Week 3: Two Steps Back

It’s been rough one, friends.

I was right to be concerned about going back to work. I tried to take it easy. I tried to stay still as much as I could, but I don’t have that kind of job. I think my doctor misunderstood that when he cleared me to return to work. If I had a desk job, where I could just hang out in a cubicle and sip water and protein shakes all day, going back to work wouldn’t have been a big deal. Sadly, this is not my reality.

I have to give a big shoutout here to my work family. They could tell I was pushing myself. I was constantly reminded to sit myself down and stop trying to do so much. I’m sure I would have come out worse than I did without them.

At the same time, I did fare badly. My pain level continued to increase throughout the day. By the time the buses pulled away, I could barely walk. My entire torso hurt and I had zero energy. However, I had lived through it. I was sure I could handle another day. Things would get easier as time went on.


The next morning, my body felt like dead weight. Walking to the shower was a herculean feat. By the time I tried to put my pants on, I was panting. I’m sure there would have been sweat if I wasn’t wrapped in shower steam. There was no way I was gonna make it.

I have to pull over here to thank my work fam again. They have been understanding and supportive during this whole ordeal. I plan on finding a way to pay them back for all the love. 

I made my calls and emails for work and went back to bed. I spent most of my day there. Tomorrow would be better, right?

No. Wrong.

I’d like to take a moment here to discuss dumping syndrome. It can happen to people that have had most of their stomach removed or some other kind of gastric surgery. Symptoms can include abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and lightheadedness. Dumping syndrome generally can happen when food passes too quickly into the lower intestine, usually because of unprocessed sugars in the stomach.

Try to imagine a cramp, okay. A cramp that begins in your stomach, wages war there for a while, moves up the esophagus, makes you barf, then moves back down your whole GI tract cramping the whole time. Imaging this happening over and over, in waves, for several hours. Couple this with the cold sweats and it feels like you might be dying.

That’s how I spent most of my Wednesday morning.

I could barely keep anything down. I tried to take my nausea medicine but it always came back. My mom made me keep sipping water through the whole ordeal. I needed something in my stomach to throw up. Stomach acid isn’t great for the esophagus, long term. I eventually managed to keep some pain medicine in me long enough for the waves of agony to pass and I slept for another few hours.

I’m so grateful that my mom has gone through this kind of thing before. She had the gastric sleeve done about eight years ago. According to her, the entire first month after surgery was full of afternoons like mine. I wouldn’t know how to get past anything happening to me without her guidance.

Experts say that I wasn’t truly having dumping. My blood sugar was okay at the time. What happened to me was just an advanced round of nausea. Like super nausea. Like, “Please remove the rest of my organs. I don’t need them anymore.” nausea. I can honestly say that, short of labor and childbirth, it was the worst pain I have ever experienced.

After this ordeal, I decided to stop trying to push myself. I wasn’t going back to work this week. My body was simply not having it. I was still not getting enough protein and liquids and I didn’t want to push myself back into a hospital bed. I resigned myself to resting as much as I possible.

Until Friday.

My mother does some babysitting from time to time. This particular morning, she was watching the six month old when she realized that she urgently needed to go to the store. She asked my to keep an eye on the baby while she was gone. I knew she wouldn’t be away for long and I didn’t mind.

Not smart.

Six month old kids like to play this game. It’s called “Throw everything on the floor and whine until someone picks it up”. Somehow, I forgot all about this and went along with it for a while. They also like to play the “Pick me up, put me down” game. I went along with this too. Until my side started to hurt.

When you have abdominal surgery, or any surgery really, your doctors give you a limit on how much physical activity you are supposed to be doing. This is to keep your body healing the way its supposed to. I was not supposed to be lifting anything over twenty pounds until the end of February. That included babies.

My large incision and the surrounding area have been sore again. It’s more painful than I’d like to admit at times. Everything still looks fine, but moving has become more challenging again. Sitting up, sitting down, anything that involves moving my midsection is in danger of sending shooting pains across my middle. I just have to be very ginger with myself until I can heal completely.

This weekend isn’t shaping up to be restful, either. Between funerals and bible study, I’m doing more that I really should. I know I need to settle down but don’t want to miss things I don’t have to. I’m spending every spare second in bed, taking my vitamins and trying to remain positive.

This week wasn’t one of my best. I know I have a bad habit of just pushing through pain but that just isn’t possible right now. Taking time to heal is essential to my continued health and future success. That’s a thing I know consciously. If only I can make it work in practice.