Surgery & Recovery Complications

Last updated: February 2019

When it comes to surgery and recovery, there can be complications. And guess what? I couldn’t dodge the bullet. Discharged after seven days and sent home with three drainage bags and tubes, 50 staples in my belly and the strength of a newborn baby, I was looking forward to resting in my own bed. Actually, it wasn’t my bed but the single bed on the second floor. I wasn’t able to climb three flights of stairs, go figure.

Back to the hospital

I had one day at home before the pain hit me. Not the recovery pain that one goes through after a nine-hour operation, but a terrible sharp pain the lower right abdomen. It felt like someone was driving a nail into me. So it was back to the hospital.

Neobladder complications

X-rays revealed a slight tear in the wall of my new bladder. There were two options: go back in and fix it, or rest and hope it corrected itself. Dr. Zlotta went for the latter, ordering me to lie on my right side to see if it worked. It took a week, but it did. No more surgery and I was sent home, hopefully for the last time.

In-house care

Over the course of the first few days, my wife Melanie arranged for in-house care. Nurses visited daily to change and clean me up, empty my bags, take blood pressure, and just keep an eye on me. A caregiver came in to help me bathe; we also had a woman come in to cook and generally spend time with me. Melanie had to work, and I couldn’t be left alone. Maria was her name and she was terrific, a lovely Filipino woman who treated me like her child, and believe me, I was about as weak as a child.

Physical therapy to build strength

The hospital supplied a physiotherapist. She gave me exercises to strengthen not just my abdomen but my core, heart, arms, and legs. We started off with exercises that seemed useless but proved me very wrong. It wasn’t long before Maria was taking me for walks. By walks, I mean once around the yard then home to bed. Each day a bit farther until we made the sidewalk, then down the block, to the corner and on. Keep in mind I still had all my drainage equipment attached, so it wasn’t as if I was sprinting anywhere.

Be patient

I was feeling ambitious one day and decided I wanted to walk to the bank, about a quarter mile from home. I still felt good and told Maria that we should continue. She strongly recommended to head home, but being the stubborn macho guy that I am, we went farther. We were about half a mile from home when it hit me that we’d gone too far. Mel was working so we had to walk back.

After resting for about ten minutes we slowly returned. When we got home, I crawled upstairs and went to bed. I slept for two days.

Word of advice? Be patient after your surgery.

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