Back to the land of the semi-conscious

Tuesday, June 14, 2011
I never want to experience abdominal surgery ever again.  Holy shit, what a crappy week this has been.  As you know from my previous post, I was feeling fairly upbeat about the whole recovery situation and would be back on my feet in no time. What a joke.

When last I left you, I was on day one of the recovery.  Well, that quickly went downhill.  The Tylenol 3's with codeine that they had given me for pain did little to help alleviate the intense pain I was getting from the gas they blew up my stomach with.  The only thing it was really doing was making me sick.  I vomitted on and off for about 24 hours before mom called Health Link and spoke to a nurse who recommended cutting back or stopping them altogether.  Problem solved.  In no time at all I was once again able to keep water, popsicles, gingerale, etc in my stomach.  However, the pain from the gas?  It only got worse.

And worse.

And much much worse.

By Friday, Mom had had enough of my middle of the night pain attacks, the crying, and making her massage my shoulders.  We called my surgeon's office.  Unfortunately, he was out of town so we spoke with my family physician instead.  He recommended walking to help with the gas and was worried that pain wasn't getting better.  His advice  Get myself to the hospital and get rechecked.  So, off went.  Off to the emergency room.

Side note:  If you want some great, free entertainment, visit your local urban emergency room on a Friday night. 

While I couldn't get in right away, the admitting staff were wonderful.  One nurse kept checking on me every 1/2 hour or so, and walking me up and down the hallways.  She was caring and compassionate, and quite funny, and did the best she could to keep my mind off of things without the use of drugs.  They finally got through all the waiting ambulances and took me in next, about 2 hours later.  As my angel of nursing slowly crawled along towards the beds with me, she pushed me up against the wall with a quick "We're going to let these guys go through first".  Without a moment to figure out what was going on,  I was hugging the wall and watching as two EMTs and two Police Officers wheeled in a woman who was handcuffed to a wheelchair and screaming her head off past me and into the treatment area.  I'll let that go, I'd prefer not to have been run over or kicked in the ass by my fellow patient.

Into a bed and an IV was strung up an hour after that.  Thank god because by that point the pain was constant.  Enter Amjit, the best nurse I've ever had.  Perhaps my overall impression of her is jaded by the fact that she brought me painkillers but throughout the night she joked with mom and I, reassured us that things will be fine, and was generally a much-needed source of support.  Originally from Hampton, London, her lovely accent helped soothe me to sleep -- or maybe it was the drugs.  Whatever, I loved being under her care.  After about 7 hours, Dr. P stopped in and let me know that an ultrasound had been scheduled for the next morning at 1030.  In hindsight, I would have preferred to stay where I was but the decision was made (likely because there were so many people waiting) to send me home and come back the next morning.  I was told if the pain got too bad though, I should definately come back.  Heh heh heh... little did we know.

Let's get back to the screaming lady.  She continued on and off throughout my time in the emergency room - it was both entertaining and comforting at the same time.  Not sure how to really explain it but when I'd wake up and it was quiet, it felt weird.  Then she'd start screaming at the medical staff  and all was right with the world again.  In addition to her, there was Peggy in the bed beside me.  She was nonverbal, nonresponsive, and having a terrible time.  Fortunately for her, she had the most compassionate and dedicated caregiver ever.  Calm and understanding, the woman was truly an angel.  It amazes me how people are able to be so giving of themselves.  I hope she wins the lottery.  Then there was Mr. DiNapoli, an elderly Italian gentleman who had suffered a severe asthma attack or had emphasema.  Unfortunately, his English was not great and everytime someone would ask him a question, he'd answer with a cheerful "Yes" and then say "what?".  His son and grandson showed up shortly after my drugs kicked in so the communication went a bit smoother.  Finally, the lady on the other side of me had a visitor at one point who had a voice exactly like Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs.  I told mom that if i heard the words "lotion" or "basket", I would get up and walk out regardless of how much pain I was in.

Anyways, they sent me home with some percocet.  I took one before bed.  Climbed under the covers and nodded off.  Two hours later I awoke in intense pain.  I stumbled into the bathroom, and swallowed another one.  Half hour later, I ripped open the bottle and had another.  Not recommended and really not useful.  Back to the hospital we went.  A mere three hours since I had been discharged I was awaiting a bed once more.  There were people in the waiting room who had arrived just when we were leaving the first time.  Thankfully I was taken in within an hour and set up in my own little room.  It took them a lot longer to get an IV or any medication but thankfully as long as I lay still nothing hurt...much.  By the time the nurse came to drug me up once more, I could see that Mom had had enough.  We sent her home and told her to rest before coming back after the ultrasound.  To say she was grateful for not having to hang out, is a bit of an understatement.  She deserved the rest.

And I needed one too.  Thankfully the 5mg of morphine this lovely nurse pumped into my arm helped a great deal.  I didn't sleep deeply at all but I didn't care.  I was happy for the relief and the tingling sensation throughout my body was intriguing. The icing on the cake?  The screaming lady was still there.

The ultrasound went fine - nothing abnormal - which meant that there was nothing wrong with me.  Keep your giggles to yourself please...  Nothing wrong following the surgery, ok?  No buildup of fluid which was their biggest concern and just a small blood clot near the first incision which was to be expected.  So, it is a pain management issue.  I saw my third doctor in two days who wrote me a prescription for oxycodone and sent me home.  I took the medication for just over 24 hours and had to stop.  I felt disassociated, loopy, wonky, completely stoned.  Yes, it helped with the pain but I could not take the side effects of such a powerful narcotic. 

Thankfully the pain seems to have subsided from the gas.  I'm starting to feel a minor bit of discomfort from the incisions and the removal of my gallbladder but nothing that's not managable.  I've gotten a couple of mild gas pains and my shoulders seem to have stopped hurting.  It helped that I've felt gas moving through my intestines and exiting my body (i.e. I'm farting) and I've had a couple of half decent bowel movements.  TMI?  Meh.

Still weak, tired, and generally run down.  That'll teach me to underestimate my recovery time.  Dang.  Now I understand why all my friends and family laughed at me when I said I figured I'd be up and around in a week...  Ah well.

Muchas gracias to the fantastic staff (yet again) at the Royal Alexandria Hospital; to my sister in law and Big Brother for repeated rides to/from the hospital and picking up groceries; and the biggest Yeehaw to my fantabulous mother who has been a super hero care giver, changing my clothes, doing laundry, feeding me, responding quickly from a deep sleep when I ring my "come here now" bell.  She's sacrificed work, sleep, and the love of the kittehs for me and I couldn't me more grateful.

8 comments:

Kasia said...

My poor, poor London... I thought I'd read this post before asking you how you are. From the sounds of it, things are looking "up" so that's good. I am thinking of you and willing you back to good health so we can finally meet for a lunch at the leg. grounds, before I head off for France in a few short weeks. Love ya!

mister anchovy said...

Yikes! Hopefully you are now well on the road to recovery.

Heather said...

Oh, dear - not a good time for you at all. But it sounds like you're turning a corner on this. Stay home the rest of the week, okay? Don't go rushing back to work.

Red said...

What a blimmin' nightmare! Mind you, "day surgeries" are never as smooth and straightforward as your health professionals would like us to believe. David was supposed to be on his feet and at home by the evening of his hernia op, and he ended up spending the night in hospital, high on morphine. I know hospitals need to treat you and street you, but surgery is surgery, and perhaps recovery time shouldn't be underestimated.

Still, onwards and upwards for you. The worst is surely over!

Milla said...

Well, Karen, once again I laughed my head off while reading your reportage -I know, not very comforting for you, but you are truly a funny girl.

I am very happy to read that you found such great staff at the hospital; from my experience, this doesn't always happen.

Anway, I am sending you a little thing to thank you for all the entertainment your surgery has provided me with ;-)

Wandering Coyote said...

Oh, dear Christ, what a nightmare. I'm so sorry you went through, this my friend. I hope you've seen the worst of it and that it'll be smooth sailing from here.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

You get a bell? Lucky! Okay, it's a bit of a stretch to say it was all worth it for a "fetch me this" bell, but still... Keep getting better, kiddo.

nbrsspot.blogspot.com said...

OH MY. I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time recovering.Its never a quick recovery esp if they have to open you up for anything. Hope its faster now that you have had a few days.

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