Monday, August 5, 2013

Gallbladder Surgery

It's been a while since I blogged but a lot happened in that time away from here.

* Multiple visits to the E.R. because of abnormal (for me) pain issues.  They finally found gallstones via ultrasound.

* A doctor appt. with my primary care physician who scheduled various tests to look inside of me.

* A lung scan for pulmonary embolism - came back fine. A biliary scan to see if the gallstones were blocking any bile ducts - nope.

* During the biliary scan, the techs decided to try and get me into surgery that very day because the stones were "rolling around like marbles in there" as they put it.  The concern was that though they were not blocking a bile duct right that moment, they could be at any time.  The next thing I knew, I was talking with the surgeon and then being taken to a surgical suite to be prepped.

While the actual surgery went well, my breathing during it and coming out of anesthesia went sideways.  My blood pressure spiked and my blood oxygen level plummeted while I was under.  I woke up in recovery in excruciating pain, began begging for the morphine button they always give a patient to alleviate that and was told they could give me -nothing- for the pain.

Since when does anyone have surgery and not receive pain medication as they are waking up?  I've never heard of such a thing.  Cutting a person open, sometimes multiple times as in laprascopic surgery and allowing them to feel the intense rush of agony all at once without the benefit of medications to make it a gradual process that one can cope with.

I woke up sucking for air like a fish on land, feeling as if a 500 pound man was standing on my chest, pain stabbing through my chest and abdomen every time I took even a shallow breath, let alone the deep breaths the nurse who sat beside my bed kept demanding that I take and slowly exhale.

I told her (that nurse) that if only they would give me pain meds, I could breathe better because it wouldn't hurt so much to inhale.  She told me that stuff about my blood pressure and my blood oxygen level and words like 'spiking' and 'plummeting' are scary.  When she told me they couldn't risk putting me back to sleep with the pain medications because if my blood oxygen level  lowered any more they would have to take me back to surgery and intubate - I was beyond scared.  I was terrified.  That's when I knew things were bad and I started taking the deepest breaths I could no matter how much it hurt.

I focused on my nurse and saw the worry on her face as she looked at something behind my left shoulder so I turned my head back and looked too, to see the machine registering my blood pressure and oxygen level.  Both were rather awful.  I saw two nurses sitting directly in front of me at the nurses station and saw the concern on their faces as well.  All three nurses were looking between me and that machine like they were waiting for something bad to happen.

Finally, my deep breaths and slow exhales brought the oxygen level up to something they felt was okay enough to allow me out  of recovery and back into my surgical suite.  I did everything possible to make myself better over the next few hours.

I could talk about those things, the facts of those hours, but I'm not going to.  I have thus far only to give a picture of what happened from that factual, medical stand point and what my body went through physically.  Here's what I really want to say in this blog post:

I thought I was going to die.  That's how hard it was to breathe.  I was struggling with every bit of strength I possessed to draw air into my lungs through the terrible pain the act of breathing inflicted on my body.  I begged the nurses and the doctor to admit me into the hospital for the night because I was afraid that if I were not hooked up to machines and being watched constantly, that I would die.

Breathing is something we do without thinking about it but when you have to focus on inhaling precious oxygen because it's not instinctive, it now takes effort and conscious thought - that is life altering.  You can't take breathing for granted anymore.

I've had sad moments since that surgery.  I've been scared since then too.  I want to live - even though the agony of fibromyalgia affects the quality of my life so much, I still choose to live and be present, to enjoy any and every moment I can.

I was alone at the hospital that day.  My husband had taken off work and came to see me but then went home to wait for the phone call that I was out of surgery.  He didn't return until it was time to pick me up so he didn't know what had transpired.  He had no clue how awful it was, how touch-and-go it had been in recovery.  My kids were either working or busy.

There was nobody there to hold my hand, to encourage me to breathe, to say they loved me, to share my fear, to make it better.  There was nobody there who would have cried for me or with me.

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