Surgical Recovery #2 - May 21-24, 2008

My recovery tactics started on Tuesday, the day before surgery. I met Frank and Bill from my church for a 6AM prayer breakfast. Bill is moving to Colorado soon, and may be getting married shortly after that, so we had plenty of topics for prayer besides my surgery. Normally I order a veggie omelet (egg whites, veggies, low-fat cheese, and salsa). But I decided to pound dietary fiber to make recovery easier, so I went with oatmeal, fruit, a Belgian waffle, and a side of bacon. Robyn, our regular waitress, and my companions were all shocked to see my deviation from the norm, so I explained. Frank asked, "So what's the bacon for?" I replied, "Just to make me feel better now!" In keeping with my plans, Kathryn had packed me a high fiber lunch, also.

After lunch we had a quick staff meeting, and I was surprised by the team with a get-well card and an enormous gift basket from Great Harvest Bread. Even though I had not mentioned my fiber plans to anyone at work, these folks don't miss a trick - having read in a previous blog post that the best post-surgical meal is a couple of slices of whole-grain toast and jelly. They also had cookies and coffee cake for the meeting, all loaded with healthy soluble fiber. It was wonderful. Thanks!

Dinner that night was meat loaf and veggies, to complete the fiber prep. It is worth noting that my parents are big fans of alternative medicine, and my mother had done a lot of research into alternative cancer cures. She found one that had a modicum of scientific testing (both animal and limited human trials) behind it, plus the fact that it was recommended as an adjunct to surgery and conventional medicine, and not a replacement. Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) may have properties to ensnare free floating cancer cells, often released during surgery, and package them for elimination by the body's natural defenses. And, as a bonus, it's high in fiber! Dr. Chuck had suggested fiber supplements (9 grams/day) to help with my diverticulosis (a side diagnosis from Dr. Hopkins' read of the X-rays), and the daily dose of MCP has exactly 9 grams of fiber. Side effects are non-existent. So I've been taking PectaSolC three times daily for a while. It comes in powder form, totally tasteless, and has to be mixed with water, tea, or juice to consume. For an independent opinion on MCP, check out THIS LINK.

Upon arriving home after surgery on Wednesday, I immediately began pounding fluids in the desire to wash the burning residual from my bladder. I had received at least 4 liters of IV fluid during/after surgery, and had a few cups of water/ice chips after due to very dry mouth. It seemed that the output through the newly-installed (and still MUCH hated) tube was far less than the input. Had some Great Harvest whole wheat toast with jelly and a yummy honey/maple/hazelnut goop from my gift basket. About 10PM I began passing more than one liter per hour of fluid through the tube, keeping me busy and pretty sleep-free throughout the night. Had one Lortab at midnight to try to relax, but the constant need to empty the catheter reservoir outweighed all other activities!

It seems most surgical patients are released with a one-liter "leg bag" to get by with. Amazingly I had dealt with one for a full week last time, and it seemed no more than a minor nuisance. But my super-hydration this time made it nearly unbearable. I asked Kathryn to call our local doctor's office to see if we could get a larger bag to get me through the day and second night. "We couldn't just give you one, we have to check with the doctor," they said. Whatever. A call to a recovery room nurse that attends our church was equally unfruitful, but a physical therapist from church made a few calls and suggested a couple of medical supply places. Kathryn ventured out and found that 2 liter bags were inexpensive, readily available, and
unobtainable without a prescription! Freaking amazing - the proposed solution was that we call Dr. Hopkins office, wait for them to clear it with him, and then wait for them to fax the permission to the medical supply place. I told her to forget it and began mentally designing a milk jug solution. But Kathryn was undeterred in her pursuit of solutions to improve my discomfort, and she ultimately found a "back alley" supplier who provided a large bag for only $8.52. We were pleased to note the new bag was from C.R. Bard, a local medical device manufacturer where a friend of ours works. (Hi Vicki!) The new bag had several trick features and the large capacity provided sweet relief! To give you an idea, I emptied the very full one liter bag 5 times in the 3 hours she was gone.

Between trips to empty urine I noticed that my throat was still VERY sore from the day before. Not only that, there was a nasty dent in my inside, lower right gum area, and another cut on the inside of the right side of my upper lip. So it looks like Dr. Petersen and/or her med student, intern, or resident that day went to town on me with the hard, plastic airway. Senior docs often let students or interns observe or perform procedures to learn. I'm all for learning, but this secret stuff precludes feedback from patients. So for Dr. Petersen (or student) here's some feedback -
YOU SUCK! And practice on somebody else next time! On Saturday afternoon three days later my gum injury still hurts.

Still no appetite, I had toast again for breakfast and dinner on Thursday. And still pounding fluids. With the improved reservoir situation I was able to sleep for a couple of 3 hour intervals on Thursday night, and was up at 7AM on Friday. Not feeling rested or refreshed, but looking forward to getting the hated tube out. Not fun for my loving wife, but accomplished without incident. Detailed description of this and other comedies for the non-squeamish are detailed on the backpage link referenced below. Still no appetite on Friday, but I forced oatmeal for breakfast, soup and toast for lunch, and a turkey pot pie for dinner. All with tons of fluid. Restarting both the normal urinary system and the gastrointestinal system at the same time on Friday was a bad call, also described on the backpages. Suffice it to say that I could not go out in public or be more than 5 steps from the toilet all day Friday, but the situation improved slowly during the day.

Friday night I was able to sleep six full hours at a stretch with no accidents. Got nine hours total sleep and feel almost 80% on Saturday morning - Happy 49th Birthday to me! Something that would have been a non-event now seems much more special to me now. Eager to reach 50 and beyond - no longer taking it all for granted. GI and urinary systems near normal now, and I can probably go out in public today. Appetite slowly returning. Planning for church attendance tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Backpage Link HERE - Not for the squeamish. Ranges from 5-7 on the gross-out scale where 10 is max gross-out!


Besther said...

the milkjug idea sounded promising...we would have like to have heard about how that worked out!

Anonymous said...

Just sounds to me like you're getting prepared for long distance riding.....Iron Butt perhaps?????


Steve Kelley said...

Whoa! Just the idea of stepping on the tube while trying to downshift makes me cringe!!!