Bottom line, on Tuesday morning, after six days of waiting and worrying, I had internal surgery, the removal of adhesions (old scar tissue) that had blocked the entry point for my bowels.
First, I am fine. Home, as of Thursday evening. Ready to go for my daily walk. Ready to eat -- low-residue diet for a while, which is more calories than I want or need. Ready for more games, more life.
With only the second hospital stay of my adult life -- 46 years apart (an early August 1971 appendectomy, and keep that in mind) -- behind me.
Eight days at Texas Health Harris Methodist, in the Fort Worth Medical District. And you were wondering why you hadn't heard from me.
This began with a 2:30 a.m. wakeup Wednesday, Sept. 13, with severe stomach pain. It turned into a late-afternoon doctor's visit, who noting on paper that I "looked very ill," suggested the emergency room.
And that became a 12-hour ordeal before I was admitted to the hospital. Yes, another 2:30 a.m.
I acquired a new experience, a new "buddy" -- six full days with a foot-long NG (nasogastric) tube attachment. It went up the right nostril, down through the throat into the stomach to pump out the fluid and, well, crap, into an attached flask.
One nurse jokingly called it my "elephant nose." Talk about getting hooked, and a very sore throat. But it only worked to an extent.
|Dr. John Birbari|
Slow, ugly treatment. Not painful, just uncomfortable. To get up and around -- bathroom or a walk in the halls -- the tube had to undone from the flask tubing. The NG "trunk" went everywhere I went, and of course, so did the omnipresent IV pole.
Stupidly, I thought it would be a 24-hour deal. But, no, it was 120 hours (five days). And then ... hello, 15 percent range. Surgery was a must.
So, Tuesday at about 10:30 a.m, Dr. Birbari did a (medical term) laparoscopic lysis of abdominal adhesions. That's right.
A single band of adhesions -- a "souvenir" from the appendectomy -- had stuck to my abdomen, layered in some fatty tissue (hey, 46 years), and thus the blockage. Dr. Birbari clipped the adhesions, put the bowel back in place -- all by scope.
(If you really want to see, I can send you a photo or two. Not posting it here. Not pretty.)
Done in about 25 minutes. I never knew; I was out of it.
Fortunate, with quick recovery time and not a lot of discomfort.
Importantly, what Dr. Birbari did not have to do was an "enterectomy," make an incision and go inside. The old way. All I have is some lower chest hair gone and three small scope entry marks. And an open small intestine.
Dr. Birbari also provided the line of the week.
On the weekend, his partner -- Dr. Doug Lorimer, a distinguished-looking white-haired veteran who had been my personal-care physician's recommendation (his schedule was busy), did the hospital-room visits and explained what was going to happen. He said, assuredly, "John is a magician with the scope."
The next day, as Dr. Birbari confirmed that surgery would be needed, I relayed the "magician" remark, and he laughed, then cracked, "Glad he didn't say mortician."
Yeah, me, too.
Look, this was a temporary setback. Not cancer, a stroke, heart problems -- those are issues that have taken friends from us in recent years, and limited other friends' everyday life. Thought much about those people this week, and about how my parents would have been so concerned.
|Top-notch selfless care for us at this facility|
Jason (son) was there twice, including the surgery time, and it is not a short drive for him. Rachel (daughter) and Elsa (sister) asked if they should come, too, from long distances.
Speaking of supportive and caring, the Richardson Tower sixth-floor personnel here at Harris Methodist -- this is the main floor for surgical patients at this hospital complex -- was outstanding. To a person -- doctors, nurses, patient-care technicians -- they could not have been more patient and selfless (that's the word which keeps coming to me). It is all about the patient.
So thankful, especially to the nurses and techs who made such great efforts, at any moment's call.