Journal: News & Comment

Tuesday, February 20, 2007
# 10:38:00 PM:

One down, one to go

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When I woke up from the anaesthetic around 9:30 this morning, I was shivering like someone standing naked on frozen Lake Winnipeg, but I wasn't cold. That was more annoying than the pain, but both soon subsided, and now I'm already home—I didn't have to stay overnight after all.

Here's a recap of today's events. Warning: skip this paragraph, or maybe the rest of the post, if you're squeamish. I talk about blood and stuff. (And hey, so much for not blogging!)

Just after 8 a.m., the hilarious and highly skilled colorectal surgeon Dr. Terry Phang—what is it with these funny ass doctors?—used a transanal endoscope to work inside my rectum and remove a chunk of flesh a couple of centimetres across, then sew me up in there. The hospital will biopsy the chunk, but so far no one thinks it is likely to be cancerous. The cancerous bit is further up my intestine and will come out in a couple of weeks. I came home late this afternoon and have so far successfully urinated once, which is a good sign that things are working.

This was my first experience with a full general anaesthetic, and other than the tremblies for half an hour or so, it was great. I went from St. Paul's Hospital surgical daycare into the OR, where the crew got me an IV, gave me an oxygen mask, and heard me say "okay, I'm going to sleep now." And then I came to in the recovery room. A little while later a nurse wheeled me down the hall into surgical daycare, where I had a chance to wave to my fabulous wife (who, I must say, looked particularly pretty today). Then I slept for awhile, had some ice chips, took some Ibuprofen, and slept some more.

Dr. Phang (pronounced "peng," by the way) and his team obviously did a great job too, because now with some Tramadol (check out the benzene ring in that molecular structure), I hardly feel any pain at all, and there's no bleeding. The nurses got me up to walk around a couple of times. I could not leave until I'd urinated, which I managed (very slightly) on the second trip to the bathroom. Then they brought me my clothes, I dressed myself, and an orderly wheeled me downstairs, where I got in the car around 3:30 and came home. I am extremely tired and have slept on and off most of the day, though I seem to be wide awake at 10:30 p.m.

Some stuff I found funny, though you may not. Just before I changed into my civvies, a nurse removed the IV catheter in my wrist that had provided me saline solution, anaesthetic, insulin, painkillers, and so on. But several hours earlier, before heading into the OR, I'd received some anticoagulants, so as I was about to put my clothes on, blood soaked through the bandage and dripped all over the floor. When I called in the nurse she looked alarmed, until I told her it was from my wrist, not my surgical wounds. But the dried blood on my hands gave me a nice battle-scarred look as I left the building.

On our way home in the car, I noticed that I was cranky, in a strange way. Every time traffic stopped (it was getting to be rush hour), I thought, Stupid damn drivers. Stupid traffic. There was construction on Pacific Avenue, which blocked us from proceeding for a couple of minutes. Fuckin' construction guys, I thought. There was a CD playing in the car, a song I don't know, but the chorus was repetitive and the singer nasal. I asked my wife to shut it off because it was irritating the hell out of me.

But now that I'm home and in bed and I've slept lots, and I've eaten oatmeal and carrot cake and raisins and wheat toast with butter (the best tasting oatmeal and carrot cake and raisins and wheat toast ever, by the way), and I've seen my kids and heard them pounding up and down the stairs and playing Wii, I feel good. Tired, a bit weak, a little owie, but good.

The doctor recommended I drink sugar-free Metamucil for awhile to keep things moving smoothly and avoid affecting the stitches. My wife mixed some with Diet 7-Up this afternoon, and it too tasted wonderful. I downed my painkillers and antibiotics with it. Tomorrow I'll call Dr. Brown, my main surgeon, and make an appointment to see him in a few days, and discuss my next, more major surgery, where he will remove my cancer. In the meantime, I have to do some Kegel-style clenching exercises. Woo hoo.

My biggest fear about the next procedure? Having to drink that damned GoLYTELY again. Yuck.


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