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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

ER Visit - Bummer

Today, my incision looked wider, deeper, more red, and had much more fluid coming from it than previously. We decided that it was time to go to the ER. I have had mixed experiences with the Hilton Head Emergency Room in the past, so I was not thrilled to be going there. We have been there at least once a year in the last 5 years for Morgan, but I was a new patient to them.

Morgan drove me because she is the one who has been packing and dressing the open incision since Friday and could best tell the doctor how it has changed. My dad and Mike have been helping her, but they haven't been consistently looking at it each day. I was also having more pain than I was, so I mainly wanted to be sure that there wasn't something more serious than originally believed by my surgeon. Since we were visiting my parents for my recovery out of state, I didn't think it was efficient to keep calling the surgeon who couldn't see it live or do any testing.

We arrived at the ER and had to fill out a form. Nobody was seeming to pay attention, but eventually the security guard who quickly had Morgan sign in as a visitor got someone's attention. She told me to sit in the waiting room. There was a family there who was waiting for a family member who was already in the back, a man waiting to be seen, and us. Meanwhile, a man came in with a neck brace, and ankle wrap, in a wheelchair, and with crutches on his lap. He was taking all of the ER staff's attention as they couldn't figure out why he was in the ER when he was seen in the Savannah ER a few days before. They were all trying to speak Spanish to figure out why he wasn't at a spine doctor instead of the ER and then the man kept saying that he had a lawyer and the lawyer said he didn't need to pay. The one ER staff member said, "We aren't worried about your paying. We are just trying to figure out what you are doing here. " Classic.

A lady came to give me my license back and asked about my insurance card. I had forgotten it was still in my hospital bag, so I asked if I could fax it from my phone to her. She stood there amazed - literally jaw open and said, well yes if you can fax it that is great.

After about 10 minutes, I was called to triage. The triage room is really just a desk in the middle of the registration area. It certainly isn't private as everyone in the registration area (4 people when I was there) could hear every word. I am giggling because the insurance card lady is telling everyone that I can fax my card and that it is coming through. Only in healthcare can people be that exited about a fax, but Caresync came through for me in a big way.

The triage nurse is trying to remember questions and is writing them all on a paper towel. Seriously. She gets the general idea - surgery, leaking, opened, packing twice a day, started antibiotic, not getting better, and she had my history from CareSync that I had also faxed. Then, after about 8 -10 mins of this, another triage nurse who was not nearly as friendly comes to take over. She starts entering the paper towel info into the computer. She is clearly not happy that i had surgery at one hospital and that I am now seeking care at a different hospital. I keep telling her that my surgeon said it was fine to come here to recover at my parents where I would have more help than at the busy home I live in.  Finally, they take me back and I get changed into a gown.

Before anyone else comes in, the ER doc comes in and he is super on top of it. Very friendly and concerned. He tells me that he is worried that I have an abscess and that he is even more worried that one of his surgeons may not be willing to work on me since my surgery was done by a different surgeon in Tampa. He says he is ordering a CT scan so we can see what is going on but he is super worried about the quantity of fluid and how deep the wound is.

I get the CT and they say it won't be more than an hour. This was at 4:30. Around 7 when I still hadn't gotten the CT results, I asked if I could take a pain pill. They said I could either do that or get something that would work faster through the IV. I choose IV since it was in and fast. Unfortunately, it then took 405 minutes for the nurse to get it, so I am not sure it was really faster.  The US was playing soccer and I think the game may have slowed down care a little.  He gave me Dilaudid and Zofran which helped a lot. It still took a long time to get the results which was apparently due to the outsourced radiologist company that they use. FINALLY we got it, and he said he was surprised that there wasn't an abscess and that he thinks we can continue packing and dressing 2 - 3 times a day until the fluid reduced. He also said to be sure to take the antibiotic (it was only day 2 of it at this point). He cleaned the wound very well and repacked it. He said to be a little less aggressive when packing if we could.

I was very pleased with the doctor and felt he was very caring. He even asked if my pain medicine was working for me and asked if I needed something else. Thoughtful. I told him it was working well, but that I am trying to get by taking less of it. He said to take it as i need it and that he was glad it was helping.

Morgan was picked up by my mom at some point and my dad was with me for the rest of the time. He drove me home, and I was thankful to my whole family for wanting to help.  I am not sure how people manage health issues without family as awesome as mine. I am also not sure how I would hav managed some of these issues without CareSync. I have tracked all my meds, including pain meds, antibiotics, advil, stool softeners, and nausea meds. It makes it so easy to see how much pain I am having and when I can take something else.

Hopefully, I will get better from here on out. I am relieved to know that it isn't an abscess.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Incision Problems

The weekend went ok with the packing, except that is is still leaking a LOT. It is soaking through the packing and my clothes 2 - 3 times a day. I called the doc today because I am still having significant pain, and I am worried about how much it is still draining so much.

The nurse called back, and she said he is in surgery until the afternoon and that she would talk to him and call back. Her name is Jennifer, and I am starting to feel like we are old friends since I have talked to her almost every day recently. She called back later and said that he wants to call in an antibiotic. I checked with CVS later and saw that it was Flagyl and Cipro that he called in. I have an intolerance to Flagyl (they tell me it doesn't count as an allergy but it makes me sick). I called my BFF Jennifer back again, and she talked to him about it. He then called in Augmentin instead.

Because I am out of state, they called it to my Floridalocal pharmacy, and then I called the pharmacy here in SC. They transferred it to the local one here in SC so that we could pick it up. I am not sure what happened, but somehow it was transferred to the other CVS on the island, so my mom had to go to two places. :(

Morgan packed my wound with 5 sheets of dressing and mounds of tape, and it held up MUCH better. Of course, it seems like I have a diaper on my belly, but it is better than it leaking.

Tonight, my wound was bleeding some. I hope that is not a bad sign. Hopefully, it will not be bleeding tomorrow. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Open Incision and Packing

This morning, we arrived at the doctor's office right at 8:15. Dr. Tran came to see me at 8:35. He sliced open my incision and drained a ton of nasty fluid. He wanted Morgan and I to look at it but it was gross. He said it was like a geyser. Lovely.

He showed Morgan how to pack my wound and said it needs to be packed twice a day. He gave us a bottle of the wound packing stuff, some long Qtip with a stick on one end, and some gauze. Here is some basic instruction. http://www.wikihow.com/Pack-a-Wound

Basically, she uses the stick to shove the packing in and to lay it over itself until the wound is full. Then, she lays a bunch of gauze dressing pads on it with the first one fitting inside the wound. Then, she tapes it all up. My dad and Katie have been her main assistants with Mike taking her place with the packing one night. It is a team effort and it is my least favorite time of the day. GROSS and it hurts. He said it would probably take two weeks. Fun, Fun, Fun.

We did make the trip to Hilton Head ok. Morgan and Katie took turns driving. I took two pain pills and a Valium and it made the trip tolerable. I was fairly loopy though and the girls laughed at me at times.

My parents just built an amazing new house in Hilton Head, and it has an elevator which makes it easier for me to move around. It also has an amazing deck with a beautiful view, so I can sit there and at least be in beautiful surroundings while recovering. I am also enjoying getting to spend some time with my family even though I can't do the beach or swimming. :( 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

YUCK, Leaking from my incision

Today, I woke up and my pajamas were soaking wet. I got very nervous. After trying to figure out what was happening, it continued to leak nasty yellow-red stuff. I called the doctor, and the nurse said he was in surgery and couldn't see me until tomorrow morning. It was a disgusting day of leaking through anything I could put there. Gauze dressing pads would be saturated in a couple of hours. I finally resorted to wads of toilet paper on top of the gauze dressing. The toilet paper would at least absorb more and keep it from leaking so quickly.

My incision is also burning, and I feel like I have a fever even though the thermometer insists that I don't. :)

Morgan had to take a test at school, so I rode with her driving and was going to sit in the parking lot waiting for her. Travis was nice and came to pick me up for some lunch and to drop off an application packet that needed to be mailed.  He has a range rover car, and I couldn't get in it. The security guard at the school asked if I needed help. I was so embarrassed, but I did finally get in. Then, Travis figured out that he could pull the car by a curb and that worked much better.  :)

I had to change the dressing twice during the night and I was aggravated that the surgeon couldn't see me before the next day because we are leaving Friday morning to go to my parents house for me to recover there for 2 weeks. We also had to pick Katie up at UF where she had been to a journalism camp. But, they promised to get me in and out quickly starting at 8:15 Friday morning.

I am ready to get tho leaking to stop. It is really nasty.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

HOME!

Today, the doctor came around 8 and said I was good to go home.

Discharge meds

  1. Percocet 7.5mg/325
  2. Colace stool softener
  3. Zofran
Diet
  1. Start on soft diet
  2. Low fiber
  3. Work up to harder to digest things like steak or high fiber food over the next 8 weeks
Activity
  1. Walk as tolerated
  2. No lifting anything over 5 - 10 lbs
  3. Rest, Rest, Rest
  4. Return to work in 6-8 weeks
  5. Can shower now
  6. Can go in the pool two weeks after surgery (like to cool off and sit in the pool)
Incision
  1. Keep it clean and dry
  2. Call if it gets red to the touch or has pussy discharge
  3. Some slight moisture is ok
It was great to get home. Sophie was happy to see me. I missed her so. :) I had a pretty good first day home and walked in the cup-de-sac a little outside. I did still have to take my 2 pain pills every 4-5 hours though and the pain was pretty intense at times. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Monday (Post Op Day 7)

The doc came in this morning and said that I could either go home today or tomorrow. I was still on the PCA pump and pushing it quite a bit, and I was still having more trouble walking than I had before. He decided to do a CBC to make sure that everything was ok, and then we would see how I was tolerating the pain medicine. He prescribed Percocet 5/325 - 2 tablets every 4 hours. I took two doses of that but I was still having pain of a 5 or 6 when walking.

We decided to stay one more night to make sure my pain was controlled and that I was going to be able to sleep ok. He increased my dosage to Percocet 7.5/325 and it was better walking around that night. I also had a little more dinner with some soup and a grilled cheese sandwich. I slept pretty well on the pain medicine which was another worry I had. I was very glad to have stayed the night. I felt so much more comfortable going home after the dosage change and the good night of sleep.

Mike came and did a run of stuff back to the house so that we didn't have so much left. Ready to go home tomorrow!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sunday (Post Op Day 6)

The doc came in around 9, and he said all looked good. I got moved from "full" liquids instead of just "clear"ones. He said that I can even move to soft food in the evening if that is going ok.

As I moved around this morning, I was excited because my gas factory was in full gear. It means I am healing ok. However, to my surprise, my first post-surgery BM decided to come! Yes, Poop! And quite a lot of it. It was very liquid.

When I was trying to clean up, I twisted too hard to the left and I really hurt my side. My pain immediately went to a 9/10. I was in tears and thought I had pulled something inside. I called the nurse and she told me that I probably didn't tear anything. I pushed greenie a lot and tried to calm down.  Finally, it got better, but it still was pretty difficult when walking. The day before I was walking 2 and 3 laps at a time, and now I was struggling to do a single lap. It was a little scary and depressing, but my pain was controlled with greenie. I just hated to push it as often as I was.

Mike came with a refresh of home supplies, and we just took it easy today.

The pet therapy people came again. This time it was a big dog. He was sweet.



It was around this time that the nurse brought me a diet pepsi. AHHHHHHHHHHHH


Morgan and I watched the X Men movie. It really isn't my kind of movie, but it was pretty good anyway. :)

I was feeling better around dinner, so I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. It was so good. I felt like I was inching toward the land of the living again.