At the end of March, Karen and I were running some errands when she said she didn’t feel very well and would like to go home. When we got there, she laid down but it wasn’t long before she said she was feeling even worse and she would like to go to an “Instacare”. She thought maybe she had a bladder infection or something like that.
They ran some tests at the clinic and determined she did not have a bladder infection and suspected it may be something much worse. They thought she had diverticulitis and said she should go to the hospital emergency room as soon as she left the clinic and get a CAT scan.
Emergency rooms are always a case of hurry up and wait. We cooled our heels, had an initial screening, cooled our heels, had the CAT scan, waited some more and finally the doctor came out and took us to a consultation room where he showed us the results of the CAT scan. For me, who didn’t have any abdominal pain the whole process was pretty interesting. For Karen, less so.
The doctor showed us a movie of the scan as it ran down her body from her ribs to her thighs. He said, “These are the kidneys, here is her stomach, the small intestines, and finally the large intestines.” At the point where the trouble was he said, “See this dark area? That’s a diverticulum and worse yet, it has ruptured.” Luckily, it was in an area contained by the abdominal lining so the infection couldn’t spread very easily.
They admitted her to the hospital and started loading her up with morphine and “high-test” antibiotics. She ended up spending 4 days in the hospital before she was well enough to come home again. During that time she saw our family doctor and a surgeon. The surgeon said she needed to have the part of her intestine where the rupture happened removed. He said if it happened once, it was sure to happen again and the next time, it may be in a worse part of the abdomen and she could get peritonitis which would be very bad. He suggested that she have it done six weeks or so after she was recovered. We penciled the operation in for May 14th.
A bowel resection is a serious operation. They remove a length of the large intestine that includes all the naughty diverticula. Then they have to fit the two ends back together and seal them off. It is done laparoscopically. That means they make some small holes in the abdomen and inflate the gut so that there is plenty of room to work around the parts. In Karen’s case there were 4 smaller holes and one big one where the bowel section was removed. In all, 12″-14″ of the intestine had to be removed.
While the operation was going on, I waited in the waiting room. The procedure was scheduled to take about 2 hours but they reserved the room for and additional hour just in case they had any unforeseen complications. At the end of the three hours I still hadn’t heard anything and it was another half hour before I finally did. The doctor came out and said the operation went well. Everything was ok and that she would be in the recovery room for about an hour before they transported her to her room. I have to say I was pretty relieved. But the hour of recovery turned out to be 2 hours, then 2 1/2. I started worrying again and had the receptionist check to see what was going on. Finally she was ready to go to her room. Groggy of course, but awake. I didn’t stay too late because she wanted to rest.
We discovered that if I stayed till about 10:00 at night on most days, it was best if I didn’t get there much before 10:00 in the morning. That was our routine. So there I was the next morning looking at a wife that seemed as if nothing had happened to her.
We passed the time by having lots of electronics to play with. The hospital has wifi and as bad luck would have it, our wifi at home went out just as Karen went into the hospital. It wasn’t till she was home a few days before we got that fixed.
She couldn’t have anything to eat for the first couple of days. Then she could have clear liquids. Then thicker liquids. Last would be solid food. She had the operation on a Wednesday. Her doctor said that he had to be out of town from the following Friday till the next Monday and that his partner would be in to see her while he was gone. But he did say that she would be in the hospital 5 whole days not counting the day of surgery. That made the next Monday her earliest release date.
She was progressing nicely with her increasingly more solid foods and by Saturday she had done everything they required to release her but the actual eating of solid food. The doctor came in in the morning and said she was making great progress and when would she like to go home? In unison we said,”Today!” He couldn’t see why not so we were in our own home a few hours later.
Just a few days after we got home she wanted to go for a little walk in the country. Here’s how she looked. Pretty good, huh?
Over the next couple of weeks she took it easy, feeling pretty well. Not perfect, but pretty well. A few days ago she had the stitches take out and we don’t have to see the doctor again unless something goes wrong. She should be fully recovered by the time we want to go on vacation this fall.