My surgery story

Approximately one week ago this pesky hurricane, Dorian, had a path that led it over the Bahamas and then up the East coast.  I distinctly remember saying when I was told I was going to have surgery in September, “oh great, during hurricane season?”  I need to learn to keep my mouth shut because wouldn’t you know, I spent all last weekend worrying that the hurricane would cancel my surgery and we would have to evacuate!  I mean, Dorian was a Cat 5 hurricane!

On labor day, Sept 2nd, I got the call that surgery was still on and I needed to start my prep.  The weather forecast had Hurricane Dorian right over the Bahamas that day as a Cat 5 and then would weaken to a Cat 2-3 as it made its way east.  So the Operating Rooms at MUSC were still open and my surgery was a go!  I did my prep, complaining the whole time because I was STARVING (I hate not eating solid foods) and said my prayers and went to bed.  Tuesday the 3rd, I had to get up at 4 am to drink a “pre-surgical” Ensure drink that promotes healing and electrolyte stability during surgery.  And after that, I was wide awake.  I showered with the special chlorhexidine soap and got dressed and Carson took me to Ashley River Tower where my surgery was going to be at 5:45.  We breezed through registration and then I went to pre-op where I changed into a gown, had my vital signs taken, and had an IV started.  Carson and my parents then came back and we met with the surgeon and the anesthesia team.  Then it was go time.  The CRNA gave me 2mg of versed in pre-op, and I kissed my family goodbye.  I got into the OR with lots of people bustling around me and I barely could move from the bed to the OR table.  Then the anesthesiologist put some oxygen on my face, I said a quick prayer to God, asking him to forgive me for my sins and to keep me safe, and then, I was out.

I woke up in post op holding and the nurse was asking me my pain score.  I said “8” and he said he had already given me some pain medicine but could give me more.  Apparently I had been there for a hour or two but I didn’t remember much at all.  My dad was sitting there with me (he’s a doctor at that hospital and was able to just walk back 😉) but I don’t remember what he said to me either.  Then, before I knew it, I was in my official room on 6E and Carson and my mom and dad were all there around me.  I drifted in and out of sleep while my nurse bustled around me.  He explained I had a foley in place til the next morning and that I would be on a clear liquid diet.  That evening I had an Italian ice and citrus jello for dinner and carson and I walked very slowly from my room down the hall.  I was up and walking POD #0.  That was my goal!  Also, my “work husband”, Dr John Bride came over from work to visit with me.  Was nice to see a familiar face and he kept me updated on what was happening with work and hurricane preparations.

I want to say that I slept like a baby that night but I didn’t.  Vital signs every 4 hours.  Different medicines on different schedules mean the nurse came in every 2 hours.  I had 2 blood draws that night (one at 10 pm and one at 4 am- why I don’t know).  And I had finger stick every 4 hours.

The next day, the 4th, my foley came out and I was transitioned to maintaince fluids by my IV and a regular diet.  With the removal of my foley, I had to prove to them that I could urinate on my own- and so I tried and tried.  I pushed so hard that I sprung a leak on my pouch.  Ick! That was a mess and the nurses had to change my ileostomy pouch for me (ugghhhh I hate having people do things for me!!)

That day was the calm before the storm and my parents and carson came to visit multiple times. My friend Kelly from OTF also came to visit and so did my co-worker, Neil Glover.  It was fun to chit chat and not think about being a patient for a while. That day, it was hard to get my pain under control so they increased my pain medicine (thank you!) and I did a few laps around the 6th floor.  I also ate regular food- I had an omelet for breakfast and a burger for dinner.  The major pain of the day was having to get up and down to use the bathroom and having to get the IV pole unplugged and walk it to the bathroom without you and it getting tangled up!

Thursday Sept 5th– no visitors that day because Hurricane Dorian was upon it.  The wind started up Wednesday night and you could hear it howling.  There was a concern because of the king tides we had been having that all of downtown was flooded.  I didn’t have the best view from my room so I walked a lot to check out all sides of the hospital.  I noticed some rooms were leaking- the windows and ceiling tiles- and patients had to be moved.  I was lucky to have a clean and dry room.  I also had the best view of the VA hospital from my walking route so I would check on it and take pictures to send to my co-workers.  I ended up walking 2.5 miles that day around the floor.

My surgeon came in for rounds on Thursday and said that I was doing well and could go home the next day, Friday!  He also said my fluids could be discontinued (yes!).  Despite the bad weather and no visitors, it was a productive day.

Today- Friday Sept 6th.  I got to go home.  My surgeon came by around 8 am and by then I had already done 5 laps around the 6th floor.  He said I could go home and he would bring me back on Thursday for a sigmoidoscopy and a CT scan with rectal contrast.  If the CT scan demonstrates good healing and no leakage, he will reverse my ileostomy the next day, Friday the 13th (I know, I know).  But that means a quick quick reversal (10 days) which is to help patients not experience LAR syndrome and recover bowel function more quickly.  With his blessing, I ate some breakfast, packed up my room, and did another 10 laps around the floor.  Then at noon, Carson came and picked me up and I went home to rest and recover.

So that is my surgery story.  I will have to say that this dang hurricane made me focus on it instead of the upcoming surgery, so I think that was a blessing in disguise.  I also had so many people texting and messaging me over social media, checking on me and carson, and we both really appreciate it.  Our house is fine…we did lose power for about 2 hours but it came back on quickly.  And we do have a lot of branches/debris in our yard (and one pesky tree that landed on my car!) but cleanup should be easy and we are thankful the storm didn’t hit us as hard as it could have!