Sunday, September 9, 2012

My surgery and recovery so far

Well Monday, August 27th, I had surgery to remove the seriously troubled gall bladder.  They waited till my liver and pancreas levels were within acceptable (normal as could be for me) ranges.  My pancreas levels were so high at one point that they were surprise, no wait, shocked that I wasn't in any pain!  The nurses were even surprised and told me that they had never in their "X" amount of years there they had never seen a number so high.  Hey, it's me, I don't do anything small!  I am amazon woman who delivers 11lb babies with no pain killer!  But talk about gall bladder pain and I will say that I'd rather be in labor vs that again!  Oh my goodness that hurts like...well worse than labor for me! 

Monday morning, the nurses came and took some more blood to check levels again.  (they did this all 6 days I was in the hospital)  I was just grateful that I didn't have to get another heparin shot.  My legs are still recovering from those shots.  But they had me on bed rest and didn't want to risk blood clots.  :-/  I was actually told by my nurses to get up and walk that morning due to not having the heparin shot in the past 12 hours.  My parents brought 2 of our boys and my niece.  We already had our daughter with us in the hospital.  She stayed there the entire 6 days with me.  Darren (my wonderful husband) stayed the entire time in the hospital so the baby could stay with me.  Hospital rules.  Gotta love them.

My mom, and oldest son and I walked the halls of the ward where I was staying.  It was so good to have my parents, husband and children there with me.  It was also to let my boys see me as I came out of surgery ok.  The boys were rather nervous of me having surgery as they had never been away from me for so long, nor known me to have any operations.  Only childbirth has separated me from my children and only for a day or 2 at the most.  The surgery happened on day 5 of my stay.

Darren went with me to the OR prep room.  I had nursed Cordelia 3 times before this so she would be fed and I had some bottles of milk that a good friend of mine generously donated for Cordelia.  Darren did his best to keep things light for me.  I was a NERVOUS wreck.  All my paperwork for surgery and anesthesia (the part I was freaking out about the most) was signed and in order.  They made sure I didn't have anything that wasn't necessary on.  :(  I am a modest person and it was VERY strange/awkward to be in that position.  Those of you who have had surgery know what I am talking about.

The surgeon came in and told us that she was going to do an x-ray to see if there were any more gall stones in my bile duct and if there were I would have to do an ERCP (another procedure that involved anesthesia that I wasn't too keen on).  Then the nurses came in and told me that it was time to go and for Darren to go to the waiting room.  I said goodbye and told him I would see him soon.

Away to the restricted area for surgery.  My mom had told me previously to avoid OR 8.  If you don't know the reference, get the movie "Coma" with Michael Douglas.  ;)  I told her I would do my best.  Luckily I was in OR 15.  I guess that has some significance for me.  Our wedding anniversary on the 15th, 2 children were born on the 15th.  I'll take it!

Both surgeons met me and asked if I was ready.  I said "yes".  Then we went into the OR.  Man is it COLD there!  Made me glad I was still able to wear the non-slip socks they give you in the hospital. (well I am sure they actually charge you $200 for them, but hey well worth it, right?)  So I scooted over to the operating table (again, VERY COLD) and they put a mask over my face and told me to take deep breaths.  I remember taking 3 and then nothing. 

What happened next was all in an instant but it seemed longer.  I was at a river sitting.  Then a man in a white robe came and stood next to me.  He had long, wavy hair and beautiful eyes.  He held out his hand to help me stand.  I took it and stood with Him as we walked by the river.  I knew who it was as soon as I saw Him.  Jesus, the Son of God had come to take me back to those I loved and who needed me.  He told me that everything was ok and that it was time for me to wake up and go home.  It was the message I had needed.  He knew how anxious I had been about the surgery and anesthesia.  He was the peace I needed.  The scene reminded me of the 23rd Psalm.  Peaceful Serenity in the presence of my Lord and Savior.

Then I remember the nurses calling my name and telling me to wake up.  They had these things on my legs to squeeze them and keep the blood flowing and less risk of blood clots.  And I still had my oh so comfy socks on.  Those are wonderful things!  I tried to rub my eyes and they made me stop.  Said that I wouldn't know if I was hurting them as I was rubbing them.  I stopped and let them adjust over the next 30-45 minutes as I waited for transport.  I was glad that the intubation hadn't made my throat as sore as they had said that it might.  I was also glad that I didn't have any side effects of the anesthesia. 

FINALLY, transport came to get me and took me up to my room.  My family was anxiously waiting.  They went to the family room as I got set up.  They actually make you move from one bed to the other.  Can we say OUCHIES!  No amount of anesthesia prepares you to move after surgery...none...it's like moving after having a baby...well I can't say that...that's just 1 spot that hurts...this was 4 separate spots and yeow!  It was miserable.  Then they got me settled with blankets and my family came to see me.  I was so glad to see my boys.  They were glad to see mama out of surgery ok.  My parents, niece and boys stayed for about 10 minutes then went home.  Then Cordelia wanted to nurse.  Again, I say oh my goodness!  Nothing prepares you for that pain. 

Then the gas from the surgery was making it's way out.  Oh dude...that's not fun.  But I was glad my parents got me voice lessons that taught me to use my diaphragm and I was able to use that to expel a lot of the gas.  The nurses were great.  They were so helpful after surgery (and actually were during my entire stay).  Meds for pain are very necessary after surgery.  :)

Well I nursed Cordelia 2 times after surgery.  Each time I moved, I was oh so very careful of how I moved.  It hurt.  A lot!  I didn't get much sleep as it hurt to sleep sitting up and if I were to lie down completely, the use of my ab muscles to sit up was horribly painful.  So I slept while at an angle.  Still not much sleep.  The nurses came in around 6 to draw blood and then the one surgeon came in to see how I was doing.  I said tired.  He said they would look at my numbers and if all was good, I could have a low-fat diet that day.  This made me very happy!  I hadn't had solid food in 5 days!  I had also been watching LOTS of food shows and smelling my husbands food as he would eat.  It helped.

Then the nurse came in around 9 and said I was cleared for food!  YAY!!!  I was so happy!  So I tried to order...the phones were out!  AHHH!!!  Then they came back on.  YAY!  I ordered eggs, an english muffin with butter, strawberries and juice.  HEAVEN!  I also ate a late lunch.  Again, heavenly!  Around 5pm the main surgeon came in to talk.  She told me that all went well.  My gall bladder was attached to my liver a bit more than normal.  But they were able to get it.  She then said that I could go home that day or I could stay one more night.  I opted to go home. 

I was discharged Tuesday the 28th.  A little over 24 hours after surgery.  It was hard to move but it felt great to be able to get home.  We stopped and got my prescriptions, some dinner and headed home.  Then I took a shower!  That was the best. 

The next few days were heck with the pain.  My parents left Thursday and Darren worked from home.  Picking up the baby was hard as she is the heaviest thing I am allowed to carry.  The pain started to subside but I was still sleeping on my back.  This was hard for the side/stomach sleeper. 

About 8 days after surgery I was finally able to sleep on my side and my liver didn't feel like it had been punched anymore.  It has been very hard for me as I am a very independent person.  But I have been blessed with some AWESOME friends and family.  They have taken care of our children, provided meals and driven long distances to be here and help us through this crazy ordeal.

I go for my follow-up on Tuesday.   I am hoping to be able to resume exercising soon.  The most I have done is walked in the house, up and down stairs and gone to some stores for things we needed.  I want to walk with Leslie as soon as I can.  And then get back to working out with Bob.  I have also been adjusting to what I am eating.  It seems that certain greasy/fatty foods don't mess with me, but some do...  It is very random. 

I lost a little over 10lbs while in the hospital.  Not exactly the way I wanted to lose it, but hey, I will take it.  It gives me the boost I need to keep up with what I am working toward.  I still have my goals and plan on working toward them.  It may be a little bit slower for now, but I will be still be going for the gold.  My ultimate goal is to get to run a 5k by the time my youngest is 1 year old.  That gives me 8 months to get ready for it.  ;) 

I am so grateful for the nurses, doctors, surgeons I had while in the hospital.  Overall, it was a good experience.  Just not something I want to go through again. 


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