This is my journal of my gallbladder removal on April 14, 2011. It is probably not as graphic as any of my labor stories, but it is still about surgery, so if you're really squeamish, you may want to skip this post. It is also very long. But again, this is my journal. I need to write it down now that my brain is in better functioning order.
After nearly two weeks of pain off and on, at times extremely severe, (and this is not the first time in my life I've had pains) I was very happy to get my gallbladder removed. The ultrasound I'd had last Saturday clearly showed my gallbladder full of gallstones. Fortunately, they couldn't see any that had passed into the ducts or my pancreas, which would have led to a very serious situation. So this would be just a good ol' normal cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal).
In case you've never had a gallbladder attack, here's what it felt like (at least for me): like a massive rubber band just inside my rib cage, wrapping around all my major organs, slowly crushing them. These attacks would start about an hour or two after eating, and last for about four hours. Absolutely nothing would help--no stretching, no medicine, no squirming, no crying... nothing but waiting. Once I started eating fat free, the attacks were less frequent, but not gone. Tuesday night I had the last attack, and boy was it bad! At that point I didn't care what had to happen--this pain just had to end.
Wednesday we got word that I needed to be at the hospital at 7:30 and my surgery would start about 9. Thrill! My biggest fear regarding this surgery was Katie, and if she would eat from a bottle while I was out of it. I asked every doctor and nurse that I could about breastfeeding afterword, and they were very thoughtful. They thought the earlier time slot would allow me to get back to my baby, and since you do all surgeries fasting, this would also leave me less starving and able to produce milk better. I am very grateful for their thoughtfulness. My Anesthesiologist (more on him later) was particularly thoughtful about the breastfeeding aspect, and of great comfort in knowing that the medications would in no way hurt Katie, nor my milk production.
So, Wednesday night I had Cody give me another blessing, and I felt very calm. We got up early on Thursday, and I nursed and nursed and nursed as much as I could. We packed up the kids and the diaper bag and took them to my mom's house at about 7 in the morning. We gave them hugs and loves and then Cody took me to the hospital, arriving exactly on time.
We checked in at the front desk and they got us back to my room right away. They showed Cody all the goodies he could partake of and took my vitals. My temperature was very low, about 96.6 degrees, which was a slight concern. So once I was in bed, they brought me lots of warm blankets and a cool heating thing like a giant plastic bag that filled up with hot air over me. I felt toasty warm in no time, but my heartrate was still all over the place, usually very low in the 40's and 50's, but then spiking randomly to about 140. My blood pressure was also just on the low side, about 90 over 50. So they ran an EKG to make sure my heart function was good and found it was just perfect, just lower than normal. I got asked a couple of times if I ran marathons. I laughed. Me? Marathons? nope. But later the Anesthesiologist also mentioned that in the six weeks postpartum, the extra blood from pregnancy can still be floating around, slowing down heartrate and that it is totally normal.
Anyway. They placed my IV once they determined my heartrate would be okay, and we waited a bit. At about 8:30 my surgeon, Dr. Anderson, came in and talked to me. He said they'd already done one gallbladder surgery that morning and were "on a roll!" They were a little ahead of schedule and would be getting to me in about fifteen minutes. I told him let's pull this thing! Next, the Anesthesiologist, Dr. Mortensen, came and talked to us. Aside from the other things I've already mentioned above, he also talked about the general procedure and had me sign a consent form for the anesthesia. This is my third time under general anesthesia, and since I've never had a bad reaction, I wasn't concerned at all.
So after that, the nurse and Dr. Mortensen wheeled me in my bed down to the OR. I did kiss Cody goodbye, of course. As we got closer and closer to the OR, it got colder and colder. I asked them why they kept it so cold, and they said it is to lower blood flow and to keep things sanitary. Sounded good to me. We left my bed in the hallway and I walked into the very cold OR and laid down on the bed in there. More vitals were taken and I tried to make a few little jokes about life and whatnot. Then Dr. Mortensen gave me some Oxygen and told me to breathe deeply. He hooked up my IV anesthesia, and after a minute or so, I felt some burning in my left hand (very normal) and my eyes got very heavy.
I was having a dream and being woken up. I thought I was at home and still in bed, so I felt a little grumpy about being woken up without purpose. I realized my belly hurt and I was very cold, and my eyes were very blurry. I was having a very hard time waking up this morning! But then a nurse said, "Lisa, your surgery is over. You are waking up now." Oh yes! I just had gall bladder surgery! I told them I was very cold. The nurse asked if I was in pain, and how much. She gave me a couple doses of Fetanyl in my IV, which helped but not all the way. I shivered and shook. They had me back in my bed with warm blankets and that heating bag, but I was still very cold. The nurse explained it could also be my muscles just coming back awake. I didn't feel very awake or out of pain when they wheeled me back to my room, but when I could make out a very blurry Cody's shirt, I tried to give him a big smile. He said I looked fragile. I just felt cold.
Once in my room they gave me some pain pills and another warm blanket just for my toes, which felt good. I got to pick some drink and I picked apple juice--my normal drink of choice for any time my tummy might hurt. Then came the struggle to keep breathing. I just couldn't remember to; especially once the pain pills set in. I would try to relax and my breathing would slow, so the monitor would beep saying my oxygen was low and I would breathe faster again. This went on for about an hour. They turned off the lights so I could rest. I sipped on juice occassionally, but my voice hurt and my eyes were still very blurry, so I mostly just rested. I did ask about the surgery, and about Katie. Cody reassured me that Katie had taken a bottle just fine and the surgery went very well. Yay! Then I wanted to go back to sleep, but my breathing required too much concentration.
After about an hour and a half, the nurse came back in and asked how I was feeling. I felt surprisingly good by then, and my eyes were coming back into focus. Another fifteen minutes went by and they asked me to try walking. So two nurses helped me walk down the halls. I was a little dizzy, but I didn't pass out or have any problems. I warned them that I was squirting milk and I might be slippery. They laughed. I love making my doctors and nurses laugh. Makes me feel like a cut above the normal patient. ;) After getting back to my room, they told me I could go home. They brought me a wheelchair while I got dressed. Cody gathered up our stuff, they wheeled me downstairs, and Cody got the car. I thanked them all for their help, and climbed in the car and we went home--only stopping by the drive-thru pharmacy to pick up my pain pills.
Mom was bringing Lee back from preschool right then, and just brought Katie to our house. She was having a big nap right then, so I rested some more. My breathing was becoming more natural and my eyes were clearer. The pain pills and the ice packs helped control the pain. Cody made me some chicken noodle soup and some jell-o for lunch, which I sipped on a little bit. Then I took a nap, and Katie woke up. She had a hard time latching at first, since I was very full, but then she nursed well. With my boppy pillow and ice packs under that, we were able to have some good nursing without a lot of pain. Joy of joys!
Since yesterday afternoon, I've been feeling better and better. Walking around helps. Since the surgery was laparscopy, there are some air bubbles in my body from the scope. Moving around works them out. Right now there's one aching in my right shoulder. It feels like a sore muscle. No biggie. The incision(s) hurt too, but not too bad. I had to sleep on my back last night, so that was kind of hard... especially after sleeping about four hours total yesterday in naps alone. Raychel brought the kids and Cody some dinner--so very kind! Cody put the kids to bed, as I'm not allowed to do any heavy lifting for about three weeks.
This morning we discovered our fridge isn't working very well. Urgh. Just what we need, right? So we'll call a refrigerator repairman. The kids are going back with my mom today so that Cody can go to work and I can continue to recover. And that, my friends, is how it went! I feel I am recovering well, the surgery went great, and we will hopefully be back to 100% very soon.