Eight days after my surgery I am finally home from the hospital. I was there for about 18 days total. According to my surgeon it was a big success. No surprises, everything in the right place, 30cm of damaged small intestine removed along with the end of my colon and my appendix, as well as the fistula abscess area badness and even my previous scar was removed and re-stitched so it heals nicer this time. She was able to do it all laparoscopically so I have two small one cm long incisions, a 2 cm incision where my old scar/fistula was, and a 5-6 cm "C" shaped incision around my belly button where most of the work was performed. Each one is closed with disolvable stitches. The middle one around my belly button is the only one that still needs a bandage, it's very puffy and swollen and still draining a bit of blood. This is where the work was performed- apparently they can stretch a small incision like this quite wide as they work, but it is now very sore. She said she went along my entire small intestine and found no other signs of the disease. yay!
Prior to the operation I was on a TPN IV to gain weight and strength for about a week and a couple days. At the start of the operation, they gave me an epidural. I was a basket case of fear! Would the epidural hurt? Would I wake up with a massive incision? Complications? The epidural was not as bad going in as I expected. I had to sit on the table/bed in the OR and hunch my back and put my head down. A nurse was holding me in place with a big bear hug to keep me from straightening up. She had quite a comforting bosom for hugging lol. I tried to study her name tag to not focus on what was going on with my exposed spine. He sanitized the area, gave some small shots of freezing, then I just felt pressure as the epidural was put in. *shudder* It is a very long metal flexible wire. Then they taped it all the way up my back. I then laid down, and they starting giving me the 'good stuff'. My last thoughts were of my family and friends then out like a light.
I next woke up in the OR groggy and totally numb and was told that it was a success. My entire abdomen felt like someone else's body- utterly numb. I was confused and thirsty. I kept gasping for air. After about an hour and 45 minutes in the recovery room I was wheeled back to my room, my parents and boyfriend meeting me in the elevator. I don't remember much of the next few hours except asking repeatedly where my boyfriend was despite him being right beside me. I started coming around more in the evening and remember discovering the catheter that was now my new friend for the next few days (ug) and the oxygen tube in my nose, IV bags going into my PICC line (a more permanent type of IV line), epidural line coming out my back, and slowly creeping presence of pain. Whew I was a mess.
For the rest of that day and the next I was allowed nothing at all to eat or drink. Only a sponge on a stick that I could wet and wipe on my lips and tongue. I cheated and took little sips out of the sponge, but god I was sooooo thirsty. I remember my Mom preventing me from taking too much.
By far the most poignant memory is the first night after surgery. My epidural line turned out to not be in quite the right place. As a result it was numbing my left side and chest, but barely at all for my actual painful areas. You cannot have much in the way of extra pain meds when on an epidural without permission from the anesthesiologist, who had gone home by then. By 1am I was in agony. By 3 am I had passed my previous 10 out of 10 pain level by a mile and reached new levels of pain. I was nearly hyperventilating and gasping for breath. I couldn't even breathe enough to cry. My poor nurses were beside themselves. They gave me a low shot of Dilaudid which brought my 10+ pain down to a 9.5+ for only half an hour but was only allowed it every 2 hours. The poor nurses were not allowed to give me anything else, but there was no anesthesiologist on call who could authorize it. As a result, I went though an entire night of true torture. By the morning, if someone had said- give me all your money and secrets and I'll take away your pain.... I would not have hesitated. *shudder*. By 8 am or so my surgeon came in and took one look at my gasping, pale face and said "This girl has no pain control!" (clinically put but a sorry understatement) and swept out of the room.
She tracked down an anesthesiologist in short order who swept in with a shot of something heavenly into my epidural line and then rolled me onto my side (groan) and adjusted the epidural by pulling it out a few inches, lowering the position of the numbing effect. A few hours later and a shot of morphine on top of it all and I was finally able to put coherent thoughts together and then fall asleep a bit. Fortunately for other people this 'incident' with the badly placed epidural is not common... I don't want to freak out other people before their own surgeries. But whew, worst night of my whole entire life. Times 100.
For the next week I was slowly introduced to a liquid diet, and dealing with considerable but non torturous levels of pain, and helped to hobble to the washroom lugging my IV pole with me. Eventually the catheter was removed and the epidural line. After a day or two I didn't need the oxygen line anymore, and they unhooked my IV nutrition line after about 4 days. I was brought onto solid food but could only pick at it, and drink down Ensure drinks. Food seemed a battle, I was 'full' after a few bites, and crampy and nauseous. But I made myself eat what I could. The last 2 days I was taken off morphine shots and reduced to 2 percocets every 4 hours.
Yesterday I was discharged and I already feel the difference. I'm more rested, down to IBUProphen every 8 hours and 1 perc as needed. Eating is much easier now, I'm sticking to easy things like soups and Mac&Cheese (ate that for the first time in years! Woot!), and going to the washroom is much less arduous. Very gassy and lots of big D, but I feel things improving each day. I can now walk across the apartment with only a bit of a hunch and hobble, and can sit upright for long periods. woot!
So.... that's my whole story, whether you wanted it or not. All in all I'm still worn out and very sore, but getting better each day. Time to go eat some cream of potatoe soup my mom made for me. Mmmm. Calories! :)