Honestly, there is not much more to tell. I was healed. As the GI consult team cleaned up from their procedure they decided I didn’t need the NG tube any longer; I wasn’t going to argue. What a relief to have it removed! All that was left was to wait and make sure that I stayed healed, to ensure that food would flow through my GI tract properly, and test whether or not I could use the restroom and walk around without passing out.
Saturday night was exhausting. While I can see God’s hand clearly in retrospect, in the midst of the ordeal -- drugged, exhausted, and weak as I was -- all I could do was cling to God’s nearness rather than appreciate the work He’d accomplished. Poor Larisa only had about an hour and a half of sleep, and as Sunday dawned we were facing a very long day.
A funny thing happened during rounds Sunday morning. As the doctors huddled up outside my door, my nurse insinuated herself into their conversation and invited Larisa to join them as well. As the night staff presented my case and history to the newly arrived day shift, there was some question as to the nature of my procedure on Friday. Larisa interjected at this point to tell them that the doctor who performed the procedure said he had “used a knife to cut out” the scar tissue in my stricture. This answer was soundly dismissed by the team: lasered out or burned out, sure, but scar tissue isn’t “cut out with knives” during a sigmoidoscopy. They then consulted the medical report from my procedure and were collectively stumped with the notation “performed NKSt”. What is a NKSt they wondered? Nobody knew, so they consulted…wait for it…Google. For real. The sight of five medical doctors clicking away on Google was actually both amusing and refreshing to me; my line of work is at the very fringe of medicine, and I fully appreciate that there is no way for any doctor to know everything there is to know. The fact that they could freely acknowledge this and look it up was reassuring to me. As it turns out, Google failed them initially, coming up with the Universal Reformed Christian Church in Nigeria, much to their chagrin. Finally, one of the residents piped up with “Needle Knife Stricturotomy!” Sure enough, tiny little knives used to cut out a stricture. Just like the patient’s wife had said.
The only hiccup in the rest of my stay was most likely caused by diet. For those of you unfamiliar with hospital diets, they range from Clear Liquids on through Full Liquids, GI Soft, and up to Unrestricted. Sunday morning I was on Clear Liquids and the fellow in charge of my case zoomed me all the way out to an Unrestricted diet. I should have known better than to tackle the chicken fingers, but I hadn’t eaten a decent meal since lunch on Thursday and dug right in. Just as I was getting ready to transfer out of ICU and down to a regular floor, I had a tiny bit of blood in my stool -- the only blood, in fact, all day Sunday or Monday. I could see the disappointment in my nurse’s eyes as she stared into the commode and told me this would almost certainly keep me in the ICU another night. She was right.
That’s about it. Thank you to our dear friends who drove our car home Sunday night so Larisa wouldn’t have to drive. My wife was such a comfort to me, and I’m grateful for good and Godly friends to watch out for her when I cannot. My nurse on Monday was a true blessing. A “praying man” by his own admission and a real treat to interact with. In fact, the entire nursing staff in the ICU was, by far, the best nursing team I’ve ever experienced. Competent, compassionate, and collaborative. One of them joined our family in prayer, and another compared Bible study notes with me.
On Monday morning, I had a visit from the ICU physical therapist, who walked me around the unit while holding onto a thick black belt that was buckled around my waist, while my wife followed us with a recliner, just in case. This little exercise proved that I was, in fact, able to move about on my own without fainting, and I was given the all clear to get out of my bed without the assistance of the staff.
Early Monday afternoon I was discharged directly from the ICU, a very uncommon occurrence as I understand it. So uncommon in fact, that my nurse had never done a discharge before. He had just received his RN in December and the only other patients who had left his care had been transferred to somewhere else in the hospital.
It’s good to learn from hard experiences, and here are a few of my lessons:
- Don’t have procedures done on Friday. If anything goes wrong, you’re much better off heading back into the hospital on a weekday than a weekend.
- Don’t leave the ER until you’ve stopped bleeding or have at least had a consult with specialists in the parts that are bleeding.
- Doctors would much rather talk about the implications of the color and volume of your stool than actually inspect it for themselves. While understandable, make them look. The penalty for not doing so is to have a small pipe shoved up your nose.
- Don’t skip steps in the diet progression from soft to hard
- Pull the nurse cord in the bathroom!
That concludes my story. Larisa says I can’t post pictures. So sorry to disappoint.
Thank you to everyone who prayed for, cared for, and loved on us during this episode. It is such a blessing to have a family, friends, and church family who can be counted on any time day and night. I’ve been home three days now and am back to work and feeling stronger each day. Other than a cancelled business trip this week and two little boys who are more clingy than usual, life is back to normal. I have so much for which to be grateful.