Back from the Brink – Part Two

I have good days, I also have days where I’m so weak it’s hard to hold my head up.

It’s amazing how much energy your body requires to get over surgery. Just the simple act of taking a shower makes me huff and puff like I’ve just run a 5K and I have to sit down and catch my breath before moving on to putting on my makeup and drying my hair. What used to take me 45 minutes now takes me two hours to accomplish. It’s really frustrating.

In addition, my appetite alternates between RAVENOUS and NAUSEOUS. It’s the most bizarre feeling. I’m at once both hungry and sick at the same time. Though I am eating, it takes effort and I rarely finish anything anymore. I realize that my stomach is most likely the size of a walnut right now, but just eating a bowl of cereal almost seems more than it’s worth at times.

I have pain pills, but I don’t take them very often. The pain that I feel is mainly caused by my staples. Since it’s a vertical cut and my staples are in the folds of my skin, I feel them every time I bend or sit. Sometimes they’re so tight it’s like I caught some of my skin in my zipper and it pinches – hard.

Having a BM or passing gas is also sometimes really painful. I just have to breathe through it because there is no way in hell I’m holding any of that stuff in ever again. I’m assuming this is because my intestine has been pieced back together, but I’ll be sure to ask the doctor about that when I go in to see him on January 6th to have my staples removed.

Though this has been a very difficult week, it’s also getting better. I am getting stronger and my body is slowly adjusting. I’m still glad this happened though as it means I’ve finally gotten my problem fixed and now it’s just a question of finding my new normal.

A quick word about my roommates:

I had three while I was in the hospital. The first one was a sweet, sassy older woman who had had throat surgery. She had somehow developed some sort of pocket in her throat and it prevented her from swallowing. She was extremely nice and left me alone, but once in a while she would softly call out, “You okay over there, Karen?” Her daughter kept her company most of the time, though her son came in one time. They were both teachers and I learned that the man was actually a teacher at my son’s schools. We compared names and he thought he remembered my youngest son – typical. Jazz is a talker and would most likely be the one teachers remembered. He taught freshmen science so it’s very likely he had taught my boys.

The woman and her daughter got along extremely well and they gave each other a hard time, joking around and whatnot. It was really amusing to listen to them. They reminded me a lot of my mom and her mother – they just had a comfortable and easy going relationship. It made me miss my mom.

(By the way, mom called me a lot while I was in the hospital. I really appreciated talking to her and it made me feel like a little girl whenever I would hear the concern in her voice. Talking to her helped me stay grounded and encouraged me – everything was going to be all right).

The woman was gone by the time I got back from my endoscopy. (Yes. I had a colonoscopy AND an endoscopy. Lucky me, right?)

My second roommate arrived on the day of my surgery. I’m not really sure what she was in for, but she was recovering from surgery and they wanted to observe her over night, her husband was with her and he was very protective of her. She didn’t say much, her husband did most of her communication for her, but the few times she spoke she seemed nice enough. I don’t remember much from the night after my surgery, but I do remember waking up to this woman’s husband yelling. He apologized profusely for his abruptness. He was a Vietnam Veteran and sudden noises would cause him to jerk awake and yell in reaction to his time at war. It only happened a few times that night, but it was enough to disturb me. I didn’t mind, really, it sort of kept my mind off my own troubles, at least temporarily. They left Christmas Eve day.

My third roommate arrived on the day I was due to be released from the hospital. She had had a tumor removed from her bladder and she was expected to be released the next day. She talked, non-stop, from the MOMENT she arrived. And I mean, non-stop. She recanted every bit of her surgery at least a hundred times and she spoke with a slow … southern … drawl. To top it off, she didn’t have her hearing aids in so everyone had to repeat their questions no less than four times.

She drove me absolutely mad within five minutes and I thanked God that I wouldn’t have to deal with her over night. She was a sweet lady, but extremely slow, not only in speech, but overall, though some of that might have been because she was still a bit sedated. In fact, her family popped their head around the curtain to apologize for her. “Sorry about this,” they said. “She likes to talk.”

That was the understatement of the year. In fact, she talked so much, even the nurses gently chided her and reminded her that she was sharing the room and to have a little respect for her roommate. I had to listen to her all morning until my doctor finally came in around 12:30 that day to officially release me. I was never so glad to get out of there in all my life. Another few hours and they would have had to lock me in a looney bin. Seriously.

Christmas Day – 2010

I woke up to silence. Whenever you’ve been in the hospital for a while, you notice when it’s quiet. I had my room to myself and very nearly the entire floor to myself. The place was virtually empty. The only people left were likely emergency cases like myself.

Christmas Day was uneventful for me. I walked around the floor several times (to show the nurses that I was getting around on my own well enough and because I was bored out of my mind in my room all by my lonesome), and a few patients had decorated their rooms with tiny Christmas trees and their families had brought all of their gifts up to celebrate Christmas together. I regretted, more than once, that my family hadn’t decided to go ahead and celebrate Christmas at the hospital and I felt lonely, sad and very sorry for myself.

It was not a very joyous Christmas for me or my family.

It was a quiet day – I watched TV, surfed the ‘net, pooped (no less than SIX times, thank you very much), talked to my mom, my guys, slept and tried not to be bitter about spending Christmas at the hospital. In short, I was a pathetic mess, but I tried hard not to let the nurses see how depressed I was. Remember, it was all about convincing them to let me go home.

The day after Christmas was more of the same. I walked, I forced myself to eat solid food (even though I didn’t eat much, it was enough to show the nurses that I could handle it), I watched TV, slept, pooped, surfed the ‘net and longed to go home. The doctor on call was impressed with my progress. He said that many patients who had the same sort of surgery as me took a minimum of five or six days to recover enough to go home, but considering I was doing so well, he was going to recommend I go home the next day – just four days after my surgery.

Since I was eating and drinking so well on my own, the nurses unhooked my IV and I was a free woman. They left me alone Sunday night save for one time to come in and take my vitals and I was able to get some pretty good sleep that night.

Monday morning, they allowed me to take a shower (which was SOOOOO HARD to get through but I managed) and I got dressed, packed up my stuff and impatiently waited for my doctor to finally show up around lunch time to get the process started on allowing me to go home.

Kevin came and got me and we got home around 3:30 Monday, December 27th. I took a pain pill around 6:00 that evening, had a little dinner and felt okay enough to participate in our Christmas by 8:00 that evening.

But that’s another post.

So, all in all, I was in the hospital for a little over a week. I went in on December 18th, went home on December 20th, went back on December 22nd and was finally released December 27th. Even though I wish the timing had been better on this whole episode, I’m so glad that my intestinal issues are over and we can all get back to normal.