Thursday, January 31, 2008

It is not how you fall down, but, how you get up.

That is what I have come to learn in my life. It is not how you fall down, but, how you get up. I have been knocked to the ground with more things than most people go through in their entire lifetime. And recently, I feel like a soldier in war making it through the battle on my belly crawling to get out of the line of fire.

I still get up. I dust myself off and believe that it will get better. I keep getting knocked down. But, there is great news about getting knocked down. That is where you learn most of your life lessons from. Humility, grace, patience, understanding, faith, amazing generosity from others. You realize that from the ground....the world is a much bigger place and there is still so much to do. Then, you get back up.

I know I don't talk a lot about the actual medical procedure from gastric bypass, nor what I am eating, or doing for exercise. I focus a lot on feelings. This kind of surgery is not a miracle wonder that I fear so many people do. It is a great tool to help us to get our lives back. For some, the road in getting back is on your stomach and on our knees crawling through the trenches. Trust me, just because you see that skinny model on the billboard saying you should try getting surgery... it is not as glamorous as that. I know the majority of people reading and even my doctors don't want to hear the bad stuff. We all want to hear the good stuff. But, I think it is good that I talk about what it has been for me. I hope and pray that everyone goes through it without a problem. But, sometimes... it may not.

My best advice to anyone that is considering this surgery..... have a great attitude. Most people have no trouble whatsoever. That is probably my surgeons dream. I am probably his nightmare :) But, if you believe that you will get better and you keep your mind sharp, I believe that you can get up each and every time that you get knocked down.

So, dust off the dirt and get back up.

Patient/Doctor Relationship

I am going to write about a few things that have been on my mind. There are two sides of the story when being a patient and being a doctor. I, fortunately am very understanding of what doctors must go through. Having been in pharmaceuticals, I became great friends with many and learned about the struggles that they have to go through in the medical "political world". The insurance hoops, malpractice suits. We are now living in a world of CYA (cover your ass) syndrome. And I hate that it has become that for them. There are a lot of patients out there who go in seeking drugs, or truly have something mentally wrong. The Medical Community becomes jaded. I can certainly see why.

However, as understanding as I am. Truth be told, I am their patient and I have to put my life into their hands and a LOT of trust goes into that. Sometimes, I don't speak up enough for myself.

Maybe it is the Southerner in me that I am not as outspoken as I should be when it comes to what is going on with me. My family always says that I could have a leg cut off and bleeding profusely, but, will still smile and try to crack some kind of joke with the nurses and doctors. They get mad because they think no one will take me seriously. I am like "why do I have to be rude to someone even if I am hurting?" I actually understand now after being in the hospital SOOOO much lately.

It is me now that is starting to get jaded.. Now, I simply don't trust the medical community and that is not a good thing. Unfortunately, I have had some really bad experiences in the past with ER. 3 years ago, I had horrific pain. 2 ER visits and was told it was stress and acid reflux. I all but laughed in their face. I knew that my pain was not that. I made it through another few days and got to my gastro's office and he was about to do an endoscopy on me. But I was so weak and in so much pain, that he sent me straight to the hospital. HIDA scan showed I had a dead gallbladder. So much for stress and acid reflux.

Second bad experience was when I was pregnant with my second child. Around 28 weeks, I started having horrific migraines. Blinding ones. I was hurting and in a lot of pain. I assumed that it was from being pregnant. One of the rotating doctors came in and I told him what was going on. He told me that it must be stress and I needed to relax.

2 weeks later, I am in really bad shape and thank god saw my normal OB. She checked my urine, and kidneys and all of that. Well....diagnosis...eclampsia. Almost died in the hospital because of my blood pressure being so high and my sweet little girl had her lungs collapsed. She spent time in the NICU, while I spent time on heavy medication to keep my body from shutting down. Well, sir Dr. NOW, I am stressed because of this.

Third bad experience, chronic pelvic pain. ER...finds nothing. Sends me home. I know something is going on. Finally, get a diagnosis....ovarian tumor.

Now, I just had the gastric bypass 3 1/2 months ago and have been in very bad shape for all of that time. My surgeon (who, honestly I think is a great guy) basically tells me this is all in my head and it must be from fibromyalgia. A trillion visits to my Gastro and Kidney Specialist later, plus numerous ER visits. I have acute colitis which was causing the bleeding and a kidney obstruction.

I honestly want to be a good patient and take my surgeon at his word. But, with so many bad experiences, how do you begin to trust again? I am being serious. I want to know. Because, I know that now I am either having another pancreas attack or hernia. But, I refuse to go to the ER because I absolutely am not going to spend anymore money on being told that it is in my head.

How can two jaded people (the surgeon and the patient) come together and find a solution? Can it happen? You tell me...

Monday, January 28, 2008

How much have you lost?

That is probably the biggest question that I get asked. Truth be told...up until a few days response would have been.. " I have lost 3 months...3 weeks and 15 hours and 20 seconds" But, I have come to realize that focusing on all that has gone wrong has not done me any favors.

I have lost 60 lbs. and have gone from a size 24/26 to a 16. That is good and am off blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds, and blood sugar meds. So, for that...I am grateful.

I have spent my 3 1/2 months in a hospital, or a doctors office every single week. Sometimes the physical pain has been incredible to endure. I have had a lot of GI and kidney trouble. Unfortunately, I am in a situation where I am dealing with so many specialists that each are terrified of me because of my surgery. They don't know what to do with me really. They always differ to my surgeon. Unfortunately, the surgeon can only do so much. He is a surgeon...not a specialist for the GI, the kidneys, the liver, etc.

The emotional part has taken its toll. I went through a tremendously ANGRY phase. Especially with myself. I am a Type, for me that means that I had high expectations that I would get through this. And my body would not cooperate. I became frustrated with the lack of help that I have gotten from my surgeon. I think he is an awesome guy and great surgeon. But, I feel like he left me in the dust and left me to my own devices after surgery was done.

The part that angered me the most was 2 weeks ago, I was back in the hospital for severe kidney pain. Thought I was going to absolutely lose my mind. My surgeon and his nurse said everything looked great and thought it was because I had Fibromyalgia. I did get a little sarcastic and say "Really? So, the blood that has been coming out of places that it shouldn't be, and coffee looking grounds coming out of places that shouldn't be is Fibromyalgia? Wow..I will have to check that out".

But, I have calmed down since and after going to my kidney specialist...I know part of the problem. Serious crystallized obstruction of the kidney that cannot be picked up on a CT scan. He said that I was having serious problems with my kidney. Then the GI doctor did a colonoscopy and there were ulcers there. So, sorry that I will have to tell my surgeon that it is not Fibromyalgia. It is exactly what I thought it was. Now, I am a total believer in being a HUGE advocate for yourself. You have to with this life altering surgery.

My spirits are good now. I am coming to terms with my very angry body. We are trying to make peace together. My faith is strong and I am getting better as days go by. With help from family and friends and people that I don't even know have come to my aid. I am blessed. I am so grateful to be alive and know that no matter what is going on or how bad it gets....God is with me. He has been this whole time.

I will start writing more because I feel better and am able to get myself into the functioning world again.

I hope all of you are well..... I have to say that Heath Ledgers death bothered me really bad this week. I realize that all the pity parties that I have been having pales into comparison to the grief that family is going through. I am truly blessed to be alive and to be with my family. God is good.