It was exceptionally hot on this Monday, or maybe it was just the heat of my suntan coming off of my skin. I looked in the mirror and took off yesterday’s eyebrows before hopping in the shower. My “kpop boy” hair dried up curly, which I remember being happy about since I didn’t want to keep my hair in its “Apple stem” style for two or three days in a row (newsflash; it eventually did later that night). I had my bag ready: a change of clothes, pajamas, and Pugsly; the stuffed animal that I’ve slept with since 2000 as a 6-year-old. Another news flash: I did not bring that bag; I actually forgot it at home due to the nerves.
When it was time to go, my family and I called a cab and headed to the hospital. Because it was just a little after a year since the pandemic started, only one person was allowed to come into the hospital with me. Annoying, but my mom ultimately was the one that came up with me. She couldn’t stay after I got undressed and into my hospital gown. My phone by then was taken away from me with the rest of my outside clothes. I had nothing to do but wait until my surgeon came in to talk to me about the surgery. I was nervous as the surgery time was getting closer and closer. It wasn’t until 4pm that one of the doctors came to escort me to the operation room. I was asked if I wanted a wheelchair to take to the room; I declined. I wanted to walk towards the room on my own feet; towards the room that I walked for the last year and a half getting into.
I entered the operation room and Doja Cat’s “Kiss Me More” was playing on a radio. The room was surrounded with doctors and my surgeon. I was placed on the operating table; arms stretched out and legs strapped down. I was asked how I was doing, in which I was fine. I kept telling myself that this was it. The stomach I knew was going to completely change. My life was slowly going to change. I was about to have gastric bypass surgery.
The anesthesia was placed over my nose and everything went black.
I woke up with a nurse calling out my name. It was blurry and I felt groggy. I don’t remember exactly what I said to my nurse, but I remember her laughing and serving me crushed ice. My throat was dry and my body was now in a cloth hospital gown. My legs had on compression sleeves so that blood clots wouldn’t develop on them. I didn’t feel any pain (yet), and my nurse had told me it was about 10pm at night. I was put into the recovery room about 8pm, so needless to say; I was passed the fuck out!
The nurse dialed my mom’s cell number to let her know that I was out of surgery and everything went well. I don’t remember talking to my mom, but from the stories I get about this day, I was definitely still on cloud 9 from the anesthesia. I believe it; I remember literally cracking jokes with my nurse and she told me, “you’ve been my favorite patient of the night.” I asked if I could call Obie, in which I couldn’t even remember his number until I randomly yelled out “oh! It’s *this number*; he has had this number for almost a decade, I could I not remember his damn number!” I called him to tell him everything went well and that I was in the recovery room. He also laughed at how loopy I was. It was then when I got my belongings and was able to be on my own phone.
I answered all the messages that wished me the best of luck during the surgery. My friend, Lae, had texted me to let her know when I was out of surgery. I sent her a voice note, which to this day she still tells me how her and her mom listened to the voice note and was like “oh yeah, she was hiiiiiigh off of that anesthesia”.
Eventually it wore out, and that’s when the pain began to occur. I slept in the recovery room— well, tried to; with the nurses and other patients coming into the recovery room at all hours of night and the pain I was experiencing, it was nearly impossible. One patient came into the recovery room around 3am; he was an older man that had emergency surgery for something that I don’t remember. He constantly tried to remove the breathing tube out of his mouth, in which his nurse would scold him to not do so. His bed was across from mine.
Also, it was hard to breathe at times, so I was advised to do take deep breaths with this breathing-tube toy thing to catch my breath every now and then. When my curtain was closed for the night and the sound of the breathing toy was being heard, I heard my night nurse say, “good job, Elizabeth”. It was definitely a rough night due to the pain, and every time I was advised to take medication for the pain, it would make me nauseous.
I eventually got some sleep, but all patients were woken up around 7am for breakfast. The nurses advised me to walk around and try to use the bathroom whenever I could. I successfully did; I was able to get out from bed by myself and use the restroom, watch TV in the sitting area, and when I was served breakfast, I sat at the edge of my bed on my own and ate. The other patients around me had a more difficult morning; there was a nurse for every patient and then there was me, looking around and enjoying my liquid breakfast. My nurse looked at me in shock, telling me, “I have never been a gastric bypass patient that bounced back so quickly.” I always did; even when I had gallbladder surgery in 2013 I was walking around like it was nothing just hours after having the damn surgery. Because of the progress I made within the last night, I was cleared for discharge. Roughly around 3pm, my sibling came to the hospital to pick me up and my father picked up my medication when he came home from work later that Tuesday night.
This all happened on July 12th, 2021; making it a year since I had surgery.
Since surgery, I’ve lost 106 pounds. These days, it’s getting harder to lose more & keep the weight off since my stomach is able to handle much more than it did at the beginning, but it’s about discipline. It’s about knowing what to cut back and exercise and what to stay away from. I refuse to be a failing case of gastric bypass. I refuse to gain that weight back. I refuse to not look back at this last year and see it was a waste.
This last year my whole life changed. I simply don’t remember the woman I was prior to surgery. Yes, she has the same interests as me, the same friends, the same hobbies and passions. I remember how she used to feel when taking long walks and how she would turn back home before even walking 10 blocks. I remember how she couldn’t shop locally for clothes because her comfortable clothing size was a 4X. I remember how she insecure she felt in her skin because even though she loved her body, she felt like her body couldn’t keep up with her. I remember how much older she felt; not because she was only 26/27, but because her weight slowed her down, especially after the quarantine period.
But, I don’t remember her that well. I don’t remember how she dealt with those things and everything else happening in her life. I don’t remember her mentality; it’s drastically different than mine now. I’m a little more serious about things than she was.
She very much gave up on a lot of things that she couldn’t control anymore. I make it my mission to never lose that control I gained back.
That’s what the last year has been like for me, and here’s to the rest of my life hopefully reminding myself that this year happened so I can strive in my life. To explore and have energy again. To feel like a 28-year-old woman. To finally have some confidence in myself that I never really had before.
Happy one-year to possibly the most important day of my life to date.