phone or a book to occupy your limited free, coherent time with. Once you get to the hospital you’ll be ditching everything into a hospital bag, which’ll then be handed over to your significant other to schlep around. Packing lightly isn’t just for your benefit, it’s for his (or hers) too.
Seven surgeries + three endoscopies + several other procedures = a decent amount of time spent around surgeons, doctors, residents, and nurses. Thanks to technology, the clipboard and file folder days are mostly behind us, with laptops and tablets taking their place. But note-taking will never be outdated, and we all know that talking is faster and more efficient than typing (as evidenced by the need for us to call each other to talk about an exciting, stressful, or otherwise BIG event, rather than correspond about it via text or email). But the medical professionals of today aren’t reaching for a pad and paper. I myself have noticed that surgeons and doctors are carrying around audio devices, or they have their iPhones and Android phones at the ready. Why? Because they’re relying on transcription, which is the process of recording your dictations and thoughts onto an audio file. Transcription is fast and easy: press a button and start talking. Transcription is useful. Medical personnel and other professionals use it to make notes of patient interactions, how a surgery went, prescriptions to order, and other things. But the second part of transcription, the transcribing — the transfer of the content from an audio file to a data file by listening to the audio and then typing out the spoken content — can be tedious, and a downright pain in the butt.
That’s where Rev comes in. Rev is a global provider of transcribing services, and now they offer free transcription services, courtesy of their iPhone/iPad/iPod app, the Rev Voice Recorder. This app, which is free for download and use, enables you to create high quality voice recordings using your iPhone or other iDevice. You can record for as little or as long as you’d like, and make as many recordings as your phone can hold (and when you’re ready, you can transfer these recordings to your computer via iTunes sync, to yourself or a colleague via email, or to the cloud — Box.net, Dropbox, Evernote, or Google Drive — using the app’s share options.
But Rev isn’t done yet. In addition to this, they’ve integrated their transcribing services into the app. If you need transcribing, but don’t have the time, ability, or desire to do it yourself, you can let Rev do it for you. Their transcribing services start at just $1.00 per every one (1) minute of transcribed audio, and they guarantee 98% accuracy with the transcribed files – and you’ll have them back within 48 hours.
Ready to take a peek at Rev? Visit Rev.com to learn more about their transcribing services and the Voice Recorder App; head to the iTunes Store to download the Rev Voice Recorder App; and follow Rev on Facebook and Twitter.
Until September of 2012, we had health insurance through my husband’s employer. But due to medical reasons he was let go, and so we lost our insurance coverage. Our son continued to have coverage due to his autism, but the three of us — myself, my husband, and our eight year old daughter — were left out in the cold. Fortunately we’re all pretty healthy, and there are fairly reasonably priced urgent care centers all over town.
Then, in February of 2013, I had emergency surgery due to a perforated ulcer. After being sick with pneumonia for almost a week, an unknown ulcer blew in the middle of the night, and in a matter of twelve hours I racked up $33,000 in medical bills: that’s two ambulances, two hospitals, emergency laparoscopic abdominal surgery, and a 4-day hospital stay.
Fortunately, in the state of Pennsylvania, emergency medical assistance — insurance coverage for those without insurance who unexpectedly find themselves in the positions of having medical bills that rival the value of their home — is available. I don’t know how this works in other states, but in our state, my medical bills were subtracted from our AGI (adjusted gross income), and the remaining amount of money was determined to be our annual income. That figure, combined with my circumstances, gave us medical insurance coverage that paid all but 10 percent of my medical bills, and gave us continuing coverage.
We’ve been as responsible as possible with what I see as a blessing in disguise (silver lining in the cloud, etc.). We’ve been able to see doctors for necessary visits, get medication refilled, get our daughter new glasses, and most recently, I was able to have a hysterectomy, which was needed and has been on the to-do list for a while now.
Having state coverage isn’t something I’m proud of, as I’m sure most people in similar positions are, but when it comes down to it, you do what you have to in order to get you and your family by, and to stay healthy and medically cared for.
Constipation is a bitch. And having been through seven surgeries now, I know a little something about how miserable it can make you, and also how to combat it, both with proactive and reactive measures:
- Begin taking a stool softener once a day five days prior to your surgery
- The day before surgery, drink lots of clear liquids and stick to a light diet: foods that are high in fiber, low in fat, and easy to digest
- Begin taking 2-3 stool softeners daily
- If, by day 4 or 5, you have not had a bowel movement, add half of a gentle laxative (such as Dolcolax) to your daily regimen
- If, by day 6 or 7, you have not had a bowel movement, begin taking 3 stool softeners and 1 full laxative per day
- Drink lots of clear liquids
- Continue a light diet: soup broths and puddings are a great choice
- Snack on raisins and prunes
My after surgery plan has worked wonderfully twice now. After abdominal surgery especially you don’t want to worry about straining and pain, so be sure to stock up on stool softeners, gentle laxatives, and if need be, a children’s laxative suppository. These are gentler on your system than standard suppositories, and combined with everything else will get the job done.
One of the hardest aspects of losing so much weight — 175 lbs, to be exact — is the loose skin. And sadly, my once voluptuous breasts only look good these days with a really good bra. And by really good, I mean the pricey, push-up, stocked-only-at-Victoria’s-Secret kind of bra. Without? Well, let’s just say that there are probably grannies rolling around in nursing homes with better set of breasts.
Whether it’s a lift, an increase in size, or even a decrease in size, it’s easy to see why breast augmentation procedures are so popular. Yes, breasts are designed by nature for feeding and nurturing babies (and my breasts did that quite well!), but thanks to society breasts are also a bit of an influencer of status (interesting article from Mothering.com: Are Breasts Sexual or Have We Just Sexualized Them?). Some women feel insecure about their breasts, either because they feel they’re too big, too small, hang too low, don’t hang evenly, etc (for the record, my right one hangs a bit lower than my left; and my left breast is a bit bigger than my right — and apparently produced more milk, if my son’s preferences were any indication — but those two facts never bothered me).
My breasts are a hot mess, so god bless good bras (if your breasts are in need of a good lift and custom fit like mine, I can’t recommend Jockey enough – they size their bras by volume, and will send you a fit kit to use for your own private sizing). But for those who want a more permanent, no-special-clothing-required solution, breast augmentation is the way to go. In the last two years alone over 307,000 women have had some sort of breast implant augmentation — are you one of them? Would you consider the procedure?
Tomorrow I have a 1:30pm appointment with my bariatric surgeon. I plan on discussing two things with her:
- Why am I experiencing stomach pain? And, can we set up an endoscopy to make sure nothing is going on?
- I need a referral to Dr. [Name], a surgeon who comes recommended by my bariatric surgeon’s patients for reproductive/gynecological issues – in this case, my intense desire to have my uterus removed
I woke up early the other morning with some abdominal pain. I’m due for my period, so in my sleepy state I chalked it up to pre-menstrual cramping (what I refer to as dry cramping), and went back to sleep.
This morning I again woke up with abdominal pain, only this time the pain was significant enough to wake me up fully. I took a bowel spasm calming medication (similar to Bentyl – I forget the name) and was able to fall back asleep. That was a couple of hours ago. The pain is still present, but I can function through it. Still, it’s clear now that the pain is most definitely not menstrual related, because it’s higher up in my abdomen, and all too familiar. I want to cry…
But big girls don’t cry. Not all of the time, anyway. So instead of crying, I’m calling my bariatric surgeon and setting up an appointment for an endoscopy. If anything is visibly wrong (such as an ulcer in the making…), they can often fix it right then and there. Pro-active treatment for a possible ulcer is definitely preferable to emergency abdominal surgery!