It’s finally happened. I’ve had the last operation and am well on the road to recovery.
2 weeks ago, I began the final leg of the journey and as per the previous two, I will lay it out in the same way (albeit much shorter).
Day 0 – I arrived at the hospital around 6:50am, which was about 10 minutes before the admissions lounge opened. As with the other operations, I’m down as ‘urgent’ and therefore the first person to be dealt with in order to get the ball rolling.
I sit around for 20 or so minutes before the nurse calls me in to do my obs and requires me to change into one of the gowns. After I have changed, I head back out to the lounge and await the next person to call me in.
It isn’t long before I am called in a further 6 times, with various teams to ensure that I am happy to go ahead and what the plan is. I agree to everything, and for the final time I sit back in the lounge and get comfy in front of the television. I don’t actually remember what was on the news at the time, bit it was keeping my mind from wandering.
It’s a few minutes after half past eight and I hear my name being called. This was it, I was taking that final walk down too the OR and I said my final goodbye to the bag.
While the team was prepping and getting all of the equipment inserted into me I remember we were talking about artificial intelligence and the path we believe it will take in terms of advancements. With the latest being the news from NASA and the discovery of alien signals being detected from previous data that was initially missed by human interaction.
I remember them referring to the anaesthetic as pints of alcohol and each time they were increasing it they’d say “I’m going to give you a few pints and you’ll feel more tipsy”. After the final one I said “Is this the point I tell you all my secrets and reveal my PIN number” and as I slowly drifted off I thanked the team and shouted “My PIN is 1234!”
The operation was only supposed to be an hour and a half, but 8 hours later I awoke in recovery. Covered by an inflatable sheet (almost like bubble-wrap) and it was filled with warm air, although I still felt insanely cold. The pain was rearing it’s ugly head and I insisted that they grab the surgeon as he knows my situation in terms of pain relief. With that, a PCA is set up and I’m given the button to control my pain medication (which allows me to trigger it every 5 minutes).
About an hour passes and I’m still in recovery. It appears they are waiting for a bed and I cannot go up to the ward until they have one, although it’s not too long after that I finally move up to the ward and am reunited with my partner and parents.
This time on the ward, I presently surprised to be given a bed right by the window, which instantly lightened my mood.
I remember talking to my partner for the remainder of the evening before attempting to sleep and recover – all the while, still controlling my pain using the PCA.
I eventually managed to nod off for a couple of hours but it’s not long before I start to feel like I need to go to the toilet, so the nurses help me out of bed and slowly walk towards the bathroom. While I’m walking, I begin to feel sick and ask for a sick bowl to throw up in. Once I’m handed one, I start to vomit into it, whilst being held up by the nurses.
After the episode is over, we carry on to the bathroom and I sit down to try and let everything come out. Nothing comes. I’m not able to urinate or poo and after what felt like 30 minutes of sitting there, I pulled the cord to get some help back to bed. The nurse opened the door and began to lift me up, but as she did I started to feel sick again. I advised the nurse and sat back down on the toilet while she went off to get another sick bowl. This time, a lot more comes up and I wish I could say I felt better after, but I really didn’t. All I wanted to do was to get back into bed and sleep it off.
We took a very slow journey back to the bed, where I was sick a further two times, and it was discussed that in the time between the journey to and from the bed, I had become a lot weaker than I initially was. With this, a few doctors came round to check me over and injected into the rectal sheaf catheters I had sticking out of my stomach area. On top of this, they injected me with some anti-sickness drugs, which seemed to kick in almost instantly and I began to feel a little better on the whole.
Day 1 – I managed an hour or two, being woken up for various things like obs, injections, flushes to the rectal sheaf catheter, and in no time at all, it was morning. The lights were on and the breakfast was being brought round. Unfortunately for me, I was on free-fluids, which meant no food for me.
With some help, I managed to get up and sit in the chair, even though I felt absolutely terrible. It allowed me to have a very poor attempt washing myself, but at least made me feel a little better. I was also able to temporarily be detached from the various machines in order to take off the gown and change into some of my own clothes. No more showing my bottom when standing up.
With that, I remained in the chair for most of the day, with the various teams coming to visit. The surgeon being one of them.
He asks me how I am getting on and explains a few things to me about the changes I need to make (which is good as no other team was telling me anything). With that, he advises that if I am well on the following day then we will look at getting me home late that day or the following day (Thursday).
I remember looking around the room at everyone eating their foods with the amazing aromas and having that feeling of taking things for granted. All I wanted was a double sausage and egg muffin.
The rest of the day flew by (mainly due to the PCA) before my partner arrived and we talked into the evening before I drifted off into dreamland, although for only a short time. I will never miss the beeping of the various machines.
Day 2 – The surgeon popped in early, during the breakfast run. I advise him that I’ve been having ups and downs, and that I am still feeling sick. Other than that, I appear to be ok, albeit that I’m still in pain.
But as the day goes by and I’m up moving around (very slowly at least) then the decision is made to remove the PCA and try taking oral solutions. Shortly after the PCA is removed, the rectal sheaf catheter is also removed and the nurse tells me that she is also going to change the dressing on my wound. This would be the first time that I would see the aftermath, and allow for it to really sink in.
It isn’t long before the nurse returns and begins to clean the wound and removes the gauze in order to apply some fresh ones. While she is doing this, I am looking down at it and not really believing that it’s there. I kind of expected to look down and see the bag there again. But no, it was gone and what was left was a very big scar. A fat and juicy one.
The nurse had noticed that she had forgotten something and went off to hunt it down. In the meantime, I wondered if I had enough time to take a photo of the wound, for my own enjoyment as well as being able to provide it to family and friends should they be interested. I grabbed my phone and took a few snaps, with plenty of time to spare. It allowed me to look at the photo without the need to have my wound open to the elements. The first thing I did was send it to my partner so that she could see how well it was done.
After it’s all done and I’m patched back up, I’m advised that I need to book an appointment with my local GP in order to get the stitches removed, in 12 days. With this, they provide me with the tools necessary to remove the stitches.
The day goes on and I’m getting up more and more to try and walk around the ward. Each time getting further than the last.
It isn’t long before the nurse comes back to see me. It appears that they are low on beds and having a “clear out” of patients. So myself, and 2 others (out of the 6) from the bay are told that we are going home today. A little early, considering that it wasn’t even 48 hours after my surgery, but then I thought it would be for the best as I could recover much better at home, without the lack of sleep from staying in hospital.
I begin to slowly pack my things and await one of the porters. Before they arrived lunch was being served, so I managed to get a bit of soup in me before heading off.
Returning home later that day was definitely for the best. My partner had made a little fort for me to sleep in and I rolled in and fell asleep.
After Hospital – The only reason the top part of this post is short was due to the short amount of time I spent in hospital. Both times previously, I had spent a week inside and therefore was expecting the day this time. Thus, I am going to write briefly about how I got on after the stay in hospital.
- For the first few days, the pain was a little unbearable, but with the right pain relief and plenty of moving about it was soon under control (ish). I’m regularly suffering with cramps and although walking around seems to make them somewhat better, they always find a way of returning shortly after.
- Going to toilet has been an up-hill struggle for me. Mainly because it feels extremely weird. It doesn’t feel like it had been before any of the surgery began, and I can understand why they say it’ll take so long to fully recover.
- I had my stitches out 11 days after the operation, although they missed 2 – one of which was stuck inside the wound so required to be cut open a bit. The wound is still healing, along with the skin around it, which if you are unaware of the problems there then you may need to read my previous posts. In short, the bags made my skin extremely bad. To the extent that is almost prevented me from having this final operation.
I finished writing this post on week 4, so if some of it doesn’t make sense then I apologise, as it was written over the period of 2 weeks and was dependant on how I was feeling at the time or what had happened.
This isn’t the end of my journey, and I will be writing about how I am getting on with the j-pouch, so that my words may help someone else that is about to go through the same thing. The one post I am looking forward to writing about this year, will be Christmas! To see how I get on with that, be sure to keep up-to-date by either subscribing, or following me on Twitter.
Thank you for reading.