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First Surgery Post Mortem: Suck it, Colitis

Posted May 20 2009 10:33am

I can now make fun of people with colons. Surgery went down on May 11th, and I am now back home to finish recovery. Here is a quick summary for those interested:

Day 1:
Progress: Felt excited going in to surgery, mostly because I couldn’t wait to get rid of UC after all this time. I remember a bit of the prep, but not much afterwards. I do remember hearing my manager’s distinct laugh at some point, and it was later confirmed that he visited while I was in recovery. How weird is that? Lameness: I was in the recovery room for 3 to 4 hours, instead of 90 minutes. I apparently didn’t respond well to the pain, but I don’t recall. The doc also later said that my entire large intestine was in pretty horrible shape. Fun Fact: They have this inflatable blanket filled with hot air called the Bair Hugger. It heats you up fast, and so help me I want one for home usage. Hot Tip: If you have arm hair, shave it off before hand. One of the most painful things during my entire hospital stay was tape removal from body hair. So many, many tears. They shaved part of my left hand during the beginning, but ended up using my right hand for the IV. Dangit.

Left to Right: Excited to get in for surgery; A Kodak Moment; The Awesome Bair Hugger

Left to Right: Excited to get in for surgery; A Kodak Moment censored; The Awesome Bair Hugger

Day 2:
Progress: Upgraded to ice chips. I love you, ice chips; you really helped out. Had a short painful walk to across the hallway. I really don’t remember much else, except I briefly made it to a chair. Lameness: Beats me, I can’t remember. Probably a lot of pain. Fun Fact: I don’t see how I can ever do bowel prep again. Bwahaha!

Left to Right: Testing my lung activity; Somehow made it to a chair; My first walk

Left to Right: Testing my lung activity; Somehow made it to a chair; My first walk

Left to Right: Ileostomy bag and JP-Drain; Close up of JP-Drain that accumulates excess fluids

Left to Right: Ileostomy bag and JP-Drain; Close up of JP-Drain that accumulates excess fluids

Day 3:
Progress: Walked a bit more, felt more aware of where I am and what’s going on. First popsicle! Lameness: I had bad nausea that night and couldn’t sleep. I also dropped the nurse-call button and was stuck without help until they did the rounds. They didn’t want me to drink any water when nauseous, so I was thirsty as well. Didn’t sleep much. This is exactly why you don’t stay up to watch the Lost Season Finale in a hospital. Hot Tip: Tie that dang nurse-call button to your bed so you don’t drop the entire thing to the floor. Fun Fact: The patient is at an angle during the surgery, with the head a bit down. They pump you full of air to maneuver a bit better through the organs, which explains the gas pains and bloating afterwards.

Day 4:

Progress: Now on Pureed food! So long, horrible broths. First complete Ileo bag change! Hot Tip: I can’t stress this enough. The nurses can’t stress this enough. The people on this site who had the surgery can’t stress it enough. Walking is your friend. Do it, and do it often. If you can’t walk, the movement from lying to sitting to standing is a huge, huge win. Bonus Hot Tip: Heparin shots (used to prevent blood clots) feel like wasp stings after the wasps were dipped in poisonous lava. I recommend you take them in the shoulder (you have a choice to where they go, so don’t go for the stomach!).

Left to Right: First Ileo bag change; Stoma still to be named; Attempt to escape from the hospital

Left to Right: First Ileo bag change; Stoma still to be named; Attempt to escape from the hospital

Day 5:
Progress: By complete surprise, the nurse removed my catheter. I was caught off guard (press the pain button! press the pain button!) and holy cow. It didn’t hurt, but it was rather uncomfortable for that quick pull. Super Ultra Lameness: Saturday was a low point. I was starving and wanted to learn more about my ileo bag, but my assistant nurse was a “floater” from a different hospital just helping out. She didn’t know what the bag was called and hasn’t emptied one in 10 years she said. I was horrified. I needed reassurance from the nurse, not questions. The UCSF nurse group is awesome, so I hope you understand my disappointment with that one loose-cannon nurse. To top it off, my lunch was a little thing of mushroom soup. Mushroom soup? It’s on my Avoid Post-Surgery list of foods. What gives? I was pretty unhappy. I’m glad my mum was there to lift my spirits. Fun Fact: I can’t be disemboweled at this point, or, at the very least, the serial killer who tries to disembowel me will be very disappointed with the results. In your face, serial killers!

Left to Right: Blood clot from JP-Drain (creepy); Stoma swelling is down; very happy to upgrade in food

Left to Right: Blood clot from JP-Drain (creepy); Stoma swelling is down; Very happy to upgrade in food

Day 6:
Progress: My first full shower! They had to cover the hand with the IV-tubes in a glove, but I had horrible horrible freedom for 20 minutes (no attachments to the IV stand!). Haven’t pressed the pain button in a while. Cleaned my own bag! Finally got a menu! Got solid food! Lameness: Getting up at 4 a.m. to pee. This is a funny complaint, considering that with UC you had to get up every 2 hours in an emergency rush. It’s just weird to get up for a normal reason now : ). Fun Fact: According to the Discovery Channel (which I watched, a lot ), horse meat is less fatty than beef. Just so you know. Hot Tip: The food at UCSF Mount Zion is actually delivered from the main hospital on Parnassus. This explains why the menu choices doesn’t exactly fit your dietary restrictions and they can’t pull last-minute favors. This also explained the mushroom soup incident.

Day 7:
Progress: Discharged! Lameness: Didn’t fall asleep until 2a.m. that morning. Walked 6 laps to get tired. Just as I started dreaming about resetting Terminators in each movie and how it would affect the box office for each (yeah, seriously), a nurse woke me up at 4 in the morning to weigh me. Really?! My weight couldn’t wait? The doctors then made rounds at 6, so I didn’t sleep well. Super Lameness: Whoever said laughter is the best medicine is a filthy liar. Laughing post surgery is incredibly painful. A few minutes before discharge, my spirits were up and there was silly talk involving a 90 year old magician, gypsy singers and the movie “Outbreak”. I ended up laughing, which caused so much pain I was on vicodin. Hot Tip: Don’t watch funny shows for a while. It really hurts. This is also a great indicator to tell you what you find really funny (based on my pain level, American Dad turned out to be funnier than Family Guy). Fun Fact: Try blowing your nose after surgery. It’s hard to do.

Day 8:
Progress: I slept in! Home nurse visited, she patched up my JP-Drain tube with a nice water-proof setup. Felt productive. She’ll bring in ileostomy bag samples on next visit (hello, velcro!). Lameness: Home nurse’s paperwork took forever. Thankfully that’s done. Fun Fact: For those with ileostomy bags: iron supplements will turn the stool black, but this is normal. Don’t freak out. Hot Tip: We should convince the ShamWow! guys to make medical supplies!

10 pounds lighter, tagging an Ileo bag and JP-Drain, and wondering how the body reacts to 5 feet of missing organ.

10 pounds lighter, tagging an Ileo bag and JP-Drain, and wondering how the body reacts to 5 feet of missing organ.

What’s Next:
I have to work on my posture. I can’t straighten all the way out, since my mid-section is still too sore and tight. I also soiled my pants on my first night home. The leakage through the bum is “normal” discharge, but I was caught a little off guard. I have a follow-up next week, and hopefully they will remove the JP-Drain by then (I have to have less than 80CCs of drained liquid, I’m currently at 200 or so, which is still better than the thousands of CCs I had immediately post-surgery). Let’s heal this up already.

Zzz…

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