Galbladderless, part 3

Did I mention that I am fully prepared to be candid? I am. Pictures and all. Here goes.

The two scariest things for me about having my gallbladder removed were:
After surgery you can't lift anything (or anyone!) over 20 pounds for about 2 weeks
the anesthesia.

The first point is obvious. I was worried about being able to care for my sweet babies. Gwenna is very self sufficient as far as climbing where she needs to get. She can get in and out of bed, in and out of the bath, her car seat, on and off the potty. She's golden. (And yet, I dare you to count the number of times each day you lift - or hold!! - your almost 3 year old) Meredith is not. She CAN get lots of places but most of them are naughty like on top of the table, on the arm of the couch to jump off and other dangerous spots that I generally, urgently, need to to remove her from. Not to mention the fact that Mer can't get in or out of her bed, car seat, bath tub, or the like.

And then the anesthesia. It just freaked me out. I didn't like the idea of having a part of my life I didn't remember because of drugs - no matter how good the drugs may be when faced with the alternative.

Plus, when Ted came out of his anesthesia after having his tonsils out, he broke my heart. He cried, tried to communicate, winced at the light... it was so pathetic and heart breaking that I was a little traumatized by the situation. Also, I know that a lot of people throw up when they are coming out of anesthesia. I do NOT throw up.

My first fear was calmed when my mother-in-law came home with us from Mesa 3 days before my surgery. I knew that as long as she was there, even if there were times Ted couldn't be, we would be OK.

My second fear continued to churn around in my brain all the way up until 11:42 the night before my surgery. Little Meredith kept me awake and my irrational fear of what should be the best part of surgery kept me alert. After I got her to sleep the only thought left in my head, though, was that I should eat something. You see, you're cut off from food and liquid starting midnight before your surgery. I had some water before bed but had nothing to eat since dinner at 6:00. I think that was a mistake, now, in retrospect.

Sleep did come and so did the next morning. Ted let me sleep in as long as I wanted but, sadly, I didn't make it past about 8:30. My surgery wasn't until noon and I had no idea how I could occupy my time until that point. I guess by not eating or exerting myself since I had no energy.

Noon did come though and we headed to the hospital. I was admitted and we were brought promptly to the waiting room. Sad, right? The surgeon was running behind. In the meantime, Ted and I played checkers on his iPod (I lost, as I always do) and, sadness of sadness, I broke my pink flip flop. The nurse who prepped me for surgery said it was a bad omen. ...Nice.

I eventually made it back to a little curtained room in which I stripped down, put on a hospital gown, and some T.E.D hose. TED hoes are pressurized thigh highs that help with circulation during a surgery to avoid blood clots. MY Ted, luckily, is PRO at putting them on. They like them to be wrinkle free and Ted did superb.

My sweet nurse gave me a little numbing shot and put my IV in. How nice is that? I'd never ad anyone give me a numbing shot prior to an IV. She said people are freaked out enough about surgery without having to be in pain over an IV. I also got an anti-nausea pill because they like to make sure no one pukes, if they can manage it. Smart. And confidence building.

Pre-surgery, texting my mom.
Hairnets are back in fashion. Didn't you get the memo?

After what seemed like forever, some sweet ladies came to roll me in. Before they did though, I got the kiss of a lifetime from Mr. C and a little pill that made everything right with the world. It was just something they give to patients pre-anesthesia to calm them down. I didn't feel like I showed any signs of freaking out - mostly because I was so tired from laying in that bed the past hour and from having not eaten in the past 18-ish hours. I took the pill, kissed my husband, got rolled into the OR, moved to the table from my bed.... and that's all I remember. Honestly, I don't even remember them giving me anesthesia. Or scrubbing me from nipples to groin (thank goodness for that!) That little pill knocked me out. I was so tired already that it did the trick.

The next thing I remember was starting to wake up and having a really scratchy throat from the tube they stick down into your lungs to help you breathe. I shook my ring finger at the nurse who asked, "Your jewelery?" I shook my head no. "Oh! Your husband?" I shook my head yes and he was there in a flash. He gave me ice chips to hydrate my throat. I didn't puke, or cry, or wince in the light ... mostly I just make-shift signed to Ted and the nurses ... since I DO know sign language and they didn't.

A lady from our ward works in post-op and she checked in on us. I knew she was there but didn't really get to interact with her, being that I had a mask on my face. The oxygen is policy. I actually had some wort of oxygen pumped into me (mask or little nose plug thingy) until 11:00 that night.

Kinda freaky, but post-surgery. Nice thermometer sticker on my forehead, huh?
Big thumbs up. I knew Ted was taking the picture.

I was moved into my room soon after where I learned a few things.

First off, I learned that I'm kind of dumb. I didn't anticipate the inability to use my abdominal muscles - the simple fact that would rule the next 4 days of my life. But it was really tough. When you think about it, having your gallbladder out - even the "easy" way (laproscopic) means you are going to have 4 HOLES in your abdominal muscles so they can reach ... what they need to reach. So I felt dumb that I didn't anticipate just HOW DIFFICULT it would be to maneuver post-op. My scope of thought was so narrow. I for the first 3 days post-op I couldn't change diapers, lay in bed without help, shower myself, sit down on or stand up from the couch or computer chair ... get close enough to the sink to NOT spit toothpaste on the counter while in the kitchen or bathroom, cook, do dishes... I mean, this list is seriously a mile long.

Another thing I learned is how AMAZINGLY VALUABLE my husband will be in his future profession. I experienced the assistance of 1 nurse helping me out of bed before I swore that off. As super sweet, knowledgeable, and kind as the nurses (all SIX) who cared for me were, they were tiny women. Ted was able to lift me with ease. He did challenge me at times and suggest that I do this or that and I also told him when I was capable of things or wanted to try something for myself. But his ability to lift me and assist me has been invaluable.
Only liquid (which, in case you didn't know, always includes Jell-o) for a while after the surgery. I actually don't think that's a rule but more of a recommendation. Also, notice the pillow in my belly. You splint your belly with a pillow for a while after surgery, to absorb the shock and help you move.

I had the option of staying over night. My surgery was later in the day - and later still as my surgeon was behind schedule. I opted to stay. Any mother is going to give me a pat on the back for this. I couldn't imagine going home at 10:30 PM (which is when I was cleared to leave) and possibly being greeted by a sudden outburt of cries from across the hall that I couldn't so much as bat an eyelash at. I wanted to take that night to sleep in a bed that was not across the hall from 2 sleeping babies. I thought this was smart and that there would be no chance of being woken up.

Ted even went as far as to ask the nurses to put me at the bottom of their rotations. He shut the door, pumped up the AC, and turned out all the lights. He made it ideal for me to rest. He even cuddled in beside me (he stayed with me all night!) in my hospital bed to support me, physically, so that he was there if I needed anything. The only thing we didn't take into account was the 2 bags of fluid the nurses had to keep rolling and the bag of antibiotics ... and the 2 cups of ice chips I ingested and the water ... So every hour and a half or so met my bladder woke violently with a rude awakening. And then I proceeded to pee like an old man with prostate issues - in fast bursts over long periods of time. I just could NOT get it all out. The frequent trips were annoying. I just wanted to rest! But I had Ted there and he never complained. Never so much as grunted or rolled an eye. He urged me to wake him for anything - any request, need, or whim. He was THE best.

So in hindsight, I'd have been up just as much at home but maybe also with the baby issue. But the hospital bed was easier to get out of, I believe.

Drugs do funny things to people. Prior to my surgery I'd never taken prescription pain medication. Ever. But shortly after surgery I had percocet. It did weird things to my vision (I had to squint to hope to read anything!) and to my head. The whole world had mouse trails - you know, that annoying setting you can turn on for your computer mouse. It was like everything had a trail and I was much slower. Someone turned down my speed and added mouse trails - like a cruel office joke. I honestly didn't feel "normal" until I had been off it for 24 hours - which, technically, it's still recommended, 4 days post-op, that I be on it.

I left the hospital the next day, Thursday, after I'd shown I could pee - and boy could I pee! - and after I had breakfast. That was my choice. It was my first solid meal post-op and I got to choose what I had. I picked blueberry pancakes and what quite surprised that the hospital makes them from scratch! Sadly, I couldn't eat very much.

Going home was tough. My babies were happy to see me, at best but really they were more indifferent. It was like I'd just gone to the store and was getting home. I was sad and thrilled. No one to ward off from hitting my stomach or bumping my incisions. But I'd also apparently gone unmissed, which was probably a good thing to be honest.

That whole day went by in a blur. I ate (I ate! Food with fat!), I walked because they want you to walk, I hurt, I took medicine, I layed in my la-z-boy - which Ted moved around to whatever room I wanted to be in, I slept, I continued to pee a lot. I did get Mer placed on my lap for a moment and Gwenna got to do the same. I think Gwenna was a little grossed out by my stomach... but I fel tI had to show her so she understood what we were respecting and avoiding. Plus, I promised her I'd show her my "cuts" when I got him.

So that sums up surgery and the day following. But more is coming. It's not over til it's over! - And trust me, I'm still in the midst of it.


Mary Anne said...

Oh man. The nurse who said your flip flop was a bad omen? Come on...even if you're just being funny. NOT funny! You certainly were candid, what a good record for the future! I wish I could remember things such as childbirth in such detail. And after not eating anything for so long, I'm sure it was nice to be able to eat anything you wanted...full fat and everything. I can't imagine not being able to use your abdominal muscles like that. I'm glad you had help...because really, you have to lift your children on occasion. It's just the way it is. Hope you are having a speedy recovery with plenty of help around the house to let your body heal!

Jewel said...

I'm so glad you have such a good hubby who can help take care of you!!
After I had Jack, I was quite anemic--couldn't get out of bed by myself, etc. I was so grateful then that my husband had attended two years of nursing school. He had the skills and the know-how of how exactly to help me move, walk, etc. It's so nice to have someone around who knows how to take care of post-surgery people, especially when YOU'RE that post-surgery person!
I'm also glad that your fears have been alleviated. I'm sure it's wonderful having your mom there, and I'm glad that the hospital was so good about making sure that the anesthetics weren't traumatizing for you!
I hope you're feeling better...I'm impressed that you're off the percocet. I hated being on that stuff after I got my tonsils out--the only time I would take it was at night, so I could sleep. It really is awful.
And...I guess this comment is long enough. I hope you heal quickly, and I'm glad you get to eat fat again!! :)

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing this stuff in such detail! I find it pretty fascinating. And I must say that I laughed out loud at your sentence about being like an old man with prostate problems and the short bursts. HAHA! Perfect description. I could hear the pee in my head.