No big surprise I had my first real night of rest last night. I actually had three different dreams (none that I can really remember at this point) which must mean that I actually did fall into some deep sleeps. I just thought I would jot some notes to tell you from my perspective about the last 3 weeks.
How I got back to Methodist Hospital
The overall feeling is the colon never ever worked properly from my first surgery. Dr. Belzer spent a lot of time visiting with several doctors about my case and in his 12 years of practice he told me he had never seen anything like this. I can’t even describe how I feel, but this time it definitly feels internally different. Bascially the way I ended up in the hospital is the last few days before being admitted was eatin a lot of regular foods and was back on a regular diet. All that food through the non-operating colon locked shut my sstem down. When I went to the emergency room I was in a ton of pain and was vomiting. As soon as I got some drugs in me and got admitted to my prison cell(hospital room), I started to feel better. The ER doctor told me not to worry and that I would probably only be in for 24-48 hours(this is a good example on why they don’t give you Discharge dates.
After 4 days of waiting for my body to respond, Dr. Belzer decided on surgery again. Truely Dr. Belzer is an amazing Dr. and man. He apologized several times that I was having to go through everything I did. He tells it like it is but is very compassionate. Dr. Blezer’s father passed away from colon cancer so he is masterfully aware of how awful and devastating this disease is. While waiting for those 4 days there was a lot of nervousness and worry on my part because I didn’t want a 2nd surgery. I was especially concerned about the possibility that I would have a temporary colostomy. Mentally and physically I was worried about that possibility. If I could get past the mental part of it, there was the physical part of having one of my organs on the outside of my body. I couldn’t imagine all the complications that could come with that-especially knowing my luck recently. By the end though God granted me some internal peace that whatever needed to be done was going to be done and I would push through it.
My family probably knows more about this section of my stay than me. It was a long drawn out procedure in which I heard 4 doctors or specialists were in the room to pull me through. The procedure lasted 6 hours and must have been horribly excrucitating for all that waited at the hospital for me to get out. I woke up in recovery and felt horrible. I was in pain, was terribly exhausted and was having a hard time swallowing as a tube was down my throat. I got back to my hospital room at 11 p.m. At 5 a.m. I paged the nurses and told them I wanted to get up and walk. During your stay, especially after a colon surgery, they want you to get up and walk whenever you can. This helps prevent blood clots and helps your body recover. So at 5 a.m. I decided to show them and myself that I wasn’t going to be staying long. I had surgery on Thursday the 18th, our 9th wedding anniversary. On Friday late morning they pulled out my NG tube and I thought I was on my way. On Saturday I was sitting up and visiting with family in one of the TV rooms. At this point I thought was doing really well. Later friends and family told me I didn’t look too good.
First major setback-the NG tube
10% of Dr. Belzer’s colon surgery patients get problems with their stomachs filling with fluids. Again as my luck would have it, I fell into that group. First thing Tuesday morning they shoved a NG tube into my stomach and began to drain it. I immediatly filled up a container with 64 ounces of nastiness. The NG tube is shoved through the nostril of your nose, down your throat and then into your stomach. Yes, you are awake for this procedure and yes it hurts a lot. Bascially it is like having your septic tank pumped, lots of green/brown algae was sucked out of me. Yes you can see it all go through the clears lines of the tubes. Not only does this tube hurt a lot upon entry, but the hurt doesn’t go away. The tube is taped on to your nose and hooked up to a suction tank. Because of that your head gets pulled toward the side of the tube tank and you don’t want to move or it will pull on the inside of your nose. Also since the tube is down the back of the throat, you can’t swallow or clear your throat without pain so talking is very hard. I realized I needed it done and even though I had pain, 4 hours later I was feeling better. The problem is they are very conservative and hesitant to pull the tube out as they don’t want to have to shove into you again. So for another 2-3 days it stayed in me. Sleeping and rest were near impossible.
After about 30 hours of having the tube in my throat the doctors were ready to pull it and said Iwas doing great. Before they pulled it though they wanted to make sure my body was clear so they gave me a CT scan. Unlucky for me( sounds like a theme, doesn’t it?) they found a small obstruction in now my small intestine. That meant the tube stayed in and my progressed was delayed.
Due to having the tube in my throat, I got a lung bacteria infection. By the afternoon of Thursday the 25th I was starting to have difficulty breathing, had a fever of 102 and was very dizzy and light-headed. At 5 p.m. I told the nurses to page the doctor as I knew I was in alot of trouble. After 30 minutes no doctors showed up and I told the nurses if they didn’t come soon I would Page the emergency response team. 15 minutes later two doctors showed up and said to pul the tube. As sad as it sounds this was one of the best things I have heard in my entire life. The nurse yanked my tube and I felt a 100% better right away. Oh yeah the pulling of the tube is not a pleasurable experince either.
The gall bladder thing. This delayed my release one more day. The doctors were split on why I was having the pain. It is known that some Colon surgery patients have gall bladder issues as stuff gets backed up into the gall bladder post-surgery. Initially Dr. Belzer said it was gas, my Oncologist said it was muscles trying to heal. By day 2 of the pain they decided to get me an ultrasound. It took3 Ultrasound operators to get the pictures as they couldn’t see my gall bladder. That caused me a bit of a concern. Also since it was near the end of the day, I wouldn’t get results until the next day. Of course I was thinking, not another surgery. But this all ended up working out o.k. as they just found a pocket of gas that was stuck next to the gall bladder(Belzer was right after all).
I had 4 different roommates over the first 14 days of my stay. This is uncomfortable and leads to even more lack of rest and sleep. My last roommate was a gentleman who is 67 years old. He was similar to me in that he had colon cancer and it had moved to his liver. The problem with him is the cancer was moving rapidly and he responded poorly to chemo. What it all added up to was him having to make a choice of give up or fight it. Physically the worst 4 days of my stay were shared with him and his family. His family came in every day to try and make this life and death decision. You are separated by a curtain so I was essentially a part of all of those decisions. When he was alone he told me he hoped that I would never have to hear the statement, “you have 6 months to live”. So not only did I take a beating physically, but mentally I was getting tore down. Ultimately he chose to give up the fight and have hospice medicate him for his last 6 months. As fate would have it, 3 hours after him being checked out the offered me a private room. The nurses were worried about me and took pity.
They were awesome! Not perfect but very good. I made friends with many of the nurses and nurses assistants. Several of them stopped off daily just to check in, even though they weren’t assigned to me. Many of them liked to come in and hang out as I was very low maintenance compared to many of the other cancer patients on the 4th floor.
This was tough as there were many days I felt off or couldn’t even talk. Seriously if you didn’t see me, you were lucky as I looked pretty rough(I still look rough). Luckily they assigned a Hospital Chaplin too help take care of me mentally. Also two pastors from my church stopped out to see me.
I am going to wrap this thing up as it has become a novel. Through it all I never gave up hope and always prayed for healing and better days. Time for me to rest some more. Again thanks for all your prayers and thoughts. I’m on probably more than 12 prayer chains nationwide and could use all that you got as I am still only half way through it. They have delayed chemo treatments another week as I need to build up my strength to get ready for them again. For now it is just rest and love.
May God bless all of you,