If you’re wondering how my surgery went, as the saying goes, “it was the best of times and it was the worst of times”.
Sit right back and I’ll tell you a tale about how the surgery turned into an ER visit, a bonus second surgery, and a stay in the ICU.
But spoiler alert: I’m fine now.
The (first) surgery happened on Wednesday and all went well. I was a giant pre-op advocate for myself and told all the nurses, my surgeon, and the anesthesiologist that I needed heavy anti-nausea meds. Please and thank you.
I came to in recovery feeling no pain and zero (and I mean zero) puking. Hurray! I did it. I told the nurses to pack my stuff because I wanted to leave. Not so fast they said…you must pee first, they said.
After surgery, there is a lot of trauma to the nether regions and my mine was unwilling to cooperate with my brain and just pee. So I continued drinking all the water I possibly could to get the show on the road.
In an epic moment of joy and sadness, everything fell into place while I was in the bathroom. Oh, my friends, I peed alright. But I also threw up every single drop of liquid I had consumed in the last 24 hours.
The post-op RN said it was the most he had ever seen anyone had ever thrown up at once. He said it as a statement, but I’m sure I also detected a hint of him being impressed. I’m kind of a big deal like that.
We were finally able to leave and I remember rolling the window down slightly on the drive home because my stomach was still rolling. I got home, hugged the boys, and made my way to bed immediately. I was exhausted and still felt like I would be sick at any minute.
I got into bed and took two of the pills that were prescribed and then slept until 9 pm(ish). The next two hours are fairly blurry to me, but this is the best accounting that I give.
Around 9, I woke up still feeling pretty pukey. I didn’t want to eat anything robust (food seemed horrifying at the moment), but I thought I could handle some of these rosemary crackers that we had on hand.
I got out of bed and saw the living room and kitchen lights on and realized Troy was down the hall. I didn’t want to yell and wake up the boys, so I figured I could make my way down the hallway, ask for crackers, and head back to bed. This plan was formulated without realizing it is 2022 and I could have just called him on my cell.
I maybe took one step into the hallway, heard a VERY loud noise, and everything went dark. That loud nose turned out to be me, taking down the table bedside our bed and then falling into the hallway. Whoops. Troy later said he thought the bookshelves in one of the boys rooms had collapsed.
I came to on the floor thinking “why are our baseboards so scuffed” and “why is Troy shaking me so hard”? Rude. He told me I fainted and I said I had just wanted some crackers, but now that I was up, could I please go to the bathroom to pee?
We have to go through our closet to get to the bathroom. He walked me to the bathroom and then the next thing I knew I was thinking “why are all our clothes sideways on the wall” and “omg, why is Troy yelling at me again? Leave me alone”!
So yeah, I passed out for a second time, but this time Troy was there to catch me. He took my BP and I don’t mean to brag, but it was pretty dang low at 80/40. I definitely don’t do anything halfway.
He called my doc while I was on the floor and she said I needed to get to the ER. Troy mentioned he was going to try to get me in the car but that I kept falling. I remember helpfully mumbling “I can crawl to the car. I’ll be fine”.
At this point, I still really had to pee. I crawled into the bathroom and Troy lifted me up…where I promptly passed out again. But this time, I passed out on the toilet and I did pee. Victory!
Troy safely lowered me to the floor. This time I came to on our bathmat with my head under my pillow. And what was that buzzing noise everywhere and why was my face so hot?
Troy said he had called 911 and for whatever reason, my biggest concern was 1) getting my pants on and 2) my hair must be a total mess after driving home with the windows down. I was laying on the floor hunting around in the drawer behind me for my comb when the medics arrived and put an end to my vanity.
I was taken to the ER and given lots of fluids, an abdominal ultrasound, and then transferred to an inpatient room. My doctor called around 5 am that morning saying the ultrasound showed my abdomen was full of blood and loads of blood clots. She told me I was going to be moved to surgery immediately for a second one to remove everything.
I’ve mentioned before that I used to work for a local nursing college as an academic advisor. In pre-op the day before I had seen my all-time favorite student. She came and said hi and it was so good to see her.
As they wheeled me back to pre-op on Thursday, I saw her again and yelled “hey Kim, guess I just couldn’t get enough of you” and she yelled back “if you wanted to get coffee or lunch, you could have just asked. No need to look this desperate to see me again”. We both had a good laugh.
I was pretty out of it at this point, but I do remember her telling my OR nurse that I was VIP and he better take amazing care of me while I was under.
I met with a different anesthesiologist before this surgery and she promised she was going to throw every single thing she had at me to make sure I didn’t puke again. And they were going to admit me for at least one night, so the whole having to pee before I left wouldn’t be considered. And thus, no excess liquid consumption would need to happen.
The second surgery was laparoscopic and took about two hours. My doc/surgeon pulled in another surgeon to assist and both confirmed that everything was “as dry as a bone” when they finally finished.
The bleeding was coming from behind my right ovary. It was a space that my doc had fully closed during my first surgery, but potentially all my vomiting and then falling wiggled things loose.
My doc had me admitted to the ICU, not because I was that sick (I wasn’t) but so that I would receive that extra level of care that comes with a unit where staffing is one nurse to two patients.
I met with the ICU doctor before being transferred and later my doctor told me he had said “we’ve never had a patient this healthy in our care”. Ha! Give me THAT sticker. I want it.
They transferred me and I slept a lot. I remember being super polite and thanking every single nurse and provider who I met with. They get so much crap, especially after the last 2.5 years of people just being hateful, and I was determined that I was going to be a model patient.
I was also a much happier person when they finally removed me from the a liquid diet on Friday. I had only eaten a few crackers and a fig bar since 8 pm on Tuesday night.
Once I was given lots of liquids, more blood (I had a pint during surgery), and who knows what else, I slept a lot. I was mostly alert by the evening and convinced my nurse to let me put on real pants and underwear. It’s the little things in life, yah know?
When the day shift nurses came on, I realized I had two RNs. I looked more closely at their nametags and realized one was a resident. I knew from previous experience with our students, that the residency program only hired the best of the best from around the country.
The residency program our hospital does is an 18-month job shadow for new nurses. They rotate through all areas of the hospital for a bit and then specialize the closer they get to the end of the program.
I asked the nurse if he was part of this program and he was shocked I knew about it. I explained who I was/what I had done and then mentioned I was more than happy to have a new nurse working on me.
Some patients are not down for that, but I knew the experienced nurse was there the entire time as well. He was thrilled and super appreciative. He also did an absolutely fantastic job and I made sure he knew that.
The goal of getting out there was for my H&H levels to keep climbing. They had dropped quite a bit between the first and second surgery and getting them back to a normal baseline was important.
I had my blood drawn every four hours and was told that I needed three draws in a row showing improvement before I could be sprung from the joint. I fully dressed myself and cleaned up the room in anticipation of getting the heck out of there.
My final draw was around noon and the ICU doc came back and said that I was looking so good he was going to start the discharge paperwork. And that once the bloodwork came back, he just had to press a few buttons, and that I could go.
We got word around 1 pm that I was going home!!! My inlaws were on point to come and get me so that Troy could get Bennett from school.
Before I left and before I got all the discharge instructions, I texted the nursing program’s dean and said tons of wonderful things about their new grads and the care they had given me. I told my trainee nurse that I had bragged about him to the dean and even with a mask on, I could see he was blushing as he said “thank you SO MUCH”.
When we got home, my inlaws stayed downstairs with me while Troy was picking up Bennett. When Troy and Bennett got home, he went upstairs with grammy and grampy (to eat candy in secret!) so that I could use my dad’s ADA shower with a drop-down seat. Third best shower I have ever had in my life.
We came upstairs and instead of being super out of it, I was able to walk to my room. I then promptly grabbed all the strong pain meds that had been subscribed from my bedside table and put them across the room on my desk. Taking only one of each of them had messed with me so hard and I wanted them GONE.
I had managed fine in the ICU just using Tylenol and only two low-dose hydroconde. I wasn’t in any pain and I absolutely would have chosen slight discomfort over the loopy dizzy feeling that came from the heavy-duty narcotics I had access to.
Because I ended up having two surgeries in 24 hours, my body definitely feels all wonky. I have the discomfort like I just had a baby and then also a c-section 18 hours later. My friend Anne called it “the most inefficient way to birth twins ever”.
Learning to physically do things without using my abs has been a real learning experience. As someone with a strong core, I always took it for granted. Well, consider me humbled and willing to learn. And before you suggest it, the doc and nurses all said that a belly belt would be overkill for me at this point.
While I was down for the count, so many people pitched in. Troy was on point with the kids, his cousin took them to school, his parents came over so I could go to the ER, my mother-in-law made me soup, my sister came to visit me (and offered to smuggle me food when I was still on a liquid diet), my pastor was praying for me, church sent me flowers, and friends sent me flowers and chocolates and checked in on my health.
And my friend who is deathly scared of needles financially donated to the American Red Cross because I had received blood from someone else. I was truly surrounded by love.
I’ve been home since Friday evening and am mostly staying in bed. It’s truly so boring and is killing my back as I attempt to find comfortable ways to position myself. I have been slowly walking to the kitchen and moving around to try to stretch out my sore back. Sitting on the couch and at my computer desk feels like a treat.
I am currently just tired but not in any pain. I continue to take Tylenol to stay ahead of any potential pain, but am giving everything else a very wide berth.
This was not the way I expected surgery to go. At all. But the (nearly) worst-case scenario happened and I’m thru it. Onward from here. And by onward, I mean sitting in bed watching Community on Hulu while eating soup.
Even with all this drama, I would 100% do it again if given the choice between continuing to have horrible periods or recovering from two surgeries. That’s right, this whole thing is better than my periods were.
PS, after being under general anestethia twice in 24 hours, I’m still a bit foggy. If you feel the need to correct my spelling or grammar, you’re truly a bad person who needs a hobby.
ON SUSTAINABLE COOKS THIS WEEK
I did schedule out all my posts before surgery, so there was some new stuff on the blog this week!