Saturday, October 17, 2009

Hokie Pokie

A brief review of my medical chart prior to this week shows:

God put my colon in
Doc took my colon out
God put my intestines in
then Doc moved them all about
Doc did the Hokie Pokie
and he turned my insides out
That's what this post's about

Sorry for that :) ... I'll need to post quick before my editor reads this, else the above literary masterpiece will likely never see the world wide web. Some bloggers are just way too serious about their little domain.

To continue the saga so eloquently begun above: on Monday Doc finally put my intestines back where they belong -- on my inside. In the backdrop of my two prior surgeries, this was truly a non-event. I know that every surgery has its own dangers and potential for complications, but the loop ileostomy reversal is peanuts in comparison to the hemi-colectomy and colectomy that were performed during my previous trips to the Cleveland Clinic OR.

From start to finish, everything went smoothly. Due to my Ankylosing Spondylitis I cannot move my neck. At all. To an Anesthesiologist this means trouble. Typical procedure for the Anesthesiologist is to put the patient under and then immediately secure the breathing passage. This second step is done by jiggling the sleeping patient's head and neck as the doc slides a tube down their throat. However, as my neck does not jiggle and as breathing is good, I get to experience the whole "doc slides a tube down their throat" part while conscious. Fun.

During my prior two surgeries, I was prepared for the abuse described above by getting high -- the Anesthesiologist called it "a cocktail" but I don't remember drinking anything -- and then having a numbing agent sprayed down my throat.... which had the overall effect (or is it affect... stupid language... I think there is a gene that determines whether or not you'll ever be able to know when to use effect/affect) of starting your gagging about 15 seconds early. On Monday I was presented with a little tube that had steam pouring out the end. Apparently they can now get the zylocane suspended in a mist as opposed to just gagging you with it. The numbing steam is vastly preferable, and between it and my cocktail I don't even remember being intubated. Nice.

When I started to come to in the PACU (that's the new, official sounding word for the Recovery Room), my first thought was about the horrible taste in my mouth. While this was undeniably a side-whatever of the numbing steam, it soon dawned on me (over the course of half an hour probably... 'soon' is relative post anesthesia) that if my primary concern is the taste in my mouth, then my abdomen must not hurt very much at all. Honestly, there were times when the skin around my stoma was so irritated that it hurt worse than anything I've felt since my surgery. Very nice.

So I get back up to my room and start a race with the H50 floor as to whether or not I can get discharged the following day: I'm trying for yes and they're... well... I'm not really sure what they're doing. Oh, by the way, that was another thing that went really smooth this time: I got up to the colorectal ward almost immediately. After my first surgery it took over six hours to find a room for me and after the second surgery I never did make it to the proper ward the day of surgery but was shipped to a general medicine ward post-op. On Monday it took about an hour to find a room and another to get me there. This time, I was in the right bed before 12:30 (given a 9:45 surgery).

So anyway, I'm able to move myself from the transport bed to my permanent bed and after about an hour I'm ready to get up and walk. History teaches that the only way they let you off the colorectal ward is to move your bowels (not sure what this is called in my case... bowel -- singular -- or something else because I think bowel refers to the colon... we'll call it an X movement... XM :) and the only thing I can do to encourage an XM is to eat and walk.

I buzzed my nurse at about 2:30 asking for some assistance getting out of bed. She was surprised and hesitant. However, my general good health and persistence (nobody can wait out a conversation like someone on an analgesic pump!) finally convinced her to unhook me from the stuff on my bed, tie up my gown, and do a couple laps with me. If you ever have to go through this, get out of bed as soon as possible; it hurts bad the first lap but makes a huge difference overall. I promise you'll feel better by lap two.

Next started a silly game between myself and the doctors: making XM out of a clear liquid diet. The repeated conversations went something like this:

Doc: you need to have an XM before you can leave
Me: I need to eat something more than liquid to have an XM
Doc: you need to have an XM before we can give you something more substantial

Really!? who are they kidding!? you can't XM water! Anyway, three meals of clear liquids and a bunch of Popsicles later and, you guessed it: no XM. Finally, I got my lunch on Tuesday switched to include milk and ice-cream. In unrelated news, I had an XM two hours later.

During the whole diet fight I had been walking a lot and am convinced this helped get things moving. So at 1:30 on Tuesday, after my XM, the head-honcho doc said I could go home. Sadly, the head-honcho doc did not write the orders, and it wasn't until 7:00 that some timid fellow (read "not very close to the head-honcho doc and used to taking orders, not making decisions") was pressured into signing for my release while chanting "Nobody has ever been released this soon" over and over.

So YAY, I made it home Tuesday night. This was really good because Yikealo was pretty unsettled by the experience. His mother relinquished him due to "big hand ouchies" (leprosy), and I'm pretty sure my stay in the hospital was ringing all kind of "big ouchie" alarms in his precious little head. In fact it wasn't until today, Saturday, that Yikealo finally had a normal day and was back to his typical, dolly self. I hate to think what another night in the hospital would have cost him.

Thank you again for all your prayers and support. There is no doubt in my mind the the good news relayed above is God's answer to all your supplication on our behalf.


  1. So happy to hear you are doing so well. The nurse in me is very proud of you for getting your butt out of bed so soon!!! Also very excited about XM!

  2. So just as sick as you writing that song...I sung it to my husband as I read it. Tooo Funny! Again, just sooo happy you are doing well and Yikealo is hopefully back to normal. The things we just take for granted can have huge effects on our children that have already experienced sooo much trauma in their lives. Blessings to you all :)