I am pleased to report that coming off the success of Macbeth and a marriage proposal from Tim (I said yes by the way) the second surgery was easy and most welcome in its timing. All of the positive energy in my life and the good health I have had over the last two years with my ileostomy I feel has contributed to what is quickly shaping up to be a rather swift and safe recovery!
Day 1: Surgery. I checked into the hospital at 7:30 a.m. They took me right in and put in an IV asked some typical health questions and gave me a shot of blood thinner (lovenox) in the abdomen as per my doctor’s instructions. Yuck. Once I got all set up, My mother, father, and fiance Tim came into the room and sat and laughed with me while we waited to see the doctor. Dr. Gamagami showed up around 8:30 and informed me that he would be trying a new method for closing up the ileostomy incision. Typically, doctors utilize a staple elliptical suture to close up the ileostomy. This new procedure (which the doc informed me was only the second patient he’d tried it on) basically takes the incision and makes it a circle instead of an oval and almost tucks everything in so that the infection risks are reduced and the scar is ultimately MUCH tinier than the original procedure! I thought, “Well do it! I’m happy to be your guinea pig in this case!”
At 8:57 a.m. on August 5th, the nurse wheeled me out on my little gurney and I kissed my loved ones and my ostomy goodbye (metaphorically anyway)!
At 9:01 a.m. I was introduced to the good people who would be assisting in the procedure. The last thing I recall was light-headed and glaring at the nurse and squeaking, “Hey! Did you drug me?” to which she laughed at replied, “Oh, yes, sweetie, you are going to have some good dreams of your new life now.”
I awoke around 11 a.m. to the sound of vomiting behind a curtain. Apparently somebody had not handled the anethesia well. I could feel a dull pain rattling through the lower right side of my abdomen and a dizziness beyond all comprehension but I knew enough to figure out I was in recovery. Over the course of two hours I woke up quickly and was given ice chips by the nurse on duty who would pop by every now and then and say something to the effect of “Wow, you don’t look like you just had surgery!”
They finally had my room ready around 2 p.m. Pretty swanky digs for a hospital and lord, was it quiet! Soooooooooo fabulous! Much better than my first surgery for sure! I had a flat screen TV, a nice pull out couch for Tim to sleep on and cabinets and drawers galore to keep my stuff!
I was reunited with my family and was given some Toridol via IV for pain. An hour later, I was up and walking around the hall with Tim and did so about once every hour, taking half an hour to nap. That night I managed to hold down some ice cream and some water before taking some more drugs at 9:30 p.m. and turning in for the night.
Day 2: I got up several times during the night to pee as my bladder was waking up and of course them filling me up with all that salt water was definitely a reason to get up every couple of hours. They came in to check vitals and gave me some Vicodin around 3:30 a.m. and then to draw some blood around 4:30 a.m. I slept all right but you know you never really sleep well in hospitals. The funniest part of the evening was the fact that at around 12 a.m. I woke with a start and realized my stomach had grumbled for the first time since my surgery! My bowels were beginning to wake up! Throughout the course of the morning, more sounds and rumbling issued from my guts and I continued to walk farther and more frequently with Tim. I held down some yogurt and farted a couple of times. The key to getting out of the hospital at this stage is one: for your bowels to wake up and two: for you to poop. The doctor came in at around 9:30 a.m. He was incredibly impressed with my progress and told me I could go home! Tim and I looked at each other in disbelief. What? Really? That soon? Although for the last month he and I had been saying to one another, “No more than an overnight stay. This WILL NOT be like the first surgery.” So he sent me off with instructions for care. Namely, that I could not shower and remove the dressings until Sunday. Because of the nature of the wound, he stuffed some dressings inside of it which would be better removed after a couple of days and in a wet situation.
He told me to reintroduce foods slowly and one at a time and did not advise any sort of medication (immodium) or anything but said my body needed to get used to the next circumstances or as Tim likes to call it, “going retro.”
We got home around 11:00 a.m. and the nurses were sad to see me go. “You’re our little rockstar! Good luck!” They were all so sweet, attentive, and helpful. Joliet Silver Cross Hospital is an absolute gem of a place and I had an exceptionally pleasant stay there. I have no doubt those things factored into my good recovery.
I didn’t eat much the rest of the day but walked a ton and drank a lot of orange Pedialyte. My best friend and her fiance came over to visit as did my parents and my sister Alex. It was nice to have the company but I was only too happy to drug up on the Vicodin they sent me home with and go to sleep. I slept from about 10:00 to 2:00 a.m. and got up to pee. All of a sudden, I farted and started pooping. It was the strangest thing after two years of an ileostomy to feel. There was no pain and I have had a lot of control in my bathroom visits since then but it was an amusing sensation and I was rather relieved that it was finally moving through. My body has figured out what it needed to do faster than I anticipated. I took some more Vicodin and went back to bed but got up maybe three more times to poop.
Day 3: I got up around 10:00 a.m. and felt awful. The Vicodin kicked my butt and I was really weak. I had some yogurt in the morning, sat, and slept (not good!) I threw up around 1:00 p.m. because I hadn’t moved very much. After that I drank some water and got back on my feet. I walked for most of the rest of the day, this time tackling stairs and walking in circles around the house while talking to Tim and friends and family. At 6:00 p.m. I felt much better moving and then had some chicken noodle soup for dinner. Everything sat well and I stopped taking Vicodin and switched to 3 Ibuprofen for the incision pain. I pooped maybe 8 times with control that day. It was mostly gas and was really bloody at first but it slowly stopped and began looking like regular stool by the end of the day.
I took some ibuprofen before bed and was able to sleep comfortably on my side surrounded by pillows! Tim called it my pillow brigade. Heating pad also helped for sore back, shoulders, and neck. I slept pretty well (even though I am still growing accustomed to Tim’s snoring :P)
Day 4: I woke up early this morning around 8 a.m. and prepared to take a shower. I felt sooooooo nasty it was such a tremendous relief. I began to take off the dressings and kinda freaked out. I wasn’t really ready to see the new little wound yet. Tim removed about three inches of dressing from the incision and I allowed hot water to run over it for a few minutes. To my surprise and delight it looked like this:
I feel very little pain and this morning Tim made me a scrambled egg for breakfast and I washed the binder that had been wrapped around my torso for protection. It’s sort of like a girdle and I hate it but I know it’s supposed to keep everything tucked in and safe and provide easier and more comfortable mobility. I tend to disagree but hey, doctor’s orders, right? We walked some more today and I drank some orange juice FRICKIN YUM! and I’ve been snacking on pretzels. I had pooped three times today as of 1:00 p.m. and I am learning which foods will help slow down bowel movements and have been doing some more research and writing down my reactions to food. As I introduce things, I am going to write down how long it takes before I have to use the washroom and how it makes me feel. If something gets irritated, I can always try again at a later time. so I feel awesome have tons of energy and recovering quite well!
The only odd thing at this point is that after I eat something maybe 20-30 minutes after I do, I get an odd gas bubble in my right adbomen where my ostomy used to be. Everyone says this is normal and some people years later still get that feeling every so often. A small price to pay. At the present, I have no trouble urinating or pooping and I have pretty decent control at this point without much discomfort or strain.
I feel so blessed to have had such a successful second surgery and I owe it all to an amazing surgeon and hospital staff, the love of my family, friends, and my fiance Tim and his family. I have such a spectacular supportive group of people in my life and am entirely too lucky to have them!
I go to see the doctor in 10 days for check up and to see how I’m healing. I shall continue to update as things progress. But for now, I gotta get myself primed and ready for my best friend’s wedding in two weeks and the start of school the week after that!
Thanks to everyone who has followed me on this journey and who has offered their words of wisdom and experience through such a difficult time. We are all stronger together and writing about this has helped me cope with every challenge that has come. I hope it has helped you all too in some capacity, whether it was finding someone to relate to, an experience to draw from, or a source of information and education. I have met so many wonderful people through this blog and I am soooo grateful for what this has given me.
Stay well! Live, long, healthy and happy lives, my friends!
Meet my pillow brigade!