Colorectal Cancer- 6 days post Op - I'm Home!

The excruciating pain felt all over my body when I woke up in recovery was worthy of calling the funeral home to organise my coffin!

I'm back beautiful people... it's been a week since surgery, well to be exact it's been 6 days! I am so happy to be home and more than that, I am so happy that I am recovering at a pretty speedy pace. Yeah to me!!

O.K, so I have to kick off today's blog with saying a massive THANK YOU to every single person who has reached out with their well wishes. I am so, so grateful for all the kind words and gifts. It has meant so much to me and I believe has infused my ongoing positivity and determination to beat this.

Thank you....

Monday morning- Day of surgery

I remember the lovely nurse bringing me a hospital gown to change into, some towels and the wash they like you to use before you go under the knife (I had the same stuff for my hysterectomy), she puts on the sexy long white socks - you know the one that make you look like a male with the accompanying short shorts going to work in the 70's?...Stunning I tell you.

For anyone that doesnt know what these are for, they are to stop any blood clots occuring in your legs.

I'm pretty calm, hubby is there with me, we are chatting with the nurse and then the crew arrive to roll me into the surgery suites. What I thought was so sweet is that they allowed hubby to accompany me in the elevator, so I was able to kiss him good bye at the door of the surgery chamber (I know, I know it wasn't a chamber, but seriously the nerves were dialed up at that point!).

The anaesthetist came into the area where they place you just before you get rolled into the theatre room, it's another small room adjacent. We had a chat about my needle phobia (MASSIVE FEAR OF NEEDLES) and what she could do to make me as comfortable as possible during surgery and post into recovery. She was fabulous, really listened to me and didn't make me feel like moron.

Side note here: Yes I have tattoos, please don't be one of those people that go' Um but you have tattoos so how can you be scared of needles!' So freaking irritating! The fear is of the needle being injected into my body its scares the bejesus out of me!

She was happy to give me some laughing gas before inserting the cannula to bring my anxiety levels down. Bless her! . I was then rolled into theatre completely awake. I actually like being awake and being able to take in the surroundings of the theatre room.

The heart monitors are placed all over my chest, I have a bandage of soft cloth wrapped around my right bicep (this is where they would be placing the blood pressure gadget for the duration of the surgery). I have the massage equipment placed on both calves to keep the blood flowing and pumping whilst I'm under and finally, I have that gorgeous green plastic mask put over my mouth and nose to start inhaling the gas. I get nervous that she will start to put the cannula in without the full effects of the gas having kicked in yet. My eyes start to widen and I look at the anaesthetist in panic, I get re-assured with "It's O.K, just keep breathing in, I wont do anything until we can see your ready", and moments later, the buzzing starts in my head, everything starts to became fuzzy and she is able to put the needle in as I fight the feeling of drifting away.....3,2,1........I'm out.

Waking up from Surgery - Intensive Care

Waking up in recovery and Holy Shit!.. I am in excruciating pain! The main source of my pain? My right arm! ....I felt like someone was sawing my bicep in two! I started moaning and whimpering and I have a small army around me. I'm able to hoarsely whisper "my arm, my arm".... I was on the operating table for over six hours, and the blood pressure monitor band was squeezing and contracting my right bicep for that entire time!!!!

My surgeon was next to me and she explained that I had the PCA (Pain Control Administer)and to squeeze it as often as possible to relieve any pain. This PCA was releasing Fentanyl and this stuff is CRAZY!!

So, I have my arm that is being sawn off, my tummy is burning and it feels brutally torn apart which of course it has been...not fun!. My blood pressure is low AF, which is the usual for me coming out of any surgery but it was like 69 over whatever and I was freaking everybody out. I just wanted to keep sleeping!

This is the equipment attached to my body post surgery. I have a catheter in place, I have a drain pouch, I have a drip, I have oxygen tubes, I have the blood pressure wrap on my left arm in position, the PCA placed in my left hand and of course I have my stoma with bag attached!... I'm a pretty, pretty gal!

I was placed in the critical care department for two days. Those first two days post op were a bit of a blur, I felt like I was coming in and out of consciousness and that had a lot to do with the pain relief as well.

The Tuesday night, I was woken by a blood curdling scream in the ward. "NURSE..NURSE, HE'S KILLING ME". There was a patient with dementia in the ward and boy she screamed the entire night! The issue with the PCA is that the particular drug can induce hallucinations and every time I would drift off to sleep in between the screaming I was having shocking nightmarish hallucinations! I was being chased with intent to being killed, I had a group of birds that suddenly turned on me and started trying to peck my eyes out and were tearing the hair out of my head. I was screaming for help in these 'dreams' and in real life my heart rate kept sending the monitors attached to me into alert territory! Freaking terrifying!

Back in my room

Thankfully the PCA was taken off me on the Wednesday and I was taken back to my room. I honestly feel like this is when my body truly began to pick itself up and I drastically improved. I was now being given endone for the pain with panadol and also a slow release pain relief drug through the cannula. I was able to get out of bed, albeit very slowly and with a lot of assistance and stand up. Later that day I walked around my room. I was progressing. Luckily there was a cannula put in on my right wrist in case the one that was placed on the left hand stopped working, which of course it had! The pain felt when another round of meds, fluids, whatever was being administered and the vein on my left hand was blocked! OUCH! All good, the drip got moved to the right side and that worked a treat for the rest of my hospital stay.

Having a catheter is so uncomfortable and thankfully on Thursday the doctor agreed that I could get it removed! Bless her! It was fine coming out, a deep breath and yes, freedom! I also had the drip removed on this day and I was looking forward to the swelling to go down. I looked a little like a beach ball, all round and cute like. You will notice I have not spoken about the stoma in detail yet, its coming...The only thing I had left that needed to be removed was the drain.

My Stoma

O.K, so you all know that my biggest fear was having to have a permanent ileostomy, ie. a stoma for life. When I was lucid and took a look at my tummy with this clear bag attached to a swollen pink mushroom, I didn't really feel much, I think because I had all these other apparatus that were attached to me, taking care of my bodily functions so it didn't shock me. I was pleased about that.

I was told by my surgeon and with my own research that the bowel does not wake up for about 24 hours after surgery, and so my stoma would not start to function until at least day 2 or 3. Uh uh! My stoma was letting everyone know that she was here! Straight out of surgery, a couple of hours later, she was working!.

Yes, I don't call the stoma an "it". I have christened her with the name "Stella". Stella the stoma!

It has humanized this whole process for me and it has allowed me to appreciate the fact that this procedure has allowed a cancerous tumour to be removed and I have in place a strong functioning stoma.

The nurses had the fun task of emptying the bladder container, the pouch attached to the drain and of course the bag attached to Stella. These amazing people deserve a pay rise, I was so well cared for, truly grateful.

With no catheter and no drip I could finally hobble to the bathroom and take care of this new aspect of my life, emptying my waste bag!! Look, it's not too bad, it's not great and I'm not going to shine a sparkling, glittering light and say 'Oh My God, it's so much better than I thought', because it's not. I'll get used to it I'm sure but I understand this journey is going to be an interesting one!!

Friday, my drain had been o.k'd to be removed. Ummm, it doesn't exactly is just a really weird and butt clenching experience. The nurse asked me to keep coughing as she pulled this long assed tube out of my body and it felt like I had a snake slithering through my insides until she completely had it out. I still shiver reliving that. But, it didn't hurt so bonus!!

Surgery was Monday and by Friday I am walking around slowly, I am smashing all my breathing exercises, I have had a shower and I have changed Stella's bag. (A production and a half by the way).

The doctor is amazed at how well I am recovering as are all the nursing staff. I am quite chuffed with myself to be honest. My body is a beast!

I am ensuring that I am resting and honestly after even walking a little it does tire me out so I understand I have a long way to go but I've made a cracking start!

Going home

I was allowed to go home yesterday Saturday... and is there anything better than being at home? The drive was painful and I should've taken some pain relief just before leaving but I sometimes forget that I am a two hour drive away.

The stitches in my butt are very sore and sitting upright is a no-go. Lots of squirming and adjusting position happening over here at the moment. Thank God the stitches are dissolvable! I have a bikini cut about 10 cm long and about 6 laparoscopic cuts all over my tummy. They all look neat and I'm healing well from them.

So next steps, I'll see my Surgeon late next week and she will have the full results from the biopsy of the tumour. I have already been told that I will need chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The full details of this plan of action I will have after consulting with the Doc and the oncology team... Not Looking forward to that! This piece of information that was given to me is worth another post so I'll save it for then. Rollercoaster of emotions!

Anyway, that's been my fun filled week of excitement!! I'm so very very grateful to be typing this on my lounge (shifting positions every minute!) drinking my water, windows opened looking at some kangaroos hop by. I'm blessed and there is so much I am looking forward to this year. I will stay strong and continue to honour my beautiful self.

Until next time,

Sabrina xx

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