And not only alive, but doing well. I know one of the things people want to know most about is one’s experience in the hospital and immediately thereafter, so I’ve been trying to keep the details in my head as fresh as possible. I’m way past due for an update and I don’t want to put anything off longer lest I forget something, so let’s get this show on the road, shall we?

Surgery Day

My surgery was scheduled for 11 am but since the friend dropping me off needed to be at work by a certain time, I ended up arriving at the hospital quite a bit earlier. I had been a bit worried about this since I didn’t want to just be sitting there getting more and more anxious by the minute. As it turns out though, I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before so I spent most of the morning just being tired. It made the process much easier. In fact, I don’t think the first real sign of panic showed up until I was lying in the operating room, and it was short-lived thanks to fast-working anesthesia.

The surgery was probably between 4 and 5 hours (based on the time I got to the OR and the time my mother heard from my surgeon), which is great considering it was a robotic-assisted surgery. I was in recovery for a few hours and honestly, despite the fuzziness of my memories, that was probably the worst part about the whole thing. I woke up disoriented, unable to open my eyes, and when I could, unable to keep them open. I could barely move. There may have been pain, but I really don’t remember. What struck me most was the overwhelming sense of claustrophobia (which I didn’t recognize at the time, but do now). I had an oxygen mask on and kept telling the nurses I couldn’t breathe. I felt like it was stifling me, despite all evidence to the contrary on the machines. Being unable to move my limbs also made me feel trapped. Although I was in and out of consciousness, what I do remember was definitely the most miserable part of my hospital stay.

I think my constant complaints about the mask were getting on someone’s nerves, or they were worried I might just yank it off, because I think it was once I made it to my room that I was given a nasal cannula instead. The rest of the night is pretty much a blur thanks to some lovely stuff called dilaudid.

Days Post-Op: 1

In addition to the cannula, I woke up with an NG tube going down my nose into my stomach, a central line in my neck, a single JP drain in my abdomen, another IV in my hand, and a Foley catheter in my, well, you know. And really, the only thing that bothered me was the NG tube, which I kept bugging the nurses about. That and the catheter actually did come out that day after I had seen the doctor. I was doing well. Only items of concern was a slightly elevated temperature and an elevated heart rate. I also was unable to pee on my own initially and had to be re-catheterized with just a straight catheter, but after that, things started working again. The pain was manageable but it was frustrating having to wait on the nurse for each dose. It would have been nice to have one of those self-administered pumps. I was also given water to drink and was instructed to start walking the halls.

Days Post-Op: 2

Since I was able to keep down water with no problems, I was allowed to progress to chicken broth and jello. That also stayed down and I was given the ok to go home, not even 48 hours after I got out of surgery. That may possibly be some kind of record, but I didn’t think to ask at the time.

Recovery at Home

The next few days were probably what one coming out of surgery might expect. However, it was all new to me, so I was pretty cranky, tired, and sore. I started off slowly with the food, keeping it to 4 oz of soup, yogurt, and protein shakes at a time. I tried to sip as much additional fluids in between as well. The first few nights were difficult, especially since moving around was cumbersome and it was impossible to sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. I did notice an improvement each day. I was also lucky to have someone around that first week out of the hospital. I could have managed alone, but it would have been much more challenging.

I’ve slowly been making changes to my diet, adding things with more substance, like mashed potatoes and refried beans, but still making sure to keep textures soft. I still feel like I’m moving a lot faster in my recovery than what I was expecting from reading the experiences of others. I’m able to eat about 8 oz now, which kind of blows my mind when some people had stated it took weeks to be able to keep down more than a few bites of food at a time. I’m grateful for the speedy recovery though. I’ve always been a pretty independent person, and having to rely on someone else for any kind of help has never been easy for me. Of course, I’m superstitious enough to worry that having a fairly smooth start might pave the way for problems down the road. I guess I’ll deal with that if/when it happens though.

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