Thinking Back: The Day I Arrived
by Kaye Bailey
September 13, 1999. Do you remember where you were that day?
I do. It was the day I underwent gastric bypass surgery – a day that changed my life forever.
I don’t recall much about that day. I remember feeling embarrassed lying on the preparation table, my enormous belly exposed to be cleansed antiseptically. I remember feeling frightened, but calm with a total acceptance that gastric bypass surgery was the best decision for me. I remember the anesthesiologist, a beautiful woman, not very old and not very big.
Then I went to sleep.
I woke up puking violently, an unpleasant reaction to anesthesia. I didn’t have my glasses so things were blurry, particularly the flowers from my husband. And I can remember a push-button device that helped me sleep. Later that night I realized I was not yet smaller. In fact my stomach was bloated and sore. In my drug induced vagueness I became convinced the surgeon had mistakenly done the wrong operation because I was getting bigger, not smaller.
The day after weight loss surgery my surgeon visited me, taught me to drink tiny sips of water, patted my hand and told me I was going to do just fine. I remember walking around the hospital hallway. I remember a female nurse bathing me. I remember a very good-looking male nurse – he didn’t bathe me. Rats! I remember drinking some nasty liquid chalk and getting an x-ray to confirm my stomach had been whacked, stapled and bypassed. I remember the super-sized wheel chair and being embarrassed that it fit just fine.
I remember being discharged from the hospital to spend the next several days in a hotel room because we had traveled a great distance for my “last resort” surgery. I watched “Mame” on TBS several times. The sofa at the hotel was scratchy. My husband and I went on “outings” each day, little drives around a strange town. He emptied my surgical drain for me. I thought it was disgusting.
One week after surgery we went to Sea World where I wept in profound disbelief at the great whales circling the pool and performing flawlessly for a bite of fish. Being from out-of-town, we sat in the “Splash Zone”. Turns out those warnings are for a reason. The great swimming mammal whacked his tail and we were drenched!
On Thursday of the second week Leslie, the darling nurse and counselor herself a WLS patient, removed my drain. We could go home. She asked me the four rules and I repeated them to her. She told me, “Take advantage of this window of opportunity. Learn everything you can. If you don’t learn early to follow the rules and take care of yourself you can regain this weight.”
Starry eyed and hopeful we packed ourselves in the car and headed for home. Almost 1,500 miles later we pulled into the driveway of home sweet home. My fabulous husband said to me, “Welcome to your new life – You Have Arrived.”
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