Takedown: 1 Lameness: 0

by on Sunday, July 19, 2009 15:51
This entry is filed under: Coping/Support

I feel great. It’s really that simple. The J-Pouch is functioning and settling in. I got discharged today before lunch and already feel a billion times better than compared to the same time after surgery one. It’s truly amazing and I feel blessed. This has been a long time coming. Below is some recap of how it went with the TakeDown Surgery, mostly in Question and Answer format so you can skip some boring stuff (like where I painstakingly re-cap 4 hours of Telemundo based on my non-Spanish-speaking powers of observation).

6AM at the hospital. Thriling, to say the least.

6AM at the hospital. Thriling, to say the least.

Q: What happened right before going in for the takedown surgery?
A: It seemed like the basic pre-surgery prep work from before, although this time I was a bit more familiar with the process. I had my Bair-Hugger reunion, rekindled my fondness for awesome foil hats, and was generally more excited to go under the knife. So much so that I asked not to take the “Amnesia Medicine”. Before surgery, the anesthesiologists give patients a medicine that induces amnesia-like side effects, mostly to calm the nerves and lessen the horror factor of seeing the actual operating room. They say that people going in for surgery under the amnesia meds are very compliant, talkative, and sometimes even flirty, only to forget everything. I opted out of these meds so I could see the operating room. It’s pretty much what you see in the movies and on TV, except that it was absolutely freezing in there. In case you are wondering, I tried to trick the surgery team in the room (about 4 or 5 people at any given time) to give me their bank account info, since I pretended to be on the amnesia meds and wouldn’t remember anyway. No dice.

Right: The Foil Hat and I decide to add some cosmetic surgeries to the menu. Left: Foil Hat and I immediately dislike the idea of chin implants.

Right: The Foil Hat and I decide to add some cosmetic surgeries to the menu. Left: Foil Hat and I immediately dislike the idea of calf implants.

Behold the return of the great Bair Hugger!

Behold the return of the great Bair Hugger!

Q: How did the actual surgery go?
A: It was supposed to be a 90 minute takedown of the ileostomy and reconnection of the J-Pouch plumbing, but ended up being a 2.5 hour surgery due to some extra work. The biggest obstacle was scar tissue. The doc had to work around and clean a large amount of scar tissue, more of what they usually see in these cases. I’m flattered. Also, the muscle in my abdominal walls were a bit thick, so it was harder to move around. I chalk this up to the imaginary crunches I did in the last three months with the ileostomy bag. Because I was under anesthesia longer than anticipated, I had some huge issues with waking up.

Q: Why are you such a big baby when coming out of surgery? Can’t you just wake up?
A: I don’t know! I’ve always had issues with waking up from anesthesia, and this one was particularly bad. I remember some nurses asking me stuff when I came to, but I was too drugged to reply. It was a bit frustrating, because they kept asking things and I couldn’t comply. Not fun.

Q: Any other complications?

A: I’m not sure if these are complications, but there were some other areas that needed attention. The skin around the stoma was inflamed going in, so they ended up using staples to keep the wound closed. No biggie on my end, I can’t feel them. When I came out of surgery and had trouble waking up, my oxygen level was too low. I had the available oxygen tubes for the nostrils, but for some reason kept breathing in through the mouth, not nose. So every now and then, while still trying to wake up, someone would yell at me to breathe through the nose. “Through the nose! The nose!” It wasn’t easy. I also now had a little draining tube from where the stoma used to be called a Penrose Drain, but I named it “the noodle”.

Q: What’s up with “the noodle”?
A: It really looked like a little piece of pasta just sticking out. Two inches of tube (total length of about 4 inches) just hanging out, chilling. I wasn’t looking forward to getting the noodle removed, since I’m still having flashbacks of the JP-Drain removal from surgery one. But this was a cake-walk. It sometimes even falls out by itself, ha.

Left: Taking out the noodle. Middle: The section below the red line was inside! Right: The hole it left behind.

Left: Taking out the noodle. Middle: The section below the red line was inside! Right: The hole it left behind.

Made it to the chair, but was still sleepy.

Made it to the chair, but was still sleepy.

Q: What was the most painful?
A: Potassium through the IV. Seriously. They gave me potassium through the IV and it burned. It’s this incredibly strong pain you feel just creeping through the arm. They ended up diluting it with saline, but wow, that was painful. Potassium does this to people who have little to no food (substance) in their systems, like dashingly handsome takedown patients.

Q: Did chewing gum expedite bowel movements?
A: Some studies say that colorectal surgery patients that chewed gum immediately post-surgery had bowel movements sooner than those who didn’t. Honestly, I have no idea. I chewed gum, and I had bowel movements (plural) by day three. But how do I know if the gum did anything? Maybe if I didn’t chew gum it would have been 4 or 5 days before a bowel movement, but I’ll never know. If only I had a twin with the exact same circumstances and one of us chewed gum and the other one didn’t? Did I just pitch a movie?

Where my stoma used to be.

Where my stoma used to be.

Q: Butt burn?
A: I … don’t think so? Not yet, anyway? Maybe it’s too early, but I only felt a little bit briefly. After having a bowel movement, I use the world’s softest toilet paper, finish with a baby-wipe, and then use butt cream. All while taking my sweet time. Eventually wear and tear might get to me, but until then the butt cream helps as a preventative measure.

Q: What’s awesome?
A: That Pringles mascot’s mustache. Dare to dream, kids. Dare to dream. That, and for now, I’m done. Success!

No, THANK YOU, Mount Zion!

No, THANK YOU, Mount Zion!

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19 Responses to “Takedown: 1 Lameness: 0”

  1. avatar

    Ari says:

    July 20th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Brevin, you’re a real trooper! I’m so glad to hear that you are getting better and that you are in good spirits! I hope to hang out soon!

    [Reply]

  2. avatar

    April says:

    July 20th, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    That is great to see you doing so well. I had my take down surgery in March. Things have been pretty good for me. Well good luck!

    [Reply]

  3. avatar

    Erin says:

    July 20th, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Congrats! I’m glad everything was a success for you.

    [Reply]

  4. avatar

    ml says:

    July 20th, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Congrats! I have been on potassium before and it makes my legs swell so bad it hurts. They (doctors) never believe me but once I am off the drip the swelling and pain disappear.
    Thanks for talking about the surgery in Q & A format. I didnt know about the amnesia drug prior to surgery but I have never had surgery other than two c-sections and you are awake during that but numb from a back epidural. I am having a second colonoscopy soon to see if I actually need surgery after all. Check out my blog for details. Glad you are home. ML

    [Reply]

    avatar

    Brevin Reply:

    CURSE YOU POTASSIUM!!

    [Reply]

  5. avatar

    Paul says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 5:32 am

    Congrats! Glad everything went well. Hope it goes as smoothly for me soon.

    [Reply]

  6. avatar

    Elise says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 9:45 am

    Brevin :) You are doing Fabulous!!!!!!! I know you are jealous that I have a pouch and you don’t!!

    Elise

    [Reply]

  7. avatar

    Emily says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 11:26 am

    So incredibly happy for you Brevin! You have given me the strength to get through these last two weeks before my turn! I’m glad that we have the same surgeon so I know she’ll do a good job on me too! Quick question…did they put you on prednisone again for 2nd surgery? So grateful to you…Emily

    [Reply]

    avatar

    Brevin Reply:

    Hi Emily,
    I’m on a tiny Predinsone taper (10mg tapering down to 2.5mg in 4 or 5 weeks), which is the only med I’m taking post-surgery. I had a zillion meds to take after the first one, mostly due to the blood clot that has since dissolved, so this is a cakewalk.
    I’ll come visit when you’re going in! Let me know: br3vin@gmail.com

    [Reply]

    avatar

    Emily Reply:

    Hi Brevin,

    I would welcome a visit anytime, just don’t make me laugh too hard! Happy to hear that you don’t need pain meds for round two, but I curse the prednisone continuation! The insomnia is killing me! Did you have the dreaded Heprin shots again?

    [Reply]

    avatar

    Megan Reply:

    Emily, When Mark had his surgery we were watching in the hospital an episode of the Family Guy, and he started to laugh, then tears started welling in his eyes and he is telling me “Change the channel, change the chanel” – I always wanted to write Seth McFarlane of the Family Guy and tell him his show was so funny that we had to turn it off. Gives another name to laughing your ass off. As for the insomnia, sorry you have that right now. I know this might sound odd but two tricks for me really work: (1) Use the 20 minute rule. If you aren’t asleep in 20 mins. you have to try something new, read, eat, watch tv, change beds/couch, etc… (2) I create scenarios where I try to figure out how in my everyday life I could meet someone famous and have a conversation with them. It is a fun mind game to play that can take time to really figure out when you are travelling, etc..and how it might happen. What I’ve found by this is that is keeps my mind stimulated but not stressed and often I fall asleep in the planning stages of meeting someone, the conversation, etc… I hope I don’t sound insane by sharing this!

  8. avatar

    Mark says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 11:51 am

    Sounds like you are doing great. My takedown went pretty smooth too, and I was just so ready to get the jpouch and find out what life was going to be like with it. I had a couple bumpy weeks when I first got my jpouch and it was trying to settle in and find a routine, so if you happen to have kinda a rough start, don’t get discouraged it should ease quickly. Or maybe yours will be smooth like it sounds like you’ve already had. Also, I just wanted to applaud you on your approach to all this, you’ve been so candid yet positive, you are an excellent inspiration even to those of us who’ve gone through the process.

    [Reply]

    avatar

    Brevin Reply:

    Thanks Mark! I’m still adjusting to my diet (turns out I was feeling a little too optimistic and tried different food types a tad too fast), so I can totally see this adjustment you are are referring to. Trying to find a balance and routine seems like fun, though : )

    [Reply]

  9. avatar

    Paul says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    You mentioned blood clot brevin so I’m curious as I have one lingering now 4 weeks still after surgery 1. How long did it take for yours to go away and what meds did they put you on for the blood clot other than pain meds?

    [Reply]

  10. avatar

    Brevin says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Paul, I had a hepatic blood clot of some kind leading to the liver (not unusual for surgery patients). It was only discovered after they took a CT scan when I was resubmitted after surgery one due to pain. Since they found it, it had to be treated. We started with lovely Lovenox injections twice a day and then built my system up with Warfarin/Coumodin. I had to get blood work done frequently to check the INR levels, since once I reached 2.0 I could stop the Lovenox injections and just stay on Warfarin pills. 2 weeks before my surgery, the pre-op scans showed the blood clot was gone, so I could stop with the anti-coagulants. Either way, they would have taken me off any blood-centric meds 5 to 6 days before surgery. Are you in the same boat?

    [Reply]

  11. avatar

    Paul says:

    July 21st, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Hey Brevin, I don’t believe its quite the same boat. I have a blood clot at the base of the incision (surgery was open rather than lapro), which caused significant swelling, an open wound, and lots of pain and discomfort. The doc assured me that the blood clot would heal on its own as it pumps the blood out and it appears to have nearly healed, only I still have the swelling and pain, so I’m a little concerned. Thanks for sharing the details. How long did your blood clot last? Anything similar to what I described?

    [Reply]

  12. avatar

    Mel says:

    August 20th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Hi Brevin,

    I stumbled upon your blog today and enjoyed reading about your experience! I am having the j-pouch surgeries in 3 steps, so I still have a long ways to go (I had step one 3 months ago).

    I, too, have difficulties coming out of surgery – I was in the recovery room for 5 HOURS after stage one. It didn’t help that I was severly ill going into surgery though.

    And yes, potassium HURTS!! I had to have potassium by IV during a hospital stay last summer. So this time around, I begged the nurse to slow the potassium rate down so it was equal to the saline, and that helped tremendously. I didn’t care that it was going to take a lot longer to get through the potassium bag at that rate – I wasn’t going anywhere! ha ha.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

    [Reply]

  13. avatar

    James Doane` says:

    November 23rd, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Check out 
    BCIR on google.  It is an eye opener.  I am going to have it done asap.  I have a bad jpouch.  I think it sounds awesome.  It is done in st. petersburg ,  fla.  

    [Reply]

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