Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Finally!!! Part Three

The next few days were full of surprises for me.  All this time I’d thought that I was supposed to be short of breath after strolling around the couch ten times!  Wrong!  I hadn’t been able to lay on my sides to sleep at night and my back was beginning to scream about that but suddenly side sleeping was not only possible but the best way to sleep.  Once again I was lulled into thinking I was on the mend.

Another fever started on a Friday and I battled it off and on all weekend.  I finally tearfully agreed that the doctor must be called and he pronounced that it must be a PIC line infection and I needed to make another trip to the hospital.  The hospital confirmed an infection after drawing several gallons of my blood.  I was sent off to have my PIC line removed.  Greg was upset thinking that he’d made me sick.  Removing the PIC was a piece of cake but it turned out that putting a new one in was not going to be so easy.  Damn those roly poly veins of mine.  Doctor decided a central line would be safer and easier to install so off I went for that procedure.  The nurses put in a regular IV so that they could sedate me but it turns out that installing a central line hurts!  I guess I could be over stating this since I was also quite sick with infection and that tends to exaggerate pain perception but OW!

I’m hoping that was that last dramatic episode and that I’m on the mend.  I’m trying to cut back on pain pills now and find that between the pain and the lack of narcotics I get a little weepy.  It doesn’t help that I try to overdo things and work too hard at getting better instead of letting it come naturally but now we have more good news!  Greg’s surgery has been approved!!  I have to get better to take care of him.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Finally!!! Part Two


In the last installation of our never-ending story we left poor, sick Lor in a hospital bed filled with toxic fluid and a particular hostility for Doctors who don’t explain the whole story and present a cohesive plan.

It seemed like the longest night until a nurse told me that it seemed I was scheduled for a procedure to place a drain in my gut next morning.  More drugs and I slept.  I’m thinking that at this point we may have been going a little overboard on the drugs.  I don’t really remember the drain placing procedure although I’ve been told I erupted like Old Faithful and filled three drain bags quite quickly.  I do remember a nurse showing us the drain and telling us that we needn’t worry about positioning as this drain would remove the liquid regardless of gravity.

   More hearsay as I don’t recall many things that happened in those days at the hospital:  things that went into my stomach were not playing ball and going through this new pouch hole into the intestine.  No, stomach contents wanted to stay in the new pouch and the new pouch was still paralyzed and unable to help move things along with any muscle contractions or other GI functions.  We had to heal stomach pouch and get it working again, so back to clear liquids only and a new little buddy-a PIC line to use for taking in nutrition!  WOOT!  I get night feedings just like Mikey used to have when he had his GI tube! 

Several days of observation and getting pain meds straightened out and I was released again to go home.  This time I went home with a new drain, a new pump and a nurse who would come visit me several times a week.

Just a little off topic ramble here.  Remember the old days when people went into the hospital and friends and neighbors and relatives all sent small gifts, flowers, books, etc to the patient?  Remember paying obligatory visits to hospital patients to “cheer them up”?  I can easily recall finding out that Mr. Johnson was taking care of his three children alone while Mrs. Johnson was in the hospital so the whole community would go into cooking mode and drop off casseroles and cookies and at Mr. Johnson’s house so that he wouldn’t have to worry about a thing.  Why, even Mr. Johnson’s mother would open up his house and the neighbors would be in there cleaning……  Okay, back to our regularly scheduled blog with that mournful commentary on times past.

So I was home….again but still not feeling well.  My little walks around the couch for exercise were going well but I was still running out of breath by the time I’d hit my goal for the day.  Always tired, now I started to feel sick. 

A few days after I returned home I was running a temperature.  Those memories of the Staph infection in my back that almost killed me rushed back and now we were terrified and depressed.  The doctor told me to take Tylenol for the fever but that if the fever went over 101 or kept up for more than a few days I’d be back in the hospital.

As I sat on the edge of the bed shivering off a fever on my last day before I was going to have to call the doctor and tell him we couldn’t keep the fever under control, I was milking the line to the new drain.  It had been several days since there had been much coming out of the bag but I’d hoped that meant the stomach was waking up and doing it’s job.  But now my old nursing training came back and everything was gravity flow.  We even learned how to set up surgical suction using a big bottle and gravity.  So I unhooked the bag from it’s pin on my bra and dropped the bag unceremoniously to the floor.  Almost immediately the bag began to fill.  After three trips to the bathroom to dump this nasty stuff, it slowed and I slept. 

to be continued:

Finally!!! Part One

Are you ready for the big medical mystery, adventure tale that is my life?  For any readers who are checking this blog out please remember that my experiences will not be the same as yours.  I had to have a much earlier surgery that had gone very bad, revised and repaired.  This has created many complications and frequent scares for us this past month.

The approval and subsequent scheduling of an actual surgery date set off a flurry of emotions.  Depression and mourning:  Really?  I’m never going to eat a piece of bread again?  How long will I have to wait to taste peanuts or diet pepsi again?  Then there was a sense of “live for the day”:  knowing I wouldn’t eat them for a long time if ever, I binged on my favorite Friday’s Bacon and Cheddar potato skin chips and Butter Toffee peanuts until I almost burst.  Of course, right behind that came the euphoria that finally, finally we were heading towards a real solution to my many stomach and weight problems.   I would dream about putting on skinny jeans and riding horses.  Fear followed:  what if it doesn’t work, what if I die on the table, what if I die from the many complications that this particular surgery often entails?

I checked in December 21st in the afternoon.  Cutting and gutting me took several hours so I woke to a dark sky and the kind of pain that eats you whole.  After a few punches on the pump that provided pain meds I was a little more comfortable and even managed to walk and pee on my own to the delight and awe of the nurses. 

Over the course of the next few days I developed some killer back pain but everything else seemed to be healing well.  I walked several times a day and began to talk about going home whenever I wasn’t whining about the back pain and trying to find enough pain meds to alleviate said pain.

The doctor let me go on a Saturday, a few days earlier than the original plan.  My last words to him as I made my exit were that I hoped the pill form of Dilaudid would help cut some of the back pain.

The first couple of days at home seemed to go pretty well though I was uncomfortable with back pain.  Greg lobbed the ball back at the doctor when he tried to make my post-op appointment and asked if they could send a wheel-chair as he couldn’t see how I would manage to walk all the way to the office.  The doctor was concerned but I was still complaining of BACK pain and his job and been to fix my stomach.  Surely the two were unrelated.

A couple of days later I could not find one place to rest that was comfortable.  No amount of narcotics would calm the screaming neurons so this time when Greg called the doctor and insisted we go to the emergency room I decided to acquiesce.

That night, overcome with a sense of failure, angry at my body’s betrayal and scared that this was the beginning of something bad, I probably wasn’t the nicest patient.  Drinking contrast dye seemed like an act of torture.  Nice IV drugs made the CAT scan go smoothly but then a doctor came to my room, said “Looks like you’ve got a huge pocket of liquid sitting inside and we’ll probably have to do more surgery.”  “Good night.”  Yeah, because knowing there’s some toxic fluid that’s killing you inside is always a cure for insomnia. 

to be continued: