Helloooooooooo friends!

I’ve missed you! Where to even begin with the last six-ish months of life happenings?!?

I think what I plan/intend to do is give you a quick synopsis – with more detailed posts to come – in the hopes that 1) it will keep you coming back after my unplanned hiatus and 2) hold me accountable to actually posting more often! I can’t make any promises, but my life is about to get a lot less unpredictable and harried, so maybe that bodes well for this little blog ‘o mine as well.

So since posting about my accident last August, the following chaos ensued…

August/September 2015:

My car was officially declared totaled and we had to get a new one. We settled on this beauty.

And now I understand why people become Subaru owners for life...

And now I understand why people become Subaru owners for life…

I started physical therapy for accident-related injuries (which set back my postop recovery as well). Back pain is the worst. Took three months, but I survived! Now if only I could get the insurance company to settle my injury claim. Sheesh.

In the meantime, I managed to make it through clinicals and, by some miracle, graduate from my NP program!

September/October 2015:

My husband got HUGE news that he was admitted to nursing school…in Maryland. He was also admitted to schools in Montana and North Carolina too, but this was a no-brainer decision. *Commence panic about moving AGAIN.* Started looking for NP jobs from out-of-state. No easy feat for a new grad!

At some point over the summer, we had gotten a wild hair and decided to adopt a THIRD dog. Because it’s a brilliant idea to do so while you’re finishing school, recovering from surgery, and now planning a 500-mile move. But when we first met this little one in August we were smitten…

Wouldn't you be?

Wouldn’t you be?

This time we decided on a Golden Retriever – only the dog I’ve wanted for as long as I can remember! So we brought her home in September..and we’ve been in love ever since!

Internet, meet Lorelai. The world's sweetest, most loving dog. Now prepare yourself for gratuitous numbers of adorable photos.

Internet, meet Lorelai. The world’s sweetest, most loving dog. Now prepare yourself for gratuitous numbers of adorable photos.

October/November 2015:

Took and PASSED my NP boards! Woot woot! I’m officially an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner!

Got frustrated by the job search and decided instead to sign up for a travel nursing contract in our new city to see us through the first few months. Accepted an inpatient oncology position. Back to my roots!

November/December 2015:

Wrapped up my jobs as a clinical instructor and inpatient hospice nurse. What a bittersweet transition!

Spent Thanksgiving weekend house hunting in our new home city. Decided we love it here. Debated the pros and cons of several gems and finally settled on one we love. Exposed brick walls, stainless steel appliances, amazing views, and a JACUZZI BATHTUB, people. Yes, please.

Went home for almost 10 days over Christmas and loved on my family! One of my favorite holidays in recent memory. Steve and I cooked up a Christmas Eve feast to be remembered … ironically eating less myself has translated into wanting to feed others more!


January 2016:

Sold Steve’s car (we’re city folk now – only need one!), loaded up the moving van and headed north. Where it was 19 degrees on the day we move in to our new place. And we were greeted a few weeks later by Winter Storm Jonas.

At least the dogs loved it...

At least the dogs loved it…

Eli and his winter coat.

Eli and his winter coat.

See above re: gratuitous puppy photos...

See above re: gratuitous puppy photos…

Started my travel job and decided I don’t like travel nursing. It’s so discombobulating. Luckily the unit I signed on with is full of amazing nurses and I end up having a great experience.

Steve started NURSING SCHOOL, folks! I feel like he should take over this blog now.

As soon as we arrived at our new address, all of the NP positions I had previously applied for suddenly appeared to be interested in me and I started lining up interviews.


Continued the interview process for a number of exciting options. Got an official offer from one and implicit offers from a couple others before I had to make a decision. After creating the most complicated, convulated pro/con list ever, I decided to go with the place that jumped first. Too many reasons to say yes and not enough reasons to hold out for the other ones.

Decided to get a little wild and dye my hair red. Apparently I was born to be a ginger because now no one believes me when I say I used to have dirty blond hair.

Signed up for my first 5K ever! Here we come, Color Run!


Wrapped up my travel contract and said farewell…kicking and screaming, I might add. Suddenly the idea of being a newbie NP is quite disconcerting and the idea of staying in my comfort zone as an oncology nurse is not so bad. Funny how that happens. 😉 Especially when you’ve settled in and actually really love your job at the bedside. Ugh, adulting.

…Which brings me to today. I arranged to take a week off in between the end of my travel job and the start of my nurse practitioner position. So that begins on Monday. *She types with great trepidation.*

I plan to post much more about the job I accepted, but in a nutshell, it is an outpatient NP position with an medical oncology clinic/cancer center at a suburban community hospital. They have never had an NP there before, so the kicker is that I kind of get to mold it and make it my own. Both an exciting and terrifying prospect. I chose it for a number of reasons, but the most important was that I think it will allow me to practice better work-life balance as I learn my new role.

And if there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that taking care of myself is non-negotiable.

So this is me these days…


April 23 will be my one-year “surgiversary”. As of this week, I have lost 155 pounds from my highest recorded weight and 137 pounds from my surgery weight. Yeah, I know – it shocks me too to see those numbers. I’ll post much more about my recovery, but suffice it to say, as hard as the moments have been, the overall outcome of a healthier Nurse Teeny has been totally worth it. Did it fix my life? No, but it wasn’t supposed to. It’s a tool and one that I plan to use well.

So cheers to a roller coaster of a year. I’ve learned to enjoy the ride!

I hope you’ll stick with me for the next one…



Sorry the blog has been so quiet lately. The rest of the summer was a flurry of teaching, clinical and classes (not to mention continued recovery). I’ll have more news on all fronts very soon, I promise.

But the big news of the week is that I was in a very serious car accident last Wednesday. I was waiting at an intersection to turn onto a highway when someone decided it would be a good idea to turn left right in the path of oncoming traffic. They collided with said oncoming car so hard that they slid across the road, right into me, causing my car to spin and roll into a roadside ditch. It wasn’t pretty. I’ve been rear ended a couple times in my life, but nothing like this. It was terrifying and there was definitely a moment when I thought “This is it. This is how I’m going to die”.

Considering the damage that was done, I’m amazed everyone involved was not more seriously injured. I honestly believe that my side air bags saved me from a head injury. But the impact was pretty stunning. I was transported to the ER (in a C-collar … as soon as I said “My neck hurts”, the paramedics had that thing on me faster than you can snap your fingers), scanned and released the same night. I was told the next few days I’d feel like I was recovering from a really hard workout…they weren’t kidding. Ice and heat have become my best friends (not to mention pain meds and muscle relaxants). Fun fact: NSAIDs are often the medication of choice to take for musculoskeletal pain (no duh, right?), but guess what? As a bariatric post-op patient, I’m not allowed to take NSAIDs! Boo. Since the stronger stuff knocks me out and I can only take it at night, I’ve had to grin and bear it for the most part.

Unfortunately since I was hit on the driver’s side, the impact did some damage to my back and flank and the pain hasn’t dissipated with the the rest of my generalized aches and soreness. So tomorrow I meet with my PCP to talk about what’s next.

In the meantime, I wait for the insurance adjuster to tell me whether my poor car is totaled or not. I am praying it is fixable but I am not holding out hope…

The fallout

The fallout

Airbags may have saved my life...

Airbags may have saved my life…

The worst part of this whole thing is feeling like it’s a giant step backward. I was just starting to feel like I had a handle on things. At almost four months postop, my energy levels were better, I was able to eat more, and I had just signed up back at my gym to create a long-term workout plan. I felt like I was moving forward. Then some yahoo decides to turn into oncoming traffic and it all changes in the blink of an eye. Not to sound whiny because I know it could be MUCH worse (and I could have been much more seriously injured), but the past few months have been such a roller coaster that I was really looking forward to the idea of progress.

For now I guess it’s back to one day at a time.


Two Months Out: Ambivalence

Last week I celebrated my eight week postop-aversary. This is usually the point at which we are cleared to eat regular foods and swallow pills whole. For many bariatric patients this is quite a milestone when you are supposed to start feeling “normal” again. I have to say I feel anything but.

My postop life continues to be a roller coaster. I continue to struggle getting my protein in, have no appetite and with the heat and humidity raging in NC, it’s even harder to eat. This has resulted in some days where I have just dragged. I definitely notice that when I do reach my protein goal (80 g/day), or even get really close, I feel MUCH better. But my boss pulled me aside a couple weeks ago and said she was really worried that I might be anemic since I was so pale. Of course I panicked, called my doctor’s office and begged for my labs to be checked. The results? Everything was beautiful. Everything. I’m not anemic or vitamin-deficient or hypothyroid. My labs literally couldn’t be better.

It really is all about the protein, folks.

I had my two month post op last week with the PA, who was wonderful and helpful. I think my surgeon is great at what he does, but he’s not super warm and fuzzy and I needed some affirmation and support (especially after my practice’s triage nurse verbally berated me over the phone a few days prior…I was feeling pretty vulnerable).  My PA reassured me that with SIPS patients, the “magic number” seems to be more like 3 months instead of 2 and that as long as I took care of myself, I should start to feel normal again soon.

The good news? I was cleared for regular food, with the caveat of always getting my protein first. The bad? Advancing my diet has done nothing for my appetite. I’ll try something new, think it tastes decent, and then loathe it with the next portion. Poor Steve is getting stuck with tons of leftovers. The only flavors that seem to really resonate with me are Asian foods and fish…I still love miso soup and now that I can have (some) vegetables, have become enamored with lettuce wraps. Scallops are my new best friend and I could eat white fish all day.

I’m still discovering what foods sit well with my new stomach. Granted, a lot of the foods that felt like lead (i.e. shrimp) haven’t been attempted for a few weeks – when my stomach was still in the healing phase – so I’m trying to convince myself that it’s worth another try. But beef just does not agree with me at all. The “head hungry” side of me is mourning the idea that even if I wanted to, I could no longer eat a cheeseburger because it would make me sick as a dog. But I know that’s actually a good thing.

The two hardest adjustments have been fear and mental exhaustion. I fear trying new foods outside of my home because I don’t know how they will affect me and I don’t like to get sick in public (nor do I have time…more on that later). I may just have to get over this but my anxiety makes it even harder to eat because I’m not very willing to experiment.

The mental exhaustion is in knowing that for the rest of my life, every morsel that I put in my mouth will require focus and mindfulness. Not that mindless binge eating was any healthier, but bariatric surgery does not fix the delicate and tenuous relationship that many of us have had with food for most of our lives. I could see how the constant attention to what we eat could go to the opposite extreme and become pathologic in itself. It will be a delicate balance and I think it will be a different kind of struggle. I have had moments of sincere regret about having this surgery and its consequences for my lifestyle.

Then again, I have lost over 50 pounds from my highest weight and almost 40 pounds since surgery. I can walk without my legs chafing and climb the stairs without having to catch my breath. I look forward to vacations because I can start keeping up with the rest of my family (and even fit in airplane seats)! I enjoy shopping again and rediscovering old clothes in the closet that now fit…or are too big! I feel like I am starting to get my life back.

I may be exhausted and beat up but I did undergo major abdominal surgery and my body is still healing. During my harder moments, I need only to remember how far I have already come.


One Month Post-Op

Last Thursday, I hit the 4-week mark and Saturday was my official one-month postop-aversary. I can honestly say there have been moments when I doubted if I would ever make it this far. (Especially during Week 2 of liquids…cream-based soups still make me want to gag.)

Overall I am doing well. My energy levels are just not where I want them to be, but I haven’t reached my protein goals yet. I also aim to get 600-800 calories (no more than 1000) daily and it is an effort to reach 500 most days. Says the girl who used to down an entire plate of loaded nachos in one sitting (by herself).

My how times have changed. 😉

I know it can take up to eight weeks to really start “feeling normal” so I am doing my best in the meantime. I’ve been walking as much as I can (and as much as this blasted Southern humidity will let me).

I’m a week into my “soft diet” phase, which will last until week eight. So far it’s not bad … it’s a relief to actually eat things with texture. I’m just beginning to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for my body. So far I can handle meat if it is sliced thin or in a soup. I adore fish of all kinds but shrimp makes me feel like I’ve got a rock in my stomach. As does ground beef or ground chicken. It’s kind of amazing how individualized our food tolerances become after bariatric surgery. I’m still not craving sweets or junk food. I’ll walk down the grocery store and see a shelf full of Cheez-It’s (my #1 preop vice) and think “Huh, I remember really liking those.” And it stops there. Thank goodness.

My sense of smell, however, is very much intact, if not sharper than before. This is really annoying. Over Memorial Day weekend when Steve and I would take walks around the neighborhood, I could smell our neighbors grilling all kinds of goodies and it actually made me hungry. But when I actually had food in front of me, the hunger went away. Occasionally I’ll “crave” a particular type of food – ironically it’s usually soup. The other day I desperately wanted to try a Panera Quinoa Broth Bowl (my favorite) but when we got there, they were fresh out. Wop wop. Tonight I’m curiously interested in trying egg drop soup with wontons.

I continue to be amazed at how much my taste buds have changed. Foods that are traditionally salty (but tolerable to my palate before) are overpowering for me now…I tried prosciutto rolled up with some Laughing Cow cheese the other day and could barely finish a slice. Sweets of all kinds make me nauseous (particularly artificial sweeteners). And cheese is my new favorite condiment. I put it on everything. Small amounts of part-skim cheese, mind you, but I eat such small volumes and struggle to get my calories anyway, so I figure if it makes food more palatable then I am willing to go there. Especially for the added protein.

Some other curious changes… My stomach is starting to act more “normal”. It is much less talkative, except when it is empty…just like old times. My incisions are healing really nicely. I weirdly hate hot showers now – I used to be able to stand in the steam until the water ran cold. Now I get dizzy if I’m in there too long. Not sure how I will do with jacuzzis or baths once I’m allowed to use them.

Probably the most satisfying outcome so far has been the utter lack of migraines. They were pretty well-controlled before surgery, especially once I started sleeping with a CPAP, but I had heard that bariatric surgery often improves headaches, sometimes to the point of eliminating them completely. I saw my neurologist today for a post-op followup and he couldn’t have been more pleased. He didn’t see a need to put me back on a prophylactic medication (my surgeon discontinued my propranolol because my BP was running low). We slightly tweaked my rescue meds to remove any trace of NSAIDS or caffeine from my regimen. He said as long as I feel this good I don’t have to come back for six months! If I can get rid of these damn headaches for good, that alone would make this experience well worth it.


Walking the Tightrope

If I could describe my first month of recovery, it would be akin to walking a tightrope on a roller coaster. How’s that for an image? 😉

In all seriousness, I am actually thankful that recovery has been fairly smooth. I’m keeping food down, have minimal reflux problems, and although my stomach is still quite vocal (seriously, stomach, shut the eff up), have been pain free for weeks and am generally doing okay.

The main challenge has been staying hydrated and getting my protein. Which is harder than it sounds. In fact, the only (slightly) major hiccup in this whole experience so far has been doing what I swore I wouldn’t do: I got majorly dehydrated over the weekend.

The challenge is that now that I’m actually eating (huzzah!), I can’t drink fluids for 30 minutes before or after a meal or snack. And I’m supposed to eat 4-6 times a day. And get in 80 grams of protein and 64 oz of water. You do the math. It’s not easy. Oh, and add on the fact that I’m supposed to be getting about 600-800 calories a day … y’know, to sustain life and all. I’m barely getting 400, if I’m lucky. Sigh.

So this weekend after I advanced my diet to semisolids/pureed, I had trouble balancing the fluid versus food equation and got behind on my sips. So behind that when I woke up Monday morning I felt like pure hell. I knew I wasn’t going to catch up on my own and I knew that if I didn’t catch up I was in trouble. So poor Steve got woken up at 6:30 am by a pitiful little voice begging him to take me to the ER. Two boluses of normal saline later and although I was still tired, I at least no longer felt like I was going to die.

The other difficulty has been protein. Ah, protein, you are an elusive bugger. I know 80 grams daily is a goal and I’m not expected to be there yet, but I also know how important it is to my healing and energy levels (and continued weight loss, so my body eats fat and not muscle). I was WAY behind on the liquids because I was just so sick of …. liquids. The PA at my postop appointment gave me some helpful pointers that I will share with you in a future post, and that has helped, as has advancing my diet.

Speaking of which, I advanced to soft foods yesterday! Woohoo! It’s been a fun adventure re-experiencing new (old) foods and new combinations. It’s funny because whenever I reintroduce something into my diet, Steve gets a text from me proclaiming that what I just ate was the “best thing ever”. But seriously…to put actual, real food into my mouth, and taste it (and then chew the hell out of it). It’s just a divine experience. I have 4-5 weeks of soft foods and then I can slowly add “normal” food back into my diet. As I’m able to eat more volume, I’ll also be able to add back in more cooked veggies and complex carbs (gasp). Once I’m further into this soft diet phase, I’ll share with you some of my favorite combinations.

So onward we go… I go back to work next week, start my final (!) semester of NP clinicals, and generally resume a “normal” life again. Whatever that means.


Food, Glorious Food

It is the final day of my full liquid diet! Cue the party horns, streamers and balloons! I’m at the point that I am literally gagging on soup, even when it tastes good. I’m not normally a fan of semi-solid textures all by themselves (think: baby food), but bring on the purees!

It’s curious how I think about food more than I did before surgery, but in a completely different way. Rather than plotting how to satisfy my next craving, I’m more deliberate and careful. I know that planning ahead is the key to being successful in my new life and so I’ve become quite methodical. I’m not saying I no longer have unhealthy cravings…the other night I dreamt that I ordered the entire menu at Sonic and stuffed my face with corn dogs. I’m just glad the cravings stay tucked away in my dreams. 😉 But I digress…

Luckily the pureed phase only lasts a week and will allow me some creativity and variety (plus more protein intake, which is something I desperately need). I’ve created a “Pureed” Pinterest board (Pinterest has become my saving grace during this experience. It gives me great ideas.)

Basically these are some of the options I plan to rotate through:

  • Vegetarian refried beans
  • Mashed potatoes (with dry milk powder or protein powder)
  • Mashed cauliflower (see above)
  • Baked low-fat ricotta with tomato sauce
  • Plain nonfat Greek yogurt with mashed fruit on top
  • Poached eggs with mashed avocado
  • Eggs in purgatory (healthy version)

Considering that I can only eat 1/4 cup per serving, I should make it through the week without getting too sick of anything on the list. This is assuming that my sleeve can tolerate everything, of course. I may have some rude awakenings when I start feeding it more substance. I’m trying to be careful about not bombarding my system with more than one new food item at a time.

Looking ahead to Post-Op Week 4, I’ll be attending a nutrition class at my surgeon’s office to discuss incorporating soft foods into my diet. And then the fun can begin! 🙂 I’m excited to start menu planning and trying new, healthy recipes. The good news is, cooking for two is now more like cooking for four/five – cooking one meal should last us a few days with the portions I’ll be eating. We plan to do a lot of crock pot meals to keep whatever meats I eat soft and tender (bonus points for stretching leftovers even further!), as well as A LOT of fish.

I’ll be on soft foods for about five weeks as everything continues to heal, and then I can return to eating “normally” (a new normal for me), with a few big no-nos: white/doughy breads, pasta, rice, sugar. Still no caffeine or alcohol either. To be honest, I don’t miss it.

As I’ve researched food options, I’ve come across some great bariatric-friendly blogs and websites. I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface, because there is a whole world of weight loss surgery websites out there, but these have become especially helpful:

It’s interesting that bariatric postops have developed a diverse array of opinions about what is permissible in the world of bariatric living. Some use full-fat ingredients in tiny portions but completely avoid bread. Some adapt “comfort foods” into more healthy versions. Some still have a strong sweet tooth and have developed goo-gobs of sugar-free desserts. To each their own, I guess (it also varies based on how long ago their surgery was). But it’s reassuring to know that I can still enjoy eating after weight loss surgery.

Other resources and ideas that have come up recently…

One thing is for sure… I am determined to not only eat LESS but eat BETTER.


Farewell, My Sweet(s)

First, the good news! I’m down 11 pounds since surgery and 32 overall! Woot woot! Recovery continues to go well overall and I’ve been lucky enough to avoid complications (knock on wood). I’m taking it one day at a time and letting myself move slowly.

Now, the less-fun news…

This is hard as shit.

Not that I was kidding myself – I knew it would be a long road and I’ve barely gotten started. But the full liquid diet is exhausting. It literally feels like a full time job to sit there and time myself while I sip fluids like a baby bird and try my damndest to squeeze in as much protein as I can each hour. My caloric intake is so low that I am tired and weak, although I’ll be damned if I let myself get dehydrated too.

My mom was here for a blessed week and went to work making delicious creamed soups packed with veggies. We bought some unflavored whey protein powder and started adding that to our soups as well, which has helped. My aunt had the genius idea to freeze the soup in ice cube trays, so our freezer is stocked with ice cube sized portions of soup (two cubes = two ounces=one serving).

Exhibit A

Exhibit A


There is enough variety here to keep things interesting, but I am so sick and tired of liquids.

One thing that has amazed me is how much my taste buds and food aversions have changed since surgery. For the first several days, nothing really tasted good but nothing tasted bad either. I had zero cravings and no sense of hunger. Slowly (very slowly), certain foods are starting to sound good again. Steve had a spoonful of almond butter the other day and when he leaned over to kiss me good morning, I wanted to eat his face off. The other night he was as sick of soups as I was, so he ordered takeout from our favorite pan-Asian restaurant and brought me home some miso broth (I strained out the solids). That might have been the most delicious thing I will ever put in my mouth (it’s all relative, people).

And my sweet tooth? Gone. It was starting to dissipate even before surgery, but it has officially flown the coop. Part of the problem is that a lot of artificial protein sources are made to be sweet in order to be supposedly more palatable. But they can’t use sugar, so they use sugar substitutes, which are absolutely cloying. I want none of it.

This does make getting my protein a challenge. All of the shake recipes I pinned before surgery now make me want to vomit. I’m trying to use real fruit and plain yogurt as much as I can to cut, rather than enhance, the sweetness of the protein powders. I tried 100% fruit juice today and almost gagged. And sugar-free Crystal Light? Just give me plain water, please (room temperature too – I used to love ice-cold water but now it makes my throat seize up). You better believe that once I can start eating actual food again, I’ll be getting my protein from eggs, low-fat dairy, lentils, quinoa and seafood/lean meats. No more mile-long ingredient lists for me!

I’m trying to take consolation in the fact that I only have four more days before I can move onto pureed food. Steve is looking forward to making me the perfect poached egg…and I’m looking forward to eating it! 😉


All the Feelings

One of the surprises I have not been really prepared for is the gamut of emotions that I run through each day (often from minute to minute). I was warned during my preop phase that emotional ups and downs and insomnia were common after surgery. I haven’t experienced any extreme mood swings or breakdowns, but I feel as if I am constantly processing this decision and its consequences, and it is exhausting on all levels. Fortunately over the past few days the emotions have become fairly predictable, but I’m still trying to figure out where to put them all…

Usually it starts when I wake up about 3 am and can’t go back to sleep. Often thanks to a bad dream that I’ve spiked a fever or experienced any number of postop complications (being a health care provider myself is both a blessing and a curse because I have already seen the worst outcomes). My mind starts racing and it’s all over unless I take something to help me get back to sleep. I’ve also noticed some early morning headaches, especially since I have had to discontinue my prophylactic propranolol for migraines (decreased blood pressure and heart rate do not exactly help to promote circulation and healing).

Once I’m awake for the day, I’m usually pretty tired and slow to get going. I’ll sip on fluids and protein and then I’ll talk with my mom or my husband or get a supportive text or message from a friend, and I’ll start feeling pretty good about things. I’ll know that this was the right decision and that it is going to change my life for the better. At this point I’m motivated to go for a short walk or leave the house for an errand.

Sometime in the afternoon, I’ll check my fluid and protein intake levels (yes, there are apps for that), feel like I’m behind and start to get discouraged. If a family member calls to check in and wants to know exactly what procedure this was, or if I’m consulting my post-op instructions about a specific issue, it will hit me all over again…I just had 2/3 of my stomach lopped off and removed and my guts rearranged. This is permanent. This is it.


Luckily for me, those moments of “patient’s remorse” are fleeting and not especially profound. They are usually related to underlying fears about complications or preoccupation about how to eat healthy and intentionally in a very unhealthy world. While I don’t have regrets, I think it’s important to acknowledge the doubts that accompany a significant life change. Denying that they are there can only cause me distress.

So I’m still working on all the feelings. And I imagine I will be for some time. But I’m thankful that I have this time and space to process them as they come.


POD #4

Today is POD (Post-Op Day) number four. So far it’s been fairly smooth sailing…hope the trend continues!

My surgeon was thrilled with how the surgery itself went. There were no complications and he felt really good about how well it seemed to go – Steve said the surgeon was just about giddy when he came out to talk to my family afterward (and I got high compliments on my liver ;-). I did have some pretty severe post-op nausea in the PACU – I don’t remember much of that period except occasionally whispering “Help me, I feel so sick”. I knew it was pretty likely to happen since it’s happened before…didn’t make it any less miserable though.

The morning after surgery I went down for an Upper GI/barium swallow to test for leaks. They gave me some nasty Gastrograffin, followed by barium, and told me to gulp it down. No leaks, but I think I drank too much because I was miserable for the rest of the day. The stuff just would not settle into my new GI tract and move through. I ended up becoming extremely nauseous again and threw up more times than I care to count. The PA looked more closely at my Upper GI results and saw a lot of inflammation (not surprisingly), so they started me on IV steroids and Protonix, plus a whopping dose of Phenergan for the nausea, and I felt 200% better when I woke up a few hours later. I was able to keep down clear liquids that evening, although in baby 1 oz quantities. I had a PCA for pain control for about the first 24 hours, then they switched me to liquid pain meds once I was cleared to swallow.

Post-op day two featured increased fluid intake with no additional nausea. My gut slowly started to wake up and start moving. So they took out my drains and sent me home!!! 🙂 It was so therapeutic to be in my own house, sleep in my own bed, snuggle with my hubby and puppies and start my new journey. My mom is in town for the week… it is wonderful to have a walking buddy and somebody to help me get all this fluid and protein intake sorted out. Today I graduated myself from clear liquids to full liquids, meaning I can have protein shakes again. We are also trying out some low-fat creamed soup recipes this week.

Pain-wise, I really haven’t been too bad. I’ve only taken a couple doses of the liquid narcotic since I got home…I’m a little sore but nothing overwhelming. I’ve tried to plan an outing every day with my mom to get in a good walk and to get out of the house. One trip tires me out but I honestly haven’t been too fatigued overall.

I am not hungry whatsoever and it takes a lot of effort to get in the fluids and protein I need. Right now they are more worried about my staying hydrated (dehydration is the number one complication of bariatric surgery), but increasing protein will be important for faster healing. My surgeon had mentioned that I would wake up after surgery and all of the old cravings would have disappeared…it’s so true. When we do grocery runs, every once in a while I’ll see food that I used to love, but I have no desire to taste it now or anytime in the near future. I’m hoping that I will get my enjoyment of (real) food back, just minus the cravings for processed sugars and junk. Right now I’m just glad that I can be around food without feeling deprived.

The oddest part of this whole thing so far has been the noises. Once my gut woke up, it apparently has had a lot to say. It is constantly grumbling and growling, especially at night. From what I’ve read, this is not unusual and does calm down after a while, but it distracting and kind of awkward. Here’s hoping things quiet down in that department…


Going Lean and Green

Although I am down to the five-shakes-a-day phase of my “liver diet”, I thought I’d share some of our favorite “lean and green” recipes that we discovered during the first two weeks. All I can say is thank goodness for the Internet (and Pinterest)! We were quite pleased with many of the dishes we made and I’ve pinned them for future reference.

The whole experience was made extra special by the fact that Steve and I cooked many of these meals together (when I wasn’t working). He is definitely the culinary master in this family, but I have always enjoyed being his sous chef, and it was really fun to try new ingredients and combinations, and enjoy the whole experience of food prep. Our version of a date night ;-). Ironically, I’ve been more interested and involved in cooking these past few weeks, mostly because I am bound and determined to make sure that I can still enjoy food (just healthier versions of it). And I’ve been watching reruns of Top Chef like it’s my job – you would think it would be torture, but somehow it’s comforting.

As for the famous shakes, my morning routine has been a splash of fresh-squeezed orange juice, a serving of frozen fruit, and vanilla protein powder, blended with a bit of ice. In the afternoons I’ll usually blend chocolate protein powder and water with a teaspoon of PB2, or vanilla protein powder and unsweetened almond/coconut milk with a teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of vanilla extract (I swear it tastes just like a cinnamon roll). They’re actually not bad overall, I’m just tired of them.

The high protein snacks were so-so. I had to buy these soy “crisps” that had different savory flavors – the flavoring left a bit of a chalky texture, but they weren’t terrible and it was honestly nice to eat something that wasn’t sweet. The protein bars they wanted me to get were just plain nasty, so I crowd-sourced on Facebook and discovered the wonder of Quest bars. These babies helped me pull through my afternoon slumps.

Next on my culinary to-do list: research pureed options that aren’t store bought applesauce/pudding/baby food. I’ll be on liquids only for two weeks post-op and then the pureed phase begins for a week.

Any suggestions? 😉

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