Sunday, April 14, 2019

What happened to me?

Dear friends,

I wanted to tell all of you what has happened to me.

I entered the hospital on May 29th (2018) to have my bariatric surgery. My surgery lasted 8 hours instead of the usual 2 or so, because the doctor found adhesions in my bowels. Also, instead of using scopes and probes, I had to be opened up. The doctor followed the line of my hysterectomy scar. Instead of staying a day or two to recuperate, I was in the hospital for a week. I left the hospital on June 5th.

Each day I was at home, I felt worse and worse. Finally, on June 8th, Katie called 911, and I was transported by ambulance back to the hospital where my surgery was performed. My doctor was called, and I was rushed into surgery.

What had happened was my remnant stomach had so much stuff in it that it ruptured my “new” stomach pouch. I had sepsis. I went into ICU for 14 days. I was close to death. The staff couldn’t get my body to regulate its temperature or blood pressure. I was in a drug-induced coma and on a respirator. I was a bit combative, too. I wanted to pull all of the tubes off of me, so they had to put mitts on my hands.

Once I had stabilized, I went to the step-down unit where I could still be monitored closely.

I need to tell you that these were stories that were told to me by Katie. I don’t remember most of my hospitalization. She told me the stories usually at night when we were laying in bed together. I would have time to think, and I would ask her how certain things came about and who visited when. It was amazing to have my stories told to me!

I think, after I left the step-down unit, I went to a regular room with a regular nursing and aide staff. I had been given a certain medication for my bipolar depression that worked the opposite from what it should have. It made me paranoid, and I thought people were going to eat me. I told Katie not to listen to them, but Katie insisted that they were there to help. This might have been a time when I had vivid dreams about the staff. I didn’t trust some of them at all. The dreams felt so real.

Eventually, I didn’t take that drug any more, but then I was presented with a new problem. I was sleeping all day and awake with anxiety at night. Katie would come to visit during the day, but I couldn’t stay awake to interact with her. Eventually, she brought stuff to do just so she could be there with me even though I wasn’t talking to her. At night, I would constantly ring for an aide or ask for a nurse. I didn’t want to be alone. They didn’t have orders to give me anything to sleep, so I just stayed up. Also, I wasn’t making a lot of sense when asking for something. The words for things and concepts eluded me. The staff about had it with me.

After I spoke with a psychiatrist, he put my medications into an order where I took certain ones in the evening and others in the morning. It took a little while, but I was finally able to stay awake during the day and sleep at night.
I received IV nutrition from the time I was in ICU until I was close to leaving, and then I was fed through a G-tube. I could not consume anything by mouth during this time. The G-tube went to my remnant stomach. This went on until the very last 2 days I was there. I still had to use the G-tube, but I could finally have juice and broth by mouth. Fast forward to today: I’ve stopped using the G-tube for nutrition and am getting all of my nutrition by mouth. The G-tube came out on December 7th. Yay!

I had to learn to walk again. I’m not very good at it, so I was using a walker with a seat. I put it away right after we got home from our visit to Columbus for Thanksgiving. I started walking the halls at the hospital with a walker about 3 weeks before I was discharged.

In order for my “new” stomach to work correctly, the tear had to be repaired. I kept going to radiology for tests. I had to drink black licorice-flavored contrast, so they could see if the tear was repaired. I had several EGDs where the doctor placed patches in my “new” stomach. They never worked. I just healed by myself eventually.

Since several of my body systems were out of whack, including my kidney function, I also had to have hemodialysis. This required about 4 hours in a cold room hooked up to the machine. I also required several blood transfusions.

I was very lucky to have people visit me, even when I didn’t know they were with me. Katie’s dad, Katie’s sister Meg, and my daughter Jawnna came when I was in ICU and totally unaware.  Once on the step-down unit (7th floor), my sister Crystal, and Katie’s niece nurse Margo visited. Our sister-in-law Tracey (Andy’s wife), my brother Aaron and Katie’s sister Elizabeth visited when I was aware. Elizabeth spent days with me talking, taking me down by the fountain in front of the hospital and watching some British baking show. We had fun. My brother Aaron helped Katie around the house and visited me. He rode his motorcycle from central Ohio to southeastern North Carolina. Katie’s brother Andy visited after I’d been home for a little while. He helped fix the ride-on lawn mower and planted a tree with Katie.

I spent my birthday in the hospital. I spent Hurricane Florence in the hospital. I spent Katie’s birthday in the hospital. Hell…I spent the whole summer in the hospital…the exact summer that Katie took off so we could do stuff together! Rats! She’s taking next summer off, too. We’ll try again! I was finally discharged from the hospital on September 25th – after a total of 108 days in the second hospital stay.

I am quite thankful to be alive.

If there are any questions, I'd be happy to answer them.