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.

Surgery isn’t all go after all

Tony’s surgery has been postponed to 13 January as there is someone else whose need is more urgent. To ensure Tony doesn’t wait any longer than is absolutely necessary, they are booking him under a different surgeon at Waikato because it saves a week’s delay. We’re disappointed and upset but, having had Mum in and out of hospital for the last 14 years of her life – mucking up waiting lists in all directions, we know how quickly someone else can take precedence. I hope the person who is getting urgent surgery recoveries quickly and starts 2014 feeling a whole lot better than they currently do.

I’m also sad that I’m now not spending Christmas and Sandra’s 50th birthday with her – I was so looking forward to it, and to helping her through a difficult bunch of firsts without her Mum. But, as she knows, I’ll be with her in spirit, as always.