On this day last year I had a surgical procedure that should have realy been a run of the mill procedure. I can scoff at myself here now because being a nurse and being an intelligent person I do know that the last statement I made cannot always be true. There are no fail safes when you go in for any procedure, whatever the size it may be. You can go in for a routine biopsy and not leave the hospital alive...the phrase "shit happens" comes to mind.
The operation went along smoothly, as I believe, yet I was in recovery for a very very long time. My vital organs were having a hard time coping with the anaesthesia and the loss of blood and I think the analgesic I was given.
Next day I made sure I was up, out of bed, got rid of the PCA (Patient Controlled Analgesia- Morphine), got rid of the drip and had my lovely white TED (Thrombo Embolic Device)Stockings on. The need for strict anti-emetics (anti-throwing up medication) was vital, no need to say any more there.
Next day I felt very unwell. I felt like I had been bruised, like there was something in my left side that did not fit the clinical picture of someone post uterine removal. I just knew it was not right, having looked after many a lady post hysterectomy and many other abdominal surgeries.
The drain tube was removed, I believe it may have been too early as it was still draining, still had vacuum. It was near the exit wound site from the drain some strange pitting of the skin with some bruising was coming up. My husband notised it when I had said to him I did not feel right just there...and he had a look.
By night time I began to feel terrible. My heart rate was 155, my breaths per minute were 22 and above, I could not breathe and the pain became alot worse. My blood pressure went through my boots and all the while the nurse looking after me would not go get someone else to have a look at my vitals. The nigth nurse ended up calling my surgeon and he got the cardiologist and the physician and the head surgeon of the hospital..stat!
Emergecy abdominal CT showed a collection forming in my abdominal wall muscle..similar to that of gangrenous gas. Initialy the CT was to see if I had some sort of Ileus created from them having moved my organs about and having to put them back in. So the findings were alarming for a small hospital such as this.
Infectious Diseases Unit was called in and they ran their gamet of tests and put me on umpteen antibiotics that have to have their strict approval. The antibiotics alongside the potassium IV replacement killed all my veins and they had to resite so many IV's I looked like I had a wrestling match with a mincer from the local butchers.
I was put on a cardiac monitor, given cadiac medications, back to having IV fluids and a urinary catheter and lots and lots of bloods taken. There is so much I do not remember past this for the next few weeks. I know my husband and my true friends were there for me and that the staff did a fantastic job looking after me.
The gas was released and the collection of fluid taken away through 2 or 3 abdominal CT biopsies..I do remember these as they hurt like hell. The end result was that I had a rash and breakdown of my whole left side of my abdomen. Being allergic to all tapes and dressings there was nothing anyone could apply to my skin.
Diagnosis was Necrotizing Fasciitis. As the staff had said to me upon transfer to the cardiac bed...."This could only happen to you because you are a nurse"..so true I thought. I have to say though, the physician maintained it was not this diagnosis, yet the Infectious guys and the head surgeon maintained it was.
The overwhelming loss of control of my body or my fete was the worst aspect I can think of. It was like I was not even there. You just never knew what was going to happen next. I am thankful that the staff that listened to me and obtained my vital signs were then quick acting, otherwise I would not be here to tell the tale.
I was released quite a number of weeks post the operation. I wanted to come home, to be around my own germs and to heal at home. I read alot in hospital, the one book mind you, "The Power of Now" by Eckhardt Tolle. I believe the meditation helped me through the times where I would otherwise have been crying in pain. My gorgeous Auntie called me and she is a healer of sorts and this was the most uplifting call I took...from the ones I remember.
It took months to heal the open wounds I had, doing my own dressings and taking pain killers left right and centre. Loosing my hair months later was the final killer, but it is now back to a healthy state, alot of hard work to get it there.
Today I begin my diet to loose weight. I am happy to announce it. I have always eaten healthy foods. I love my fruit and vegetables. So now it is a matter of burning off the fat I have accumulated, especialy around the site where my infection was. I plan on being able to see my toes without having to lean slightly forwards..the great job my girls do with painting the toe nails will then no longer go un noticed :)