"The trick is to enjoy life. Don't wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead."
Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

May 1, 2010 Visit to the ER.....Open Colectomy

I have been debating for a long time about whether or not to actually tell this little story. However, this is pretty much the extent of my journal/scrap booking so I figure I can do whatever I want.

May 1st was just like any other Saturday.....or so we thought. Around 4:30 I got up off the couch and was surprised when I had a strong pain in my abdomen. It wasn't like being sick to my stomach or the normal cyst pain I am used to. Then my stomach started swelling. I thought I was super bloated, but couldn't really think of any reason why that would be happening unless I was super constipated or something. I had Austin call my mom and she thought that maybe he should go to the store and get me some milk of magnesia. He did, and as well was having me drink a ton of water. The pain continued to get worse, and was more than I could really stand without doing something about it. I seem to have a super high pain tolerance but was on the verge of really not being able to handle it. Basically it felt like all my insides wanted super bad to be on the outside.

I finally told Austin I needed to go to the hospital. Getting me into the car was quite a task since I could now no longer stand up or sit down. I was basically walking bent over looking at my feet. We ended up heading towards St. Lukes Hospital about 7 miles from our house. I even freaked out at Austin when he stopped at a yellow light. We pulled up to the Emergency Room around 6:30 pm and Austin jumped out to help me inside. A man was walking into the ER and stopped, he looked like a paramedic. He told Austin he would help me inside so Austin could park the car. I was super glad he was there because we were able to bypass the regular checking in. he walked me straight back to where I needed to be. By the time Austin got in and helped me into a hospital gown the skin across my stomach and abdomen was completely taught. There was no give at all. They couldn't give me any pain meds until a doctor saw me. I think the nurses thought I was a super wimp or something because they kept treating me like I really shouldn't be in pain. It was very frustrating.

Finally a doctor came in. and checked me out. He wanted to know what side the pain was worse on. He did several tests and then said he wondered if it was my appendix. He told them to give me some morphine and ordered an MRI. They ended up giving me three doses of morphine without any pain relief. Then they gave me two doses of something that was supposedly stronger than morphine, but this also did nothing for the pain. It just made me tired and stop moaning.

Before I went in for my MRI the nurse told me that I was probably just constipated and that they would most likely give me a really strong laxative and bring in a portable toilet for me to use. I went in for the MRI around 9:30, which was awful because I no one was there to help me off the hospital bed except for the technician. It was quite the ordeal since any movement at all was excruciating. They told me it would be about an hour before they had the results back.

At 10:15 the doctor rushed in and said that the problem w
as more serious than they expected, and that I would need to go into surgery immediately. He said they already had people upstairs getting the operating room ready and that the surgeon was on his way down to explain what was wrong.

Dr. Barressi came in, introduced himself and explained what was wrong. Basically the large intestine is attached to the wall of the abdomen with little fibers at about 1 inch intervals. Mine had stretched out to 5 inch intervals, causing my large intestine to become very loose, and it had flipped over and was pinched off on both ends. (Later Austin apologized for making me drink so much water and take laxatives, since this probably only made everything worse.)

They got me ready for surgery and wheeled me
upstairs. By 10:45 we were getting ready. Austin gave me a kiss and told me he loved me and then I was out. The surgery was supposed to take 45 minutes to an hour. It actually ended up taking 2 hours. A nurse took Austin to a waiting room where he called both our parents. Aust later told me that after the first hour he was getting really nervous since no one had talked to him yet. Finally the doctor came in and told him why it had taken so long. He told Austin that he had no idea how I had handled the pain, since I had never cried since leaving our house, just made all sorts of crazy involuntary moaning noises. He said that once they opened me up they had to make the incision bigger because my colon was so pinched and stretched out it was purple and covered in stretch marks and said that had we come in any later it would have burst. They took out my appendix, and 1/3 or 3 feet of my large intestine. As well they told me that I had some cysts that had worked there way out of my ovaries and they had also cleaned those out.

They woke me up around 2 in the morning and took me to Austin in my room. I was so excited to see him.....and then to go to sleep. We had so much immediate support from family. Austin's parents were going do drive up the next day (Sunday), but realized they would just be sitting in the hospital room with us. My sister Jordan also called and was ready to drive up that day. However, she talked to my mom who had booked a flight out Monday. Whitney and Hallie were also visiting my parents that weekend and were able to fly out with my mom because cute Grandma and Grandpa Tanner bought her a ticket.

Ken and Mari came Sunday to visit us at the hospital and Ken helped Austin give me a blessing. Ken and Mari also picked up my mom, Whit, and Hallie at the airport. Later on Rick and Sherri also came and visited with us. My mom was able to stay at Rick and Sherri's when she wasn't at the hospital with me. And Aaron, Whit, and Hallie stayed with Ken and Mari. Everyone was so eager and ready to help.

Sunday night Austin was so tired. He had been awake so much the first 24 hours. He fell right asleep and I couldn't even wake him up during the night, I even threw things at him, but missed. I ended up calling a nurse to help me.

Mom and Whitney arrived the next day. My mom stayed with me for the next couple nights in the hospital so Austin would be able to go home and shower and get ready for work the next day. She was so great since she had to get up with me and help me every time I had to go to the bathroom after they took out my catheter.

Austin's boss was so understanding and great. Austin had asked him if he should take a vacation day or sick day for the Monday he missed. His boss said, "I'm pretty sure you were here Monday." They were so great. Austin would go to work in the morning, then come up to the hospital round 10 or so in the morning and stay until about 2 or 3 o'clock. Then he would head back to work and come back to the hospital round 5 or 6.

Whitney and Aaron were so great. Whitney was determined to stay a night in the hospital with me. I totally didn't want her sleeping on a hospital cot since she was 8 months pregnant, but she was determined. She was so good to get up with me and help me.

Originally the doctor thought I would be able to go home on Wednesday, but ended up not releasing me until Friday afternoon.

They had me on oxygen for most of the week. It
was super frustrating to feel fine, but have an alarm go off saying you're not getting enough oxygen.
I was a little distraught when i saw how swollen my stomach was.....something the doctor told me would go away with time. We're still working on it. My sister Jordan told me that her stomach looked very similar to mine after she had delivered Deac. So apparently I have the aftermath of having a baby.....without the baby.
These pictures were from after my shower. I was super surprised how un-awkward it was for my husband and my mom to have to help shower me at the same time. My friend Lindsey told me I should ask Austin if it was awkward for him. He said it really wasn't because at the time he just did what he had to do.
I was able to come home from the hospital on the afternoon of May 7th (my birthday). I'll admit it wasn't the way I'd expected to spend my 25th birthday, but at least I got to come home and not spend it in the hospital. Kenny, Mari and their kids put some cute posters up with balloons and treats before we came home. They were super cute and made my day.

My mom made me a birthday cake as soon as we got there. She made sure it was super soft since I was on a soft food diet for the next four weeks.
So many people brought and sent me flowers. Allied Waste sent a beautiful bouquet, but somehow it went missing at the hospital, so it is missing from the picture.
My mom and dad were both so amazing during the whole ordeal. My mom made several soups and then blended them up for me so I could have something worth eating. She made enough to put in the freezer along with sweet potatoes and squash so I had plenty of meals once she left. She took such great care of us. She made so much food, Austin hadn't eaten that well in a long time. She made me all the jello and pudding I wanted and was continually doting on me. She was with us for two whole weeks. The longest period of time my parents had been apart in 26 years. My dad called and checked in on me several times during the day. He even sent cards to my mom and I. Mine was a super sweet get well card and my mom's was a mother's day card since she was at our house on mother's day. She cleaned and did our laundry, went on walks with me, grocery shopped, and whatever else we needed. And she did it all with a smile.

I don't think Austin and I could ever repay her for everything she did for us.

Hallie was one of my favorite little visitors. At first after she, Whit, and mom arrived at the hospital she was pretty nervous. I quickly took off my oxygen because I remember being little and freaked out when I saw people with oxygen. But she immediately started saying, "Owie, owie, owie." and pointing to me. The next day she did the same thing and had to be taken out of the room because she was so upset. But later on Whit and my mom went on a walk down the hospital hallway with me. We walked past the waiting room where Aaron was hanging out with Hallie. Whitney picked her up and Hallie pointed to all my IV bags. Whitney told her they were big water bottles, and she was fine after that. Austin said that I would light up every time she came into my room....and she definitely was a fun little visitor.
All my little visitors ended up playing with the birthday balloons the Tanner family left me. They proved very entertaining.
Jordie and Deacon came up to help during week two of being home. It was fun to watch and sort of play with Deacon from the couch. One thing I was for sure supposed to do everyday was take walks. Walks were supposed to help keep my system up and running as well as get me off the couch. It was definitely fun taking walks with Deacon. He made them especially interesting. There was a small park in our neighborhood we took him to. Mom and Jordie played with him while I sat down and took a break.
Deacon and Austin ended up spending a lot of time together. Deacon loves to throw rocks into any sort of water. Austin spent at least one solid hour outside with him one day. They came back inside and Austin went into our bedroom for a second. Deacon came around the corner looking for him saying, "Auster? Auster?" So we pointed him in the direction of the bedroom.....he came back out a couple of minutes later looking like this.
Austin couldn't come to the "staple removal"appointment but he did ask my mom to take some pictures for him. At the appointment the doctor told me that I no longer had to eat my soft foods diet. He also told my mom and I that if he had just walked into the ER and seen me he would have automatically assumed I had a pregnancy gone wrong. That is how swollen my stomach was. He told me they use really small titanium staples to hold my intestines back together, and that the stitches used to sew my stomach muscles back together wouldn't dissolve for a whole year.
A small example of the tasks my mom and sisters worked on. They took all the heavy things I couldn't lift out of my cupboards so I could still bake. I wasn't supposed to lift anything over 5 lbs for at least six weeks.

Austin took such good care of me the whole time. He was super supportive and doted on me night and day. After I got home from the hospital I couldn't sleep in our bed because it was to tall for me to get into. Austin slept on the floor next to me because I didn't want to sleep in the front room by myself. He even picked up all his sleeping bags, blankets, and pillows before he would go to work. After my mom went home he also came home everyday to check on me and get me something to eat for lunch. The picture below is one of the few times he got to rest.
The following picture is not very flattering at all......however it shows the 6 inch scar down my stomach. I wish a little bit, that it was more straight, but then they would have had to cut directly through my belly button.
I can honestly say I would never wish our little experience on anyone. I was on a soft food diet for several weeks, and on the couch for a complete month. I couldn't lift things over 5 lbs for six weeks. This was something I figured was a little overboard, until I tried to lift a laundry basket about four weeks into it. Then I realized they were not kidding. The most unexpected thing for me was how long it would take for my stomach muscles to even allow me to sit up. It wasn't until halfway through July where I felt like everything was back to normal.

We had so much help and support and well wishes from family and friends. Also the nurses and doctors at St. Lukes were amazing. They even sent me a card. We had lots of yummy meals brought in my the ward. We feel so blessed to have had everything work out. Thanks to everyone.....we love you!


Chelsie said...

your family is amazing shawn. I heart you! i love all the new updates..eh i have so many comments i think i will just write you an email. love ya

Clayton Natalie Kynlee said...

Oh my goodness Shawnee! You poor thing! I'm so sorry! I'm glad you are "better" now but oh my gosh that is awful! You don't really realize just how much you use your tummy muscles until something like this happens. after my c sections with Kynlee I couldn't use them for about 2 weeks so I can somewhat imagine what you went through... not really though. I wish I would have known so I could have helped you. :( I'm really glad you're doing good though. How is your scar looking now? I bet its looking better!

April said...

Wow Shawnee I had no idea that you'd been through such an awful ordeal. I'm glad your doing better now, and I'm sorry you had to experience something so terrible.

Matt and Jess said...

I'm so sorry that you had to go through that. I hope that your stomach can mend quickly, isn't it amazing how much we don't realize that we use our abdomen muscles? Your mom sounds like the greatest lady, taking so much time to help take care of you.