SATURDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2010
Surgery #1 (continued from 12/17/10)
I saw Dr. Melichar four days after I couldn't eat in Dallas and four days later, I was scheduled for surgery. I arrived at the hospital at 7am on December 14th morning. My parents had picked me up at my condo and dropped me off at the entrance to the hospital while they parked the car. A co-worker and friend saw me and gave me a hug to say "Good luck" and I completely lost it. I realized at that moment I was scared...very scared. So much more was involved that I am sure it was best I didn't understand it all going in to surgery. The initial plan was to go in and do "strictureplasty" on the supposed five or so strictures I had in my small intestine. These strictures, or narrow spots (from swelling and scar tissue) were the cause of my food not going down. My food could not get past those narrow areas. When I was in surgery, they moved to "Plan B." I had so many strictures that "Plan A" was not going to be productive. Instead, they removed about a foot and a half of my small intestine. In addition, they gave my stomach a new hole which would allow for the other hole to heal. This new route was called, "Rue-en-Y" which is similar to the Gastric Bypass, but without the removal of the stomach. They re-worked my intestines to attach at the new hole and meet up just after the original exit, which made a "Y." Dr. Melichar also cut my Vagus Nerve, which was partially responsible for secreting acid to my stomach, and removed my appendix for safe measure before completing the surgery. Albeit temporary, he also gave me a feeding tube. The one thing I really didn't want, but became necessary. The first few days of recovery I only vaguely recall between Morphine doses and what my parents told me. I do remember an immeasureable amount of pain. Moving or not, there was pain. Breathing, coughing, raising my pinky finger...it all hurt. Thus, the extreme amount of Morphine I was taking by shot in the backside, by pump, and by my button on demand. So much that I started to hallucinate and my family asked for an alternative. Unbeknownst to me, my parents were preparing to spend Christmas Day in the hospital. My mom decorated my room with a Christmas Tree, she brought a CD player with Christmas music, tinsel, we had full on Christmas decor. On top of that, I received so many beautiful flower arrangements. The nurses loved coming to my room, as they said they could smell it down the hall. For me, I loved being at St. John. I knew the nurses on the floor, who had reserved a private room for me anticipating my arrival. All my friends in the hospital would come visit on their break or lunch hour. I had the busiest room on the floor and I was well-taken care of. If being in the hospital could be fun, this was it as far as hospitality was concerned. The encouragement really got me through the first really hard days. Being the whip-cracking therapist that I was, I knew I had to get out of bed. As soon as I could, we started walking, first to the door and back and eventually down the hall and around the floor. When I got really confident, I started to visit my friends on other floors. I distinctly remember being unable to stand up tall, feeling much like a shrimp all curled up. Dr Melichar said, "Just do it! Stand up!" That was the only time I wanted to punch him. I also can still reinvent the pain of a feeding tube in my side. As my mobility improved, the more my abs worked and the more cramping I had around the insertion site. Owwie! Every day got better and better. Only because my doctors had total sympathy for me and my family did they release me on Christmas Eve. My mom and dad never left my side. One of them always spent the night with me and it wasn't in a comfy bed, but a hard old chair. While I was doing well as a hospital patient, going home, I realized how little I really could do for myself. (See the Sweetie Bell) I fatigued easily, slept a lot and couldn't get in and out of bed alone. My sweet dad changed my gross bandages every day and cleaned my incision site as well as around that yucky feeding tube. I don't think I could have done that myself. I lost a lot of weight while in the hospital and had to move back in to solid food very slowly, as I had internal incisions in quite a few places. It hurt to eat. After a month at home and establishing some normal eating habits, I got the "OK" to remove my feeding tube. The humor here is that once it was removed, that hole took time to heal. Everything I ate dribbled out my hole in my side, including the easily identifiable chocolate cake. Dad got a big kick out of that.