December 15, 2014
The gastroscopy I had on the 22nd September showed a small ulcer and that the var-ices had increased in severity. Apparently there is a scale of severity from lowest to highest respectively being 1 to 4 and I sit at a 3, gulp.
I remember the first time the Gastro showed me the picture he had taken of my var-ice when it was initially found. For the life of me, I could not see what the blazes he was pointing out but I nodded because I really don’t think it was important that I was able to recognise it (just so long as he did). This time though, I could see it alright. You know when you see a body builder that has just done an intense work out and you see all those veins popping out all over their arms and chest etc? Well that is what it looked like, only this is inside my body, attached to my oesophagi, it is extremely weak and easily ruptured. I am a bit uneasy with this ‘outcome’ but what can I do about it? Nothing. Foretold is for forearmed or something like that I suppose.
I was booked in for my gallbladder removal 22nd November 2014. All the while being prepared by the Surgeon that it is likely to be an open surgery and thus recovery longer etc. I was fully aware and willing to go through with it, although scared beyond anything I know, fear is just a feeling and our feelings are not always right. However in this case I really did have something to fear & so it was with bravery I trudged forward. I was moved to the theatre prep and the Surgeon advised he would try to do it via keyhole but would move to open if needed and again implied it is the likely outcome. I agreed, secretly hoping for keyhole but fully expecting open.
Whilst waiting for the anaesthesiologist a student doctor came in and asked me if I minded answering questions as she was told I was a unique case.
This has happens frequently for me when I am hospitalised and I am always lost where to start when they ask “so how did you end up being referred to Dr blah?” – because it is not a straight forward answer. I try to not go into ‘story telling’ mode but it is hard, it is a long story (and you guys have got the cut down version!!). I try to give a brief run down consisting of ‘I have a blood clot, developed pain, referred to Dr Blah and now I’m here’. It is never that short but I try to keep it to the point and not stray but when they hear blood clot they then ask other questions which lead to other questions and then I wind up telling the whole darn thing. In the end I feel like I am talking too much, they are limited in their time to talk to me it really is hard to get the whole story done in 5 minutes. I am not sure if you guys have ever been cut off mid story but I find it leaves you feeling a bit abandoned which is why I try to cut my ‘explanations’ down, but I am a story teller at heart and can also get off track quite easily without much prompting – and to be totally honest, this happens a lot. All I can say to my audience/victims is this: it is recognised trait and is a work in progress.
The anaesthesiologist entered and proceeded to cannulize me, and with my deep and difficult veins it was…. well… difficult. He was not entirely happy with the first one and told me that he would do a second whilst I was under ‘just in case’ it was needed for transfusion (because finding a vein in me can be quite painful, needless to say I was quite happy with him doing it whilst I was out for the count). I was then wheeled into the theatre and last thing I remember is the oxygen mask on my face.
Next thing I remember is waking up with a severe burning sensation in my right side, being really groggy and tired and a bit of a sook. The nurse she was absolutely lovely, came to my side and told me she would not leave me, that made me feel better. She gave me a dose of pain killers which helped a little but then the wind pain came (which is never relieved by pain killers in my experience). Because they fill you with gas to ‘see’ better while in there this is a common side affect. Problem with me is that wind pain is always quite painful especially when it moved past the (inflamed) gall bladder the pain would bring on nausea/vomiting, that mixed with a slight reaction to the anaesthesia (nausea) not good. Although the gallbladder was not there any more, a newly created inflamed site where they removed it was now the problem. This situation [partially] was not new to me, however the severity of it wasn’t. I knew what I needed, Mintec, the magic little green pill that helps ease stomach discomfort (I later told a doubting doctor I don’t care if that is a placebo affect it is the only thing that worked and that was good enough for me). If you have never heard of this it is just simply peppermint oil, and believe you me, it works. I asked the recovery nurse for some, however she had never heard of it. She gave me an anti-nausea instead and kept intermittently giving me an extra injection when pain would rear its ugly little head. She told me that if she gave it to me all at once it could cause me to stop breathing & that was a good enough reason for me. The surgeon came to see me and told me that he was able to do it via key hole (just simply amazing) and that my liver looked great so no need of transplant in near future ahhhh thanks??? News to me that it was even considered a possible necessity, sometimes doctors neglect to tell you these little things because they don’t realise you don’t know, it may seem obvious to them but hey, no degree of medical science under my belt buddy!!, all kidding aside though that was a relief to hear. Once I was stable, they moved me to the ward.
My pain threshold is quite high, and the discomfort of pain no stranger to me. I have learned to deal with it and function normally and do not generally display much of a hint of the pain I am going through. The surgeon came and visited me a few hours later to see how I was and was surprised to see me so ‘lively’ [his words] and coping well with just pain & nausea meds. He indicated I may be able to go home the next day if I felt okay enough. I said I was happy with that. Intermittently the ‘gas pain’ kept raising its ugly little head and did so for a few days but every time it did (while I was in the hospital) the nurses would go into a bit of a panic. I found it adorably amusing to be honest. The ward nurse knew what Mintec was though so, yay, relief within 5-10 Min of taking that God given natural remedy. I later discussed the cute reaction of the nurses with the surgeon at my follow up visit; he promptly reminded me that I have var-ices and vomiting would likely cause a rupture. Well that was sobering! It made me think though, I am only 39 years old, how the hell am I going to stop from ever vomiting the rest of my life to save possible rupture and hospitalisations, argh!. Just something else I must learn to live with, I already knew that if I saw blood in my vomit I was to go to hospital, just did not realise rupture was THAT likely from vomiting. Ahh naivety! sometimes it is a blessing to NOT know the details just the instructions for ‘just in case’. Worry, worry, worry, nothing good ever comes from it.
The next morning the surgeon reviewed me and gave the all clear for me to go home. So medications prescribed and picked up I trotted off home with the assistance of my gorgeous and ever helpful husband. It was a good week before I could really function ‘properly’ but after that I had to keep reminding myself to take it easy cause I kept ‘straining’ myself. The Surgeon did state that he could not ‘promise’ any results and so although I was hopeful I tried to not ‘expect’ them.
Pleasantly, the two things I really wanted to see disappear have disappeared, I am no longer in daily abdominal pain and the oedema is not so pronounced. I have only noticed it in my hands/feet when I have gone for a walk a few times and in my abdomen intermittently. However, I no longer have stinging legs every time I walk only some inclines; I have ankles again (no more cankles); my fists do not look like clubs and my belly does not constantly look as though I am pregnant. I have to say out of the two the oedema disappearance has made me the happiest. I know some people would say pain, but I had learned to live with that and was already not allowing it to dictate what I could and could not do, however, the oedema had the power to stop me in my tracks no matter my determination or desire. Now it is gone, I cannot tell you how thankful I am for that little piece of relief. It means I can start to exercise again, maybe even loose a bit of weight although I would be curious to see how much weight in fluid has gone from my body.
Although, I appreciate that not all people believe the same things I do, I personally attribute my spectacular outcome to God and prayer petitioning. God obviously used a very talented surgeon and blessed his hands that day to work on me. Those of you inclined to think I had a ‘general’ experience I will remind you that most people who have keyhole surgery for gallbladder or appendix removal are usually in hospital for up to 4 days, not many I know who have had this surgery (including my husband who was in 2 and a bit days for appendix) have been in and out in under 24 hours. With the extreme complications and uniqueness of my case and the expectation of the surgeon himself that open surgery would be required based on imaging & history, singularly, the fact that keyhole was used successfully without problem is amazing. Secondly, the fact that I was well enough to go home less than 24 hours later is impressive. My grandmother had 3 church congregations praying for me and had a minister come to her home to pray with her. My mother was praying and had her bible group doing so also. My church was praying for me and many other friends and family members had me in their prayers. I am loved by God (as are all of us) but I truly feel his blessings in my very life essence. I am not completely healed but don’t need to be either; Jesus suffered in this world, my suffering is nothing compared to that. My focus is on bigger things than whether I have to take medication or be careful for the rest of my life; I am confident that God has a plan for me and if that does not include complete healing, I am okay with that. If I want proof of his love I look to the Cross, I look to Jesus.
That concludes the Memoirs series – the next installments will be the Ramblings entries which tend to discuss my musings and observations of life with a fun vibe. Honestly, this is what goes through my head sometimes and putting it on paper can remove the distraction our thoughts can be. We all have this running commentary happening in the back ground of our minds that talks us through what ever we are going through in that moment. Depending on our mood will depend on the thoughts, but for me at least my thoughts tend to be governed by my feelings. It is important to remember our thoughts are not real just how we are LETTING a certain situation or person affect us. We can change our feelings by rechannelling our thoughts through a different perspective. If you do find that you are low in mood a lot, and let other people have more control over you than you should ever allow by letting them affect how you feel about yourself. If these low moods are not a symptom of a medical condition but are just negative Nelly moments but they are increasing in frequency – My advice is NOT to think of all the other people who have it worse than you that will NOT WORK – instead try to find a different perspective to see the situation or person; that is more likely to have a positive affect. It won’t be easy, I have moments when I just cannot see the sun shine through the trees and that is when I need my support people to help me; but if you practice this eventually it will become as natural to you as breathing because your subconscious mind takes over the perspective change challenge.
Until next time readers, have a fantastic day!