*Please note this article contains photos of my incision*
On January 12th, I underwent a Laparoscopic, Open Ileo Colic Resection. Not only was my small bowel resectioned but so was my sigmoid colon. About 40-50cm were removed leaving three areas to be reconnected.
Deep breath. That was a lot to take in. It still is.
I was prepared and excited to have this surgery because I knew it was going to give me a better life when all was said and done. I understood that I was going to have an incision on my stomach but when I woke up the last thing I wanted to know was what happened during surgery.
I was so pumped up on painkillers and I was so groggy from the sedation that it took me almost three full days to become fully alert and fully aware. Mentally I was not ready to look at my incision or talk to my doctor about how surgery went. I didn't want to know anything about it.
That, I did not expect.
Surgery happened on a Thursday and I got back to my room late Thursday night. By about Sunday afternoon/evening, I mentally prepared myself to look at my scar and to talk to my husband and my doctor about what happened during surgery.
I was told because they needed to take out a significant amount of diseased bowel, in one area, they needed to cut further and laparoscopic surgery was no longer an option, it became an open ileo colic resection. My doctor was very confident that they removed all of the active disease, that everything went smoothly and I would be on track to live a (somewhat) normal life. The surgery lasted about 5.5 hours.
Although the surgery itself went as planned, Friday evening I broke into a fever. It continued into Saturday. This put my medical team into high alert. They suspected I may have bleeding through the small bowel where the resection occurred, or I could have an infection. From Friday to Wednesday morning I was on antibiotics and I was monitored very closely – vitals were taken almost every hour. My haemoglobin was dropping significantly and very quickly. Both Friday and Saturday night I had a blood transfusion. Not to mention the blood transfusion I received during surgery on Thursday afternoon.
It was all pretty scary, living through that, especially when I wasn't fully alert and functioning.
By Sunday afternoon / evening I started to feel more like myself. On Monday I woke up and I felt so much better! They took out my catheter. I was able to get out of bed very slowly, still with pain, but I was able to move around, walk around a little bit and start the recovery process.
I was on a liquid diet from Friday to Sunday, but I barely ate. My food would come, which was just broth and juice but I couldn't stomach any of it. By Monday I was having soup for lunch and dinner, having juice and Jell-O's for snacks. On Tuesday, I was allowed to be on solid food, low fibre of course, and I was so happy to have eggs! You have no idea how delicious those eggs tasted! I love eggs!
Once my fever broke on Sunday, my team of doctors and nurses suspected that I was no longer bleeding or had an infection because my haemoglobin was now rising and becoming normal. My vitals were rising and hitting normal levels. I felt more confident and less scared, less stressed. I became determined to get myself out of bed, walking around the hospital room and walking around the hallways. I wanted to get myself on track to be discharged by Friday.
After all the scare of blood transfusions, fevers, infections and bleeding, my next worry was when were the staples being taken out and what the hell is it going to feel like!
Luckily, I guess, my brother had surgery years before I did and he told me I had nothing to worry about when it came to removing the staples. We also joked around that we would be “Bellybutton Buddies” - meaning we no longer had a bellybutton since our incisions went right through it – sorry to break it to you Jesse, it looks like I’ve still got mine!
Exactly one week after surgery I was told that I'd be able to go home on Friday. January 20th I was discharged. I was so excited to get the hell out of there! My staples were removed by my nurse – it didn’t hurt! My PICC line was taken out and wrapped up. I was ready for home.
I was so happy to finally be home using my own bathroom, laying in my bed, sitting on my couch and eating GOOD food on my terms.
I had such a great team of doctors and wonderful nurses who took amazing care of me during my two weeks at Mount Sinai in Toronto. I feel very blessed to have been at that hospital with the support of that team.
I am continuing my recovery process at home now. My bandages are off my incision and my scars are beginning to heal. And you know what? It doesn’t look so bad! I no long have pain - actually since the day before discharge, I stopped taking my pain meds. Each day I begin to feel a bit better. The next hurdle is regaining my strength, my energy and increasing my weight back to 100lbs.
Thank you to everyone who came to visit me in the hospital – and thank you for your patience as I asked for no visitors for a few days. Thank you to those who came to see me at home as well. Thank you to my Mom who spent many days, and a night, at the hospital with me, who also spent a few days at home with me, helping with household chores, making lunch for me and for helping with the kids. But most importantly, thank you to my husband. He’s been such a rock for our family, especially during this stressful, hectic time. Without his help, support and love, I wouldn’t have made it. He knows how much he means to me. He knows how thankful I am, but I really wanted to make sure everyone else knows how incredible of a man, husband and father he really is.
I am forever on this journey, taking new roads along the way, climbing mountains and walking through the mud. Hopefully soon I’ll find myself on a beach for awhile, swimming in clear water.
3 days after surgery - January 20th, staples removed - January 30th, healing