Friday, July 24, 2009

I'm Walkin'

Stacey says the first thing that I said after waking up from the surgery was "Alright! I didn't die on the table!" I then told my nurses that I loved them.

I am real hazy as to what was happening after that. Stacey told me that the surgeon told her that it went well, lymph nodes looked clean, I lost very little blood, but unfortunately he couldn't spare one side of the "boner" nerves - apparently there was a soft, sticky part of the gland that they were attached to. With that, my chances of getting an erection has now been reduced from about 60% (the surgeon's record) to about 20%. Ok, fine. I've said it all along - preserving the boner was not my priority, but I wasn't happy that the numbers have now changed.

I remember moving my legs to make sure that I now didn't have "Accidental Clown Leg" and they moved just fine! I don't think I mentioned this earlier, but I had to sign off on a second procedure the surgeon wanted to perform. It's called a lymph node dissection, and what happens is that after the prostate is removed, he wanted to take 10 sample lymph nodes from both sides of my groin area. He would dissect them, get a pathology report and if no cancer was present in these (the most likely ones to initially go bad), we could pretty much rest assured that the cancer has not gotten into my lymphatic system (which we don't want at all!)

But there are risks.....The first risk is just the usual "You might need a lot of blood if I accidentally nick an artery" Ho-hum. But the second risk is much more interesting!
There would be a small chance that he could damage a nerve that CONTROLS THE INWARD MOVEMENT OF MY FREAKIN' LEG!!!!

Ok, let's reassess the risks - incontinence, erection dysfunction, bleeding profusely, and now leg movement....WTF! Ok doc, I'm gonna mull this one over. Which I did, and with the advice of my very smart brother (risk is really small) and further discussion with the surgeon (only one case in the 90 he has performed and that one healed itself within a year) I signed off on it. My buddie Murphy came up with the insanely funny name of this syndrome and I'm really glad I don't have it!

I was rolled into the Recovery Room which consisted of about 10 beds, most of which had those curtain-type things you can pull around for some privacy. In the center of the room were nurse stations. Fortunately, I had a private corner room which actually had a door on it. The door mostly stayed open, though.

Once in the room, I think they let me sleep for a little and attached automatic compression leg...warmers..on each calf. This is to prevent blood clots which are not a good thing to get. They would constrict off and on which was a weird feeling, but it didn't bother me at all. What bothered me was the 24 hour death march the nurses soon forced upon me.

During the surgery, I was on an incline with my head pointing down. It gave the surgeons the best access to my innards. They also pumped my abdomen full of air/gases. Most people have little problem releasing these gases by walking around a little.

Not me. So I had to walk. For about 24 hours. It sucked.

So there I was, soon after major surgery, pushing my IV and catheter around on a pole. I saw patients arrive and leave. I saw about 3 or 4 shifts of nurses come and go. I saw a man that had the same procedure as mine get up, power walk a lap or 2, then dress himself (including putting on his own damn shoes), and leave. There were no windows so I had no idea what time of day or night it was (though there were plenty of clocks, all in military time).

Nothing was leaving my body. My stomach was bloated and distended which hurt my incisions (6 in all - 3 small ones on my left side, 1 on my right along with a drainage tube, and the largest incision underneath my bellybutton.). The nurses administered pain medication when I asked, but unfortunately the good ones (narcotics) were constipating, which is something I really had to avoid due to extensive and delicate needlework holding my vital organs together. I also learned that there is no medicine that can ease the pain of gas. It was all up to me.

Obviously I had plenty of time to get to know some of he nurses. They were all awesome, and they did their best to help me through this. I found the ones that I could joke with, and through all of this we could find reasons to laugh. Of course most of this had to do with my inability to fart, but farts are always funny. My favorite line I heard was "I hope I'm not behind you, when you do pass the gas, Mr. Ray!" It was funny, but also pathetic in a way. I was on this endless and tiring mission to rid myself of this damned gas, walking in circles forever, feeling about 90 years old. God - all I need to do is fart.

Stacey was in and out. She took Jennifer back into San Francisco, then went by our condo to check on Dexter. It was much more pleasant to be on the "Fart Watch Walk" with her by my side.

But as time moved on, it started to get less and less funny. The pain was building, as was my abdomen, as was my stress level. Nothing was working. I received a call from the doctor and I told him that in the past (if I had gas that was a bit stubborn), I would just walk around, massage my belly, do a deep knee bend and let 'er rip. He was not too terribly impressed. I asked him if anything could be put up my rectum to help release the gasses that seemed to be knocking on the door, and he responded that at the moment, my rectal walls were too thin to do anything invasive, without potentially terrible after effects. Keep walking.

I soon received a visit from his assistant. He told me that the doctor had to move my bowels around a lot during the surgery due to some adhesion problems (?) and when bowels are moved around that much, they can get temporarily paralyzed. Sweet.

I found it ironic that I could deal with the pain of stainless steel surgical blades, slicing and dicing my insides, but I couldn't handle the pain of....air.

Keep walking.

I was so exhausted by this point I could barely move, but I trudged around, enviously eyeing patients that were blissfully sleeping. I would wonder what each one's problems were. Some were obvious like he poor man with 2 broken legs, or the lady with an eye bandage. Some were mysterious, like the man that was brought in lying down on his belly. But no one else was walking. Just me, and at times with Stacey by my side.

Suddenly there was a new nurse in our ward, and I told her of my problem. She was a no nonsense type that looked over my chart, and seemed a bit upset that some of the nurses had been giving me morphine. At that point, she just took over. Gave me a drug that let me sleep for a couple of hours. Another nurse brought in a roll away bed for Stacey and we both got some much needed rest.

After that, we continued our walk and finally....I gave birth to Fred the Wonder Fart! Once he appeared, more were to follow. Stacey and I cheered and high fived each other. The nurse that was now on duty congratulated me. I apologized to the sleeping patients, even though they all seemed to have slept through the event(s).

I'm free. Free at last.

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