Monday, September 6, 2010

1st week recovering in the hospital

My first week in the hospital has been a roller coaster of ups and downs. People want to know how I am doing, and for the most part I am doing well, but there are days when I am in a lot of pain.

Aside from what I already wrote about waking up the first day after surgery, it should be noted that everything was not a cup of tea. For example, they did not have me hooked up to any medicine in the I.C.U. so when I first opened my eyes after surgery, I could feel every ounce of physical pain in my stomach. I felt like I was going to die! I remember yelling at the nurse in the I.C.U., asking her why I was not hooked up to any pain meds. I tried to apologize to her later, but she didn't respond very well. Instead of explaining the situation to me, she decided to attack me for not being married to Chris.

It's true, Chris and I are not married, but I tell everyone at the hospital, "Even though we aren't married, it's like we are." Christiana is much more than my girlfriend. We live together, we take care of each other, and we would do anything to make each other happy. I don't know where my life would be without her, and I suppose a lot of people think we should be married, but let me ask you a question: How many successfully married couples do you know? Chris and I know very few combined, so we do what works for us. We have been together for over 5 years and we work, Why fix what isn''t broken?

The I.C.U. nurse didn't see it that way. She felt we were an abomination to God, and she wasn't shy about letting us know about it. Welcome to Utah! Ha ha.

I was kept in the I.C.U. for 24 hours, which is standard after a pancreas transplant. They had to closely monitor my activity and make sure I was healing appropriately. I was, so I was released to the 10th floor of the patient tower the following day. Before I left, I was given a bed bath by three attractive young nurses. It was almost like a 5-star hotel. Wow!

I have a tube stuck down my nose and into my stomach which prevents me from eating or drinking. Fluid is constantly sucked out of the tube and into a waste bin somewhere behind the hospital wall. It is neat to watch, as well as disgusting. Every time I swallow, I can feel the burn from the tube hit the back of my throat. This tube is considered the most annoying part of post-op surgery by a lot of people and I can see why. Perhaps today I will get it removed. We'll see. I have not been hungry or thirsty because they are intravenously pumping me with nutrition, but eventually I will have to start eating broths and jello.

I have another tube coming straight out of my stomach. This one is connected to a plastic ball that soaks up excess fluid built up around my new organs. It's not so gross. In fact, the fluid looks very similar to Koolaid, but I haven't tasted it.

The scar, or at least as much as I can see, runs straight down my belly. It is a neat red line with staples here and there. I don't touch it very often, mainly because there is a medical girdle wrapped tightly around my gut to keep everything in place. They first used a small girdle on me, which had to be changed to a large. The small girdle hurt and I complained about it until they took it off. The orderly didn't understand why they tried to use such a small size on me. I am a grown man.

Next, I have a catheter sticking out of my penis. This allows for constant urination into a bladder bag that hangs at the end of my bed. It's great because I can pee whenever I want and I don't need to get up or flush the toilet or anything. However, yesterday the bladder bag got some air trapped in the tubing and I couldn't pee. That really hurt. On top of it, I stopped passing gas a few days after I started. They say passing gas is a good sign of recovery, and something that comes at different times for different people. Well, I started passing gas on day 2, which impressed everybody, but then I stopped on day 4, which worried a lot of people. It also hurt very bad because I could feel big gas bubbles in my stomach but they wouldn't come out. Also, I couldn't pee. Yesterday was very bad. I was in so much pain from not being able to pee or pass gas, that I sent several visitors home, including Christiana. I did not want to be around anybody because I felt horrible. A few different people have told me that those of us who heal really well tend to have a "hump day" at some point where everything just goes wrong. Yesterday was my hump day and I hope to never repeat it again. Maybe the pain medication was causing me to stop passing gas. I've slowed down on hitting the pain med button and it seems to be doing the trick. An orderly changed mt bladder bag last night so I can pee again. WOW!!  Things aren't so bad anymore. I may still be in some pain, but my blood sugar numbers and kidney numbers are amazing. I am making a successful recovery so the trick now is to take it one day at a time and keep up the slow, gradual recovery. Yes?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention the I.V. needle sticking into the right side of my neck. I don't feel this one at all, nor do I ever see it, but they use it to draw blood at night for testing and sometimes they flush it with saline solution. That leaves sort of a nasty taste in my mouth. Yuck! Eventually, when I can get all of these tubes removed, I can take a shower. Ahhhh, I am not one to go more than a day without fully cleaning myself, however it has been tricky while in the hospital. The orderlies and nurses have been fantastic about washing me off, or letting me wipe ice cubes on my head or over my feet. They wash my hair while I lay in bed with some foamy bottled soap that they also use over my body. It's not the best but I guess it does the trick.

I can't wait to go home. I can't wait for all of this to be over and to start feeling like a billion dollars. I already feel great not being diabetic anymore, but I want to feel it without the drain of surgery. One of my nurses keeps telling me, "It's better than dialysis, isn't it, Jake?" Yes it is! And this too shall pass.


  1. How absolutely wonderful.. Im sorry for the pain, but I know it will get better.. IM so happy for you Jake, and Not a day goes by without me wondering how you are feeling... Grace

  2. How un-nurse like of the nurse. They're there to help us feel better and this one takes the most inopertune time to berate you. Geez!
    I got yelled at by one at Ogden Regional when I woke up from my ACL Reconstruction surgery crying, "You should have done the femoral block," she kept yelling at me. They got a
    Aside all that, sounds like things are going well. Hope to see you soon.
    Take Care....

  3. You are right Jake...This too shall pass and as bad as it is and has been for you, I can't wait for my turn!! Maybe I should stop reading your blog until I get transplanted! No, seriously, I like the heads up from someone who has been there and done that! Keep getting stronger!
    Listed 7/21/10 for KPTX

  4. Donna, thank you for writing. I forgot to mention that I got your email shortly after I woke up in the I.C.U. One of the staff members printed it out and Christiana read it out loud to me. It was very kind of you. Thank you!!

  5. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
    Man, I hope I don't get that nurse!
    I find what you have to say about the insulin very interesting. I have psoriasis and I was told that once I am on the immune suppression drugs I most likely will never have psoriasis again. That really surprised me.
    Take good care.