Less than 2 weeks ago I had surgery on my lower bowel in order to remove a segment that had a stricture and distention. Since I have had Crohn’s disease for over 10 years this had lead to a build up of scar tissue and disease in this one segment of my bowel. In a way this was lucky because it meant that my bowel has been mostly effected in one portion of my small intestine. This portion was about the last 12 inches of my small intestine, right before the ileocecal valve. Therefore, I was able to remove this portion and hopefully now I can continue to hunt for a medication that will gear me into remission. That’s enough on my backstory for now, but if you want to know more on my journey check out this post. In this post, however, I will be updating you on my first 2 weeks post surgery.
Surgery Day (Tuesday)
I had surgery bright and early at 8am, which meant that I had to be there for 6am to start prepping me for surgery. Therefore, my parents and I got up bright and early on that day to drive 2 hours to the hospital out of town.
The whole process getting into surgery was fairly smooth, they set up my IV went over all possible risks one more time and made me fill out a few more papers. My parents were able to sit with me until I was wheeled back into surgery. I was grateful for this because although I wasn’t super nervous, I was still a bit nervous and did not want to start over thinking. By 7:45am they wheeled me back into surgery, the whole surgical team introduced themselves to me and shortly after they put me to sleep.
I woke up in the recovery room around 11am and was in and out of sleeping until about 1:30pm when the nurses brought me up to my room. When they brought me upstairs they made me transfer from the recovery room bed to my hospital bed. This was difficult but my nurses were very helpful. Unfortunately I was put in a ward with 3 other people, but my room mates were pretty good. Once, I was in my bed my parents came to see me.
Throughout the afternoon I was sleepy and went in and out of sleep. At the time I was also using a pain pump which helped with pain but little did I know made me nauseous when standing. The nausea could have also been linked to the anesthetic and other drugs as well, along with my bodies reaction to the surgery itself. None the less, I did have nausea which was a very annoying side effect. That day my diet was restricted to clear fluids only and so I was drinking a lot of water that day. By about 4pm I had to pee, but was unable to once I made it to the washroom. I think this was partly due to the nausea that I had and also because of the nature of my open surgery. (Originally, they did not know if the surgery would be done laparoscopically or through open surgery and so I was trying to prepare for both cases.)
None the less, they told me to hold off and wait a few hours before they insert a catheter. However, hours go by and my stomach only becomes more distended because of all the fluids in my bladder. So eventually they decide to go for a catheter. However, because I am a petite girl this took, 4 nurses and 6 attempts to get a catheter in. In the end, they could get a pediatric catheter inside. By this time it was about 9pm, and I was able to release about 1.5L of urine in 15min from my bladder which helped with the discomfort.
Overall, my pain was not too bad this day, but I think this was because my muscles were still in shock from the incision. My vitals were all good, but my heart rate was elevated to about 140, so they were a little bit concerned. That night went pretty well and I slept great in between vital check every 2 hours.
Day 1 Post-Op (Wednesday)
I woke up this day and was a lot more sore in my abdomen. I was able to walk around 3 times this day and was also able to start eating a bit more colored fluids. So things like Boost drinks, tea, etc. Overall, I was doing very well, my heart beat was still a bit raised at about 130 for resting heart beat, however the doctors were not overly concerned. Throughout that day and night however the heart beat started to decrease a bit and become more steady around 110. Because of the nausea I was experiencing I decided I wanted to come off the pain pump and go onto more mild oral pain meds. This helped a lot, along with lots of fluids.
Day 2 Post-Op (Thursday)
This morning my bandaging came off and to my surprise there was 21 staples in my abdomen. This was scary at first but my doctor reassured me that they will not hurt coming out. I was also able to get my catheter out and shortly after I was able to pee again (God Bless). This day I was able to walk a little bit farther around the halls and even went outside for a short walk as well. I felt as though I was getting a lot better. My heart beat was coming down and my vitals were also good. My surgical team on this day said that I more than likely would be able to go home tomorrow afternoon which was great news. On this day I ate all solid meals. I did not have a huge appetite but I was able to eat more smaller portions throughout the day. By night time I was also able to start passing a bit of gas (God Bless x2).
Day 3 Post-Op (Friday)
Friday morning I was told that I was able to go home because I showed great progress. I walked around the hospital a few times that morning and also ate more solid food for lunch and breakfast. I was discharged around 2pm and we made the 2 hour trek home. This was very challenging for me because I had to hold my seat belt in order for it to not push on my staples, and my core was also working fairly hard to keep me upright in the car. By the time I got home I was exhausted but I insisted on showering because I hadn’t since I had been in hospital. That night was okay and I also had a BM in the middle of the night. I am not going to lie, the first few BM I had were not exactly easy, but it was over soon enough.
Day 4 Post-Op (Saturday)
After a nice, yet challenging 10 hour sleep, I felt good, even though I woke up multiple times throughout the night. This day went fairly well and I was able to walk around and set up a routine in the house. I alternated between reclining and watching TV, walking around and sitting up. I also through in a few naps when I was tired. I tried to switch up my position often so that body didn’t get stiff. I was also eating solid food these days as well
Day 5 Post-Op (Sunday)
I had a much better sleep Saturday night which allowed me to have a lot more energy this day. I was able to walk outside for a bit and also wash my hair at some point as well. My appetite was coming back a bit, but I was still eating smaller portions than normal. Overall, I felt good, and my wounds looked good. The only pain that I was still experiencing was a bit of gas pain and also some pulling in my skin from the staples.
Day 6 Post-Op (Monday)
Monday I felt pretty energized and was able to do a few short walks around my backyard. I settled into a routine of being alone for multiple hours. But, my parents were really good at leaving work early or poping in to help. I was still eating small portions but it was all solid food. I had 4 BM today and they were all very acidic and burned. Overall, I was happy to be passing BM and having minimal pain.
Day 7 Post-Op (Tuesday)
Tuesday my walking distance increased and I was still eating solid foods. I tried some raw fruits today and it seemed to sit okay. My core muscles were starting to work again and I could tell that they were building strength. By the end of the day my core around my staples was very sore, but I took it as a sign that it was getting stronger.
Day 8 Post-Op (Wednesday)
By Wednesday I grew tired of watching Gossip Girl, so I started doing some small amounts of work with my hands on the computer. Mentally this helped to stimulate me. I walked quite a bit this day and again could feel my core muscles by the end of the day. My eating was good and my appetite was starting to get a bit better. On this day I had no BM.
Day 9 Post-Op (Thursday)
Emotionally I was tired of being alone, as I am an extrovert. But a little time with my friends at night helped with this. Again I kept busy doing multiple little tasks throughout the day in between resting and watching TV. I had to wash my hair again that night and let me tell you, that was very challenging and exhausted me. However, after a post-shower rest I felt a lot better. My eating was still the same and I started taking only Tylenol for pain.
Day 10 Post-Op (Friday)
Friday I finally got my staples out. It was a very easy experience and was not painful at all. Afterwards I had a lot of scabbing in the places where the staples were but the redness subsided after a few days. That morning I was able to put some stuff away that had been scattered around the house. I had to take some breaks in between but I was happy to be able to get some tidying done. Overall, I had a bit more energy but still tired easily if I tried to accomplish too much.
Pre-Staple Removal Post-Staple Removal
(@gutsyfeeling on Instagram for more updates from me)
The first week and a half came with a lot of challenges but overall went very well. My time in the hospital was fairly smooth and I was able to start my recovery process fairly quickly. At this point, (day 11 post-op) I am taking no pain medication. Once the staples came out a lot of the pain from the staples had subsided. I still am not able to hinge at the waste very far, but that will come with time. My bowel movements are a lot more solid in the last few days and they seemed to be settling into a routine. In sum, my hospital experience posed both some physical and mental challenges, but with the help of my surgeons, nurses, family, and friends I have been able to remain positive. They removed a 10″ piece of my intestines that was doing nothing but hurting my body, and for that I am eternally grateful. It can only go up from here.
You are strong, keep on fighting, one day at a time,