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On the Fifth Day...

Sue Dohnim


No, not Christmas yet. Just a rundown on how things have gone.

Thursday, 9/10, Surgery Day: got in 15 minutes late, no biggie, waited in waiting area for about 15 minutes, then was called back. Went through the usual Q&A, bloodwork and pee test, and I think I told one nurse my birthdate 20 times. My surgeon comes in amid the flurry and says, "Anesthesia doesn't like your iron numbers. They'll be here in a bit - but it'll be up to them if things are a go." I have severe anemia, and I'd been doing some iron replacement therapy, but you can only do so much in ten days. I said okay, but inside I was a bit rocked - No! This is perfectly timed! Everything's set up! We can't reschedule this! - Aunt C, my husband's godmother who came out for moral support, and who is also a retired surgical assistant, reassured me that in all her years, she's never seen a surgery cancelled because of anemia. And she was right - the gas docs came in, expressed their concerns, and asked me again (I'd already signed the permissions) if I'd OK a transfusion if necessary; "Of course," I said. That's just practical.

Bullet dodged.

Things moved fast from there. IV set up (damn that thing smarted going in), pre-op body wipe from neck to feet, prepped and pressed and off we went. Down a couple of halls, and into the OR - the first time I'd ever seen the inside of an OR in all my life - move from gurney to table, answered a couple of questions, and... BOOM, out.

My next memory was moaning in recovery, swimming up from the surgery... then out. Then up again, then out, etc. I couldn't get out of the sleepiness. They couldn't release me until I could stay awake enough to go home. Apparently, they'd given me too much of the narcotics and my breathing took a dive. Also, when I dozed, my O2 alarm would go off because I'd desat. I'd wake up, be okay, then doze off and the alarm would go off. It suuuuucked. And of course, you can't take walks in the recovery ward, and that sucked too. I wound up being admitted for overnight observation. Boo.

So upstairs I went. They did let me walk once I was established there, which helped. The stupid breathing exercise thing was frustrating, because of the gas against my diaphragm; I just looked at it in general dislike. They also let me move to the recliner at about 1am, which was great - thanks to the narcotic mishaps, I'd been on my back for about 5 hours and in bed for about 8. Lucky me, I had a good nurse and a good CNA and they made me very comfortable.

General Status on the night of Operation Day: woozy here and there and bloated like a whale. The gas pumped into the abdomen made my diaphragm sore. Pain management was done well. Did get some sleep.

Friday, 9/11, Day 1: At 4am I was a freaking ice cube because the a/c was cranked down and aimed right on the recliner; that cold went right through my three blankets. So the nurse helps me out, and I do a short circuit to the hallway and back, go to the bathroom, and get back into the bed. I doze off, and the phlebotomist comes in and pokes a hole. After that, the nurse makes his final rounds and I give up on sleep. The morning is a round of looking warily at queasy pseudo-jello, dodgy tea, and sticking to my water and ice chips; insisting on walks but can only go with someone there, so I can't walk as much as I need to; taking one look through the channels on the TV and snapping it back off; them pumping me with God knows what in the IV. Hubs and Auntie show up at 10, so I can walk more. The shift floor supervisor chatted me up as I walked - I really liked her - and she would be instrumental later.

Dr F pops in at about 11 or so. "So, would you like to go home?" And I replied in rather piteous voice, "Yes, please." Everyone thought that was funny for some reason. I was just done. "Well, let me write it up and we'll get you home." Awesome. Instantly my spirits rose - whose wouldn't? - but my silly hubs and silly aunt jump into action and get my personal items and start laying things out like I'm being sprung that moment, and I eventually bark at them to knock it off. I was feeling overwhelmed, tired, goofy and sooo done. They retreated to the cafeteria downstairs. The best part was that I could as of that moment walk by myself, and I did. I had waves of goofiness, the dregs of the narcotics still in my system, but I kept walking when I could because it helped. Did a lot of rinsing my mouth out because it tasted terrible.

When Hubs came back with Auntie, he started watching the clock because our son got out of school at 2:30. He didn't want to go all the way up there, come back to the hospital, and allll the way back to the house. He went and talked to some person who bumped it up the chain, and the floor supervisor I talked about previously expedited things, hallelujah.

I dozed in the back of the car on the way home. Once there (just before 2pm), I went to the shower, cleaned the hospital yuckies off of me, and went to bed for a couple of hours. Later, the best thing about being home was that I could walk all I wanted and not be tethered to the IV tree. Spent a dopey evening sipping nothing but water v e r r r y  s l l l l o w w w l l l y.

General Status, end of Day One: home! Still bloated and uncomfortable, though not painful. Incisions let me know if I pushed too hard or went the wrong way. Very tired. Good news - self-care was not a problem (toileting, etc).

Saturday, 9/12, Day Two: Up a couple times overnight because mouth was leathery and couldn't create enough spit to wet it, so I went to the recliner and would sip, doze, sip, doze in the dark until I could keep spit in my mouth and not feel so dessicated. And they are TINY SIPS - they are not kidding. And I remembered to BURP to minimize discomfort. Dozed some more. Pretty much kept a low profile all day, staying in my nice loose nightshirt after taking my usual shower (being careful to not get any sort of direct stream on my abdomen. Homebound, obviously. Walked a circuit of the house when it struck me, tried to increase my distance every time. In the course of the day, I took three doses of the hydrocodone - low doses, but it didn't matter, because it would knock me right out. Did a lot of sleeping. No attention span. Difficult to stay hydrated, but my pee kept staying lighter in color which told me I was going in the right direction. I didn't bother with protein this day - hydration was more important. One more dose - pretty much gagged it down, so very gross - and off to beddy bye.

General Status, Day Two: Housebound. Hydration was the priority, and walking to get me moving and the gas moving. Used pain management quite a bit, even if low doses. Diaphragm felt better but tender. No problem with incisions other than the expected twinge here and there. Self care doing well. No complications so far.

Sunday, 9/13, Day Three: Up twice for overnight hydration (sip-doze-sip-doze in recliner). Goals for today were to try and stay within a relatively normal routine as stamina permitted, and to avoid hydrocodone until bedtime. I actually succeeded pretty well. Still housebound, again staying in my loose nightshirt so as not to irritate the incisions, still dozing at various intervals. Back in the hospital I was told that barring problems, I could start protein drinks today, so I took a large cup of Sonic ice and dumped a Premier chocolate shake into it (something that was tolerable in the pre-op diet), and sipped that sucker over the course of hours as much as I could until I just couldn't bear another sip. I didn't bother with measuring, but I got protein in today. Passing good amounts of gas. I also attempted Jello (wonderful SF black cherry, woke my taste buds up) - I got maybe three teaspoons in before I had to abandon it - and about a third of a popsicle later in the day. No problem with anything I drank today, nothing came back up. I was pretty fried by halftime of the frustrating as **** Dallas Cowboys game, so I took a very small dose of pain meds (to keep me comfortable as I turned in my sleep) and off to bed I went.

General Status, Day Three: Much, much better day. Got protein in, but still concentrated on hydration, falling far short of the 64oz - but pee still light colored, so I'm okay. Good walking, still in-house; got some alternate items in (popsicle, jello), no problems.  Oh, and I have no problems sleeping on my sides, or getting up, except for that shifting feeling when I do move, probably gas - once the 'shifting' is done, I'm comfortable. Diaphragm less noticeable. Still bloaty, but starting to have gas move, taking the pressure out of the abdomen. Feel better.

Monday, 9/14, Day Four: Had one hydration session overnight. Got up at 6, took shower, got partially dressed and helped Mr D with getting our son ready for school. After they left, I finished dressing, and got brave: I went on my first out of house foray to the store. Had half a thought about using the powered cart, but no, dammit, I'm not an invalid. Plus, my pride, you know? I caved and got some Miralax because I'd not had a BM since... two days before the surgery?... and things needed to move, pronto. But before I resorted to that, I had one trick up my sleeve - I went to my fave non-Starbucks coffee place and got a small SF mocha. My stomach sure surely didn't like whatever they use for their SF syrup pre-op, so I figured it'd do the trick post-op (coffee is not the issue here, but it didn't hurt). I carefully sipped that sucker, only getting about a fourth of it down, and dontcha know? It worked. Threw the rest away. Thank God. I don't like chemical laxatives like Miralax, and I don't want my body getting used to that chemical signal. But just in case, it stays in my arsenal.

Experimented: 1/3 of a bottle of orange Isopure in a large cup of Sonic ice, let it melt and dilute. Very successful, but it wound up being the only protein I could stand all day. I did try to do a Pure Protein shake before bedtime, maybe got about two ounces down. It stayed down, no problem there, but just couldn't handle any more, so I didn't push it. Water was still the mainstay.

Energy is up. I pretty much made it all day. Got tired by 4-5pm.

General Status, Day Four: Yay! I pooped! Lots of gas out, too, and the pressure is down a lot. Got some protein down, including milk based. No problems. More energy, feel better. Able to take more, slightly larger sips today, too, meaning I was pretty well hydrated at bedtime.

Tuesday, 9/15, Day Five (today): it was the first night that I didn't have to have a hydration session, but instead got a charlie horse at 430 am. Took a few sips and dozed back off until 6. Had BM at usual pre-op am time without intervention - yay! Sort of dawdled after husband and son left. Got a 16oz bottle of water, and started in: I finished it in about 90 minutes. WOW! It was like the internal swelling backed off overnight. Once I logged that little victory, I got my butt going, because I was on a mission. After two days of sweet-sweet-sweet, I was jonesing for miso soup. And happy day, I found some without MSG. I know the salt content is thought the roof, but dang it, I was happy to find it. Armed with my Isopure in Sonic ice, I went to my appointment for iron replacement therapy, burned two hours there, and then home to the best tasting miso soup I've ever had. Of course I didn't eat the solids (seaweed, green onion, tofu), but who cared? It was great. I also had a SF popsicle. I later experimented with pudding with no problem, but I decided not to push it. Pick up son, tie in with home help (lifting restriction, of course), and ran out of gas at 430. Didn't sleep, just rested in bed with phone. Drinking as much water as I can before bed.

General Status, Day Five: Feeling more like myself. Can tolerate milk-based things (yay!), and miso! Pretty darn good day.


So, there's the update. No, I'm not measuring, logging or weighing. Water is my priority this week. Can't wait to see what tomorrow brings.


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