Small Setbacks

Getting where you want to go is not without challenges, and there are very few direct routes from Point A to Point B. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to push yourself to move forward, you will hit hurdles, plateaus, or outright setbacks. Not every day is going to feel great.

I have so much to be grateful for. My surgery was fantastic. My recovery was a breeze. I’ve been losing weight (69.8 lbs and counting) and inches (96″ as per earlier this week), and I’m very visually seeing my efforts coming to fruition. My attitude has been so positive that it’s probably been borderline (if not outright) annoying. 

Everything is great.

Except, this week, it’s not. 

A few days ago, I noticed an infection on my arm, just a tiny red circle. I didn’t think much of it. By the following day, it had grown considerably in size, and was warm to the touch. Not wanting it to worsen, I went to the doctor and was put on dreaded antibiotics.

Antibiotics are great. They have saved countless lives. Oral antibiotics are not, however, known for being particularly kind to the digestive tract– and I was prescribed a particularly harsh ten-day course of Bactrim and Keflex, respectively two and three times per day. 

I do not exaggerate when I say that this regimen has been more difficult than my recovery from the surgery. I’ll take pain over constant nausea any day. 

I tried to explain to the PA who saw me that I was a month out from a vertical sleeve gastrectomy, but it did not even register with her. “If you’re worried about the antibiotics upsetting your stomach, just make sure to take them with plenty of food and water,” she said.

“I just had 3/4 of my stomach removed,” I explained. “I can only eat about two ounces of food at a time. I can’t drink more than a few sips at once. And I can’t eat and drink together,” I reasoned. “And those are large pills– they’re just going to take up limited space, too,” I said.

“Well, that’s how we’re treating it,” she said, and walked smugly out of the room without another word to me.

I. Was. Pissed.

I’m not a princess. I’m not a delicate flower. I have dealt with worse in my life. After trying, in vain, to explain the issue to a nurse, I decided to just go with it and do my best. I couldn’t take it with food if I was going to take it with water, and I couldn’t drink at least 8 ounces with it as prescribed. 

I picked the scripts up at the pharmacy, and the pharmacist lectured me to make sure to take them with plenty of fluids and on a full stomach, the familiar broken record advice about oral antibiotics. “I just had a gastric sleeve procedure,” I told him. “I can’t do any of that right now.”

His face contorted in a look of helpless sympathy. “The only thing I can say is don’t lay flat after taking it. That will make it worse,” he offered. I thanked him.

This has made me frequently nauseous for a few days, and I’ve mostly relied on protein shakes for sustenance, because it’s easier to get down and better at keeping my stomach coated. I reasoned to myself that shakes are both nutrition and much-needed fluids. It’s a little step backward. I’ve attempted fewer than 6 mini-meals in the past 6 days, and I’ve picked at them. *TMI* At first, I found myself spitting up frothy saliva (“the foamies”, a gross but not an uncommon occurrence in patients who have recently had the gastric sleeve) and dry heaving when there was no foam left to come up. I’ve been sleeping upright on the couch. It has been unpleasant, and it has greatly lowered my tolerance for unnecessary bullshit.

For the most part, I’ve done my best to put on a smile and do what needs to be done, but sometimes it isn’t easy. Part of me is just coming to terms with the million tiny repercussions of doing this strange thing to my body, all of the little things I couldn’t have anticipated when I thought so carefully about what life would be like post-op.

I’m about halfway through the medication course (also trying to get probiotics in through yet more pills, or yogurt). I’m grateful this has not dehydrated me. 

I still have no regrets about my choice to have this surgery– it is finally giving me back my life– and it’s long overdue. I’m becoming more confident, and overall, feeling better than I have in years. I just have to make peace with the fact that not every single step is going to be a leap forward. Sometimes, there will be steps back. I just have to take them in stride, too.


7 thoughts on “Small Setbacks

    1. One pill I can cut in half. The other, the capsule (Keflex) can’t be cut. I even thought about taking it out of the capsule and sprinkling it in something like unsweetened applesauce, but the nurse there informed me that the pill was encapsulated because it “can’t go in your mouth” (shrugs) and it has to dissolve in your stomach. I informed her that it’s likely not to dissolve properly in my stomach (it’s smaller and medication doesn’t quite absorb the same), so we’ll see what happens. The redness has gone down, so someone is looking out for me somewhere. It just wasn’t the medical “professionals” I entrusted with my care.


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