Caretaking


Caretaking

            We single people have to help each other, especially when one of us is sick or has surgery. A friend of mine had a gastric bypass last week. That’s an elective surgery, but she felt it was necessary and I supported her. She has diabetes, high blood pressure and bad sleep apnea. She did a sleep study earlier this year and they stopped it because she stopped breathing fifty-six times in one hour! She’s claustrophobic and couldn’t get used to the mask of the breathing machine. I checked on her every morning from February until I moved up to Munds Park in May. We usually read the paper together and have tea and coffee. If she didn’t call me, I was worried she had expired from SADS (Sudden Adult Death Syndrome.) Many people she knew had gotten rid of all three conditions by having the bypass. So she did it for health, not her looks.

Her son, among others, couldn’t figure out why she was taking such drastic means. Why couldn’t she just lose weight on her own?

She’d tried:  twenty years of seeing a fat doctor and getting weekly B12 shots, Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc. You name it, she, tried it. The weight always came back. She calls her weight “super glue fat” because it refuses to let go.

The month leading up to her surgery she gained fourteen pounds by simply not monitoring what she ate. She had to go on a liquid diet the week before surgery and lost five pounds.

I took her to the hospital early and the surgery went well. All of this doctor’s patients go to ICU after recovery. I thought the care would be outstanding but I was wrong. I was the one who disconnected her many attachments and accompanied her on her mandatory hourly walks. I’m sure if you’ve had a loved one seriously ill in the hospital in the last ten years, you know that a friend or family member needs to be there to make sure care is delivered.

My friend looked healthy right after her surgery, but then she has rosacea. She’s an assertive person, but refused to make a fuss. She had major water retention but they sent her home at 8:30 pm on Sunday night, of which she was delighted. She had to have oxygen. It was quite challenging for me to set up the condenser and all the paraphernalia as I am mechanically deficient. I gave her pain med and she slept all night first time in years.

She was still on a liquid diet so I stayed on one too, in solidarity, although I do admit to eating ice cream bars when I went across the way to my house.

The next morning we looked for medication instructions. The hospital ha d insisted that the doctor had given them to her in an appointment the week before. When she called the surgeon’s office, the nurse said she would email the instructions but never did.

We took our dogs for a walk and she pointed out to me that her belly looked nine months pregnant. I suggested she weigh herself. We were both shocked that she’d gained twenty pounds! I’d never heard of anyone gaining weight after bypass surgery. I know she stayed on her liquid diet since there was nothing else in the house. How could this be?

As a former nurse, she explained to me fancy terms for water retention. She took a diuretic, but only lost five pounds.  A friend, who had the surgery and lost and kept off two hundred pounds, came over. She was shocked at my friend’s water retention. We took pictures of her feet. Her poor little toes looked like sausages.

Toes

The good news is that she no longer has to take medications for high blood pressure or diabetes. As of this writing, a week after surgery, she still is seven pounds heavier than when she went in for the operation. It must be that superglue fat refusing to give up.

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One Response to “Caretaking”

  1. judi12013 Says:

    I have read your posts with interest, albeit from a distance. This one really struck me. Not that I have problems with being overweight, if anything (and don’t hate me), I tend to lose weight at the drop of a hat and have to make a concerted effort to maintain a proper weight. But I digress. I am very familiar with our failing health care system and the need for us to be advocates in our own health care lest we fall through the cracks. It is a scary business to be an inpatient in any hospital regardless of the type of health insurance we carry, although I shutter to think what could be expected for those without adequate insurance. I salute you for being a good friend and being willing to get down and dirty during a period when your friend was most vulnerable. Too often people become scarce when times get tough and the most you can hope for is a tuna noodle casserole left at the door. People can be cruel and judgmental toward people with weight problems/challenges (whatever you want to call it). I can attest to unsolicited comments directed toward me by total strangers who mistook my severe weight loss for AIDS or Anorexia when in fact I had undergone some radical bowel surgery that left me with short gut syndrome and I had to be placed on parenteral nutrition (IV nutrition). I actually had someone spit on me and a carload of boys hurl insults at me as I walked down the street. I learned I had to be thick skins or spend a lot of time in tears. People can be cruel at all ages and from all backgrounds. When I read how you steps up to the plate, I had to send kudos out to you for being a decent human being. A rare commodity these days! I hope your friend continues to do well. Judi

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