If I could get one wish granted on a location where I would never have to go again, it would be the hospital. The moment I walk in, my anxiety level rises. I can see the sheer panic in people's eyes waiting and wondering when they will be called, I can feel the coldness inside of the rooms and I can even hear the snaps of latex gloves being put on by doctors. However, i've had no choice but to face my fears head-on by going there and dealing with issues I have wanted to bury deep within.
Right after my consultation with the surgeon on Thursday morning, I was admitted to Hotel Dieu. We had to wait in emergency for a while to get all the papers filled out and for the nurse to inject what I would say was the most painful spot for an iv. It was placed in a very awkward spot below my wrist bone and then taped up many times so it wouldn’t fall out.
With my parents sitting beside me, I realized at that very moment, I needed to see my brother before I went in. He came to the hospital, and I gave him a hug and he kissed me on the cheek and told me everything would be okay. After having a strained relationship for a while now, I needed to find the strength to just let go and allow him to share in a fragile moment with me that I was going through. By doing this, it helped me to find closure and open up a new spot in my heart for him again.
Soon enough I was taken up to the 6th floor, and that’s when the bad news came... my operation would be delayed until the following day or longer since there were now emergency cases booked in the operating room. I was huddled in the fetal position under blankets being fed with an iv and pain meds scared out of my mind wondering what was next to come. After visiting hours were over, my family left so I could try and get some sleep and told me they would be back early the next morning and would continue to stay with me. Every night from that point on felt like the longest ever. I woke up at least 10 times it seemed to empty my bladder because of all the iv treatments and found it terribly painful to fall asleep. I dreamed of the moment when the lights would go on and I would see some friendly faces and I wouldn’t be surrounded by total darkness and the constant cries of elderly ill patients.
I was NPO (hospital term that I soon learned to mean; nothing by mouth) for the rest of Thursday and then again on Friday because of the uncertainty on when I would be in surgery. Soon enough, breakfast and lunch were gone and I was waiting on word from the surgeon. Friday night rolled around, and I was told that it looks like Saturday is now the surgery date but no exact time arranged yet. I was finally given some food but I could barely eat it because of how much pain meds were in me and just overall weakness. They had a nice array of food for other patients, but all I could manage was a bit of rice and carrots and some juice.
Saturday morning came and again, no food. It looked like I was going to be in for surgery but still no time and so they decided to put me on a liquid diet temporarily. The only thing I could eat was some creamed celery soup which warmed my insides. The surgeon came to visit me once again and told me that today would be the day where I’d be operated on, but unsure of a time so to hang in there.
She wanted to do one more scan where I had to drink at least 700 ml of this concoction of water and medication called Trebrex or something like that. I started at 8, and needed to be finished at 10 am when they’d take me down to see if anything has changed with my gallbladder. I was just about to finish it when everything expelled. I felt awful but the nurse told me that this stuff is vile to drink having an empty stomach for days like I had to, so to just try my best. It had to be done though otherwise they’d start a tube going in through my nose down my throat to make sure it stayed in. I panicked because I didn’t know if I could handle another round especially through that method. Somehow, I drank all the liquid and I was able to get the test done. I was put through a machine where they injected dye into me and said that i'll feel extreme heat for a few minute as they complete the scan. If you’ve ever put your hand in an oven with a mitt to take something out and felt that slight warming, try your entire body baked at the highest temperature.
Saturday night came and after hearing very little throughout the day, the call came from downstairs. I was prepped for surgery and was wheeled down with my parents right behind. They forgot to put me in a gown as I was still in my regular pjamas and to avoid any further delay, I took off my clothes in the bed and threw on that gown. I was determined to not have any more setbacks. The anesthetist was the loveliest man and explained everything before going inside the or. While inside, I saw several huge tv screens and various equipment lined up on the side. The assistants all introduced themselves to me and they were very friendly and reassuring. I don’t know if music was being played or not but for some reason, I was reminded me of the tv show Nip/Tuck. As soon as I said my prayers, my spirit covered me. He was with me a lot during the hospital stay but his presence was abundantly clear at that moment.
My laparoscopic cholecystectomy surgery went well with no complications. I was discharged on Sunday afternoon and prescribed Oxycodone for the pain. I wasn’t told to have a restrictive diet just to take it easy.
So far my observations have been the following:
PAIN: The first few days, I had unbearable pain. I couldn’t walk to even get to the bathroom without constant assistance. Once I took a pain killer, I would be okay temporarily and so we devised a system here that instead of waiting until the pains started, I began to take a pill about every 4 to 6 hours. So that meant some nice 3 and 4 am wakeups for my dad to help me sit up and take the meds. I also found instead of taking it with water, ginger ale was a good choice since I felt less nauseated. The combination seemed in my system to calm the pain right down so I could at least get some rest. Coming off of these has made me feel very nauseated and shaky, also a little disoriented. My entire body aches with a lot of radiating pain in the shoulder and that seems to be a common side effect from the anesthesia wearing off and post-operative pain. One thing that is a must is walking around, even a little bit to get the blood circulation flowing properly and to combat total stiffness in the joints which I felt a lot of and still do. I try to walk a small distance on our upper floor about once an hour, usually with someone beside or behind me, just so I don’t end up falling.
SLEEP: Sleeping is also a challenge since I can only sleep on one side and getting accustomed to being in a hospital bed, it has been and still is extremely painful getting in and out of bed. I find propping up two pillows to sleep helps for the elevation. Right now, I am still very tired and so I nap whenever I need to and usually go to bed early.
DIET: My diet has changed drastically for the time being since eating too much at one time makes me feel bloated and nauseated. It’s really trial and error although personally I didn’t even contemplate any fatty foods to try even though I was told there were no restrictions. I started with mainly liquids, finding unsweetened apple juice helps a lot and I’m enjoying celery soup, with a cup of water substituted for milk usually put in. I’ve had some craisins and raisins, as well as some MultiGrain Cheerios cereal for snacks. Toasted bread is okay so far with a little jam. I’ve added cooked vegetables now too like carrots for a side dish, but find corn and any green salad make me feel queasy. Potatoes are good but with nothing on them and usually mashed. Chicken is also okay but very lean and plain without any type of coating or sauce. One thing that I’ve never liked is apple sauce, I hate mushy food but my mom bought me unsweetened apple sauce to try and I’ve been eating that quite a bit and it’s delicious. I have even started to add in some fresh apple slices and raspberries and blueberries. I’m starting on pasta to see how that works.
PHYSICAL SCARS: Since I was not cut open, I am left with 4 markings, one along my belly button, one higher above and two on the right side. They aren’t grotesque as I thought they’d be, but I don’t like to look at them now. I had to remove the dressing today and it was painful since the tape and gauze were really stuck on. I went into the shower and really soaked up. One thing that is good to do is as you remove the stickiness, lift a bit of your skin with it as you pull because that eases the pain a lot, at least it did for me. The hardest ones were my belly button (it’s still very tender and I put a new bandaid on) and the two on the side.
MENTAL WELLBEING: I can’t speak for anyone else on how they may feel during or after but personally, it’s been a struggle for me. I am mentally exhausted from this experience. I do feel helpless, not being able to bathe myself, get dressed, cook or clean. I do feel strong in some ways for getting through this, but I still cry a lot because I still have November and December tests booked from my urologist that need to be tended to. I also terribly miss intimacy and closeness from my partner, Bill. I’m doing everything I can to stay positive since when I start feeling depressed, my body shuts down faster now that my immunity is lower. I’m trying to take each day as it comes, I also find that breathing deeply helps and listening to music.
So that's the scoop up to this point in time. I would have written earlier but today has been the first day where I could actually sit down at the computer for more than a half hour.
Thanks again for all the love, support and prayers. I hope that if anyone is going through a similar situation or needs reassurance, my blog may provide some helpful insight for you.