#sharestrength – My Colorectal Surgery Part 3

This is a continuation from My Colorectal Surgery Part 2.

6th Day Post-Surgery

Nightmare. Lowest point of my hospital stay. At 2am, my epidural alarm went off. I pressed on the call button to alert the nurses as usual. But instead of turning off the alarm and leaving, the nurse said, “Epidural sudah habis ya. Esok baru kita buka epidural site.” I stared at her and gave her a cheeky smile as if saying, “Oh-oh…” Fyi, epidural was my 24/7 painkiller since my surgery. I could not sleep that night. I kept calling the nurses every hour to help make me comfortable. I was so afraid and felt so insecure.

In the morning, I continued to try to fart with all my might and finally found a position that worked almost half the time. The next thing I knew was that I was passing motion instead of just farting. What!? I was caught by surprise.

The nurses cleaned me and put on adult diaper for me upon my request because I was afraid I’d accidentally pass motion again. And guess what? I had diarrhea that whole morning. My intestine was churning so bad. I had so much gas and water inside my intestine. I had to let the gas out. I had to let the water out. And so I spent the whole morning passing motion in my adult diaper. I felt humiliated. I wasn’t prepared for this. I didn’t know diarrhea on the bed would be something I had to go through post-surgery. At that moment, I thought surgery was easy. Post-surgery recovery was the real challenge. I was in so much pain and I was completely exhausted by noon when my doctor came. They injected my buttock with painkiller and I redeemed the peace and sleep that I didn’t have the night before.

When I woke up in the evening and RK asked me if I wanted him to stay, I almost cried when I said, “Yes.” I couldn’t imagine spending another similar night with my eyes wide awake and the unattended urge to pee. Thankfully, no one else was admitted in the same room so RK was allowed to stay the night. He made sure the room temperature was right for me. He made sure my blanket covered me well. He made sure my sleeping position was comfortable. He made sure my urine was drained from time to time. He lifted my spirit that night. It’s so much better to have someone taking care of me 24/7 in the normal ward instead of bugging the nurses the whole time.

boyfriend in hospital
RK visiting me after work. He took leave for a week during the first few days of my surgery to care for me and to accompany my mom. He was my personal assistant to update my friends about my condition too. #blessed

Oh. I requested for painkiller before going to bed that night too after learning my lesson and because the pain came back. And when I meant the pain, it’s my intestine churning; not my surgery wound surprisingly.

7th Day Post-Surgery

I had a visitor that morning. A visitor who changed my course of day. Her name was Charis and she was a colorectal surgery patient too. We were operated on the same day, around the same time but by different surgeons. And she was warded next door. She was 33 years old and weighed 70+ kg (almost double my weight so her body was relatively stronger).

While I still found it challenging to sit almost 90 degree upright on my bed, she already walked into my ward unassisted to have a chat with me. In fact, her doctor wanted to discharge her that day but she wanted to stay another night to wait for her surgery report. I learned that she didn’t spend any night in HDU as she had zero complication and she guided me on how she disciplined herself to recover fast. Her mom also gave tips to my mom on how to care for me to help me recover faster.

That conversation was very inspiring and helpful. She inspired me to force the nurses to assist me better in my recovery. She helped me understand the capability that I didn’t think I had. And she gave me clear understanding on the expectations when I first stand up, sit on the chair and walk. She brought out the kiasu-ness in me too.

The minute after she left my room, I told my mom to call the nurse in because I wanted to take my first step.

A nurse came in and she first tried to sit me at the side of my bed. I felt so giddy. She wanted to put me back on the bed. She told me not to force myself. But I thought I could do it so I told her to wait. She left me there with my mom and I called her in again when I felt less giddy. She held my hands as I tried to touch the ground for the first time in a week! Arghhhh! My abdomen wound was in much pain I could feel the entire stretch of wound; I never felt it before! At that moment, I understood Charis’ warning.

Taking three steps to the chair next to my bed wasn’t as difficult as standing up the first time. I was quickly seated on the chair and I was already so giddy I was sweating. Charis warned me of this too.

Lifting my head was difficult for me because I was so giddy. My head felt so heavy. My backbone was in pain as well. My backbone hasn’t been at work for a week. Sitting upright was a challenge. The nurse told me to try sitting for 30 minutes. As much as I wanted to give up, I stared at the clock with my super blur vision and made sure I completed the 30-minute routine. I was crazy exhausted when I got back to the bed.

I rested for an hour and called the nurse to do another 30-minute of sitting on the chair. Surprisingly, it was a lot easier this time. I still felt giddy but I wasn’t sweating. I did it once or twice more that day before I realized I may have strained my body too much because my wound started to ache.

Nevertheless, I happily told Dr Samuel Tay of my accomplishment that day and he was happy to see me too. He said he hasn’t seen me smile for days. I thought I always smiled when I saw him, except the day before when I had diarrhea. Anyway, doctor said I could upgrade to drink milo! Weee~!

8th Day Post Surgery

I did my sitting exercise again (yes, sitting was an exercise to me because my body has been lying flat for a week). Vision was still blur but I felt less giddy. In fact, I managed to shop on Zalora on my phone and quickly bought a red dress for myself (because I can only wear 1-piece now but I didn’t buy any in red), 3 tops for RK (because he doesn’t buy new clothes for CNY) and 1 top for my brother (just because).

I finished all my barley and milo religiously because I learned that as much as I was afraid of diarrhea and vomiting, doctor would not discharge me until I prove that I can eat and pass motion well.

I was hoping that Dr Samuel Tay would visit me early so that I can progress to eat porridge early as well but instead, Dr CS Wong appeared! He’s the gastroenterology who diagnosed me with colon cancer. He had no obligation to visit me but it was his second visit since my operation already. He scolded me that morning! I happily told him I could sit on the chair now and that I am passing motion well but in my adult diaper. He said I should be walking home already by then instead of having tubes and diaper!

A nurse hurried in shortly after he left and the nurse brought a student nurse to accompany me walk. I was brimming with happiness when the nurses allowed and helped me to walk. It was a tiring short walk but it was worth it. My mom was so happy. I was so happy. I couldn’t wait to tell RK about it. I practiced another time before RK arrived and another time when he was around. Each time, I walked further and could feel my stamina building up. I felt a lot healthier and energetic too. I even visited Charis at her ward before she was discharged.

Dr Samuel Tay finally came over in the evening and I couldn’t wait to tell him all about my new accomplishments. He said he’d stop the IV drip and remove the urine tube so that I can go to the toilet myself! Yay! I could totally feel that I would be discharged soon. Been thinking about discharge since the day I was transferred to the normal ward.

RK and I could finally hold hands and walk around the ward together as part of my walking exercise. I still held tight to the pillow over my wound to protect the wound and ease the pain (putting pressure on the wound lessens the pain). I walked like I just came out from labor. In fact, my mom said my condition post-surgery resembled C-section mothers a lot. Whatever. I was walking and feeling alive again!

walking after colorectal surgery
Me hugging my trusty pillow during my walk outside my ward. No more tubes! So happy~
9th Day Post-Surgery

I started eating porridge the night before and continued to eat porridge in the morning. I was on no-fiber diet at this point so no vegetables and fruits for me; just porridge and fish. Trust me, the food didn’t taste plain. I haven’t eaten for 8 full days so when I started eating, I could taste everything. Plus, I found SJMC food quite yummy even though sometimes it smells better than it tastes.

I’ve been going to the toilet to urinate and to pass motion. I pass motion super fast at this point. I’d go to the toilet about 30 minutes after eating my porridge. My food was barely digested I guess; my bowel was watery. Oh and my period flow increased after I started walking, which was good. And because I was off drip already and have been eating just fish porridge and milo, I’ve been feeling weaker, like I was low on sugar. I tried to save my energy by staying on bed watching TV more.

Anyway, doctor appeared around noon and asked me when I want to go home. The same day of course! I have been waiting to be discharged and in fact have been disappointed that I was hospitalized for more than the expected one week. To my delight, he said, “Ok. I’d let you home today.” Woohoo!

He started telling me about taking low fiber diet and about not overeating. He mentioned a few food that I shouldn’t take i.e. a bowl of salad, yee sang, mandarin orange with pulp, ikan haruan essence and glutinous rice. He forbade me of any exercise including jogging. And he told me to return after Chinese New Year for my surgery report.

dr samuel tay colorectal surgeon
I asked for a photo with Dr Samuel Tay. He said he normally doesn’t take photo with patients but he gave me an exception. Yay! Since he was shy, I censored his face here. Hehe.

My mom and I excitedly prepare to be discharged and we were out in the evening after I took my first shower in 9 days. During this 9 days in the hospital, RK only helped me dry shampoo my hair a little on the 7th and 8th days when I could sit up. This was my longest record of not washing my hair.

dry shampoo for hospital patient
Check out my 9-day old hair! I looked healthy and radiant again, didn’t I? ^^
super sticker bandage
Can you see the hair stuck to the bandage? The bandage at SJMC was super sticky! It was waxing my hairy arm. Way torturous than injection because my hair was slowly pulled out one by one…
recovering from colorectal surgery
Final selfie on the bed of SJMC after my first shower in 9 days. Super excited to leave so that I could be home for Chinese New Year!

A nurse who loved RK so much, helped us get the luggage down. She was very happy that I was discharged. She has been keeping an eye on me since I got into the normal ward, especially because she was moved by how RK took care of me at night when I was asleep. Aww.

Off I went home for a new chapter of speedy recovery! At home, I spend a day or two to adjust myself; on how to get out of bed, how to go to the toilet, how to shower, how to eat, how to sit on the sofa and get off the sofa, etc.

colon cancer patient
First selfie back home! Good to be home even though I had to sleep with my mom downstairs because I didn’t want to strain myself walking up and down the staircase.
weight loss after surgery
Check out my hand. Good that it’s no longer swollen though I have lost about 3kg after my Big-C surgery.

Next, I’d write about my surgery report that I just received on 15 Feb 2016.

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