New Year ~ New Me
After my ileostomy procedure in September I had one good month until symptoms of Ulceritive Colitis set in again. My surgeon decided it was time to remove the remaining part of my rectum and the surgery was set for December 13, 2011. This was supposed to be a fairly short 3 day hospital stay and an easier surgery than the ileostomy... supposed to be anyway...
Going in for surgery the morning of December 13th is the last clear thing I remember, the rest is a hazy combination of what I've been told happened and my own drug induced memory.
Surgery went well and with out complication. My doc found my rectum to be in horrible shape, completely eaten up with the UC. No wonder I was in so much pain! So he removed the rectum and proceeded to close up the surgical site and send me to recovery. Here is where things took a wrong turn. I do not remember waking up in recovery at all. Of all the surgeries I've had, I always remember waking in recovery. The next thing I know, I am in a regular hospital room with my mother and the trauma response team. Evidently, I had been given too much pain medicine during recovery which caused some serious complications. I had stopped breathing twice and my breathing was very slow, shallow and strangled sounding. I think I was taking about 2 very shallow breaths every 30 seconds or so. This is not good. The nurse in charge of my care was preoccupied with inserting my catheter so my mom had to get help from another nurse concerning my breathing. To say it was a horrible experience for my mom would be an understatement. Once the trauma team was called to my room they began taking measures to wake me up from the drugs. I'm not sure what I was given but the first thing I remember is waking up trying to get all of the wires and tubes attached to me off! I do remember my mother saying "She's fighting everything..." and then I must have gone back to sleep again. Another jolt and I am seeing a ton of people in my little hospital room, all buzzing about and looking very serious. One male nurse is in my face asking me what my name is and where I'm at. I'm still very loopy from all the pain meds so I'm pretty confused at this point but I manage to answer his questions.
Shannon, thinking all was fine after seeing me post recovery and having a conversation with me too, had gone to tend to one of our dogs that needed to go to the vet. My poor mom had to call him to let him know what was going on. It must have scared him to death. He said he drove 90 mph to get back to the hospital. By the time he arrived, I was finally awake and somewhat aware of my surroundings. The trauma team was still working on me and my doctor had been called for new orders. My doc happened to be off and so the doc on call came in, took one look at me and said I was going to ICU until my breathing returned to normal.
It must have been horribly scary for my family. I can't even imagine what Shannon, the boys and my parents were feeling while all this was going on. Helpless, I imagine.
Once I was moved to ICU everything seemed to settle down. I was hooked up to every machine possible though. I had wires and tubes all over me. I spent about 24 hours in ICU before returning to a regular room. My pain level from the surgery was pretty intense so I was still taking some heavy doses of narcotics which required me to wear oxygen and be hooked up to a machine that measured my breathing and heart rate. Due to the amount of pain meds my digestive system went to sleep which then caused even more problems. I could no longer eat or drink because bile was backing up in my stomach so I was given an NG tube. This is a tube the nurses shove up your nose and down your throat while you vomit violently. Much, much more traumatic than any surgery because you are WIDE AWAKE! Once the tube is in however, it sucks all of the contents out of the stomach and relieves the nausea almost instantly. What was supposed to be a 3 day hospital stay has now turned in to indefinite...
On my 5th night I developed an infection in my surgical site. I started running fever and was completely miserable. So now, we have to deal with this. I am sliding down a deep dark hole of depression at this point. I feel like I will never get to go home and Christmas is just a few days away. My doctor comes in and drains the infection from my wound and orders a machine that will continue to suck out the infection. More tubes and wires and another machine to be hooked up to. I am not feeling very human at this point.
On December 22nd, I have all but faded into the hospital bed. I feel like a shell of my former self. Shannon sits beside me as I doze in and out of a pain med haze. In comes my doctor, takes one look at me and asks if I want to go home today... I nearly jump out of the bed to hug him! I cannot believe he is sending me home and I still have all these machines hooked up! He tells me he's going to take the NG tube out and if I can eat some soft food and hold it down I can go home that afternoon. Well let me tell you-- I forced down everything they brought me to eat and refused to throw up! There was no way I wasn't going home!
The one condition to me going home was that I had to take the infection vacuum with me. Home health care would come out Monday, Wednesday and Fridays to care for my wound and vacuum pump. I would need to use this thing for at least 2 weeks to a month. I didn't care though I was going home come hell or high water!
I made it home that day and celebrated the holidays with my family. I have never been so happy!
Home health care has been awesome. I really feel that I have been able to recoup much faster at home. If I never see the inside of another hospital again, it will be OK with me! The wound vacuum machine is the size of a small purse and could be worn as a fanny pack or with a strap over the shoulder. It had about a 5 foot tube that ran from the machine to my wound. I had to remember to unplug it from the wall charger and grab the machine before I got up to do anything. This got very old very fast but I wasn't complaining because I was home!
On January 4th, my nurse decided my wound was healing and the infection was gone so the vacuum could be removed. I felt like a dog let off leash! I wanted to run and dance everywhere! I've never felt so free!!!
I am still taking it easy, no lifting or anything really. Shannon gets mad at me if I even try to carry my dishes to the sink. I may be getting spoiled... The boys are very helpful too. My energy and stamina are still pretty low but each day I seem to improve little by little. If my doctor hadn't sent me home when he did, I think I would have curled up and faded away in that hospital bed. It did amazing things for my spirit to be home. I'm not even sure I should have gone home when I did but I wasn't about to argue.
Life is slowly getting back to normal. Last night, Shannon and I went out to dinner for the first time since all this started. I actually put on real clothes and make up too! We went to Kushi Yama for a wonderful dinner. When we got home, I was done! My pain level was pretty high and I had a hard time getting it under control. It was so worth it though! I felt human again.
One of the perks of all this is I have lost more than 30 pounds! Heck of a way but still a bonus! Now I just want to try to keep off the weight and tone up everything. Can't wait to get back to the gym and my work outs with Killer the trainer.
I am so excited for 2012! This is going to be a rockin' year for us! I am no longer a UC sufferer and I intend to live this year to it's fullest. No more days wasted on disease and feeling bad. I am alive and well because of many, many prayers said on my behalf and I intend to make the most of everyday. Thank you God for your healing and strength! Thank you family and friends for carrying us when we needed it! We are truly blessed.