So I arrived at the hospital for prep the day before my surgery and the staff are doing the usual stuff, questionnaires, basic check of my blood pressure, heart rate, etc., final weigh in. My roomie is a nice guy, probably about my age and we had a chance to chat and have a few laughs. Mom and my aunt are out in the waiting area on the surgical floor having a smoke (yes, this was before the no smoking bans took place everywhere) when this tiny asian woman in nursing duds comes into my room rolling one of those metal stands with a rather large bag of clear fluid hanging off it and a hose.
"I am here to give you an enema."
I have to admit, I was a bit shocked. Nobody had told me I'd be having an enema today. To be honest, I didn't really know what an enema was. I excused myself for a moment and went out to the waiting room.
"They want me to have an enema!" I exclaimed.
My mother, never one to hide how she really feels, exploded in laughter. I turned around and returned to my room.
The asian nursing lady was preparing the enema as I returned.
"So I need you to remove your underwear and lie on your side with your legs bent slightly."
Nervously, I slowly removed my underwear and climbed up into the bed while she pulled the curtain closed.
"Have you ever had an enema?" she asked.
"Well, I'm going to insert this hose into your rectum and then I'm going to fill your bladder with the solution." she explained in her deep asian accent, "This will clean out your bladder for surgery."
Feeling completely vulnerable, I tried to dispel the tension with some humour,"Really? We just met, I don't even know your name."
"Okay," she continued without missing a beat,"I'm going to put some lube on you, it might be a bit cold."
"Are you ready?" she asked.
Does it matter, I thought, "Yes, I guess so."
She inserted the hose, it wasn't too bad I suppose, she was gentle. After all, it was my first time.
"Now I'm going to turn on the fluid. Let me know if you feel any discomfort or cramping."
Slowly, I could feel something in my bladder. It was a weird feeling like nothing I had experienced before. Then I felt a slight cramp.
"Ahh," I moaned,"that doesn't feel too good."
She said nothing. In fact, I think she opened up the hose a bit more. The cramping grew. My grunts and groans made it obvious I wasn't comfortable. She never said a word.
Ny roomie was having a consult with a doctor during this time and I heard him ask,"I don't have to have one of those, do I?" I could have sworn I heard the doctor chuckle.
After what seemed like an eternity, she pulled out the hose and declared,"Finished."
"Now what?" I asked.
"When you feel some pressure down there, go to the bathroom immediately." she advised.
That feeling took all of 3 seconds to hit. I literally ran to the bathroom, thank God it was free, and my bowels exploded. I can't remember the last time I moved that quick. Never in my entire life had I had such a satisfying shit, I mean it just poured out of me; years and years of waste that must have been building up inside of me fell out of me. I couldn't have stopped it if I wanted to, the beast had been unleashed.
"Dan," I called out to my roomie,"you have to have one of these. I'm going to recommend you have one of these."
Umm, no thanks," was his meek reply.
I must have been sitting for a while because my legs went to sleep. It was hard to get up. Thank God for the handicap rail. Also, I needed a shower, it was a messy one.
My mother was still giggling after I came back. Then she told me she had had one when she was in labour so she knew what it felt like. I still had that deer in the headlights look in my eyes, sometimes medical science is cruel.
So I was awaken early the next morning to be taken into the O/R. Now I was nervous. Mom was there to see me off, she looked worried. The staff took good care of me as they prepped me in the operating room. They must have seen I was nervous as they tried to be as comforting as possible. Soon they had poked me with a needle and off to sleep I went.
Since I had never been under anesthesia before, I had no idea what to expect. Nausea was expected but never came. I was foggy as all Hell though, completely incoherent. There were people in my room, Mom, my sister, her boyfriend, maybe somebody else but I had no idea what was going on. The nurses decided it was time for me to get on my feet and take a pee. This couldn't have been more than a few hours after major stomach surgery! Since I was still out of it, I didn't protest. They grabbed me by the arms and sat me up. I think they actually got me on my feet and placed a bed pan under my gown so I could pee but I really don't remember that well. It was all flashes of memory. They finished up and layed me back down to rest. That's all I remember from that night.
Of course they were checking on me all through the night so after a few more hours, the anesthesia had worn off and I was finally coherent. At some point during the early dawn, a nurse arrived to change my dressing. This was the first time I saw what they had done to me. It was ugly. A long 6" incision down the middle of my abdomen, it was red and puffy with dried blood around it. But it was the steel staples holding the incision together that drew my attention the most. My stomach looked like Frankenstein's forehead. There had to be a dozen or more of them in a row, it was the weirdest thing I had ever seen. And the sting. When she removed the dressing, I felt a painful sting as the blood peeled away from the incision. Not pleasant. She cleaned me up and redressed it and decided I needed to get up as lying in bed wasn't good for recovering surgery patients. I didn't argue, who was I to know any better? Besides, so far I didn't feel too bad at all, a little weak and tired maybe but overall okay. Or so I thought.
She took me by the arm and started to pull me forward. The pain sliced through me like a hot dagger. I actually cried out in agony. Never in my entire life have I felt pain like that. It was intense, it felt like my stomach was on fire. She tried to be gentle but every little movement sent a crippling pain through my abdomen. I wanted to cry. We went slow, first sitting up, then swinging my legs over the side of the bed, then standing. Oh my God, the standing part was the worst. For the first time since surgery, my abdomen was straightened up, I couldn't maintain it, I had to remain hunched over, the pain was unbearable. You don't realize how much you use your abdominal muscles until they've been cut in half and are basically useless to you. Mercifully, she only kept me up for a minute or so then let me lie down again. It was terrible.
This standing up routine went on a few times a day during my stay. Yes, it got better over the 11 days I was in, but it was slow going. My stomach was so big that gravity was pulling it downward causing much pain when I stood. I had to be really careful how I moved, every motion in bed caused horrible pain. I remember lying in bed one night watching America's Funniest Home Videos, which was new at the time, and laughing so hard that I was actually causing myself more pain. My roomie, who was in for gall bladder removal and having a hard time of it himself, was also watching it in his bed. Plus he was eating nuts that had been given as a gift. His nurse was concerned that he hadn't had a bowel movement since his surgery a couple of days before. He couldn't explain it until she noticed the can of nuts sitting on his night stand.
"Are you eating those?" she asked,"You can't have those, they cause constipation!"
We both started laughing, hard. I was literally in tears from the situation and the searing pain I was suffering, I think he was too. It got so bad they had to separate us for a while because they were becoming concerned one or both of us might pop our stitches, or in my case, staples. Despite the pain, that was a fun night and a great memory.
A dietician had been dispatched to go over my new diet and answer any questions. For the first couple of days, I was fed through intravenus. Then I was given a few sips of water. Fluids followed and finally I was allowed solid food, or about as solid as pureed food gets. Mashed up veggies, fruits, some kind of Pablum I think. Since this was all still so new, I hadn't given food much of a thought since the surgery. That would eventually change. After 11 days I was discharged with a prescription for Tylenol 3 and a followup appointment in 6 weeks.
To be continued.....