First of all, I'd like to say a huge "THANK YOU" to all of the well-wishes I received here on the blog, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. And an especially appreciative "I LOVE IT" to all of the people who sent flowers and gifts. Your thoughts are definitely appreciated and have motivated me to get back to oversharing as soon as possible.
And to those of you who didn't send me shit, I've taken note.
Secondly, I'm going to have no less than a ton to say about my surgery and recovery process. So this would be the perfect time to use the bathroom and grab five drinks. Because we're going to be here all day. And since I'm still cross-eyed from taking Norco every four hours, most of this post may turn out to be a bunch of jibber-jabber that makes no sense. And this post has also taken me a week to compose, which means I can guarantee it will be all over the place.
Got up and showered as usual. Made sure to do my hair since I wanted to look beautiful and fresh and glamorous and be mistaken for Audrina Patridge while in hospital. Did one last pre-op weigh in to see where all of this illness/ stress/ bowel cleanse had left me. Since I'm a lady, I won't tell you what I weighed. But I will tell you it was less than when I got married back in 2007.
Okay, twist my arm, it was 115.
Made it to the hospital right on time. I was lucky enough to have my surgery take place in this newly opened hospital in Santa Barbara. All of the rooms are private (no sharing the TV!) and patients can choose their own meals from the delicious looking menu via room service. Obviously, that was the part I was most looking forward to.
Hung out with Boyfriend, Mom, and sister Tanya in the pre-op waiting room. Started to get nervous, but luckily a nurse called me in after only about 10 minutes. I was escorted to my pre-op room. There, I changed into a hospital gown and some sickly and embarrassing looking grippy socks. The nurses drew blood, applied the EKG sticky pads to my chest, and inserted the I.V. Then Boyfriend, Mom, and Tanya were able to come visit me until surgery time. We hung out, cracked some jokes, and watched TV. Once I was taken into this pre-op area, I was no longer nervous. I was actually kind of excited. I was about to go in for surgery!
We all said our goodbyes and my surgical nurse wheeled me into the O.R. I wish I would have been able to take video rolling through the hallways and into the O.R. because it was a really strange perspective and it almost felt surreal. But I guess if you've ever seen E.R., or any medical show really, you probably already have a good idea of how that whole thing goes.
INTERESTING: The surgical table has about 2 inches of this weird, squishy mat on top (see photo below). This keeps the body from skidding all across the room while docs are tugging in different directions.
My particular table also had a hole cut out from the butt section of the mat. I'm assuming this was in case they had to perform a full Assectomy on me.
My surgical nurses were cool and we cracked some more jokes. They placed a breathing mask over my face and that's the last thing I remember.
Next thing I knew, I was waking up in a recovery room. I don't remember too much of that other than my family was there and I saw them for about a second before I fell back asleep. The rest of the day and night, I slept.
Total surgery time: 4 hours.
Apparently, someone in my family had me pose, as I was being rolled into my hospital room, wearing a tiara with chili peppers and "HOT STUFF" on it. I had no memory of this until Boyfriend reminded me. I don't know if this is my family's idea of "funny", but I'm pretty sure I like it.
My "Get Well" flowers. They were all SO beautiful and the nurses kept commenting on how good my room smelled. Thankfully, they were saying that instead of "What the fuck is that smell...?", which is actually what I kept asking myself by day three every time I caught a whiff of my armpit.
Slept great until the doctors made their rounds in the middle of the night (see: 6:30am). Slept as much as I could in between the endless gang of hospital staff that weaved their way in and out of my room. This included my two surgeons and each of their teams of 3-4 other doctors, dietitians, newspaper delivery, room service, nurses to check vital signs every hour, house keeping, etc.
First day of eating. Clear liquids only.
Pain medication every four hours- shot of Morphine straight into the ol' IV.
That day, they removed my catheter. Surprisingly it wasn't as torturous as I imagined it was going to be. Instead, I just felt a slight tickle and it was done. Although, now that I think about it, maybe it really was as torturous as I was imagining, but since I was loaded on morphine, I didn't really notice. The nurses also had me get up and walk to the bathroom. That ended pretty well when I blacked the fuck out and the nurse had to save me from face-planting. I took it easy after that and slept the rest of the day. I also had some post-colonic diarrhea that looked like something from the La Brea Tar Pits. A nurse had to wipe me down with a wet wash cloth. By this point, my dignity had high-tailed it out of there and was trying to hitch a ride down the 101.
Doctor rounds at 6:30am. They would look at my incisions, sometimes press around lightly, ask if I've been getting out of bed, take some notes and leave. They were always very nice, it was mostly just the waking up part that made me want to spit venom.
Lunch was promoted to soft foods!! I had about 5 plain penne pasta noodles, half of a white roll, and some apple juice. Since I'd been on clear liquids for the previous five days, I didn't have much of an appetite and it didn't take much to fill up.
As you can tell, the morphine was great.
In actuality, this is much closer to what I looked like. When I tried to look human, that is.
A bladder scan showed that I was "retaining", meaning I felt empty but was actually still full. Had to get catheter #2. Blood in urine. Doctors requested more blood work. Diet was demoted back to clear liquids.
Flipped the fuck out because people kept coming into my room and I was tired as shit due to waking up the previous night every hour, on the hour, to use the bathroom. The nurses put a Do Not Disturb sign on my door and finally I got some peace and quiet and naps.
SO WHAT DID THEY FIND??!?
Well, they removed all of the endometriosis they were able to locate, along with a 5cm cyst (larger than the actual ovary itself) from my left ovary. They also removed a golf ball sized mass from my colon, as well as 6 inches of bowel. Something my doctor said was definitely causing pain.
. . . . .
Pathology report showed no cancerous cells on any of the biopsies. THANK GOD.
Hearts and glory and angels singing!!!
Diet promoted to all liquids, not just clear. Dinner was some orange slop that was supposedly "blended chicken noodle soup". Surprisingly, it wasn't too bad. I guess that's what happens when you've been on clear liquids for the past six days. You're desperate enough to eat anything.
Medication was switched to Norco pills. Not as good as the morphine, but still pretty great at taking the edge off of the excruciating incisions and cystectomy. Surprisingly, there was almost no pain coming from the bowel resection. Everything was from the incision and cystectomy- burning, stabbing, tightness, and more burning. I also had the shoulder pain that many people experience after laparoscopic surgery. My sensations may have been dulled due to the heavy meds I was on, but it basically felt like gas pains stabbing in my chest when I took a deep breath. This pain was gone by day four.
Right arm. Blood work every day.
Left arm. (At the time, the needle didn't bother me. Looking at this picture, it's making me cringe.)
WORD OF ADVICE: If you're unfortunate like me and have hairy arms, I STRONGLY suggest you wax/ shave/ buff those things before you're admitted to any hospital. That medical tape is no joke.
Late Thursday night, they did a bladder scan. Same "retaining" problem. This time, they decided to try a "straight catheter", which is when they just put it in to drain and take it back out again a few minutes later. Catheter #3 administered. Bladder was full. Another small blood clot.
Doctor rounds at 6:30am. Over the past week, this doc quickly became my good buddy. He was always in good spirits and joking around. More doctors should be like him.
Nurse checked bladder again hoping the straight cath did the trick. It didn't. Catheter #4 administered. Still no hospital discharge.
Finally took my first shower since being admitted. Aside from the awkwardness of having a catheter hanging out of my privée and my overall lifelessness, it was the best shower of my fucking life. I didn't know how badly I needed it until I was hunched over, sitting on a portable toilet seat, grinding Johnson & Johnson into my face. I attempted to shave my legs, but my sore and bulging stomach kept getting in the way and I'm pretty sure I walked out of that shower stall with two cacti shooting out of the bottom of my hospital gown. Regardless, showers are really a magical thing when it comes to being ill.
Unfortunately, I didn't pack my hair dryer because the pre-op paperwork clearly stated no plug-in devices. So instead of looking like Audrina sauntering up and down the hospital hallway, I looked like Hurley from LOST.
That night, Boyfriend stayed over and we had a slumber party. And by slumber party, I mean we watched the Olympic opening ceremony and then I passed the fuck out.
This is my discharge day. Catheter #4 removed at 6:30am. I had until 2pm to show less then 100cc's in my bladder. If I was unable to get it below 100, I would be going home with a catheter.
Starting around 1pm, it was a race to the finish. Apparently, it's pretty common for patients with catheters to lose control of their bladder muscles/ feelings since they've been rendered useless for several days. It turns out there's a trick for getting these muscles back in working order (aside from Kegels). It's called "the double void" and it's when you use the bathroom, walk around, amd immediately use the bathroom again. So Boyfriend and I would do this. We would walk a lap on my hospital floor and I would use the bathroom. We kept doing this until 2pm. The nurse scanned me. Still 300cc's in me. We kept doing the walk/ bathroom combo. Little by little my bladder was going down. Thankfully, my doctor was cool and didn't rush me out the door. Because if he had, I would have been sent home with another catheter- my 5th one, to be exact.
One of my favorite nurses. Honestly, almost all of the hospital staff that I met were really great. They've set a high bar in case I'm ever admitted to another hospital. Most of the nurses were young and cool and sympathetic and fun and I felt like I had real friends taking care of me. I had this particular nurse twice during my stay and she was great both times. She didn't even rush me during my pee-a-thon.
I think it was finally around 3:30pm that my bladder registered under 100cc's. Boyfriend and I were ecstatic. No home cath for me. I felt like I'd just won my own gold medal in the Urination Olympics.
AND I WAS DISCHARGED!!
Doing my best impersonation of "acting normal". Also, Boyfriend snuck in my flat iron.
-There's been some ups and downs. The pharmacy closed before we were able to pick up my meds on my first day home, which made me rage the fuck out. Thankfully, I still had some vicodin here and that held me over until the next morning.
-Pains have gotten more intense since coming home. I'm guessing that's because I'm doing more activities and not just sleeping 22 hours a day.
-It's hard to sleep comfortably. It turns out, those Craftmatic adjustable beds they have in the hospital come in pretty handy when you've had your guts all scrambled up.
-Had to take a shitload of Milk of Magnesia and Senekot-S to finally have a bowel movement (12 days after surgery!) without ripping my new butt open. Since I'm on a slightly modified diet (low fiber), my belly was FULL to the max. I couldn't even lean forward without it getting in the way. By the time I was finally able to go, it was like the gates to shit city opened. I'm not exaggerating when I say I was on the toilet for an hour straight this morning.
-Trying to spread out my Norco pills so I don't become a crackhead and end up on Intervention. Also trying to cut back because they cause constipation. Unfortunately, the pain in my incisions, abdomen, and back don't care that they make me constipated. Things hurt, man. So I'm still taking them semi-regularly.
-The Norco has also given me a crazy ITCCCCCHY rash up and down the right side of my torso. It's red and blotchy and puffy and I look like Eric Stoltz in Mask.
-I've been living in nightshirts like they're regular clothes. With these five incisions in my belly, even the slightest pressure feels like a burning hot sword through my skin. Clothing with a waistband is overrated.
-I'm so grateful for all of the doctors and nurses at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital who took great care of me. Without the help and comfort these people provided, my surgery and recovery could have had a much different outcome. Dr. Bounoua, Dr. Hogan, Dr. Chang, Dr. Cahill, Dr. Diamond, Dr. Erin, and nurses Naomi, Angie, Terri, Lisa, May Ann, Christina, Jasmin, and Carissa- THANK YOU!!
So that's it for my hospital update! Thanks again to everyone who's followed along on this medical saga. Your support means more than you know. :)