Friday, August 24, 2012

How It Went…

I'm glad to be home from the hospital. I've said it before and I'll say it again… there's no place like home! I definitely can't complain about anything since I got excellent care while in the hospital, but at the same time, there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed, being in your own environment and doing things according to the routine that you're used to.

My mom and I left for the hospital on Tuesday morning about 8:30 AM since we needed to be there at 9:30. After we checked in we waited in the waiting room for about an hour before being taken upstairs to the pre-op area around 10:30. I was transferred out of my wheelchair to a gurney, I got undressed and a nurse came over to start asking my mom and me the long list of routine pre-surgery

After we answered all of the questions the nurse tried to start an IV. I always dread this part of being in the hospital since I'm an extremely hard stick since I have the TINIEST veins and I always fear that they won't be successful. The nurse didn't have any luck, so an anesthesiologist came over to take a peek at my arms. After looking for a while he found a tiny vein told me not to move a muscle while he stuck me. I told him I'd my best not to move! He gave it a shot and was successful. Whew!

My urologist, Dr. Brandes, came over to talk with my mom and me. He ordered some IV antibiotics as a precaution to guard against any bacteria that might stirred up in the operation. I have to say that I love my doctor so much! I've been going to him since I came home from rehab in the beginning of 2004. I actually wasn't that crazy about him at first because he doesn't have the best bedside manner. He's very quick, get to the point and not exactly warm and fuzzy. But we've been through a lot together over the years, and now I just love him!

I had a huge kidney stone that he removed in 2008. The surgery turned out to be much more difficult than anyone was expecting and I almost died. As Dr. Brandes put it, I was "teetering" on the edge between life and death and he said it could've gone either way. I think he's learned a lot from me over the years, and now any time I have any sort of problem or procedure he's always extremely cautious with me. Better to be safe than sorry, right?! Dr. Brandes has actually become much more personable over the years and even jokes with me now. When he came over to see me in the pre-op area on Tuesday he told his resident he was "going to see his girlfriend Heather" and that he and I have grown up together over the years. I laughed when he said something about unsuccessfully trying to kill me a few years ago (in 2008).

Dr. Brandes told us that the plan was to remove the kidney stone in my left ureter and then go after the 1 cm stone in my left kidney. He was going to use a laser to break the 1 cm kidney stone into smaller pieces, and then remove the pieces with an instrument with a little basket on the end of it. It sounded like a plan and I hoped that it would all go according to plan.

My mom and I waited in the pre-op area for hours because the case before mine took an extra long time, so we had to wait our turn for the OR. I was glad that my mom and I had taken a book with us to read to help pass the time. I had no idea we'd be waiting so long, but that's the way it goes in hospitals. I was finally taken to surgery about 2:45 PM. My mom went to the waiting room and she got a call about 3:40 PM that the surgery had begun and was going well.

Dr. Brandes called my mom just before 6 PM to tell her that the surgery was over. He explained that things didn't go exactly as planned. He successfully removed the kidney stone from my left ureter and then went to go tackle the 1 cm stone in my kidney. When he got into my kidney he found out that it wasn't a 1 cm stone after all like he was expecting from what he saw on my x-rays, but instead it was a cluster of hundreds of  tiny kidney stones (measuring 1 mm to 3 mm). He cleaned out the stones from the upper pole of my kidney (whatever that is), but said that he couldn't get all of the stones out of the middle and lower poles. He said trying to gather all of the tiny stones in the basket instrument thing was like putting sand in a colander (since they were so small and just kept slipping through the holes in the basket). By the time I'd been in surgery for more than two hours Dr. Brandes decided to call it a day.

So the surgery was semi successful. There are still lots of kidney stones in my kidney and Dr. Brandes said that he wants to think about the best way to remove them without stirring up a lot of bacteria that will get into my bloodstream (that's a sure fire way to get me septic). After the surgery was over I went to the recovery room. I usually wake up from anesthesia with no problems, but I had a much more difficult time of it on Tuesday. For some unexplained reason I had tachycardia (rapid heartbeat) as my heartbeat was in the 140s which is much higher than my usual heartbeat of somewhere between 60 – 80bpm. Blood labs were taken and an EKG was done to see if either of those things would explain my rapid heartbeat. We never got a definitive answer, but my heart rate stabilized after a few hours.

After surgery I was quite agitated and tired and I don't remember a lot of what transpired in the recovery room (which is unusual for me since I usually perk up right away). I was pretty out of it, but not so completely out of it to not recognize Dora Lee, a nurse who had taken care of me when I was in the hospital four years ago. I guess that's just my steel trap memory for you! I was also pleased that I didn't wake up to burning eyes (for some reason I have an awful reaction to the adhesive that they use to tape your eyes shut during surgery). I told the anesthesiologist about the awful burning reaction I usually have, so he said he would put some saline soaked gauze on my eyes and then put the goggles on top of that and adhere them  to my face with Steri-Strips instead of the adhesive on the goggles. It did the trick of protecting my eyes without burning the heck out of my skin. (Thank goodness!)

After more than four hours in recovery I was finally stable enough to be taken up to my room (it was around 10:30 PM). I was pleased to see that the nurse that would be caring for me that night was Erin, one of the nurses that cared for me when I was in the hospital two weeks ago. She was so good to my mom and me, so I was very grateful to have her back. I got a horrible night's sleep that night because I couldn't get comfortable. First off, I was freezing! I woke my mom up and asked her to put another blanket on me and to adjust the temperature in the room since it was quite chilly, but then a few hours later I woke up and was incredibly hot. I was so uncomfortable that it was difficult to sleep, not to mention that my muscles wouldn't quit spasming. I hadn't been allowed to eat or drink anything on Tuesday since I was having surgery, so that meant that I'd missed all of my medications for 24 hours (including baclofen, the medication I take to control my muscle spasms). My body just twitched and jerked all night long and well into the next day until I'd had several doses of my medication.

The plan was for me to go home on Wednesday, although it depended on how I was doing. My white blood cell count was slightly elevated on Wednesday (which can be indicative of infection) so Dr. Brandes conferred with his residents and they all decided it would be best to keep me for an extra day just to be safe. I wasn't thrilled at having to stay, but I wasn't surprised, either. I just tried to make the best of it on Wednesday. I was extremely tired, but any time I tried to sleep I couldn't fall asleep, so I basically rested all day. My mom and I read some more in our book and watched TV together. Thank goodness the hospital lets my mom stay with me! It's really only in their best interest, though, if I have someone stay with me that knows me/my care (like my mom or younger sister Chandra). That way they can help assist me when I need something which in turn helps the nurses. I would hate having to stay at the hospital all by myself. It's not like I can push a call light to summon the nurse if I need help, and even if I could, I know explaining exactly what I'd want/need would be frustrating.

As Wednesday went on I felt better and better. That evening I asked for a sleeping pill since I'd slept so poorly the previous night and it did the trick. I slept wonderfully! By the time Thursday rolled around I was ready to bust out of the hospital. When the doctors rounded early that morning I told them I was more than ready to go. They said that my numbers looked a lot better and that I was free to go as soon as me nurse drew up the discharge papers. Chandra came to the hospital a little bit later that morning to help Mom get me dressed and we made it home about 1 PM.

Thankfully I fared well through the surgery and my time in the hospital. I'll have to have another surgery in a month or so after my doctor decides how he wants to treat these small stones. I look forward to getting that done so that I can put all of this kidney stone/hospital business behind me for a little while.

My friend Kellie made me some "nurse bait" for me when she found out I was going to the hospital. It was so cute and very thoughtful of her!


jamie @ [kreyv] said...

Sorry you had to stay longer than planned! Yuck! At least your eyes aren't hurting. ;) Glad you're home!

Kate said...

So glad to hear you are home! I actually wrote Chandra a message last night inquiring about how it went. You can let her know I read the post, and I know all is well. :)

Tina said...

I will keep you in my prayers. Feel well soon friend.


Elaine said...

I'm SO glad that is over for you and that you are comfortably at home. Home sweet home:-)Thanks for sharing your experience.

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