Saturday, February 6, 2010

Hysterectomy at Toledo Hospital --(a sort of diary entry)

This is not exactly lovely --depending on how "earthy" and candid you are about health issues --so you may not want to read.

You might appreciate it more if you read my older blog on this topic--about the lab report that followed me to church one day.

I am home again, back at the computer. They did find cancer (well-differentiated (that's good, I'm told) adenocarcinoma) of the endometrium (uterine lining) which was starting to invade the muscular wall of the uterus but it had not gone anywhere else, not to the lymph nodes. They also removed cervix, ovaries and fallopian tubes --no cancers there. Dr. Phibbs, a great Ohio gynecologist /oncologist, was very confident that I needed no further treatments. But in blood work they decided I am just starting to be borderline diabetic and to have hypothyroidism --both common as changes to women my age, I've heard. Dr. Phibbs said meds for hypothyroidism would probably give me more energy and he expected to see me shopping next week! Well, he doesn't know me too well, I guess --because I'm not crazy to shop even in the best of health --unless you give me a scooter to ride! But even then I don't initiate shopping trips.

I marvel at the wonderful bedside manner of medical personnel --it's no wonder they are often beloved . We know that we are a dime a dozen as patients to healthcare people --but they seem to take personal interest and maintain genuine caring and warmth to all their patients.

I kept everybody busy -- as I guess all the hysterectomy patients do -because, at first, we can hardly get in and out of bed by ourselves, reach the sheets to pull them up, reach anything due to the pain of movement -- or do certain sanitary cleansing functions very well for ourselves. And my room had no shower facility --just some common showers in our hallway. We have this little bag hanging out from the stitches --to collect extraneous bodily fluids from inside our bodies. I went through one of those and then they started a different system. The first one was leaky --so I would go to the bathroom and accidenally put pressure on this little bag, and I had fluids flying down my legs and onto the floor! It was TERRIBLE!!! And I could barely reach the floor to mop up anything myself. Then the 2nd one started to leak.

Now we can't figure out how to empty this little substitute colostomy bag (the purpose says our surgical tech daughter in law, is to siphon off the fluids from the incision for faster/better healing. The doctor will remove it completely at his office if I get less than 100 cc's in a 24 hour day. She left before we tried to empty it. So Jon called hospital nurse on how to empty this thing-- it has a little valve with a wing nut and we watched the nurse do it --but it won't produce any fluid for us --My question is: can the fluid that comes out --run back in through the tube to which it is attached, stitched in to the stitches, when I lie on my left side? I think they want the container used to hang straight down --but when that thing leaked, they substituted with something that has to be fastened and drain more horizontally --and I thought it would be good to empty often, as we go --so the fluid doesn't back up. ( Does this make you sick? It does me!!! Why should I suffer alone? ) The incision, btw, looks like a zipper with a neat little vertical row of staples --and is starting to irritate here and there.

When I woke up from surgery, I found I had this stretchy wrap around my middle --fastened with velcro, and perforated for air --sort of a corrugated girdle --that helps to support the muscles and keep one from jostling about --no pulling on the incision. Helps with pain despite it's inherent discomforts. they would loosen it to look at the incision and then girdle me up again. But one day I noticed my skin was corrugating with the girdle -- I had a terrible rash from it --and so can't wear it anymore.

In my hospital room, I really struggled if the phone rang or if I needed help and wasn't near any of the call-nurse buttons. The call nurse thingy is on the TV remote --attached to one side of the bed. I'd feel an urge to "go" and start out of the bed and find my legs were wrapped up in cords and velcro for the blood-clot prevention system. I couldn't reach anything to undo them myself and so was stuck until I desperately figured out a solution --or a nurse popped in. Then one time I got into bed at great personal discomfort and adjusting of the high and low ends of the bed to help me avoid pain, and there was a sharp, short yellow pencil right under my legs --and I couldn't reach it. So I had to maneuver painfully out of the bed after maneuvering painfully to get IN it--and then the pencil fell to the floor.

I was supposed to use the pencil to fill out my menus. But as it was, between the doc and the nursing staff, they were saying liquid diet --no, solid diet, alternately --trying to figure out what I needed --and once I even got 2 meals! And no appetite the whole 5 days.

I had a portable commode in my room that I was encouraged to use if I didn't think I was going to make it to the regular bathroom. I got seated, did my bizznezz, and grabbed f0r the toilet paper and it fell down and rolled over an unsanitary floor to the bathroom. I could only helplessly grab at the end and pull it toward me as it unrolled.

When they took me off of the IV's and the morphine --(which made me chatter gaily with my visitors --but not hallucinate), I went through terrible nausea with the Percocettes and the Darvocets they tried on me --and cried out for Dr. Kevorkian! Not really. But nausea is probably my most depressing experience when I dare to think death might be preferable --after all, I often tell my husband, "I have lived!" And "I do not suffer well," and I won't be disappointed if God takes me swiftly some day --except for all the loving people, good family and church times,weddings and graduations, ministries, family and church music missed.

In abdominal surgery, they handle your intestines, and sometimes it seems the intestines will think they should just lie down and die because human beings touched them --like some mother birds and animals who won't touch their young if humans come around. So the doctors have us taking all sorts of medicines to promote bowel activity, tell us to pick up our emptied, stitched bodies and march down the halls to get any pent-up gas moving. (Like a trumpeting marching band, I guess! ) Some of the pain meds made my mouth stick together and killed my appetite. I was taking a cocktail of pills for this and that--and almost as bad as nausea was the eventual diahhrea which they say is common due to the IV antibiotics and the medicine to promote digestion and bowel activity. When the move would come, I had no choice but to dribble across the floor --it was like what we used to call "baby diaper mustard." Perhaps it's because the bowels are starting over and they act like new born bodies. We start on liquid diets and then go to soft foods --and then the Hard stuff!

Today, my first evening home since last Tuesday, my worst experiences are coughing or sneezing (though I don't seem to be ill) --hurts the stitches --and I'm feeling the stitches more than ever before. And I hate wearing that little bag -it's a colostomy bag of some sort. But I'm living to tell you ALL about it, welcome or not.

I had two C sections before this, so I remember a lot of it from before --and can you imagine, then we also took home a baby to care for. It probably made for a speedy recovery.

Right now, my babies are grown up and are helping to care for their mother. John & Charlotte are working and baking favorite things in the kitchen, John made up my special rented bed in the sun room where his Grandma also sleeps -- as I DARE NOT have those diarrhea spells on our carpeting --it would be so hard to clean--and there is so little warning for them. And I can't bend over to clean them myself! I won't have to climb steps for several weeks this way--but I will probably go up stairs sooner when I'm sure I'm safe for the carpeting!

One thing I don't get, they tell me not to lift more then 5 pounds during the next few weeks --and take it easy--but walk around the house a lot. Yet, if I get into my bed, I'm putting the strain of DEFINITELY over 100 pounds on my musculature/the incision, etc.

We rented this hospital bed from the hospital --and it has guard rails the full length of the bed both sides --and is hard. To get in the bed is a pain. I've figured out no easy, painless way to do it --and lifting the head of the bed doesn't help since the guard rail ends up going up with it and has to be traversed by painful means.

At the hospital, our 4 visited us. plus the minister (twice), Courtney and Inga, (Courtney and the minister kept Rob and Jon company through the surgery. Steph and her boys and Rob looked out for my mother and brought her up to see me at the hospital. I got 7 bouquets of flowers --you would have thought it was a funeral. Beautiful floral arrangement including tulips, a promise of spring.

And the beautiful church is bringing meals every other night for a couple of weeks --just to look out for a family in their "family." Tonight was Patty's B's delicious chili and cornbread --I ate light, being a good girl --and avoided beans! They often do this ministry for church people if they hear of their upcoming surgeries.

Church --a caring community within the larger, impersonal community. Can't over-recommend it.

As for hysterectomies --well, I can't exactly recommend them, but if you need one, it will be worth it all. When we think of what Jesus suffered willingly for us, seems I could put up with my nausea and pain. I also thought of our soldiers who have suffered so terribly, receiving disabilities for life because some people think suicide bombing and roadside, market-place terrorism is pleasing to God. One thing about Depression and Nausea --they are both typically self-limiting. You will get thru it!!

Despite my criticisms of these indignities of life, Am. health care is amazing, probably the leader in providing the most advanced care for most of their citizens. Our country would be glad to be the health-care providers of the world --if the warriors would just QUIT their murderous ways, their oppression and suppression of freedom and democracy. Warring is the one area of human development in which most of the world has not made any progress, at all, sad to say. Refusing to defend anyone, letting the Pol Pots and Hitler rule, is not the solution. What the world needs most --besides sanitary engineers --is good ol' Gospel Revival and evangelistic ministries.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


steve said...

Sounds like it was an ordeal, but you made it through!

John Rohrs said...

Glad you are finally home mom! I knew you had to not be feeling well when I came to visit you and brought you an ice cream sandwich, which did not sound good to you at that time.

Barb said...

Hey, is this your first comment here, John?

coming over for Super Bowl to share in the yelling and stuff with your dad?

Good for you and John to read, Steve: the Patient's Perspective!

Jeanette said...

Barb, I'm so happy all this is over now and you're on the road to recovery. Just listen to your body when it tells you to slow down a bit.

I thank Rob for so kindly keeping me posted every day while you were in the hospital. You have a good son.

Barb said...

It's nice to have an online friend from the east coast who cares so much, Jeanette.

steve said...

As a student nurse I've cared for quiet a few post surgery patients at St V. I can say that from my experience, the women patients are usually more stoic and uncomplaining than the men I've cared for.

Barb said...

Pain level is hard to guage --

steve said...

You mean the 0 to 10 scale? Well a nurse will correlate your pain report with your baseline vital signs such as heart rate and respiratory rate. If you are in pain, then your body will initiate the stress response which will raise heart rate and breathing rate and temp. But opioids might suppress that response so nurses really rely on the patient to give an accurate account of their pain.

Barb said...

I was thinking it's hard for me to guage from 1 to 10 -xcept when it seems intolerable --that's a 10!
nausea is a 10 to me.

And it's hard for us to tell what another's pain feels like --and easy to think those men are crybabies if and when they are less stoic than women.

I pray you'll not have to find out, Steve! this hasn't been a picnic --I've had more complications since writing this --but I think all is under control. Stitches come out Friday--the 11th day. I hope everything stays together! I've had a few episodes of getting out of beds and chairs where I thought I may have torn asunder!

steve said...

Stay hydrated, get lots of protein - maybe use ensure to make sure you're getting enough. get lots of vitamin C because vitamin C is needed for healing. I'm sure it is no pick-nick, Can you take some zofran for the nausea? it's very effective with minimal side effects.

Barb said...

I've been ok lately--zofran seemed to help at first and then not--

now I have some cellulitus around the incision, Dr-helpers Steve and John.

Taking antibiotic, using heat pad--I'll take my vitamin! for the C.

Of course, prayers are sought. I'm probably having a fairly ordinary course as these things go. But it bothers me that I'll not be seen by doc when stitches come out --so I'll have MY doc look. I guess he is more my husband than a doc to me.

Anonymous said...

Barb ~
You certainly have not inspired me to have this surgery. I am inspired to keep you in my prayers!
It wasn't a pleasant experience but you still have your sense of humor and great wit! I think you could write something for the medical journals with the great handle you have on medical language. The Lord bless you, friend! Linda Ruckman

Barb said...

thanks for commenting here, Friend!

My cellulitis aftermath wouldn't necessarily be universal experience.

Saw doc today--and he changed the antibiotic --and said, 'Stay with the heat pad' and I'm to go back in a week.

Had Jon not insisted that the doc see my incision, I would still be following their office orders and be on an apparently ineffectual antibiotic that wasn't doing what we need.

Anonymous said...

I thought all the rooms in Toledo Hospital had bathrooms in them. I am going to have this surgery soon and would not like that idea.

Barb said...

They are all private rooms with their own bathrooms -but not a shower/bath --probably on this oncology surgery floor --where I'm guessing they don't want any water on your incision for a few days? Then when you are ready--they have you walk to a short hall 0ff the hall with about 3 private shower rooms with space IN the private unit for a chair and towelbars,and a place to hang your clothing. They want you walking, too, so going there for the shower involves a short walk.

It sounds primitive at first for a hospital that provides all the conveniences of the best --but it's by design, I'm sure.

I would like to clarify that the discomfort of movement which I describe is lessened greatly by pain meds --so I was not sitting there in pain all the time --and they give you plenty of meds to take home. It's just that you feel a great vulnerability where the incision is and fear of movement may be greater than the pain itself!

cellulitis is a complication which I assume not everyone experiences --and it slows the healing process. It actually makes the incision feel numb and hard around it --and red. You want to be on antibiotics if that happens and my husband recommends BACTRIM --a wide spectrum antibiotic. I am, however, now on KEFLEX, surgeon's choice, and we are waiting to see if the tide is turning. I thought I noticed some improvment; my husband was not so sure. We are giving this antibiotic some more time to work before hollering.

Your experience will probably be better than expected --now that you've read my downside version! It seems to be a very common experience for women --routine for the hospitals.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for respondinq quickly Barb (about the bathroom). Was your uterus enlarged too. Mine is double the size. How many days were you in the hospital?

Barb said...

They told me several years ago that it was englared and "boggy" with fibroids. I had post-menopausal bleeding off and on --such that at 63, I still couldn't say WHEN menopause occured for me --they said that those might shrink up with menopause process -- I stopped bleeding from Christmas to July of 09 --and then started in again. Almost never large quantity enough to give me anemia as happens for some women --and never with cramping or discomfort. But I wasn't doing anything about it --until I passed a round sphere --that was analyzed by a lab to be a blood clot --but you wouldn't think it was--it was bright red, 3/4 in. diameter and like I'd think an eyeball would be in consistancy --round, firm, bright and shiny except for the side which apparently had broken off from the side of the uterus, presumeably.

So that scared me and the doctor did the biopsy that found cancer. That's the 2nd time I passed an alien growth --the first time sent me to the doctor when he diagnosed fibroids. Five? years ago maybe. And that growth or clot fried in my husband's hot car before he ever got it to the lab --when they said they couldn't tell what it was after so long a wait and the conditions.

They haven't said any thing about those fibroids since the beginning and I keep forgetting to ask --but I think they may have shrunk. I would've guessed fibroids were what I passed but the lab said just a clot the 2nd time.

I did have a D & C with hysteroscopy --in 08 to look througout the uterus as the doctor said a biopsy could miss the section that was malignant. No malignancy found then.

Anyway --passing those 2 odd items those 2 times were like warnings to me --to quit thinking I was just having a lengthy menopause that i could ignore.

Hopefully, the infection is turning away midway through this round of antibiotics --I'm thinking it may be a little better today.

I hope your experience is as pleasant as possible! I was in the hospital 5 days. And the promedica visiting nurse came 3 times --re: the drainage bag issue and general care. One of them scrubbed me a bit roughly on the incision --2 days before the staples were removed. It wasn't unbearable --but if I were you, I would refuse that --knowing now that my staples weren't really ready to come out. Rough cleansing couldn't have been helpful to the infection process. then when the staples came out --part of my incision bled and widened to 1/2 inch in width and depth by the end of that day--and is still that way. They say it will heal and probably just be a wider scar than intended.

They took the staples out on day 10 after surgery. A few more days later might've been good in my case.

I think I'm sorry you have found my blog on this topic --how did you?

Anonymous said...

Can you tell me how large your uterus was. Mine is double and I am very nervous about this surgery.

mud_rake said...

[please note: I am wearing protection- latex gloves, mask, and alcohol wipes at the keyboard lest I become infected by the many viruses and bacteria living on this blog]

Say Barb, I have two questions and I will make them short to stave off infection:

1.)Regarding your comments on Professor Howard Friedman's Religion Clause blog-

a.) I think it is hilarious that you post both as "Barb" as well as "ANONYMOUS." If you don't think that the regulars there know this, then your World of Delusion grows larger. Do you 'believe' that no one knows that you post under two 'names?'

b.) Why do you avoid answering my questions on Professor Friedman's blog? There are at least a dozen questions I have raised to you in various threads, but you 'conveniently' ignore them. Are they too difficult for you?

[got to get out of here as my fingers are turning green!]

Barb said...

As God is my witness, Mudrake, I am NOT anonymous EVER at the Religion Clause Blog. Or anywhere else currently. I only post under my name. I rarely ever have posted anonymously--and only where I knew there was prejudice as at your blog. But you can probably count on one hand the total number of anonymous posts by me elsewhere. Never at the Religion Clause.

I know this is disappointing to you to find that there may be goodness knows how many conservatives over there posting as "anonymous." But not one of them is me or anyone whose identity I know.

I can promise you that on a stack of Bibles or whatever it would take to convince you. But you are the one insisting on a delusion that no one could possibly share my views.

as for your questions --I do answer them if they make any sense. Like you asked me what i know about Islam. I told you. You had no comment in response.

You are mad and deluded because one Anonymous said I stay on the issues as you do not. I have said that to you as Barb before --but it wasn't me this time. Anybody can see that I am your issue on that blog. Even the professor deletes you--which I wouldn't know if you didn't tell us. Why don't you just ignore me and my comments for awhile?

Barb said...

Anonymous --I don't know about my uterine size. Just that enlargement is common, fibroids, post-menopausal bleeding, fear of cancer of endometrium or ovaries, other risk factors, are reasons for hysterectomies.

Since having mine, I've learned that so many women have had the procedure --friends --and I did not know it --though I knew them at the time! I think I thought it was so commonplace that it couldn't be much trouble and so their surgeries escaped my notice. None seemed to think it had lasting sad effects for them --some said they felt better right away.

But it is major surgery. And the difference between me and them may be that I neither suffer well nor quietly!

I did have one morning of what seemed like bladder spasms --painful pressure and having a full bladder every 15 minutes or so. This was about the 3rd morning after returning home --and I had not had as many BM's as food taken in --and so I thought maybe my internal organs were compressing on the bladder --which may be the case. Neither the PA or the INTERN on call for the doc had any idea what was causing this problem. They ordered a urine sample be analyzed and it was ok. it felt similar to a Urinary tract infection--except there was urine produced in massive quantities.

Drinking lots of fruit juice (whole fruit in a Vita Mixer which we've had for several months), eating nuts, drinking liquids --all helped to give me pain-free and normal BM's after I got home. But not at first --and so, after voiding, the urinary pain and frequency normalized. My mouth would get dry as cotton during that problem, also. I think I took 2 tylenol that night(because my other meds were to be taken with food and they ran out around 3 am --so I took 2 tylenol instead) and it may have been a super diuretic to me.

I would have liked a warning of that episode or some explanation as it really scared me and was very uncomfortable --but went away. So I tell you, in case it happens, that "this, too, shall pass."

Prayer is helpful --if not aiding in the miracle of healing (which all healing is), it is comforting to call on God who says, "Draw near to me, and I will draw near to you."

"Though I pass through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."

mud_rake said...

As God is my witness, Mudrake, I am NOT anonymous EVER at the Religion Clause Blog.

The fact that you haven't been struck dead by this blatant LIE proves that your god is dead.

Barb said...

No --Mudrake --you are the liar. I do not post as Anonymous over at the Religion Clause.

Perhaps I shouldn't say "never" --but I don't remember "ever" doing that --or having any trouble getting published there as Barb. If I "ever" did it, it was not this calendar year, I'm sure of that. I certainly do not play "sock puppet.

Barb said...

MUDRAKE, YOU SAID at Religion Clause, that you are helping an 8th grade girl with her Confirmation into Catholic Church --do you also tell her that her God is dead? Is this your granddaughter you are helping??? I would hope you kept your cynicism to yourself, but you didn't --you let her know that Catholic doctrine prevents her, like a 2nd class citizen, from divine orders in the priesthood --and you hope that will make her cynical like you. Too bad.

BTW --one of the anonymous Christian posters at Regligion Clause says "HeHe." as a chuckle. Who does that? I've seen it before, but don't recall who. When I blog, you'll see a lot of --'s (dashes) --for my stream of consciousness style of writing --I like to put the pauses for aural effect into my writing and splice sentences with dashes -- it takes great discipline for me not to do that. i doubt any of the anonys do that as I do.

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