Why I'm choosing bariatric surgery: What to expect after surgery
MultiCare's director of general surgery, Jennifer Yahne, is choosing to undergo bariatric surgery. You can read other posts in this series here.
On June 15, my gastric sleeve surgery was performed by Hanafy Hanafy, MD, at MultiCare Allenmore Hospital.
My surgery was first that morning, so we had to be at the hospital at 6am to check in. That is when the flurry of activity began: registration, blood work, urine sample, IV, warming gown, lots of questions, meeting with Dr. Hanafy, meeting with the anesthesiologist.
Before I knew it, the time had come to wheel me back for surgery. They transferred me onto the operating table. One moment they were putting an oxygen mask over my face and then next I was waking up in the recovery room.
At first, I felt horrible. I was groggy from the anesthesia, my abdomen was on fire and my stomach was very angry at me. Luckily there was an angel there, in my nurse, Jill.
My first memories are of brief questions from Jill to assess my pain level. She began to deliver pain and nausea medications that immediately started making me feel better. By the time my room was ready a little while later I was still tired but felt tremendously better.
I stayed overnight in the hospital. One goal before I went home was to get me walking, and I was up doing laps around the floor by the afternoon.
Another goal was to start drinking fluids. I could have clear, sugar-free fluids, and at that point all I really wanted was water because my mouth was so dry after surgery. I poured the water into tiny cups and sipped slowly with the goal of getting one ounce every 15 minutes.
The last goal was to keep any pain and nausea under control, and the oral medications they gave me did a good job of that.
By the time Dr. Hanafy came to see me the morning after surgery, I was sitting in a chair, knitting and watching TV. I was ready to go home.
Going home and back to work post-surgery
At home, my goals were similar: drink fluids, move and rest.
After three days, I began consuming protein drinks with the goal of getting 60–90 grams of protein a day. Although the taste of the drinks was fine, they did begin to wear on me — 14 days of sugar-free liquids is a long time.
I was never physically hungry, but I often experienced “head hunger.” I would chew sugar-free Jell-O just to feel like I was actually eating something.
I was able to get out of the house quickly. The weekend after surgery I attended a couple of family gatherings. A week after surgery, I ran errands, went shopping and even took my daughters to the movies. I got fatigued easily, but with each day my endurance grew a little more.
I didn’t need any nausea medication after I had been home for about 48 hours, and I didn’t need any pain medications after about five days. By then I was sore, but only really felt the pain when changing positions or moving for a longer period of time.
I started working from home a week and a half after surgery and went into the office two weeks later. I even went on a five-day camping trip to Ocean Shores for the Independence Day weekend. By then I was able to start eating pureed foods.
Back to normal and quickly losing weight
Now I am almost a month out from surgery, and I feel like life has returned to normal. I am back at work full time and doing all of my usual activities.
I can now eat soft foods, focusing on getting my protein first. I can only eat about one-quarter to one-half cup of food at a time and usually have about five to six small meals throughout the day. I often can have part of what my family eats. For example, last night I made breakfast for dinner and though I couldn’t eat the French toast, I ate the scrambled eggs.
Best of all, I am rapidly losing weight. At my two-week post-op appointment, I had lost nearly 10 pounds and finally reached my pre-pregnancy weight after eight years. It felt amazing to break out all of my old clothes in search of a pair of pants that would fit.
Looking in the mirror, I realized just how much that extra 40 pounds had impacted me both mentally and physically.
Before embarking on this journey, I tried to ignore the weight but it was like a cloud hanging over me. Now armed with the tool of surgery, I feel optimistic that I will finally be successful with weight loss.
About The Author
Jennifer Yahne and her husband of 17 years, Jeramy, are lifelong residents of South King County. They have two daughters, Jillian and Hayden. Jennifer has worked in health care administration for the past decade, most recently as the director for the general surgery careline at MultiCare Health System. In her limited free time, she enjoys knitting, sewing, reading and baking.More stories by this author