Now, where were we?
Ana did so incredibly well that she was discharged yesterday at 7:00 p.m. (officially), although she could’ve left the hospital as early as three if we didn’t have to wait for Jim and Emily to come get us. Here’s a shot of Me, Ana and Lulu (the obese therapy dog) from Saturday night. Poor Lulu had been there since 2 p.m. and just wanted to climb up on the chair with us and snooze (this picture was taken at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.)
Everything went smoothly right from the start. She went into surgery earlier than expected on Friday (at about 12:45 instead of 1:15), the tumor was not difficult to remove (from a surgical perspective). It was basically a free floating tumor except for the part that was attached to the mesentery of Ana’s intestine rather than the intestine itself. According to wikipedia:
“A mesentery is a fold of tissue that attaches organs to the body wall. The word mesentery usually refers to the small bowel mesentery, which anchors the small intestines to the back of the abdominal wall.” (I credit all of my medical training to wikipedia.)
They had to remove the portion of mesentery that the tumor was attached to, but the intestine beneath it was healthy and tumor-free. Her entire abdomen looked good – free of tumors and other disease. This was the best news possible under the circumstances.
Ana’s worst moments were related to her insatiable hunger from the moment she woke up. She’d been fasting since Thursday morning, and couldn’t understand why they made her wait over 24 hours post op before she could have any solid food. The surgeons explained (multiple times) that they wanted to make sure she wouldn’t throw up from the anesthesia but her bowels also needed to be working – the double hit of anesthesia and surgery on the intestine required extra caution. Ana actually does very well with anesthesia. She doesn’t get nausea and is often starving the moment she wakes up. I wonder if this is why her recovery tends to move fairly quickly once the pain is controlled (because she’s eating and drinking and waking up her bowels very quickly).
And speaking of pain, she experienced very little pain from the surgery. The laparoscope that Dr. Middlesworth used to visualize her pelvis was inserted via a 5 mm incision in her belly button. I was worried that would be very sore (I mean…ouch!) But, Ana actually has no sensation in her belly button. There’s a large part of her abdomen that has been numb since her liver transplant. This makes me sad – except when it comes to sparing her pain from even more abdominal surgery. The pelvic incision required only minimal pain medication. She was on morphine which she could self administer via a pump, but she only hit the button a few times and they took the pump away the next day following surgery and switched her to oxycodone. She had several doses of this (she didn’t ask for it though – the nurse gave it to her to prevent pain when she started moving around more).
We gave her some before the ride home yesterday and I gave her some before bed last night. She didn’t need any this morning and has had no pain medication at all today – not even Tylenol.
While at the hospital, she was also on tylenol and something called toradol (which is like motrin but they give it via the IV). The toradol seemed to control her pain very well. At one point a pain team person came in and asked what her pain level was and she said “zero to one” – this was barely two days after surgery! I mean, damn that’s awesome! My pain level hovers around a three on most days. I’m so old…
I think Ana would’ve been discharged even sooner, but she was nauseous yesterday morning when she woke up at 6 a.m. At that point she’d been eating normally again (with the surgeon’s approval, of course). So they gave her a small dose of Zofran (an anti-nausea medication which is pure magic) and she was better in 15 minutes. Her mobility is pretty much normal too. She’s been walking up and down the stairs, moving and bending and she even picked up our 12 pound cat (I yelled at her).
So, after a long weekend at the hospital, it’s now business as usual. How weird.
I would be remiss if I didn’t say thank you to all of you who helped keep Ana’s (and my) spirits up throughout the last few days, as well as the harrowing weeks leading up to surgery. Thank you to Ana’s friends, especially, for your texts and messages through various social media, er, places (snapchat, instagram). It meant so much to Ana to be able to stay connected to you – and laugh, chat and feel included. She reached for her phone as soon as she woke up from anesthesia. You’re all awesome.
Thank you Randi, for your food and your friendship. Thank you Carol, for bringing groceries to my family. Each time I go in the kitchen and see another item from Adams, it makes me smile. Especially those black and white cookies…Thank you Janne, Amy, Stefan, Chloe and Layla for taking care of Emily (which enabled Jim to get some rest). Thank you for the messages of support on Facebook, the blog and Inspire. I rode the wave of your love and kindness and this helped me stay strong for Ana.
Last but definitely not least, thanks to Anne – the best night nurse in the history of ever. The kids at chony are lucky to have you.