i jolt awake, unaware of where I am, my eyes search the room looking for something familiar. Slowly everything starts to come into focus, I hear constant beeps and see curtains to both my sides as I’m half sitting up in my bed. I shake the cobwebs, “oh ya”, I think, “I’m in the recovery room” . A nurse approaches me and asks how I feel and how I would rate my pain on a scale of one to ten. I tell her I feel surprisingly well and my pain in minimal at the moment, no doubt because of the fentanyl entering my body through the epidural in my back and morphine in the IV coursing through my veins . She takes my vitals, reads my temperature and tells me everything looks good and I’ll be allowed visitors shortly. I will be moved to my room in the surgical recovery ward shortly. I’m pretty sure I drifted off again into a drug induced catnap.
A short time later I awoke again to a familiar face at my bedside, my wife, Tracy. She also said that I looked pretty good considering what I had gone through, to which I jokingly replied, “Don’t I always?” I got a small laugh from her and she went on to explain what the doctor had told her about how the surgery had gone. He said that the procedure went well but ran long because they had to make the call to remove 3 feet of my intestines, now you have bucket loads of them, so that is not to serious, although it can lead to mal-absorption issues depending on what mineral and vitamins that stretch of intestines absorb. The intestines had to be removed because after the mass was cut out there was a chance that the blood supply to that 3 feet could have been compromised, so the decision was made to remove. Also, with the mass and it’s tricky location he wasn’t sure if it was removed with clean margins. That means basically he was unable to get a clean cut all around the mass and small amounts could be left behind. All in all though he figured the surgery itself was as successful as it could be and I’d make a full recovery. For the next few hours Tracy and I made small talk as I drifted in and out of conscious.
Around dinner time the nurse came to tell me my room was ready and the porter would be down shortly to wheel up to the 5th floor, surgical recovery. I had a semi-private room, which I shared with a guy recovering from knee surgery, I won’t get into that. The first night was pretty quiet and uneventful, my surgeon came up to check on me and explain what Tracy had already told me and that all my “guts” would get examined and that an oncologist would likely get a hold of me in a month’s time. I knew at that time this would be serious and that the doctors were waiting until the pathology report gave them the answers they already knew. Tracy had sat with me all day, I told her to go home and get some rest it was getting late and I was going to take my nighttime cocktail of morphine and gravol and try and shut out all the hospitals beeps and bells, it does that very effectively. Your never really in a state of deep sleep at the hospital, the drugs give me crazy dreams and cause me to sweat like crazy, the nurse has to wake you every so often to check vitals, so I wake groggy in the morning. The diet I’m on now consists of ice chips and popsicles, so not very filling and surprisingly even after a surgery like that I’m hungry this morning. Now, to let you know how powerful fentanyl is I have a catheter in and I don’t feel a thing, also every 4 hours the nurses come in and put ice on my leg from the knee up to my lower abdomen and I still feel nothing at all. It’s no wonder I can’t feel my incision, which is about 10 inches long and runs from my belt line up and around my belly button, just to the top of it.
During that second day, Tracy is there all day for me again and both my sons come in and out to visit based on their school schedules. A few other friends and family kind of filter in and out through the day and it’s nice to get the well wishes and some reading material dropped off, I’ll never forget those who visited me, forever grateful! I get put on a clear fluid diet for supper, beef broth, jello, tea and ginger ale…..yummy. It’s later that night after everyone leaves and before the drugs kick in that I open a journal that I had bought and with a click of the pen, put down my first entry, “Today is the first day of my new life, time to start putting an emphasis on what is really important to me, time to find out why I’m really here. No matter the outcome here, it’s time…time to get the shit done you really want to. TIME is so, valuable”. Funny, it’s like already knew what was coming……