Sunday, April 19, 2009

Jere: A FAT Story

Ok, finally, here it is, recaps and thoughts on Jere and his surgery. Don't anyone worry, as is par for my course, there are WAY to many pictures. So, just bare with, I promise it'll be alright.

There once was a boy named Jere, his virtues were many and very. He liked to eat, he always liked to eat. He was a BIG baby, a chubby kid and a "thick" adolescent. And in spite of always being a "fat" guy, he was always active and able to move and do whatever he wanted. But at some point, when you CAN'T wedge yourself into an airplane seat, or resteraunt booth anymore, when you run out of breath just walking into work, or when you wake up one day and realize it hurts like hell to be alive you know that SOMETHING has to be done. There MUST be some way to gain control of your life again. When I met him he weighed around 280 lbs., so yeah, a big guy, but not so out of control either. He could still buy clothes at Target, which I call buying at a normal store. In the course of our THREE years of dating and 7 years of marriage he gained over a 100 lbs. To be fair, so did I, and then I got to have gastric, and he stood by the wayside, WISHING he could have it too. Clothes were a HUGE (no pun intended) burden. The only place we could shop was the fat mans store, and do you have ANY idea the rape they perform there? A t-shirt was apt to cost you $40.00. Pants were close to $100.00 half the time. It was painful and awful. He was up to 5X shirts and even then sometimes those didn't fit. He wore 60 waist pants. Neither of these sizes were easy to come by. Hence why he wore the same 3 pair of pants and same 5 shirts allllllllll the time. And just so you know, he said it's ok for me to divulge this info. There is something magical about getting the gastric, you suddenly don't care if everyone knows how much you weigh or what size you were. I guess it's because you know that you'll never weigh that or wear those sizes again. It's like a wierd badge of honor to say, I USED to weigh, or I USED to wear....Anyway.

Jere LOVES ice cream. He lived for ice cream. Bummer for him that he'll never be able to enjoy it again, not to this degree anyway. I still can't eat more than a couple bites of ice cream, or I get icky feeling. Anyway, this picture is just a great representation of Jere and his love for the food.

There he is in all his glory. The night before surgery, we took these BEFORE shots at a glorious 400.5 lbs. Tragically, he was still 42 lbs. LESS than I was to begin with. I know, super fatties here!
Anticipation was high, but Jere was excited for the surgery. He got a great blessing from my Dad and our home teacher Kale. We knew that all would be fine, and were ready for the big day.

At the literal BUTT CRACK of dawn we were up and getting ready. We had to be AT the hospital by 6 a.m. for check in. Tracie was MORE than kind enough to come over at 5:30 a.m. to stay with the kids all day. Seriously, don't know what we'd have done without good friends and family willing to help us out.

They took Jere back and got him in a bed and began getting him ready. They let us come back about a 1/2 hr. later to hang out with him, meet the drug doctor and his surgeon, etc. In no time at all he was being wheeled away for the big deed to be done. He was ALL smiles and jokes and happiness, which is important to remember for later. I should mention that Jeres Mom, Peggy, was a trouper and was there with us the ENTIRE time. While he went off to surgery we went and ate, isn't it ironic. Then we hung out for a long time in the 5th floor waiting room, which I might add here is quite nice. They've made it like a little home library, there is a computer for your use, seating areas, decorated shelves, etc. Well, we were expecting about a 2 1/2 hr. surgery, and we expected wrong. Anyway, at around the 3 1/2 hr. mark I was getting a big antsy...what was taking so long? At the 4 hr. mark I was REALLY agitated. Luckily, at that point the surgeon walked in and told us all was well. Apparently there was an extra lot of "inner" fat for him to fight through, but he was able to do it and the surgery went exactly how it should. With that news to relieve us of any fears, we set off to eat some lunch while he "revived". As I was eating my pizza and salad, I thought "wow! this will seem like lightyears away fro Jere." I remember feeling like I would never be able to eat "normal" again. Oh silly, it's really not that long. So, after an hour or so in recovery Jere was FINALLY wheeled in to his room. When we got to see him he was still rather loopy and in LOTS of pain. Oh, there is SO much pain upon waking up from this procedure, SO MUCH! He kept saying "My shoulder hurts. My stomach hurts. I'm too long for this bed. I need to go to the bathroom." Over and over in a continuous loop he'd say these same 4 phrases, as if he'd never said it before. Call us mean, but we were laughing so hard. He totally hit on his nurse, which was also hysterical, and by "hit on" I mean, he told her she had great hair and asked if she was married. She thought he was so funny. Needless to say, he was pretty out of it and in a lot of pain for that entire first night. I had to leave and relieve Tracy and Dixie for awhile, but thankfully his Mom and our friend Tim stayed the entire day until I got back at 8:00.

This is a shot of Jere going for his 2nd walk. He was in so much pain, it was really more than he could bare to be doing this, but he was a trooper and did as he was told. All the happy and joviality was gone, and remained gone until at least Friday.

He had to do this breathing thing all day long to make sure the lungs stay clear, etc. Unfortunately, he was forced to keep his catheter in until Tuesday night at 9:30. It was very painful and uncomfortable, but he wasn't putting out enough fluid, so they were watching him closely on that. Oh, I should mention that by the second day, he was up to 421 lbs. Yep, you get to gain weight before you lose it here.
I spent the night both nights on what can only be described as Hells little torture trick. It was literally a board. The first night I was sooo exhausted that I slept hard through the night with no interuptions. That was nice. However, the next night, SUCKED! Talk about body pain and lack of sleep, OY! Oh well, the things we do for those we love, right? The Tuesday was spent walking, breathing, walking, breathing. His surgeons do not allow the patient to be in their bed AT ALL between the hours of 6 a.m and midnight. So, he had to sit in a big recliner chair or be walking. He was pretty sure he might be dying, just suffering through the pain. However I will say, I think he's tried rather hard (and succeeded somewhat) to be brave and strong and not whine too much.

This is Dr. Sprunger, Jeres great surgeon. He's removing the drains so Jere could get ready to go home. Well, more importantly so Jere could FINALLY take a shower.
After getting his discharge papers, taking a painful shower, with my help and packing up we were ready to go. Thankfully we got out by 11:00, which wasn't any too soon. I was soooooo ready to be home. He was scared to be home, but also ready.
This place doesn't believe in "wheeling" the patient down to the car. Nope, no siree bob, they make you WALK all the way down to your car. Jere thought he might die, but he did persevere. I was proud of him. You will note the wheelchair, it was finely utilized as our carrier for our plethora of crap that we brought to the hospital.

He made it into the car. However, it was a bit of a dramatic ride home, because apparently EVERY bump, divet, crack in the road can be felt by surgery recipients. We got home and put him right to bed, 'cause you know how it goes...when you're in the hospital you NEVER get any sleep. So, we put him down and he slept for 6 hours. Unfortunately, when he woke up, and needed to get out of the bed, YIKES! There was no way for him to get out of the bed without wreaking havoc. He thought he died, but somehow he got off the bed, still alive. It has gotten better each day, though I feel the progress is a little slow.

I'd like now to give FAIR WARNING....below is a picture of his large tummers and the incision sites. If you ask me, this looks rather tame, compared to the AWESOME open surgical scar I had. But, we're not comparing, right? So, I warned you:

So, here we are. This is where Jere is currently spending his days...sitting on the chair, in discomfort, waiting it out. He's been very good about getting up and going for his "walks" and drinking his water all day long. He's also a total rock star on the breathey thing and can now get higher than he did before the surgery. As I said, each day brings a little more healing and a little more mobility. I can't wait for him to feel all better and truly be on the way to his new life. Each day, each pound lost feels like a new sense of freedom. The ability to move freely again, the ability to wash yourself, to bend over, tie your shoes, whatever it may be, all feels sooooo invigorating and wonderful as you start the magical journey downward.
Can't wait to start breaking out the bags of his clothes that we had to put away because they were too small. We should be covered for at least a good 60 - 70 lbs. then after that, well maybe we can buy cheap stuff at "normal" stores.

Just for the sake of being on record. Maggie was confused by our absence and kept asking for us. When I would be home with them, before going back to the hospital I would tell her Daddy was at the hospital, 'cause his tummy had some owies. So, when I brought him home, and she was so excited to see him, I had to stop her and explain Daddy was hurt. So now, every day, if she asks him to hold her, and he says he can't, she says..."Daddy's tummy owie?" She'll repeat that over and over again. She's been really amazing about understanding that and leaving him alone and not touching him. She does ask to see Daddys' tummy owie at least a couple times a day. She's such a good little girl, I'm so grateful for her and her smart little self.

Many, many, MANY thanks to Tracie, Julie and Jessicah for spending the nights and or days at our house while I was there with Jere. It was a huge help and a relief to know that our kids were well taken care of in our absence. You'll never know how much we appreciate it. Thank you to Peggy for literally spending the ENTIRE day with Jere and I on surgery day. And thank you to everyone for your prayers and offers of love and support.
Here's to a long and skinny future!!


LanaBanana said...

Loved it. That was a good one. I learned a lot more than I knew. Mostly, how boring to be at the hospital for so long when you're not the recovering patient. Blech. It's boring enough when you are. You're an amazing wife. Hooray for Jere being such a trooper. I've been thoroughly impressed.

ZippityDoDaw said...

I am so glad the surgery and joys of hospital stays are behind you both! No one should sleep on a guest bed, for sure!

It sounds like you had excellent assistance for the first week. We are so close, never hesitate if you need to send a few chidren my way, to do grocery shopping, shower and primp, whatever! Miss Maggie and Mr. Max both showed a liking for me on Saturday, so I am quite confident we would get along smashingly! :)

Hang in there Jere! Hang in there Allison. The pain and suffering will fade soon!

Sabrina Bodine said...

Way to go Jere! Loved the post! I have been thinking about you tons. Glad to hear all went well and I am excited to see you when I come home next month.
We love you Jere no matter what you weigh. I have always said you were my little dose of sunshine:) Miss you both.