Sunday, October 27, 2013

Week 43 - Back to Work

The alarm woke me with a start and it was time to get ready for work. It felt good to be going back to work but just getting ready wore me out. I spent the morning catching up and was out the door at noon, barely able to stay awake for the ride home. Clearly half-time was a good move. I took a nap and then sat knitting in the sun. Sound familiar? The drive was no problem at least. Fast forward to Tuesday – same exact deal. I did get a bit more done at work at least but needed a nap again big time. Wednesday too. I had hoped to have more energy but kept hearing the surgeon telling me to listen to my body so didn’t fight it.

Until Thursday. I had a theory that maybe getting up so early was why I lost energy right after lunch so I decided to see if I could sleep later in hopes that I could stay longer at work. Well, just 3 days of the alarm was all it took to reset my clock so despite not setting my alarm, I only slept 9 minutes past it. Damn! I was at my desk by 8:30 determined to make it past lunch. Dodie and I walked to Applebee’s at lunch, which tasted great. Then the fatigue set in but I fought it tooth and nail. STUPID! I was totally exhausted and needed a nap but I just kept going. I left at 3:00, which somehow felt like a victory but it cost something. It was too late for a nap (I tried and failed) when I got home and I was exhausted. I rallied before book club, where we discussed The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which I loved. Afterwards it was all I could do to stay upright until bedtime. So Friday was back to half-time. I gave up on pushing myself and it was a good thing. I didn’t take a nap when I got home, which somehow felt like progress. Not sure why because I sat like a zombie in a chair but still, progress-ish.
Another thing I did to try to get back to normal was I started eating big fiber again. After high fiber cereal for breakfast, I had one of my fiber bars on Thursday and Friday so was back to my 20+ grams before lunch. So I learned the hard way what the doctor meant when he said I could eat anything my body would tolerate. Clearly I’d over fibered because I spent Saturday with gastric distress and way too many trips to the bathroom. I guess my newly shortened colon didn’t need so much fiber. Good to know.
I was back to normal on Sunday and actually got some cleaning done, which was desperately needed. I made a yummy chuck steak for supper too so ended the weekend feeling better and more normal than I had in a long time. The plan for next week is full-time at work. I can only hope it works. Wish me luck.

Week 42 - Recuperating at Home

I was home all week, feeling better with each passing day. I had food galore in the frig, yarn for knitting and clear days ahead. I drove myself to knitting at the library on Monday night, which was premature but I lived. I took it easy big time on Tuesday but felt up to doing a bit around the house on Wednesday. Nancy Meyer came that afternoon for tea and a visit. Only after she left did I start having trouble. Since the surgery, I hadn’t been getting good signals from my bladder when I had to go and after drinking two big cups of tea and not going, I had some bladder pain that lasted all night.

It was some better by Thursday and Helen and I went to Chips for her birthday lunch then hung out all afternoon crafting in the sun. My bladder was fine by Friday and at last I could tell when I had to go. I drove myself to the market Friday afternoon and lived to tell. I was feeling pretty good and no longer needed afternoon naps so I was thinking I’d be good to head back to work on Monday. The only thing I was worried about was the drive so Andrea and I went to Omaha on Sunday morning. I drove and we hit Trader Joe’s and Aldi and I survived. I got nothing else done that day and was exhausted but I felt ready to go. It had been a pleasant week at home, I was feeling much better and I was ready for some semblance of normal.

Week 41 - My Bowel Resection

TMI Alert! I get into some health details so keep reading at your own risk. : )

So, this week was all about surgery. Go figure. I was surprisingly not as nervous as I’d been the previous week, which seemed odd but I was happy about it. Maybe it was just that I was so focused on getting my pre-surgery list done that I didn’t have time to worry. Hmm…

I worked on Monday and although I anticipated a quiet day, I was slamming until after 5:00, which was probably a good thing. I ate my last meal before fasting and surgery when I got home and headed to the library for knitting. Tuesday was fasting and prep day but I had left lots of chores to do in the morning so it flew by. By 2:00 when I started drinking the prep, most everything was done. The prep was HUGE – a full gallon, which was twice what I’d had to drink before. It started out fine. It wasn’t as thick and didn’t taste too bad but there was a lot to get down. I went like gang busters until….
By 4:00, it had started to work but it also felt like it wasn’t going past my stomach anymore. I tried some kool aid powder and putting it over ice but I just couldn’t gag more down. I had to start taking antibiotics at 5:00 and it was all I could do to sip enough to get them down. It was no better by the 6:00 dose and things had stopped progressing. I called the doctor’s office and left a message. I hadn’t heard back and couldn’t drink anymore. Then at 7:30, I barfed my insides out. I hadn’t drunk any in more than 2 hours but still managed to hurl up plenty. It really was just sitting in my stomach. I called the answering service in a panic, worried that I was throwing up the antibiotics and they wouldn’t be able to do the surgery. I was NEVER going through this again! They finally called back and told me to stop drinking the stuff (THANK GOD) and to just take my 11:00 dose with water. What a relief. I got all the cats in, crossed the last few things off my list and went to bed.

Shockingly, I was able to sleep quite well and got up at 4:00 and drove myself to the hospital. I had to leave my bags in the car but took my knitting into pre-op and cast on a new pair of socks while they prepped me for surgery. The last thing I remember was moving from the gurney onto the operating table and wondering what all the people in the OR would be doing. Then I was in my room with all kinds of tubes coming out of me – IV, catheter (that was a first) and oxygen. Nora was in my room and had been there for the whole morning. My surgery had taken longer than they’d planned because they found something else wrong while they were in there and fixed that too. Apparently my colon had attached itself to my bladder so they had to carefully cut those apart and took more colon than the 6” they tattooed. How fabulous to get a BOGO on my surgery! And the colon that was attached to my bladder showed history of abscesses and a fistula was in the making. I’d clearly dodged a bullet.
Nora headed to work (such a great friend!) and Helen brought my bags from the car and ate her lunch in my room. I did everything they asked of me and so got them to take the oxygen off pretty quickly. Then I was walking the halls with my IV and pee hanging from a pole, which freaked out a little girl who was waiting by the elevator. I was ready for it all to be gone. The broth and jello they brought me for supper was heavenly and before I knew it, the day was over. Not that I got much sleep with every nurse in the place waking me up constantly to check something or other. But I had a promise that they’d take out my catheter at 6:00 a.m. so I had that to look forward to.

Tim, the night nurse who was absolutely adorable and asked me every time he woke me up all night, “Ma’am, have you passed gas?” was there minutes after 6:00 to remove the catheter. Yay! And yes, I was farting by now, which oddly made everyone happy. I convinced Tim to remove the leg massagers for good and then my IV long enough so I could get dressed. I was up in the chair all day, which felt great. Is there anything comfy about a hospital bed? Nope. I was much more comfortable up in the chair and it made it easier to get up for water (walking the hall to the galley myself) and general walking. They brought me more broth and jello, which was disheartening, but when the PA came, I begged for real food and got some cream of wheat post haste. It tasted great! Nora, who was back first thing, immediately went to Scooter’s in the lobby and got me a latte. Life was improving by leaps and bounds. Nora left and Darla arrived and spent the morning with me. I have the best friends EVER. I had a turkey sandwich for lunch (yum!) and had some downtime in the afternoon so got lots of knitting done. Helen and Brenda visited in the afternoon and then after dinner, Anne came. Jennifer brought me a frapuccino at 7:00 which was half-caff so I was up late that night. It’s not like I’d worked up any fatigue though and Friday I’d be going home.
I slept in a bit, ate breakfast (real food was tasting so good) and waited for the doctor or PA to show up. Despite not pooping yet, they were calling me their star patient (all I did was follow directions and get out of bed!) and consensus was that I’d be able to leave. I got the OK to go at 9:30 so emailed Nora and kept knitting. Nora called at 10:30 and we made plans to leave around lunch. She and Mary came up ~12:30 and we headed out. It hadn’t been bad and was a shorter stay than I’d thought but it felt good just to be outside. Mary drove me home and Nora drove my car. After they left, I unpacked and ate a bowl of cheerios. Even those tasted great. Then it was a matter of sitting, knitting and waiting for my newly svelte colon to kick in, which it did later that day. That accomplished, I just had to wait until 9:00 so I could go to bed in my own bed. I surrounded myself with pillows and fell instantly asleep. Then the phone rang at 9:30 and woke me up with a rush of adrenaline that had my heart racing in my chest. Seriously! Who could be calling me that late on the day I got out of the hospital. It was Helen, who had hung up before I could get to the phone. I listened to her message and then sat up for hours. If I could have read in bed that might have helped me get to sleep sooner but I read on my stomach so that didn’t work. I finally fell asleep at midnight. What a long day.

Helen called first thing on Saturday and I told her she should not have called so late and please not to do it again, after which we chatted for awhile. I was so exhausted that I didn’t do much more than sit and knit on Saturday. The phone rang in the afternoon, waking me from a trance (can you be asleep with your eyes open?) and it was Helen’s husband, who doesn’t like me on a good day. Well, he had taken exception to me telling Helen she shouldn’t have called so late and was in a screaming rage. He called me a f-ing selfish bitch and told me never to ask them for anything else again. I could barely follow what he was saying and struggled for a response but he hung up on me. I was in shock and scared – a man in a rage with guns 6 miles from me. Did Helen know he’d called? I had no way of knowing and was fretting big time. Now I’m sure being less than 24 hours out of the hospital, totally sleep deprived and fresh from general anesthesia wasn’t helping but still. Who does this? Sharyn and Ginny helped talk me down. Thankfully Helen called later that day, at which point I burst into tears. She had no idea he’d called and chalked it up to his meds. I was just so relieved that Helen and I were OK and now could sleep without worry, which I did at exactly 9:00. I didn’t sleep very well but certainly better than the night before.
Sunday was a pleasant day of knitting and feeling not too bad. I had plenty of food in the frig and was eating pretty normally. Things were definitely looking up.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Week 40 - Farewell to Tilde

A week that starts with putting your cat down can only get better, right? Well, it was touch and go this past week but Mother Nature came through and it ended nicely.

I had had Tilde into the vet on Saturday but he didn’t do a blood test, sending me home with antibiotics. I wanted to believe they would work but she continued to fade so I dropped her back at the vet on the way to work, telling them to do tests – blood, urine, whatever – to figure out what was wrong with her. When they called to say it was kidney failure I wasn’t surprised. I’ve had 4 cats go this way so this wasn’t new to me. I said I’d be there before 5:00, knowing what I needed to do. I had done subcutaneous fluids once and it wasn’t fun for me or the cat. I swore I wouldln’t put a cat through that again so I had her put down. It’s never easy and I was a mess but Tilde was out of her misery. I buried her in the side yard and went to knitting where my friends and the activity offered some comfort.

Tuesday was the first day of the month, which is always busy and that was good. I kept focused and made it through the day OK. It was even OK at home. That’s because I was saving it all for Wednesday.

I was a mess! If you just looked at me funny, I teared up. It was one of those rare days when I miss living in Rhode Island. I desperately wanted to go to the shore and listen to the waves crashing, which would have calmed me down for sure. It was hotter than Hades too so even sitting outside wouldn’t be pleasant. So after running a couple of errands at lunch, I ended up sitting in my car with the AC running and calling Sharyn. We had a lovely talk and I was doing fine until she said love you as she hung up. That was it. The tears started and nothing would stop them. I sat at my desk trying so hard to cry quietly, working on emails I could barely see through the tears. That lasted for a couple of hours. As Darla would say, I needed it. By the time I left work, it had passed but I had a headache and sandy eyes. I skipped the pool in favor of going home to make some dinner. It was a good decision.

I was feeling better about Tilde but now the stress of the coming weekend was coming on. Gordy, Connie’s man, was doing a concert in Wahoo on Sunday night so would be staying at my house Saturday and Sunday nights. That meant I had a huge to do list of chores to get done before he arrived. I had to swim Thursday since I hadn’t yet all week and it was probably my last time before surgery so Thursday night was out. I had planned to food shop on Friday but it was homecoming weekend and Lincoln was a nightmare so I got out of Dodge. The weekend was upon me.

It was raw and cold on Saturday but that was nothing compared to the blizzard in South Dakota. As soon as it hit 9:00 mountain time, I was on the phone with Connie and Gordy. They had 4 feet of snow and the interstate across South Dakota was closed. I got on the phone with Pat from Friends of the Library and we started discussing cancelling. Gordy was reluctant but at 10:30 he made the call. I met Pat at the library and we started making calls to everyone who’d bought a ticket, trying to get the staff to remember who paid cash. Then it was running around writing cancelled on the posters that were all over town. By noon it was all done and my weekend was my own. I went to the bag sale, stopped at Andrea’s and was home by 1:00. What would have been a day of slamming through chores was now free and clear. I enjoyed the afternoon and made a nice dinner – cheesy baked cauliflower and ham. Yum!

I had another lovely day on Sunday, which was so cold and damp that I turned the heat on. Early but just for the day to take the chill off since 70’s and sun were forecast for the week. Anyway, I did get some chores done but quite a few things were on the list for Tuesday, when I’ll be home but won’t start my colon prep until 2:00. The weekend that was going to be stressful and busy became relaxing and restorative. Nice and just what I needed for my last weekend before surgery.