Greetings, all! I am enjoying my first full day home from the hospital today and it feels so very good to be home. What the heck is Spartacus, you ask? Well, that's what I've decided to name this new stoma. Don't really know why....it just seems right. At any rate, I want to catch up on things and recap some stuff. I don't know how far I will get with this particular post before I get too sleepy (thanks, percocet!) but I'll see what I can do. Also, I'm typing this up on my iPad which makes it pretty well impossible to scroll back through and edit, so just bear with me if things are jumbled and misspelled and whatnot. Between the technical limitations of this device and the narcotics it could be, umm, well interesting I guess.
Ok, first up: recap the half marathon. Sorry it took me so long to write about this. I only had a few days in between the race and checking into the hospital, and I pretty much spent them soaking up as much time with my boys as possible. On race day, my training group had a conference room at a hotel near the start. We were able to meet up there as a group and hang out before the race. They also did their own gear check and walked us all over to the starting area together. It was really nice! It did mean eating my breakfast much earlier than usual. I tried to just do an empty before we walked down to the start, but as we were standing there in the corrals waiting for the start I could feel the bag filling up. It seemed like maybe 1/3 or so full and there really wasn't time to leave the corral and empty. I decided to just see how things went because I knew the output would stop once I was running, etc. It did, but I found I kept worrying about the pouch and how full it was (I couldn't really tell) and if it would leak. I was also worried that once I finished and tried to take in some post race food, it would really fill up and their might not be a bathroom handy. Rather than spend the next two hours worrying about this, I decided to stop at a port-a-potty in mile 3. I had to wait in a little line, but the emptying was no problem. I lost about four minutes though and I was really upset about being so far off pace. I foolishly tried to make the time up, ran way too hard for a few miles, and then crashed and burned around mile 11. I ended up slowing way down after that and even needing some walk breaks. In the end, I managed a 2:38 which was a 14 minute PR over my March time. Not my goal time, but I'll take it.
On Wednesday 10/19 we headed for Cleveland for my pre-op appointments. These were relatively minor compared to last time. I met briefly with Dr. Lavery and we discussed the surgery and he asked if I had questions. I did want to know how long I would need to wait for take down surgery and was a bit surprised when he said a minimum of three months. I expected something like 8-10 weeks, though that timeline created a lot of conflict for me around whether or not it was worth it to squeeze the last one in so close to the end of the year with the holidays and my husband needing to take more unpaid time off to help me. Now, we are looking at mid-January at the earliest so those decisions are made for me. It's a bit of a relief, really. I should feel good enough by Thanksgiving to enjoy everything and I definitely will by Christmas. The next season of race training starts up on 12/17 so I will start with them and just take a little break about a month in and then pick back up as I am able. I should be nicely recovered and able to do well for my spring race. I feel good about all of this. After meeting with Dr. L, I had my labs and basic physical assessment and we were good to go. Nothing to eat or drink after midnight, check in time for surgery would be 11:00 a.m. We took the baby with us, so this later start time was actually a good thing. We checked into our hotel room, had dinner at the little Lebanese restaurant across the street that I love, and settled in to rest for the evening.
The next morning I got up, showered, and got dressed. I was already hungry, but I knew there was really nothing to be done about it, so I just pushed it out of my mind. We were close enough that we decided to walk over to the surgery center. We checked in at the desk, got our pager, and sat down to wait. After a short while, we were paged to move along to the next area where I did my mandatory peeing in a cup (not pregnant, btw!) and changed into my hospital gown and sexy hair net thingie. We had a little time to hang out together before they took me back and that was nice. Then it was time to say our goodbyes and I was wheeled all through the hospital to the secret land of the OR's. It's hard to describe how weird it is back there. It's all windy hall ways and sliding doors and you see everything from the perspective of laying on your back on the gurney. Maybe it's just me, but I always get a little weirded out once we get back in that area. This time around, there hadn't been enough time to start my IV in pre-op, so they were going to do it back here. I was wheeled into a room where there was just this one lady working by herself. It was kind of odd. She tried to start an IV in the back of my hand, but the vein was all constricted with scar tissue and when she tried to push through it, it was incredibly painful. I tried to endure it, but I finally couldn't take it anymore and we had to stop. They ended up bringing the anesthesiologist (Dr B) in to help with the IV. He was a super nice guy and instantly put me at ease. He gave me a tiny shot of lidocaine and then easily placed the IV in the crook of my elbow. He said it wasn't the ideal location for long term use, but it would get the job done and they would place a better one while I was asleep.
I was wheeled back out and parked outside the door of the OR where I would have my surgery. The anesthesia team was in hand as well as a few nurses and Dr. L's physician assistant and fellow. We were just waiting for the man of the hour to arrive and then we would get started. I spent several minutes chatting with a med student who was going to sit in on the case. He had lots of questions for me about how I got diagnosed with UC, what the course of my illness was like, how I decided on surgery, etc. It was kind of nice to have the opportunity to explain it all to a future physician and I hope the things I said will help him to help other patients in the future. Next thing I knew, I could hear Dr. L and I was then being wheeled into the OR. They transferred me to the surgery table and started strapping me down. I'll be honest, I hate that part, but I know why they do it so I try not to let it bother me too much. We had what they call the "huddle" where they confirm whom I am and what we are there to do. Then patient and all surgical personnel verbally agree and then we are ready to go. The last thing I remember was Dr. B patting me and telling me to have a nice sleep and Dr. L telling me, "We're going to take good care of you." like he always does. Then I was gone.
I have some confusion about when exactly I woke up. Unlike last time, I actually remember being in the PACU (recovery). I seem to have some memory of being told "We're just finishing up" or something along those lines. I also had some nightmares Thursday night where I had flashes of someone taking an oxygen mask type thing off of my face. Based on all of this, I suspect I woke up in the OR or early in the PACU as they were removing the intubation and stuff. I really wasn't in much pain at first, but I had my pain med pump button available and I know I ended up using it pretty frequently those first couple of hours. I was extremely thirsty and felt pretty disoriented. I got transferred to my room and was soon able to get some ice chips. One of the fellows came by to tell me all had gone well. A short time later my husband came to the room and I was really happy to see him and my son. I don't have very much memory of that night except I know I had a ton of trouble sleeping. I kept having nightmares but not really knowing what they were about. I also kept waking up disoriented thinking I needed to get up and empty my ileostomy. I really didn't because it wasn't functioning yet and I had a catheter so there was no need to get up at all. I also kept having muscle spasms in my abdominal muscles that were super painful. They gave me some valium to stop the spasms and it also helped me sleep.
Ok....getting tired now....I will write some more in a new post tomorrow. I don't want to leave anything out just because I'm sleepy. :-).