Just over three weeks ago, I had my second operation out of the three. This time, it’s a little easier to get straight on to writing out the post, as I don’t feel as drained as I did from the first. Strange, considering this was the hardest and most intense out of the three.
I’ll be writing the post similarly to the other, by which it will be broken down by day although, as this went a lot smoother, it will most likely end up being shorter post, but I’m still going to write about it nonetheless. Also, the cover image at the top of this page is just a place-holder, not a picture of the actual operating room.
Day 0 – The nerves kicked in pretty early, but that probably wasn’t helped by the the fact that I had to be up and ready to leave by 6am. Luckily I had packed everything the night before, so it wasn’t too stressful.
We arrived with plenty of time and entered the admissions lounge. As with the first operation, I was given priority and seen by the various members of the team to check I was fit for the operation and to give me the sexy stockings to put on. Once I had begun speaking to the surgeon and anaesthetist I started to calm down to a point where I was comfortable enough to go through with it.
I’d only been in the lounge for an hour when I heard my name being called. That was it. I had my Star Wars Dressing Gown on and was ready to head down to the epicentre (Operating Theatre).
I don’t remember much of what happened down there, but I can remember the journey up until a point. I head into the room and am greeted by a team of people, all with a different task. I’m de-robed and lay down on the bed, while the anaesthetist talks through what will happen next. During this talk, he injected me with something and I remember him saying “This will make you feel a bit better”, and that’s it, that’s where it all goes blank – but apparently I was still very coherent for a short time after.
10 hours later, I woke up. This time, I didn’t look down, I was more in shock by the fact that I couldn’t feel a thing. I felt amazing, but why? Then I remembered, this time I had agreed to have the epidural – but on the basis that I didn’t expect it to work. It was working extremely well at this point though.
I was talking to the team, offering high-fives in my subdued state and when the nurse told me that she was just finishing my paperwork, I asked her whether it was my discharge letter, that’s how well I felt at the time.
A short time later, I was wheeled back to the surgery ward and unlike the first operation, I was taken into my own side room – which I thought was fantastic as the last thing I wanted to deal with at the time was other patients (selfish, I know). They set up the rest of the machines, checked me over and left the nurses to it. I’ve come to know the nurses on the ward quite well from the last two times I have been in and it was nice of them to remember me when I was brought in. They knew the problem and were very effective in caring for me.
The next step was to bring my parents and partner into the room. Keep in mind that last time, I was out of it and in pain (you’ll see that from the photo on the other post), they were expecting the worse when they walked in – but the look on their face when I greeted them was priceless. They couldn’t believe how alert I was. To the point where I just wouldn’t shut up. I can even remember having an argument with a tuna sandwich because it was too stodgy.
Once the evening had fizzled out and my parents and partner had left, it was time for me to take a long sleep, even though I had just technically slept for 10 hours.
Day 1 – I hadn’t slept too well during the first night, but managed to get a few hours. I was awoken a few times by the nurses as they were worried that my blood pressure was extremely low, to the point where it was under the recommended limit and would have to turn off my epidural. This didn’t bode well with me as I was content with the fact that I had no pain. They continued to switch off the machine and then moved me back to the main ward.
A few hours later, my surgeon walked in to talk to me. Alerted by the fact that I was in pain and my epidural had been switched off. He swiftly acted and made sure it was turned back on and that I had adequate pain relief to make up for it. It didn’t take too long for it to kick back in and I was pain-free once again. I also managed to sit up on the side of the bed.
The anaesthetist also came to check on me very regularly for the remainder of the day.
Not much happened for the rest of the day, other than trying to catch up on sleep and seeing my partner in the evening.
Day 2 – Thanks to the epidural, it made it a lot easier to move around without the agonising pain that I had in the last operation. The only downside to being in hospital is that you don’t get much sleep. So once again, I had a bit of a restless night, which contributed to my mood.
But that didn’t stop me. I was up out of bed and sat in the chair next to it. I’d even had a little waddle to the end of the room and back. I settled in the chair and played on my Nintendo Switch for a bit to pass the time.
My partner came in while I was sat in the chair and we talked for a bit. I then noticed that the feeling was returning in my abdomen and that I could feel something cold and wet on my back. I stood up to have a look and it turned out that I had somehow snapped the filter on the epidural. It was at that moment that my surgeon walked into the ward. I called him over and advised on what had happened. He called the anaesthetist urgently to get him to come up and resolve the problem.
In the meantime, luckily the nurse that was standing in for the day ended up being a spinal specialist so was able to swiftly bung the tube and ensure that it hadn’t been contaminated. It wasn’t long before the anaesthetist entered to take a look and whether it could be fixed. He decided it was possible and went off to get another filter. A few minutes later, he returned and reattached the epidural. Again, it wasn’t long before I was pain-free.
The rest of the day went swimmingly and I sat in the chair for quite a long time.
Day 3 – This was the day that my epidural was switched off for good. I was transferred to another pain relief which kept any pain at bay. Although, I wasn’t feeling pain around any of the areas that had been operated on. There were just two places that hurt; my back and the area of my drain. To begin with, it was more of a throbbing sensation, but as the day drew on, the pain grew. Finally, during the early hours of the evening, it happened – the pain exploded, flooding my body. I couldn’t take it. I was crying and writhing around the bed until I was eventually given extra pain relief to subdue it.
After a few minutes, it began to work. Edging closer to being pain-free again. Although we needed to get to the bottom of why this had happening in the first place.
After some time discussing it, it was believed that a combination of the drain being in still and the epidural catheter pressing into my back. It was decided that I would need to wait until the following morning until they both could be removed by suitable nurses for the job, so I was made as comfortable as possible, with plenty of pain relief to get me through the night. I didn’t sleep at all well either.
Day 4 – I started counting down the hours by this point. Breakfast came, but I wasn’t feeling all that hungry, so I skipped it on this occasion, only having a cup of tea to see me through until I felt a bit better.
Upon speaking to the nurse, we agreed that we would do things in two parts. Part one was to remove the catheter so that I may urinate properly again, and also to remove the drain from my side (for those of you that are unaware, a bag is attached to a flexible pipe that is inserted into the body – normally a good 12 inches in length). Part two would be to then remove the epidural catheter from my back.
The reason we decided to take it in two parts was that the first two would be the most painful out of the three and I’d probably want to let some pain relief kick in.
Two nurses closed the curtains and began to deflate the catheter to remove it from my urethra. For anyone who has had this done before, you’ll know it’s not pleasant in the slightest. First it feels like someone has a tiny hoover pipe sucking from the inside, then when they begin to pull, the burning begins. The quicker the process is completed, but it’s always the same – just as painful.
I only had 30 seconds to get over it as we were moving straight on to the drain. The dressing was removed along with the stitches. They gave me a countdown from 3 to 1 and pulled. Instead of taking it slowly, like in the first op, they continued to pull it. Like a magician pulling cloth out for one of their tricks. It felt like it lasted for an age, but once I felt it leave the hole in my side, I let out a sigh of relief, with a hint of a whine. It was done. I already felt so much better for having them removed.
I lay there on the bed, breathing quite heavily and took the pain relief to settle myself down. I thanked the nurses for doing it and told them that I would be ready to go in no time.
They went off about their duties and returned no more than thirty minutes later. I was rolled onto my side, with the help of one of the nurses and the side rail from the bed. I felt the patch being removed from my shoulder and then I felt another patch being removed from my back. Then, shortly after, a little prick from my back and it was gone. I didn’t feel the discomfort it had been causing me. It was over. I was able to roll back without feeling any of the agonising pain I had felt before. It was there, but was no where near as aggressive.
I gave it a few hours before attempting to get up out of bed, but when I did, there was something different. I had no pain. Well, other than muscle discomfort. It was amazing. Like I hadn’t even had major surgery. I felt like I could take on the world, and it was this mood that kept my spirits high.
Later that evening, my partner and I took the task of going to the canteen for dinner. In this hospital, I was on floor 7, and the canteen was on floor 2. So we took the lift (elevator) down to the seventh floor and walked along. If my memory serves me right, I had a plate full of chips, with plenty of salt, and a hot chocolate to wash it all down. It was an amazing feeling to be up and about like this and the rest of the evening was spent out of bed until I began to feel the energy draining away – to which I returned to bed and fell asleep.
It wasn’t long before I wanted to get up and go to the toilet, so I pulled myself up in the appropriate way and stood up. I took a cursory look at the bed and to my shock, it was covered in blood. No small amount though, it was quite an unsettling amount.
I pushed the button to call a nurse to my bedside and two of them arrived. Both seemed a little uneasy about the amount of blood so let the on-call doctor know what was happening, before very kindly changing my bedding and providing me with a diaper to apply.
I continued to head to the bathroom as I needed to go to the toilet. It was then that when I sat down to go, blood began to shoot out of my rear end. It felt like a lot, but that can sometimes been an illusion. Nevertheless, I notified the two nurses that had assisted before, so they could update the doctor.
Day 5 – Being up out of bed had helped a lot. I’d slept quite well and felt a little better mentally. The nurses did their handover and for once I felt like getting up and having a shower. It was still 6:30 in the morning and most people chose to remain in bed, so I took the chance to get into one of the shower rooms before anyone else.
I turned the shower on and waited for it to warm up. I stepped underneath it and began to feel wonderful. Although the jet was a little displeasing, the water made me happy nonetheless.
Once I had finished, I returned to the bay and changed into clean clothes, then I sat in my chair and played on my Nintendo Switch once more to pass the time.
The bleeding had been continuing through the day and they seemed to be getting a bit worried that something might have happened inside, however it was very weird that there was no pain associated with it. My surgeon was notified and four doctors attended by bedside (as I had been advised to return to bed). They began monitoring the amount coming out of me, so that mean that I had to go into a cardboard tub each time so they could take a look and measure the amount. On the first occasion, it turns out that it was a mixture of old and fresh blood, and in quite a large quantity. I was denied my blood thinning in the evening in the hope that it would help.
The bleeding continue through the night, until eventually a clear fluid began to come out. In total, I had bled around a litre from the rear end, but I believe most of it was in fact old blood, and the clear fluid was mucus.
Day 6 – This was the day that I was going home. Assuming that everything was perfect and the Stoma Care team were happy with me to go. My surgeon promptly appeared after breakfast, worried by the fact that I had been bleeding so much. After advising that the fluid had in fact turned cleared, we both agreed that we would continue to monitor it and if it continued – I’d need to return back to hospital.
It wasn’t long before the Stoma Care team also came to see me. Ensuring that everything was good and that I could in fact be sent home.
At this point, during the first operation, I felt terrible and almost didn’t get sent home. It was a little surreal that I in fact surpassed that of the first time, so immensely. I had a sense of accomplishment this time round.
I had already packed up my things and the porter came whilst the Stoma Care team were with me, so the ladies very kindly transported me down to the Discharge Lounge when we had finished, where I spent the new couple of hours relaxing in a very comfortable chair and eating some lunch.
It wasn’t long before my dad came to fetch me, and we took a slow walk to the car. As soon as I hit the outside world, I thought to myself “I’d done it. It was over”. A smile appeared on my face and I was ready to take on the world.
This brings us to the end of the operation post, however you should know that four days later I attended the hospital to pick up a new type of ileostomy bag and was temporarily admitted. I’d had a mini breakdown due to the original types of bag not working like they had before, as the type of stoma had changed and therefore I required a convex bag. My health had diminished a little, I was drained, tired, body levels all out of whack, had lost weight and just wasn’t able to eat.
I was sent to Ambulatory Emergency Care, where I bumped into my surgeon, his assistant, and the 4 doctors that dealt with me both times, as well as the Stoma Care team. With all of them in one hospital room, we determined that I needed fluids and I managed to pull my surgeon’s leg (figure of speech) to not fully admit me overnight and to give me fluids for the remainder of the day. So I was attached to a drip and we went from there.
It turns out, after attending for a follow-up a week later that I had in fact contracted an infection in the Stoma, so this had contributed to how I was feeling. Very strong antibiotics were given and as I finish this blog post, I have also finished them as of today and feeling somewhat better, if only tired.
I would like to thank everyone involved in my well-being and the support I received. I would also like to thank you for reading the post and as always, if you have any questions, or would like to say anything, please tweet me @Frayzurr.
Oh, and to finish the post off completely, here is a picture of myself on the evening I woke up from the operation, to prove I was better than that of the first operation (and I don’t know why I pulled the face!)