Well the day finally got here, 15 months later. We got up at 2:30am and got ready to head toWalterReedArmyMedicalCenter. I got about an hour and half sleep that night. My nerves were shot already and I wasn’t even in the car yet. We got the kids up at 3 and were out the door by 3:30am. Traffic was almost not existent which was good because we still didn’t get there until 4:45 am. Check in time was 5 am and my stomach was not happy, first stop once we got there.. the bathroom! Upstairs to Ward 67 for the presurgery sign in. They put us in the children’s waiting room because we had the kids with us. That was okay with me because there was only one other couple in there w/ a baby. Dang, bathroom again. My stomach was really twisting itself into knots. I spent the next hour pacing and pooping, literally. I watched Rob and Nikki sit and talk about music and anything else, and Shelby and Jonathan were watching TV then Shelby was laying in the chair. I watched the other couple sit calmly and try to keep their baby happy even though he wasn’t. I think he suspected pain was coming his way too. Dang, bathroom again. “Nelson,Shannon” the nurse called.. OMG.. that’s me.. I follow her to the other room where she takes my vitals, tests my sugar, weighs me gets me in the lovely fashion staple there, big baggy brown pants, a gown that opens in the back and a even lovelier brown robe that matches the pants. Oh and my brown footie’s to complete the ensemble. I go back to the waiting room to get the haha’s from Nik and Rob… and they were well deserved.. cause I was stylin! Dang, bathroom again. “Nelson,Shannon” is called again.. OMG IT’S TIME NOW… so we all gathered all our crap and head out the door with a number of other patients and their families and head upstairs. We all get assigned our nurse and we go to our little beds and climb in.. I’m in bed 4 and my nurse’s last name is Airola.. I kid you not! And she has no personality. Dang, bathroom again.
The first person I saw was the Anesthesiologist assistant. He had read about my “intolerance” to anesthesia and narcotics so he wanted to know my history and re-assure me that they had other meds they could use on me so that I wouldn’t wake up throwing up, and that they didn’t have to give me phonogram which makes me sleep like rip van winkle and that even though I’m allergic to Vicodan and have a severe reaction to Morphine there were other pain meds they could try. He made me feel a little bit more at ease because honestly the anesthia part of this whole thing scared me more then the surgery itself. I mean, how do you control the pain in someone who can’t tolerate narcotics? The next person I met was the Anesthesiologist himself. This man had serious saliva issue’s.. he literally foamed at the corners of his mouth, to the point he had to suck the foam in on occasion. He went over the same info as the assistant and left saying he’d be back. Dang, bathroom again.. Really? How much poo does one person have? And of course while I’m in the bathroom (which is right by my bed) I hear them ask for me. I come out and Rob tells me I missed the whole flock of dr’s.. great! Nurse excitement comes back in a few times and keeps asking if the dr has signed off on me yet… we keep telling her no. The first dr comes back with dr foamy and they get the iv stint put in and tell me they are waiting on Dr. Lin to get here and then it will be time to go.. by now the room has emptied and it’s just me waiting. Some woman came in, I think she was a surgical nurse, she talked to me for a bit, asked me if I needed to go to the bathroom… HAHAHAHA… umm yeah actually I did.. I told her how I’ve gone a hundred times that morning and she proceeds to tell me that I need to get my bowels as empty as possible because during surgery your muscles relax and if there’s anything in there, it’ll come out… NICE… another thing for me to worry about. Dang, bathroom again. So I climb back into bed and in comes Dr. Cryer… can we say yum! sorry baby, but he was cute. Him and the surgical team talks to us a bit and tells us that Dr. Lin is on the shuttle from Bethesda Naval Hospital but should be there any minute and it’s time for me to go so give everyone a kiss. I kiss Shelby and tell her I love her, I kiss Jonathan and tell him I love him and ask him to be nice to Shelby that day that it’s going to be a long day for dad and Aunt Nikki. I kiss Nikki and tell her I love her. I kiss Rob and tell him I love him, and we all head out the door. I go to the left, the loves of my life go to the right. I ask my mom..”Please mom.. watch over me today.. ask God to watch over me and let me be okay.. come stand beside me during the surgery”… I think I felt her hand on mine.. then again it coulda been the drugs..We get into the operating room and there’s at least 8 people in there and my first thought is “Dear God these people are about to see me naked!”.. its my worst nightmare, thank god there’s drugs for these things. They get me on the table and positioned and thats all I remember.. I was never asked to count back from 10. They slipped me a mickey, giving me no time to worry…….
I have no clue as to time or where I am, if I’m in recovery or ICU or laying in the bed in the middle of the hallway.. all I know and feel is MY DAMN FEET HURT… why the hell do my feet hurt like this? Did they beat my feet with bats or something. I later found out that was the first thing I said in recovery causing the recovery nurses to kinda scratch their heads. I guess they thought it was the drugs talking but no… my feet hurt. I mean really hurt, I’ve never felt this kind of pain in my feet before and I’ve had planters facetious. It hurts to move them, to wiggle my toes is pure torture. My brain is firing back up and trying to figure out why my feet hurt. I hear nurses around me and I am pretty sure Dr. Cryer is there asking me why I’m saying Ow, Ow, Ow, Ow…. I tell them “My feet.. it’s my feet.. they hurt.. why do they hurt”… Dr. Cryer asks what kind of pain and where.. I tell him in the bottom of my feet, at the balls of my feet near my pinky toe’s. Like I’ve been standing on a metal bar. He takes my bootie off and slightly grabs my feet and the ow ow ow’s start… they talk it over among themselves and find it quite interesting. Dr. Cyer comes over and tells me that he thinks it’s because they had my feet on a bar during the surgery and had the table tilted putting pressure on my feet.. but he’s still never heard of this before. I tell him.. “well I’m an original”.. he chuckles and tells me I’m doing great and my numbers look great and he’ll see me later. Rob and Nikki and the kids finally get to come in and see me.. I had been asking for Rob and kept getting told that he was in the waiting room and wasn’t allowed back yet. I don’t remember seeingShelby. I asked Nikki if I talked to her and she said yes and that Shelby kissed my check and told me she loved me but then went and sat in the chair, she said it looked like it was really getting to Shelby to see me like that. I remember Jonathan standing beside me and giving me a kiss. I told him “This is why I wan’t you to start controlling what your eating baby, I don’t want you to ever go thru this pain”… then I told him I loved him and he said he loved me.. I remember telling Rob and Nikki that my feet hurt really bad. I looked at the clock and thought it said 7pm and I thought damn, they’ve been here all day and they aren’t gonna get home til 9, why did it take so long. I found out later that they got home at 7pm so I don’t know what clock I was seeing in the hospital, lol. I remember Nikki giving me a kiss and telling me she loved me, then I remember Rob kissing my cheek and telling me he loved me. They told me bye and left, I think they were told to make it short and go, especially since the kids were there. No kids under 12 were suppose to be in the ICU at all, but they made an exception forShelby.
An array of dr’s and student dr’s and nurses and student nurses come in and out several times, I tell ya’ll there’s nothing like feeling like a guinea pig or a freak show after a major surgery! They all want to lift my gown and check out my incisions and I’m not wearing ANYTHING under that there gown! They all ask me about my poor hurting feet (I guess word spreads on wierdo’s..lol) and tell them.. so they all have to take my bootie off and check out my feet and push on them.. OW OW OW.. really, do you have to do this everytime.. isn’t one persons word good enough? My nurse for the night is Bobby… a really gay black guy! Even Nikki said he was flaming..lol.. but he was nice and very gentle with everything he had to do. He kept telling me he had to get me up and in the chair but he knew by my chart that the anti-nausea meds were making me super sleepy so he at some point (again, time doesn’t exist in ICU) he came over and put his hand on my forehead and said… “Alright, it’s apparent your just not gonna wake up enough for me to trust getting you outta this bed, so baby girl I’m gonna let you sleep tonight”… I told you he was nice. Now they had a drain tube sticking out of the side of my tummy called a PA, not sure what the PA stood for, but thats what they called it. And every 4 hours they had to come drain it, and out of the every 4 hours one of the times they would have to strip it.. I think I scared the whole ICU the first time they did this. I guess there’s not suppose to be any feeling when they do this but for me it triggered massive cramping in my upper abdomen, ya know, where they cut my tummy. So he came in to strip it for the first time around midnight. They may have done it earlier but I was so heavily medicated I didn’t respond, but by now I was more coherent. He told me what he was going to do and proceeded to do it and OH DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN ABOVE… I thought I was dying, seriously. I started screaming, (well not screaming it hurt to scream but in my head I was screaming) OW, OW OH GOD OW OW… I apparently started holding my breath, my heart rate sky rocketed the alarms started going off, my oxygen level dropped. Poor Bobby thought he killed me probably. “What’s wrongShannon, you gotta breath, tell me what’s happening”… I hear but I can’t talk..the pain is unbearable. The on call dr for the night is now in there along with 2 other nurses, and the cramping is severe still.. it’s not letting up.. tears are rolling down my face and my breathing is sporadic. It seems like an eternity before I can finally talk and tell them it’s my stomach, it’s cramping. They tell me to hit my button and I do but it’s not working. The dr orders them to override the machine and give me a bigger dose of pain meds and I hit my button again and finally… finally the cramping starts to ease. I tell the dr what happened and he says that it shouldn’t have done all of that. They had to turn my oxygen up because my level dropped way too low. My stomach feels as though I’ve been punched repeatedly, it’s so sore. I had to close my eyes, and with all the pain meds I feel asleep. Only to be woken up at 4 am to do it all over again… this time Bobby was more prepared, he woke me up and told me to hit my button and then he drained it.. it didn’t hurt as bad as when they strip it but seriously, I think being hit in the head with a baseball bat would probably hurt less. The same things happened, the oxygen levels dropped the heart rate rose to about 160 the OW OW OW OWS happened and he overrode the machine to give me more meds.. it lasted about 15 minutes or so until my stomach relaxed and I passed out. I only got to sleep for about an hour before Bobby came in and woke me up again… ya know if sleep is suppose to be the best thing for patients to recover, how come they wake you up so much???? He informs me its bath time! and then it’s time for me to get in the chair. What??? NO… I’m enjoying the bed thank you….but he’s not listening to me. So he closes the curtain and grabs some warm water and a few towels and gets to work. It was weird having a strange man wash me everywhere.. it wasn’t a sponge bath..lol. I had been scratching all night and had been giving Benadryl which didn’t help the itches. Bobby told me that they put something like iodine all over me to kill germs in the surgical room, it doesn’t stain the skin but that may be what’s making me scratch so much. He said “Your so fair skinned with all these freckles that all this scratching I’m scared your going to draw blood”.. so he pulls the sheet off and the gown off and lays a towel over my hoo-ha. Again it’s very strange being washed by a strange man. but he tries to make it as comfortable as possible. He makes small talk while he does it. Then the torture began, it was time to wash my back side and that meant rolling over.. He helps me to roll over to my left side and I’m trying very hard not to cry. I’m holding on to the railing on my bed for dear life. He finishes washing and drying me off and says to hold on he wants to put some lotion on my back…. even in all the pain I was in and the drugs I was on… the trueShannoncame out and I said.. “It puts the lotion on the skin”… he starts laughing.. he says he can’t believe I just said that and it must be the drugs.. I tell him “No, I try to work that into my daily conversation at least once a week”… he just laughs again. He helps me get back on my back and puts a new gown on me and tells me to hit the button cause we are getting outta the bed. The time comes for me to stand, and I really don’t know what hurt worse, my feet and standing on them or my stomach and gravity pulling on the very sore area’s that had been cut into. Either way…. HOLY CRAP AND OW… luckily the chair was only two steps away and I gotta admit, it felt good to be up. I hadn’t been in the chair more then a minute or two before the morning rounds full of dr’s and students came in, and Dr. Cryer was there.
After going over my chart and discussing the two major episodes during the night with Bobby and the on call dr he finally comes to talk to me. He was happy to see me up in the chair and asked how my feet were. I said they hurt, like hell… and so he inspects them along with every one of the residents in the room, one even says it looks like there is some bruising. They all also check my tummy. Ya know I’ve spent years covering my belly so no one has to see it and now everybody and their brother is looking at it, very uncomfortable for me. Then Dr. Cryer asks me what happened to set off my pain like it did, and I tell him, whenever they drain or strip the PA it sets off severe cramping in my tummy and I show him where. Now I had forgotten to mention that I have a tube in my nose that goes down into my tummy for a 24 hour monitoring so they can see what my tummy is doing. So Dr. Cryer tells me that in an hour or two I’m going to go down to radiology so they can do a scan so that they can see if there is any leaks in my new pouch, and with the pain I’ve described he really wants to see it. Fast forward 2 hours and I’m down in radiology. Dr. Cryer is there along with this other dr who was there alot but I have no clue of what his name was, he had a small mole on his forehead..lol.. So they make me get outta the chair and step up on the table and then they lower it… AGAIN, OW OW OW OW OW OW OW OW OW… Dr. Cryer is there telling me it’s okay, I’ll be okay just try to breath. My day nurse went down with us too and she’s standing beside the table holding my hand while they run around getting things together. The radiologist (the head honcho) is there and he’s going to do the scan on me himself but he can’t get the machine to turn on. Scary, huh. They have me at an angle and this machine is above me and they are sliding it up and down and moving it towards the ceiling then towards me trying to turn it on. Several of the techs are in there trying to get it to turn on and you can tell they are nervous because he is yelling at them about the machine not working and thats when it happened.. The stupid nervous tech girl slammed the machine down into my stomach!!!!!!!! MOTHER FUCKER….OOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW… now I am screaming, painful or not… and she didn’t even have the decency to tell me she was sorry. Dr. Cryer asks what’s wrong and I say “SHE JUST SLAMMED THE MACHINE INTO MY STOMACH.. ARE YOU SERIOUS WOMAN… REALLY I JUST HAD MAJOR SURGERY ON MY STOMACH AND YOUR GOING TO HIT ME IN THE STOMACH AND THEN JUST WALK AWAY?????”….ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow… the tears are falling, my feet are hurting, my knees are weak and my pain level is thru the roof and it’s not even started yet. Dr. Cryer tells me they are gonna go as quick as possible and then tells me I get to drink something… now here’s the cruel thing.. first off one thing they beat down our throats for months preparing for this surgery is we can’t drink thru a straw. So now I’m having this test and I a) have to drink thru a straw and b) the first thing I get to drink after this surgery is barium.. now how cruel is that! And they are making me drink a lot, another thing they say we can’t do. I managed to get all the liquid down even though I was in horrendous pain. The nurse was holding my hand telling me it would be okay, and angry that the tech hit me in the stomach. She told Dr. Cryer she heard the thud when it hit me. After I drink the stuff they take their pictures and get me back in the wheel chair. Oh that chair felt so good. The test showed no leak so they still don’t understand why I am having such pains. I keep telling them I am weird, maybe now they’ll believe me. I get back upstairs and get to get back in the bed and get some sleep. Not much of course, they don’t let you sleep in hospitals. After awhile I got to go to my own room, which was on a floor they were doing construction so I was put at the end of the hall all by myself. No roommate and as far away from the nurses station as you could possible get. Worked for me, meant more sleep and fewer interruptions, or at least I hoped.. LOL. Now when you’re in a military hospital they have service men and woman who come in and take your vitals for you. Not sure what they titles are, but they are the one’s who do that chore. While I was in there I had a really cute, really sweet guy who was there for the rest of the time I was in. He would come in and take my vitals then sit there and talk with me for long periods of time. I guess there weren’t many people in this ward because of the construction and he was bored. We talked about family, friends, career paths, tattoos, anything really. I wish I could remember his name. Over the next few days I was in there, he was the one of the only constants I had. Him and Dr. Cryer. The rest were all student dr’s, and they seemed to change every day.
The time came for Dr. Cryer to remove the drain from my stomach. He comes in and asks me if I’m ready to get it out. I say yes, GOD yes, this thing has done nothing but caused me pain. So he tells me to lay back, take a deep breath and on the count of three he’s going to pull it out. However, he lied to me! He counted 1.. Then ripped it out! OMG GOD IN HEAVEN ABOVE AND THE DEVIL IN HELL BELOW.. How could there be so much pain. He saw the tears welling up in my eyes and put his hand on my shoulder.. “It’s okay, just breathe through the pain”. He’s so nice..and did I mention cute? So by now I’m up and walking (slowly) and trying to drink my protein shakes but they aren’t liking me at all, so I’m mainly drinking chicken broth.
Well, it’s leaving day. I finally get to go home. As we are being wheeled down to the car I pass my favorite tech person. He smiles when he see’s me up and leaving. He gives me a hug and tells me to take care, I tell him to follow his dreams. I know, corny.. We get downstairs and what do I see? Rob’s car, not mine waiting for me. Let me explain why this is not a good thing. It’s May, it’s 100+ degrees’ in his car because he has no AC and it’s 95 outside. So I’m already in tears, I know what is in store for me. I get in and we get going. Its rush hour so of course it’s taking forever just to get to the main highway. Sweat is pouring off of me already, including my incisions, I’m hot, I’m thirsty and I’m in pain. A great deal of pain, magnified by the heat. We stop at the store and he gets me a bottle of water. I can only sip it, and even then only so often. I’m so mad I’m crying. It takes us over an hour to get home, stuck on 95 in rush hour traffic. The temp gauge in his car reading 101 degrees. I’m exhausted and pissed off by time we get home. I don’t even want Rob to touch me to help me up the stairs. I lean on Nikki and bitch at Rob. I feel bad now looking back. He didn’t realize it would be so hot or that traffic would be so bad. I get inside, I have Rob help me take a fast cool shower to get the sweat off of me and then I take pain meds and sleep….The new chapter of my life begins..