Sunday, December 02, 2012

It Has Been a Hellish Five Weeks

It has been a while since I posted that brief note about what is going on with me. Unfortunately, I suffered a relapse that put me back in the ICU. It took a while to et back out of the hospital. I spent a grand total of 24 days hospitalized. Now at home, I am practically bedridden with a home healthcare nurse and physical therapist working with me. Right now, I am sitting in an orthopedic chair that belonged to my brother-in-law’s mother after she broke her hip. It is fully adjustable like a hospital bed, so I an practically law down comfortably while typing away. My story may be full of more typos than usual. My eyesight is not the only problem I am working through right now, but bear with me here.

I suffered a burst diverticula on October 26. A diverticula is a finger-like part of your colon that pushes food and waste along your digestive system. Mine are particularly sensitive because my colon is infected with a highly aggressive form of diverticulitis aggravated by inadvertent steroid use eight years ago. No one knows why it burst. It could have something I ate. It could have been m frequent bowel issues. I could have bumped my belly on the corner that morning. Who knows? What I do know is a burst diverticula is extremely painful and the toxins released into the digestive system cause violent vomiting. I could noy stand up strait or control my barfing. An ambulance took me to the hospital. My five year old nephew thought being hauled through the house and into an ambulance on a stretcher was the neatest thin ever. The lengths I have to go to in order to e the cool uncle.

This was no laughing matter, however. I was experiencing the symptoms of a colon rupture. I had live lived/till live under the prospect of another rupture for over eighth years now. The worst case scenarios are my colon is so ravaged by diverticulitis there is no healthy tissue to create a new colostomy or a peritonitis infecrion sets in and I die within hours. The former is a slow death in which the colon is removed entirely, the small intestine connected to the stomach, and the patient wastes away on a clear liquid diet within weeks assuming infection or other complications do not set in. The latter is a fairly quick, no real fuss poisoning. These are not pleasant thoughts for an ambulance ride or emergency room wait.

Events move quickly under the circumstance. The on call surgeon was by my bedside shortly after the inconclusive, but nasty looking CT scan. He and his practice partners have been treating my various colon relate ailments since the rupture. I have a goo relationship with all three of them, and they are more forthcoming about the reality of things with me because of it. He essentially laid out the previous paragraph with the addition of a possible perforated stomach instead. The bottom line was there were no good scenarios, and the worst were fatal.

I could not help but think this was the end Visions of how it would play out have gnawed at my for the better part of a decade. I have woken up in a cold sweat from too many nightmare scenarios that seemed all too real, and here was finally happening for real. When the anesthesiologist arrived, I asked for a moment to pray beore she started administering the medication. I expected her to give me some privacy, but she stood there and watched. I prayed to myself, “Lord, if you are going to take me, please do it quickly.” When I open my eyes after a silent amen, the anesthesiologist sweetly asked me if I was okay. It is one of the last things I remember before waking up in the IU that night.

The amount of anesthetic induce amnesia after surgery can be a blessing. Sometimes, you are wie awake in the recovery room where the medical personnel who operated on you can answer whatever questions your groggy mind can muster. The downside here is that you are fully awake for that awful moment when four nurses grab a corner of the sheet you are layin on, lift you up by it, drop you unceremoniously on your new bed, an then forcibly roll you from side to side in odrer to get the sheet out from under you. This has never not been an excruciating experience, especially when there is one or two pipsqueak nurses who cannot manage a lift and I wind up half raged into bed. It is not the way to handle a belly full of staples. Sometimes, you wake up already in your room blissfully oblivious to all that. The downside is no one knows anything, so you have to slowly piece things together. Such was the case when I awoke.

I took that first apprehensive assessment. Was I alive? This place sucked too much to be heaven. It was too cold to be hell. Yeah, I must have been alive. Was my colon still there? I did not know, but since I was in the ICU instead of the post-operation floor, something ws up. New colostomy? I could not tell that, either. Fortunately, there is a camera in each ICU room, so my nurse came in the minute she saw me stir. She was not forthcoming with answers. She only told me too e still. Once she flipped on the light, I saw why. I had an NV tube. Drat.

If you have not ha the pleasure, an NV tube runs up your nose, down the back of your throat, and into your stomach. I pumps out the diggestive acids from your empty stomach. The tube carrying the slues to a filter at the head of the bed is always in line of sight, so there is a pleasant, weeklong view. I laid flat on tat be for six freaking days staring at that tube before they finally pulled it out, which was not a fun experience, either. At least I was asleep when they put it in.

The week in ICU is not mercifully a morphine hazed blur. Morphine is great the first couple days, but it is a narcotic and causes ill effects when saturated in your system. I had vivid nightmares, I hallucinated, and heard voices Judas Priest would consider too disturbing to backmask. Being weaned off the stuff was a hard crash.

I suffered a brief pneumonia scare. Two, if you consider bronchial spasms similate the chest tightening and pain down the left arm of a heart attack to the point I swore I was havin one. The main sare is pneumonia is treated with steroids and my diverticulitis forbids it. The medical staff hit it with a massive antibiotic push that worked, but for a time there, we all feared I might become one of those unfortunate souls who still succumbs to pneumonia because I was weak and the best treatment option was not available.

It took seven days from the pulling of the NV tube to go from clear liquids to solid foods. I still was not eating very well when it was decided I would probably do better eating home cooking rather than hospital food. Big mistake. I was home a grand total of four days before I became so sick, I needed an ambulance to again take me to the hospital. This time around, I was treated for anemia and a dilated bile duct. I was down to 72 pounds, so the last ditch effort before a feeding tube was the appetite enhancer given to chemotherapy patients.

It has worked thus far. I am home now, very weak, but unenthusiastically eating three meals a day of some description. I am practically bedridden, but no longer technically sick. My surgery, which turned out to be the simplest problem one could ask for, was a success even though it is the most strenuous health setback I have suffered in years. I spent 24 days hospitalized, more than any time since I was ten an suffered a kidney stone blockage that nearly put an end to me.

That is where we stand. I expect six to eight weeks of tough going before I am back to my old self. I am constantly tired. I can only put on about two or three pounds in a good week. I genuinely look like a Holocaust survivor right now. My oldest niece tried unsuccessful to stifle a horrified gasp when she first saw me. I do not blame her. ,/p> I do not know when I will blog again, but at least now you have a clearer picture why. Prayers and well-wishes are still needed. So is advice on weight and muscle gain, if you have any. Otherwise, I will see you when I see you.

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