Sunday, September 14, 2014

Recovery and Happy Birthday to Me!

Disclaimer: Post surgery belly pictures are below!  And they're not at the bottom of the post like last time! 

Friday I hit the 3 weeks post surgery mark.  Friday also happened to be my birthday!  So yay for both of those things!  I had a doctor's appointment on Thursday, which was my first time to see the doctor since surgery.  He looked at my stomach, felt around, and said everything looks good.  He checked my pathology again and said pathology definitely shows I have Crohn's, and he said the pathologist was concerned about something else but Dr. Rogers said he wasn't concerned it.  So I've tried to push away the thought of maybe he didn't get all the bad out.  He's a great surgeon and knows what he's doing!  He cleared me to drive (yay!) and cleared me to go back to work, he said just to take things very easy and slow.  I still can't exercise or pick up Sara Kate for 2 more weeks but I know those weeks will fly by.  Sweet little angel face asked me if my boo boo's on my tummy were better so I can pick her up.  She'll be so excited when I finally can pick her up!
Like I said, he said everything looks good.  He assured me that 'the bulge' that is at my big incision site will go down, it'll just take about 6 months (wow!).  My skin around my incisions has been very dry and he said to get some cocoa butter or Mederma, which would help with the scarring.  I still have stitches in and he said they'll dissolve.  And now for my belly pictures...4 days, 1 week, and 1.5 weeks post surgery are on my last blog.  I would say things are looking much better.

September 5 - 2 weeks post surgery
September 9 - 2.5 weeks post surgery
 September 12 - 3 weeks post surgery
In other news from my doctors appointment, Dr. Rogers started me on a medicine called Asacol, which is an anti-inflammatory drug used to keep Crohn's and Ulcerative Colitis under control.  To be honest, I've been really concerned about getting on medicine for Crohn's.  They big ones seem super scary with crazy possible side effects (like some very rare cancer, umm, no thank you!!) but in my research of Asacol it seems pretty mild.  I can handle that.  I'll have an appointment to see my GI doctor in a month so hopefully we can just rock on roll with something like this and avoid the scary stuff.  Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for my insurance to pick it up because it's not a preferred drug.  The doctor has to contact the insurance company and tell them why I need it.  It's super expensive so I really hope that gets worked out in the next couple of days, before I run out of these samples!!
As for my recovery, I'm feeling quite a bit better.  I can move around better, can sleep better, can lay on my right side normally, and can gently lay towards my left side.  I can do more things around the house, play with Sara Kate a little more, etc., but I know not to push it.  I'm still sore, it feels like really sore muscles all through my torso now, but it's so much better than it was.  Since I got the ok from the doctor, I am going back to work tomorrow.  I don't know if I'll make it a full day, as I know it'll be exhausting, but I feel like that's one more thing I need to do to 'get back to normal.'  So I'll give it a shot!
Speaking of 'normal,' Sara Kate wanted to go to the playground last week so we slowly walked to the playground, event though she knew I couldn't play with her or carry her or slide with her.  I'm looking forward to getting back to doing stuff like that with her!
Since the doctor cleared me to drive on Thursday, I was able to get out of the house for my birthday on my own!  How thrilling, haha!  I needed to get an oil change in my car and I went and wasted a good bit of time walking around Target.  It was glorious, ha!!  I got home and was folding laundry when Chris and Sara Kate got home.  They surprised me some BEAUTIFUL flowers for my birthday.  12 roses and 5 calla lilies, which are my favorite flower.  So lovely on my kitchen table.
Chris' mom and dad kept Sara Kate so we could go to dinner Friday night.  
We went to my favorite local restaurant, Noodles, and I had my favorite local dish, Jalapeno Lime Chicken, which is amazing.  Unfortunately my new 18-inch less colon didn't think so!  It was delicious, but I know now jalapeno spice is something my stomach can't handle.  We got home, got Sara Kate in bed, and waited up for my parents to get here.

It was a fun weekend with my mom and dad here.  Mom and I went shopping yesterday and I got some new pretties to wear to work since I still can't wear jeans, which makes it very difficult to dress!  I tried to put on a pair of jeans Friday night and nope, NOT ready for that!  And I'm pretty sure gym shorts, pajama pants, and sweat pants probably would be frowned upon at the office, ha!  So I got some fun things to wear with leggings and I used some other birthday money to buy a super fun pair of shoes!  I'm so excited about these!  I love leopard print! :-)
We went to dinner Saturday night, drank some wine and watched some football last night after Sara Kate went to bed, and went to church this morning before mom and dad had to head south.  I always love having my parents in town and Sara Kate loves her Ghee and Poppa.
This girl.  LOVE her!!
Overall, I think I'm doing pretty well in my recovery and I had a great birthday weekend.  Once again, I'm very thankful to my family for their love and support, my friends who continue to check on me and bring us yummy dinners, and anyone else who has prayed for me and our family during this time.  Bring on year 34!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Left Colectomy - My Surgery

Disclaimer: Post surgery belly pictures are below!

I've been wanting to sit down for a week and write this but the words are escaping me.  August 22 I had surgery to remove a foot and a half of my colon...left colectomy is what it's called.  I had my pre-op appointment at the hospital on Wednesday, August 20, and I had an appointment with Dr. Rogers (my surgeon) right after that.  Since I hadn't really gotten to talk to him since June, we had  a list of questions and my anxiety was sky high because I just didn't know anything.  The doctor sat with us for about an hour and answered everything we asked him.  That's when we found out he would be removing about a foot and a half, he wasn't going to explore anything more, the surgery would last about 3 hours, and my recovery time would be about 3 weeks.  Looking at the diagram below, basically the plan was to remove the straight stretch on my left side (right side of the image), and he was to connect the parts together.
I felt much relief after my appointment but still had quite a bit of anxiety.  Thursday I had to leave work early in order to 'prep' for surgery.  Thankfully I didn't have to do a full cleanse, just a partial cleanse.  The drink was some nasty over the counter crap we bought at Target for a whopping 97 cents!  Seriously, I don't know why they can't make these beverages taste better...or make them taste like nothing at all!!  They're all just plain awful.
Thursday night was short, as we had to be at the hospital at 5:00 am to check in.  My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 am, first on the docket.  
I was back in a bed, in a gown, and I was hooked up to an IV in no time.  And all of a sudden it was time for me to go.  Peace out colon!
They wheeled me to another area where I had to wait for the anesthesiologist and wait for the doctor to come by.  The anesthesiologist gave me something to relax me as they wheeled me to the operating room.  That stuff knocked me out and it wasn't even supposed to!  I remember being wheeled to the operating room, I remember getting situated on the table, and that's it!  After that, I remember being wheeled around to recovery then to a room where I had to get myself into the bed in my room.  Yes, I had to get myself into my bed!  OH MY GOSH, I remember it hurting!!  Then I was out again.  I woke up at some point with dry heaves, due to coming out of anesthesia...once again, OH MY GOSH it hurt!!!  I remember telling my mom and Chris that I didn't want Sara Kate to come to the hospital that day because I didn't want her to see me like that.  And I don't remember much else.  I can't remember what time I finally woke completely up .  But my dear husband took some lovely pictures of me though during the glad we have these LOVELY memories.  Haha! :-)
As for the surgery from the doctor's stand point, he told Chris and my parents that everything went as he expected it too.  He removed 18 inches of my colon and the surgery lasted a little over 3 hours.  The only thing that was different than his original plan was he added an extra port for the robot up near my ribcage, and he said that would be a very sore spot.

The night was uncomfortable and Chris stayed at the hospital with me.  My mom brought Sara Kate up after gymnastics Saturday morning and she wanted nothing to do with me.  My dad had to pick her up and make her come give me a hug.  It made me sad but I knew I expected her to be stand-offish.  Once my catheter was removed that morning I moved from the bed to sitting up in the chair.  It was uncomfortable but I propped up on a pillow and it was manageable.
I had a room full of guests by the afternoon; my sister-in-law, brother-in-law, niece and nephew came to town, as well as my in-laws came by.  I think it was good for Sara Kate for her to have her cousins there.  There was a plethora of iPads there between us all for the kids to play on and I had a double room so there was plenty of room for them to 'run' around.  My mom stayed with me Saturday night and Chris and my dad went home with Sara Kate.  Sunday morning I moved from the bed to the chair and we waited for a visit from the doctor on call.  He came by around lunch time and we got great news that he was discharging me!  I was out of there shortly after that and was home by 1:00 that day.  Yes, they brought me the biggest wheel chair EVER!  We laughed, except I couldn't laugh because it hurt.  But it was amusing.
Sunday afternoon and evening I sat propped in a chair and I slept propped up in bed, although I couldn't get into or out of bed by myself.  My mom left Monday afternoon and Chris came home from school early.  My mother-in-law stayed all day on Tuesday, and we had some sweet church friends that stayed with me the rest of the week during the days.  By Wednesday morning I was carefully able to get out of bed by myself.  I spent the week propped in a chair and carefully walking around.  I have felt the best in the morning and I kind of go down hill from there pain and general discomfort wise.  Friday, one week after my surgery, I got out of the house for the first time.  I went with Chris to pick up Sara Kate from school and we took her for ice cream for having a great day at school (after an awful day on Thursday).
Being 'down' on a holiday weekend was kind of a bummer.  Saturday I spent the day watching football but I kind of broke down Saturday night because I was so uncomfortable and sore and honestly, my spirits were just down.  That's the first time I've broken down during this entire experience.  Sunday morning I managed to make it to church and that helped, and yesterday we went out and got some lunch which was nice.
Sara Kate has been doing ok.  She's been acting out some and she's kept her distance from me, but she's getting a little closer and a little better every day.  She sat beside me this weekend to watch the iPad and play with a sticker book and color, which was great, until she elbowed me in the stomach trying to reposition herself.  I just have to remind her to watch her elbows when she's sitting near me. :-)

Chris has been great, taking care of me, taking care of Sara Kate, taking care of things around the house.  I'm very thankful for him.  I'm also very thankful for our sweet friends who are keeping us fed, bringing us yummy meals.  Everything has been amazing.

As far as my recovery, I'm a week and a half post surgery and I'm making it, feeling a little better everyday and moving around better everyday.  My back is killing me and my main incision site is really sore and I have what I'm calling 'the bulge' at that spot.  I don't know if it's from the stitches or what, but it is so sore to the touch and is an actual bulge just above my incision site.  Total, I have 6 holes, where they had cameras and ports, and the big incision where he removed everything.  I have taken pictures every few days and I've debating putting them on here, but I decided that I will because this is my blog journaling my experience.  And maybe someone on the internet will see this and it'll help them. 
Tuesday, August 26...4 days post surgery...
I ended up blistering where the bandages were, that's what those red spots down near the low incisions are.
 Friday, August 29...7 days post surgery...
The blistered spots look really red and were very sore, and I was starting to bruise.
Tuesday, September 2...11 days post surgery...
Blister spots look much better and are very itchy and I'm still bruising.
So that's where we stand.  My post-op appointment is September 11, almost 3 weeks after surgery.  Hopefully everything continues to progress the way it should and I'll be back to normal in no time.  After this recovery is done with, I'll still see Dr. Rogers every so often and in a month or so I'll be referred Dr. Paschall (who did my first colonoscopy back in June when I ended up in the hospital), and he will be my GI doctor and I'll work with him to manage my Crohn's.  Thank you for your prayers during this process and I ask for your continued prayers as my healing continues!