SUNDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2010
Recovery (continued from 12/18/10) I was out of work and at home with my parents for six weeks. For anyone who has had abdominal surgery, it is no easy task to recover. I had to work hard on that awful lung machine. It hurt to cough, sneeze, breathe...If I coughed or sneezed I had to push a pillow on my tummy to help the pain as much as possible. I had to practice blowing on that breathing machine multiple times a day and I hated it. I could have skipped it, but I knew if I didn't do it, I would regret it and take longer to heal. I also had to push myself to exercise. One certainly doesn't get better sitting on the couch. At first, I was just walking room to room and around the house, but gradually moved to taking short walks outside as the weather permitted. I slowly worked in to solid foods, ever so slowly. One day I ate scrambled eggs, which was thrilling, but within a few minutes it hurt so bad. It was almost unbearable pain as the eggs scraped past an internal incision. For the first moment in all my life, I actually considered "What if I die?" "What if I don't make it?" That weighed heavy on me for awhile, as I contemplated the fact that had I lived even a few years before my time, how would they have treated me? How would a person like me have healed? Would I have healed? As much as I loved my job, I knew that for my health's sake, I needed to change jobs. My job was so physical, lifting patients and being on my feet all day. As it was, I had to return to work with no lifting for another month. I felt useless. I did go to a job interview, one that I didn't get, while I was on my last week of sick leave. I will never forget having to buy a suit that concealed the fact that I still had a feeding tube in my stomach. Yes, I went to an interview with a feeding tube and had they known what I had been thru six weeks prior, they would think I kicked butt on that interview for sure! It just wasn't meant to be. What I didn't know at the time was that when my surgery was complete, my surgeon came to my parents in the waiting room shaking his head after working on me for five hours. He said he did all he could do, but there just wasn't enough time to do everything he needed to. More than likely, I would be back in for surgery in the next month. Gratefully, he did enough for me to get by for another 15 months before my next surgery. Little by little, my problems returned and worsened and I knew I was heading for another surgery. I remember talking to my GI doctor on the phone at work and he said, "It's time" and I burst into uncontrollable tears. Abdominal surgery was the hardest and most painful event of my life and now I had to do it all over again. I was devastated. So, I had surgery again to remove another 12-18 inches of my small bowel. If I was looking for perks, I could say that I didn't have to have a feeding tube, but I had to have an NG tube...not sure which is worse. While it was still open abdominal surgery, it wasn't as lengthy or emergent and there wasn't as much work to recover from. And, I knew what I had to do and I knew how long the healing process took. One thing was for sure, I promised myself I would never have surgery again.