Although recovery from my colectomy is far from over I figured I could at least document how it went in the hospital while it’s fresh in my cloudy drugged mind.
I was taken in to surgery early Saturday morning after a bit of confusion since “emergency” surgeries aren’t scheduled on weekends. In the actual recovery room I apparently took an extra 45 min. because my pain wasn’t under control. From what I remember, the pain I felt was from the largest incision lowest on my tummy that was held together with 7 staples, burning under layers of gauze.
In the evening I was slightly more alert and could not help but feel congested. Tightness in my chest left me short of breath and feeling like I had to cough which only lead to a pain in my tummy as I tried to loosen it up. I did tell my nurse but she didn’t seem to have an answer to what could be causing that.
I was then woken up during the night with an intense feeling of having to pee. I knew I had a catheter in however I also felt my bladder filling up more and more. I finally buzzed my nurse which I hate to do and after 15 minutes had to do it again because no one came. Tired and busy, my nurse frustratingly told me she didn’t know what the problem was and if I had to pee just go, the catheter would provide relief. Our conversation was going nowhere, my bladder was about to explode and eventually my emotions did just that. With my nurse not believing that something was wrong with the catheter and my chest congestion I started to get pretty worked up. Her response….
”I think you just have a bit of anxiety right now after a long day.”
For a moment I actually believed her until she jiggled the catheter a little bit and I could feel instant relief. “Oh….wait a minute it looks like it wasn’t in properly….,” she said. As she maneuvered it a bit more I felt instant liberation and my breathing calmed down as my bladder emptied. “Oh yeah, your bladder was pretty full, there’s a lot of urine filling up now.”……YA THINK?
In the morning I felt gratification for sunlight as well as a shift change recognizing that this was a busy floor for nurses and the night shifts and especially difficult with people foggy from medication and stressed from their procedures. My second nurse was much more understanding about having to position the catheter properly in order to allow it to drain, however she was also stressed and busy, unwilling to offer that friendliness I was so used to in Med6 or Paediatrics.
My breathing continued to be worrisome so a respiratory therapist was sent to listen to my lungs. Although she couldn’t hear anything but a slight wheeze she explained that because of the breathing tube, my lungs may have slightly collapsed and deflated, making it difficult for me to inhale as normal. The surgeon ordered a chest X-Ray that also showed a tiny bit of fluid contributing to my difficulty. I was prescribed a medication and an inhaler, as well as given an incentive spirometer which is a device used for breathing exercises.
The second day also was accompanied by nausea and vomiting. I couldn’t exactly lean forward so my poor sister had to hold a container while I struggled to get up empty stomach contents. This then added Gravol and anti-nausea medication to the IV list and lead me wary of how many pills they were also pumping into me. I opted out of taking Naproxen because the nurses warned me of how hard these guys can be on my stomach.
My movement limited by my catheters and tubing all I could do was lie there adjusting my bed trying to get comfortable. Fortunately visits from my best people got me through my worst day.
The next day I was given liberty once the rectal tube and catheter were taken out. But that meant I had to get up a walking. The nurse was supportive and clear with her instruction on how to do so. I walked down the hall and back with such intense pain and gratification at the same time that I can’t really explain it. With the freedom to now move, it also meant I was required to get up to the washroom on my own which was excruciating. Every time I got up I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get back to my bed, which allowed the nausea to set in. I think I can also attribute the nausea to the fact that my bag is transparent, which is so the nurses and doctors could monitor the output, however that sight made me sick and it pained me to look at it. I basically tried to sleep to pass the time so I could sleep again.
Eventually by Wednesday I was able to empty my ileostomy bag without the help of my nurse and was able to get in and out of bed with minimal assistance. The surgeon came by and let me know that my blood work was looking good and as long as my stoma nurse was comfortable, I could go home. My stoma nurse came in to change the entire bag in order to walk me through the process one more time and although I have home care coming the next few weeks, I feel fairly confident I can do it on my own.
By Wednesday afternoon I was home, in the comfort of my own bed and that makes a world of difference. The recovery process is a long one and I’m still adjusting to the ileostomy as well as the pain in my belly, but not having to run to the washroom 20 times a day is already making my life a lot easier. Every day is a tiny bit better so with every passing hour I’m a little bit closer to a healthier, happier me.