#DailyLife | Blog 070 | Bariatric Surgery | Operation Day

February 17, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

My wife, Kathy, has just left the hospital room we've been spending the last two days in to have her gastric sleeve operation, at the Erdem Medical Facility, here in Istanbul, Turkey.

This morning started early, with blood pressure checks and the dubious breakfast being wheeled into the room by the support staff. A quick glimpse and I knew I wouldn't be touching it as it was exactly the same as yesterday's which was a mix of cheese, a Mediterranean bread roll, olives, cucumber, cherry tomatoes and what I've just found out is a bowl of buttermilk. Oh yeah, I forgot the little plastic container of spring water to drink and a cold hardboiled egg. The joys of Turkish breakfasts, it's no wonder there are hardly any fat people here with what they choose to eat! Plus, to add to the commotion of interruptions there's the soundtrack of a Muslim call to prayer going off too from the nearby mosque. It's a lot to take in first thing in the morning, especially when you didn't get to sleep until 6 am due to the fact I was up editing the latest episode of Kathy's Journey for YouTube.

There were a further visits from various medical professionals which made getting out of bed and into some clothes almost impossible, as no sooner had I a foot on the floor then the door opened once more, so I just sat there for nearly an hour in my t-shirt and boxers with the blanket around me like some lost hobo. Kathy's doctor arrived and having reviewed all the tests, looking at all the imagery of her scans said that she showed signs of fat deposits on the liver, however, as a result of this surgery they would almost certainly be reversed in the next few months.

Due in some part to the language barrier, there's very little warning of what's happening next so you can't really prepare yourself for the next stage. Within moments of the visits coming to an end, a nurse came in and asked for Kathy to remove her wedding ring, which of course she has difficulty with since the weight increase. They don't allow for tape to be placed over the ring so it must be removed and if you can't, they'll cut it off for you, there was a quick dash to the bathroom to use the hand-dispenser soap to loosen it and thankfully, between myself, Kathy and the nurse we got the ring off, and whoosh, she was out of here with barely any time to give her a peck goodbye.

The surgery is expected to last 45 minutes so I've time to get this blog started and maybe get a few winks in before she returns.

2 Hours Later

I managed some interrupted sleep whilst she was away to surgery as the girls were messaging asking for updates here and there and it was only then that I noticed that it had been 2 hours since she'd left. If anything had gone wrong I'd have been informed, but still... I put it down to pre-op procedures and obviously post-op observations after coming out of the anaesthetic. Not long after a few nursing staff started to appear and prepare the room for her return, it was then that they told me that the operation was over, not that it was a success or anything, just that it was over. I had to ask if it went well directly, to which they confirmed everything went as planned. These strange observations could be cultural or possibly the lack of English to expression themselves fully. To their credit, today they provided an interpreter to assist, however, he doesn't do medical terms which is a slight weakness in his skill set considering the environment he's working in. Again, we have been using the power of Google Translate to help with some of the more jargon type words, and we've managed okay. If you're considering coming here for this surgery, get the Google App loaded on your phone before you get here and practice using it as it might get you over some of the language barriers, I would advise to try and not use local dialect type words, such as 'trapped wind', this makes no sense to anyone outside of English speaking countries, we've opted for 'stomach gases' which seems to have worked, not that they'll give Kathy anything for it except to explain that this is normal, tough it out.

The other thing you have to consider when coming to Turkey is that it's not part of the EU! A route the UK is on track to emulate too, so you will not benefit from European roaming agreements on your mobile contract. Calls back to the UK are £2.00pm, that's also the same price to receive them. Texts cost 50p to send and are free to receive, data is £7.20/MB which is then capped at £51. Thankfully this hospital has some really good WiFi that we've been using to keep in touch with family and friends (I've even uploaded YouTube videos at speeds I'd expect to see at home). For additional security, I'm using a VPN provider as I want to ensure my data is secure, especially when using our online banking. On the money front, everything is just so DIRT CHEAP! Food, water, sodas, even some items of clothing are relatively cheap, albeit of local taste. I got a new beanie for roughly £3.80 and I couldn't be happier!

There's no alcohol in Istanbul, not that I've managed to find anyway and although the country is secular, you probably only see alcohol in the more tourist-centric areas to the West, Istanbul is just not one of those places, I would have to say it's predominantly Muslim in its demographic because there are a lot of headscarves being worn by the women, which sort of gives it away. One more thing I would advise on is to not drink the tap water. I'm mainly drinking bottled water (even to brush my teeth) as I've had a bad experience in the past with their domestic water supply that I don't wish to repeat.

Anyway, judging by all the tubes emanating from my wife at present, I'd say she fairly uncomfortable. Saline is going in along with antibiotics and pain relief, plus, she has a stomach drain coming from the abdomen area, as well as a catheter. She's wearing compression socks as well as additional pressurised leg contraptions which are buzzing away pumping air in to prevent her from creating a clot. She's been complaining of it being too warm and for some reason, I can't turn on the AC to reduce the temperature in the room as I did on the night we arrived, so I've just had to open a window, thankfully we're still in February, so it's cool enough here on the 5th floor.

When Kathy went through some of the online forums, a few past patients highlighted their number one major being that of 'trapped wind'. This was Kathy's first and only complaint (other than feeling too warm) too. She didn't complain about any actual surgical pain, just the discomfort of wanting to burp but nothing coming out. There have been a few urges to vomit resulting in clear liquid coming through, and we've been warned to expect a little bit of blood if there is any further vomiting due to the nature of the procedure. There's nothing they can give for this pain of trapped wind because your stomach needs a time-out. In our research, patients have complained of this pain emanating from as high up as their shoulder, in Kathy's case, it's purely abdominal in its source.

Having just had a flying visit from the Dr Ali Solmaz (Associate Professor of General Surgery) to check on Kathy, he's very happy with the results and has basically said that things will improve hour by hour in her awareness and feeling of comfort. Everything she is feeling is to be expected and that she should just relax, which, judging by the number of contraptions she's wired to, she has little choice and at the same time I've been given my evening meal, and to be honest, it doesn't look very appetising. 

Erdem Lunch Tray for guests who are here to support their patients.Hospital Lunch MenuI did in fact eat the stew looking thing, with the pasta. All else (apart from the water) went in the bin.

Okay, I take that back, as I took the photo above I thought I'd give it a taste and to be honest, it tasted better than it looked (except the soup, not touching that or that white cream stuff).

During the time I've been writing this, Kathy's pain has eased, just the discomfort of the wind continues. They've given her another anti-biotic to aid with the healing process and stave off any infections. She's sitting comfortably without much complaint, so proud of her.

I'm signing off for now as I've limited battery life left because all the power sockets are being used for the equipment that Kathy is currently wired in to, so until later, I'll bid you farewell.

Be sure to check out the other videos from Kathy's journey that has taken us to this location, if you haven't done so already.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/YVxSneHr2P

If you're interested in requesting further information from the hospital team, please click on our Information Request Form, and they will get in touch with your directly.


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