A week ago yesterday I was asked a series of questions that I won’t soon forget.
Do you smoke?
Do you wear dentures?
Do you want to receive communion?
Do you want to be resuscitated?
Shortly after I was whisked away for emergency surgery.
Here is my story:
The previous Friday I started getting a horrible pain in my bladder area. It wouldn’t let up for 1 second. I couldn’t sleep and lost my appetite. Finally on Sunday morning I caved and we went to the ER.
Sunday morning is a great time to go to the ER. No one else was there so it wasn’t too long before I saw a doctor.
The Dr said he wondered if I was retaining my pee because my stomach felt so big. He asked the nurses to put a catheter in to see if I was full of pee.
It took 2 nurses and 3 catheters to find my bladder. One of the nurses said, “if you don’t have a UTI you will now!”
The catheter burned so bad. They left it in for over an hour but not much pee came out.
The Dr. decided I should have an ultrasound because he could feel something by prodding my stomach. He said it feels like you are 4 months pregnant but you aren’t. He thought it might be an ovarian cyst but it felt rounded through my stomach so it likely wasn’t cancer. Gee thanks! But the ultrasound folks aren’t in on a weekend so he said I could stay over or go home with hydro-morphine for the pain. I took the prescription and went home.
The pain was so awful and never let up. The morphine didn’t touch it. That night I threw up all over the bathroom. Lucky Jeff. And because of the catheter(s) it was so painful to pee.
The next morning they called with my ultrasound appointment time and said I had to get a litre of water in me before I came in. With a few minutes to spare, I threw it all up. By then I was crying and took a half gravol and quickly drank another litre of water.
It was excruciating waiting for the ultrasound and then they sent me back to the ER to wait for the results. The pain was wiping me out. I didn’t want to stand or sit or pace. I was nearing a breaking point.
I saw 3 Dr’s that Monday afternoon. One wanted to send me home with a couple months of pain relief. The gynecologist was really nice and when he asked me when I last ate I knew I wasn’t going home.
He said he couldn’t tell for sure but something was in or on my ovaries or uterus. He wanted to open me up to see.
He soon had 2 nurses in. On tackled each of my arms. One was trying to put in an IV to give me pain relief. The other was trying to take a blood sample in case I would need a transfusion during or after surgery.
Only problem was I have no veins and was dehydrated. I was poked all over by a few different nurses. I was helpless.
Another team of nurses came in and stuck stickers all over me for a quick EKG check.
Soon I was put in a hospital gown and in a wheelchair and was taken to a hospital room to wait. The dr had to do a C-section first.
The anesthesiologist came to visit. He asked some questions and checked out my neck and lungs.
The dr came in and talked about the possibilities and I had to sign that he had permission to do a hysterectomy if he had to.
A little after 7pm Jeff and I kissed goodbye and I was wheeled in the wheelchair to the operating room.
They put another arm band on to say I was allergic to Tylenol. I asked if I had to have a catheter again and they said they would do it after I was asleep. The OR was a big cold tiled room. Two real serious nurses went to work on me. I had to get up on a really narrow high operating table and they strapped my arms down to thin arm posts that came out the side from the table. They said the drs went home for a quick dinner but would be back soon.
The nurses stuck monitors all over me.
Soon the anesthesiologist was there and he injected me with something in my IV I think.
Then he put a mask on my face and told me to breathe deeply. I did. It could feel it didn’t have a perfect seal on my face so I figured it wasn’t going to work. I kept breathing deeply. There was no count down. I was just suddenly out I guess because I don’t remember anything else.
The next thing I remember I was feeling a different feeling in my abdomen. The radiating pain was gone and it was more focused and centralized. I could open my eyes just barely and briefly. I was moaning and groaning. I knew the ceiling was different so I wondered if it was over already.
I would then start drifting off again and the nurses would yell at me to breathe deeply. At one point she gave me a shot of something into my thigh muscle. She asked if it was helping more than the first shot but I said I couldn’t remember the first one.
I realized that an alarm would go off every time they yelled at me to breathe deeply so soon when I heard that noise I would take deeper breaths.
At 10:10pm I was wheeled back to my room. They said it would be in my best interest if I moved myself from the gourney to my bed so I shuffled myself over.
My mouth was completely dry and my throat was so painful. I guess something was put down my throat during the surgery. Jeff got the nurse to get me some water and ice. It was sooooo good to get the ice in my mouth.
I found out I had a grapefruit sized fibroid in my uterus. He was able to get it out but it was bleeding and I lost 1200 mL of blood. He was able to save my uterus. Uterus. That is such a gross sounding word.
Jeff soon went home to take care of the pets. He was emotionally exhausted I think. He was told I was only going to be in surgery for 30 minutes but I was gone for 3 hours.
I had two IV ports in my hand. They put a second one in during the surgery. I had a catheter. I had nothing to do for the night but hang out. They told me to blow on this blue contraption with a ball unit every hour to get my lungs expanded. A nurse came in and took my blood pressure, temperature, and oxygen measurement from my finger every hour and had to change the IV bag and the bag of IV antibiotics a couple times.
I remember just casually sitting there eating ice from a styrofoam cup with a spoon in the dark in the middle of the night.
In the morning Jeff was there again. They gave me a shot of Demerol and gravol in my hip and an anti-clotting needle in the stomach. Soon they wanted to have me stand up. First they took out the catheter. Thank goodness it didn’t hurt like the last one.
Getting up was not easy. I had a nursing instructor and two nursing students to help me. They had me roll to my side and they helped to get me to sit on the side of the bed. I was so light headed. When they finally had me standing I remember telling the instructor that I could hear her but it felt like I had cotton balls on my ears. They kept a firm hold on my arms.
They eventually propped me up in a chair and brought me my first meal – cream of wheat.
For the next few days I had one on one attention from the student nurses. They were so wonderful. They wiped my pee, helped pull up my underwear, fetched me cold water and ice, and checked my vitals over and over.
The surgeon and our family dr stopped by each morning. My hemoglobin was low from all the blood I lost so the dr started me on iron pills.
Every morning I got a needle in the stomach. I hated that one.
I had a drain in my abdomen. This was my least favorite part. Worse than the stomach needles. It was a hose coming out of my abdomen and I had a little plastic juice jug pinned to my gown to collect all the really gross red drainage. I hated feeling it pull and I had to carefully hold it when I walked or used the bathroom.
The food was like a restaurant. I had a menu and had to call in and order what I wanted for each meal. The oatmeal was awful but the rest was okay. I didn’t each much at all though. They encouraged bran and fruit because I hadn’t pooped in days. Truthfully I was just too proud to poop because I knew there was no way I could bend forwards or backwards to wipe. No prouder moment than calling for a nurse to wipe your butt. Everyone was so celebratory when I finally went.
I got a shot in the hip a couple times the first day and then I was just on extra strength Advil a few times a day.
Jeff came each day and helped me slowly shuffle the hallway. Then he’d be off to run a dozen errands for me. I needed some bigger huger underwear to pull up and over the bandages. I needed a rubber sleeve for my iPhone because I was weak and careless and it was hard to hold. And some old man pj pants for later when I could go home.
Jeff watched my dressings get changed the first day. He said I had many many inches of staples but I wasn’t looking.
I was in the woman’s / children’s ward and most of the patients were new moms and babies. I listened to new babies cry all night and proud new dads usher friends and families in to meet the babies.
Every day I got a bit better. The IV came out. I was able to stand in the shower and have a student hand shower me while I held on to the bars on the walls.
On Friday I was cleared to go home. The nurse instructor asked how many students would be too many to watch my drain come out. I said a dozen. She blessed me and brought in 3. The student assigned to me pulled it out while the others watched. I did not watch.
After that stupid drain was gone I could reach my butt again. Woo hoo!
Jeff came in the afternoon to help me home. It was an awful ride. It felt like my abdomen was jiggling all over. I had a pillow in front and the seat belt and I hugged myself home with my eyes closed. That afternoon I was totally wiped out and couldn’t even take deep breaths.
Mom flew in on Saturday to take care of me for my first week at home, allowing Jeff to return to work.
I spent most the weekend, day and night, sitting in the recliner in the living room.
Yesterday morning I had to return to the hospital to have my staples out. Mom and Jeff both watched. I didn’t even feel the staples coming out. I have some wound drainage and the nurse have Mom some bandages to keep me clean. My incision is now taped shut. It looks like a hysterectomy scar and goes from my belly button down to my hairline.
Last night I finally slept in bed. On my back because it still isn’t comfortable to be on my side.
I can’t lift anything. Can’t open the windows because they are too heavy. Thankfully I can pick my old man pj pants up off the floor myself when I pee now. Can’t put on my own socks though. I can’t shower until my incision is better healed. Mom is washing me and changing my bandages. I can’t cough. I can’t laugh.
The dr has taken me out of work until August.
It is going to be a memorable summer.
I wrote his entire post on my iPhone so I apologize if there are a million wrong autocorrected words.