The Shit Post Bullcrap!,Diary The 2020 Shitshow – Part II: An Extended Stay

The 2020 Shitshow – Part II: An Extended Stay

Diary Entry #7: April – May 2020

What was supposed to be a short hospital stay, dragged out much longer than expected. 

Operation # 1

In mid April I checked into the hospital, undressed and prepared for my operation. I was told that it should be a reasonably quick 3 hour operation.  It took 5 hours! I was also told that there was a small chance I’d wake up with a Stoma bag. That’s a bag that they attach to your abdomen that fills up with waste. When I came to, I was relieved to find that there was no Stoma.  I did however, have a bunch of tubes attached to me and a nice little button that I could press to give me a dose of morphine. Yay! Thankfully I wasn’t in much pain.

A bit tired, but feeling okay after the operation

I talked on the phone with Fi that night, but was pretty tired so I went to sleep not long after that.   The surgeon told me the next day that my tumour wasn’t where they expected it. There were also some issues stitching the bowel back together. That’s why the operation took so long. The tumour was tucked away in a hard to reach place, so what was meant to be keyhole surgery ended up with me having some gnarly looking scars that would make a pirate envious.

On that first day of recovery, they wanted me to take a shower. That required calling a nurse and walking me over to the bathroom, tubes and all. With the water running, I stood up to walk over to the shower. And then passed out! I woke up a few seconds later, naked with a room full of nurses helping me up. It was very undignified having half the nurses in the ward helping you up, with your junk hanging out. Being a tall guy, I think they were worried about me having such a fall, and thankfully there were no injuries. From that time onwards, the nurses on the ward were extra attentive around shower time. They would call out every now and then to check I was okay. 

Operation # 2

The recovery appeared to be going well. I was able to have some food and spent the weekend talking on the phone to my friends and relatives. Then a few days later, early in the evening, I was enjoying a meal and watching some Masterchef when my surgeon turned up unexpectedly. He said that I had a fever and he was worried that I might have an infection. Really? Wow, okay I hadn’t noticed. They prepped me for another operation right then and there. It all happened so quickly that I didn’t even get a chance to call Fi to let her know. And I didn’t get to see the end of Masterchef!

This time around I woke up in recovery with a new attachment: A stoma bag. I was told that this time it might again be possibility. It wasn’t a good surprise.  My surgeon said that he decided it was best to give my bowels a break and reduce the risk of infection. He said that during this operation, he went back and double stitched my bowel, just to be sure. The stoma was meant to be temporary. The surgeon said it would be removed later in the week if all goes well. 

The recovery from this operation was much harder than the first. I was taken off food and liquids. I was allowed ice shavings, which I made last as long as possible. Because things weren’t moving along through my system, my stomach was getting uncomfortably bloated and nauseated. They were giving me anti-nausea drugs, but to no effect. By the end of the week, the doctors could see that my stomach was too full, and that I had a lot of discomfort, so they suggested draining it.

This meant a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach. It was a bloody awful experience having it put in, but the relief was almost immediate. It was worth the minor discomfort of having a tube in my throat. With my stomach being drained, I asked if I could go back on liquids again. My doctor asked “Why? What’s the point?”, to which I replied: “I just want to taste something!”.

The whole time while I was off food, I craved all sorts of stuff, and looked forward to even just the most basic things, such as toast. I would dream about it!  I was allowed to have one apple juice and a lemonade icy pole each day, both of which I savoured and tried to make last as long as possible.  It was being pumped out again not long after I ate it, but I didn’t care! To this day I have a newfound appreciation of apple juice and icy poles.

After nil by mouth for a week, Lemonade Icy Poles were the most amazing thing I’d ever tasted.

I wasn’t getting much in the way of nourishment and had started to lose a lot of weight. My doctor got me on a TPN drip so that I at least got some nutrients.

Now that the pressure was off my stomach, we were now just waiting for my bowels to “Wake up” so that they could proceed with my third and final operation. I had a very grumpy Stoma nurse come in and try to get me to learn how to change the stoma bag. I wasn’t interested. I didn’t want anything to do with it. It kinda grossed me out. She kept on saying “Come on! You’ve got to learn how to do this!”. I replied, “Not really, it’s being removed in a couple of days”. She thought I was being stubborn.

Apparently it’s rare to have a Stoma for such a short time. Usually, once you have one you’re stuck with it for up to a year. My surgeon told me that due to my initial good health and my age, that it was going to be okay for me to have a third operation to remove it soon. My Dad unfortunately wasn’t as lucky. He had a Stoma too, but had to keep his for a long time.

During this time, even though I brought my laptop in, I had no energy to develop Bullshit. (Oh, that’s right, this is a development blog, right?) I was just too drained. As a part of the recovery from the initial operation, I was expected to get up and walk each day.  That was hard. I was attached to a drip and a few other things, so just getting out of bed required help from a nurse. Each day I pushed myself, walking further and further, starting with a half-lap of the ward and going to several laps. It was slow going, but I was getting there.  

Due to Covid restrictions, I was only allowed one visitor a day. This was always Fi and Bubba. Technically our little girl wasn’t allowed (as this meant more than one visitor), but the staff were kind enough to let her in. She’d sit at the end of my bed and play with her toy monkey and smile. She was just starting to learn how to crawl too, which was exciting.

Highlight of my day!

While I was in hospital, we had finally found a house in the burbs that we liked and had decided to put in an offer. There wasn’t much to choose from in the real estate market at the time, and it was strange doing this without being able to see the property in person. I spent a few nights lying in bed awake hoping that our offer would get accepted. I needed something positive to focus on, and was so relieved when it did go through. 

Operation #3

My final operation was scheduled for a Tuesday. The Sunday before, my bowels hadn’t started functioning yet. This needed to happen before the final operation. It was looking like the operation would have to be postponed, meaning a longer hospital stay. The tube in my nose was finally removed, which was a huge relief. I still wasn’t able to have food or much liquids, otherwise I’d need my stomach drained again. Thankfully late Monday, things finally started waking up.

The final operation was a success! The stoma was removed! Hooray!  Unlike the previous two times, coming out of that operation, I was in a huge amount of pain.  The recovery ward nurse gave me a healthy dose of Ketamine. Bam! I tripped hard! I saw black and white squares followed by lots of ones and zeros. Was I in the matrix? That was weird. When I came to, I asked the nurse if I said anything. It seemed like I was out for ages. He said, “No, but you were breathing kind of funny”. No shit!

My final week in hospital was a waiting game. First, I had to wait all over again for my bowels to start functioning. Then I had a high temperature which they thought might be from an infection again. They pumped me full of antibiotics. I was finally back on food though. That was amazing! I couldn’t eat much, but what I did have was awesome!

On my second last day, I didn’t get a visit from Fi. They wouldn’t let her in with our baby anymore, as it was against the rules. She wasn’t happy. Neither was I. Due to the lockdown, she couldn’t drop bubba off with someone else and obviously couldn’t leave her in the car. I looked forward to those visits!

Last Day!

Thankfully the next day, my temperature was normal and the doctor gave finally me the all clear. He said I could go!  That was the end of my 3 week stay. Over that time, I had lost close to 20kgs. Not the fun way to lose it. I couldn’t wait to get home to my girls. It was going to be a long recovery…

More about my recovery and Chemo to come in Part III

3 thoughts on “The 2020 Shitshow – Part II: An Extended Stay”

  1. Great article Dave! Thanks so much for sharing this. You’ve all been through a lot, hopefully others will learn from your experience and get tested, even if they think its unlikely to be anything. Also, cool game.

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