Saturday, April 12, 2014

Surgery Update

A week ago yesterday, I had my gallbladder removed laparoscopically.  Once the surgery was done, and I had spent some time in recovery, I was sent home.  That is how this surgery is done these days.  I expected to be up and going by the fourth day or so.  In fact, on the fourth day, which Tuesday, April 8, I felt quite well.  Since I had been cooped up for a few days, and since the day promised to be a beautiful warm one, and since it also marked the anniversary date of what would have been my daughter's 38th birthday, I suggested to my husband that we drive down to Pueblo, where we used to live, to take a walk in the sunshine.  The weather was perfect.  The flowers and trees were in bloom.  I actually took some photos, which might be quite nice ones, but I don't seem to have the energy to download the images off of my camera.  The day was actually a wonderful day.  I walked quite a bit, and then Jim and I had dinner and came home.

The next day, I didn't feel well.  I thought perhaps I had overdone.  I had pain where my gallbladder once was, and I was chilled.  A neighbor stopped by to visit and to bring a homemade treat.  While she was there, my husband said, "Sally, you don't look well.  You need to go to bed."  My neighbor agreed, and I went to bed and slept for the rest of the afternoon.

On Thursday, I thought I really should be better.  Others told me that they had returned to work on the third or fourth day, and yet here it was the sixth day after surgery and I felt worse than ever.  I called my doctor.  He said complications are extremely rare, and said he wasn't worried about the chills if I had no fever.  He also said if I was real concerned,  I could either go to the emergency room or give it one more day.  I gave it one more day.  Jim had a sleep study at the hospital that night.  I just thought I could rest and be better.  I didn't think I needed to disrupt everything and go to the ER.  Besides, I hate the ER and am quite tired of making trips there.

The next day, Friday, which was the seventh day after surgery, the pain was worse than it had been.  I could move around better, so the surgical pain did not seem to be the problem, but deep down inside I had a deep, sharp pain.  I also was chilling.  I called the doctor.  His nurse seemed to think that the problem was not the surgery.  I wondered if I was having pancreatitis.  I was told to call my GI doctor.  I did.

That is when things began to shift.  I can't say enough good things about the doctors at National Jewish and my doctor in particular.  When she was told what was going on with me, her nurse called me right back and said that pain on the seventh day after laparoscopic surgery is not the norm.  Dr. M. said that her nurse would call the surgeon's office and tell them that this was an acute situation and I needed to be assessed STAT.  I then got a call from the surgeon's office telling me to go to the lab at Rose Medical in Denver for blood work.  "How quickly could I be there?"

Since, our original plan had been to drive north of Denver on Friday to babysit my grandchildren that day, we were actually already packed and ready to go.  I said we would be there in an hour and a half if traffic cooperated.  Thankfully, I then suggested to my husband that we board the dog rather than taking the chance of me being tied up at the hospital while Jim had to deal with the dog.  Jim's daughter came over and got Boston and took him to doggie daycare.  After daycare, he would then be boarded.  With the dog taken care of, we were off to Denver.

About half way there, my cell phone rang.  It was Dr. M. from National Jewish.  She wanted to know where I was and what my plan was.  I said I was going to have labs at Rose Medical as that was what my surgeon's nurse had said to do.  I told her I was in Castle Rock and expected to be at the lab in about 45 minutes.  That is when Dr. M., my GI doctor at National Jewish,  told me that she did not want me to go to the lab.  She said, "You are to go directly to the emergency room at Rose Medical."  I followed her directive.

Rose Medical was first class all the way.  They quickly admitted me, took my history, drew lab work, and sent me down for a CT scan with contrast.  My pain was getting worse and worse.  I was becoming nauseated.

Soon the labs were back with good news.  I did not have any indication of infection.  My liver and pancreatic enzymes were normal.  In fact, my labs looked perfect.  Thank God.  The CT scan told us what was going on.  I have an intra-abdominal abscess.  It appears to be a "collection of fluids" about an inch or so across in size.

The nurses were just getting ready to send me up to a room when my surgeon came in.  He was very kind.  He also was reassuring.  He said that since I didn't have indications of infection, he wanted to give me a big dose of antibiotics in the hospital.  He then wanted me to go home because he didn't think that my condition was serious enough to require hospitalization.  I was given instructions to call immediately if things changed once I got home.  I was sent home with two antibiotics, pain meds, and four pages of instructions on what I was to do and watch for.

Today, has been mostly good.  I am taking the antibiotics and hoping they do the trick.  I have some pain this evening.  I am still chilling some.  I have spoken with the doctor.  It seems that we are doing all that can be done.  We just have to give the drugs time to work.

I hope this takes care of it.   I am confident that I am in good hands.  I just had a fluke happen to me that is quite rare.  I am grateful for caring doctors.  I am most grateful that Dr. M. told me to go to the ER because if I'd only had labs done, the abscess would not have been found and who knows what could have happened.  So far, I don't have any regrets on having the surgery.  This could not have been foreseen.  Hopefully by next week I am as good as new and all of this is behind me.  I won't be one of those that says that my gallbladder surgery was the easiest surgery I ever had.  Well, I guess the surgery was fine.  It was what happened afterwards, and who knows why that happened, that wasn't so great.

If you think of me, lift up a prayer.  I am encouraged by the good labs.  I am hoping I can tolerate the antibiotics without side effects.  I'll keep you posted.