Perhaps I was a little naive, a little optimistic. I expected that with my surgery on Monday, I would be going home by Friday. This it turns out was just wishful thinking. The doctor who puts a stethoscope to my abdomen says he “can hear a little bowel sounds but the emphasis is on little” and then I begin to feel more and more unwell. My temperature rises and I am violently sick which is not easy when all I’ve had is fluids and a few tiny morsels of food. There is a danger of the join in the bowel not taking and leaking into the surrounding area so a CT scan is ordered. I’m put back onto clear fluids only, which as I can’t stomach anything else, doesn’t bother me at all. A new cannula has to be put back in my hand and a drip attached to make sure I keep hydrated. How I managed to consume the litre of disgustingly tasting contrast medium which was necessary for the scan, I don’t know but the intravenous anti-emetics enabled me to keep it down.
Everything happens so much quicker when you are an inpatient rather than as an outpatient. I am scanned and the results reported on in no time at all. Before long the doctor is talking to me behind the presumed soundproof curtains as I lie on my bed. The good news is the join in the bowel is holding but the bad news is the scan showed a large area of inflammation which they think may be pancreatitis. If this is the case it could have a detrimental effect on my blood sugars but they measure these and they are all fine. It eventually turns out to be gastritis which is treated with a magic medication which slows down the production of stomach acid. This little dip means that I end up staying in hospital for eight days rather than the five I had anticipated.
Most people wouldn’t see a successful trip to the toilet as the achievement that I do, but as I begin to feel a little better I sit on the toilet to pee (always sensible when you don’t have complete confidence in your bowels) and I am rewarded with an explosive expulsion of gas. Something a little more solid is soon to follow. Unfortunately this event was during visiting time and the acoustic amplification afforded by the wards toilet ensured my success was shared with as many people as possible. These small moments of triumph restore some of my self confidence and even though I know how well I have been looked after, it has been more than a week and I’m ready to come home. The doctors agree, I can go home, I’ve been in for long enough. Eager as I am to leave, it does take nearly the whole day to arrange everything. I need an appointment made with my GP’s surgery to have my staples removed two days hence and a bag full of medications to take out. At 4pm a porter arrives to wheel me away, which is good because I’m not sure I could walk the distance to the main hospital door yet. Soon I am ensconced in the car, pillow over my abdomen for protection and Sharon drives slowly (a novelty for her) out of the hospital and begins the journey home.