Surgery: Excellent; Anesthetic: Not so Good!

The surgeon preformed a laparoscopic colon section abstraction followed by a resection. He made four small incisions in my abdomen and a 10-cm incision hidden in the pubic hair. All incisions are already healing well and the pain and discomfort is ebbing.

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My surgeon was very pleased with the procedure: there was only one growth in the intestine and the lymph nodes look normal. He removed the cancerous area with good margins and an adequate number of lymph nodes to determine the stage of the cancer. That tissue is sent off for a pathology analysis, which is a microscopic review of the removed tissue. The pathology report is conclusive in determining whether the lymph nodes have any cancerous invasion at the microscopic level. When that report comes back, I'll know for sure whether the cancer has been completely removed or that it has invaded the lymph nodes. The pathology report will be available the middle of February.

The thing that really brought me low was my reaction to the anesthetic. I had severe nausea when I came out of the anesthetic and that can be very dangerous for pulling apart the resection. If that happens, the entire body cavity can be contaminated and that can be fatal.

It was important for the anesthesiologist to stop the nausea so she tried various meds but they we're not workingso she kept trying. Finally, the meds worked but they also halted my automatic breathing response. I remember this alarm beeping to the right above my head and the nurses calling to me, Claire, wake up you have to breathe. Take a few deep breaths. Good. Again and again. Hour after hour. I was very drugged I didn't remember much; it was all jumbled.

They kept me in the recovery room for five hours then wheeled me to the ward. The ward nurse took a long look at me and said, No way, she's not ready I can't monitor her every minute. You have to take her back. They wheeled me back to the recovery room and thankfully the movement brought me to a higher level of consciousness that kick-started my automatic breathing in a strong way. After another hour of one-on-one monitoring, I was admitted to the ward. The worst was over.

The only other hick-up I had was a temperature spike on day two so the doctor decided to keep me in the hospital another night for observation.

February 3 came around and it was time for me to go home. I felt anxious about leaving the hospital.

I left anyway when Ed came for me and it was a big relief to get back home, up the mountain. We chatted for a few minutes and I went for a rest. When I came back out, Ed had arranged fresh flowers in a vase on the table and a fire was crackling in the fireplace.

It was time for a shower. I stood under the water with my eyes closed and the water pouring over me imagining all the stress and hospital smell and residual drugs being washed away. Ohh.. it felt good.

Suddenly, an image surfaced in my minds eye: the anesthesiologist standing in front of me wringing her hands with a look of utter distress, saying, 'I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry.'

Fear coursed through my body. I stood there shaking. The whole recovery room scene played itself out again while I shuddered.

It took me the better part of that afternoon and evening to calm myself, cry, be held by Ed, talk with my sister Ellen, and reconstruct what happened in the recovery room. I couldn't get a clear picture of the level of danger I had been in the anesthesiologist had been so upset and the nurses had been so calm and persistent.

Next morning I phoned my nurse sister-in-law Lynn. She explained I had been hooked up to a pulse oximeter that is what had been beeping. She also explained I never been in danger of dying and my reaction to anesthetic, although not common, does happen. She said it sounds like the crew did everything they should have done to monitor me and keep me safe. Later that same day, I had an appointment with my family doctor, who confirmed Lynns assessment.

However, there is another danger I may have inhaled into my lungs some liquid or solid from my stomach when I was vomiting. If so, it may take days or weeks for the tissue in the lungs to react and develop a very ugly type of pneumonia. My doctor listened to my lungs; they we're clear but I had a sore throat and a cough so she issued an antibiotic prescription as a precaution.

I'm taking it slow but sure I know that way is best overall. No jumping or running for me for a while, but very easy walking a few times a day; it's important to keep moving.

My experience in the recovery room with the anesthetic has really shaken me. I'll be gentle with myself and allow the healing to take place on the emotional level it will come.

It feels so totally good to be back up the mountain the peace of the pine trees is balm for my soul.

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Posted in Real Estate Post Date 08/05/2022


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