Get Well Soon: My Recent Hospital Stay
March 17th: I’m admitted to the hospital due to a bowel blockage
March 19th: I undergo surgery.
March 20th – 23rd: recovery from my surgery.
March 24th – 25th: home/running around doing things like getting a COVID shot & a haircut.
March 25th – 27th: back in the hospital for inflammation/vomiting.
March 27th – April 1st: home again! I’m able to eat real food & not get sick!
March 17th, 2021
I knew something was wrong while I was eating supper with my parents: I felt a slight pain in my lower abdomen. I also didn’t feel very good while eating, either. Hours later, I lay awake in my bed, feeling nauseous. Finally, after going to the bathroom several times and not throwing up, I did. The pain in my intestines didn’t go away, either.
My mom and I briefly debated on who to call, then called the ER. They said I should come in. After some X-rays and blood draws, we had an answer: I had a bowel blockage.
This was not the first time I’d had a blockage: In my twenties, I had my first issue with my intestines. Thankfully, it resolved itself. But now, just 17 days after my 30th birthday, I was having the same problem.
I was admitted around 4-4:30 AM, after getting an NG tube put in. If you’ve never had an NG tube, let me tell you, it’s not a pleasant experience. You know the gagging sensation you get from moving a toothbrush too far down your throat? It’s like that, only it’s a tube going through your nose and down into your throat to your stomach.
I threw up when they put it in, because you have to swallow the tube that your body is vehemently trying to reject.
I actually had to have a second NG tube put in, several days later, because the first one had something wonky going on with it. So, I’ve survived not one but two tubes down my nose and throat.
March 19th, 2021
Two days later–it feels much longer in my memory–I was being prepped for surgery. I took a shower for the first time in several days, cleaning myself up, but not shaving anything, before my surgery. I had my first ever COVID test, which to my nurse’s credit, I barely felt. Thankfully, it came back negative.
Every nurse and doctor I’ve encountered in the hospital were kind, understanding, and helpful. It didn’t matter if it was 2 AM or 2 PM, everyone I came in contact with were extremely kind and willing to help. It’s made me realize that being a nurse or a doctor is more than just helping people, it’s about treating people who are going through a rough time with the same level of respect and kindness–night or day. Everyone I met treated their job like it wasn’t just a job: I felt like I truly mattered to those nurses and doctors, that my predicament was looked at with care, just like any other patient in the hospital at that time. It’s about treating people with humility when they need it the most. It’s about making sure that people are comfortable when they are uncomfortable or in pain.
I’ve had a major surgery before, back when I was 14 ounces and a month old. I had surgery to correct the necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) that was harming my intestines.
What causes NEC?
The best explanation is some kind of injury to the inside lining of the intestine that then allows bacteria to travel from inside the intestine into the bloodstream.http://www.necsociety.org
The treatment for NEC is as follows, which ultimately lead to my surgery to remove the dead intestine:
Standard treatment for NEC is to stop all feedings, place a large tube through the mouth into the stomach to keep the stomach empty, start antibiotics, and check x-rays of the abdomen at regular intervals. If the baby has signs that the intestine is severely injured, surgery is necessary to remove the dead portion of the intestine. In severe cases, the entire intestine may be dead and when that happens the chance of the baby surviving is very low.http://www.necsociety.org
The surgeon who preformed my NEC surgery on me basically said, “If the baby lives,” meaning that I had a very low chance of surviving the surgery. I was extremely lucky, thanks in part to a shunt put into the back of my head. I also had incredible doctors and nurses to look out for tiny me.
Now, at 30, I was going to remember (to some extent) this particular surgery. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I didn’t feel scared. I was prepped for surgery, signed papers, then taken down to the waiting area where a kind nurse visited with me. We talked about Togo, the original hero to deliver the medicine partway to the sick children of Nome. We watched some YouTube videos on it, and even the trailer before I was able to go into surgery.
I honestly didn’t mind waiting. I had learned to be patient by then in the hospital. I mean, what else did I have to do?
I remember being moved onto the surgery table, and placing my arms on either sides of the table on little arm-rest thingies. It was about 3:30 PM when I looked at the clock. The last thing I remember was looking up at the bright operating lights.
March 20th – March 23rd, 2021
The next four days were spent recovering from my surgery. I finally got my NG tube out my my nose and throat on Monday, the 22nd. It was a happy day, because that meant that I could try to drink liquids, which I hadn’t really had, for about 6 days. I’d had fluids from the IV in my hand, but only a few swallows of water when I took my meds every day.
When I got to drink grape juice, it tasted better than any juice I’d ever had. The food I got to eat later on that night was delicious–soup, toast, easy things like that–but I deleted it from my phone. So, unfortunately, I don’t have the pictures anymore.
I was discharged around noon on March 23rd. After spending a week in the hospital, I was kind of used to staying there. I was excited nonetheless to go home. I got to eat lunch, then was wheeled downstairs while Mom got the car.
I got to hold my balloon and my flowers from my grandparents.
Mom ended up needing to go back to the hospital, because we’d forgotten my meds and my jacket. I just chilled in a chair reading/looking at my phone/petting Bentley and Charlie while I waited for her to return.
I also got some more flowers from one of my mom’s friends.
I was finally home! It felt great to be back in my own bed, although I didn’t mind the hospital beds.
I wasn’t quite done with going to the hospital.
After getting the first part of my COVID shot, and getting a haircut, I was struggling to keep anything down. I’d eat something easy, like beef bouillon, and then a few hours later I’d have thrown it all up.
We went back to the hospital on March 25th. I was admitted again, because there was some inflammation happening in my intestine. It could’ve been due to the COVID shot affecting my body, my surgeon later told us.
So, I stayed in the hospital for about two days, then went home again.
I still haven’t watched the latest Blue October show, but I plan to do so soon.
After a visit with my surgeon, Mom and I were reassured that the healing of my intestine would take time. I just needed to make sure I stayed hydrated, and if I didn’t eat for a while, that was okay.
Thankfully, my body has slowly reverted back to normal. I’m able to eat actual food and keep everything down. This has only happened a few days ago–Murphy’s law–shortly after visiting my surgeon on Monday.
I’ve had a very eventful birthday month to be sure. I didn’t expect that any of this would happen, but I don’t mind the extra time I get to stay home and recover.
I’m looking forward to finishing my fantasy novel and finish reading A Deadly Education, which I started reading in the hospital. I finally learned an easier way to knit the herringbone stitch, which is a textured knitting pattern. I love it!
Thanks for reading,