Making the right decision for me - Waking Up
Wednesday 1 March 2017

In our series of articles from Danielle Tofts, Choose and Book NHS Co-ordinator at Duchy Hospital, she tells us all about her weight loss surgery experience. Part one covered her life pre surgery and part two about Dani's preparation for surgery.

I have never experienced such tiredness as when I woke up after surgery! My eyes so heavy and body so weary, it took me a moment to remember where I was. Waking up in recovery was not half as scary as I’d thought it was going to be, mainly because of the lovely nurse sat by my bed, holding my hand and saying those magic works; ‘It’s all done, everything went well’.

I spent about ½ an hour in recovery, trying to come round a bit and sipping at water to try and rehydrate. I felt a little bit uncomfortable around my abdomen – not surprising really! Also I felt a little nauseous but a quick injection of pain relief and anti-sickness sorted that right out. Within 30 minutes I was being wheeled back to my room and pretty much straight away I was up out of bed, walking (although be it quite wobbly), making my way to the bathroom with the help of Duchys incredible nurses. The first thing I wanted to do when I was settled was call my lovely husband, Chris and he arrived shortly after along with my sister and two darling nephews – still out of it a little bit I don’t think I was the greatest conversationalist at that point but it meant the world of difference just to see them all. Mr Finlay came to see me when he was out of theatre and was really happy that I was up and about and getting lots of fluids in, he encouraged me to keep that up and said I was doing really well.

That afternoon/evening was mainly filled with having pain relief medicine, dozing and sipping water constantly. I was so surprised at how well I felt; the worst thing was the gas pain in my stomach. When having laparoscopic surgery, your abdomen is filled with air to open up the cavity to enable the surgeon to see clearly and access organs – you’re then left with a very uncomfortable trapped-wind type sensation. Apart from this I can honestly say I was in no pain at all. The most shocking of all was that I was not hungry in the slightest. Ice cold water and peppermint tea was going down a treat – infact I was surprised how well it was going down, considering my digestive system had pretty much just been completely re-wired. I was also managing to get in some chewy vitamins – part of the bargain of putting your body through weight-loss surgery is the promise that you will nourish it with a good diet and a lifetime of vitamins and supplements to help your new digestive system get in all the goodies it needs.

That night in hospital was spent pacing the corridors in my nightgown trying to shift the gas pain, trying to sleep and ringing the nurses every 10 minutes to detach me from my air-flow stockings to enable me to walk to the loo. I didn’t get much sleep that night but I was so blissfully happy – despite the swollen tummy. I remember feeling so proud of myself; going under general anaesthetic and generally being out-of-control and being looked after in hospital is my worst nightmare but I was feeling so content and calm. It really cemented the fact that I had made the right decision and I couldn’t wait to see where I would be in a few days, months and years.

The next morning I had some more pain killers, again, no real ‘pain’ as such, just feeling uncomfortable. I was visited once more by Mr Finlay who was thrilled that I had been so active and managing to drink so much that he discharged me that afternoon. I was discharged with some liquid paracetamol for pain relief, information on what I should be doing at home and also injections. Yep, that’s right; I had to inject myself for 7 days post-surgery at home, to avoid the risk of blood clots. The very thought of it made me feel a bit funny.

My husband came to collect me and I was on my way home, armed with  a pillow to shove down in front of my seatbelt to ensure it wouldn’t crush my delicate tummy on the way home. I had five very neat little plaster dressings on my tummy where incisions were made, slightly tender but otherwise I would not know they were there. At home, I made sure I was getting up every half an hour or so and walking around a bit and sip, sip sipping all day long. In the first couple of days after surgery you are only allowed clear fluids – your tummy is so swollen inside that you need to be as gentle as you possibly can. I just made do with water and peppermint tea. Some people struggle with different temperatures of fluids post-bypass but hot drinks or cold drinks went down a treat with me. A couple of days in to home life I was doing really well, moving around lots, drinking so much water and keeping on top of pain relief (I was only having maybe one dose of paracetamol a day) and vitamins – all liquids of course.

By this time, I’m sure you can imagine I was feeling very weak. I’d eaten nothing but yoghurt for days before my surgery and since then all I had in my system was water – not great for energy levels. My husband had to support me to have a shower on my second day at home just to be safe. The lovely nurses at the Duchy phoned me at home to make sure I was doing ok, as did the dietician to get me ready for the next day……I was going to taste some food.

The most overwhelming feeling, truly ,was the care I received throughout the run up to the surgery until this very day (10 months after surgery). Right the way from Mr Finlays secretary, Mr Finlay himself, my collegues who were very supportive, my family for the relentless encouragement and love and all the staff at Duchy who were involved in my care. They completely took away my anxiety and made me feel very cared for.