Sunday, June 14, 2009

Surgery

Probably anyone that actually stops in to read this (since I'm not good at keeping it up), already knows I had surgery yesterday. I have, apparently, inherited all of my medical genes from my Dad. :) So, like him, I had to have my gall bladder removed. It had been bothering me for quite some time, but the pain would come and go, so I put off getting it looked into. When you have small children, who see Dr.'s all the time, a week with no appointments is a lovely thing! So, I was in no hurry to fill those, what feels like, rare weeks. However, a few months ago, I'd had enough! I finally saw a GI specialist to see why I was having so much pain in my upper, right abdomen. After running a few tests, we found, through a HIDA scan, that my gall bladder was inflamed and not working properly. With these results, he referred me to a surgeon. I was kind of surprised that that was the next step, but I went to the consultation open-minded. I was hoping to hear that he thought there were things I could do to help heal my gall bladder before we approached the idea of surgery, but he was pretty to the point that it needed to come out. He didn't know yet if there were stones. So, he ordered an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed several small stones. But...I didn't know. The nurse who called to schedule my surgery couldn't tell me the results because the Dr. had not yet reviewed them. I understand the concept...but seriously! Several weeks went by, and I had kind of forgotten about it because I wasn't in pain and I had a lot going on. When she had called to schedule the surgery, I didn't make a decision because I knew some things were coming up that would interfere with the surgery...or I guess I should say the surgery would interfere with them...but I needed to find out from Greg what he needed from me with a Sr. High trip he is planning. So, anyway, I was put off calling them back because I was hoping to put off the surgery 'til early July.
Well, Thursday (June 4th), I started to feel pain again. Usually, the pain would last a few hours to maybe a day at the most. But, Saturday came and I was still in pain. I went to Urgent Care and they gave me pain meds and suggested I call the surgeon on Monday. The pain meds helped, but didn't take care of it. I put a call into the Dr. thinking there was a possibility of having surgery that day (I don't know why I thought that!). It took several hours before I heard back from the office. They gave me the option of having it that Wednesday or waiting until the next week. I kind of wanted to have it that Wed., BUT...it was our week of VBS and I am the Director. So, I thought, since they didn't seem to feel it was urgent, that I could put it off...(okay, I see the error in my thinking now).
My plan to put off surgery so that I wouldn't miss VBS backfired. By Tuesday, I was in greater pain. The pain meds weren't touching it! I wasn't even able to do VBS that night. I would have done it with the pain, but my job is to get the kids pumped in the beginning and then lead them in the songs and basically MC the opening and closing, but I wasn't able to yell or sing...the pain was too intense. So, I stayed home and other people stepped up to fill my spot. (Which is awesome!)
By Thursday morning, around 6:00am, I decided it was enough. I let Greg and the boys continue to sleep, and I drove myself to the ER (I did tell Greg where I was going). They kept me there for about 6 hours...the pain meds were WONDERFUL! The ER Doc was in touch with my surgeon and they were sort of on the fence as to whether they should admit me or send me home with stronger pain meds (than the ones I received at Urgent Care). The concern here is that they don't like to do the surgery while the gall bladder is inflamed, or if it's infected (which they didn't know if it was or not), because there is risk of it bursting or them not being able to do the surgery laparoscopicly (just 4 "holes/incisions" in the abdomen), and having to do it the "old fashioned" way and making a large incision and requiring a much longer recovery period. So, the goal was, go home, on a liquid diet (I hadn't really eaten anything since Monday, anyway, just a few bites here and there), and try to let the gall bladder "cool down" and be ready for surgery on Tuesday. The ER doc said that if the pain got worse, or if other symptoms appeared (fever, vomiting, etc), to come back.
By Friday AM, the pain was at least as strong as it was the day before and the pain meds weren't cutting it! I was also getting concerned about dehydration because I wasn't eating and I was hardly drinking since I was trying to sleep so much, so I didn't feel the pain. Greg wasn't home, but he did have the 2 older boys with him (a friend from church had the 2 younger ones from Wed-Fri! Bless her heart!!!). I called Greg and told him that I was pretty sure I needed to go back to the ER. So, he came home and made arrangements for the boys and took me in. This time, though this ER doc seemed to think I could have managed the pain at home by just taking more of my prescribed medicine (but acknowledged that I took it according to how it was prescribed), the surgeon told him to admit me. THANK YOU!
Once again, I was thankful for the hospital pain meds. They were the only thing that decreased the pain and also allowed me to get some sleep. And, I was glad to have the saline IV around the clock, putting fluids back into my system with little to no effort on my part (just had to keep my arm straight because they put the port in the bend of my arm and sometimes the slightest movement would cause the machine to stop).
They put me on the schedule for Saturday at 2:00.
From the time they got me to the OR, it was supposed to be about a 2-hour procedure, but Greg said it took about 4 hours. Some of that was recovery time, but I think that was also calculated in the 2 hours it was supposed to be.
When I saw the Dr. this morning (Sunday, June 14th), he said my gall bladder was "a wreck" and he wished they had kept me the first time I came into the ER. Oh well...who knew! It was inflamed and infected and hardened from being that way for so long. He acknowledged that I must have been in a lot of pain and for a long time. (I tried to tell them!)

I did have some people suggest I try a natural cleanse or "flush" before letting them take my gall bladder...and though I think they have a very good argument, I truly believe that my gall bladder was beyond repair. The pain was so intense and lasted 10 days, until they took it out, with no relief in sight. I think I was at a greater risk of it bursting and infection spreading through my whole body, than the possibility of "healing" it on my own.

So, anyway...I'm glad it's behind me. Now...recovery. It shouldn't be too bad...but it will take a few days, I'm sure! Greg's mom is coming Tuesday and will spend a week with us. Then Carter and Jackson will fly back with her and stay in PA/NY for a few weeks, spending time with both of our parents and visiting their cousins! They love that! This will allow me a little more recovery time and what will probably turn into some spring cleaning once I feel like myself again. Greg will be flying up to NY for a few days anyway, so they will fly back with him.

Thanks for all the prayers and concern. I definitely wouldn't choose surgery just for this reason...but it's nice to be reminded how loved my family is! We are blessed and humbled by it all. Consider yourself hugged!

"Who Am I?" Awesome Video

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