Laparascopic conversion

Tuesday 27th November 12:00
Was admitted to hospital around midday. The last couple of days have been somewhat eventful : Sunday our 3yr old was sick several times and again Monday morning,then Monday night my wife had the same so was unable to take me to hospital as planned. I also came down with a cold, and while relaying all of this to my surgeon I can clearly see him rethinking whether or not we should go ahead today. Even got to the point of me texting my wife at 1:30pm to say I might be about to come home, when the anaesthetist came to see me, did a quick assessment, said “you’ve got a cold, come on let’s get this cancer out of you!”

Half an hour later I’m walking to theatre. As I have a cold there is a chance my metabolism has slowed meaning my stomach may not be empty, and coupled with the fact my family have been ill there is an increased of me vomiting so the anaesthetist is going to do a Rapid Sequence Induction (glad I didn’t have time to read up about that beforehand!) which may leave me with very sore and tense muscles for a couple of days after. She spelt it out very clearly for me,maying that over the next 48 hours I’d feel like S.H.I.T. Still, better out than in….

Tuesday 27th November around 5:30pm
I wake a few hours later in a recovery room to a familiar face – the bearded man who removed my oxygen tubes following my colonoscopy is hooking me up to various things. I’m a bit more aware this time of my surroundings, and very quickly I find myself in a lot of pain. Pain like I’ve never felt before.

I learn that bearded man is called Barry, and there isn’t a nicer bloke you want to be looking after you in a recovery room. A very gentle reassuring hand on my shoulder, he tells me has just hooked me up with morphine and is giving me as much as he safely can as frequently as he can. I’m told I’m doing very well and it will ease in time.

The order of events are a little uncertain, but at some point I am wheeled back to my room, and I learn that he was not able to do the surgery laparoscopically. He started off that way, but hit a blood vessel and that combined with my size was making it difficult so he had to cut me open and compete the surgery open. Even then he said it was difficult, but he was able to remove everything he needed to.

Wednesday 28th November
Amazingly, I only sleep about two hours that night, and Wednesday daytime is only a marginal improvement, although the feeing that I’ve been stabbed repeatedly slowly subsides to a feeling that I’ve been pelted in the stomach with a sledge hammer.

My dressing is changed and I decide to look at my stomach. I expect to see a few inches of stitches but instead I see about 8inches of oozing metal staples. A little shock, but I’m able to look again in just a few seconds.

The physiotherapist comes to visit today and despite my protestations after about twenty minutes I am standing and half taken two very small steps forward and backward. My stomach feels likewise been stabbed again.

Drugs are bad, mmm’kay?
I hope no one is offended by any if this but I guess I should warn I get into some mild but blunt medical stuff here.
I’m hooked up to saline, two types of antibiotics, am having regular anti clotting injections, intravenous paracetamol, anti-nausea and patient controlled morphine. I also have an oxygen tube just to keep my oxygen levels up, compression stockings and some automatically inflating cushions strapped around my legs to keep my circulation going – these constantly inflate and deflate and are noisy and uncomfortable – a catheter, blood pressure cuff which goes automatically every hour waking me up if I’m not already, an oxygen saturation monitor and a nasogastric tube connected to a bag to keep my stomach empty. This last one is unusual as every few hours they aspirate my stomach through this tube. I can’t feel a thing, but they effectively suck the contents of my stomach out through the tube into a syringe and discard it. This is because my bowels aren’t yet functioning so prevents me from being sick because the small amounts of water I’m having are just sitting in my stomach.

I sleep about three hours straight tonight and manage to doze a fair bit for the remainder of the night. The staff are making my stay very very comfortable, are looking after me well and xplaiing as much as they can.

Thursday 29th November
I feel better again this morning. Through Wednesday and most of last night I was taking my morphine every five minutes (the most frequent it will let me take any) for much of the time but as dawn breaks I’m lowering this to about once every half a hour, if I haven’t moved.

I have physio again this morning and this time I walk across the room and sit in a chair for about a hour. I have my saline drip removed and so need to drink more water, and am offered a coffee but find the smell very slightly nauseating. After I’m back in bed, sitting a little upright, I have a few visitor and after lunchtime (no food, but still drinking water) this leaves me feeling very drowsy. I have the best two hour nap since Monday night.

I wake having not had morphine for a couple of hours and feel ok. I have my stomach aspirated again and then have the bag removed. The nasogastric tube remains just in case they need to aspirate again but the hope is to leave my stomach with something in it to see if any things starts moving. I haven’t noticed any movement – apparently the first thing I’m looking for should be mild wind – and am feeling mildly sick on and off so it sure how it’s going to go. I am hoping to get some good rest, and am relying less and less on the morphine so things are definitely moving in the right direction.

There is a different consensus of opinion as to when I’ll be coming home – the surgeon this morning felt I was making good progress and while he didn’t want to give any false hope did suggest I may be going home at the end of the weekend rather than Tuesday as originally planned. The nurses, my wife and I the other hand think it may be a few days beyond Tuesday! No point rushing these things and I’m not exactly bouncing off the walls!

One amusing thing this evening – while looking at my dressing this evening I noticed that the left side of my abdomen is considerably flatter now than the right! Obvious really, but seeing the evidence for the first time that a significant part of my digestive system has been removed was quite strange! Until next time…


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Having now re-read some of the doctors notes and letters I now understand a little more.  The cancer has grown through the bowel and affected some local lymph nodes.  No other cancer can be seen in any scans, but until it is removed and examined it is not possible to say.  I also have what is called an intussusception of the bowel, caused by the cancer, where the bowel kind of folds back on itself.  It can be quite serious I believe Continue reading

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ECG, FBC, cross-matching and questions questions questions

Was asked to come into hospital today for a “pre-assessment” – basically a lot of questions to assess my risk level for the operation. Had to give yet more blood (don’t they know I’m anaemic?!) so they had a sample to identify my blood group and to prepare for cross-matching should I need a transfusion. Cross-matching is apparently required to ensure that the blood I may be given isn’t going to react with my own – apparently even if you are given blood of the same type it can still cause problems and if it reacts the blood cells tend to clump together which doesn’t sound good. (Disclaimer – I am no haematologist and I could have this completely wrong!)

Was warned again of the risks of the operation, but my attitude is that it comes with the territory and so I’m not worried. The ‘biggie’ is a stoma, but its rare and if I am one of the unlucky ones even then it should only be for six months to a year. It has been mentioned that there are of course serious risks to any surgery – up to 5% of people do not survive the surgery, but I have not found myself daunted by this for two reasons: I am younger than the typical bowel cancer sufferer and this definitely counts in my favour, and the risks associated with doing nothing are far far worse.

My haemoglobin count is now 10.7 (normal is 13-17, my lowest was 8.1) which means its basically been flat for about three weeks which makes sense as I’ve been on and off iron – in preparation for both my colonoscopy and the surgery I have been asked to stop the iron. The doctors have been assessing today whether or not they want me to have a transfusion in advance and will let me know today if they decide I do.

Assuming not, the next step is to attend hospital next Tuesday at 11am. Luckily there are no pre-meds this time, I just have to not eat or drink after 7am. I will then be going in for surgery at around 1pm and am fortunate enough to be having my surgery performed by, and I quote, “the most skilled handler of laparoscopic tools in this country”.

A couple of hours later all being well I should start to come around. I’ve been warned that it is not uncommon to wake in a high dependency unit and not to worry if I find myself wired up to a multitude of monitors. I may be in there for a day or two and then I will remain in hospital until about seven days after the operation.

So that’s it until Tuesday. I’ve been a little overwhelmed by all the comments and messages I’ve had from everyone and am very very grateful to each of you for caring enough to follow my progress. You are all welcome to visit me once I am up to it. I have been called many things in the last few days – courageous; brave; dignified; inspirational… high praise indeed, but my intention initially was only been to get my thoughts on paper for my own benefit, but I have since found myself hoping that maybe I have inspired at least one person to take note of a change in there own body and to speak to someone about it. You know who you are.

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The results show

Saw Mr Arbuckle (call me James) this evening. Very very nice chap. He’s analysed my CT scan and is ready to explain the results.

The last few days my headache has returned – I now think I only thought it had gone due to the sedatives – it’s most definitely back. I’ve been back on the iron tablets since Sunday but because the life cycle of red blood cells is something like 100 days, it takes a week or two before it starts to have an effect, so I’ve actually been getting worse again by the day. I’m also weak and tired, and a little preoccupied. Continue reading

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I missed off some detail in my previous post – Dr Leahy has said that the cancer is small, most likely operable by key-hole surgery and I shouldn’t have any long term colostomy, so that’s a positive thing.  The growth is in the transverse section of my colon (bit that goes across the top) which apparently is the best place to have it. Other than outside of your body I guess.

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So what’s been happening?

Sometime back in September (I think – maybe earlier) I got a headache.

Nothing major, although slightly unusual for me as I don’t usually get headaches without reason – really the only headaches I ever get are due to a hangover, even lack of sleep or too much coffee doesn’t usually give me a headache. Thought little of it, but after a couple of days it was getting unpleasant. Continue reading

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