Most of you reading this also follow my posts on Facebook, so you know all that has happened this week. But I wanted to put it all in writing in one place, and give you all the juicy details, whether you wanted them or not LOL!
At the gym Tuesday morning, I conquered another fear and hurdle and tried the elliptical machine for the first time. It was for only about 5 minutes, but it was a start. And, I determined I am probably not quite ready for it yet. In fact, the maximum weight it would let me enter was 350, so I think I will hold off on returning on it for a little while yet. However, it was a great feeling knowing that I could do something else!
The next day, Wednesday, I was up early around 4 or 4:30 with lower left abdominal pain. I thought it was another reaction to something I ate, or how fast I ate it, even though I could not really think of what the culprit would be. I went that morning to County DHS to fill out the new healthcare application so that I can hopefully transition to Medicare smoothly. My home help person Yvette that helps with the lymphedema pump therapy took me and then we came back for the pump. The whole time I was not feeling right. She left around 10:30, and no matter what I did or what position I was in, the pain was still there. I called the weight center around noon, and they could of course not diagnose over the phone, but recommended that if the pain did not go away, it would be wise to go to the ER. That afternoon, I felt slightly better, and tried laying down for a couple hours. Once I got up, I was still in pain and not sure what was going on. Food and water was staying down, but I could tolerate even less than my new normal. I tried a protein bar around 5:00 pm, but could only finish about half.
That was it, I decided it was time to go to the hospital. I was mainly worried that it was something related to the surgery, such as an ulcer or a leak, both of which I heard are not easy to deal with. So, around 6:30, I got my stuff together, and since I technically could still walk and did not want to make a scene, I requested a ride from Lyft! The driver was great, and we were laughing that I was his first passenger that ever used the ride sharing service to go to the ER! My decision to go was so spur of the moment that I didn’t even tell any family or friends that I was headed there, I just went.
According to records, I was checked in at 6:55. Beaumont Hospital Dearborn has a set up that after you check in with insurance and such, they call you back and you go from one bay area to another. First checking vitals (BP was 191/78), another for EKG, another waiting area, then lab work, and then finally a family waiting area where the lab tech said that it would probably be a while before I was taken to a bed, but by the time I get back there my blood work would be completed. I waited in that separate room for over an hour while all sorts of people were coming and going. I was then called back, but it was just to verify more information from my record. I think I finally got taken back to a bed between 8:30 and 9:00.
One of the bad things about this ER is that it is in the basement/ground level of the hospital, so once you go inside, it is pretty much impossible to make a call from your cell phone. I could occasionally send text messages, but even those had to be resent several times. I had no idea about this beforehand, so I could not call anyone.
Immediately they gave me morphine and nausea medicine, and ordered a CT scan with contrast. The hospital pharmacy took over two hours to get the contrast drink down to us, so more waiting. Because of the gastric bypass, I only had to drink half the usual amount of it and water because it processes through my system quicker. I think I finally got transported to the CT around midnight. That went pretty smoothly, the techs were very nice. The hardest part always for me is keeping the IV arm straight above the head, and sometimes holding my breath at points during the scan.
After another hour or so, the doctor came back and said I had a kidney stone. She initially thought I would be released to pass it on my own, but a couple things made them decide to admit me. First of all, my resting heart rate kept dropping randomly, sometimes into the 30s. I felt fine during this, so we were all very confused. That, and come to find out, my stone was higher up than normal.
So at about 5:00, after 10 hours in the ER, I was transported to a room on the 6th floor. The transport person said she would let the nurses know I was there. I thanked her, and said on the side of the bed and waited. And waited. And waited. I had to take my chances and use the rest room at some point because I couldn’t hold it in! Finally, around 6:00, the nurse Cynthia comes in and says, no one told me you were here! She said she went on a break when she found out I would be coming up there, and when she got back no one said anything to her. Finally, she said something like, my patient never arrived, and they said, yes he did he’s been here for a while! Not exactly the best first impression in the world!
The next couple hours are kind of a blur, you know, the usual getting settled into a hospital room routine. I remember having a very dry mouth, having not really eaten or drank anything for over 12 hours, but I was restricted to just ice chips, which turned out to be a blessing. The nurses also gave me kayexalate to drink because my potassium was elevated, I believe 5.5. That stuff is nasty, and it makes you extremely gassy!! I also had to call my housing commission, because I had an appointment for the recertification at 10:00 am that day, that I obviously could not make it to. I will call them tomorrow to reschedule.
Around 10:00 am, the urologist comes in and explains that I had two options for the stone. They could send me home to pass it on its own, but because it was so high up, it would take two to three weeks and I would be in severe pain and on pain meds the whole time. Or, they could go in and put a stent in my ureter that would stretch it, and basically allow easier access to the stone when they go to remove it in a week or two. We both agreed with plan B. He said, I think we can fit you in today, and anesthesia will like that you have not had anything to eat or drink. Within an hour, the nurses came in and said that transport was on its way to bring me down to pre-op! This was crazy! I am used to procedures and hospitals, but I have to admit I was feeling quite overwhelmed as all of this new stuff was happening so quickly. They even had me sign the consent forms for the procedure downstairs. Once I got down there, they wasted no time as the doctor was basically in the OR area and waiting. They had to do a quick blood test to recheck my potassium level, and it was down to 4.4, so the procedure was a go!
I think a team of about 5 people brought me into the OR, and they now have a raft-like device that you lay on while you are on the gurney, that when it comes time to transfer to the surgical table, it kind of inflates below you and allows the team an easier way to transfer the patient. Boy that was a strange feeling! Once on the table, they went to work right away, and the anesthesiologist had me take a few deep breaths, and that was all I remember. When I was awake again, I was still on the table and the same anesthesiologist said that everything went well and I did great. Another ride on the raft, and taken to post op area. I did not have a very groggy feeling at all, and the one thing I noticed was that my abdominal pain was pretty much gone! I stayed in recovery for probably an hour, mainly because there were several patients who were not having as easy of a time as I was.
I think it was between 1:00 and 1:30 when I arrived back upstairs. I felt pretty good, and calm considering the whirlwind that I just went through. This hospital has a room service ordering system for meals, so the nurse told me to call down and order something, and that Dietary would tell me if it was not bariatric friendly. So I called down to get a salad, and the person says that I am not allowed to order! My nurse didn’t know that for bariatric patients, trays must be ordered and we cannot get room service! So, finally I get some food in me. It turns out that all bariatric patients there get put on a soft food diet, regardless of where they are at in their journey. I couldn’t even get condiments or pepper for my food. It was yucky stuff!
One thing when I got up to the room that morning that I was happy about was that I had the double room to myself, and I had the bed closest to the windows. After being in the pit of the ER all that time, it was great to see sunshine and sky! Alas, when I got back from my procedure, I was getting a roommate! I knew I couldn’t be that lucky!
A couple symptoms of the procedure that are happening, and that I was warned about, are extremely painful urination, as well as blood in the urine. For the first day or two, I was almost scared to go because the pain was so intense. But, that is almost gone by now, and as for the blood, that ebbs and flows. Just when I think it is done, the next time I go there is more. It makes sense, but is not fun to see or experience.
Sometime before or after the procedure I also saw a cardiologist. I explained that I had no symptoms of dizziness or such during the low heart rates, and that when I exercise, my rate still increases to normal physical rates. He said that he wanted to do an ultrasound of my heart to make sure that the heart rate was not a manifestation of something else going on. Just after dinner on Thursday night, transport comes to take me down to radiology. That test went pretty smoothly and without any incidents.
So, back to my room by 6:00, I had the whole night to think to myself and wonder what exactly was going on! I talked to a few friends and family over the phone, which was great because it gets pretty lonely in that room. When I wanted to watch TV, my roommate had his volume turned up so loud that I had to put the speaker/remote right up to my ear in order to hear what I was watching!
When it came time to try to sleep, one hurdle I had was no CPAP machine for my sleep apnea. But I asked for some oxygen and tried to sleep sitting up thinking that I would sleep because I was so tired after no sleep the night before. Well that was a pipe dream. The nurses had to wake up my roommate for blood work and vitals often, and he left that TV on loud even while he was asleep himself! I was so mad and frustrated. I think I turned my TV on around 5:00 am and gave up on trying to rest.
The urologist came in fairly early to let me know that things went well during the procedure, and that their office will contact me about scheduling the next one. I verified that it would be back at the hospital. He said from a urology standpoint, I was okay to go home. So I just had to wait on the cardiology clearance.
By the way, Dietary messed up that morning and never delivered me breakfast because someone had taken me off the bariatric diet in the system, so I did not get my first meal until about 10:00!
It took forever to hear that my ultrasound came back clean, and even longer to see a cardiologist to verify that I could go home. I think my nurse was finally going over discharge instructions with me around 3:00 pm. I have to follow up with the urologist and cardiologist in the next week or two. I was given two different pain medications, one for general pain, and the other for bladder pain, as I was warned that I might feel pain in my back near that area. I was also given Cipro for three days, as well as Flomax to take for a month. I am proud to say that I have not taken anything stronger than Tylenol since before the procedure.
Being that I was at the hospital by myself and there were so many unknown variables, I had to try to find a ride home once I knew about what time I would be released. Fortunately, my best friend Rae came through again, and I left the hospital about 47 hours after I arrived in the emergency room. It was so nice to be home and also to have some real food. I took something to help me sleep, and got a good 7-8 hours of rest, which for me is downright amazing!
So now for the better news. Saturday morning, I took my time getting up and having breakfast and such, and when I was ready, I headed to the gym to attempt the 5K on the treadmill. I made sure to clear walking and resuming regular activities with my doctors and nurses. So, I got on the treadmill, next to the one that is my favorite because that one is almost never available anymore, armed with headphones, towel, 32 ounces of water, and a protein water to drink halfway through. And I did not push myself too hard. I took it nice and gentle, even slower than what I was originally planning. I did the first 2.12 miles in my 65 minute routine. I drank the protein water, and started up again slowly for that last mile. And I did not feel too bad, a little tired but not wore out or in pain. Once I realized that I was actually going to complete it, I had to try really hard to hold back tears of joy! I couldn’t believe that I actually accomplished this goal, especially with what I had just been through. It was such an amazing feeling, I had a smile on my face for the whole rest of the day!
Funny side story: When I go to the gym, I like the least amount of things in my pockets as possible, so I always keep my wallet and keys and such in my gym bag. Well, I didn’t realize it until a couple hours after I got home, that I never had my wallet with me at the gym! It was on the counter from coming home from the hospital, and forgot to put it in my bag. Thank god nothing happened to me and I didn’t need it!
This coming week will be a week of transition. I have several calls to make in the morning to schedule different things. It will also be an easier couple weeks at the gym. The nurse recommended not doing weight lifting, which makes sense because it might aggravate my affected areas. And, I am thinking that it might not be all that comfortable on the recumbent bike seat in my current condition. So I will go and get on the treadmill a few times. And I will continue to go a little slower than I was, just to be on the safe side.
Once I get the date of my next procedure, I am probably going to see if someone can be at the hospital with me for it. I have to find out if they think it will be an outpatient event, or if I should plan on an overnight stay. The nurse said that may depend on what they actually end up having to do during the procedure. I just think I will feel more comfortable knowing that someone is there waiting for me, and especially if I will be able to go home afterward.
I am so sorry that this is so long, but I just felt the need to get it all out. This has become so therapeutic for me, as well as an inspiration to many of you, that I want to include everything. I hope you don’t mind. Thank you for all of the prayers, support, and encouragement this week and always! Love you!