Thursday, March 21, 2013

The ordeal (part 2)

That first Saturday when I was in the hospital, after the dumpy power mad nurse practitioner had led her cadre of followers out of my room, I was as used to the tube in my nose and stomach as I was going to get.  It was pumping out what seemed like gallons of nasty reddish colored stuff from deep in my stomach.  We still held out hope that the obstruction was going to dislodge itself, but alas it did not. 

The next day the surgeon came to see me.  He told me the cardiologist I had seen the day before had cleared me for surgery if I needed it.  He said that judging by the color of the stuff that was coming out of my stomach that I was very likely to need surgery but he wanted to wait another day to see if things resolved themselves.  I begged him to operate on me because I was miserable.  I wanted the whole thing to be over.  Sparky disagreed and the surgeon agreed not to operate.  But still I begged.

I knew Sparky was dead tired and needed to get out of my room for awhile or else she'd go insane, so I told her to go home for awhile.  Reluctantly she agreed.  About 15 minutes after she left the surgeon called my room and said he was going to operate on me that day.  He asked if that was okay.  I said hell yes, let's do it.  So I scrambled, as much as one can scramble when laid low and hooked up to IV's and the like, to call Sparky to let her know I was going in for surgery.  I called and left messages with friends of ours who live a few blocks away and with her parents.  Finally she answered the phone, she'd been out running errands.  I told her the good news and she said she'd be back in a few minutes.

By the time she got back I was being wheeled out on a gurney.  She wished me luck and they took me in for surgery.  The stocky anesthesiologist bent over me and said he was going to give me something to help me sleep, next thing I know I woke up and Sparky was telling me not to dislodge the feeding tube or the oxygen mask they had put on me.  The good news is the surgery was successful and they took out the section of bowel that was blocked by what turned out to be two cancerous lesions that the surgeon said were the size of Jolly Rancher candies.  They also took out my gall bladder.   I slept the rest of that Sunday and most of the next day as well.  They hooked me up to a morphine pain pump which I got to control and believe me when I say I pumped that shit into me as much as possible because I was in serious pain.  My incision went from my pubic hair line to near the bottom of my sternum and they didn't stitch it back up, they stapled it.  And bear in mind that I hadn't pooped and barely had peed since the previous Thursday. 

The surgeon told me that I could get the tubes out of my nose and go home as after I had a bowel movement and I ate something and kept it down.  But until then I was only allowed to eat ice chips and have my mouth and lips swabbed with water or if I could get away with it, ginger ale.  Slowly I recovered enough to stand on my own and to go to the bathroom with a little help.  I got to take a shower that Wednesday and after that shower I got to shave and brush my teeth.  During all that the feeding tube got dislodged and they took it out. 

I was miserable the rest of that week.  I could not eat, couldn't poop, could barely pee, and I had to put up with nurses who were petty and some dumb ass doctors.  The late nights were the worst, laying there in that bed wishing I could drink something, eat something, or shit something so I could go home.  Sparky was miserable too.  She sat with me but the more I suffered the more she suffered along with me. 

Finally Friday night around 11:30 PM after Sparky had gone home I pressed the button to summon a surly nurse and one came in to help me in to the bathroom.  I sat down and after having two suppositories, one Thursday and one earlier that Friday, I finally shit.  I filled that toilet with some of the most foul looking and smelling diarrhea known to man, but by gawd, I was elated because it meant the tubes would come out the next morning.  And sure enough around 7:15 AM the surgeon came in and I told him I finally shat and he pulled the tube out of my nose.  I could finally breathe and swallow without tasting plastic.  I was on a liquid diet all that day and I gorged on Jell-O, juice, and broth.

The next day I got to eat solid food for the first time in over a week and after I vomited up that morning's broth, I managed to keep down the half of chicken salad sandwich I had for lunch.  They let me go finally around 3PM and Sparky drove us home.  I was still in much pain and it hurt to move but by gawd I was home.

Most of the next week all I could do was lay on the couch and sleep.  And I had to poop every hour to hour and a half, they'd given me three doses of stool softener.  It was painful going because of the staples and the near constant pooping but slowly I got better.  After that first week I got the staples out and I went back to sleeping our bed, it was too hard to get in and out of it with the staples and I had to be near a bathroom due to my ever present bowel movements.

I'm much better now thanks to Sparky and my friends who came to visit me in the hospital and while I was recuperating at home.  I go see the oncologist in a few days to see if I have any more cancer in me but to tell the truth, I'm not scared of what he might find.  I feel like the worst part of my ordeal is over and if there is more cancer, then we'll deal with it. 

As far as the whole hospital thing goes, I can say the Franklin Woods Community Hospital is a beautiful facility that is staffed with a crew of doctors and nurses who are clearly not ready for prime time.  Most, but not all, of the nurses who I encountered acted like they were put upon and that I was somehow a burden.  The staff doctors I encountered were either ineffectual or so desperate for approval that they would do anything to get you to like them.  However, my surgeon, Dr. Luis, and the oncologist, Dr. Palmeri, were both top notch and were professional.  They treated me like an adult, they didn't condescend to me and they cut right to the chase and told me what was going on and what needed to be done.  I give them both high marks.  

 So, we'll see what the future holds.


mbarnato said...

Dr M, it sounds like you've turned the corner on the initial phase of this mucky illness! We hope so! One foot in front of the other while you recuperate. Take advantage of your friends' offers of help; everyone benefits. I'd come visit you if I could...

Caffeinated Joe said...

Sounds like ordeal is a mild way to put it. Hoping for the best when you meat the oncologist. Here's to happier times ahead for you and Sparky, too!

K.Line said...

Lord, this experience sounds - how to put it optimistically? - character-building. I cannot imagine how scary and painful it must have been. So glad you are on the mend and I'm very hopeful they got all the cancer and you will be well.

gmb said...

You have the right outlook. Great. I'm glad you like your surgeon and oncologist. Screw the rest of them--they are supposed to be there to help you. Remind them of that. God, I hate it when some functionary feels like he or she can and will do whatever the fuck they want because they can. They only can until someone finally slaps them and puts them in their place. Hope you don't have to deal with that bullshit again.

Margaret Benbow said...

Obviously you've stayed mentally very strong, and the physical healing will follow. Sounds like the doctors who counted (esp. the surgeon) were good at their jobs.
The worst is over.