Saturday, January 14, 2012

Banded with MS

I am now officially 8 days post operative.  Yes, I am the proud owner of a Lap-Band.  I feel great at the moment and have zero pain.  Between the pre-surgical diet and my week post op, I've already lost 30 pounds.  It was pretty funny, actually.  When my doc weighed me yesterday, he kept rechecking his notes and the scale going "How you lose this much in a month?".  I just laughed and replied "because I'm very committed to this".  At that point he insisted on checking me for signs of dehydration and malnutrition- but of course found none.  I assured him I am only doing exactly as I'm told, nothing more nothing less.  He then joked that if I continued on this path, they should make me their new spokesperson.

I am feeling pretty good and very optimistic.  However, I would be doing a grave injustice if I didn't include the rough spots I had to get through to reach this point.

The surgery itself went very smoothly.  Upon waking in the recovery room, I was immediately struck by the intense pressure and pain across my rib cage and abdomen.  I was fortunate to have an absolute angel of a recovery room nurse, named Sue.  She assured me it was most likely because of all the air they pump into the abdominal cavity during surgery, however to be safe, she did an EKG just to make sure it wasn't my heart.  The EKG came back perfectly fine and she proceeded to pump me full of pain meds.  The meds helped some, but as soon as I was coherent enough to really think about it, I realized this pain and pressure was more than the air pressure.  I was pretty sure I was also having the MS Hug.

Before even getting out of recovery, I was up walking myself to the bathroom.  Because of the pain and pressure breathing was very difficult, but thankfully, the incisions themselves (I have five of them, no stitches) didn't really hurt at all.  It turns out the hospital was rather packed last Friday, so I spent many hours in recovery while they waited for a room to open.  Funny thing is- I didn't mind at all.  As I mentioned already, Sue was absolute sweetheart, and I was perfectly content under her care.  She even drug a recliner into the tiny recover bay so I could sit up comfortably to help relieve some of the pressure and pain.  It always does my heart good when I find those in the medical profession with such kindness and compassion, as Sue had with me.

So I finally get to my room, only to discover I have a roommate.  Not just a roommate, but a very whiny roommate with a totally berated husband whom she bickered and bitched at constantly.  I knew almost immediately this wasn't going to be good and requested the shift nurse completely close the curtains surrounding my bed.  I am very thankful that due to the amount of Dilaudid they were pumping into me, I was able to sleep despite having to listen to dumb and dumber on the other side of the curtain.

Of course, it's a hospital, who actually rests in a hospital?  I say that sarcastically but at the same time truthfully.  Hospitals are a horrible place to rest!! If the constant commotion and noise isn't enough, without fail a nurse is sure to come wake you every 2 hours to take blood or vitals, and they don't care if you're asleep.  By 3am, I was more than a little cranky and very ready to get home into my own bed.

Early on when I got to my room, I told the nurse the pain I was experiencing was more than the surgery.  I explained I had Multiple Sclerosis and was experiencing the MS Hug, also known as girdle banding.  She looked at me a little blankly then offered more pain killers.  I politely declined and informed her I needed a muscle relaxer to make it stop, preferably a large dose of Baclofen or even a small dose of Valium,  She informed me "those drugs aren't ordered for your surgery".  I then reiterated the fact this had nothing to do with the surgery and everything to do with the surgery seemed to have angered the MS, and it was the MS that needed attention not my post surgical wounds.

I got nowhere and fast.  The next shift nurse came on, and I got the same blank stares and slightly clueless responses.  Between the roommate, the inability to sleep more than 2 hours without being woken, and the fact no one was "getting" the fact I needed an MS symptom treated I was getting frustrated to the point of downright snarkiness.  Yes, I know, I'm not proud, but it was just all going beyond my tolerance threshold.  With perfectly crappy timing, the roomie from hell piped up after the second nurse left "You have MS?  Does that mean you're going to die?"

{cue seriously annoyed look and try to resit the urge to lob random objects over the curtain at her}

I was far too tired and too uncomfortable to deal with her, so I simply replied "No, it means I have an incurable disease that might make life difficult but won't kill me.  However, if someone on this hospital staff doesn't get their head out of their ass and give me a damn Valium, I may kill one of them".

{cue blissful silence from the other side of the curtain}

Yeah I know, I'm horrible, but it shut her up didn't it?  (laughs!)

Just at the point I was sure I was going to lose it, the next shift nurse walked in.  She could tell I was very uncomfortable and offered more pain meds.  I once again stated my case (though I wasn't exactly cheerful anymore about it) and waited for the same useless responses I'd gotten from the last two.  Imagine my shock when instead she looked at my chart, then looked at me with concern "You have MS?  Tell me what you need to make the Hug go away".

I swear to you, I could hear little angles singing the Hallelujah chorus in my head.  Finally, someone was actually listening to me!  I simply replied "Valium, it'll stop the spasms".  She smiled softly and rushed off to call my surgeon.  She must've seen on my chart I'd been complaining about this all night and told him, because she came back very quickly with a Valium and said "here you go, I'm very sorry you had to wait so long for something so simple.  I know your doctor will be in to see you early this morning".

... and within a half hour of taking the Valium, the MS Hug was gone.

I thanked the nurse profusely, and when my doctor came in that morning, he apologized repeatedly that my issue wasn't treated sooner.  Mind you, I still had considerable discomfort from all the air they had pumped into my abdominal cavity, but at least the MS Hug had finally relented.

I went home later that day and proceeded to spend most of the next 48 hours in bed.  Even drinking a mere 8 ounces of water was extremely difficult.  I felt so bloated and still hurt to even breath.  I worried about dehydration and started to have second thoughts, but the 3rd day the pain and discomfort finally started to ease.  By Wednesday of this week, I was feeling great and not in any pain at all.  Oh and if anyone reading this having laproscopic surgery on the abdomen?  Be prepared for this nasty side effect and be sure to walk as much as you can tolerate.  You can't "pass" or burp that air out because it's not in your digestive system, it's in your abdominal cavity.  It has to be reabsorbed by the body and walking is really the only thing that seems to speed that process along.

So, that brings me to now.  30 pounds down, still on a diet of only liquids, but feeling surprisingly good.  Here is my little piece of advice to any other MS'ers that are facing a hospital stay unrelated to the MS: In advance, be sure to make the staff aware and understand the necessity to treat any MS symptoms that arise separately from the reason you're being hospitalized.  A lesson I learned the hard way.

Until next time, be well all :)