I could not help being anxious leading up to my hyster. I was constantly turning to my affirmations and kept physically busy to calm myself. We drove to Sioux Falls the day before.
I registered in the hospital the next morning at 0830AM. They started prepping me right away. Something I did not expect is that at least 2 nurses were attending me all the time. The anesthesiologist and his assistant both talked with me. I am not sure what they put in my medi-port but I was strangely calm and observant when rolled down the hallways and into the meat locker they called surgical ward and suite. No kidding it was cold. The 5 nurses waiting for me were well aware of the cold and immediately started wrapping me in blankets. Well, immediately after helping me from gurney to operating table. I wonder now how it was that I was able to get off the gurney, reverse direction and settle myself onto the table. Perhaps, I only imagined I was myself making the move. I remember a nurse offering me a third warm blanket, which I accepted, and then I awoke not in ICU or Recovery but the private hospital suite I would stay in until discharged. As far as I personally am concerned, I easily experienced a major operation.
I was way out of it, so my doctor/surgeon, talked in-depth with DH. The doc may have even talked with me. I have no recollection though as I slept through most of that day and night. Sleep was the only way to ignore the NG and Foley tubes. When my doctor came round the next morning I begged to be relieved of those tubes. The NG was especially aggravating as it seemed to curve and press against my throat causing pain (minor) and coughing. The doc and I talked at some length. I got the feeling he was as pleased with himself as he was with my recovery. Apparently the chemo really did a good job for me. The tumors were shrunk to practically nothing. Also considerably shrunk were the pieces of me he intended to remove (ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix). Being shrunk all these things were easy to scoop up and out. He was challenged however by the membranes which had held the tumors. They lay against my organs and tried to meld with them. Doc had been concerned that the membranes had infiltrated my tissues and he would have to remove some of my bowel, stomach and other places where the membranes lay. He worked carefully and was able to separate the membranes from my tissues. I could tell he was especially pleased when he said after removing the membranes, it was obvious that all my tissues were healthy. He did a double-check of his work by inflating my stomach and bowel. He was making sure he had not caused any punctures.
Then we set goals so I could leave the hospital. I had to be up and walking about; eating without vomiting i.e naseau control; pain had to be under control; and funnily enough I had to be passing gas. First time in my life pharting was a good thing.
This was not to be an instant success. They provided a special wheelchair to walk behind but this 2nd day I couldn’t go far. They gave me good drugs for the pain but I was leery of the first drug, Valium. Several people in my extended family have found themselves addicted. Not an experience I want for myself. The nurses had a list of meds we could work with. By the 3rd morning we had settled on a combination of Tramadol and a horse tablet sized (600mg) ibuprofen. I thought I was ready to go home.
Nope the doc said I was ready to work on food tolerance. He prescribed a soft diet and to encourage me said if I held down breakfast and lunch, he would discharge me that evening, Wednesday. He said I was recovering ahead well above schedule and was confident I would be going home soon. He also said he liked to hear patients wanting to go home. He said patients that want to go home heal the fastest. Well it was not to be. I held down cream of wheat and milk for about an hour before upchucking into The Hulk’s condom. Seriously, they gave me a huge green tube that looked amazingly like a condom. DH and I figured either the Jolly Green Giant or The Hulk must have modeled for it. It worked really well. There was a stiff plastic circle on the open end which totally covered my mouth and nose. Much better than puking in my bed. From then on, I kept on of those condoms handy. I like tools that have multiple uses.
DH needed to do some things at home so he departed. Doc also decided to run more blood work on me. With the medi-port it is really easy and not painful but not a simple procedure. The medi-port has to be flushed before hand, blood drawn, then flushed after the blood draw and a dose of heparin pushed into the port. From that work up, doc decided I needed 2 units of blood (my hemoglobin was low) and more potassium. The saline kept dripping, I assume because the elderly (I’m in that category now), tend to be dehydrated. Also, I pointed out to on of the nurses how dehydrated my arms appeared.
I thought I would be alone on the 4th day, Thursday. But I had regular interactions with the nurses and a number of support personnel from the hospital. The Chaplin came by and offered to pray for me. Naturally I said yes and also told her about all of you worldwide offering your own prayers. Her prayer included a thank you for YOU, my readers, to which I whole heartedly agreed. They have a special discharge staff. They came by the same day and were totally encouraging. They said I was doing so good I would probably be going home on Thursday. I was concerned about that because my ride, DH, had taken the car and left. You know what? They said it wasnt a problem. They would find someone who would make the 3 hour drive to get me home.
I hated bothering the nurses but all the water and juice I was drinking meant I needed frequent help getting to the potty. I tried to hold it for the next med/vitals visit but that caused me to urinate in my bed every time I coughed, sneezed or laughed. So I called them frequently. Loved the way the shift nurse would introduce the next shift nurse. They did their turn over in front of me and encouraged my comments. I felt like I was being included in my own treatment. I can tell you that in the past, at other hospitals, I felt like a mushroom. You know where they keep you in the dark and feed you bull___t. BTW it is true that they wake you to give you a sleeping pill; only mine were pain pills given when I wasnt experiencing pain but deep sleep. They said the objective was to get ahead of the pain because pain itself would slow my healing. Curiously they did not offer compression aka abdominal support. They first nurse I talked with didn’t understand what I was asking about. She made the effort to immediately find out and get an “abdominal support” for me. Every nurse thereafter made sure I had it on and tight when taking my walk behind the wheelchair. I appreciated that because the compression really made it easier for me to stand straight and yes walk without pain. I quickly got to the point of rapidly “circling the quad” which was a very large nurses station. In no time, I was picking up speed and walking confidently. With compression, I was able to stand up straight and I didn’t have any pain when it was time to return to my bed.
The next morning, Thursday, I started the soft diet again. I made a point of eating a little of everything but stopped as soon as I was near full. I didn’t want to use those green tubes. I wanted to go home. Meal times surprised me. I was expecting a tray of whatever the kitchen cooked and a quick departure of staff. Not at all my actual experience. They would come in and tell me what was being served. There was always a selection of 3-5 entres, same for side dishes and liquids. Plus the staff was friendly greeting me like an old friend and exchanging chatter. Thinking back, their pleasant company encouraged my appetite and I ate better. I also held it down.
I’ve been in the hospital several times in my life. Never has the entire staff been so attentive and personal. I don’t know how Avera McKennon managed it, but from highest to most mundane staff members know and act like they are an important part of the healing process and the hospital experience. And to me, everyone one them was exceptionally kind and helpful; responsible for my excellent experience.
Friday instead of my doc, his PA visited me. After about 15 minutes, I asked if she was letting me go home. I was totally ecstatic when she said yes. She said I was well in advance of schedule. Keeping me in the hospital would only delay my healing. I called DH immediately. Then continued my discharge briefing. The nurses started the discharge activities almost immediately. It wasn’t hurried because DH was making a 3hr trip to pick me up. I was surprised at how much we needed to do.
At 12:30, lunch time, they packed me up with all my stuff including the flowers DH sent me on, put me in a wheel chair and I left the hospital. The drive home took more than 3 hours because the PA told me to stop every 45 minutes, get out of the car and walk around. She was concerned with preventing blood clots. Well blood clots have been an issue in my extended family so I was happy to do something that could prevent them.
Saturday, DH retrieved my prescriptions which had been faxed to the local pharmacy. I have the pain pill, the horse table sized ibuprofen and stool softeners. Oh and I must have a shot everyday to prevent blood clots. I think the shot made DH and I into a comedy team of what not to do when one of you (me) is a wuss about pain. The activities of the first shot was hilarious. To minimize pain, I don’t look and don’t want to be warned. DH is just the opposite and insisted upon a blow-by-blow recounting and my consent at each step. It’s a miracle I even got that shot as he couldn’t at first remove the cap from the syringe. 2nd shot/day was only slightly better. 3rd day/shot I impressed upon him that I wanted no chatter no warning. I wanted him to pinch and stick before I knew what was going on. Ah, at last a shot that wasn’t dreadful
Later after the first shot, I noted to DH how odd it was that I was seated roughly in the same position as when I was in the hospital, watching roughly the same TV programs but there I had been some what miserable. Here at home, with him by my side with little conversation, the same circumstances produced happiness and contentment.
And so I conclude this was a successful experience.