Sunday, April 14, 2013

You Thought You Were Going Home When? Ha Ha Ha!

When I woke up next, I was in my room.  The surgery had been over for hours at that point. My aunt was there, and there was a nurse fussing around by the foot of my bed.  She was affixing some footie things on my feet, like these pneumatic devices that kept pumping full of air and then decompressing.  She explained they were to prevent clots.  Apparently I had these on during surgery, too, but of course I didn't remember.

My aunt told me that Dr. C had been in to see her, to tell her everything had gone very well with no complications, and that she had called my sister, who in turn had texted some people and posted on my Facebook wall so that friends who were waiting for an update would have one.

I couldn't see anything.  My stomach hurt.  My belly felt like it had been stabbed. And I wanted my phone.

"Can I have my purse?" 

My aunt handed me my purse and I retrieved what I needed.  She then left me and promised she'd be back in a while.  I was so tired, and it hurt to move.  I tried updating my status on my phone but I was seeing funny, so I gave up and decided I'd try again later.

I was hooked up to an IV, an oxygen cannula, and these pneumatic anti-clot footie things - I wasn't going anywhere.  I was also DYING of thirst.  I asked when I could have some water, and they told me I had to wait a little while longer.  I had a saline drip, so I knew I wouldn't dehydrate, but my mouth..."cotton mouth" is not even close.  This was like "fiberglass filling mouth."

The nurse came in and put a stack of 1-ounce dosing cups on the tray table, along with a styrofoam cup of tap water.  She told me I could have water, but nothing else.  I asked when I could have some juice or jello, and she smiled.  "You'll have that tomorrow, after you go for your upper GI."

I grumbled and sipped the water, which was not doing the trick.  I was so thirsty!  After a few sips of water, though, my stomach felt funny.  I felt super nauseous, and reached for the kidney bowl.  This concerned the nurse, and she said, "I'm going to put an anti-nausea drug into your IV."  I felt like shit.  I asked to be unhooked from my various tubes and contraptions, and wheeled my pole into the bathroom.  I lifted my gown to look at my incisions, and they were gross, but not nearly as grotesque as I'd imagined.  My belly was an off-yellow color from the antiseptic shmear,  and there were a bunch of white tape "X"s.  There were five incisions altogether, and two big bruises where they'd shot me with anti-clotting agents.  I looked a little beat up, but not like I'd been gutted.  I stared at them for a second, and then looked at my face in the mirror.

"You really did this, didn't you?"

I started to cry.

The rest of the night was kind of a blur, because I was drugged to the eyeballs.  I remember that at midnight the very un-personable nurse, James, took my water away and told me I wasn't allowed to drink anything after midnight because I had to go for my upper GI in the morning.  I remember every hour being awakened by a nurse or a nurse's aide to have my blood pressure taken, or my IV adjusted, or my temperature taken, and it was annoying because I just wanted to sleep.  And on Thursday morning I woke up more parched than ever.  They were making me pee into some kind of device in the toilet so they could monitor my urine output/color/whatever, and it was not an easy target for someone who could barely walk, let alone position herself strategically on a toilet seat.

I was totally miserable, and I couldn't wait to go home.  My sister was coming to get me later that day, and I just wanted to see her and go home to my own bed.

Around 9:00 that morning Tammy the nurse came in and told me they'd ordered the transport (haha, there's that silly word again) to take me to radiation for my GI, and as long as everything was okay with the GI and they found no leaks, I could start on clear liquids, and if everything went okay with those I could probably go home the next day.


The next day?  I thought I was going home today!

Tammy laughed.  "You didn't really think you were going home today, did you?"

"Well...yeah.  They told me I'd be in the hospital one night."

She smiled again and told me that they usually keep people two nights unless they recover like rock stars, and I, unfortunately, was not doing so.  The nausea concerned them for a number of reasons (vomiting isn't really something you want to be doing because of the potential damage to the surgery site, dehydration, etc), and the fact that I couldn't seem to get a handle on the pain was an issue as well.

The transport came to get me and put me in a wheelchair.  To show that I was in reasonably good spirits in spite of the nausea, I held my IV pole in front of me like a steering wheel and proclaimed that I was driving this joint.  "Vvvrrrroooommm!!!" I yelled as we sailed down the hall.  "Beep-Beep!" I shouted to the nurses in the hall, pressing on my imaginary horn.  The transport thought it was hilarious (he was laughing, anyhow) and went faster and faster to humor me.  When we got to my spot in the waiting room and he backed me in, I pulled out the old "beep beep beep" shtick as well. "I've heard that a million times, but it never seems to get old," he said.

"Thanks," I told him.  "Don't forget to tip your bartender." 

The upper GI was weird.  I had to drink barium liquid, and as awful as it tasted I was so goddamn thirsty that I was actually kind of happy to drink it.  They watched the liquid go through my system, and I watched along with them. This was the first glimpse of my new digestive system, and I was a little freaked out.  I've never actually seen my own digestive system before, but I've seen plenty of diagrams and enough Pepto-Bismol commercials to know what a stomach looks like.  And mine...didn't look like that.  The barium went down my esophagus, then went kind of straight down into my small intestine.  Almost in a straight line.  Weird.

Dr. C came to see me a little later after I'd returned to my room and told me all was well with my new tummy; there were no leaks and I could proceed with the clear liquid diet.  "And as long as you do okay with that, we can probably send you home tomorrow."

Tomorrow.  Damn it.  I wanted to go home TODAY.

My disappointment was suspended for just a minute, however, as the food service guy arrived with my tray.  My first post-op meal!  Apple juice and lemon ice! 

This is the face of someone who's just spent 30 some-odd hours in a hospital and is now being given the go-ahead to have something other than water for the first time in nearly two days.  Thanks to Aunt Margaret for holding up the lemon ice.


Unfortunately it didn't sit very well and I ended up curled up around my kidney bowl again, but it sure was good going down.

Later on they brought me my first "full meal" of clear liquids - chicken consommé (Really.  Not broth, consommé! Which really just tasted like instant chicken bullion, but whatever), decaf hot tea, orange jello, and apple juice.  A couple sips of the consommé (I like that word; any word where I get to exaggerate my terrible faux French accent is a good word) and a sip of tea, and my belly felt all warm and fuzzy.  Maybe this wasn't so bad after all.  I sipped at the apple juice and I felt okay.  A little queasy, but I could do this.  A little while later I decided to try a spoonful of jello.  Bad idea.  It came right back up, and I knew then it wasn't a good idea for me to go home that day.

Bad jello!  And consommé!

I conceded and lay back, accepting the fact that I'd be stuck there one more night.  Oh well.

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