#sharestrength – My Colorectal Surgery Part 2

This is a continuation from My Colorectal Surgery Part 1.

1st Day Post-Surgery

The next thing I remembered after being knocked out for the colorectal surgery was waking up shivering like a fish out of water. It was cold. So cold. I vaguely remember my surgeon standing next to me and telling me everything is OK now while holding my hand.

I remember someone telling me it’s about 5.40pm then and I thought, “Oh my surgery ended early. I guess everything went well.” Then I remember more shivering like a fish out of water and the nurses saying the ward is full. That went on till 8pm-ish. The next memory I had was waking up in ICU (Intensive Care Unit) for my post-surgery recovery. A few nurses introduced themselves to me and explained that I was sent to ICU because HDU was full.

I was very weak at ICU. I remember trying to smile when I saw my mom and RK. My siblings came over too. I didn’t have much energy to talk at all. Nobody could understand my murmur. My throat was dry and painful but I wasn’t allowed to drink. I was sleeping most of the time. But I remember nurses coming in about every hour, touching tubes, monitor and drips around me, which I had no clue what they were; I could barely see them. The nurses were also concerned that my blood pressure was very low.

Before my mom left, she wore socks for me so that I wouldn’t catch cold. The nurses later helped me wear another tight leggings that went up to my thighs; it was supposed to prevent swelling and blood clot when I lie on the bed for long. They gave me a pillow for me to hug over my wound as well. That became my trusty companion for the rest of my hospital stay.

So this was how my ICU bed looked like. I had no clue then because I couldn’t move around to look around. The tissue paper on my chest was for me to cough out phlegm.
selfie after colorectal surgery
RK taking a selfie with me trying to smile the best I could the night after surgery.

2nd Day Post-Surgery

I think doctor came the next morning and was furious. He didn’t know I was pushed to ICU post-surgery. He scolded the nurses for not informing him of the change because he couldn’t find me. He also commented that ICU is for the very sick and I was far from that. Besides that, the price of ICU was almost double of HDU. The nurses clarified that they’d charge me HDU rate because it’s the hospital’s limitation.

I was a little surprised at my doctor’s temper towards the nurses. But he was very calm and caring when he checked on me. I slowly learned that he loves to hold my hand while he reassures me like a caring father that everything is OK. That gesture was indeed very reassuring.

He asked me to do lung exercise by blowing a glove to keep my lung strong and healthy. I quite dreaded the glove exercise because it was tiring. I’d get giddy after about 3 blows. So instead, I preferred to do deep breathing whenever I was awake and was bored. I was supposed to move my legs as much as I can also to prevent blood clot but I didn’t have much energy for it so my mom and RK massaged my legs instead.

The anesthetist asked me to consciously cough as part of lung exercise but I just didn’t want to. My tummy ached so bad when I coughed the night before! And it was difficult for me because I was also trying to hold back my cough even though I had phlegm. I didn’t know how to cough out my phlegm too. I ended up vomiting when I was pushed to HDU that evening when they finally had a bed for me. I remember being transferred this round but I closed me eyes most of the time because staring at the moving ceiling made me feel uncomfortable.

high dependency unit HDU
So many things around me. But at least HDU looked less intimidating than ICU.

3rd Day Post-Surgery

I was still very drowsy and sleepy. My blood pressure was still low. My arm was strapped with the blood pressure monitor that checked on me every hour automatically. And the alarm went off every time without fail, to warn the nurses of my low blood pressure.

The nurses would check on me frequently to change my drip, to turn off the multiple alarms that kept going off and to drain my urine. Up till this moment, I was 100% bed bound. I could barely lift my legs on the bed. I wasn’t defecating because I wasn’t eating. I was urinating unconsciously via a tube stuck into my bladder (called urinary catheter) because the IV drip was constantly injecting liquid into my body. My arms were swollen. In fact, my entire body (except my legs) were swollen since surgery.

colorectal surgery post-surgery
They removed the surgery IV site because my hand and arm were badly swollen. In fact, my veins were already ruptured.
water retention
Trying to smile with my swollen face.
swollen hand post-surgery
RK comparing his normal hand and my swollen hand. I kept telling the nurses my hands were very swollen and that I was actually very skinny. LOL.

I wasn’t released from HDU that day because my blood pressure was still low. I was disappointed.

4th Day Post-Surgery

I had an eventful night and morning. A young adult was wheeled in the late night before for eye surgery. Her left eye was bandaged and her mouth was wide opened for some reason. Her voice was so coarse like a man. She was warded right opposite me and she wasn’t lying flat for some reason. I wasn’t lying flat too because I didn’t want water to enter my lungs so I put my bed higher on purpose. I did not dare to look forward for as long as she was there because I was afraid she’d look freaky. I know. I was a scaredy cat.

The morning started fine with the very old uncle next to me finally warming up to the student nurses who were caring him. He finally stopped taking off the oxygen mask off his mouth. And he finally started eating. The student nurses finally understood him a little. But without warning, he suddenly turned quiet while the student nurses were right next to him, feeding him perhaps. The student nurses kept calling his name. No response. More nurses came over to wake him up. No response. My heart was beating fast. I dared not turn to my right. I prayed for him silently that he’d get through this.

Shortly later, the curtain was closed. I heard lots of footsteps and whispers around his bed. It was about 9.30am then. I felt uneasy and wished RK would come visit me soon. An hour past and RK finally appeared. The uncle’s relatives were already in the hospital and they were reciting prayers for him. I whispered to RK that the uncle has passed away and he held my hand to soothe me of the little trauma I had. I wished I was back at ICU where I had a room of my own instead of sharing the ward with 5 other high dependence patients who were mostly old… It made me feel weak.

Doctor told me the day before that he’d like to transfer me to normal ward already because even though my blood pressure was still below normal, it was consistent. I waited the whole day for him to come and tell the nurses to transfer me. It was evening when I finally got the green light from him. I got my menstrual too, which was on time and I guessed that’s a relief as well though it’s inconvenient.

I was transferred to a twin sharing ward at almost night time. I was sharing the room with a patient who was scheduled to have breast surgery the next morning; she had early stage breast cancer. She happened to also have heart problem so she was worried sick that she wouldn’t make it during the surgery. She was sobbing the whole night and telling her family members her last wishes. Her son, who is a doctor, told her to not worry while her daughter, who was very frank, told her not to stir a Bollywood scene in the hospital. That was cute. Anyway, the surgery went well and she was discharged before me.

That night, the nurses gave me my 3rd IV site. My first two IV sites were all bruised and swollen. I started wondering if I could be discharged in 3 days so that they wouldn’t give me my 4th IV site.

5th Day Post-Surgery

I was allowed to drink barley on the 5th day after surgery. But I drank very little because I was afraid that I’d throw up or my body would mess up in a way or another. Doctor asked me to chew on chewing gums. I had to make sure I fart. Farting was difficult when I was basically lying down on my outlet, I didn’t have energy to push out the air and I couldn’t move much. I think I had a few visitors that day. I can’t remember well.

I kept having urge to urinate even though I had the tube stuck into my bladder. I think the suction wasn’t functioning properly. At ICU and HDU, the nurses always came over to drain my pee out into the bag. But at the normal ward, nurses didn’t do that. I taught RK to do it for me instead. And every time I had the urge to urinate (meaning my bladder was full but it’s not being emptied automatically), RK would get hundreds of milliliters of urine out of me. I wished I was back at HDU where my urinary catheter would be taken care of.

Check out My Colorectal Surgery Part 3 where I continued with my worst day of my post-surgery recovery at the hospital.

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