Saturday, April 7, 2012

Week One - Post Surgery

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
I wake in a fog...damn noises kept me up all night. The IV machine releases the medication incrementally and the machine makes this loud clicking noise every minute, the alarms at the nurse's station are constant, the pressurized leg cuffs also made sleeping a distant possibility, the disruptions with all the people coming in to check me for the upteenth time...healing seems remote.

I hurt. They give me more Dilaudid. I keep looking at the bag...disbelief. There is no escaping this...this is not some bad dream. This is my new reality...and I don't like it one bit.

My stomach is distended, and feels full and uncomfortable like before the ER visit and I'm scared. Scared that something is going wrong. Kay, my nurse, arrives and tells me it's just from the CO2 to puff my belly during surgery, etc. She listens to my bowels and informs me they are still 'asleep' and probably won't make any sounds for another 2 days...average. Kay tells me if I walk it might help my tummy and I can take the leg cuffs off. WOOHOO!

I attempt to sit up... and realize that my abs have had the workout of a century and it's a futile attempt. I need my mom to help lift my torso into a sitting position. I sit on the bed's edge and don't really know where to begin. I assess my body. I can feel everything...just not sure I can make it all work. I can scarcely stand. I'm hunched over, holding my stomach...My mom has my IV pole, and the urine bag hooked onto that...and we "walk". Really...this is a shuffle around the short track of the nurse's station.

I get back into bed, barely. I can't lift my torso, I can't shift it... I basically use my arms to drag my butt back onto the bed. My mom has to lift my legs and place them on the bed for me. I just want to cry...but I realize that I don't have to keep those cuffs on my legs and I look for one ray of light at the far end of the tunnel.. Baby steps of hope.

Kay comes back in and starts to put the cuffs back on... WAIT!! I protest and remind her of our deal... "Oh, no... I just meant you could take them off to walk and if you wanted to sit in the chair I'd leave them off." WHAAAAAAAAAT!??? I'm so pissed...and yet, I almost laugh at the idea of even sitting in a chair. She insists on the cuffs being on to stave off blood clots...and, of course, I relent. I've lost all control.

A bit later, I look at my mom sitting in by my bed... She quietly looks at me, and I begin to cry.

A few hours later, I begin to feel gurgling gas sounds. Kay comes it, doubtful that my bowels are waking up... and is ASTOUNDED that they are making lots of noises. I'm not kidding with the word 'astounded' - she's telling all the other nurses and the staff doctor...Dr. Luperte... she also comes in and can't believe my bowels are apparently 'very awake'. Yay.

Everyone is excited for me...more comments about how healthy I am but I feel like shit. I can barely move. I can barely sleep. I pee into a tube. I shit into a bag. My 'shuffle walk' exhausted me. I have 'belly farts' randomly and we cheer. This is what my life has come down to... This is what survival looks like, I suppose. Cheering for things like gas and anticipating a bowel movement. Fan-freakin'-tastic.


Jim comes by and we inform him of my stellar progress. I just look at him with a rueful smile...otherwise I will just start crying again. He stays for almost an hour...I love having him near me. He makes me smile, his touch, his presence... just gives me hope. He does, eventually, have to leave for work. I worry that he's so tired, but he looks great and tells me he will come back after work....and I know he will.

Two more shuffle walks during the day...just to get the damn cuffs off my legs...More gas fever...low blood pressure. More pain meds all day, and out... Mom showers. I hear some comments about how my heartrate drops into the 40s when I'm on the Dilaudid... I don't care...I can rest.

Dr. Simon and his minions visit me late in the afternoon/evening sometime. He is thrilled that I already have bowel sounds. Tells me how smart we were in doing the surgery - that I had a 'significant performation' and that he took about 12 inches out. He tells me I have to stay on water and ice chips for another day. He looks at my stoma and the other scars and tells me it looks great. I just want to cry when he says that, I think to myself, "Well... I USED to look great."

I enjoy my dinner of water and ice-chips... my mouth is SO dry all the time.

Mom drifts off to sleep...I cry for a bit and fall to sleep for a brief drug induced rest before someone else comes in at 2am to take more blood or whatever.

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

I haven't spoken to my kids... I miss them. Doug has been informed and told me he would keep the kids, no problem... but I don't hear from them and I'm sad.

Morning walk...not as much of a shuffle today. And I go down to the second nurse's station. It's a small victory....but a victory nonetheless. I realize that this is how it's going to go... small marker's just ahead of me... work to get to that marker. Check it off... Look for the next marker.

More bowel sounds and gas...more cheers. Check.

Since my Sigmoid Colon was removed...Mom and I decide to name my stoma "Siglinda" or "Siggy" for short.

Siggy decides to make her presence known of her own accord... It's horrifying to me. Just talking with Jim and my mom in the morning...belly farts. HOW IN THE HECK AM I GOING TO SEE CLIENTS LIKE THIS? I feel the gripping claws of panic start to squeeze my heart, I inhale... try to calm my nerves and realize that somehow... this will be resolved.

We hope to see Bridgette today, the Ostomy Lady. She's going to educate me re: my stoma, teach me how to clean the bag, change the bag...basic Ostomy education. My new life. We are told she's been out of town and likely won't come in today, though. I'm bummed... I really want out of the hospital and I'm afraid they're going to want to discharge me before I get the education - but then I realize they probably can't do that. Then, I get scared I'm going to stay days just waiting for this woman to arrive. Sigh.

I'm off the Dilaudid. Only Morphine today. Check. My IV is really hurting - they flush it out and it burns badly. They say if it's still bothering me later in the evening, they'll try to find another line. They try to stick me three more times to find another vein but can't... then decide to wait to talk to Dr. Simon about it... maybe I'll be off the IVs....HOPE!

Dr. Simon comes in and sees how well I'm doing and tells them to take the catheter out. Check!!! I'm told I have 8 hours to pee on my own. I pee HUGE amounts within the hour. Check.... more cheers. He tells the staff to take me off the IVs and just give me everything orally. NO MORE IVs!! Check! He also tells me I can eat a full fluid diet...soup, pudding, jello... I am OVERJOYED!! Check!!

Dinner feels like such a luxury... who knew Cream of Chicken Soup would EVER taste this good!

Three more walks through the entire day... Check. My fourth walk of the day is in the evening, with Jim. They've actually unhooked me from my IV... I walk unencumbered!! Check! We stroll all the way to the elevators and back to the end of the hall, sit on the bench and talk. It feels good.

No Morphine all day, either! Check. Just a bit of Tylenol as I run a low grade fever. My mom and Jim conspire against me to use icepacks and cold compresses on my face. I don't like it.

I swing back and forth emotionally...between hope and utter despair. It's a roller coaster. I wonder if I will ever feel and look normal again. I realize I'm fairly vain... I really was enjoying how my body felt and looked after all those years of struggling with my weight, etc. I wonder... "Will I ever feel that way about my body again?"

Jim looks wiped out... he takes off to go home and get some more sleep. Mom settles in, amongst the usual cacophony of sounds that even through my earplugs I can hear... I cry...and I do fall asleep.

Friday, March 30th, 2012
Siggy produces poop!!'s pretty loose... but it's poop. More cheers. Check! Morning walk...Dr. Simon and his silent minions come in as I'm finishing up...He is thrilled with my progress. I still feel a bit like death warmed over... but every day, every walk, every small victory... is progress. I'll take it.

Sweat like a banchee through the night. Of course, both Jim and my mom take credit for breaking the fever with the cold compresses. Okay. Still... no more fever... another Check!

Today we meet Bridgette and she is lovely! She takes all the time we need...helps me understand all the different supplies and processes. My mind is swimming. I just can't believe that this is what I need to deal with...these are the things I'm figuring out now instead of getting my kids to school, what to cook for dinner and help with division facts.

She takes us into the bathroom so remove all the equipment and show me how to redo it all. As she takes the bag off... I look down at my side, with my intestine slightly protruding out of the hole in my side... I look in the mirror and I'm shocked at what my body looks like... the telemetry wires, the IVs, the blood draw pricks, my laparascopic holes all pinched and glued up... and my guts sticking out... I look down as she is wiping my stoma... and we're trying to fit a new disc around it... and I begin to pass out. Twinkling lights, lightheadedness turning to outright dizziness, my hearing going dull. I say, "I need to sit down" and sit on the toilet.

I lean back... it's not getting any better. Bridgette says I look really pale. I tell my mom... "I need to lay down." She helps me back onto the bed. I begin to feel slightly more present in the room. I begin to cry. Later, my mom told me my lips went gray.

Bridgette finishes attaching a new bag to me. I'm just floored by the whole process. This just can NOT be real. HOW is this real? I've lost 85 pounds, I run, I eat healthier than I ever have before... How???

I realize... it doesn't matter HOW. It just is... and this is my life. I can either deal with it, or wither away avoiding it and deny it. If I've learned one thing about myself in my life thus far, it's that I'm honest with myself...and I can do hard things. I am a survivor; and beyond surviving, I know how to look for the benefit, blessing and beauty of the world around me.

The beauty of today... is that I get to go home. I've talked with my kids, my mom is by my side, Jim is by my side and I have friends who are willing to help.

About 5:00ish, I think... mom and I drive to Jim's. I'm OUT!!

I don't even shower. I'm just exhausted and grateful to be home, out of the hospital. I CAN'T WAIT TO SLEEP WITHOUT THE SYMPHONY!! :) Jim holding me feels divine...knowing he and my mom are with me through it all provides profound comfort.

I cry a bit... and fall asleep in a normal bed.

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