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Thursday, May 10, 2012

What A Month (part 3)

Day 4, Tuesday (con't)

After a couple of moments I asked the nurse if my surgery had been done laparoscopically. She said that it had and that I would be headed for my room in a minute. Talk about a wave of relief washing over me. I was ecstatic that I only had to have my appendix removed. Later on I would try to joke with my surgeon about how I was grateful that all I needed was a simple laparoscopic appendectomy and he chided me. He said that there had been nothing simple about my surgery. I guess I was a real mess on the inside.

Day 5, Wednesday

At midnight I finally made it to my room. My wife had been there for several hours now and had assumed that I needed the more extensive surgery. She had repeatedly tried to get the nurse to call up to the OR and get some information to no avail. Fortunately for the nursing staff my wife is a patient woman.

Once in my room I was able to tell my wife what had happened. And for the next several hours I was bombarded by staff members doing all kinds of pokes, prods and checks. By 0300 I had sent my wife home for some much needed sleep. I was finally able to get comfortable enough to doze off when in walked my wonderful nurse (the one that refused to get any information for my wife). She told me she had to put the compression socks on to prevent me from getting DVTs. They would go off alternately, every 15 seconds. After 3 minutes of that I started pushing my nurse call button. When she showed up I told her the socks were coming off. She tried to protest for a moment but quickly realized she was going to lose that argument. A few minutes later I was asleep.

Let me take a minute to tell you about their new air mattresses. They are designed to keep patients from getting bed sores. They deflate and inflate depending on where the pressure points on your body are. The only issue that I had was that I was in pain. It would take me quite a while to find a comfortable spot. Then, after resting for a minute or so, the stupid bed would change pressure and shift me around to a "better" place causing me pain. That was frustrating. I should have just unplugged the thing.

By mid morning I had sunk into a routine of sleeping in small chunks. I was still getting all kinds of antibiotics and fluid replacement. For breakfast, or it could have been lunch, I got jello, lime soda, apple juice and broth. Tasty. I wasn't really hungry so I ate the jello and downed the juice.

It was that afternoon that I first noticed a little fluid build up around my abdomen. It wasn't much and I had just been through surgery. I dismissed it.

My nurses during the day were great. Very attentive and caring when I needed them and willing to skip vitals if they saw that I was sleeping. They also pushed and cajoled me until I got up and walked around the hallway. It was supposedly good for me. Mostly it just hurt.

That evening I had more jello and juice for dinner. Yum. That night was a little better than the night before. At the very least the blood sucking phlebotomist didn't wake me up for a needle poke at 0400.

Day 6, Thursday

By Thursday morning my life was starting to seem like Groundhog Day. I was still in a lot of pain, I wasn't hungry, I was tired of being in the hospital and I noticed even more fluid building up around my abdomen.

This time I was a bit concerned about the fluid build up. I knew how much NS and LR they had been giving me (almost 10 liters by this point) and I knew that I was drinking a lot of water. The problem was my urine output was next to nothing.

I talked to the RN about it and she said that she'd keep an eye on it and talk to the MD about it as well. I let it go at that for the rest of the day. My surgeon stopped by while I was in the shower and just asked me a couple of questions through the door.

By that night the swelling in my belly was hitting a critical point. About 10 that night the RN walked into my room because I kept setting off the low oxygenation saturation alarm, even though I was on supplemental oxygen. She turned the O2 up to 6 LPM (I was on a cannula) and went about her shift.

It wasn't for another hour or so that I came around to start diagnosing myself. I was still only saturating at 93%. I was short of breath. I was breathing fast. I then noticed that I was breathing using only my chest and auxiliary muscles, not my diaphragm. My belly had engorged to the point where I could no longer use my diaphragm to breathe. Now I was really concerned and it was time to get a doctor.

Looking back on the experience I almost feel sorry for the nurse.

I called the RN into the room. I explained to her how I was feeling and laid out all my vitals (which she may or may not have known but I wasn't taking any chances). She tried to quiet my concerns by telling me that she would put this all in my notes and have a doctor check on me first thing in the morning. That didn't work for me. She then explained that the only doctor in the hospital (it's a small one) was the one covering the ER.

I understood that I wasn't the only patient in the hospital and that the doctor was probably busy but I needed to see her. I told my nurse that the doctor could come to me or I could go to the ER. I didn't care. I just needed to be seen. I figured that the hospital would frown on an admitted patient with difficulty breathing walking to the ER to be seen. I was right.

A short while later the ER physician walked in. She checked me out, stopped the order for all the IV fluids and gave an order for some lasix. Now we were getting somewhere.

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