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My name is Mindy and I am a wife and mother of 2 boys, Ages 20 and 12. I recently started on the path of becoming a nurse something i have wanted to do since i was 11 !

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Monday, June 3, 2013

Another terrible story about the Lap Band : Lap band complications a year out

The following is a recount of my friend Schatzi's lap band nightmare story in my opinion . 
It is nothing short of a miracle that she is still alive. All caused by the band .. I can't stress enough to people to give this surgery a second or third thought . 
Please read :
This is Schatzi's stomach , showing damage the band did.
The black portion is the portion that her lap band killed off. That's right it KILLED a portion of her stomach ! 

I had the lap band placed on May 1, 2007. By July 2008, I developed a  hiatal hernia. From Friday until Monday morning, I couldn't hold anything down. Was even having problems holding any fluids down. I contacted my surgeons office first thing Monday morning, they had me come straight in. I lived 3 hours away so headed there immediately. When I got there they took all the fluid out of my band, had me drink a small amount of water to see if I would be able to keep it down. They then had me drink a dye while they did an x-ray, or scan, or whatever it was. He showed me the hernia above the band. At the band site, the stomach had a "bubble" right above it that wasn't allowing the food to go anywhere. It would hit that spot and cause the vomiting.I asked at that point if we could just get the band taken out. I was down 80 pounds and only had about 40 pounds to go. He told me no, insurance companies didn't like taking the band out and that it would completely heal on it's own and that we could even add fluid within 2-4 weeks.

Well, I NEVER had any more fluid put in. I had constant problems after that with vomiting, even without any fluid. I could take a bite of yogurt and throw up. Then there were other days when I could eat just about anything. There was NO normal. I could NOT eat out in public unless I knew where all the restrooms were. Never failed, take one bite, need to vomit. I continued to follow the rules with portions, no drinking with your meal, eat proteins first, etc... We all know the rules. BUT.. I still had problems about 95% of the time.

Around year 3, I started having major problems with protein. My body would not digest protein anymore. I became allergic to fish (my throat would literally close up if I ate fish - still have this allergy and has gotten worse). I could not digest chicken, any way I tried to eat chicken I would end up vomiting, and it got to be very violent vomiting. I tried eggs, they lasted longer than the chicken, however, started where I could not eat them without vomiting. Same goes with beans, cottage cheese, pork (even bacon), then to cheese. I started eating slider foods just to have energy. Mashed potatoes became my comfort food because there were several times where that is all I could hold down.

Fast forward...

December 12, 2011 - I had bought a house for my mom and I. My boyfriend and I were painting and hanging mini blinds. I lifted my arm to hang a mini blind and ended up on the floor. What I felt was undescribeable. Almost felt like someone stabbing me, but it was near my left shoulder blade, deep. My boyfriend wanted to take me to hospital right then, but I was stubborn and asked him to just take me to his house and let me rest (I thought I may have pulled a muscle and just wanted to relax). Took turns with ice/heat thinking that would help. Slept that night in the recliner. Next day, couldn't eat anything without vomiting. Tried soda crackers (big mistake), tried drinking juice (another big mistake). Water it was - or wasn't by the end of the day. Being stubborn, I took pain pills trying to get to feel better for 2 days before I allowed him to take me to the ER.

December 14, 2011 - After 2 days of the worst pain in my life. I let my boyfriend take me to the ER (did I say I was very stubborn?) They put an IV in me with fluids and Demerol. I told them what happened, that it felt as if someone was stabbing me and now worked it's way to my left shoulder to the point where I couldn't lift my arm. I told them what had happened in 2008 when I had the hernia and couldn't hold down any fluids and I thought it might be something with the band. They did a bunch of bloodwork and an MRI and came back and told me that it didn't show anything wrong, that I probably just pulled a muscle. They gave me a prescription for a pain pill and sent me home.

December 15, 2011 - In and out of consciousness throughout the night with strong pain killers. By about noon, I couldn't even swallow. I could no longer even take a pain pill because I couldn't swallow. I tried sucking on ice and would vomit. The doctors told me I just had a pulled muscle, that I had to let it work itself out. I felt like I was being a baby. Around midnight I told my boyfriend to go to bed, that I didn't want to try to crawl up the stairs so I would just sleep in the recliner again (this was my 3rd day in this recliner moving only to go to the bathroom). He challenged my stubborness and told me that if I wasn't going to the hospital, that he wasn't moving from the other recliner. I let him take me back to the hospital. They took more bloodwork, gave me a shot of Demerol in the butt, would not even put an IV in because they did not believe I was in the pain I told them I was in.
***NOTE: I tend to have lower blood pressure and it rarely raises, even when in severe pain. I also have (or had) an extremely high pain tolerance.
They had me sign my discharge papers (second night in a row), told me they couldn't do anything for me, that I was going to have to toughen up and find a general practioner that week and get a check up. I had gone through 4 of their vomit bags while sitting in the ER, kept splashing water at my face and in my mouth cause I felt like I was going to pass out, told the doctor "if you send me home, you might as well shoot me cause there is something horribly wrong". Still, they were going to release me as soon as my bloodwork came back. All of a sudden, I heard them down the hall saying things about, my white blood cells skyrocketing, over double what it had been the night before, we need to run more tests, something wrong with that white blood count.
The doctor came back into my room, told me there was a problem with my white blood count and they needed to do another MRI and since I could clearly not hold anything down, they were going to have to inject dye in me.

About 45 minutes after the MRI was taken, the doctor comes into my room, we need to get you to Memorial Hospital in Springfield (about an hour away), which ambulance service do you want? I told them my boyfriend can take me, he is right beside me this entire time. They told me, "No, you have to go by ambulance."
Next thing I know, ambulance crew is getting there, putting me into the back of the ambulance and off we go. I really don't remember much about the ride there. Honestly I still have memory loss from that morning. It is now the morning of the 16th.

December 16, 2011 - Arrive by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in Springfield. The surgeon comes into my room and tells me that they are going to have to perform emergency surgery, he believes that my band has slipped. I told him that's fine, take it out, I am sick of it. He proceeded to ask me if I realize this is a matter of life and death. That is about when it hit me how serious this all was. All I could say at that point was "no." He told me that looking at the MRI he is suspecting some damage and that they need to operate immediately. I remember him telling me that he hated fixing other doctors mistakes and that they should have removed that band the minute I had that hernia. He then told me that he would do what he could, but he couldn't guarantee that I would even make it off the table. Best would be they take the lapband out. Worst I wouldn't make it. He said he wouldn't know until he got in how bad it would be so I told him to do what he needed to try to fix me.

He left me alone with my boyfriend (I hadn't even called my mom or daughters to let them know I was going to hospital). They came in, wheeled me out to surgery. The thoughts that run through ones mind at that point... I can still remember as if yesterday instead of last year.

About 8 hours later I woke up in ICU. My boyfriend, my mom, both my daughters, my daughters boyfriend were all there... Uh oh, it must have been bad for everyone to be there when I woke up. Ok, I had tubes out of places I didn't know tubes could be... I had a nasogastric tube, 2 IVs, a central line, something on my forehead, a feeding (J) tube, a catheter, a drain line, that thing they put on your finger to check your pulse oxygen level, not sure what all else...

I was in ICU for the next 2-1/2 days, then was removed to intermediate care for a day and a half. I was very determined to get out of the hospital so was up trying to walk whenever I could. I was in the hospital for a total of a week.

During my week stay, I was not allowed anything by mouth until the second to last day, not even water. Honestly, my first request was coffee... it had to be decaf, but hey, it was coffee :)
They had to make sure my stomach was going to handle liquids. No food for three weeks :( and only 2 more days to Christmas. They told me they were going to try to release me that night since I was doing so well. I was able to drink 2 ounces of protein drink at a time and hold it down so they were going to let me go home without using the feeding tube. They had to leave the feeding tube in, however, they finally were able to remove the IV, the drain line (that almost killed me.... ouch), the nurse forgot to remove a stitch and pulled the line out, oh yes, I screamed for the first time during this entire incident. Luckily I still had the morphine drip at that time so the other nurse threw the button at me and tells me to push.. LOL

After finally removing all the tubes (except the feeding tube - had to keep that in for 2 months), they were letting me go home at 8 pm the night before Christmas Eve...

I do have memory loss during my entire ordeal, but what I do remember, I remember well. I remember doctors from other areas coming in to see how I was doing because my surgeon literally 'brought me back from death'.  I remember those darn breathing treatments, let me tell you those are more important than you realize at the time.

After going home...
It literally took over 2 months before I could actually lie down to sleep. I had to sleep sitting up because it felt like my stomach was ripping apart when I laid down. I had to clean my 'wounds' several times each day and still managed to get an infection at the J-tube site. I could not have a bath until after they removed the J-tube, then until the hole closed which was about another month. Showers were almost next to impossible with this bag hanging from my stomach, so a LOT of sponge baths. Try having grandchildren over and not be able to pick them up, couldn't carry anything over 10 pounds for 2+ months.

I had the J-tube removed at the end of February. By March was feeling that there was something else wrong with me. I couldn't put my cup of coffee up to my mouth with my right arm. Okay, tried the ice and heat trick again, found a GP, went there. I have been going to the doctor 2-4 times a month to try to manage pain. He says that he believes my cells are attacking each other. He says that I have Rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, and still trying to figure out why I have dumping as badly as I do. Almost anything I eat goes straight through me, sometimes I have to run to the restroom before I am even done eating, yet, I have gained over 50 pounds in the past year.Sorry this is soooo long, but I have had some requests on what happened and figured it would be easier here...Thank you for taking the time

In the past 5 months.... 
I have had x-rays due to extreme swelling of right foot and ankle. Doctors thought it was broken, nope, say it looks like a sprain. Seems somehow, tendon had slight tear and honestly, didn't do anything to it but
 stand up.
I have had my upper and lower GI, I definitely have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is completely out of control. My stress makes it worse, which my health makes my stress worse (endless cycle). Doctor putting me on an anti-spasmodic medicine.
I have Rheumatoid arthritis which is hard to treat due to the damage my stomach is in. I can never have an NSAID or aspirin again...
I have fibromyalgia (thinking cause they can't figure out what else is wrong with me.. LOL)
Right now my doctor is working with Mayo Clinic to see if I can get there for studies. Seems I have symptoms of Lupus, CFS, and who knows what else.
Weight is not quite at the highest but can't seem to lose anything no matter what I do, of course the doctor says it is because of the meds that they have me on to manage the pain.
Just wanted to update on what has been going on...
the doctor firmly believes that what I am going through now is due to the "trauma" my body went through when the band slipped. It had cut off "ALL" the blood supply to my stomach for over 72 hours before my emergency surgery. I guess if the hadn't found it when they did, I could have died had it been another 12 hours. He says that now my cells are attacking each other. We were hoping it would have gotten better by now, but doesn't seem to be Just something new every day...
My only hope is that with my story, someone else won't have to go through the same thing...
Oh, and as for eating normal.... Not sure I will ever be able to eat normal again. Some days it seems like I can eat, then like the last 2 weeks, I will take 2-3 bites and feel miserable. There are a lot of foods that really agitate the IBS, so normality for me is a daily challenge
Since my last post, just 3 weeks ago, I have been diagnosed with TMJ (Temporal Mandibular Joint Disorder). My doctor is working to try to get me into Mayo Clinic as he has exhausted all avenues and not sure what else he can do

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