From Struggle to Sleeve: Embracing a Fresh Start

The part you’ve all been waiting for now that I’m done rambling…

Holy shit. It’s the day before surgery. 

Today I start liquids only… crazy! I was spoiled in a sense, because I knew others had to do two weeks of the liquid diet prior to surgery, if not more. My last meal was Taco freakin’ Bell… my absolute greatest guilty pleasure. So anyways… I wasn’t just doing liquids, but CLEAR liquids, which meant no good soups and no protein drinks. I believe that day I only had water, a SF (sugar-free) popsicle, bone broth, and some SF Minute Maid Lemonade. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that hungry, but my brain kept playing tricks on me. I kept thinking about food, because it’s what has been programmed into my head and routine for 30+ years.

At this point I had my hospital bag packed and I’d be showering that night and the next morning using the surgical antibacterial soap. I was also instructed to have a brand new clean towel, clean clothes of course, new sheets on the bed, new pillow cases, the works. I get it – but jeez! When I usually pack for something, I go overboard. I’d bring anything and everything but the kitchen sink, however, I read numerous times from the support groups that I want to pack very minimal and I’d more than likely be too tired to do anything but rest.

All I packed was…

  • Slippers
  • Comfort blankie
  • Phone charger
  • Chapstick
  • iPad
  • (One pair of my fav comfy clothes that I wore to and from the hospital)

I’ve gotten asked if there’s anything I wish I packed that I didn’t bring. The answer is no. I used everything except the iPad. I was happy that I packed so minimally.

By this point I also had things stocked up like, 2 ounce cups for all my fluids, bone broth, bariatric soups, SF popsicles, Vitamin Waters, yogurt, 3 different flavors of Premier Protein drinks, SF Minute Maid Lemonade, a binder for my stomach, Gas X, Tylenol pouches (SO glad I found these), foam wedge pillows for helping me lay comfortably, firming butter lotion, a bariatric journal, some water enhancing powders, and a couple cases of the protein Gatorades.


Surgery day… I had to be at the hospital by 5:30 AM which meant waking up at 4:30 AM because it’s a 30 minute drive to the hospital. I didn’t slept like complete garbage, of course. I had to shower with the special soap again, and took out all my piercings. Got my comfy clothes on, got the pups situated and we were out the door with my backpack.

Getting to the hospital, I didn’t feel scared. I felt confident somehow, yet emotional. This was such a huge huge huge moment for me, and a long time coming. I just couldn’t fathom that it was finally here. Months and months of preparation, and worry, and excitement, and anxiety, and fear, and joy… all leading up to this very moment. If I had to choose one thing I was most scared of that day, it was a combination of getting tubes down my throat, as it’s one of my phobias, and the whole anesthesia process. I’d never had any prior surgeries so of course I overthink and expect the worst to happen. I was also worried I would wake up with the tubes still in my throat… can you imagine?

First thing I did was check in. To my surprise there were several people waiting to check in. I didn’t expect that at all. We had to wait for a while. I was so anxious. After checking in we had to wait some more until a nurse finally came back and called my name. We walked down a long hallway, to a dim-lit room where loved ones wait for patients to finish surgery. My boyfriend stayed there and worked on his laptop and she told us we would see each other again in a bit before surgery.

I was brought back to a room I didn’t expect, with lots of patients behind curtains and a lot of staff with a desk in the middle of it all. Right away the nurse wanted me to take a pregnancy test. Then we went into my room where she asked me lots of questions, took my vitals and I switched into the gown. I remember taking three Tylenol and wondering why I could drink water with it as I was told no liquids after midnight. Honestly, lots of things happened in that room for a couple hours, but I don’t have the best memory – mainly because she gave me some kind of muscle relaxer through my IV and things slowly became a blur.

I met the anesthesiologist, I met several nurses, and they gave me a couple other medications. I just remember one was for preventing blood clots. I refused the nausea patch behind my ear because they told me it would make my mouth dry. My mouth was already dry and I just knew if it got any worse, I’d get anxious. Then my boyfriend got to come be with me for a bit. He said it was weird to see me in a hospital bed, gown and hair net thing. I bet it was. We said our goodbyes and the next thing I know, they’re wheeling me down the halls like you see in the movies. What’s crazy is… I hardly remember this at all.

All of a sudden I’m in a big open room with a huge machine and I remember saying something like, “Wow! Look how big those lights are!” I remember 3-5 people counting to 3 and sliding me from one bed to another. They gave me what I thought to be just an oxygen mask over my mouth and nose. I remember talking to the nurse and making jokes like I do, and I kept moving the mask because I was having what I thought to be a casual conversation…. Then it was LIGHTS OUT.

I have the blurriest, most vague memory of waking up in recovery and whining to the nurse to please bring me into my room. Not sure why lol.

Before I know it, I’m coming to in my hospital room, with nurses going in and out, getting me situated. Through the door, I catch a glimpse of my boyfriend waiting to come in and it fills me with immense comfort.

You might be worried about how you’re going to feel waking up from anesthesia just as I was… and I can’t speak for everybody of course because every BODY is different, but I will tell you this. It went more smooth than I could’ve hoped for. When I woke up, I only felt 2 things. Tired AF, and some gas discomfort in my stomach which was to be expected. No extreme pain thankfully. I was in and out of sleep, on and off all sorts of medications.

One thing I will advise you to do is to speak up if you feel any discomfort, any pain and any nausea. It is their job to make sure you are as comfortable as possible. Sure there were times that I woke up and didn’t feel great, but they were pretty good at staying on top of all my meds. One thing that concerned the hell out of me was the first few times I sat up to use the bathroom, the gas inside me went straight up my chest and what felt like into my throat. It felt like I couldn’t breathe, and that maybe a huge burp was coming on. I panicked a little and grabbed one of the vomit bags while patting my chest. Thankfully it passed within maybe 10-15 seconds, but my God was it ever uncomfortable.

The more I walked off the gas, the better I felt. I could almost start to recognize when it was time to walk. Not only did I walk every time I was already up using the bathroom, but any time I felt a certain rumbling/gurgling in my stomach. Another thing, going pee was weird. Some would come out naturally, but the rest I had to squeeze out. Apparently a normal thing after anesthesia. The more you know! I will say I wasn’t very comfortable. My bed sucked, the buttons to move it up or down were hard to reach, getting out of bed was a B, and any time I wanted to use the bathroom or go for a walk I had to unplug the IV thing from the wall and wheel the thing around… plus it kept running over its own cords *insert eyeroll*.

A part of me was ready to leave the hospital, but a part of me took comfort in knowing I had all the assistance around me that I needed, especially if something were to go wrong. We were supposed to get discharged around noon the next day, but it apparently took the pharmacy several hours to get my meds ready. To me it just seemed like poor communication. We even felt like they might’ve forgotten about us at one point.

Upon getting home, I felt like I couldn’t do anything myself. I moved like a sloth. I stayed in bed for what felt like days, using my foam wedge pillows on and off. They sent me home with 5 different medications so that was a little overwhelming, but thankfully the boyfriend put them all on a spreadsheet (like the nerd that he is) and we could easily track which meds to take and when. 

I didn’t touch the pain medication they sent me home with: Oxy. No thank you. The only thing I took for “pain” were the Tylenol packets that you dump on your tongue and they dissolve – they’re fantastic honestly. I also didn’t really touch the muscle relaxers, maybe one night. 

Otherwise, I take Prilosec each morning for 90 days which helps with reflux. I take cramping meds every 4 hours for a little over a week (these cramps were easy to learn and differentiate because they happen in your chest and they’re strong). They also gave me meds for nausea which I ended up only using for the first few days! The only other things I used for pain/discomfort were Gas X (as needed), ice packs on my stomach which were very soothing, and I had a wet washcloth on my head for a few days as one of the meds was making me flush pretty bad.

Each morning I weighed myself. I know some programs tell you not to, but I’ll advocate for myself – thanks though lol. It was exciting for me ya know!? What else do I have to look forward to? I can’t even eat right now! As the days of recovery passed, I noticed I got more strength, more energy and a better mood overall. The main pain I feel each day is a pain to the right of my belly button. I called to ask about it, and apparently the incision to the left of my belly button can actually pull from the right, leaving behind this gross feeling like my stitches might be ripping open. Don’t worry though, that’s only if I get up the wrong way! You REALLY have to make sure to only use the muscles in your arms and legs when you’re getting on and off the bed/couch. I literally had to focus!

I have no regrets and I’m so incredibly excited to see what’s to come! I have about 4 more days until I can start the next phase: PUREE! I’m sooo looking forward to that, let me tell you. Everyday I want food, but I can’t necessarily say that I’m “hungry.” It’s honestly weird. I just want to crunch down on something. I miss chewing! I want mac n’ cheese, lasagna, hot honey chicken thighs, meatloaf, salad, chili, brats, pasta, eggs, hamburgers, hamburger helper, and chicken nuggets! I’m not even picky at this point… anything will do.

I. Want. It. All.

9:15 2oz shake2:15 2oz5:45 4oz
9:55 2oz shake2:40 2oz yogurt6:12 4oz beef broth
10:25 2oz shake2:47 2oz shake7:00 4oz water
11:00 2oz shake3:19 2oz7:32 2oz
11:18 2oz shake3:50 3oz soup7:48 2oz
11:52 2oz shake4:07 1oz soup8:45 4oz
12:51 2oz4:15 2oz9:30 4oz
1:15 2oz5:00 2oz10:00 2oz
1:42 2oz5:19 2oz10:30 2oz
After keeping track all day, I was able to get in 64oz!

I’ll be honest, sometimes I worry that I won’t ever enjoy food again. Getting in fluids right now is SUCH a chore! I’ve attached a table straight from my notes so you guys can see what I mean. I didn’t truly realize how difficult staying on top of the liquids would be. Here’s the thing, you can only sip a little at a time – no big gulps. So I can drink 4 ounces an hour. Let’s say you miss an hour, or even a half hour because you got distracted. There’s no real way of catching back up! The goal is 64 ounces.

This was nothing before surgery. I even tried drinking from water bottles by my third day post op. I told myself okay, you only need to drink 3 of these a day and you should be good. Nope. Doesn’t work like that, at least not for me. The 2 or 4 ounce cups not only help you visualize how much you need to drink each hour, but they help you learn your stomach, and how much it can handle at a time, if that makes sense. The key is to find what works best for YOU.

A couple days ago I tried tomato soup for the first time. Keep in mind this wasn’t just any tomato soup off the shelf from a store as those can contain lots of sugars, fats or even carbs. This was a Bariatric brand I found online, and to be honest… they worked out quite well. I was really nervous to give my stomach something new. It can be pretty daunting. The absolute very last thing I want to do is throw up! The one main pulling pain I’ve felt in my stomach would probably kill me if I threw up. I also tried broccoli cheddar soup which had a higher fat content so I could tell my stomach wasn’t as happy with it. That’s one thing you need to pay attention to. If you’re drinking too fast or too much, or something with a lot of fat, your stomach will certainly tell you. Pay close attention. Even something small like a hiccup or a little gurgle. Just go slow. When I introduce anything NEW to my stomach, I take the smallest sip, and I wait 5-10 minutes, just to be sure.

One more thing I want to touch on is the fact that everyone’s program can be crazy different. Some surgeons tell their patients no straws or caffeine forever. Some patients come out of surgery with a coffee and a straw! Don’t ask me how or why as it makes no sense to me. The way I see it, if any surgeon says to avoid it for X amount of days, it’s better to be on the safe side and to not risk anything – especially those first couple weeks of recovery. Listen to your doctor/surgeon, and listen to your gut, literally. If you’re ever unsure about something whether it’s what you’re supposed to be drinking, how much, or it’s a pain you’re concerned with, always always always reach out to your surgeon, your care team, or your nutritionists. Do not, I repeat do not listen to other people on the internet. I see far too many people asking each other questions that should definitely be brought up to professionals.

I know this was very long. Congratulations and thank you if you made it this far. There’s just so much to say about this whole process. I’ll be blogging my experience throughout the entire journey, and I promise to keep them shorter! If you have ANY questions, comments, concerns at all, I’m right here and ready to be a support system to anybody. Whether you’re contemplating Bariatric surgery, whether you’re pre op or post op! Feel free to reach out and let’s do this journey together! Cheers to the future of fitting into our clothes comfortably and being FREE!


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