Category Archives: incentive spirometer

Post Surgery

I had my gastric by-pass on Wednesday, October 24, 2012 at 8:00am at Inova Fair Oaks hospital in Fairfax, VA.  Today is Friday, October 26, 2012 at 3;30am. I woke up about an hour ago and now I cannot get back to sleep.  So, I am going to blog a bit about my experience so far.

I have to say that everyone at this hospital has been wonderful.  From the moment that I checked in until now, everyone is nice and helpful.  They have been great in answering any of my questions, calming my fears, and helping me do everything.  My surgeon, Dr. Osvaldo Anez, is very professional and friendly.  He’s been to check in on me twice.  He wants to check me out later today.  I have to admit, I am a little bit nervous about that, but he seems confident in my progress so far.

So, let me start with the surgery itself.  The surgery went smoothly from what I am to understand.  They did wake me up after the surgery while I was still on the table.  I had a tube down my throat to help me breathe.  They need to make sure that I can breathe on my own before they remove it.  I remember them yelling my name and saying, “Colleen breathe!”  “Take a deep breathe!”

I remember feeling that I could not breathe, but I also remember them pulling the tube out of me, so I must have been breathing.  But they kept waking me and telling me to keep breathing.  Then to assure that I could breathe, they put my c-pap mask on.  The pain was unbelievable.  I remember telling them I was in pain.  Through all of this, I was being wheeled into post-op and everything was foggy. I vaguely remember them taking me to my private room.  My mom and sister were there.

The whole day of Wednesday, was very rough for me.  I had horrible nausea that was caused by the anesthesia.  I do not know how much medicine they gave me, but they kept giving me all kinds of anti-naseau medication.  The anesthesia doctor came in to see me several times.  Finally, she gave me a steroid of some kind that helps with nausea.  That knocked it right out of me.  The bariatric nurse that taught the nutrition/bariatric class came to see me as well.  She was the pretty blonde Ukrainian lady.  She is so nice.  She told me to make sure I was giving myself plenty of pain medicine.  I can give myself pain medication by pressing a button.  I was only pressing the button when I had intense pain.  She told me no, to stay ahead of the pain so that I am able to take deep breaths and walk as much as possible.  I have been taking that advise and it has made a world of difference.

They made me use the bathroom and talk a way about 3pm the day of the surgery.  I did not want to.  I kept saying that I did not have to go to the bathroom and I did not want to walk.  The nurse did not tolerate that.  She had been so sweet all day, but she turned to me and said,”No, you’ve been sleeping and drinking water all day, you’re getting up.  It is time.”

Getting up was hard.  Ultimately though, I’m glad she made me get up.  I only walked about 40 feet the first time, But about an hour later, I took a little bit of a longer walk.  A nurse or volunteer was with me at all times.  My mom and sister left at 6pm on Wednesday and my brother showed up about 730pm.  He was not here long.  About 830pm I went to bed and slept most of the night.

Day one: A lot of pain and nausea, but ended the day on a much better note.

I had the morning to myself yesterday.  I got some walking in and continued to use the bathroom without problem.  I sat up in a chair for about three hours.  My friend Lynn showed up around noon followed quickly by my sister and mom.  I enjoyed visiting with them.  I took a couple of walks with them.  I kind of over did it yesterday with the walking.  My doctor came back to see me.  He is very pleased with my progress.  Everyone has told me how good I look.  I was able to walk by myself and I apparently had a lot of color to my face.  And I have to admit that I felt pretty good.  Yesterday, I started eating.  So far, I have had only liquid food.  I had chicken broth, cranberry juice and jello.  I had to stop drinking the sweet flavored stuff.  I know that there is no sugar, but the sweet taste was not good.  So, I am sticking with the chicken broth and water.  From what I understand, I am going to have pureed food at some point today.

My brother showed up about 630pm is with his wife and my niece. She is four.   She had made me two get well cards.  I was worried about my niece seeing me in the hospital.  I am hooked up to an IV and a pain machine.  I was afraid that I looked terrible and the IV would scare her.  I was right.  She wouldn’t come very close to me.  Her parents tried to convince her to come closer and give me y cards.  I told her it was OK to give them to Aunt Sandy and then Sandy would give them to me.  I told her that I know the wires and stuff are scary, but I explained that they give me medicine to make me feel better.  She did ask about the boo boo on my tummy.  I told her that they gave me a tight t-shirt to keep it covered so that nobody could see it.  What they really gave me is a support garment.  It helps a lot.  She mostly stayed behind her mother’s legs, but before they left, she did say good-bye and tell me she loves me.  My brother took my mom and my sister to dinner.  My mom went back to the hotel to rest.  My sister came back here and sat with me until I fell asleep for the night.

Apparently, my niece talked about me through dinner.  She said that I am only a little bit sick and that I have machines giving me medicine so that I will feel better.   I had told her she can come visit me at Aunt Sandy’s house this weekend, so she talked about that a lot too.  So, she might have been a little scared at the hospital, she did recognize that the scary machines are helping to make me better. I love that little girl so much.  Being an auntie is awesome.

I am getting tired, so  am going to try to get some more sleep.  I am supposed to be discharged today. We shall see.  I will write more later.


One more day.  Tomorrow is it.  My gastric by-pass surgery.

I have been thinking about everything I have been through this past year since I made the decision to get serious about dealing with my weight and all of the connected health related problems that I have.

A year ago, these medical problems were either completely untreated or not really under control:

  • Volatile high blood pressure that despite my efforts to control it, was still running on the mid-high side.
  • Severe sleep apnea.
  • Stress levels that were out of control.
  • Borderline to high cholesterol.
  • I ate out for nearly every meal.
  • I did not even think about exercising.
  • I have asthma that was sort of controlled.

In other words, I was going down a very dangerous path.  I said in an earlier post that it was a prescription for an early death.

Since seeing a gastric by-pass surgeon, I have changed quite a bit of what I was doing.

  • I saw two gastric by-pass doctors before my friend directed me towards my new doctor.
  • I stopped eating out for every meal.
  • I underwent a sleep study.
  • I use a c-pap machine and my apnea is now controlled.
  • I’ve been taken off of one of my high blood pressure medications.  Now the medication I do take keeps me at a normal level on a consistent basis.
  • My cholesterol is 151.
  • I’ve met with a nutritionist who helped guide my food choices.
  • I am eating more fruits and vegetables.
  • I’ve dealt with some of the other things that were causing me undo stress.
  • I’ve had a stress test.
  • And I’ve had many other tests to make sure I am healthy for surgery.
  • I lost about 10 pounds.

I feel better.  I feel rested.  I’m more positive.  And I feel that I am ready for this surgery.  Granted, I’m still not exercising at the level I would like. I can and will correct that after surgery.  I want to get my triglyceride level down to normal levels, raise my good cholesterol levels, and continue to lower my bad cholesterol levels.  Obviously, I want to lose weight.  I also need to bring my sugar levels down some too.  All of this will happen after the surgery once the serious weight loss begins.

Making the decision to have the surgery was not an easy one.  I did not originally want  do this.  I invested a lot of time and thought into the decision and finally came to the conclusion that if I wanted to live a drastically different life, I had to make some drastically different choices.

There are definitely some things I did not want to do.  I did not want to do the sleep study.  I did not want to sleep with a c-pap machine.  I have to admit that when I was told that I needed a c-pap machine and that I would have to take my c-pap machine to the hospital for the surgery, I was unhappy.  I do not know why, but the idea of carrying a medical machine into the hospital really turned me off.  I thought the machine would be much bigger than it was.  Part of my fear was the machine would be much bigger than it was and I really do not have the strength or ability to haul around medical equipment.  I also did not relish wearing a mask every night.

The truth is The c-pap machine is small.  Sleeping with the mask is an inconvenience, but being well rested is something I would not change.  Controlling my sleep apnea has helped lower my blood pressure and improved many other health related problems that I have.  Now, I’m glad I did it and I’m not afraid to carry my small c-pap machine into the hospital tomorrow.

Like I said, this was not an easy decision, but I knew I had to do something.  I want a better life than the one I am leading now.  The only way to do that is to make some serious changes in the way I live.  I am glad I made those changes.  While I am nervous about my surgery, anxious about the changes to come, and sad that there are some food that I love that I may never be able to eat again, I do not regret the decision.

I thank all of my blog followers, friends, and family who have stuck with me up to this point.  I am grateful for all of the well wishes and support I have received.  I hope you’ll stay with me now as the real food changes and weight loss begins and the new healthier Colleen starts to take shape.  As my baby sister called it the other day on the phone, get ready for Colleen 2.0.

Six – Incentive Spirometer

Six days until my surgery.  Getting close.  Today I wanted to talk about one of the things I am doing to get ready for the surgery.

This is my incentive spirometer:

What is that you ask?

An incentive spirometer is used to help you with breathing and increasing lung capacity.  Basically, it is used to practice deep breathing and exercise your lungs.  The goal is to take slow deep breaths keeping the indicator on the right between the two arrows.  At the hospital, they said that average people with normal lung capacity can reach about 2000.  An active athletic person can reach up    to 4000.  I can usually get between 1500 and a little over 2000.

I received mine when I went tot he hospital for the nutrition class.  I practice this ten times in the am and ten times in the evening.  I have to bring this to the hospital with me for the surgery.  I will have to do this after the surgery to help my lungs recover from the anesthesia and the surgery as a whole.

I actually use this more than is required.  I like trying to increase my ability to breathe.  I hate having asthma and struggling for every breath.  I am ready to strengthen my lungs as I lose weight.   If I can return my breathing to normal levels, I know losing weight and exercising will be much easier.