Turning into Darth Vader

A few days after I got out of ICU and HDU my voice became very quiet and husky for no apparent reason. If I try too hard to get real volume, or say a lot at once, or even talk too fast, I can get a bit dizzy. The doctors didn’t seem too concerned and thought it would come right in a few days.

My own Doctor thought it was inflammation from being intubated and said if it wasn’t right by the end of the month I’d need to see a specialist.

When I saw Mr Glenn Farrynt, to get the results of the MRI of my bowel, he strongly recommended more surgery otherwise there is a chance of another obstruction. I wanted to wait until I felt stronger but he said it was much riskier to operate with an obstruction because it makes me so sick.

His only hesitation was my voice; he wanted me to see an ENT urgently to ensure my airway was safe. In the meantime, he set a tentative date of 19 June for exploratory surgery and to fix whatever they found at the same time.

I saw the ENT, Mr Wayne Butt, on June 6. He put a camera up my nose and into my airway – which was as awful as it sounds. I’d said I wouldn’t let them do that, but he was so nice and gentle I didn’t feel I could refuse! My left vocal cord is totally paralysed, which explains my voice. He said even with heavy sedation it is rare to aspirate so he feels my airway can’t be trusted for now, especially as we also don’t know what caused the paralysis but have to assume it was damaged during intubation. He wants to see me again in three months because he’s hopeful my airway will heal on its own. There is nothing they can do it repair it but, if it doesn’t heal, they can improve my voice.

One thing we haven’t explored yet, which might explain a lot, is that since I came out of hospital my left foot sort of thumps down, particularly when I’m tired. I also tend to rest my left hand in my lap some of the time. There’s been some talk of a small stroke, but I didn’t want to explore the possibility. I might need to now, if it explains the vocal cord paralysis.

All I can say is, I have earned every single kilo I have lost. If anyone thinks surgery is an easy way out, I have news for them…

orange jersey

 

 

Still recovering

Last time I blogged I was at the end of two weeks at home, recuperating. I’ve been back at work 2 weeks, doing 4 days a week – by the end of Thursday I’m pretty worn out.

I went to see Mr Farrynt, the surgeon last week to get the MRI results. Inconclusive, because my internal plumbing is unusual even for a gastric bypass patient due to justing the surgery to allow for damage from a botched hysterectomy in my late 20s. My Farrynt wants to do exploratory surgery in the next 4-6 weeks and fix whatever he finds at the time. It’ll start off keyhole but probably end up open surgery. I wanted to delay it but he feels it will obstruct again and then he’ll have to operate when I’m really sick, as opposed to just not 100% well…

 The only thing to sort before hand is an urgent referral to ENT. My voice is still hoarse and weak; the surgeon is concerned my airway might be compromised so needs that fixed before they operate.

 The other thing I’m dealing with is that, after intubation & ICU etc, my hair has thinned even more and become sparser. We’ve cut it very short and changed the shape – it’s better but I’ll be very pleased when it recovers. I’ve coloured it for the first time in many years because I just looked so pale and unwell for a while there.

I’m down to 76.8kg, only 1.8kg off my bypass surgeon’s goal for me. I talked to Mr Farrynt and his side kick Amanda about getting down to 70kg as that would make me a standard size 14 (I think). No way! They are happy for me to get to 75kg but not lose any more than that, as they’re cncerned about my general health with all that’s gone on. So I need to learn to eat a little bit more to stop the loss. I could never have imagined that would be a problem for me! I’ll be talking to my dietician in a week anyway, so that’s good timing.

 As most of you know, I am always fiddling with art and craft, blogging etc. Until yesterday, I hadn’t touched my craft stuff since 8 April, which is a LONG time for me. Yesterday I finally put some gesso on a page and did a quick layout. I don’t have a lot of energy yet, but it was good to get messy.

 

 

Hospital dramas

It’s more than a month since I blogged or did any art – here’s why.

I’d been doing really well, but suddenly developed severe stomach pain about 5pm, just as Tony got home from Wanganui. By 6pm it was so bad we called the ambulance. Millie took me to Hawera; the Dr suspected a twisted bowel so had me transported to Base on Sunday morning. The surgeon, Mr Hadawi, spoke to Atul Dhabuwalla who thought a piece of bowel might have got trapped in a gap from the surgery, and they arranged for a gastroscopy on Monday 10th May.

Mr Hadawi did the gastroscopy late morning under heavy sedation. Unfortunately the suction unit wasn’t working properly and the nurse didn’t realise. Because of the blockage I had a lot of bile in my stomach and vomited during the procedure. Due to the suction unit not working I got a lot of bile in my lungs. I was went back to the ward but, bizarrely, there’s no handover after gastroscopy so the ward staff were not told what had happened.

My nurse, Siji, noticed my heart rate increasing and oxygen levels dropping; she was keeping a close eye on me because she couldn’t understand why I was deteriorating. Mid to late afternoon the surgeon came to get me for acute bowel surgery just as I started to really go downhill. He kept asking if I felt ok, and I can remember saying yes – tired but ok. He called the peri-arrest team (used when someone is about to have, or just had, a cardiac arrest) and I could hear them talking about tachycardia, intubation, and bag masking. Between Mum’s dramas, and Tony’s ambulance work, I knew exactly what was happening but was so unwell it wasn’t really scary. Just as I was about to say I suddenly didn’t feel well at all, they took over my breathing. Talking to the surgeon later, he said if you’re young and fit your body compensates until suddenly it can’t anymore, which if the point I had reached.

Poor Tony had turned up just as all this was happening. The Dr explained what was happening but he wasn’t allowed to see me. Ailsa and Jim were in New York and the hospital phoned her at 6am to tell her I was in ICU. She rang me most mornings and kept in touch by text throughout.

I woke up the next day in ICU after they took the tube out, and spent the next four days in either ICU or HDU recuperating from severe aspiration pneumonia. The day after they extubated they did x-rays, fluoroscope and CT scans of the bowel but none of it was conclusive. Because of the trauma to my lungs the surgeons felt I couldn’t have surgery for another month or more anyway unless they were forced into it. I spent two weeks in hospital in total, with the Drs saying it would probably take 6 weeks to fully recover.

I’ve had another two weeks at home recovering. I’ve been incredibly tired, am walking slowly, and have very little voice. The Drs think it’s just a reaction to pneumonia and intubation but if it isn’t right after a month they’ll investigate further. I’ve also had a MRI scan at Base and have an appointment with Mr Farrynt on the 18th May to get the results and plan any surgery.

Re the medical mishap that led to the pneumonia; the hospital are investigating all aspects and made some changes straight away.

HIM tribute album

A few years back I was introduced to the band HIM via the wonderful artist Michelle Ward. Tony and I both loved HIM instantly and have most of their albums. Tony just likes the sound, I think, but there’s something in their lyrics that speaks to my heart. I have often used their words in my journal pages.

Recently they announced a worldwide tour (but, sadly, not to NZ) and that they’re disbanding. I am pleased they’re going on to other creative adventures, but I will miss their presence in my life. I’ve decided to do a small art journal – just 14cm square –  featuring all the lyrics that speak so much to me. Here’s the first two pages.

i'm draininglet me weep