Saturday, April 9, 2011

Updating from the Hospital

The wall calendar across from my hospital bed says it's Saturday, April 9. I guess it must be, but how we got here from March 29, I don't remember at all.

You know that .00001 percent chance that a lapro gallbladder removal won't be successful?

Well, blog world, that's me. I'm your nearly zero percent chance of failure.

Before I start dishing out the drama, let me say I do believe I will be fine .... hopefully soon.

But yes, right now I am in the hospital, I have been for several days (this is also my second admission since the original surgery) and I'll be here for at least a couple of more days. If any of you have spent time in a hospital, you know it's just not fun. In some ways, I'm glad I've been too sick to notice anything for most of my stay. Now I'm finally getting more alert and .... well, it's not pretty.

So, to the good stuff! What happened, you ask? When last I left you I was on my way to the doctor's office Friday, March 25, a few days after what we all thought was a successful gallbladder removal and a fairly normal recovery. My biggest worry was how the gas they use in the procedure had bloated up my belly.

Doc said I was healing nicely, told me to keep moving, sent me home. I did as he said, didn't go to work Saturday, but felt like I would be ready by that coming Tuesday, the 29th.

Slowly, over the weekend, I noticed a gradual shift in my recovery. Things seemed to be headed in reverse, in a way. Where I'd had less and less bloating, I started noting more and more. By Monday, I was fighting intermittent but very definitive waves of nausea. I'd only barely started nibbling solid food Friday, and by Monday night I'd stopped eating again.

Monday night, sitting on my bed reading with the cat beside me, I suddenly felt a small little furl of heat up my belly. That was my only warning, and then the flare was an inferno. A raging, searing pain hit me in my whole stomach, and I shot off the bed, eyes wild, and started pacing, figuring, wow, I must have the most awful post-surgery gas in the world.

Twenty minutes of that, with no abatement, and I thought, I'll take pain pills.

Promptly threw them up. OK, I figured, stomach can't handle those right now. Don't panic. Keep walking.

It finally eased after about an hour, and I collapsed, grateful, on the chair. Thank God it's over, I thought. Hah.

The same thing happened, again and again and again all night long, roughly every few hours, and the vomiting grew more severe, as did the pain. It was like someone was running a blowtorch over the inside of my stomach, burning me from the inside. I couldn't keep down any pain meds, and by morning I was a mess. M bundled me into a cab, and weeping and grimacing, we got to the doc's.

He said it would likely clear up, was some loose bile, gave me different pain pills I could keep down, and told me to drink gatorade and call him in the morning. The pain pills knocked me out, blisffully, and if I timed things right I could keep down about 1/2 of what I drank. But Wed the 30th, I was thinking I couldn't handle another day of this.

The doc thought so too. Come back in, he said. That meant I had to get myself back there again alone, since M had left for work already. Thankfully he'd laid out clothes for me, and what I couldn't get on (socks, bra), I left.

Back in his office, sweaty, stinky, numb from painkillers but with the agony clenching away at my gut, the doc sent me for a radiology exam. You know... the one where you have to drink six cups of disgusting barium.

Let's just say it was a terribly experience for everyone involved, me and the tech staff, who were incredibly helpful and understanding. Once they felt I'd kept enough down, they did the test quickly and as painlessly as possible, but I was still barely able to stay on my feet after all was over.

I'll fast forward here, there are so many terrible details to note -- some as commentary on our medical system --but this will take hours if I don't move along.

I was admitted to the hospital once the test showed a definitive leak of bile from the damaged duct. I spent a horrible night undergoing surgeries for another procedure, and the next day was under general anesthesia again for a stent placement. Another night to recover, then I was discharged Friday April 1. Yes, what a fool was I.

We all thought the problem was solved and things would resolve gradually. I did start to feel better as the weekend progressed. But by Sunday night, things were headed South again. I still couldn't eat anything, and then I got diarrhea, and more pain, and .... oh, just awful distress. I was exhausted, and still recovering from the last bout, so my body gave out very quickly. Also, my stomach seemed to be swelling -- it was so tender and distended. By Monday, my knees were buckling briefly before going steady everytime I got up from the chair or bed. I couldn't bear to have anyone touch my stomach. I called the doc, he said take Immodium AD, and call me in the morning.

I said ok, popped another pain pill, laid down to find a comfy position, and a few hours later (needing the bathroom), realized I couldn't get up from the bed on my own. I had to wait for M to get home from work to help me sit up.

Tuesday, I went into the doc's office. I don't know how I got there, I really don't. I hobbled like a 90 yr old. Octogenarians held doors for me when I tried to get into the facility I needed.

The doc looked at me, called for a wheel chair, and send me down for ANOTHER barium exam. The only way to know for sure what's going on, he said.

More torture later, and we had our answer: stent repair didn't stop leak, and the belly was dangerously full of fluid.

I was back in the hospital. This was April 5 (I think). But before I was even wheeled to my room, my doc sent me to an imaging center where two docs laid me out like a sixth-grade frog dissection project and implanted two drains -- one on other side of me. They're in there still, drawing and sucking.

Incredibly weird to be awake but numb (ish) while they push really, really, really long tubes into you. Weird and gross and kind of miraculous too.

Once that was down, without pause, I was wheeled into another room, put under general anesthesia, and a second stent repair attempt was made. We shall see if it holds.

So, while this went on the lab guys ran my blood and found elevated white count (sign of poss infection) and I came out with a temp/fever and a "tacky" heart rate, so I was stuck in special sort of recovery room. I vaguely recall young residents appearing in the wee hours, whispering and scribbling about peritoneal cavities and sepsis and fevers.

Two days later, I'm mobile but limited because of the drains, and the painful areas where they are still stuck in, but I'm a normal temp, a normal white count, and am moving on to more and more solid food. Only a few more days will tell if the second stent repair worked -- the drain closest to the damaged duct is still producing a lot of fluid every few hours. That's either a sign there was a huge build up there (likely) or that the leak is still a problem (time will verify).

I have to wait, relax, and be patient. Hopsitals are hard places to be when you no longer really feel sick. But I need to heal, so I'm holding on and trying to stay busy. I'm still very tired, not quite myself.

By the way, SOD says I gained 20 lbs in past week here -- that's from all the fluids they shoved into me. Slowly going down (I hope!).

More later -- must rest now.


  1. Oh hell!!! I have been wondering how you were doing.

    I am so sorry you are going through this suffering. Poor you...I certainly hope this surgery was successful and that you are on the road to recovery.

    Hugs to you. Take care.

  2. Oh no:( I hope things turn around and you start recovering. Hugs.

  3. I am so sorry that you have had such complications! I hope this latest stent procedure does what it's supposed to do and you will be on the road to recovery!

  4. Holy friggidy hell!!!!!

    *healing vibes*

    Get better!

  5. I was just thinking about you the other day and was wondering how you were doing. I am so, so sorry you are going through all of this!

    I hope that you truly are on the upswing now.

  6. Damn... :( Sounds all to familiar. I almost died from my gallbladder removal. Frickin!!! Medical system and it's BS. Hope they get this fixed fast and you get on the mend soon. (((hugs)))

  7. What a nightmare. I'm so sorry... truly you are the exception. Maybe with your one-in-a-million luck, you should buy a lottery ticket! You'd probably win. Take care, rest, and heal for good this time. Glad to get an update because I missed you.

  8. Praying that you begin to heal fast. I'm sorry you had such a nightmare of problems. Take care my friend and just heal and get better. God Bless!!

  9. ISH!!!! I was wondering what was going on! SOOOO sorry to hear about your complications. Know that you are in our thoughts, and we're sending some serious healing e-hugs down your way!! Take care, and when you are up to it, let us know how you are doing!

  10. Oh my goodness! I'm so sorry you've had to deal with all these complications. Glad to get an update from you, though, and I'm hoping that this is the end of the hospital action for you!

  11. Wishing you a speedy recovery!!!