Saturday, September 13, 2002
On Tuesday, July 2nd, 2002 at 3:00 p.m. I weighed 365 pounds at 5 foot 2 inches tall. I entered the operating room at the Clinica San Jorge in Alcoy, Spain. Dr. Baltasar held my hand and escorted me to the operating table, helped me climb onto the table, and get settled. He told me he’d take care of me like I was one of his own children, stroked my forehead, patted my head, and assured me that everything would be fine. I prayed for him, he prayed for me.
Eighty minutes later – with my appendix, gallbladder (and large gallstone!), liver biopsied, and guts majorly rearranged I remember being awakened by the anesthesiologist who was giving me puffs of albuterol and encouraging me to breathe deeply. It took me a while to remember that I was supposed to breathe, and after a number of puffs of albuterol was doing much better. I remember saying, “Ouch” as we went over the lip where the elevator and the floor don’t quite match up going back to my room. Within 3 hours I was up going potty on the toilet. For the majority of the night I was switching between the bed, my wheelchair (which I thought was more comfortable) and going potty. By the afternoon of the second day I was walking the halls.
On the second day Dr. B wanted to remove my stitches – but I didn’t want him to! With my C-section when they removed my staples my incision burst open! So he agreed to wait one more day. On the third day he took my stitches and drains out and taped me up with this great stretchy tape that made me feel very secure. On Sunday, the 7th of July we left the Clinica and went to a lovely little village on the Mediterranean called Villajoyosa where we had rented an apartment for a week. The ocean, town, everything – were just lovely. On Tuesday, the 9th I walked from our apartment to the waterfront – 1/8th of a mile – without my wheelchair! I was also sleeping in 6 hour stretches of time – simply amazing, and incredibly wonderful! By Thursday the 11th, I began running a low grade temperature and had an area of swelling on the right end of my incision. I wasn’t feeling so great – but still better than I had before surgery! John and I continued to make a goal of walking down to the waterfront every night (after the heat of the day had passed) and I would get a little bit of ice cream as my reward. On Sunday the 14th we left Villajoyosa for Madrid, stopping in Alcoy for my final check-up with Dr. Baltasar. He looked at the area that was so swollen and hot and said, “Yep – something’s there!” It was a seroma. He took a sharp pair of tweezers – poked the seroma and out all of the goo came. The smell was absolutely revolting! After it was drained he put in a 6″ drain and took a stitch – all without anesthetic – but truly, the smell was the worst part!
We left Madrid the early morning hours of July 16th – and arrived back in Portland, Oregon by early evening the same day – go figure! It was an uneventful trip – and I actually slept a good deal of the flight between London and Seattle.
I had my first check up with my PCP on July 25th. I was off of all of my meds. My diabetes, hypertension, and sleep apnea were gone. And I was down 33 pounds already! On Friday, the 26th my drain from the seroma came out. Three days later – when the scab from the drain had finally formed – I was able to shower again for the first time since July 2nd! It was glorious. And wayyy better than any sponge bath!
Today, I am 10 weeks 4 days post-op. Two weeks ago at my 8 week check-up with my PCP I was down 65 pounds total, and improving in every area of my health. A week ago yesterday I sent my wheelchair back – I hadn’t used it in 7 weeks. I am walking without a cane. I can even walk through the grocery store now!
Would I do this again? Without a doubt. Any regrets? Absolutely not. Every day I feel as if my life is restored a little more than the day before. I love sleeping all night long every night. I love not having to test my blood 5 times a day and taking handfuls of pills daily. I love being able to eat pretty much whatever I want – and still lose weight. I feel so incredibly wonderful.
Here’s a picture of me today. I’ll also include a picture of my scar – cause everyone wants to know what it looks like. I think it looks great – it’s healed up very nicely.
I couldn’t finish this up without saying a special thanks to some very important people who supported me with wisdom, friendship, and hours and hours of prayer.
First – my home church body – who supported me 100% in every way they could possibly think of – emotional, spiritual, practical (like coming to my house and cleaning floors and doing laundry for me), and financial. These people live out Jesus’ love in their lives every single day.
To my pals at the OSSG-WLSChristian Yahoo group who prayed me through insurance woes, health crises, rejoiced with me when miracles happened, and continue to bless my life daily.
And to the great folks at the DrBaltasar-DuodenalSwitch Yahoo group – they were so great. Each sharing their own experiences and helping me to know what to expect when traveling to Spain, going through surgery, and life as a post-op.
If you have questions for me, please feel free to email me at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.