This post is a follow-up to “Small Wins” and is titled after one of my last statements in that post: “All in all, my worst case scenario is being cured by removing my whole colon.” Its purpose is to describe my time at the UW Hospital.
Like I mentioned in “An ‘Only Option’ Situation”, my medical treatment to ulcerative colitis turned out to be my life saving cure, surgery. I find this curing medical treatment an oxymoron, because it does not cure the chronic disease ulcerative colitis– it removes it from your body so your immune system does not have anything left to attack. Do I care that this medical treatment is like an oxymoron? Nope, I do not care that it is. I am obviously just thankful that I no longer have an extreme case of ulcerative colitis and that I am alive. I hope my rectum behaves and does not experience flare-ups in the coming months, years. I doubt it will, but what I have learned from this experience is that you will never know what you will come face to face with.
Let’s go back to Friday, November 30th. It is my first day of recovery from surgery. I instantly feel relieved. I instantly feel better. I am so thankful to have gotten through my first surgery ever. I did not know that I did not have much time left to live until after my surgery was over.
However, my parents knew this the whole time. I do not know how they managed to sit there all day on Thursday, November 29th. I do not remember anything of that day aside from sitting in the anesthesia room. I did not have an epidural done, because I was given heparin to prevent blood clots too close to my surgery time. I do not know when I was taken off to the operating room. I never saw the operating room, but my team of doctors said I was talking to them about school– that I sounded how I would be if I was drunk. I wonder what I let out. Then the next thing I know, hours later, I wake up gasping in pain.
So let’s get back to Friday again. I used my pain button quite a bit that day for my incision pain. I only have 5 small incisions. My surgeon really did a wonderful job at saving me from the pain I could have gone through. I remember that I just laid there and relaxed. I had a ton of visitors. On Saturday, I believe they took my catheter out and made me learn how to pee again. I also started to notice swelling from water retention. My little skeletal body blew up like a balloon. I noticed it in my thighs and knees first and then began to feel it around my stomach, sides, and lower back. It was hard to move being that stuffed with water– your body is like “what, I’m bloated, why are you making me move? Let me be waterlogged please.” Yet, it turns out moving helps it go away. What really makes it go away though is consuming protein, because albumin (a protein that you should have a score of 48– my score was 27) tells your body where water is to go. Since my albumin was so slow it was not telling it to go to my kidneys and instead went to the places I mentioned above. That day, I also had a ton of visitors again. *I had a ton of visitors every day except on my day of discharge which was good, because I was not in good shape that day– very anxious about coming home to heal and deal on my own.* I want to thank everyone that could and wanted to visit me. Your visits definitely made time go by faster and kept my mind busy. I liked that I was not isolated through my recovery in the hospital even though at times I wish I could have rested more. I was also given such wonderful gifts each day. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.
I really do not remember my day-by-day achievements. It is all a blur. To fix this problem of mine, I asked my team of doctors to write-up how my recovery process went. I should be receiving an email from them sometime down the road.
My main goals to earn discharge from the hospital were:
1) Pain Control
2) Bowel Function
3) Incentive Spirometry (Deep breathing. I only practiced this on Friday.)
5) Low Fiber Diet
It took me 5 days to get all of these down. I pushed myself to remain positive, and I really believe my optimism helped me quickly bounce along these 5 goals in my road to recovery, along with my youth.
A few or more things worth stating about staying in the hospital for a long time are: concern for blood clots, vitals, blood work, and blood sugar. Blood clots were prevented by being given 2 heparin shots a day, wearing really tight feet/calf stockings, and leg pressurizer things. Vitals include blood pressure, oxygen, and temperature. *My rise in temperature, to at one point 103 degree fever, at Beloit Memorial Hospital is what sent alarming signals to my Dr. that I was getting deathly ill fast.* Blood work was no problem with my PICC line as they could draw it right out of me instead of poking me every time. Blood sugar was checked because I was on food bags for so long. I dipped to 40 once and had to chug three apple juices. I learned that my small intestine does not like apple juice and suffered a burning stomach pain all night. Which turned out to be alright, because I was able to write my nurses, nursing assistants, doctor team thank you notes and down all my ideas for future blog posts and ideas for a book.
One last thing that really sticks out about my stay at the UW Hospital is adjusting to my ostomy bag and stoma. An ostomy bag or a less technical term for it, poop bag, is secured around a stoma. A stoma is an end of a small intestine that sticks out like a cm out of your stomach to expose of waste. My stoma started to make popping gas noises within two days of having it, I think. It was bizarre at first. I never knew when it was going to happen. I began to enjoy hearing it work. I was like “yay, my stoma is farting” and kept thinking this is good and weird. On Sunday, I believe I definitely had green bile coming out of my stoma and more popping, gurgling gas noises. I was put on a liquid diet one of these days and then a low fiber diet. With the more food I took in, the more my little stoma worked. I thought I put my body in shock, but I was reassured it was doing what it is supposed to be doing and that I did not overeat. Fun fact: I am supposed to crap 700ml-2000ml a day. Who knew. So with food, I was taken off the food bags and other IV liquids. What a relief to have my arm back. I like being able to feed and hydrate myself.
I will leave you with my first meal in 25 days:
1 scrambled egg
1 slice of white toast
1/2 corn flake box
1/2 2% milk carton
1 orange juice
WOOOHOOO!!! My fear of liquids and solid foods has dissipated!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
and that I was discharged from the UW Hospital on Tuesday, December 4 around 5pm. My Dad came to pick me up and getting home was quite the adventure. I will have to share that story…In the meantime, I am getting TLC at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. I have the perfect set-up: cozy, good level bed in my own bedroom near my own bathroom, comfy chairs and blankets, food and bathing assistance, no stairs to climb, and wifi– giving me access to reach out to all of you! The key is NOT to isolate myself :D