10 Things I Didn’t Know Before I Had Surgery

So as you all know, I got the long-awaited stomach surgery back on February 19th. I’m pleased to report that I haven’t had acid reflux a SINGLE TIME since then! I’m stopping short of calling this a miracle since my recovery isn’t over yet, but considering I hadn’t gone a day without reflux in several years, nearly two weeks seems like an eternity! When I was weighing the pros and cons of surgery, though, there were a few things I either failed to consider or chose to ignore, presumably because I tend to be kind of singularly focused when I decide I want to do something. So, here’s a list of things I wasn’t exactly expecting, because you obviously care to know.

1. I took food with texture for granted.

After surgery, I was on a diet of just clear liquids for a couple of days. Not so bad, since I really didn’t want to eat anyway. After  those two days, I was allowed to go on a “full liquid” diet, meaning I could eat anything that basically was either a liquid or a really soft food, like grits. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love grits, especially when they’re made the old fashioned way. I love pudding. I love milkshakes. I love mashed potatoes. But I swear, by day 4 of eating only those items, I would have killed someone for food with an actual texture. I just wanted to chew something! Even now,  I still can’t eat anything that requires a whole lot of chewing, but I have at least graduated to rice. Side note: I’m not 100% sure I should be eating rice. This diet is very nebulous. I really hope my surgeon isn’t reading this.

Cupcakes are on the no-go list.
Cupcakes are on the no-go list.

2. Bread is my favorite food.

I’m not allowed to eat bread for at least a month after surgery because it soaks up liquid and expands in your stomach, which could cause my surgery to fail. I never really thought much about bread until I wasn’t allowed to have it anymore, and I have tragically come to realize that bread is my most favorite food ever. It is a component of basically everything I eat! Sweet delicious pizza, I cannot eat you. Pimento cheese sandwiches, I cannot eat you. Cheeseburgers? I must order you without a bun, drawing looks of disdain from the employees at the restaurant in my tiny town, where the concept of  low-carb and gluten-free diets is unheard of. I seriously have come out of this experience with so much respect for people that can’t have gluten, because I really don’t know how you ever eat.

I've almost killed AJ over pizza about 6 times since I had surgery. He lives in fear.
I’ve almost killed AJ over pizza about 6 times since I had surgery. He lives in fear.

3. Sitting up is harder than walking.

While T-Rex Mom was here taking superior care of me, she forced me to go on nature walks (which are actually just walks around my neighborhood, but that sounds boring and less likely to discover something cool) pretty much every day. At first, I would be completely exhausted and out of breath, because my stomach and diaphragm were all swollen, which made it really hard to breathe. Now, I can walk for a couple miles at a time, but sitting up straight? Forget it. My core has pretty much told me to go to hell and stay there. I went to work for a couple of hours on Friday (gotta keep the boys on track) and I had to sit up for a combined total of 3 hours and it was like the most rigorous workout I’ve ever done. Remember when I used to run marathons all the time and now I can’t even sit up continuously? Fail. Thank God for my recliner.

4. Lots of things are heavy.

In addition to not being able to eat or drink pretty much anything delicious, I’m also not allowed to lift any object over 5 pounds for about 6 weeks. You know what weighs more than 5 pounds? EVERYTHING USEFUL. As if my coworkers needed another reason to think I’m high maintenance, this means I can’t carry my laptop for work, so if I need to use it in the office, I will have to have someone else go downstairs and get it out of my truck for me. I can’t vacuum because it’s too heavy to push. I’m not allowed to walk my dog for 6 weeks because he is a giant and sometimes tries to eat/kill animals he sees while out on his walks, and he pulls really hard. I can’t carry the laundry up or downstairs. On the bright side, you know who can do all of these things? AJ. He’s obviously my surgeon’s number one fan, at this point.

5. I used to eat a lot of food.

The surgery has made my stomach about 20% smaller, and holy cow, what a difference that is. I’m supposed to be eating small meals (about 1/2 a cup of food 4-6 times a day) and when I’m done with them, I am SO full. We went out to get mexican food last night, where I had to order the ever-exciting refried beans and rice and a cheese quesadilla that I actually maybe am not supposed to have. Normally when we go to get mexican, I eat the chips and salsa, get a giant margarita, 2 chicken tacos and a quesadilla, or maybe more. This time, I ate less than half a quesadilla and 1/2 a cup total of beans and rice and I was pretty sure my stomach was going to explode. On the plus side, this makes me a cheap date. On the minus side, I am now deeply concerned about how much people must have been judging the vast quantities of food I normally eat. Sorry, everyone who has ever seen me eat.

Me in my past life
Me in my past life, minus the hotness.

6. I’d rather drink Sprite than beer.

Much like bread, I didn’t realize how much I liked soda and beer until they were voluntarily given up ruthlessly taken from me. I can’t have alcohol or carbonated beverages for at least a month, and I’ve got to tell you, you don’t realize how much you hate water until it’s pretty much the only thing you can drink. I’m actually a huge water drinker, but it never bothered me before because I always had the option of drinking something else, like my beloved Sprite. Now, not so much. I’ve found that I’ve been craving soda much more than beer, though, which is odd but probably good. Unless it means I’m a sugar addict, which it might. Must do more research.

I can't drink alcohol OR Sprite, so this argument is really pointless. To water!
I can’t drink alcohol OR Sprite, so this argument is really pointless. To water!

7. Recovering from surgery is not like a vacation.

What? You already knew this? Ok, so maybe a gigantic teeny tiny part of me was really hoping this whole recovery process would be really fun and relaxing. I get to stay home and be waited on, watch tv, take naps, all the fun stuff that I never have time to do normally. No pressure to wake up early, no training schedule to follow, nothing to worry about, right? Wrong. First of all, my mind conveniently forgot to consider that I would be in pain. Second, I’ve been working from home pretty much non-stop since I got out of the hospital because there just so happened to be tons of things I needed to do for work that can’t wait. Third, I am exhausted. Between the nature walks, working, and oh yeah, my stomach trying to heal itself, I feel like the walking dead. This has been decidedly unlike a vacation and more like a prison labor camp. I’m making a mental note to temper my expectations for the next time I have to have surgery – and knowing me, there will be a next time. This way, I won’t be disappointed when the hospital isn’t Club Med.

Surgery recovery is not my best look.
Surgery recovery is not my best look.

8. I do actually like running.

Once again, you never know how much you care about something until you don’t have it anymore. It’s easy to get burnt out on training sometimes, especially when you don’t feel like you’re particularly good at the thing you’re doing. However, I’ve found that I really want to get out there and go for a run, even a short one! Normally, I don’t bother doing short runs because I can’t convince myself that getting sweaty and only doing 3 miles is worth the hassle. Now, 3 miles sounds awesome! I’m not cleared to run yet and probably won’t be for awhile, so nature walks it shall be. I did buy a really sweet compression shirt for when I can get back to it, thanks to the suggestion of a reader who said it would keep my incisions from bouncing around too much. On an unrelated note, I have never owned a compression shirt before, and dear Lord, that is not my best look. It’s like Spanx for runners and it is just really not doing me any favors.

Oh, you thought I was going to post a picture of me in a compression shirt? That's cute.
Oh, you thought I was going to post a picture of me in a compression shirt? That’s cute.

9. I drink an unreasonable amount of water in my normal life.

I drink about 100 ounces of water a day, normally. This is mostly because I get dehydrated really easily and also because it’s just good for you and gives you luminous skin or something. Well, I failed to consider that I would not be able to drink as much water as normal because of the swelling and the fact that I get full so quickly now, and I never bothered to tell anyone how much water I normally drink. This miscalculation landed me back in the hospital receiving IV fluids a week after surgery, and now I have to work really hard to drink even half of the water I used to. Given the alien looks I got when I told the doctors, nurses, and my mother how much water I normally drink, I’m thinking maybe I should cut down anyway since apparently this is not a normal amount. Meh, who knew?

Sorry I'm not sorry for being so effing adorable.
Sorry I’m not sorry for being so effing adorable.

10. I seriously need to step up my house cleaning.

If you’ve ever met me in real life, you know I’m a person who is pretty much always doing something. I’m not good at sitting still and I’m not very good at relaxing. Doing things and being productive is my idea of relaxing. T-Rex Mom is like me on steroids. If you think I’m always busy, you should meet her. She was here taking care of me for about 10 days, during which time she cleaned my whole house. And yes, it took her pretty much the entire 10 days. Clearly, I need to clean things more often. I’m not a person who likes a lot of clutter and most of my stuff is organized, so it wasn’t that everything was a mess. I just hate doing things like cleaning dog hair off of the blinds or repainting the baseboards in my house. I’m not home often enough to care, so these things slip by the wayside. However, my mom just disinfected my entire house and pretty much repainted all the trim, so maybe I’ll make an effort to keep it that way. Probably not. I’ve got hypothetical marathons to run – once I’m allowed to start running again, of course.

28 thoughts on “10 Things I Didn’t Know Before I Had Surgery

  1. This sounds like no fun.
    Obviously you won’t be running, but will you be able to spectate (it’s a word) the Columbia race this weekend?

  2. I’m not sure what makes me laugh harder, your writing or the perfectly fitting gifs. As always, thank you for sharing your story with us!

  3. I drink 100oz of water too! I read somewhere (or I made it up and think I read it) that you’re supposed to drink half your body weight in ounces per day…and more if you’re working out…and since I like round numbers I just up it to the hundo. Not weird at all 🙂

    Hope you continue to improve and maybe you’ll start seeing some cool wildlife on your walks? Looking forward to the beer on Saturday!

    1. YAY!! I’m so glad I’m not crazy. They seriously looked at me like I had 4 heads but I was all YOLO and sorry I’m not sorry and they just didn’t get it. Looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!! Let me know if you want me to bring anything specific!

  4. I am just glad to hear you are doing well and recovering, and hope that this helps out with all of the issues. Having helped my older son recovering from having his kidney replumbed a few years ago (he was still in elementary school, so was pretty much still being taken care of anyway) reminded me of how much any surgery sucks in terms of recovery … take it slow and easy – which I know is not easy 🙂

    1. I don’t know what a kidney replumbing is but it sounds way worse than what I had, so I now feel slightly less sorry for myself. I plan on asking my surgeon at my appointment today if I can run. Even though I am 99% sure he’s going to say no, I’m packing running clothes in the car…just in case.

  5. Hope your recovery goes well. You gave me some déjà vu. I just had an inguinal hernia repair at the end of November so I couldn’t do much for the first couple weeks which I was hoping to get stuff done, but was so exhausted and next 4 weeks I could lift anything over 10 lbs. so I was at work having people lift things for me all the time. I will say you still have it worse with all the food restrictions.

    I am back to running but it’s been a hard start, I’m so much slower than my running friends right now-because I couldn’t run for 5 months and gained 20 lbs-still fighting that battle. My suggestion that kept me motivated, I bought new shoes, some new running clothes-and I also registered for two races(one of which is too soon, don’t do that part)

        1. Denial always does 🙂 I’m glad you’re getting back to it! I’m really hoping I can start running again soon, but I’m sure I won’t exactly take off in a blaze of glory like I’m envisioning.

  6. We are a silly species. The vast majority of us don’t truly appreciate what we have and what we’re capable of until we find ourselves bereft of such pleasantries. I’m sure there’s a zippier and more succinct way of saying that, but it eludes me.

    I’ve always found funny people like you (and a few other bloggers that I follow) who only run big races on weekends and seldom train. Though it took me a while to figure out, I eventually learned that training’s awesome, especially if you live in an awesome area with lots of runner-friendly terrain.

    Anyway, that’s just one point of many. Glad you’re on the mend, despite “the mend” not being a weekend in Sandals, Jamaica enjoying the worrrld’s laaaargest fresh water poooool!

    Keep it up, Rex..

    1. I think the fact that I do not live in an awesome area and do not have much runner-friendly terrain doesn’t help, but mostly I don’t generally like training because pushing myself really hard scares me. I get into my head too much. Amanda and I have been talking about changing our training though and maybe trying to really see if we can run fast…well, as fast as 1-2 marathons a month will allow. Stay tuned.

  7. Listen to your cousin! You do have a maid (for right now) his name is AJ. tell him I said to step up the housework or pay someone to do it. I’ve gone 99% of my life w/o eating mexican lol. and seafood and I’m good. lol I want you to run, I want to advertise your shirt! (can’t wait to get one!) let me know when to tell Danielle she can order it for me. I hope she likes it!

  8. Great update: I counted many many T-Rex shirts yesterday @ Little Rock. Awesome. Many even did a T-Rex @ mile 25….even more awesome. Focus on recovery so we can be sure that you are out there with us, only when you are certified ready by your Docs and family. Be good and focus on recovery.

    1. I love how you put yourself as “Irish Denis” as if any other Denis exists in my universe. Bless your heart. When will I be seeing you at a race again?!

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