Sorry it's taken this long for me to get an update out. Let's just say it's been a difficult and exhausting process to get myself back to "normal" since my surgery on 7/10. This week I can safely say that I am feeling good. The last 4 weeks though have been hard.
Surgery itself went well, according to the surgeons. I was at the hospital Monday-Wednesday, released late Wednesday afternoon. I don't think I was taken care of very well in the hospital and that caused problems for me when I got home. At the hospital I was rarely given the opportunity to walk around the halls. During the daytime, my assigned nurse only checked up on me when I called him to use the bathroom and he would complain constantly about being so busy, so busy, so busy. The printed message on my room's wall said daytime nurses should check on patients every hour. He'd drop off pain meds and change my IV bag every 5 hours. He wouldn't let me walk the halls by myself and was too busy to walk with me. The nighttime nurses were better and I was able to walk a few times before bedtime. Trust me, I have complained to the hospital about this daytime nurse and his lack of assistance for me.
Because I wasn't able to get up and walk while in the hospital, when I got home Wednesday I weighed 30lbs heavier than the morning I checked in for surgery. THIRTY POUNDS of gas and water and swelling. My belly was distended so far out I looked 9 months pregnant and had painful stretch marks that I never had on my body before. With all this swelling and distention, it was impossible for me to get comfortable anywhere - bed, couch, chairs. That first night at home was one of the most painful and uncomfortable experiences of my life. Honestly, the only comfortable sitting place I could find was my bathroom toilet. During the night, I sat there for a long time and slept a few minutes without discomfort.
I had a hard time getting fluids in. I felt (and still feel) a lot of restriction in my pouch. Taking more than 1 sip every 5 minutes was difficult. Because I couldn't get much water or much protein drink in I was very weak. Feeling weak and dizzy did not help when it comes to getting up and walking. So the rest of the week and the weekend I just tried to stay comfortable and pray that the swelling in my abdomen would go down. Wednesday of the following week I was feeling a little better and sent my Dad back to his home because I thought I was doing better and could take care of myself.
Then Thursday evening I started vomiting and had severe diarrhea. I was only drinking water and protein water (not milky protein) but it would all come up. I would have a round of vomiting and toilet time then I would fall asleep for a couple hours. I'd wake up, drink some more, vomit some more, go back to sleep. This routine continued all through the night. I thought about going to the emergency room but the idea of going back to the hospital was terrifying for me. When my Dr's office opened in the morning I called and spoke to my surgeon's PA. Since I did not have a fever it didn't seem like I had any infections. She prescribed me some anti-nausea medication and I was able to get my father to go pick it up and come back to help me. Once I was on the anti-nausea meds the vomiting stopped. The diarrhea also stopped because I didn't have anything else to give. The medication came with the side effect of sleeping so I continued my cycle of sleeping and waking up to drink a little but I really couldn't sit up more than 20 minutes or so. My eyes hurt like I had a migraine. It's obvious I was seriously dehydrated. I wasn't getting enough in and couldn't stay awake long enough to drink more. So for 3 days I basically stayed in my dark bedroom sleeping.
On Monday the 24th I was determined to get out of bed. I had my post-op appointment the next day, Tuesday, and I needed to get some strength back in order to go to that appointment. My Dad was really helpful during all this time. I wouldn't have been able to do it without him. When we saw the Dr. on Tuesday I was back down to the same weight I was when I checked in for surgery. The swelling in my abdomen greatly reduced during all that sick time. We talked about the situation with the vomiting and how I'm not staying awake long enough to do anything. And I was supposed to return to work the following week. I didn't think I would get able to get the strength. They gave me the go ahead to advance my diet to soft foods and ordered me to get up and walk more. Starting to eat foods really helped increase my energy. I also stopped taking the nausea pill because it was making me sleep too much. Walking was so hard because I was so physically weak but me and Dad took little walks around the block and each day I was able to walk more and more. I spent the week trying my best to drink as much as possible and eating yogurts, cottage cheese, and eggs. I felt stronger each day.
Monday the 31st I had to go back to work. That was the end of my "disability" time at work and I would be penalized if I did not return. That day was a huge challenge. I packed all my foods and drinks and made my way in. I was still very weak, tired, and my brain didn't even want to function. But thankfully I have a desk job so once I got to my desk I could just relax a little, breath, drink, and breath some more. I'm grateful it was a relatively slow day at work so I didn't have a lot of calls to handle, and I could just take my time with the work I needed to do. When I got home that day I was exhausted to the max. I had some more cottage cheese and went to bed almost immediately. Each day at work got a little better. I actually think having the routine of work helped me a lot with my eating schedule and that helped me a lot with building up stamina and strength.
This is almost the end of my 2nd week back at work - and my 1 month anniversary of having the surgery. I am 20lbs down from surgery day. That makes 62lbs down since I started this process last September. I do feel almost completely "normal" again. I have not had any more vomiting. I still have bowel problems from time to time but it's easier to figure out what causes that based on what I am eating. I'm still mostly living off yogurt and cottage cheese. I can't believe I'm not sick of those yet. But I have been trying to introduce new foods each day and have tolerated most everything. I can eat chicken, tuna, chili, lunch meats and cheeses. All in very tiny portions, of course. This is my new "normal". Now that I am out of the woods, the worst is behind me, and I can focus on the happy and healthy future.