Friday, August 17, 2018

Part Three: Go Time

If you haven't read my pre-op journey up to this point, make sure to read part one here and part two here before beginning this post!
***
 The days leading up to November 2, 2017 were a blur. An excited, nervous, happy little blur with all the anticipation and hope in the world that this road we'd been down for the last several months was finally veering off on to a beautiful new little path we'd been hoping and praying for. The first time my surgery was denied by insurance felt like (and still feels like) 100 years ago and yesterday all at the same time and by the time late October had rolled around, I was ready. We were ready. And we just wanted so badly for me to have the surgery so we could start this next chapter. 

The 10 days leading up to it I started my liquid diet-- for the third time-- so I had it down pat. All the times before, it was incredibly frustrating to be slugging down broth and Jell-O all the while not knowing if my surgery was going to happen the following week or not. So the knowledge that this was ACTUALLY happening made all the difference to me during that time. And side note- when we called my doctor's office to tell them we were officially approved for surgery, they were just as shocked as we were (because the insurance company hadn't notified them at all) and then they asked me about 4 times if we were sure that's what they said for fear that our hopes were up for nothing. You guys, NONE of us were prepared to deal with this insurance insanity! To this day my surgeon says he's never experienced anything like that before. #yourewelcome #thisismylife 

But everything from then on out went smoothly and seamlessly. I went to the hospital a few days before surgery to get my pre-op lab work drawn and on my way out the door, I stopped at my OB-GYN's office to leave her a letter letting her know how much I appreciated her and all she did for me and that this long anticipated surgery was finally happening in a handful of days.. and that because of her wisdom and heart, hopefully one day soon she'd be delivering our babies and literally bringing our wildest dreams to life. (Still makes me tear up thinking about how that all went down). I met with her a few months prior to this particular day and she was in awe of my news and everything we uncovered through meeting with my surgeon and having the EGD. "I just felt it in my bones that I had to talk about all of that.. something in me just told me loud and clear that there were things we needed to explore and I'm just so grateful I was able to be of any help to you," she said. And, my goodness, I could never be more grateful for that woman.

As I worked through my liquid diet, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for my sweet mama who made countless batches of homemade beef and chicken broth, homemade Jell-O and loaded my freezer with all the sugar free popsicles my little heart and not so little belly could handle! Side note: the sugar free Popsicle brand Tropical Popsicles were and still are LIFE. So much better than the regular flavors! I still adore them even post-op. It wasn't that I wasn't capable of making my own broth or stocking my own fridge, but the fact that she knew the depths of what was ahead for me and the act of taking things off of my plate without me even asking that was a Godsend. It all reminded me of a mama's love and there's really no mama like mine. And as I went through Halloween night with our big bowl of candy in the house ready for the neighborhood kids, I was beyond grateful for a broth I didn't have to prepare. Because more than just being physically exhausted at that point, I was starting to get nervous in anticipation of what was about to happen and in typical Liz fashion, my throat was hurting, I felt like I was coming down with a cold and I just felt like junk. Nothing ever materialized and looking back I think it was just all from stress and nerves but man, it was REAL. 

A few days before my surgery, Ben and my parents asked me how they could help, if there was anything they could do, and my answer was simple: words of affirmation is my love language and as I was about to embark on this new journey, I really wanted a letter from each of them that I could read moments before going into surgery that would give me the last little bit of encouragement I needed before going under. And it would also be something I could read down the line when things were getting hard or if I had forgotten what I was capable of. Nobody builds me up and supports me quite like my people and I'm grateful for the words each of them hand wrote for me. To this day, those letters are read and cherished more than they probably realize. 

The night before surgery, I took my Hibacleanse shower and went through my hospital bag. (More on what I packed in a later post!) And set my alarm for 5am. I didn't sleep so well and was awake for large chunks of time just thinking about what was finally happening and hoping and this was everything we'd been praying for. The next morning, I took another Hibacleanse shower and we drove to the hospital in my husband's car in near silence as my nerves were starting to get the best of me. He held my hand and sweetly told me this was finally the day we'd been praying for and how proud he was of me and how excited he was to start this next chapter by my side. I mean, you guys, everyone needs a Ben! That man just knows my heart. We parked in the parking lot a little earlier than we thought and he turned on my surgery anthem that had gotten me through the last several months- Glorious by Macklemore. I turned it up and it slowly pumped me up enough to get me out of the car and through those steps to the doors of the hospital.. and really, every step until even today. I ADORE that song and every time I hear it pop up randomly on my iTunes playlist, I'm reminded of how far I've come and that there's really nothing that I cannot do. 


Everything went seamlessly that early November morning. I read my sweet letters from my family moments before they wheeled me off to the operating room. I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a few tears just out of fear of what was about to happen as they laid me on the table and got me comfortable. Side note: WHY didn't the Anesthesiologist put a little something in there for nerves before taking me back to the OR like I've had in the past? Because that was STRESSFUL! But I was surrounded by the best family in the waiting room and in the hands of one of the most trusted and valuable bariatric revision surgeons in the country and ultimately, I knew that God had me. Four and a half hours later (it was that long because of all of the scar tissue from the previous surgeries) I was awake and in recovery and wheeled up to my room. My family loved on me, one of my best friends visited and made me laugh through my groggy, exhausted, drug-induced stopper and all the people that had rooted me on through the pre-op fight showed up through texts, calls, flowers and pure love. I was and am so grateful.

Walking the halls with my hubby
I was up and walking within a few hours and making (slow) laps around the floor by the following day. My trainer visited to entertain my mom and I as I started on 1 oz water cups before they would let me be discharged. Y'all. I sat there with 12 little cups in front of me and nearly cried because I just couldn't imagine how long it was going to take to get through them. But I got through them and although I was in pain- just feeling like my mid-section had been run over by a truck- it was managed and I was able to head home to recover in the comforts of my home. But in this case-- my parent's home-- because I was not ready for primetime with stairs and our master bedroom is on the second floor. Ben and I moved into my parent's house for a week or so and took over their downstairs guest room area. It was the best thing we did for ourselves at that time-- I was in the care of Ben and also my mom (a retired nurse) and my dad (a practicing physician) so it worked out nicely. And, let's be serious, the sugar free popsicle stash was on POINT! Hah. 

In the days ahead, I charted my clear liquids in a notebook and walked through the gas pains and weakness I felt through my recovery and little by little, I found my footing in this new normal. I followed my surgeon's instructions to the letter and I laugh looking back remembering how that folder literally went EVERYWHERE with me! So much information. And there was just never any time where I wanted to veer off and make a bad decision or test the waters. Every question I had was directed to my surgeon and not some stranger on the internet and that was the difference in this time vs. every other and also why I feel I've been so successful with my weight loss. Plain and simple. In the first month after surgery, I met with my surgeon twice in his office to start my post-op appointments and every time I was met with so much encouragement and support. AND.. a lot of excitement because a week out and my surgeon was ecstatic that my weight loss was already ahead of schedule! 
#canigetanamen 


Slowly but surely, I recovered and was walking further on all of my walks in our neighborhood, we returned home and for the next 29202 weeks, that red folder was the statement piece on our kitchen island- forever in the middle of my new little world as I treated it like the bariatric bible that it was and still is. It has since found a new home among all of the other bariatric binders and folders I acquired during that time but I still open it every few months to check in and remind myself of what I'm doing. What I'm working towards. And it helps me focus and look ahead. I'm constantly checking myself, always measuring my food, and just trying to live my best, most successful bariatric patient life on the daily.

My pre-op journey was nothing I ever thought I was prepared for and my post-op journey is completely that: my own. Since this isn't my first surgery, my weight loss is a little slower (which was expected and told to me at our first initial consult) and my stomach doesn't handle things that other WLS patients can handle.. and that's okay. I'm now down to my lowest adult weight ever and have lost almost 130 pounds---which is baffling to even type. Every day isn't puppies and rainbows, it's WORK. And I have to consciously put my whole self in the game daily as I chip away at this journey. But at the same time, every day has been a blessing as this tool has truly changed my life from the inside out. Together, we're doing the hard stuff and my life has never been more filled with joy and excitement as I look at what we've done together and the road that lies ahead.

At first it overwhelmed me to know that I had to have 75% of my stomach cut out of me to finally have true and lasting success and oh, how I wished I could have done it without surgery. But I truly believe that this was the road I was put on for a reason and I find strength in remembering that I had exhausted every other option. I had literally tried everything, done all the diets, met with all the doctors and followed their wild plans and every single one of them have made me more successful in this journey than I would have been without them. And I truly mean that. Had I not driven 2 hours each way twice a week to a doctor who put me on basically a glorified Keto diet a few years ago, I would have zero concept for what it's like to cut things so drastically out of my diet and learn to find other healthier alternatives that still made me feel satisfied. Or what it's like to learn my body's natural signals: hunger, cravings, and how to manage them. 

But more than anything, my pre-op journey and the road to me getting my surgery, difficult and trying as it was, has become the fire underneath me that ignites me in fully putting myself in this journey, keeping me accountable and living this lifestyle as I push forward towards my goals every. single. day. Because honestly, I'm just truly in awe that this was all able to happen. Every door closed in my face over and over again and I learned to be relentless in my pursuit of what I knew I deserved and what I needed. And for that, I'm just SO grateful. Truly, I just have the most grateful heart through it all, beginning to end. While I hate how my story began all those years ago with a botched surgery and years of shame and doubts-- I can't help but just be thankful for the journey in its entirety because every single step has led me to the joy of today. And how BLESSED am I to be on the other side?! It baffles me daily and I just feel so lucky. 



So if you're stuck in your middle and nothing is making sense, just put one foot in front of the other and keep pushing. Because what makes no sense all around you at the moment will be crystal clear when you're on the other side, friends! However, let's not forget that this all started because I put myself in a VERY uncomfortable situation. I opened myself and my heart up for extremely hard conversations because I was desperate. I was tired. And mostly, I needed answers. My hope for you is that if you find yourself in my position, you bravely arrive to that point. You open your heart and your mind to the potentially hard, awful conversations because they could very well uncover LIFE. And when you feel that something just doesn't seem right with your health or your body, you act on it. You put away your pride and you seek the help or the very thing that could change the course of your life. Because you are worth it and beautiful and there could be a whole, entire, beautiful new chapter yet to unfold on the other side. This I KNOW to be true. 

Happy Friday, friends! Thanks for hanging with me. I love being able to share my journey with you all and am so thankful you're on this road with me. And if you need a pick-me-up, listen to my surgery anthem. I PROMISE it will leave you feeling like you can do all the things. And if you're sappy like me, will also leave you misty eyed and grateful as you remember how far you've come and what incredible things lie ahead. I can't listen to this song and not think about the days I listened to it a year ago-- not knowing where this was all going but pumping myself up to keep pushing through every barrier. So on that note, have a wonderfully fun weekend! Be kind to yourself. 

XOXO





2 comments:

  1. I am a week out from rny and am completely battered and scared . But, to read how you had to go thru this 2x and the insurance battle . I’ve got this . I am inspired by the joy of your journey.. so glad I have found my way here .

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    Replies
    1. You've GOT this, girl! I promise, the days that are ahead of you are filled with more joy than you've ever imagined.. albeit work, of course, but I just can't emphasize enough how that journey you've been on to get that surgery will ignite a fire underneath you a week from now and in the days ahead. Keeping you in my thoughts in the next week! Don't hesitate to reach out to me on here, email or insta if you need to! I'm here for ya!

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