Hospital Week

6 Mar

Monday

So the week at hospital was educational. Easier in some ways (less pain), harder in that it was much longer.

We arrived at 7.30 on Monday, feeling much more comfortable after the trial run and full of knowledge as some people were wandering around trying to find the admissions area. The start was all pretty much the same, lots of basic questions to confirm I knew I was there for the right thing, checking of weight etc.

I was much calmer than last time, which I can tell for sure as I got my blood pressure done. Something normal like 117/70ish.

Straight into theatre this time, and again as I was calmer I wasn’t given a mild sedative while we waited for the surgeon to sweep in and say hello! So I had the standard small talk with the anesthetists and then next thing I am waking up in the recovery room. It was actually quite a stressful wake-up unusually. I was really nauseous, and so woke up feeling like I wanted to throw up, and in a fair bit of pain. I ended up in recovery for about 3 hours I think.

Annoyingly, the doctors AGAIN didn’t contact Susan and Eric. So they were sitting around from about 12 (when they expected a call) to about 3.30 getting more and more worried about me. While I was happily getting bored in recovery. Finally they were told that the nurse was coming down to get me, so at least they knew I was ok, and it still took an hour to come back up as there was a shortage of porters. I was getting a little frustrated by then, but I didn’t know they were sitting about worrying! The doctor I had been speaking to in the morning (who was assisting) made a point to get Erics number, and double check it was correct, but still didn’t call. Remember that Mum in Australia was sitting around at 3 in the morning at this stage!

Anyway, annoying – but not something to dwell on.

When I got back to the room, I was much better than I was the last time. Much more alert, and in less pain. The support team (Eric and Susan) commented immediately that I looked much better! And I felt better. Surgeon came to visit and said all went well, and that it looked like clear margins, but it would take 7-10 days to find out.

The rest of the evening was pretty calm. I had a light, and very slow, dinner, which included a short nap during dinner, as you do. When Eric and Susan left, so must have been quite late, I got quite nauseous and had to get the nurses in. They changed all my meds to drips as a result, which was good for nausea, but bad for sleeping.

However, the first night was ok. Slept a bit, despite the  normal constant monitoring and drip changes. I think I gave up at about 6am and turned on the TV.

Tuesday

(don’t worry – they won’t all be long!)

I stayed on the PCA (Patient controlled Analgesic) all Tuesday. That is kind of nice in that you can control your own level of fuzziness, but I probably could have done without it, and it tended to make me nauseous  It’s Fentanyl on a drip directly into a canula on my right hand. When I woke up I had four canulas in – two in my right hand and one in the left, and one on the inside of my left arm on the artery. The arterial one is removed immediately.

I started to have problems with the canulas on day 2. Every time they wanted to use one they had to flush it through, and it was incredibly sore each time, as well as whenever they started a new type of drip. I’d had no problem with that in the past so I’m not sure why, but all three of them hurt. They stopped using the left one totally, and one on my right was devoted to the PCA – so they ended up with only one available choice which kept getting blocked, and clearing it was painful each time.

They seemed to initially try to do the arterial catheter on my right arm first, as there was a massive bruise covering my wrist inside wrist and down my arm, with a few needle holes in it. Mustn’t have worked, and I’m glad I wasn’t awake for the attempts! I had spectacular bruises down the inside of both arms from all the various injections and canulas.

I had the initial wound dressings removed on Tuesday as well. Odd, but painless. Lets leave that there!

Wednesday – Friday

So, not much more really happened from then on. They removed the PCA on Wednesday, and on Thursday they were happy to remove the canulas (yay!). I was running a temperature on Wednesday night I think, and consistent low blood pressure, so worth staying in to be monitored. I think they added some extra drips to try to up my pressure.

They also removed one of the catheters on Thursday, and gave me the option to go home on Thursday. I could have, but to be honest I wasn’t keen on managing the bladder catheter at home, and I would have had to come in on Saturday to have that removed and have the bladder function tests done.

I started to walk as soon as possible, from the Tuesday onwards. Starting with little walks down the corridor of the ward, and then on Thursday and Friday I went for a long (!) walk around the inside of the hospital. I felt quite like a real sick person then – I was wandering around carrying the catheter bag (nice!), very slowly in hospital blue booties. And when I was walking I was hanging onto Eric’s arm, which wasn’t just for show, I did need him to hang onto from time to time as I either lost my balance, or just got tired.

On Friday, when Eric finished his shift and went to work, he ran into Susan on the street (starting her shift) and they discussed that I was ready for an exciting visit to the outside world. The handover had become very efficient by that stage – much like the nurses handover each shift! Susan had dropped my rings into a jeweler across the road to be replated, and I went with her to pick it up. Here is the walk:

Walk

So, I estimate something like 150m all in. The ward lift is right beside the exit, so no long walk in the hospital either. This was the walk that wore me out! I got back, had to take some pain killers, and basically dozed then for a couple of hours. I was completely shattered! Up to that point on Friday I had been fine and chatty sitting on the bed. It was a shock to realise how tired I could get!

Visitors:

Eric and Susan were there pretty much all day every day, which was fantastic. I discovered that hospital can be very boring, despite various computers and TV options. I wasn’t as distressed as I was after the last operation (where I was in more pain), but I was in for much longer, as so it was great to have people come and visit.

Jess dropped in on two morning, which was great to get me up (well, awake) and moving. And Michael and Josh came one evening to play Uno. I felt I had to shush them, as we were having far too much fun for a hospital ward!!

Things you learn about yourself with a weeks monitoring. 

  • I drink a LOT of water when it’s available. I got sort of sensitive about it, as someone had to empty the catheter from time to time! 
  • I have very low blood pressure when sleeping. Which may explain the odd dizziness in the mornings, something that’s sort of useful to know.
  • You can ‘play’ the observations. On Saturday I wanted to leave, so I knew I needed good blood pressure and Oxygen levels. So I sat up, woke myself up properly, and took a few big breaths. Makes a huge difference to the results!
  • Very small amounts of oxygen on those odd looking nose things has a big impact on blood oxygen levels. Took them to 99%, rather than the normal 94ish%

Also, weirdly, I didn’t see any other inpatients in the whole week I was there. I was in the private wing, so everyone had their own room, but even on my little walks I never say anyone. There were 8 rooms in my area, and I only got the odd glimpse in the room next door. Otherwise it was all oddly patient free. Last time I was next to a normal ward so there were a number of people just behind curtains. It’s not surprising in the area I was I suppose, but it felt slightly strange. My room was lovely and quiet – I didn’t hear all the beeps and things that I heard last time – apart from my own noisy machines.

Nursing staff

Nurses are wonderful people.

Without exception, for all my operations, they have been wonderful, and caring, and always patient and helpful. They have a difficult and sometimes intrusive job, but always done with good humour and can make the difference between a good and a bad time in hospital. It was very sweet when someone would come back on shift, and be genuinely pleased to see me looking so much better. So thank you to all the nurses!

Saturday

So, on Saturday I was woken at 6am to have the catheter removed, and so started the pee test! I never wanted to pass a test so much. 🙂

I had to go to the loo, and then they would do a scan (with something like a sonar) on my bladder to ensure it was empty. Test 1 was fine, but I failed the second test – oh no! I think it was because it took them 10 minutes to do the second test, and the aforementioned excessive drinking meant I was refilling the bladder to fast.

So, that meant delays… the nurse had to get the registrar to see if they would let me go with one bad result. They decided to do one more test (the alternative was going home with a catheter) and I had called them to the room, then went to the bathroom, then back for an immediate test, and I passed easily! As Eric said, I’ve never been so keen to pee!  We had already packed, so made a swift exit.

Took a cab home, and went to sleep again. Another three hours sleeping to recover from the excitement of the day!

So that’s all. Now we are just waiting for results, and taking it slowly at home to get better. Fingers crossed the results come back well, and then I can start to return to real life.

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2 Responses to “Hospital Week”

  1. veronica March 13, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Hi Kath, my name is Veronica, I’m from Italy and I underwent the same surgery of you, a radical trachelectomy with lympoadenectomy in sept.2011, I can confirm you , that you will start to look at life in a different way.I was operated in Lyon in France from Pr Mathevet who has learned the technique direct from Pr Dargent, the man who invented the radical vaginal trachelectomyNow i’m still making periodic pap tests, and for the moment is ok, now i will undergo a new operation to dilate the new orifice as it is too small to have the chance to have a baby!!!!!

    • kathclear March 14, 2013 at 12:01 am #

      Hi Veronica,
      Thanks for getting in touch. I did write this blog also to link up with people who are going through the same thing. i’m sorry to hear you need another operation, but good news at least that the cancer has stayed away.

      I do think I will look at life a little different after all this. It’s hard to imagine anything will be the same again – I have a very different idea now of what is important and what isn’t. But… once I return to the ‘real’ world, I am sure I will go back to my old stressful ways!

      Please keep in touch! It’s good to hear from people who are a few years ahead, and you can let me know what to expect.
      Kath

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