As promised, here is my Friday back to work update!
I have worked a total of 8 hours this week. Most people work this in one day. I was happy to completed it over the course of two. Wednesday was my official first day back to work and at the end of my 4 hour shift, I felt good. There is never a dull moment at work and as predicted it was a busy day. I arrived an hour and a half early to do some chart review and catch up with co-workers.
Before surgery and after, my biggest concern for work was finding time to eat throughout my day to minimize weight loss. After working two four hour shifts, this is still my biggest challenge. Both days, I had packed a lunch pail with snacks and both days, I ended up bringing it all back home with me. Since the stricture issue is still not fully resolved (more on this later), I have to watch how much I swallow at one time. Right after I have the procedure, I am normally pretty good and can take a large bolus down; however, I am now four weeks post stretch and I can feel the dysphagia (problems swallowing) returning. This results in slower eating which becomes an efficiency issue while working. So far my greatest success has been sipping a calorie loaded smoothie throughout my shift. I have a feeling my patients may start to question how I can eat so much but remain so thin.
My core is not as strong as it should be which is understandable. Last week I tried to do a full push-up and failed miserably. Not being a person who accepts failure lightly, I then tried to do a full plank. Again, Plank 1: Rachel 0. I finally settled with push-ups on my knees as well as tricep push-ups on my knees. I was able to complete three. Brandon and I had a good laugh. It was a huge wake up call. Prior to surgery, I was able to complete two sets of twenty full push ups. Part of it is weakness and the other part of it is fear. With every hard contraction I have an odd feeling that I am going to be torn apart which is then followed am I giving myself a hernia? It’s hard to explain for those who have never had abdominal surgery before but it’s not a nice feeling but must happen to break all the adhesions formed over the past three months along my abdominal wall. I know that I will get back to where I was, it will just take time. I am impatient.
I didn’t experience any dumping after the meal as well which was another added bonus. I figured with the bread it was risky but I survived. However, I avoided the crust because it was tough to swallow. I was super full after the meal but I had a good twenty minute walk afterwards which helped with digestion. Although I cannot eat fast, the size of my new ‘stomach’ is growing and over the past week, I have been amazed about the quantity of food I am able to eat in one sitting these days. Yesterday, I was able to eat a small plate dinner plate of spaghetti (gluten free noddles) in thirty minutes. Amazing! Let the food keep coming!
Back on the stricture front, I have been having issues getting booked for my 4 week stretch. Long story short, one email and two phone calls with no word of an appointment being booked. I have called in back up and the medical assistant for my surgeon is now on it. She has been pivotal throughout my recovery process and I am so happy she is advocating on my behalf.
So in summary, week 15 has been one of my best weeks yet. I even did so well at work over the past week… I asked for more work.