Getting Worse Instead of Better
The two days following surgery are a haze of post-op pain and trying to walk enough to move the gas out of my system. They’d been able to do my surgery laparoscopically so they blew my abdomen up with gas. Everything was stretched and my belly was distended. I looked quite a few months pregnant and I was miserably uncomfortable. The surgeon had assured me that each day I would feel better, get more energy, and feel more “myself.” Imagine my surprise when just the opposite was true.
Treun was with me as much as he could be. When he was here, he eased the pain a bit. He encouraged me to eat and I knew that I had to eat something so I decided to try a few California Rolls (the only thing that sounded palatable).
By the morning of the third day post-op, I was once again writhing in agony. I knew, deep down, that something was NOT right. There was something deeply wrong and I asked Treun to take me to the ER. The pain was excruciating and most of the time I could not think beyond the pain.
In the ER, they let me be in agony for the majority of the day. They did a CT scan and their diagnosis was that I was full of trapped gas, dehydrated, and constipated. They finally hooked me up to an IV and gave me pain meds. Once the one bag of IV fluids was done they released me with the instructions to walk, walk, walk to get out the trapped gas and to take stool softeners and laxatives. I needed to get my bowels moving ASAP. I had my follow-up with the surgeon in a few days (six days post-op) and the ER doctors felt sure that by then I would be on the road to recovery.
The day before my appointment, I called Hannah to come be with me. The pain was still intensifying and I needed someone to help me walk around my house. I needed company and I needed a cheerleader. She even called my surgeon for me to see if this was normal and the office staff reiterated that trapped gas and constipation could definitely cause this. They encouraged me to keep walking.
Those days are a haze of pain. Rose came over after Hannah left and talked to me while she cleaned my kitchen. I walked and walked and walked. I moaned in pain and I cried. The pain was not abating, instead growing worse with each hour that passed.
Treun had planned to take off the afternoon of the following day to take me to my follow-up appointment. When he got there the evening before, I once again asked him to stay the night with me. He’d stayed a couple of nights already as his presence helped calm me. Having his hand on my hip during the night anchored me to this world, gave me something to concentrate on. By 10:00 pm, he texted his boss and told him he needed to take the entire day off.
On the day of my follow-up, he called the surgeon early in the morning to see if I could be seen any earlier than my 3:30 pm appointment time. He explained what was going on and that I was in agony and felt that something was deeply wrong. The office staff said that she’d speak to the surgeon but he was in surgery all morning so it might take some time.
She called back within 30 minutes and said that he wanted me to have bloodwork done at the hospital as soon as possible and that he’d see me at 1:00pm. He was concerned enough about the pain to take me seriously. That gave me hope. With each hour that passed, the pain become more and more of my world and everything else was ceasing to exist for me. I was becoming the pain.
The trip to the hospital for the bloodwork was hell. Each bump in the road and each turn Treun took made my gut feel as if it was being ripped apart from the inside. It felt as if there was something in there with metal claws and it was desperately trying to escape. He’d brought a down throw from home to cover me with in the car and I was bundled into it. I imagine that I looked like a small, pitiful child. I was shrinking into myself to try to lessen the pain even though it was in vain. Nothing helped. Nothing alleviated the pain.
I went through registration and waited to be called. Thankfully, I don’t think it took that long to have done. Normally, my veins do NOT cooperate with bloodwork. Any time I’ve had to have it done in the past, I need to make sure to super hydrate the day prior and I need to keep as warm as possible for the nurse to be able to get any blood out of me. I knew this was going to be difficult. I don’t know what part of the universe was smiling on me at that moment, but she was able to draw two vials of blood with one stick. I was in too much pain to even be thankful for that by this time.
Treun bundled me back into the car and took me home. For the past few days, he’d been trying to encourage me to eat and drink. He was worried, I could see the concern in his eyes. He even bought me Ensure Clear to try to get any type of sustenance into me. I would take a sip and double over in more pain. Eating and drinking made it worse.
Once we got to the surgeon’s office, I told them my name and immediately told her I was going to throw up. I’d been vomiting on and off for days. I think when Treun told the surgeon that I’d been vomiting, that is what concerned him enough to get me in for bloodwork and an earlier appointment. Treun and I got there early but the doctor was running behind. I tried to walk around the office, still hoping that I just needed to pass that gas. I would stand up, take ten steps, and go back to the toilet. At this point, I’m thinking I sounded like a wounded wild animal. I was moaning constantly now. I was trying to get into a head space where I could exist apart from the pain. I used every trick I’d ever learned about labor and birthing babies and nothing was working. This pain was playing by different rules. It tried to consume me. It was not letting me work with it. With labor, I knew that any pain I felt (if I couldn’t alleviate it by simply changing positions) would be temporary – there would be ebbs and flows and it would eventually end. By this time, I was convinced that the pain would be all there ever was.
There was no ebb or flow. There was only constant pain.
I kept asking the staff when the doctor was going to arrive. I think she called him twice to tell him to hurry and he was on his way each time. He finally walked in while I was hunched over the toilet. I’d finally gotten to a place where I could manage the pain for a moment, but I could NOT move. If I moved, it would claw my insides again, it would consume me and I would stop existing. The doctor told me he needed to examine me. The receptionist had already told me that she felt he’d admit me to the hospital and he said the same thing but that he needed to examine me first.
I made it on to his table and he asked me to lay back. I begged him not to make me. He said I had to, he had to feel my tummy to see what was going on. It took both him and Treun to help me lay back as I couldn’t do it alone. He touched my stomach and I screamed. It just tore from my throat. In reality, I don’t know if anything came out of my mouth but in my world of pain, I let lose with the pain of the ages.
He told Treun to take me to the hospital, handed him an envelope of papers, and gave him strict instructions to give it to no one but the nurse on the floor when I got to my room. He said they’d have a room ready for me by the time we got across the street to the hospital.
The rest of that day doesn’t exist for me. I know I had a CT scan and it wasn’t nearly as bad as the one I had on Saturday because they starting giving me morphine not long after I got into my room. Still, the morphine was not able to touch the pain.
When I saw the doctor later that day he explained that my bloodwork actually looked better than it had from my trip to the ER a few days past but that my CT scan looked worrisome. There was no evidence of anything being wrong but there was fluid all over my liver. There was definitely something going on, he just needed to figure out what was wrong. Until then, he said that he’d leave orders for me to have morphine every two hours as I needed it.
He scheduled me for a HIDA scan the next day. Until then, we just had to wait.