On the first day of Christmas, my bariatric surgeon gave to me...okay, enough with the cutesy Christmas carol stuff. Suffice it to say that the month of December was memorable because I had not one but two upper endoscopies.
As I mentioned in a previous post, scar tissue can form after weight loss surgery and cause a narrowing in the stomach or the esophagus. This stricture makes it very difficult to eat solid foods, so patients tend to gravitate to "sliders," foods that go down easily. Unfortunately, many sliders, like ice cream, are high in calories and fat.
This means that a stricture can actually lead to weight gain because people edge away from their bariatric diet of solid proteins. Luckily, the stricture can be fixed with an upper endoscopy or EGD. This involves the surgeon passing a tube down your throat and into your stomach. He or she can then dilate, or widen, the narrowing with a use of a small, inflatable balloon. Sometimes, as in my case, the procedure has to be repeated to fully open the blocked area.
Actually, the whole thing probably sounds more traumatic than it is, because you're in a deep, drug-induced sleep throughout the procedure.
I still get anxious about having these things done, though, because about ten years ago I woke up in the middle of a colonoscopy. Not only was it very uncomfortable for me, it was also uncomfortable for the medical staff whom I hit and kicked before the anesthesiologist got me back under sedation.
Now when I need to be sedated for a procedure, I always tell the anesthesiologist about that experience, because it suggests that I may not be as sensitive to sedating medications as other patients are.
The nurse anesthetist who oversaw my first endoscopy was very reassuring. "That happened years ago," she reminded me, squeezing my hand before she injected something into my IV tubing that made my arm sting like hell. "We use much better drugs now."
"Like what?" I mumbled.
"Hey," I protested through the fog descending over my brain. "Isn't that what killed Michael Jack--?"
I was out.
When I woke up, the procedure was over and the anesthetist was hovering over my bed, eager to reassure me that propofol is safe when it is used where it was intended to be used, that is, in a hospital setting.
My second experience was even less dramatic. I was chatting with my surgeon when I felt the familiar sting in my arm. The next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room and the nurse was urging me to drink a glass of ice water.
My surgeon tells me that the dilation has been successful and that I won't require a third procedure.
So...now the ball is back in my court. It's time for me to resume the diet of solid proteins that the gastric sleeve was intended to encourage. Sure, I'll miss the cold, sweet treats that slipped so easily down my throat, but I'll be thrilled to see the weight start coming off again.
My surgeon thinks that once I am back on the approved diet, I can expect to lose another 50 to 100 pounds, which would put me right at my goal weight.
At this moment, there is no ice cream in my apartment...and I'm already planning my next clothes shopping excursion.