Hmmm well I should probably get my story out before it's no longer fresh in my mind... Hope somebody finds my experience useful. Keep in mind for a lot of this I was on a LOT of drugs. The order may be incorrect and some things may be unintentionally mis-attributed. I do my best.
Night before surgery I drank the Go Lytely. I chose the lemon lime packets. The first glass was the worst. I tried the hold your nose and drink strategy but it didn't help too much. I definitely wasn't able to drink 8 oz every 10 minutes... I wasn't supposed to have anything to eat or drink after midnight so at 11:50 I called it quits. I think I managed 74/80 ounces. I know they tell you to drink it all but I think that was close enough.
Morning of the surgery I got up, showered, put on my "freshly laundered, warm, comfortable clothes." My mom didn't realize what time it was and my OH didn't know how pressed for time we were. I was grumpy and stressed. We left a little later than planned. When we got to the hospital my mom dropped me off at the front entrance and then parked the car. I checked in with the intake guy. He goes, "Oh day surgery that's good." I didn't know what that meant so I just smiled. Got my bracelet printed off. We went to the surgery waiting room. The lady who checked me in there said it would be day surgery and I would be going home that day. I said, "My surgeon told me I would be in the hospital for five days." The lady said something to the effect of sometimes your doctor doesn't know, or something. This made me nervous. I didn't want to go home if my doc thought I should be there for five days!
Next I went to the room where they prep you for the OR. I took off my clothes and put on my gown. Lots of people came in to the room. Things were being strapped to me. People were introducing themselves and asking me redundant questions. A nice lady injected some local anesthetic and I didn't even feel my IV go in. I ask for the patch to go behind my ear for nausea and someone puts that on. My doc came in and asked if we were ready. I voiced my concerns about people saying this would be day surgery. My doctor told me no way would I be going home that day and not to worry. I felt better. The anesthetist came in. He said he was going to give me something to relax me. I didn't realize it was going to knock me out so I didn't brace myself for that. He gave me the stuff and I looked at my mom and started imitating David After the Dentist (link
). I guess everybody thought that was pretty funny. I remember they started wheeling me away and laughing my head off... I guess I was pretty impressed with myself? Last thing I remember is being mid laugh.
I wake up in recovery. My eyes are really, REALLY blurry. I keep trying to get them to focus. There is a bed with a man to my left and an empty bed to my right. I am extremely nauseous. Eventually a woman is wheeled to the spot to my right. The nurse asks if I want pain meds, I refuse. In retrospect, a bad choice. She tells someone else that I've been in pain for so long I don't want her giving me pain meds (I am pretty sure that actually happened). After a while she calls someone on the phone, tells them I have the patch on my ear, have been given two other anti-nausea meds (IIRC Zofran and another ?) and makes a request for Compazine. They grant her the request. She gives it to me and either it makes me feel better or I start coming out of the anesthesia a little better, but they are ready to move me. A nice lady comes and wheels me out and about. I'm taken to the freight elevator and moved from the third floor to the 8th.
They get to my room and this is the worst part. They have to move me from the OR bed to my recovery room bed. I am on and inflatable air mattress. They inflate it and drag me to my new bed. This hurt like I couldn't believe. Next they roll me to my right side to get the mattress free on that side, then my left side to get it out from under me. OMG I thought I was going to die.
My mom was there or came there shortly. My OH arrived a few minutes after they had moved me (good timing). He gave me a stuffed sloth he had ordered for me. I can't even tell you what a comfort this was. I clung to him. It made me feel so much better, or maybe just ok with how awful I felt.
I met my nurse and aid and they took my vitals every hour for four hours and then every four hours for the remainder of my stay.
I found out pretty quickly that my catheter wasn't working, although the nurses never believed me. The first time it happened I told the nurse I felt like I needed to pee. They said that was normal just because there was a foreign object there, which made sense. But pretty soon it started to hurt. They would move the tubing and suddenly I would "start peeing" and they would declare it was working. This happened at least three times. One time I had to wait quite a while before they answered my call button and the pain just kept getting worse. This was my first day after surgery so I was very limited in my mobility. They told me they would remove it the next morning so I was counting down the hours. Eventually I figured out that if I swung my legs over the bed and attempted to stand, that would get it going again. But it still pisses me off (haha) that they didn't believe me, even though three times in a row my pee would start flowing only AFTER they started fixing the tubing. GRR. One nurse even filled my bladder with saline and then exclaimed, "Oh, it's not coming out." So I can't tell you how happy I was when they took that thing out.
Apparently a new federal regulation if you have a PCA (patient controlled narcotics, not sure what the A stands for) button, they have to have a monitor of your O2 and pulse. Well I kept setting the machine off when I fell asleep, my breathing would slow down too much. So they put me on oxygen. This was the beginning of my anxiety starting to creep in. All those things hooked to me and alarms going off frayed my nerves completely.
I had a JP drain that they would check every few hours and after a few days that stopped working as well and I started soaking through my dressing which was gross and uncomfortable. One of my nurses stripped the drain for me, but it never worked as well after that.
Most of my days in the hospital consisted of a doctor visit and the nurse and aid introducing themselves to me. The first day I hit my pain button every half hour or so, I didn't want the pain to get ahead of me. The next day every 45 minutes or hour. After that I didn't hit my pain button much at all. Either the Dilaudid or the anesthesia (probably the latter) made me all itchy. When I told them about that they said they would give me Benadryl. I requested to be given that in the evening, because it puts me to sleep. That night they gave me a dose and within seconds my head was swimming. I felt like I was going to pass out. In an effort to stay conscious I was futzing around on my laptop. Well I didn't know it, but typing was setting off my oxygen (I thought it was the Benadryl) so I start freaking out even more. When my mom pointed out that the machine went off when I typed, I calmed down a bit. The nurse asked if I'd ever had panic attacks. Then she told me to not fight the Benadryl and I tried to go to sleep. Whew!
The second day was my best day in the hospital I think. After that I tried reducing my pain button usage and getting around was a little more "rough," although I managed. I was supposed to walk at least twice a day. I had these things around my legs, I called them water wings. They filled with air at intervals to help the blood go back up my legs and prevent a blood clot. These were the biggest obstacle to being independent in getting out of bed and walking around. After my second or so trip to the bathroom I asked my nurse or aid to show me how to detach everything so I wouldn't have to call them.
I tried the chewing gum trick but I don't think it helped me. My stomach was slow to wake up and I hadn't really had a "real" bowel movement by the time I went home. The first few days I was kept on fluids from the IV and allowed to eat ice chips only. I loved my ice chips. Then one day I was allowed to have soup and juice. Oh nectar of the Gods! That soup would make me gag normally (vegetable medley). My doctor told me she would change my protocol to solid foods but SHE DIDN'T and then they couldn't get a hold of her so I was kept on liquids. Boo!
Eventually I met my milestones and was cleared to go home. We waited quite a while for the doctor to visit me (not my surgeon, but he had been in my surgery). There was a sign on the wall that said, "We strive to discharge patients by 11 a.m." But the docs don't care. Haha. He told me I could go home so my nurse came to remove my staples and drain. She told me to hit my pain button. She removed the drain which was really painful but so quick. Then she overrode my pain protocol so I could hit my pain button again. She removed my tape. This was actually the most painful part. Not because the tape hurt, but because it tickled, and my muscles would twitch/contract and that was excruciating! The staples came out fairly uneventfully (although I think she missed one). I didn't even feel her take out my IV. She put Steri-Strips over my incision and told me to let them fall off naturally and trim the ends if they curled up. So far most of them are still whole and still on (a week later). She put a big ole piece of gauze over where the drain was removed and a clear plastic window over that. She told me to leave that for three days.
The clear plastic thing was supposed to be water proof but it would leak after I took a shower. I was really glad when I got to take that off. My first day home I tried not to use my muscles too much. I only took two Dilaudid after being let out of the hospital. I don't really have any pain "at rest" and the pain when I'm active is really pretty minimal. Honestly aside from what I described as specifically painful, the pain of the whole ordeal was considerably less than what I had been in. It makes me feel like I really should have been on pain medication a loooooong time ago. I just hate it and I think I become addicted easily (by this I mean I am addicted to caffeine), so I try not to take it.
I am doing pretty well now. I saw my GI and he thinks I am healing well. I hope I haven't forgotten anything. If you have any questions about my experience please feel free to ask. Sorry I switch tense at least once back there, I know it's jarring.