Crappy news #2

This IV is the result of four different nurses trying three times each to launch it.
I was dehydrated beyond belief.

August 25 was a physio appointment and the ultrasound for my legs, but I never made it.

At 5:00 a.m. I woke up, in incredible stomach pain, and then threw up for 11 hours. Then I slept. The next day, everything hurt, which I put down to using so many weird muscles for 11 hours. I couldn’t force myself to eat even a Saltine or toast, and water was by tiny sips only. I had incredibly awful heartburn, asked a doctor friend if Tums were OK to take, he said yes. They didn’t work. The heartburn continued through the night, despite the fact I was sitting bolt upright.

Friday morning I called the cancer nurse line for my clinic and was told to try Pepcid and keep an eye on things. I couldn’t force myself to eat anything, I couldn’t sit, stand or lie down my insides hurt so much. I called my doctor friend to ask if I could take the last really good painkiller from my surgery so I could just lie down for two or three hours with no pain—he asked me a lot of questions and said, “This is not the time to take pills, it is time to go to an ED. Go right now.”

Early Friday night at St. Joe’s emerg, feeling like death. Eight x-rays, ECG, IV, a CT scan and NG tube placement later, I was admitted for a small bowel obstruction. Nothing by mouth. I was there for a week. The NG (nasogastric) tube was looped in my stomach, and pumping out next to nothing. They pulled it and inserted a second one. Having that thick tube shoved up my nose and then down the back of my mouth, down the esophagus to my stomach was hellish! Never want to do that again.

Despite the IV drip of saline plus lots of different medicines, I was starving. In the hospital, visiting restrictions, no TV, no meals to look forward to three times a day, no candy or chocolate gifts when family and friends did come, it was so dead boring. Whenever I drifted off to sleep, I dreamt about food. One night I had an elaborate dream that a nurse had left a steak sandwich on my tray, with a knife and fork as a message to cut it up on very small pieces. She was telling me it was OK to eat something. Most of the dream was me arguing with myself about which nurse left it, whether I should eat it, what the pros and cons were. I had four bites, very dry, which led to fantasizing within the dream as to what sauces and spreads (maybe even sauerkraut) would have been good.

I went six days with no food, five days with no fluids (except for the water I had to drink during the NG tube insertions). I was in the post-surgical unit, and every early morning the surgical squad doc and resident came to check on me. There were more x-rays, a CT scan, and some explanations. I had never known anyone with a bowel obstruction, so was under the impression a bowel obstruction must be the result of wolfing down too many burritos, or some immovable combo of foods. Wrong. It’s from scar tissue, in my case from a huge messy case of burst appendix and subsequent peritonitis when I was 17, plus 27 rounds of radiation to the abdomen and pelvis this year. The scar tissue adheres to other scar tissue, and boom, nothing can go through. So the “nothing by mouth” is to achieve complete bowel rest so the adhesions can go back to where they were. So every time the surgical squad came to visit, it was to see if they could avoid surgery. Surgery just makes more scar tissue. And I don’t want more surgery.

So when this arrived on Tuesday night, I was ecstatic:

And this had me practically dancing:

NG tube out! So I progressed from clear liquids, to opaque liquids, to soft bland diet, to solid diet, no choices or filling out the meal selection sheets or anything, but it was food.

The dietitian came to talk to me about my new low-residue (low fibre) diet, which I swear she said I had to follow for two weeks, then gradually add stuff back. No seeds, no skins, no nuts. Sounds very simple, but the more I read, the more restrictive it is. And it doesn’t sound like I get to add stuff back. I’m seeing my radiation oncologist on Friday, and have a long list of questions ready. For now, it’s white bread, Saltines, yogurt, cheese, peanut butter, chicken, fish, tender meat, only cooked certain vegetables, and cooked soft, no raw veg, no lettuce, berries, apples, no tomatoes, salsa, tortilla chips, and so on. I tortured myself today by watching three Jamie’s 15-Minute Meals shows today—I love them—and there wasn’t a single dish I could make without major substitutions that would kill the point of the food.

Food is very important to me. I’m dreading this appointment on Friday.

This was waiting for me when I got home from hospital:

Faces courtesy of Mika and Aleks.

And these, plus the sunflowers on the front step, and lots of other balloons
on the walls and ceiling, as well as paper garlands,
were courtesy of Tessa!

2 Responses

  1. Nothing as nice as coming home to signs and balloons!

  2. You are an incredible trouper Jackie. I am so relieved you are ok and back at home…it must have been so painful…!!… and those tubes are the worst.
    I looove the banners from the babies… you are so loved.

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