It’s been a long time my little web monkeys. A month or more since I told you I was to have some surgery.
Surgery has been and gone.
Even the laprascopic version of the hemi right colectomy had me in hospital a week… a week involving five days without food… oh go on then we’ll start at the beginning – its a very good place to start.
Into Peterborough City Hospital on the 3rd… this was a fiasco of a day. I arrived for a ten o clock admission appointment and was admitted on paper by a nurse at about half past ten. I told her I hadn’t breakfasted as I’d been confused about the eating and non-eating times, so was rather hoping to be on a ward by lunchtime. I answered a few questions, put some wee in a container and had my wrist ID put on.
Then back out to the waiting area.
Come lunchtime… the lovely nurse took pity on me and came and gave me an egg sandwich and a jelly.
At about 2pm I saw the consultant for about 5 minutes.
At 3.20pm I was taken out of the waiting area and onto the ward. Nearly 5 hours – with about 20 minutes staff contact time and I was told by the nursing staff that this wasn’t unusual.
Now they KNOW beds don’t tend to come available until the late afternoon so why why why ask admissions to come in at 10 in the morning.
But all that aside… I had a room on my own, my own en-suite…ah I though that’ll be for privacy for the bowel prep… they must have me in the day before my op for bowel prep…. but no.
My consultant doesn’t do any bowel prep beyond you have to stop eating and drinking at midnight.
So again…why why why have me in so early the day before. Having done a sterling job of talking me through the whole procedure and done everything humanly possible to allay any fears and concerns they then cock up with a totally stressful and pointless early admissions process.
You know… its that long ago that I can’t remember when I went into theatre the next day… but it was in the morning… the scary bowel surgery leaflet had been wrong about bowel prep…. and also wrong about having a long needle in a vein to monitor my heart. New technology just in is that they sandpaper your skin (its quite pleasant) place sticky receptors on and then you have to lie VERY still for a couple of minutes whilst a computer guages blood resistance around your circulatory system.
And then the lovely theatre staff gave me drugs and…..
wake up in recovery….
I believe when I was sent back up to the ward I was in a great deal of pain as the post operative pain relief (administered via an inflated ball tubed into me close to the exit hole) still had its clamps on. Luckily I was still off my face and have no actual memory of the pain… just of my insistance at some later point that I was still in pain. Not being able to remember pain possibly says how much pain there was.
The pain relief ball was a source of continued grief as the next morning as part of their ‘get you out of hospital quick scheme’ I was hauled out of bed, sat in a chair and told by that evening I’d be walking round the ward.
Fat chance… I discovered instead that my pain ball was leaking from one of its tubes. In fact once back in bed my pain relief formed a nice little pool for me to lie in.
Unfortunately by this point the consultant had gone home for the weekend and nobody tampers with his balls without express permission.
Later that night (being in too much pain to walk round the ward) a nurse came on duty who thought patient care (ie not lying in a wet bed til the consultant comes back on Monday) was more important than his sensibilities about his balls and she deftly unplugged the leaky tube from my stomach and clamped it… lo and behold the second tube appeared to start working and pain became less.
The next morning I farted. I can’t express how important this is post bowel surgery or how long and melodic that fart was which erupted mid sit down on the bed leaving me one leg in the air facing an open door rolling forth like an endless herd of buffalo on an open plain.
Thus Saturday late morning I though I was back on track to go home.
Instead, just to thwart the ‘going home stats’ my digestive system went on strike and intead of going home my abdomen blew up to 40 week gestation proportions before lots of doctors arrived to poke me. The poking resulted in a spectacular projectile vomit (or six) – I think I hit the foot of the bed.
So they stuck a tube up my nose and down my throat…. not pleasant… but very interesting. I continued being sick but now the green sludge shot down the tube and being of a narrower gauge than my throat I could hurl much further…. all the way into a bag by the bed. This all supposedly takes the pressure off your intestines and lets them kickstart themselves in peace.
With hindsight this is whats been happening to me over the last few months and seeing me reporting to A&E…but then it was becuase I had a lazy section of colon that just couldn’t take the strain… whereas this time it was a naughty naughty colon.
Anyway…. next morning… tube out.
Later that morning…unable to drink again even without feeling sick as system began to shut down again…. so I just stopped drinking and asked to stay on the saline drip.
After that it was a long slow uphill process…. I couldn’t drink other than sips and couldn’t bear to put any food in my mouth except teeny tiny morsels that I then chewed a while before spitting them out.
But I did start pooing.
And I had to save it all to be weighed.
In order to stop me pooing so much (although they claimed it was a space issue) I was moved onto a ward.
One of my co-wardees was an old lady who wandered the wards at night…. this one expects in a hospital… there’s traditionally always one. What one doesn’t expect is for her to have two sons who come on the ward shouting about their mother being abused (she wasn’t – she had one to one nursing) and proceeding to film her rolling on the bed in pain (she was fine until they arrived – but like most old people wanted to go home so played up for the rellies)… they also filmed the rest of the ward and did lots more shouting… my blood pressure was higher at this point than any other point in the whole hospital experience.
I did complain.
That night when she started wandering again she was put in her own single room.
I think it was in the wee small hours of Tuesday morning I woke up and knew I could eat…. I rummaged for my emergency cookie and lo and behold took a bite sized bite and ate it… and another…and another.
So I was farting, pooing and eating (of a fashion)… the only other box I had to tick was the ‘able to walk upstairs’ and I could go home. I went into serious ward circumambulation training.
I wanted to go home.
On Thursday the consultant said if I could eat lunch and keep it down I could go home.
He didn’t specify how much lunch – so I ate a bit (even after five days of no food hospital food is still pretty awful) and when I asked how long I had to keep it down for the nurse answered ‘until you go home’.
Last minute hitch as Megan turned up to pick me up…. my drugs hadn’t come through from pharmacy…. but I crossed my fingers and said I was pretty sure I had some tramadol at home and went home.
A few days taking it very easy.
Then the fun of a wound infection, trip back to A&E and some antibiotics.
But perhaps most importantly at some point my surgical consultant…and specialist oncology nurse both range to say the section of bowel removed had no cancer in it at all. The last dregs must have died off between PET scan and surgery.
Had the PET scan been later or had I taken the waiting option and a second scan there would have been no need for surgery…. but we weren’t to know that. And given I was already decided that the cancer was growing again I’d have been a neurotic mess if I’d waited… and I think I’m better off without a load of scarred necrotic material in my system.
I’m eating normally for the first time in over a year…. I’ve never been so pleased to see a bowl of muesli and some seeded brown bread.
So thats the upside…. the downside is the last month seems to have set me back energywise. My fatigue is back to ridiculous levels… but hey ho…. back to slowly slowly and build up my walking from scratch again. post chemo fatigue can last as long as 6 months… a year… or beyond. I just have to be patient and keep accepting help where its offered.
And special thanks be to my daughter Meg at this point who moved house in Sheffield, dumped all her stuff in her new room and came straight down to take me into hospital and has been taking care of the dog, the boy, the house and me ever since.
She’s a star. A shiny shiny star.