At last, I’m out of hospital. A week ago today I went in for the long-awaited op. I went through the process of waiting, getting prepped and then going in. The op itself I gather was about 3 or 4 hours long, during which I gather I had my sigmoid colon, right hand side of the large intestine, and 15 cm of the small intestine removed. Later on that evening I passed out twice on the ward, was in a fair bit of pain and had a lot of bloating in the stomach. They rushed me into theatre to carry out a second operation and found out that I had been heavily bleeding in my stomach, loosing about 3 liters of blood. This obviously required blood transfusions – some 10 units in total.
The reason for loosing so much blood was that the layer of blood vessels and fat around the gut had peeled away leaving raw tissue, which was the cause for said bleeding. I spoke to a number of doctors and surgeons (including the surgeon who did the operation) since then, and I was assured that they were meticulous at the end of the operation to join everything, and leave everything as it should be. That being the case, I’m confident that the internal bleeding encountered was nothing directly to do with the operation itself, and some kind of freak event that my body decided to do. As I recover more I will go on a quest for more answers on this, to find out more why this is likely to happen and more importantly if it is a sign of more underlying problems.
After this all happened on the Monday, the following few days I admit are a blur to me. I remember quite a bit of what happened, but I have been on so many drugs and so drowsy from so much happening on the Monday that I only really started to clearly think straight from around Wednesday/Thursday. However, whilst in hospital I was allowed to use my mobile phone, and as I had the fortune to be next to a window I had sporadic signal. I was therefore able to message a couple of people – mainly my sister, dad and housemate – on a daily basis. Any reference to days in this post are largely recalled from going back through these messages to piece together my progress from updates and seeing on what day these messages were sent.
One of the first big signs of recovery was actually going to the loo. In the first few days I simply didn’t go, as the gut itself wasn’t really working. I did, however, have a problem with vomiting. Although I hadn’t eaten I found out from one of the nurses that the gut still produced a lot of fluid – bile. While the gut was not working properly for a few days this bile started to build up and the easiest way for the stomach to get rid of it was to push it up the throat. I can tell you that being sick after abdominal surgery is an interesting experience! In order to manage this, they inserted a tube up my nose, which went back down into the stomach, in order to drain this all away. The pipe was unpleasant to go in, however I did get used to it being there after a while. And I can tell you that the discomfort of the pipe was far more preferable to being physically sick on a regular basis! Once I had started going to the loo properly, this bile was passing through the rest of the gut as it should, which was the sign for the pipe to come out.
Being able to eat properly is helping recovery. Until Thursday I had been on clear fluids only, in order to allow my gut to repair. In order to give my body the nutrients it needed I was fed via a drip in my arm, firstly a water solution to prevent dehydration, and then a high-calorie solution. Fortunately I was able to start eating pretty soon: on Thursday I managed half a pot of Orange jelly, and I’ll tell you that it was one of the nicest things I have ever eaten! The following day I was allowed a soft diet. I was over the moon and gulped down a portion of cottage pie and a portion of icecream for lunch, followed that evening by macaroni-cheese. Since then diet has pretty much returned to normal.
As was agreed when I met with the surgeon, they tried to do the operation via keyhole. That being the case I have two little cuts one either side of the stomach. However as suspected they needed to do a full incision. The cut from the first operation was shorter, appearing to start just above the belly button and going down to a couple of inches below it. This is what I recall from the hazy memory of looking at my stomach after the first operation. The cut as it stands is a bit longer than that. Although I have not actually measured at a guess I would say its about 20 cm long, and has 22 surgical staples down it. These I am told will stay in for about 10 days after leaving hospital, when I can get them removed at the doctors surgery.
Now out I am of course taking it easy: movement is sore when not masked with painkillers, and I am very careful to not overdo things and drop myself back when I have managed to recover so well so far. Someone said to me before the op that afterwards I would feel like I had been kicked in the stomach by a horse. The painkillers wore off yesterday afternoon, and although I have never been kicked in the stomach by a horse, I imagine that if I were then it would feel similar to how I felt! Surprisingly my stomach, back, chest, and shoulder muscles all really ached. I am, however, making sure that I don’t sit for too long; its important for me to keep moving, in order to stop myself ceasing up and to help myself get stronger.
Thats most of the main things that have gone on in the last week. Obviously a lot has gone on in the last week, so this blog is a kind of over view of what has gone on. As always, I hope this is of some use to people, if you want to find out about anything I have written feel free to get in touch.