Monday, April 15, 2013

10 Things, One Tube

It's April 15 and I've officially had a plastic tube coming out of my stomach for a week and five days.  And a happy Monday to you, too!

Prior to the PD catheter placement surgery, I didn't know what to expect, as far as how I would feel after the surgery.  Everything happened so fast, it seemed.  I did a little research online, including my favorite type--video research on YouTube--but other than that it was hard to know how I would feel after the surgery and what the rest of my life would be like with this tube in my stomach.  And by "rest of my life" I kind of mean, next few weeks, months if things just end up not unfolding like I hope they will.  

My catheter is just about healed all the way up, and next Monday I start dialysis training for half a day, for a whole week.   A lot of people have asked me how I feel about this tube, what it looks like, do I feel like an alien, do I feel like an iPod (I think that's just my sister Danyelle though).  So here we go, 10 things I've learned in the past 12 days with a catheter in (with pictures at the end for people who want to get to know me a lil better ):

1.  Your abdominal muscles control everything.  And I mean everything.  Well, maybe not everything, but most things.  I hope that there will only be one other time in my life where I'm begging, pleading, and crying with my fiance to not make me laugh because last week, laughter became synonymous with literal gut wrenching pain.  And so did sneezing, walking, getting out of bed and going to the bathroom...both numbers.  

2.  Stomach surgery will cause night terrors.  The first night after my surgery, the pain medication and the numbing agents had worn completely off and I found myself at war with my mattress, trying  to get in a comfortable sleeping position. I should have known:  comfort and stomach surgery do not go together. I feel so bad for Ben because that first night I moaned and groaned and screamed "THEY CUT ME?! THEY CUT ME?! WHYYYYYY?!"  Why, indeed.

3.  Exercising is bad, at least right after the surgery.  Because my abdominal muscles were pretty much shot and the catheter in my stomach was all new and still sort of bleeding, anytime I wanted to sit up from the lying-down position in my bed, Ben had to help me and slide a bunch of pillows behind my back.

4.  Bacteria is bad too.  Two days after the surgery I visited Devi, my PD nurse, with my sister Danyelle. During that visit she removed the first bandage I was given, cleaned around the catheter exit sight and rebandaged it.  During this process, Devi removed each portion of the new bandage, the iodine and even her latex gloves from each package and emptied them onto a sterile surface. She emphasized the importance of handwashing when cleaning the exit sight and using sterile tools.  The catheter is a tube that has a closed end.  When that end is opened for too long, it provides a direct access line for bacteria to the inside of my stomach.  So taking all the necessary safety precautions when cleaning the exit sight is pretty important.

5. Filling my stomach with even a cup of dialysis solution feels weird.  During that first visit with Devi, she flushed my catheter.  That involves opening the tube (in a safe and sterile way), connecting it to the PD dialysis solution bag, and letting about a cup of fluid into my peritoneal lining, then draining it right after. And we repeated that for about 4/5 times.  She did this to make sure the catheter wasn't filled with blood or clotted.  When the liquid entered my stomach, I felt a little bit of cramping in my pelvic area.  I don't know if this feeling will go away with time.  I have to remember that my catheter is still new and is not all the way healed.

6.  Ben and I look funny in those SARS masks.  When cleaning the exit sight and doing dialysis, every person around the catheter has to wear a mask covering their nose and mouth, to prevent the spread of bacteria.  Ben and I gave ours a try when we had to change  my bandage together for the second time.  

7.  A shower is out of the question.  Since my catheter is still healing and covered in a bandage, I can't get that portion of my stomach wet.  So for the past 12 days, I've been bathing in about 5 inches of hot water in our bathtub.  

8.  Number 2 becomes number 0.  So this might be TMI but it's my blog so HA!  And this could be valuable information for anyone about to have surgery.  Basically, before you're put under for a surgical procedure they make you drink this highly concentrated ExLax to empty out your bowels.  Advice:  drink this when you're at home for at least a good six hours.  When the procedure actually happens, because of the anesthesia your intestines pretty much go to sleep.  They take a long coffee break and stop working.  After surgery, it takes a little while for the intestines to wake up.  And the doctors will tell you, before they wake up, take precautions!  Eat tons of high fiber foods and keep some "supplements" on hand especially if you've had stomach surgery. Or else the same way laughing and sneezing cause pain, going to the bathroom will also bring you the same amount of pain.  Real talk.

9.  I can still be cute with catheter.  I was worried about how I would look with this tube in my stomach, both in and out of my clothing. Hey, I'm human.  But surprisingly I haven't had any problems. And my stomach, which was significantly bloated after my surgery, went down to its normal size. 

10.  It's easy to forget.  Now that a lot of the pain has subsided, I'm starting to forget that it's even there.    Even when I lift up my shirt to get a glimpse at it, I think "oh that's not so bad." And I'm sleeping a lot better nowadays, able to sleep in my normal positions too.  Some days I think, I might actually be able to do this whole dialysis thing.

And NOW for the good stuff.  Zee photos.  The following pictures are rated PG and feature some brown skin and cords emerging from someone's stomach.  

Jewel, by day.

Jewel, the alien.

With this catheter, I can now drink all my sodas again...along with a lot of toxins and acid.