Sunday, August 7, 2011

Days 2 and 3...

I am literally sitting at my computer right now, trying to recall days two and three of my post op.  Its crazy because it all kind of just blurs together.  I remember waking up early in the morning on the second day, excited to go home, not excited about the "swallow" test that I've been hearing awful things about.  I am also still very very tired.
I doze off and on for a lot of the morning until they ask me if I can walk down to the xray room...ummm..that's a negative, I don't think I could stand there the whole time.  I'm really glad I didn't either, there were two other people that had also had surgery, both were also in their wheelchairs.  I was still dozing off in my wheelchair, and I was the last one to go in for my swallow test.  The first girl came out.  She was miserable, she told me how awful the stuff tasted that you have swallow.  She honestly seems happy, and excited, and almost bubbly to me.  I was just tired, and wanted to crawl back into my hospital bed and go back to sleep.  I just wanted to get this test over with, and move on with my life.  She seemed way too happy to have just had surgery on her tummy, lol.  The next girl went in.  She was literally miserable looking.  I was seeing two ends of the spectrum here.  I wondered where I fell.  Poor thing, looked like she was in horrendous pain, she was pale, didn't say a word, and seemed like she was in a complete daze.
Finally, the second girl was wheeled out and I thought it was my turn.  Little did I know, that I would have to wait.  Thank goodness, for this wheelchair.  Not sure I could have stood for this long, otherwise.  After waiting for what seemed like forever, but was probably only 10 minutes.  I went into this dark room, it had xray machines, buzzing noises, and people going in and out.  It was a little overwhelming to say the least.  Someone came by to tell me they were waiting on another person.  I didn't really care, I just really wanted to get this stuff over with.  So I waited some more.  I would guesstimate another 5-10 minutes.  Finally, this shorter man comes into the room, tells me that I have to drink something called Barium Sulfate, and stand at their stand up xray machine.  They give me this cup of what looks like milk, and by this time I am so thirsty from not drinking anything, I want to drink it all, but am very apprehensive...I've heard the stories.  The cup they gave me had a straw.  In all of the literature, after having any type of surgery on your stomach, it tells you NOT to drink out of a straw, so in my drugged state, I was extremely worried about this.  I half mumbled that I cannot drink out of a straw, and that these people should know this.  The three people that were in the room, assured me that it was okay for this ONE time.  Okay, I think, you are the dr.'s.  So, I take a huge gulp of air...and this foreign material, and immediately, the first sensation is pain.  I can feel the air in my stomach, and it doesn't feel good at all.  Apparently, everything looks good on my xray though, because they don't say anything.  The taste is pretty awful.  Probably not the worst thing I've ever had, but you'd think that they would find a way to make something like this taste just a little bit better, right?!  In my foggy mind, I keep telling myself that its better than nothing, I just want some water, already!  It also crossed my mind, that its not nearly as bad as that drink they made me drink when I was pregnant with the girls and getting tested for gestational diabetes.  That was pretty awful too, although tasted much more appetizing than this.  There really is nothing I can use to describe it, as I've blocked the actual taste out of my mind, but it isn't pleasant.
I sat there, while they were using their xray machine to look all throughout my tummy.  I could see the screen which was kind of neat.  I saw my spine, and black patches that I assumed, and assumed correctly were just air bubbles from the surgery.  I could really not see anything more than that though.  I didn't understand exactly what they were looking for, or what they could see.  I probably would have asked questions, had I not been in the state that I was in.  Finally, they let me sit back in my wheel chair.  I requested some water to rinse my mouth out.  The lady made sure I just rinsed and didn't swallow, but that was all I wanted.  To get that taste out of my mouth, and finally have a little water coating my parched tongue.
Afterwards, I was wheeled back out to the waiting area, which in all actuality was just a hallway.  By this point, I was so drained from everything going on, that I could hardly focus on anything.  The time went quickly, someone came to get me, and took me back up to my room.  I crawled into bed, and slept.
The next time I woke up, I saw my surgeon coming into the room.  He's decked out in his blue scrubs, and asking me how I'm feeling.  He proceeds to tell me that my swallow test looked great, I'm healing very well, my surgery went off without a hitch, and did I have any questions.  Of course, I asked about the drain sticking out of me, and whether it was supposed to hurt so much.  He wrote it off, said that I would get used to it.  So I just figured I was being a baby, and yes, I would get used to it.  Then lunch came, and I was able to finally get some water.  The water was not filtered, so I could taste what seems like dirt particles, I really didn't care though, I was finally getting some water.  I sipped and sipped, then was told by my nurse that I needed to try to eat something.  They had brought me some jello, grits, cranberry juice, and vegetable broth.  I tried the grits.  It didn't work for me.  I could taste the butter and sugar that they had put into them.  My teensy bite, was maybe 1/4 tsp.  I put the lid back on, and went on to the next thing.  I tried the vegetable broth.  Now here was something I could actually drink/eat.  It felt great going down, the warmth, and the taste was good too.  I didn't know it at the time, but I wasn't supposed to actually be eating anything.  They had brought me this lunch, and I was supposed to keep drinking my water instead.  OOPS.  I drank maybe a 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth, then continued with my water.  I was completely sated.  My nurse came in, realized that I had eaten, and wasn't happy.  She wanted to finish what they called the "water challenge."  The gist of the water challenge is that you need to drink 3 oz of water in a 20 minute time period.  You are supposed to do this for 2 hours straight...then you can eat.  I believe I was told this, but in my fogged up mind, I didn't know.  I thought I was done with this challenge when they brought me food items.  I didn't think they would bring me anything unless I was finished.  Either way, it wasn't a huge deal.  I took a break from my "eating," and continued with the water challenge.  Finished that, and proceeded to try the rest of the items on my tray.  The vegetable broth, by this time, had gotten cold, so I didn't want that anymore.  I moved onto the jello, took a small bite, and it just seemed too sweet to me.  It was still sugar free, but it didn't sit well.  I was feeling a little shaky though.  So I thought, well maybe I just need some sugar.  I opened the cranberry juice, took a very small sip, and immediately felt ill.  I was one hour from discharge.  I didn't want to hinder my situation and not be able to go home.  My friend was on her way to come pick me up, and then BAM...nausea, acompanied with dry heaving, and then throwing up what little I had in my stomach at the time.  I immediately pressed the nurse button, somehow managed to say I'm sick in between the heeves.  My nurse comes in, and quickly administers some anti nauseating meds to me.  It was extremely painful to throw up.  It felt like someone was ripping my stomach, it burned, oh and I peed on myself.  Lovely, huh?
I cleaned myself off, felt a bit better, and also got some more pain meds for the pain that had occurred, although I wasn't feeling much pain anymore, I thought it was better to have more pain meds, just in case something like that happened again.  All of the medications, knocked me out for another half hour or so.  My friend arrived to come get me.  My nurse came back in with discharge paperwork, and I thought I was in the clear.  Unfortunately, someone tattled.  My surgeon decided that it would be best to keep me in the hospital overnight for observation, so they cancelled my discharge paperwork.  I was already dressed, and ready to go.  I had the original discharge paperwork, we were about to walk out of the door, when the dr. came in to tell me my news.
I accepted my fate, asked my friend to watch my girls one more night, and apologized profusely.  I was very disappointed, but also a little relieved, I wanted to be safe, and not sorry, what if I had literally ripped open my stomach.  Its better to be in the hospital in case complications arose than be in my own home, where I have nobody to take care of me, or to take me to the hospital.  So I put my gown back on, asked the nurse if they wanted to put the IV back in me, and slipped into my dreamland state again.  This time, since I wasn't IV'ed anymore, I was about to try the pain meds orally for the first time.  What a joy....
Soon, after my friend left, another nurse came into the room, and told me I needed to take my pain medications.  He had two little packets that looked more like butter packets than medication, and opened one, and put it into a medicine cup.  He opened the other and poured about half into the other medicine cup.  He told me to drink it down, kind of like a shot.  Ohhhhhhh...I can do this, I thought.  Shots are easy, HA!
Lortab isn't fun to take as a shot.  You don't want to gather around a table and take shots of this one.  Its a mixture of hydrocodone and acetaminaphen.  Its a strong medication, so it does help, it just doesn't taste great when taken orally.  I gagged, and immediate feared that I was going to get sick again, so I swallowed it down more, and pressed on.  Immediately, I felt this burning sensation seemingly coating my tiny little stomach, and heat went into my extremities.  I asked about this, the nurse told me that it was normal.  Phew!  Don't want anymore things going wrong.  It knocked me out, and the rest of the night I slept, with the occasional person coming into my room, to either put a cuff around my arm, or give me another bout of meds.  Overall, I wasn't too phased.  Although, I did get a neighbor that day.  From what I gathered, she was having either gallstones or kidney stones, and had to have emergency surgery.  Other than the enormous amount of people checking on her, and me, my sleep was fairly uninterrupted.  I awoke the next morning to the nurse asking me how I was feeling and if I could please go to the restroom because they didn't like it when patients went 8 hours without peeing...umm...hello...I was SLEEPING!
I peed for them.  They gave me a standing ovation, and I crawled back in bed, waiting to see what today had in store for me.  My surgeon came up to visit with me, assured me that I would finally be released this morning if I wanted to, and he would start working on that right now.  It was 8 am.  I texted my friend, and let her know that I could finally go home.  She was sleeping though, and I really didn't want to wake her up, until I knew when exactly I was going home.  About a half hour later, the nurse comes in with my discharge paperwork, and tells me that my friend can pick up my meds downstairs with my ID.  I nodded off, waiting for a text from my friend.  Finally, around 9:30, the nurse comes in to give me another Heparin shot.  At this point, I called my friend, I really didn't want to wake her up, but I also didn't want anymore medications or anything happening.  Luckily she answered and was on her way.  I got myself dressed, realized that I didn't have tshirt, so called my friend to request a tshirt from my overnight bag, that I had given her the day before when I thought I was going home, and a hair band.
My friend arrived with our kids, and we all waited while she went down to the pharmacy to pick up my new medications.  The surgeon said that if I really didn't like the Lortab, he could give me tylenol 3, and it would taste better.  I was all for the tasting better part.  After waiting for what seemed forever, we finally got the medications, and let me tell you, the pharmacy in that hospital should work on their efficiency of that process.
The nurse asked me, if I needed to be wheel chaired out.  I said she decided to bring me a wheelchair.  My friend went to get my car, and drove it around.  I got into my lovely clean van, and we drove back to my house.  I entered, and basically melted into my recliner.  Much more comfortable than the hospital bed, and my van.  My friend and I chatted while we waited for her friend to come get her, and then I requested peace and quiet from my kids and dozed off and on for the rest of the night/day.  Finally, I was home.  Finally, I felt like I was making a huge step towards my healing process.  I could relax, and figure this out.  I wouldn't have to be interrupted by nurses, or techs, I could just be.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Surgery day...

Ugh...someone turn that alarm OFF!  I roll over and realize that its my phone, so I turn it off...lay there awake, then it hits me.  Today is the day.  Wow.  Do I really want to do this?  Yes, yes, I do, I've thought about it.  I've mulled it over.  This is a good choice I'm making for myself...right?  No time right now, I have to get in the shower.
The pre-op nurse gave me some surgical soap to rub all over my belly, and it doesn't smell like roses that's for sure.  So I wash myself as best as I can, this will be the last time that I see my belly like it is.  I'm not sad though, it has other "battle wounds" from having kids, or just other things in my life.  Honestly, whats another scar or two?
I have to remember, no lotions (my skin is so dry), no perfumes, no deodorant...(really, do they want me to smell???), no jewelry, and no makeup.  Eh...who is going to see me that I really care whether I'm wearing makeup or not?  Its okay.  I don't know whether I should brush my teeth.  I'm not supposed to have anything from midnight the night before.  No water, no food, nada.  So I pack up my bag, making sure my toothbrush and toothpaste are packed right along with it.  I really don't feel like offending someone with my smells, but this is what they told me to do, and this is what I'm doing.
Finally, I wake up my kids, and we head over to a dear friends house, who is going to be watching my girls, and my van for the next day and a half.  She drives to me the hospital, I grab my overnight bag, and head up to the third floor surgical processing.  I'm super early.  I'm not even supposed to check in until 10:30, but it is what it is, and I arrive around 9 instead.  I check in with one of the nurses, who really doesn't seem surprised that I'm there so early, and then I go to the waiting room.  I didn't want to get there super early, but my friend has plans, I didn't...other than sleeping, but it doesn't matter.  She's doing me a HUGE favor, so the least I can do is not interrupt her plans.
The waiting room is stuffy.  Filled with typical hospital chairs.  Not terribly comfortable.  Definitely not the worst chairs either.  I sit down with my overnight bag over my stomach.  I feel like the people around me are probably wondering why I'm in the waiting room.  I really don't want a whole bunch of people to know.   So I get out my book and start reading.  I also start dozing off.  Apparently, two nights with hardly any sleep will do that to a person.  I'm reading off and on.  Wondering if I'm doing the right thing...I can still back out right?  Dozing off here and there.  Finally, my phone rings.  Its my best friend in Arizona.  She helps take my mind off of everything, and in the midst of our conversation, I hear a "Mrs. Hirsch," being called.  I tell my friend that I have to go they are calling me the nerves really kick in.  Wow!
I go with her to a small room where they have a bed with a purple blanket.  I am loving that its purple and not some horrendous puke green or something.  Purple is soothing.  I get led to a bathroom where I'm told to take off everything I have on, put on some sexy hospital undies, and a humongo hospital pad (as I had started my period two days prior), and this awful tan brown gown with designs that maybe were supposed to be some sort of country western theme?!  After doing all of this, going to the restroom, and realizing that I have NO time to call anyone to tell them I'm going in, I go onto my phone and voice it on facebook.  Everyone can see it that asked me to call them, so that's where I'm going.  All I say, is that I'm going in, see ya on the other side.  Still really positive.  Still very apprehensive in my head.
I crawl into the bed, and get wheeled down the elevator into another room.  They are trying to get an IV in me.  The first one hurts like heck, so they take it out and do another one..ahhh that's so much better.  I get a gorgeous silver hat to wear, but I must say, its not the worst thing I've worn today, so I'm okay with it.  I have a multitude of dr.'s, nurses, and trainee's coming in and out of my little section, telling me things, asking me questions, and trying to talk to me.  At this point, I am a nervous wreck.  I haven't had food, or water.  I'm super thirsty, I just want to get this over with, or maybe I just want to run out of the hospital and go home and never think about this again.  NO, I tell myself, I've been wanting this, this was MY decision.  I will be able to be healthier and be around longer.  It may be drastic, but I don't want to leave my kids, or my husband too early, and right now I'm on my way....
They give me a shot of an anti anxiety drug.  It totally chills me, I'm just going with the flow now, dude!  This is awesome.  I can definitely do this.  They ask me move from one bed to another.  Cool-io...I got this.  So I move.  The second bed isn't all that comfortable, but I don't really care.  Whatever drug they gave me, its fantastic.  They are telling me to do things, I'm following orders, then nothingness.  I seem to remember them strapping me down.  I remember trying to fight off wonderland.  Its a useless fight.  Sleep, and deep sleep comes.  I don't even remember them giving me the drug or telling me that they were going to.

I wake up, and there is a pretty girl asking me questions, my name and date of birth.  Really?  You want me to remember this right now.  I'm sure I just mumbled something hardly incomprehensible, but she took it and rolled with it.  I don't remember much else she said to me, I just remember her sitting at a computer asking me questions while I was trying really hard to keep my eyes open.  Its a futile attempt, but I manage somehow.  I remember saying that it hurt to breath.  I felt like a rubber band was wrapped all the way around my lungs, and ribcage, and I wanted to get in a deep breath, and couldn't.  My stomach muscles felt like I'd done a bunch of sit-ups, but otherwise were still in tact.  I even wondered briefly if they were able to do the surgery.
Next thing I know, I'm being wheeled to my room, where another nurse is asking me questions, and giving me drugs.  Telling me that I need to press a button for pain.  I hardly pressed that button for the first few hours.  I was knocked out basically the whole entire first night.  I don't know what time I was done.  I don't know when I was able to finally call someone and tell them that I was indeed okay.  I tried to text people and it doesn't come out looks more like gibberish.  I really have to focus on things.  My throat is extremely dry from a tube going down it.  I sound like a frog right now.  I'm exhausted and just want the rest.  I manage to write something else on my facebook and konk out once more.
I am woken up multiple times, for blood pressure, temperature, and pulse rate.  I wake up when my nurse changes shifts and introduces me to the new person.  I have to wake up when the respiratory person comes to put something on my finger to figure out how much oxygen I'm getting.  I also have to wake up to get more doses of heparin.  Finally, I feel a little better, and not so exhausted.  I tell the nurse that I want to get walking.  They've been telling me all of this time that the walking will help get the gas out of my stomach, that they had to use to inflate my stomach.  I can feel the gas bubbles gurgling in my belly.  I feel incredibly bloated, and the fast I can bounce back, the better.
I go for my first walk, burping, and hiccuping the whole time, and for my first, its actually quite impressive.  I walk down and back, and down another hallway and back.  My nurse is happy for me.  I'm not extremely exhausted and just want to go to bed.  So after getting my IV back in place, my leg "braces" back on, my catheter back on the side of my bed, and a sheet on me, I'm out.  I do get woken up a few more times for things here and there.  I get to talk to my nurse about how he likes his job.  I'm groggy, but still polite.  He seems like a nice guy, and he's having to deal with some majorly gross stuff of mine, so why not be polite, right?  I walked once more that night, just to knock me out.  The only thing that hurts is where my drain is.  I have a drain coming out of my belly right now.  Its a long clear tube that is attached to something that looks like a very soft clear grenade.  Its supposed to help with drainage, and I'm sure it does.  Its kind of gross looking, but its supposed to be helping me.  I have a sharp stabbing pain when I move a certain way, that's when another hit of the medicine button happens.  My back is cramping from being on it all day.  I so desperately want to move a certain way, and relieve some of the pain.  I would love to lay on my side right now, but its quite painful because of the drain right now.  So I just bear through it, and make it to the next day....