rpr_body_w4After nine months of unexplainable pain, varying opinions on what may be causing it and a solution that would only be covered by insurance if a modern-day Holy Grail quest was set in motion, I finally had my bariatric sleeve surgery last Friday.

From the beginning, I felt as if getting this specific kind of surgery was more of a cosmetic procedure than a health procedure and really never got behind it the way I probably should have. I know I am lucky to have gotten the sleeve, but I really didn’t care what I looked like. All I had wanted from the beginning was for the pain to stop, and last Friday, the wheels set in motion by several months worth of work had finally started the machine turning.

The day of the surgery, I really didn’t feel all that nervous. I have had operations before, and deep down inside I think I am a bit of a morphine addict, so hospital procedures are something I kind of look forward. So as the nurse was taking me to the operating room, I saw that my family was more nervous than I was.

After being wheeled into the OR and being greeted by 8-plus people in scrubs getting ready to work their magic on me, I felt even more at ease. If something was to go wrong, what safer place in the world than in a hospital with designated professionals watching over you? As they strapped me down to the cross-shaped table under the biggest operation lamp I had ever seen in what seemed to be a completely stainless steel room, the last thing I would remember was getting my IV put in followed by a request to take three deep breaths of oxygen. I believe I got to two before [black out].

I woke up with my surgeon standing over me asking how I felt. Such a weird question, I remember thinking, considering I wasn’t even sure we had started yet … that is, until I tried to move. Now before we get into it, I am really good with pain, it takes a lot for me to complain, but jump ahead three days from this point in the story when Nikki asked me what I was going to do this week’s “Roly Poly Roarty” article on and all I could still think of was pain. And not just pain, but the way Mr. T says the word in “Rocky III” when he, as Clubber Lang, is asked by a reporter if he had any predictions for his upcoming fight with the champ, responds, “Paaaiiiinnnnn.”

Back to Friday, though. I looked up at my doctor and asked if something was wrong because I didn’t remember feeling this much pain throughout my body for so long without getting used to it. As he started my morphine drip, he said it was normal, but if they told people about the pain up front, most wouldn’t do it. He actually said that!

They let the family in for two quick visits then rolled me into recovery for the night. I remember so little, just bits and pieces, and as I write this a nearly a week later, there are memories of dreams I had that seemed more realistic than the reality I was in. I could feel the drugs working to kill off all the pain in my body, which it did, except in the area of my stomach — nothing could dull that pain. It would shine through even as my mind was being scrambled.

That first post-op night was rough; there was no sleep and constant attention from the staff. I took pictures of weird shit all over the room with my phone and didn’t even remember doing it till two days later. When morning came, I was so drugged and still so uncomfortable, all I wanted to do was leave, and by the afternoon when asked if I was ready to go or if I wanted to stay, I chose to be uncomfortable in my own bed. They packed me up with pills, and off I went. I remember almost getting sick on the cab ride home. I still have a hard time remembering if it was light or dark out, that’s how out of my mind I was.

When I got home, all I wanted was my bed. I got in and immediately realized I could not lay in any position aside from sitting up on my back, which is horrifying for a stomach and side sleeper. This wasn’t a physician recommendation, but rather a pain-induced one. My insides were so raw they felt like they were being pulled out through the five laparoscopic holes in my body. From what I am told, we were home by 5:30 p.m. By 7 p.m., I took my first required pill. By 7:05 p.m.. I had thrown it back up. This process would repeat again at 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. The idea of a pill staying down was not happening. By 11 p.m. and every two hours there after until 8 a.m., I vomited out every fluid ounce given to me by the hospital, which is where I found myself heading right back to.

Now getting sick is not my favorite thing. If I HAD to chose, I would pick vomiting over a sore throat because usually my experience has been once the bad stuff leaves, you can snap back to yourself pretty quickly. That so is not the case after sleeve surgery with a stomach full of stitches and each time you get sick, you are losing the only drugs in your system that are keeping you sane.

Sunday morning back at the hospital did not seem like a panic situation for anyone in the ER in regards to my case, apparently this isn’t all that uncommon. Back on the morphine drip, back to a whole lot of details being erased, maybe forever. I do remember my room, and it had the most amazing view. I remember my parents and Nikki coming to visit, and I remember the pain, still being echoed in the Mr. T voice. I was fed ice cubes, eventually water and ultimately broth. It sucked.

I really thought on several occasions about how I should have just taken the 11 years the doctors suggested I had left to live if I didn’t lose weight and lived them out happily, with what I feel now was a less-severe lasting pain, but it was too late now. X-rays, blood tests, more pills, more painkillers until finally I was far more ready to try a return run at getting home. By now, though, not only did I feel the need to leave because of the normal things like comfort and privacy, but I was also motivated by the fact that I needed a break from the drugs — and for those of you who actually really know me, that is a bold statement.

The first real day home would pretty much serve as detox before I would have to meet with my doctor again the following day. The pain, although less severe, also had nothing to mask it. Yes, I had liquid pain medication I could have taken, but I really felt I needed a break from it. By the time I met with my doctor, I hadn’t slept more than a few minutes at a clip in days, am still on a (different) liquid diet, and I had no idea what day it was. Apparently I was doing well, though, because in the span of less than three weeks, which is when I started my liquid diet in preparation for the procedure, I had already dropped 27 pounds. I would act a little more excited, but I still don’t have the energy for it. I feel as if the mood swings are a lot less, although not completely gone, but so is my liquid diet intake, which for the past two days consists of about six cups of diet Turkey Hill iced tea, two cups of V8, a protein shake a day, one vitamin and one baby aspirin. I feel like for that amount of food (or lack thereof) I should be far more hangry!

Even though a lot of the pain is gone, including the existing pain that had gotten me here in the first place, oh, did I not mention that? Yeah, I can definitely feel a difference there! There are still points where I will try to drink a full cup of something and feel like I am being crushed in trash compactor or have a burst of energy just to realize it lasts only long enough to carry me from one room of our apartment to another at times, but overall, I am mentally getting stronger and as the pain lessens with each day, everything else gets a boost from it.

So maybe in the end, this will have worked out to be a good thing? I’ll let you know in two weeks when it is my turn to write another installment of “Roly Poly Roarty,” but it should be interesting next week to get Nikki’s take on it all when she takes over the column. Oh, and one last thing, thank you to Lil Tyler Durden for documenting everything leading up to this point, including taking some incredible pictures the day of the surgery. I know she was going through a lot that day, but this has now become part of her senior portfolio  project, and I cannot think of another photog I would have rather have had by my side at the time. Now all we have to do is convince her to share them on Instagram …

Photo by Tyler Roarty

Categories: Roly Poly Roarty

Tom Roarty is a professional art director with a degree in graphic…

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