20000 steps to my Birthday

On Friday, October 11, I had emergency surgery even though right before the procedure, I had a phone meeting with one of the plenary speakers for the 2020 STFM annual meeting.  I reassured him I was fine but just had to move the meeting up by an hour.

My friend and colleague came over to give me a hug and helped me with my gown right before I went My husband was there until I was ready to go the operating room (OR).  After I woke up from anesthesia, I had no memory of the events after I kissed my husband and went to the OR. I do not even remember speaking to my surgeon.  Thankfully, he told my husband the findings and why I had to have an open surgical procedure. Details in the next post.

My first steps were to the bathroom to urinate.  That was a major step.  You see, I had a catheter in my bladder for the surgery.  I also had an endotracheal tube (to help me breathe) and a nasogastric tube (to keep my stomach free of air).  I can tell you that once you start walking, don’t stop.  There is no amount of narcotic pain medication to take away the pain from recovering from abdominal surgery.

The gas pains are horrific.  But for me, the worse was the back spasm.  The hospital got these expensive beds that are like sleeping on a moving rock.  Thankfully, I could walk with my IV pole in the hall.  You would think that we could come up with a more convenient pole but not yet.  It is still the same that you see on all the hospital shows. Also, the gown has not changed. It still needs to be tied the right way so your rear end is not displayed. Also, thanks to one of the nurses who found one of the old recliners for me to sleep in.  When she helped me get comfortably positioned in the recliner, I just remember thinking” Hallelujah, thank you, God.”

You need to pass flatus (pass gas) and have a bowel movement before discharge.  So, initially, I was NPO (nothing by mouth).  That was fine with me as I dealt with the pain.  However, two of my favorite things have always been the chicken broth and the lemon ice on the Liquid diet menu.  The best was the extra strong cup of coffee made by one of the nursing staff and the warm prune juice. The next step was one of the nurses gave me a Pedometer.  It took 20000 steps for me to do the two most important things you need to do after abdominal surgery.  So, I finally passed gas and had a bowel movement.  That pedometer was a symbol for me of success and recovery for me.  I did lose about 12 pounds, but I could not just sit.  You see, narcotics slow the bowel function and can make it more difficult to have that bowel movement which can increase your pain, so it is a double-edged sword.  You must balance the pain and the need to keep moving.  I used the pedometer instead of my phone app because I did not want to be distracted during my walking by phone calls from my family and friends.

My other aid in recovery was meditation.  I used the Insight Timer App.  I typed in surgery and found several healing meditations.  I listened to them when I had pain and they helped relax me and use mantras to keep me positive.  It also drowned out the hospital sounds that are present even with the door closed.

Today is my birthday. Thank you to the wonderful nursing staff at my hospital.  They took such good care of me.  Thank you to my amazing surgical team.  Just to let you know, if I wanted to, I could wear a bikini.  The scar is barely visible.  Also thank you to my family, friends, and colleagues for their good wishes.  I can truly say that I am blessed to be alive to celebrate today.


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