T-Rex Goes Under the Knife

The long awaited day had finally arrived! On Tuesday, February 19th, it was finally time to undergo the much anticipated stomach surgery that would allegedly fix my chronic acid reflux. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I’m so sick of being sick that I wasn’t even nervous, just hopeful. T-Rex Mom had driven up from Florida so she could be the official back seat driver of the surgery team help nurse me back to health, and she was definitely more nervous than I was. Apparently, she didn’t want me to die. We were supposed to arrive at the hospital by 7:40 am, leaving an hour and a half to do all the necessary tests and paperwork before surgery began at 9:10. For reasons I don’t entirely understand, I can never remember where this hospital is despite the fact that I’ve been to it about 40 times. It’s near two different interstates, and I always mix them up, so of course, we got off on the wrong highway and arrived at the hospital about 15 minutes late. My mom was freaking out, but I couldn’t get too upset about it because quite frankly, every time I go to a doctor’s office, I wait for hours upon hours no matter how early I get there, so I figured 15 minutes wouldn’t kill anyone. Um, wrong.

We got in and immediately, it was a whirlwind. We went to registration, did the quick pre-op check up, and then all of a sudden they were telling me we had to go right now because the surgeon was running early and wanted to get going as soon as possible. I’m sorry, WHAT? When, in the history of life, has that ever happened? So they got me outfitted in my fancy gown, asked me for my name and date of birth about 8,342 times, and before I knew it, it was time to go. First, I had to get the world’s most asinine IV placed right next to my thumb in an area in which I did not even know I had a vein. This will become important later.

This suit was super fancy (and super unflattering). It hooked up to a little tube that blew hot air into the suit and kept you warm!
Pre-op glamour shot. This suit was super fancy (and super unflattering). It hooked up to a little tube that blew hot air into the suit and kept you warm!

They wheeled me into the operating room and asked me some more questions, all the while telling me that they had given me some medication that was going to work any second now. I started getting a little freaked out because I wasn’t feeling woozy or anything at all. Then I started having all these internal panic scenarios in which I somehow woke up during surgery and saw all the cuts and stuff, but before I knew it, I was completely passed out. We skipped straight past woozy and directly to unconscious, apparently. Before I knew it, I was in the recovery room. I know y’all were hoping for some good anesthesia videos, but I am sad to report that my mom and AJ were not allowed in the recovery room, so I don’t have any. The good news is, I recognized this early on and became determined to remember as many of the conversations as possible.

Just in case you’re interested in seeing what the surgery looks like, here you go.

The nurses in the recovery room were trying to plan a social outing, so I helpfully offered suggestions. They took my suggestion for the happy hour restaurant I suggested based on my rousing approval of the spinach and artichoke dip. My nurse mentioned that she was trying to lose weight, so she wasn’t eating too much spinach dip anymore these days.  I asked her if she was running, and she mentioned that she had recently looked up the Couch to 5k program, but was intimidated to try it. That poor woman. She had no idea what was about to hit her.

Did I just compare running to Jesus? Maybe.
Did I just compare running to Jesus? Maybe.

So in my still drugged up state, I start telling her allllll about the virtues of Couch to 5k, and how I started running using it and I recommend it to everyone, and omg now I run marathons every month, and by the way, do you know how far a marathon is? And girl, you’re going to need some shoes, no, not just any shoes, real running shoes from a real running store. You don’t know where any are? Allow me to tell you.  I think her mind was sufficiently blown, because she started telling all the other people that came over to check on me, and then they started asking me questions about running. I like to think that I was the perfect combination of hilarious (thanks to the drugs) and informative, but it’s really hard to say. Nonetheless, she wrote down everything I said, and I was very impressed with myself when they finally rolled me into my room to see my mom and AJ. They got to hear all about my gospel-spreading too.

Post-op photo to prove I'm alive. I worked really hard to post this to facebook in a timely fashion.
Post-op photo to prove I’m alive. I worked really hard to post this to facebook in a timely fashion.

So you’re probably noticing a few things in my post-op photo. 1) My luxurious hair 2) The fact that I’m holding the world’s most worn teddy bear and 3) The fact that it appears I came back from surgery approximately 7 months pregnant. The hair thing is just my daily reality, so I have no further comment on that.  As for the teddy bear, that’s Stitches, and I got him when I was 8. I fell off a bike that was way too big for me while attempting to fly down a hill while on vacation, and I smashed my faced all up into the road and got knocked unconscious and nearly hit by a car. My dad was back home working and couldn’t be there, so he sent me that bear, which I have kept ever since. My mom brought it up for me from Florida knowing he would bring me great comfort after surgery, and it was a great surprise. As for my immaculate conception, that’s partially because there’s a pillow on top of my stomach under the blanket and partially because they filled my whole abdomen with air during the surgery. I’m going to tell you right now that it’s not my best look.

The pain after the surgery was pretty bad, but it got worse as the day went on. I’m not much of a complainer, and I don’t like to make a big deal about pain in particular, so I just didn’t really say much. My mom kept trying to force me to drink apple juice and chicken broth, since I was on a clear liquids diet, but it hurt to swallow and I could only drink the tiniest amounts at a time. They were giving me morphine every 3-4 hours, but it didn’t do much to take the pain away. Unfortunately, I metabolize pain medication really fast, so it never puts me to sleep and most of it doesn’t even help. Always careful not to give the appearance of being a drug addict, I didn’t even bother asking for more medication because I knew it wouldn’t help. The nurses seemed surprised every time they came in and I was still wide awake. This basically went on the entire night. They would come in every 2-3 hours to take my vital signs and check on me, and there I was – WIDE AWAKE. My mom went to bed around 11 or so, and she had her own little bed since I had a sweet private room (ok, fine, everyone had a private room), so I couldn’t keep the tv on. So I just laid there. Wide awake. Checking my phone over and over again and hoping that someone would post something interesting on Facebook. Reading every article on CNN. Catching up on all the latest celeb gossip on People.com (as if I was ever behind).

I'm really going to need you guys to be more vigilant about updating facebook at 3am.
I’m really going to need you guys to be more vigilant about updating facebook at 3am.

When the night nurse came in around 1 am to give me morphine, it burned a lot more than usual. She commented on what a stupid place it was for an IV, and I agreed. After she left, it kept burning, and I had my mom help me out of bed so I could go to the bathroom. In the light of the bathroom, I realize that my whole hand is swollen and painful and something is clearly not right with this IV. So Beverly the night nurse became my new BFF when she came back and moved my IV to a much more appropriate place on my right arm, which didn’t hurt at all. Meanwhile, she and my mom are discussing how to get me the appropriate kind of pain medication, since clearly the stuff they are using was not working. The problem is that I’ve had a lot of pretty major injuries and several surgeries, so I know what medication works for me and what doesn’t. There is not a single pain medicine on the market that puts me to sleep or makes me feel even the littlest bit loopy – not Percocet, Vicodin, Oxycontin, any of it. The only one that touches any kind of pain I have is Dilaudid, which unbeknownst to me at the time, is apparently the strongest pain medication on the market. One of the earlier nurses had told me that I would be sent home with a prescription for Percocet, and I basically told her not to bother even having the doctor write it, because it wouldn’t work and I wouldn’t even waste my time taking it. I told her that in my previous surgeries, the only think that worked was Dilaudid. Apparently this raised big red flags because only drug addicts request this type of medication. Well, how the hell was I supposed to know? I just know what works for me! So my mom, who is an ER nurse, was discussing the situation with all of the shift nurses, trying to explain to them that I just metabolize medication really quickly. I mean, I had 6 maximum doses of morphine in 18 hours and I didn’t even come close to falling asleep. I was awake the whole night! Who does that? Not to mention, I feel like the fact that I’ve run 30 marathons (which my doctor knows) would be pretty strong evidence that I’m not a drug addict, but maybe I’m wrong.

I'm more addicted to marathons, but you get the point.
I’m more addicted to marathons, but you get the point.

For awhile, we weren’t sure that I was going to be able to leave the hospital on Wednesday because my abdomen was still so bloated, but the doctor decided we could leave a little before lunchtime. My mom also managed to rally everyone on the floor and convince my doctor that I did in fact need Dilaudid and would not be abusing it, so I got my wish. It was still super painful for me to get up and down, sit up, etc, but she made me do a walk of shame around the hospital floor because she insisted that moving around would make me feel better.

The model is wearing a look called "stomach surgery chic"
The model is wearing a look called “stomach surgery chic.”

It did not make me feel better, but I have to do what my mom says. When I was finally emancipated from the hospital, they drove me around in a little wheelchair that looked a lot like those grocery carts they have for kids that are shaped liked little cars. It was pretty sweet. AJ had requested that I take some of the extra pairs of hospital socks for him because he has no fashion sense he is a sock hoarder and they seemed really warm. The hospital was a little bit like a hotel, because they gave me a tote bag for all my clothes, extra socks, a pillow, and a whole bunch of other stuff. AJ even commented on my “awesome view” while he was visiting. Did I mention they had a huge menu of room service food and you were allowed to get an entree, two sides, a drink, and dessert for FIVE DOLLARS? Yeah. So AJ and my mom enjoyed that while I enjoyed my diet of clear liquids only – water, apple juice, and chicken broth. Yum!

Yesterday after I got out of the hospital, I was still in a good bit of pain, but today is much better. I can’t really sit up straight for more than about 5 minutes, but I can move a little bit better and the pain is subsiding. It’s kind of funny, because people keep asking me if I’m super hungry, but I’ve never been less hungry in my life. It’s kind of a relief, actually, since I’m always starving. I got bumped up to a “full liquid” diet today, which means I can have liquids that are not clear- hooray! I won’t be back to eating normally for about a month, but I can handle it. Also, I’ve gotten a lot of questions and comments about when I’ll be able to run again, and I have to tell you that yesterday, just the idea of running made me want to die. The pain was so bad that it seemed unfathomable to even consider the idea of ever running again. Today, though, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and while it’s still a long way away, I know I’ll be back at it before I know it.

Thank you so much to everyone who called, texted, facebook messaged, posted, etc and has been so supportive during my recovery! I won’t be back to work for awhile, but I’m working from home and trying to get stronger each day. In the mean time, I’ll be existing on a steady diet of liquids and very soft foods for the next month or so and trying to get my bionic stomach healed. In case you were wondering, my 5 incisions are in the shape of a pentagram. Which I’m pretty sure is the mark of Satan. Coincidence? I’ll let you be the judge.

Well, there goes my career as a stomach model.
Well, there goes my career as a stomach model.

Leave a comment: What type of exciting liquid items should I be eating/drinking while I recover? I’m pretty sure my undying love of broccoli and cheese soup is going to die here in a couple weeks.

81 thoughts on “T-Rex Goes Under the Knife

  1. It is totally true what you said about metabolizing morphine. Years ago I was in a pretty bad car accident. Broke my ankle, pelvis and leg in multiple places. In the emergency room & before & after surgery I was dosed to the max w morphine. Nothing. Kinda out of it but still in pain and not sleeping. The nurses asked my mom if I was a drug addict or an athlete. My mom says. He swims 2 hours a day 7 days a week. Maybe that’s it. So I can totally relate. Hope you are feeling better!

  2. what about ‘juicing’?? Seems that would be really healthy for you and you would get all your vitamins and nutrients that way… 🙂 (love the blog by the way…and sorry you’re going through this – but sending good thoughts and prayers your way!)

    1. It’s kind of weird, but I’m really not in the mood for anything juice related right now. Something about just the idea of any sugar is grossing me out. My mom did bring me a juicer, though, so I am sure I will be using it a little further down the road. And thanks!

  3. So glad you posted this!! I wanted to text but didn’t want to disturb you if you were sleeping! If I had only known you were awake all that time!!
    Do smoothie’s count? I love Starbucks chocolate banana smoothie!!

  4. I’m allergic to morphine (it makes me feel like I’m on fire), so when I had emergency gallbladder surgery last month, the hospital pumped me full of Dilaudid. I, too, didn’t know it was a super drug. But it made a world of difference! I only have four holes from my surgery, so it looks more like a constellation than a mark of Satan. I kind of envy you for that. 🙂 I’m glad everything went OK for you. Fingers crossed that this is the beginning of you feeling better!

    1. I’m allergic to Vicodin, and apparently the fact that I knew that was just further evidence that I am a drug addict. The Dilaudid is helping more than anything else, but I wish I could say I was pain free. Thanks for the well wishes! Hopefully I will feel better soon. A constellation sounds pretty cool, too 🙂

  5. So glad to hear that everything is going well and that you are on the road to recovery. There’s no doubt in my mind that your combination of positive attitude and sense of humor will have you back running before you know it!

  6. That vein above the thumb is my second favorite place to put an IV…in a preemie baby. (in case you were wondering, my fav IV site is the scalp). In an adult, however, you’re asking for trouble.

    Glad you’re recovering well!

  7. Glad to hear your surgery went so well. Sorry to hear about the pain control. I have been a nurse for (almost) 20 years and understand completely everything you have been talking about. The pain usually peaks at about 72 hours after surgery then you slowly start to feel better. Slowly…

    I learned quite a long time ago not to past judgement until the facts are clear. I am glad he did prescribe you the Dilaudid. That is some interesting stuff and have many comical stories about it (especially one with my mom after her surgery). I’m going back for my Master’s degree and pharmacogenomics (how your genetic makeup affects how you metabolize medication) is a new interest of mine.

    Hope you heal quickly. I’ve enjoyed your blog since the Thomas incident (which is how I found this) and am very impressed on how you wrote about ED. You definitely are a help by being able to write about things in a way that is both entertaining and inspirational. Maybe one day we might run in the same marathon. I highly recommend Philadelphia in November. It will be the 20th meaning it started the year I graduated nursing school just outside of the city (Widener University). I started running when I turned 39. Some people entering their mid-life crisis will have an affair. Some people will buy a fancy car. I chose to go back for my Master’s and start running. Sometimes I think my husband would’ve preferred I had an affair, LOL.

    1. T-Rex Mom really loved the part of your comment about your husband would’ve preferred the affair, haha! I think AJ feels that way too sometimes. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good Dilaudid stories because even though it does help with the pain, it doesn’t make me loopy or sleepy at all. It’s a blessing and a curse – I guess I’ll never be addicted to pain killers! Pharmacogenomics sounds really interesting, and I am available if y’all need test subjects. I would love to have a paper showing doctors my superhuman metabolism when they start thinking I’m an addict!

      I would love to run a marathon with you some day! It probably will not be Philly this year because I have two other marathons scheduled for November already, but that one is definitely on my list to do someday! I’ve heard it’s really an awesome race. Thanks for your comment!

      1. I am a nerd – unrepentant and finally accepting of it. 🙂 Thought you might find this article I’ve linked helpful or maybe you can find a pharmacist (or your mom 🙂 to translate it for you because it is a bit technical. Quoted below will explain that you are a ultrarapid metabolizer. Lucky for you because since you metabolize it so readily you don’t stop breathing, but bad because it is hard to get good pain control. My geekiness will require me looking up Dilaudid to see if it uses a different enzyme to break it down.

        “The other side of the range of metabolic capacity is ultrarapid drug metabolism, a result of excessively high CYP2D6 enzyme activity. Ultrarapid metabolizers (UMs), up to 7% of Caucasians, require more than average doses of drugs metabolized by CYP2D6 to reach therapeutic plasma concentrations (16).” ~http://www.clinchem.org/content/44/5/914.full.pdf

  8. Glad to hear all went well, and I hope you see a speedy recovery. A small piece of advice learned after my laprascopic surgery a little over a year ago. I found that a compression shirt will hold things in place once you start running again. Under Armour makes some good ones. The bouncing around where the incisions are can get a little painfull, but the compressions shirt holding things in place really made a difference for me.

      1. Glad you are doing so well. One other piece of advice, as you recover and can start running again, make sure you are doing some work to strengthen the weakened ab muscles. My sister had surgery a few years ago and ran out the door the moment the doc gave her the okay. But with some of her ab muscles so weak it changed how she worked her core while running. Some muscles were over compensating for the weakened ones- which had led to a whole host of injuries.

        She finally began working with a PT who figured out all of her previous “unrelated injuries” were actually related to some weak core muscles- the ones impacted by her surgery.

  9. Glad you got to post again so soon! We should be stopping by this weekend so make sure you get all dolled up for me. I can’t have you looking all “I got cut” and stuff. HA! I enjoyed the video as well. It didnt make sense until the end then I knew it was what you had already explained to me. Too bad that wasn’t your actual body!

    1. Don’t worry, I’ll be all dolled up when you get here. I will probably even shower if you want. I watched that video back when I was researching the different types of surgery, and while it’s very informative, it’s not really something you want to watch when it’s about to be done to you. Maybe I’ll watch it now since the damage is already done. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

  10. I hear that you can whip tofu into chocolate mouse…. I’m just saying… protein and dessert, how can you go wrong? I would also probably eat some pudding just because I never eat pudding haha

    1. I have been eating some pudding! I had a delicious tiny bit (literally like two spoonfuls of cookies and cream pudding last night. Sadly, the cookie pieces had to be put through the food processor because I’m not allowed to eat anything that requires chewing.

    1. Thanks, Donald! I would request beer from the local brewery in Little Rock, but I can’t drink it for a month, so that would just be depressing. Have a GREAT time in LR! Kate will be there too. I love that race!

  11. I loved reading your post and we can be sick/injured together…I pushed a disc out in my back and am also working from home unable to sit up for longer than 15 sec. I also check Facebook religiously so I can live vicariously through someone else for a while. Get well soon…..Can’t wait to run again

    1. Oooh recovery buddies! I like it. I have two herniated discs so I 100% feel your pain and it is awful! I just ordered a compression shirt for when I start running again…may be a bit optimistic 3 days after surgery, but oh well. Gotta be positive! I hope you feel better soon!

  12. You know I’m thinking of you 🙂 Glad your Mom brought a Juicer 🙂 I was up 5 hours last night I could’ve text ya! I was bored out of my mind and yet couldn’t fall asleep. Love ya! So glad you’re feeling okay and on the road to recovery. Don’t forget you still need to run near me. I want to see you run! when you are doing marathons again which you will someday it just might not be on your timetable now but you will u aren’t anywhere near 30 yet. 🙂 Love and Hugs!

  13. Glad you are getting better and again hopefully it works out as planned. Another good protein drink is Gatorade’s recovery drink in the chocolate and vanilla flavoring. I use it after many of my key workouts. Love the PJ pic in the hall btw. The look with the head tilt and hands out cracked me up as it looked like you were giving a “Really!” look.

  14. It hurts to laugh? All I have are jokes; I guess I can’t comment then. Argh. Bye.

    Great story as always, but you totally should have titled it “T-Rex gets knifed.” Pretty sure that will get more hits. 😉 And the warm air blowing under the gown? Yeah, pretty sure I would have peed myself with that…just sayin’.

    Heading to RnR NOLA this weekend and I will totally rock the Team T-Rex shirt on the ride down and at the Expo and dinner tomorrow. Shooting for a PR, so totally expect a T-Rex for the finish. I mean that’s where the papparaz….errr…photographers are anyway, right?

    There is a “happy” heading your way (or small explosive – your gamble) 😉 9505510664703052371645 tracking # on usps.com if you get bored at 3am again. Should be there Monday. Hope you feel as awesome as your hair soon!
    – Jay

    1. Ooooooh present!!! I’m excited! I will be tracking vigilantly. I hope you have a great race this weekend and get your epic PR! Team T-Rex shirts are good for PRs. Say hi to everyone for me!

  15. If you don’t eat your meat, then you can’t have any pudding! I guess this does not apply to you right now.Speedy recovery and Happy Healing.

  16. So glad your surgery went well and are on the road to recovery! It was so good to see you in Myrtle Beach!
    My daughter makes a lot of “juices” – green smoothies, fruit juices, soups, etc. in the blender that are nutritious and filling. I can send some recipes your way if you’d like.
    Thanks for the great story & looking forward to seeing you again soon when you are back to your “manical” ways!! 😉
    Lori – #4938

    1. Thanks Lori! It was great to see you in Myrtle Beach as well! I feel like I see you at half of the races I go to, so I’m sure I’ll see you out there again soon! Might be contacting you for some recipes here in a few days 🙂

  17. Beer. Specifically, my Doppelbock (ok, ok. Any good Bavarian Doppelbock would work, too – but mine came out so freaking good!)

    After all, if it was good enough to sustain fasting medevial monks during lent….

  18. Glad to know the surgery went well and you’ve escaped from the hospital. Looking forward to your post op run posts. Get well soon!

  19. ahahaha diludid is the best!! I requested it everytime but never had a problem they just gave it to me in a pain pump that I could push every 9 mins lol. Glad you are feeling better :). After have 3 stomach surgeries myself, I would suggest KFC mash potatoes, grits, chocolate protein shakes, jello, pudding etc lol

  20. Just found this blog today thru a friend. I had this same surgery done almost 12 years ago and the difference between pre-and post-surgery is AMAZING! My surgery was a complete success and since then I’ve only really had a minor problem with reflux during both my pregnancies. Good luck on your recovery and I hope your surgery is as successful as mine!

    1. Thanks, Kristi! That is so great to hear! I have had such awesome results so far and I am really encouraged and hoping they will continue! The hardest part has been not being able to eat bread, haha! I ran for the first time yesterday and had no reflux. It was like a miracle! I hope I can say the same thing 12 years from now 🙂

  21. Can I ask how you’re doing 1.5 yrs after the surgery? I would love to be able to talk to you about it, why you had it, how your recovery went (I will look on your blog too), how quickly you got back to running. I have a hiatal hernia and seem to be having more and more GI problems (been on PPIs and GERD diet for years already, plus no grain, no dairy except whey protein, no nightshades, no coffee/chocolate, sleeping w/ bed elevated etc). Am wondering if I’m inching toward needing Nissen or the other even less invasive kind. But I’m training for 2 marathons and an ultra in the last quarter of this year and Boston next April (I BQ’d in March after many years of dreaming and trying) and don’t want to do anything surgical any sooner than I have to. Hope you are doing well in your latest recovery/comeback – it seems like you are, and you have a great attitude. (I know for myself that’s not always easy with all the physical things thrown at me, and I imagine it’s not for you either.) Thanks, and best wishes.

    1. Hi M! Of course, I’d be glad to talk to you about my experience! Send me an email at thetrexrunner(at)gmail.com and I’ll tell you everything you want to know 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *