And Then He Said, “How Do You Feel?”

I should post a followup to my announcement about having surgery. That means this will be an icky post, too, and then I’m done with icky posts.

I went into the hospital last Friday morning and came out Saturday afternoon. Modern medicine has certainly reduced the amount of time you spend in the hospital for many procedures.

Each day over the past week has been a little better than the one before. I ate nothing from Thursday evening until Saturday afternoon, when the hospital fed me some Jello, crushed ice dessert, and grape juice. Everything was clear liquid in a semi-frozen, liquid, or gelatinous state. There were a variety of tastes and the portions were small and I wasn’t able to finish the entire meal.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I ate Jello, more Jello, and lots more. I drank Apple Juice, water, or tea. I think I enjoyed the savory taste of chicken broth, too (strained chicken soup). By Tuesday evening I was cheating a little and slipping some ice cream into my diet, making sure to stir it up and melt it almost to a liquid state.

Wednesday and Thursday I got to eat mashed potatoes, potato soup, more ice cream, and a little Jello. Okay, I started sneaking vanilla cake frosting into my diet on Monday. First a spoonful a day, then two spoonfuls a day. I shouldn’t have, I suppose, but the friends I’m staying with were celebrating the holiday with peach cobbler, cake, huge carvings of roasted beef, corn, peas, … I can’t think about it.

They supposedly hid a slice of cake away for me somewhere but I haven’t found it yet and I’ll soon be going back home.

When I left the hospital they ordered me not to drive, not to lift anything heavier than a milk carton (and until this week I had no idea of how heavy that feels), and to be sure to walk every day. Don’t let your muscles harden up, they warned me.

So I walked and walked around the house. I had entertained the idea of walking around the neighborhood, but it rained every day this week and the neighborhood was kind of wet and icky, so I stayed inside.

The surgeon gave me a prescription for Vicodin, which I didn’t use. Instead I have relied on Tylenol or the generic Acetaminophen (I have no idea of how to spell it). Remember that my primary care physician says I have a high tolerance for pain. Every few hours I’d swallow a couple of those Acetaminophen pills and I’d feel okay.

But my abdomen, which has five puncture wounds, complained in various ways. Let’s just say I went through a lot of toilet paper this week and leave it at that, although I finally gave up and reached for an anti-diarrhea medicine Thursday night.

So, I thought I’d done pretty good, but it became obvious I would not be returning to the dance floor after a week. I can barely pick up stuff right now without feeling some strain. There is no way I can lead anyone or maintain a frame. Or stand on a dance floor for an hour without having to say, “Please excuse me” several times.

I had no appetite until Thursday, when I started to eat solid food again. I had a very small piece of steak for dinner, and ate only half of that. Oh, it was good going down. Oh, the agony in the aftermath. I’ll stick with soups for a while.

The Dying GaulWhen I went to see the surgeon today (well, yesterday — Friday), he had me take off my shirt and then he laid me back on the table. He ripped off my bandages and started poking me in the abdomen. And then he said, “How do you feel?”

I wanted to scream out, “I felt FINE until you did THAT!”

Instead, I weakly answered, “Well, you stuck me in the gut five times….”

He laughed, I laughed, I wanted to cry. He quickly added, “You know, you have a very small stomach. Eat very small meals.” Now he tells me.

I asked how long I’ll be going through this post-operative transitional phase (i.e., how long am I going to be feeling sore, eating small, and staying close to toilet paper?). “It should not be more than another week.” Two weeks’ recovery time. I could swear they said one week before the operation.

Maybe someone told him about the cake frosting, but it wasn’t me. After that, we were pretty much finished.

For a moment I thought he was going to ask me to do some situps, but he just reached out to help me sit up. He said I’m free to drive, assuming I can tolerate the pain (hah!), and I’m free to go back to work. Woohoo!

The doctor did ask one strange question. He said, “Have you passed any gas?” Well, doctors ask strange questions all the time. I don’t normally think about whether I’ve passed gas. I said, “Some. Most went out one way rather than the other.”

“Have you belched?” he clarified. Oh, yes, a little. He looked satisfied.

I managed to dress myself and staggered out of his office, barely making it back to my friend’s truck. The ride back to the house was 40 minutes of increasing agony. I took a couple of Acetaminphens and felt better after an hour.

It wasn’t until I was feeling better that I realized the significance of his question. Yes, I’ve been swallowing food all week long, but he waited until Friday to ask if I’ve belched. I think I’m glad I was able to say “Yes”. I guess that means everything is now working mostly as it should. The surgery was a complete success.

Thank God, because I really don’t want to go through this again.