sick, hospital, ng

3-week setback?

So, well before January, I started feeling like I get acid reflux. In the hospital in January, I was in a lot of pain that felt like my stomach was burning itself, so I started eating Maalox and zantac there (after getting a CT scan). On Friday, I was 2.5 weeks post-surgery. felt awesome. Had my doc's appointment.. I swear, I felt perfect, just had to wait a few more weeks before I could lift heavy stuff (I met a girl on Sat night that mentioned having her gall bladder removed, then being back in the hospital 2 weeks later from bleeding!).

Anyhow.. I was pretty busy. Thursday, I came to Philly (4ish hour bus). Had dinner with some friends in West Philly (ate a milkshake and half of a bunless burger). Friday, I had my doc's appointment, then had lunch with my brother (had some nachos and a small part of a spicy burrito), then played with his kids at the Franklin Institute.. Came home, took a nap, then a friend of mine picked me up and I had Mild/medium indian food for dinner with him and his (7 mos pregnant!) wife... I stayed at his place overnight. Breakfast was ramen noodles with some indian seasonings. Still felt fine, just getting tired.

Saturday night, I met with systris. We went to Dracula's Ball. I was trying to have a good time, but I started feeling like indigestion. The vibrations from the music seem to just mess with my insides. I made the mistake of ordering a soda (I rarely drink soda). It just seemed to make the feelings worse, not calming. So, though the night, I battled the indigestion from the music vibrations, and then getting kinda grossed out by the smells of cigarette smoke (outside) and stage smoke (downstairs). I wasn't miserable, but surely uncomfortable.

Sunday, I still kinda felt out of it.. I came home (another 4 hour bus ride). Then had a fight or something with Aaron (very rare). Went to gaming night with the DC board gamers. Still felt a bit weird.

Monday and Tuesday, I slept for 12+ hours, and took naps during the day. I was getting more acidy/abdominal pain. I swore I'd call the doctor on Wednesday, but another day of pain and lethargy, instead. Thursday, I finally got the nerve to call the surgeon (talked to someone other than his usual receptionist), and then saw my new doctor. She prescribed for me Protonix (a PPI inhibitor) assuming it is GERD. The pills seem to help a little bit, but I still feel pretty acidic. Eating tums throughout the day. Have no appetite, but I'm eating small meals regardless. Usually just makes my tummy more upset. My lower/mid back is getting sore, too. I don't know if it is from the lethargy, or referred pain from whatever is going on. Hopefully on/by Monday it will either be better or I'll have spoken to the surgeon or my GP again. My symptoms are including "acidy" pain in my stomach area, occasional burping through the day (I rarely burp, and usually only after drinking carbonated beverages), and intestinal unhappiness. Stools were soft, but mostly formed yesterday. Think absent today, but I've barely been eating but cans of soup.
sick, hospital, ng

Almost 2 weeks post-surgical recovery

I'm pretty much not sore.. Feeling pretty good most of the time. The steri-strips have been falling off in little bits and pieces. I was kinda surprised. I expected them to come off like bandaids. My other wound is healing fine. It's got a layer of tough skin over the exposed part, and no signs of infection.

I am still eating pretty small meals. Makes going out to dinner cheaper (since I have leftovers, and leftovers). I guess doing Weight Watchers is probably "helping" too. I figure I should use this chance to lose as much weight as possible (within healthy limits). I've lost nearly 30 lbs since I went into the hospital in January (so, 3 months). Granted, about 20 lbs were lost in the few days after the initial hospitalization (I was NPO for at least 5 or 6 days in there, but they filled me up with TONS of fluids). I think I peed out at least 10 lbs right after I came home. So, I guess since early February, I've only lost about 10 lbs, but that's something (and probably healthier than 20 lbs in 10 days). While weight loss isn't really about the recovery, I think previous weight gain (and crappy diet) was the cause of the gallstones that are likely the cause of the pancreatitis. The severity, no clue. I think my severe acute necrotizing pancreatitis was something that occurs in well less than 5% of pancreatitis cases. So, with that I was unlucky. With the development of the pancreatic pseudocyst was pretty likely (I think like a 50% chance). The size (~11x7x8) and the fact that it was probably symptomatic (intermittent pains I was feeling between mid-February and when I was scheduled for removal), was a bit less likely, but maybe normalish because of the amount of necrotic pancratic tissue (they say I lost like 50% of it).

So, now I just want to get myself down to a more healthy weight, and get back into exercising. It hasn't been two weeks yet, so I haven't started running. I did hang out on a recumbent stationary bicycle to the Couch to 5k plan. There are some iPhone apps for it. Before the surgey, i was doing a couch to 10k app. I was up to week 4, I think. At this point, I'll probably try to ease back into it. Since I'm heavy, I'll probably wait till at least week 4 before running (I'm paranoid my belly will do untoward things to the internal surgical bits). Who knows.

On the bright side, I have plans to do a week long Wilderness First Responder course in Pennsylvania in July. It will end on my birthday. So, I kinda consider it a birthday present to myself. It'll be a week of car camping, I think.

On the not so bright side, I think my husband has had the "Man-flu". Luckily, as a woman, I am naturally immune to the man-flu (I have an XX chromosome where he's got XY). So, if I come down with a "little cold", it will be nothing in comparison to all of the coddling he requires to stay healthy. (I'm just not sure if my system will be up for getting sick right away). Seems to be a sicky feeling, starts with nasal-drip/throat issues. Heads up towards the head, or possibly the chest. Just as I'm getting my lungs back into shape! The horror!

Regardless. Next weekend, I had better be well! I have plans to go to Dracula's Ball on Saturday night, and see some old Philly friends while I'm up (I also happen to have a doctor's appointment). Maybe he'll have the surgery video! I just wanna see splooshing pancreatic goo (like the stuff that ended up being collected from my NG tube)! Hmm, if all goes well, I guess I can stop using my "sicky" usericon.
sick, hospital, ng

cooking in the springtime

Mmm.. Cooking some chicken legs & thighs breaded in the oven.. and Hungairan Goulash..

Should be tasty.. That dish has some good reviews. I was hoping to make a pot roast with cabbage.. Alas, I'll have to find something else to make with the head of cabbage. Hmm, there's a recipe. I'm gunna butcher it. =)

Looking outside, the dead winter trees in the horizon now have green leaves. While they are pretty, I'm sad because the leaves will block my sunsets. Though, it still looks amazing with the layers of clouds out there. Like a blue white and grey striped sky, above the springy green tree leaves (not such big leaves as to hide their structure). After that, I can't wait for the awesome autumn hues. =)
sick, hospital, ng

day 8

I took off one of the steristrips because I didn't like what it looked like underneath. It doesn't acutally seem so bad. Kinda gross, I guess. I'm going to let it dry off (I sprayed some bactine on it).. Then spray a little more bactine. I think I'll stick some 3x antibiotic ointment on it and a bandage for a day or two. I get a little freaked out when I look at it, and realize that the tiny little wound I see is actually really deep, and went all the way through my skin, fat and muscle layers, into my abdominal cavitiy. So much depth for such a tiny little hole.. But, it doesn't seem that icky. Just a little icky.

Peeling off the steristrip wasn't that bad. I'm a huge wuss. I was in the (hot) shower.. used my fingernail to start lifting it off of the edges, finally leaving the plastic stuff "attached" to the crap in the middle. I knew that was fine since it looked moist in there anyhow, so wasn't likely to be sticky. Came off with relatively no pain. I think a tiny hair got a little miffed. None of the 5 steristrips looked as though they were going to come off on their own today (I'll wait until they are ready).

The wound is kinda pinkish around the outside, there's the slit, and the flesh looks to be an appropriate color. Heck, on hindsight, that yellowish gunk I see in the middle could possibly be a tiny bit of fat poking through. Doesn't quite look like fat poking through (but, I really have no experience with it). It could just be waterlogged flesh that wants some air dry time.. My bandaid attempt was a moderate failure (the clear plastic one didn't wanna stick).. I applied some paper tape over top of it. It was a bandaid with a tiny layer of triple antibiotic ointment. I'll pop it off in a day or two. and maybe just put on dry bandaids.

Otherwise, my GI system seems to be okay thus far. Not great. I had coffee and a fried (mmm) egg. To my dismay, a Fried egg is the same amount of points on WW as a raw or soft-boiled one. I guess not dismay, it means it doesn't really matter how I make the egg. It is 2 points (large egg). Fried egg on toast or a dippy soft boiled egg with soldiers, all the same. My stomach just doesn't feel "happy". Nomatter how much or what I eat, it doesn't seem to be content. I guess it is still recovering from having a hole poked into it with some sutures. If I look at the wee scars on the outside, I have to keep in mind that my pancreatic pseudocyst and my stomach are both experiencing similar situations. Plus, the place where my gall bladder once was. My liver is probably a bit lonely. It still feels a little "off" to sleep on my right side. Not much.. Just a little.
sick, hospital, ng

one week (again?)

Backdated some more entries about my adventures with pancreatitis and gallstones. . Oh what fun.
I forget if I updated today. I don't think I've eaten enough. Weight watchers says I have. My stomach is growling and feels empty. I think too many points went into the leftover curries I ate (lunch/dinner). Regardless, WW says I broke even.

The pain I get today is when I yawn. I'm so frustrated by it. I spent so long before having pain each time I took a deep breath/yawned. And here it comes again. I do fine/am improving when I use the incentive spirometer, but it sucks to start to inhale for a yawn and have my abdomen stop/restart it multiple times. I think it sounds pretty bad, almost like I'm in real pain. Hate to worry Aaron and I hate doing it.

I managed to do #2 a few times today. All seemed pretty normal. I figure the opioids were keeping me a bit constipated. My one suture area still doesn't look right. I didn't remove the steristrip today. I will try tomorrow.

My stomach is just being weird. I ate part of my dinner, then took a break because my stomach felt fullish. I ate the rest of it a while later. The fullness was discomfort. I don't think i ate _that_ much. Now, my stomach feels like it's growling for food. I think I'll take a zantac and maybe eat a tums, just in case it is just acidic from the curries. I stayed awake all day, but still pretty low energy. The tummy discomfort (full/empty) has lasted all day.
sick, hospital, ng

a week post-surgery TMI at the bottom

Yesterday was a day of sleep. Today isn't the most wakeful of days. I woke up at 9ish, then went back to sleep till like 12:30 after going to bed before midnight. Didn't get motivated enough to go downstairs for coffee. But, I think my pot just finished. Mmm.. Need more milk.

For recovery. No real pain. I figure my sleepiness is mild opiate withdrawal. I seem to get more volume using the incentive spirometer. My one little scar area doesn't seem right, yet. It has been a week, so I will take off the steristrip and wash it and keep it clean and dry. I'll wait for Aaron to come home so he can spray it with bactine, etc.

I'm hungrier today than yesterday. Yesterday, I barely ate. I went to the kitchn this morning and was famished! I had a few fig newtons and some nilla wafers and a bowl of cereal. Then for "lunch" I had the leftover leftover indian food (I had some leftovers last night). So, three meals out of one delivery meal. Not bad. Can't wait to get into my thai food leftovers.. On the other end of the food situation.. TMI..

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sick, hospital, ng

post-surgery day 6

Today, I just feel tired. I woke up, sat in the couch and took like 3 consecutive 15 minute naps. I got more than enough sleep. Eventually, I went to the supermarket (bus both ways), got like 2 bags of groceries.. Now I'm home.. It is kinda hot outside. I was sweating on the bus (no ac). Part of me is paranoid I have a minor infection. The rest of me accepts that I just had surgery, it is hot outside, and it is even possible I'm going through minor opiate withdraw. No real fever, last night I was like 99.6, but I was 'normal' today (fever = 100.4+ or something). Maybe I'll just try a few more naps. maybe even eat something other than chocolatey granola bars.
sick, hospital, ng

day 5 post-surgery

So, today is what 5 days post-surgery. I'm not in much pain.. I took 2 oxy before going to a meeting tonight. Not sure I needed it, but am still in the mood for prevention. My stomach has just felt kinda queezy all day, and a bit yesterday.. Not quite nausea like I wanna make a mess, but just not happy in any situations (fed, not fed). On the happy note, I ate a super fatty meal (thai iced coffee and ~1c curry w/ coconut sauce) and don't seem to have any GI distress from it (no dumping syndrome). i didn't eat much of it, but at least I'm not afraid of the yummy leftovers. Was also nice to have the first dinner out with Aaron since we moved here (that I didn't have to be petrified of the labels).

On another note, I don't think all of my sutures are healing perfectly, though. Not terribly infected, but one is a little reddish. I tried to take a picture, will try again since the colors didn't look right.


Been a superlong time since I updated.. I mean. Seriously, since my wedding. I really think I wanna go back to updating LJ.

General life synopsis: (9/2010-4/2011)
Sept 4th - graduated Drexel's ACE program
September 11th, Married maskm
~Sept 20th, earned RN (passed NCLEX)
End of Sept, did the MS 150 City to Shore bike tour (pooped out day 2 ~mile 50, came home realized I probly had a flat since starting Day 2).
Oct - Aaron had job interviews, travelled with him to some.
Nov/Dec - Aaron had offer letters, decided to move to North Bethesda, MD
Early Jan - my last grandmother (Step-father's mother) passed away
Jan 18/19, 2011 - moved to North Bethesda from Bryn Mawr
Jan 20 - after 13 hours of pain and vomitting, went to ER. Spent 10 days in hospitals with Severe Acute (Necrotic) Pancreatitis
Jan 30th - my grandmother's funeral
Early Feb - Aaron's grandmother (paternal) passed away =*(
Feb 17 - went to ER with chest pain (probably atelectasis, but CT showed large pancreatic pseudocyst)
Feb 18-April - occasional (1-3x/week) pain/nausea probably from pseudocyst
April 5th - Had gall bladder removed, pseudocyst drained into stomach. Laproscopic/Endocsopic surgery with a robot! Spent 3 days in hospital for recovery
Today - just came home (spent a night at my aunt's).
I think I'll to go back and get more descriptive about the pancreatitis, and maybe relfect on what "nursing" stuff I learned from the experiences. Since it was my first time in hospitals as a patient.
sick, hospital, ng

laparoscopic cholecystectomy and pancreatic pseudocyst gastrostomy

I want to make entries about my pancreatitis... it has been a strange time.. I'll try to 'post-date' things as best as possible... I guess since it's the clearest. I'll start with the latest part (surgery).

I was not worried about the surgery itself. I have lots of confidence in the skills of my primary surgeon, Dr. Castellanos. He's very experienced with laparoscopic gallbladder removal (and he also does bariatric surgery, so I felt more confident being of the heavier persuasion). He was assisted with another surgeon that works with pancreatic tissue (usually oncology). Both surgeries have a good amount of literature, and generally positive outcomes. So, I was more excited to actually have surgery than anything else.

I was scheduled to arrive at 5:30 am for surgery. Seriously. AM. That early. I already have a hard time getting to sleep before 2 or 3am, so I didn't expect to get any sleep that night. I even drank a latte later in the evening expecting to stay up. I was not to eat/drink past midnight (even though the schedule was that early). I stopped eating at 11pm. Took an allergy pill. And did my best to stay awake while not waking anyone else up. (I stayed at my aunt and uncle's, and my husband was there, too). I sat on the kitchen floor tapping away at the netbook. To my surprise, at about 3am, I was actually tired.. I got my hour of sleep before the alarm clocks started at 4am. Made it to the hospital with no incident by 5:15am. Went to "admissions" to pay my co-pay, then headed up to the surgery admissions floor to take care of the prep. Hubby was there with me until 'the time' came. At about 6-6:30am, transport came. With little warning, it was time for me to get wheeled away while my poor guy had to wait.

In the pre-surgery area, I had a nurse just go through the basic checklist of things to make sure I was ready. An anesthesiologist came by eventually, and started my IV site. I told the anesthesiologist that I may have Renaud's syndrome (get cold hands/feet a lot, but never actually diagnosed) and that I tend to "drool" a lot. Figured those were things an anesthesiologist should know. It affected where he started my IV site (in mid-forearm rather than on the hands). Happily, that IV site lasted the WHOLE time I was in the hospital (unlike the 10000 sites I had started in January). I really wasn't anxious about anything. I was just looking forward to getting more "sleep", so couldn't wait to 'go under'). The room was kinda cold. I remember being glad I'd be asleep because my arms were spread out and I was thinking of how my fingers were getting chilly fast. The put an oxygen mask somewhat over my face, told me I'd start feeling sleepy. I didn't fight it.

The next thing I remember about waking up was still being nekked up top. The first thing that came to my mind was to look at my belly and see my wounds/scars. They looked at me wondering what I was doing when I lurched up. I looked at the belly (can't remember if I tried to feel for the little wounds), satisfied, laid back down. I'll assume I went back to sleep after that.

Waking up in the recovery room, I was surprised at how warm I felt. Even my hands. I had pre-warmed blankets on me, too. Sadly, I was in pain. My throat was REALLY tender. I had an NG tube (the tube that goes in your nose down your throat and into your stomach), but I swear the pain felt really raw on the other side of the throat. I knew I would be intubated for the surgery (that did kinda make me nervous before), but I didn't expect my throat to hurt that much from it. I figure I was intubated, had the NG tube, and possibly had an endoscopic camera going down my throat at the same time. The camera may have gone down the intubation tube (I can ask the doctor during my follow-up). I just know it hurt a lot. Swallowing was not fun during the stay.

Not sure when I realized I also had lots of pain like I had experienced before. I assume it is pseudocyst or pancreatic pain, since the gall bladder was gone at that point. It hurt a lot below the ribcage, radiated to the back, and hurt a lot.. and I got really nauseous with the drooly thing I do (I just salivate a lot, but swallowing often makes me feel sick to my stomach). I was in pain, almost tearing up. I don't think the people in recovery expected that much pain. They gave me some morphine, but, as before, I swear it did nothing. I told them that for the pain I had been taking 4mg dilaudid pills (the prescription I got from the hospital in Jan), and the doctor said that equated to something like 20 mg IV morphine or something, and why the 2? mg they were giving me did nothing. He didn't want to give me dilaudid (I don't really know why), so they gave me more morphine. I was still in a lot of pain, but, it decreased slightly, and I guess as before the pain went away on its own, and I was left with the normal post-surgical pain.

Post-surgical pain wasn't that bad. Sitting upright from a lying position hurt a bit (love those hospital bed buttons). I had a good amount of gas pain/cramps. That would be sharp pain that would hurt a lot (sometimes brought tears to my eyes), but be gone in a few seconds. Just hold my breath, grimace, and it would be gone. Moving pain was transient, too. It really didn't hurt nearly as much as I had expected. My only experience with stitches before was having about 7 stitches on one of my fingertips. That would throb a lot and caused a good amount of pain. The surgical stuff was nothing in comparison. My throat hurt significantly more than the belly.

My belly had 5 cuts in it. One above the bellybutton (I had a previous scar on my bellybutton from a piercing), two on my left side and two on the right side. When I first saw them I thought they were just open (no bandages). Was confused, but eventually I realized I had steri-strips on them (like little clear plastic bandaids that keep the skin together). So no visible stitches. I think they are supposed to help leave smaller scars.
(more later, heading to bed now)