Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another Update

Well, I was finally released from the hospital on October 5, 2009. I have not had the gallbladder removal yet, but I should know more about that after seeing the surgeon this week.

They never did repeat the endoscopic procedure. It was scheduled for September 21, and about an hour and a half before they were supposed to do it, I was informed that it had been canceled. I later learned that anesthesia was responsible for the cancellation. That same day they decided to change the amount of pain killer I received on a consistent basis through the pain pump. I had a pain attack that night, and the reduction of pain killer may have been part of it. However, from what I remember of it, I woke up in pain, so not being able to hit the button to get additional pain killer probably was also responsible for it.

They ended up doing another CT scan the next day (Wednesday), and they found pseudo-cysts. This was something they warned me could happen, so I was not completely caught off guard, but it still was not happy news. Making things more stressful, the surgeon came to see me that night, and told me the pancreas was not calming down, and he started talking about sending me home with the picc line still in and IV nutrition. I found out the next morning that he had not talked with any of the other doctors about this yet. It turns out he is of a slightly older school of thought, so that at least made me feel better. Fortunately the GI doctor and Hospitalist who were in rotation at that time did not agree about sending me home on IV nutrition.

They continued to reduce the amount of painkiller I received through the pain pump. I was all for this. I could not go home as long as I was on the pain pump, and frankly the pain meds tended to make me nauseous. They also gave me headaches and caused weird dreams.

On Friday they fixed it so the only pain killer I received from the pain pump was when I hit the button, and they changed it so while it was a higher dose, I could only get the meds every 20 minutes instead of the every 15 I had previously been able to get them. They also let me try eating toast. I ate the toast very slowly, not wanting to upset my stomach. Even though I was on clear liquids and Ensure by this point, I could only drink so much at once without upsetting my stomach. I was doing fine for a while, and then a pain attack hit. I am not sure if it was toast, the reduction in painkiller, or a combination of the two, but it was bad. I ended up getting sick to my stomach which made me feel better eventually, but that made me really sore. I had previously been sick to my stomach from the CT scan. Having to drink all that water with the contrast stuff in a short time before the CT scan had not gone over well on my stomach, and then I got sick again after they injected the dye. I am relieved to know that is common.

Later that night they moved me to another room. I guess they needed a room in the post-surgical area, so I was okay with it. They moved me at about 11:30 p.m. that night, and I swear, I think they hit every bump possible. I was still really sore from having been sick to my stomach earlier, and every bump hurt. That and it made me nauseous. By the time they got me to the new room, I told them I needed something for the nausea, and that I couldn't wait for a sublingual one to work.

The new room was in the new addition of the hospital. It turns out my room was pretty much right underneath the helicopter landing pads. There was an empty floor between my room and the landing pads, but it really did not do much to dampen the noise. Also, the wifi signal in that area was not strong enough for me to use some of my programs, so getting email and going to weekly chat was more complicated too. At least I could still surf the internet though--I would have gone nuts otherwise, because I still did not feel up to knitting.

I cannot quite remember when, I think it was maybe Sunday or Monday, but I started eating toast again along with a soft, bland diet. Eventually they removed the IV nutrition to try to stimulate my appetite. I still took it pretty easy though. A piece of toast here, some broth there, rice, and ensure pretty much composed my diet. I also ended up having cottage cheese for a mid-morning snack and cheese and crackers for a mid-afternoon snack. However, I started having issues with room services bringing the wrong stuff. A lot of time they brought vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and they kept bringing the wrong cheese with the crackers. The first time they did this I tried eating some of the cheese, then decided I did not want to eat it. The second time, I told them it was supposed to be string cheese, so they went and got the right one. The next day, they brought the wrong one again, I pointed it out to the person, and he told me they did not have string cheese (different person than the day before).

On September 30, one of my friends had a hysterectomy, and I asked my doctor if I could go visit her, or would I need to have someone accompany me. He said if they could take me off the pain pump, I could go by myself, so I agreed. They had been switching me over to oral pain killers for the consistent medication, so it was not much of a jump, and I do not think I used the extra pain killer that much.

Visiting my friend was good for my mental outlook. However, when I got back to my room, I found out they were going to put me on a heart monitor due to my high heart rate. I tried pointing out to them that part of it was being moved to the new unit. It had been high most of my hospital stay, but it had gone up after being moved from post-surgical. I think part of it was the extra noise and the computer not working as well as it had in the other areas of the hospital. Part of it may have also been due the change in pain meds too, but I am not sure. My friend came to visit me the next morning after she was discharged, and she was surprised that I had walked all the way from my room to where she had been. I had taken it slowly, and I had been up walking a lot during my hospital stay, so it really did not seem like that much to me.

Sometime that morning after my friend left, the hospitalist came in and told me I needed a transfusion, because I was really anemic. This freaked me out and I asked if we could get the iron levels up through pills. He said it would take weeks. I did feel better after the transfusion, but I had some mixed emotions. I was really glad that I donate blood some what regularly--good karma and all, but I was bummed too, because I will not be able to donate blood for a while now (looks like a year if I understand the blood center's guidelines correctly).

The transfusion helped get my hemoglobin levels up, but they dropped again somewhat. They ruled out a GI bleed, much to my relief, and if it continued to drop, they were going to do another CT scan to see if I was bleeding in my pancreas. However, that weekend, I noticed I just could not stay hydrated enough. I was already drinking a lot of water, but I my mouth kept drying out. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered something I had seen on the Learning Channel or something like that and it occurred to me that my body was pulling all this water to increase blood volume. That may have been what was happening, because by Monday morning, my hemoglobin was back up, and they let me leave.

I have spent most of the last week resting at home. I did go out to get groceries a couple of times, and did a few other things to help with my mental outlook, and I am being released back to work tomorrow.

This whole experience has really been an eye-opener in so many ways. I have to put myself first more than I have been. I need to learn to say no to people, so I do not stretch myself too thin. Do not get me wrong, I do not mind helping people, but if I do not take care of myself more, I cannot help other people, something I really need to keep in mind now. This whole experience has also shown me some things about my friends too. So many of them were offering to help in whatever way they could. The online group I belong to did an outreach and sent me a gift card to Amazon.com. It certainly was not expected, but it was touching all the same. All the good thoughts, words of encouragement, prayers, etc. that I have received from people have been greatly appreciated. I really believed those things helped get me through a very difficult time in my life. Thank you.


smariek said...

Oh Heather, I'm sorry to hear you've had such a difficult time these past couple of months. I'm happy to hear you're out of the hospital and recovering. Take good care of yourself!

(Sorry this is a late reply, I've been in my own little personal hell in recent months and dropped out of sight too)

Anonymous said...

good luck.