21 Jun 2007
The Colorectal Cancer Weight Loss Program
Well it's been just over two weeks since the op - thought I'd try and get some words down before it's all a distant memory (fat chance with the blue nylon loops of stitches still poking out and all the other gubbins on my tummy).
As the lovely Becky has already updated you on the main events I shan't bore you with them all over again, deliberately.
It was all a bit of a mad rush the day before admission but I managed to sign and pay for my last will and testament, thankfully not required!
After much poking and prodding and passing out on attempts to cannulate me the night before, for vital IV fluids, I had some sleep - I haven't had a full night since. Already bruised from blood samples and cannula attempts (check in a week or two for photos when I get back home) and a tearful farewell to my little sister who'd been so brave until then - I think it was the photos of Tyson that set her off, he was an ugly little fecker (R.I.P NOT!!!) I was wheeled into the familiar anaesthetic room. I should say at this point this was my fourth GA and the third at Pilgrim hospital, and although it's been ten years I still noticed they'd painted since my last time!!! How sad am I? Had a bit of a chat with the anaesthetist - Edward and his colleages - really nice chap and the nursey lady who had my notes. I was rigged up to the usual heart rate monitors, finger monitor and pretty graphs on the TV thingy wotsit. My heartrate was 54bpm. the normal range for adults is 60-100bpm................. My blood pressure was (I kept telling them low is normal for me esp after no sodding food) hovering around 90/45.
Edward said "there are thousands of people in this country who would KILL for your blood pressure!". The other chap said "your heartrate is only 54, you do KNOW you're about to have surgery don't you?"..........all lighthearted obviously but it was still reassuring that I'd done the right thing going in a week early - I mean when have I been less stressed? I was about to get rid of cancer, hopefully once and for all.........time will tell. I managed to count to three when the drugs were injected..........then zzzzzzzzzzz.
I woke up in recovery at 2.10pm by the clock with an oxygen mask on and no real comprehension of much, but as always I made a mental note of the time - it's habit with general anaesthetics. I was absolutely FREEZING! I mentioned this to Malcolm who basically looked after me for the next four hours and my teeth were chattering. I remember Mr A the surgeon, Edward (sleepy drugman), a doctor taking blood and a bedside x-ray - to check the position of the central line to my chest. I remember an inflatable blanket on top of me being filled with hot air to warm me up. I drifted in and out and eventually at 5.40pm they transferred me to my ward bed (oof) and wheeled me to my room in ICU for about 6pm.. Tubes a go-go - drain in belly sucking out bloody liquid (YUK) drain inbetween my legs for yellow liquid (wee to you) and wires everywhere. I itched, A LOT. They gave me drugs to stop the itching, they gave me four units of blood, they gave me paracetamol by IV, antibiotics by IV, fluids by IV, some other painkillers and then later took blood through the main line - all through the tentacles of the octopus connected to my left shoulder.
My neck hurt, really felt bruised, the next day the nurse realised why - I had four groups of five needle holes that had scabbed over where they'd tried to get the central line in each side of my neck, then each shoulder. As Edward explained later he thought the right vein had been damaged by my earlier chemo. I picked up more and more bruises every time I needed an injection that couldn't be administered through the central line, especially after ICU nurse thought it would be a great idea for someone with flat veins on IV fluids and a morphine pump to have their central line removed!!!!! OOPS! I was therefore deprived of both before I'd been conscious for 48 hours - instead of self administed morphine, I had ...............wait for it..............Co-codamol!!! By this time the use of my legs had returned (ish) after two days epidural which seemed to take forever to get working both sides but Edward did it and was pleased to see me smiling for the first time a short while later.
It was good to see sis and my children - Karys did get upset, Phoenix was just interested in everything. Hopefully they won't be so scared to know anyone else is this ill - that all they do is for a reason and eventually my temperature came down from 39, my BP went up as did some other pressure which Edward told me should be at least 12 but mine never got above 4...........they had to squeeze a bag full of IV in quickly to sort that out, then began another pastime of watching the numbers on the monitor......which was about all I had to do for the full two days, other than be turned over every few hours, washed and allowed those all important wet sponges to suck on.
I was rather glad to get back to the ward and my patio doors leading to a garden, much nicer view than the pic of Mickey and Minnie mouse on the wall.
I emptied the bag myself at 4am on Saturday morning - which seemed to surprise the nursing staff. Possibly because it meant I'd had to unhook and carry my catheter bag (wee) and drain bag (blood) with me and stagger to the toilet to do it - no mean feat I can tell you, but well, my legs were working, should I have pressed the buzzer?
On the Sunday I even changed the bag myself, twice. I waited til it was quiet and thoroughly read all the leaflets and booklets I'd been given with photos of each step and did it! It hurt my back and I was absolutely shattered with the effort and concentration of spending 30 minutes sitting up - I wasn't happy with the first one, so re-did it an hour or so later. Again nursing staff seemed surprised and kept telling me I was doing really well. I think this is what got me out so soon - but like I've said, I will tackle anything at home, plastering, tiling, replacing ceilings so a little thing like a bit of intestine sticking out of my belly isn't going to beat me.
I say little, it was HUGE, well about three inches long and just well, looks like a willy............and therefore will be known as PooTumWilly. I think it's self explanatory. It's shrunk quite a bit now and doesn't look so swollen but I have got a bit of "separation" where it's sort of fallen out of my belly a bit more and there is some very sore, peeling skin around the hole. Lovely stoma nurse Sally (they're all the most wonderful women those nurses, they're so nice I want to cry) took some of the stoma stitches out to ease the pain a bit and used some paste to fill in the gap then stuck a base plate on that means I won't need to change it for four days and this should give my skin time to heal. I can still stick different bags on if I want to, but they're drainable so it's pretty convenient really!
Right, well that's enough for now methinks, I'll add some pics on and some more words on a separate blog as you've probably all nodded off now........if not though, Re: the title of this posting - I lost another 6lbs in hospital so from the weight I put on (20 lbs ish) in preparation for treatment I've now lost 16lbs. Cool, I rock! Another half stone and I'll be back to my fittest, healthy weight and be able to wear my old clothes again, PooTumWilly permitting - it likes a bit of "space" to manoeuvre!