Being that I am a nurse, I am a terrible patient.
“What do you mean I can reset my own IV pump?!”
“Do you think you could have the doctor check x,y and z on my morning labs to make sure my kidneys are alright?”
“I’m pretty sure they could discontinue the heart monitor now.”
Yes. That was me.
I was blessed to have an amazing nurse overnight after surgery who withstood me freaking out about my low blood pressure and increase heart rate while in a morphine-induced phase. I’d be surprised if she got to see her other patients.
It’s hard not to micro-manage.
It’s hard to be a patient. I had an inkling of this having been the family member of a patient, but it’s hard to really know anything until you’ve lived the experience.
Truths about being a patient:
…sleeping for more than an few hours at a stretch is impossible.
…narcotic pain medications really do work wonders.
…it is possible for your lips to become so dry from lack of fluid intake than they cave into your mouth as if you forgot to put your dentures in.
…you will want to brush your teeth at least 4 times a day. See above.
…tape residue will remain with you for days. Maybe even weeks. You will find it in hard to reach places in the middle of your back.
…some doctor, without a doubt, will place an IV in a very awkward spot.
…you will, at some point, question your judgement about the decision to have surgery in the first place. Especially, if it is an elective procedure.
…you will definitely want your mom.
Overall, the procedure went smoothly. I remember being in the OR on the very narrow table with people flitting around me to prepare for the case. I could see the robot they use for laparascopic procedures as the scrub-tech prepared a variety of instruments that would soon be poking around my insides. I kept staring at those huge, bright lights that they would use to illuminate my nakedness and flaws in all their flourescent glory. I heard the anesthesiologist tell me she was administering propofol (MJ’s drug of choice) which left a big blank wall in my time-space continuum between sedation and consciousness several hours later when I awake mumbling about how I was going to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro once I have shed numerous pounds.
Six days after the procedure, I am sore and a bit cranky about the lack of fruits and vegetables I can consume while on a liquid diet. I really don’t have any regrets at this point about my choice to use a gastric band as tool for weight loss. If anything, I feel relieved – like “I think I can actually do this now!” I have never felt optimistic about my success before because I have so much weight to lose. The mountain was always looming before me in the distance and I could barely make it to base camp.
Bariatric surgery has its supporters and its detractors, but it is by no means a magic bullet or an “easy way out” of a life-long struggle. It does give me hope, though. And hope is a very powerful tool in and of itself. It is the “thing with feathers”.