I spent 6 days on Ward 98. This is a ward just for ladies with gynecological Cancer. Overall the experience of my stay was good, everyone was lovely, maybe they didn’t always seem to know the right thing to do, which wasn’t always helpful to me the patient or have enough time to help. This is my own personal story of my stay and recovery from radical hysterectomy surgery.
On 16th December, mid to late afternoon, I was back on the ward in my bed having spent 3-4 hours in surgery and then time in recovery. I was hooked up to painkillers and fluids and catheterised. Oh what joy!
Morphine seems to be the strong painkiller of choice in hospitals, which I was allowed to self administer, so when I felt pain, I could press the pump for another dose of the drug. It then had a 5 minute safety cut out so that I could not overdose. I initially thought that this was a great idea and pressed every time I felt in need of some more pain relief. Now I’m sure that this usually works well for people but it didn’t for me. On that first evening/night in hospital I began to feel very very strange. I think I even thought that I might die at one point. I called for nurse help and eventually didn’t want to be left on my own. Luckily, a nursing assistant was able to stay with me for a bit. It turns out that I was high on Morphine and if that is how you feel after taking drugs, then I can’t believe that people would want that sensation for pleasure! A nurse said that looking at my charts and adding up how much Morphine I had been given during surgery, in post recovery and now back on the ward, it was too much. I have no idea what my fellow ward mates made of me that night shouting “help”. They didn’t say anything negative to me though, only understanding kind words.
My next hurdle was sickness that revealed internal bleeding. Yikes! Generally this sickness happened at night time. The worst time for this to happen, if for nothing else than you can only see a junior doctor, who didn’t always suggest the same thing as the consultant who I saw in the morning. I was given anti sickness meds to help, of which one turned out to also make me sick.
To check the internal bleeding out, all in one day, I had a stomach X Ray at my bed, blood transfusions, CT scan and a vascular thing where something was put in my leg so that a Consultant could look for the bleeding pount – after an hour he couldn’t find anything and concluded it had already healed itself. Phew. I wasn’t looking forward to the vascular thing at all but the consultant and nurses had done this for years and were so good that not only did they move me painlessly on to the table but it was pain free.
I still had to have fluids intravenously for a few days. Eventually they did stop and I started to drink or rather sip as this was all my body could cope with.
Now the sickness did continue till after my discharge and it was explained that because my bowels had gone on strike following surgery, until they started working again food didn’t have anywhere to go apart from back up. This made recovering tricky. I needed to eat but what I ate wouldn’t stay down. This really didn’t get better until the laxatives got sorted out after I was discharged.
The thing that no one told me about before the op was gas. Gas was more uncomfortable and painful than the operation that I had just had. Who would have thought that this was possible, but it was. Peppermint water (yucky) or peppermint oil capsules can help and did a bit, as can walking around, which is difficult after this major op. It was uncomfortable that sleeping was difficult and it had me in tears at times. This horrible gas stayed with me for nearly two weeks and only really left when my bowels started to work again.
Not feeling up to washing was awful as I hate looking a mess. I think I had a shower 3 times in hospital, as it was an effort with a catheter in and feeling awful. It was difficult to bend too, which didn’t help. One day a nurse helped me which was great but in general no one had time to help anyone wash and your not allowed visitors in the morning who could help. My poor visitors who had to see me in this state. I hope I didn’t smell!
I found visiting time so so important to me, that when my visitors did not arrive on time, I was upset. They all had valid reasons for being late but in my just operated state my head could not compute rationality and the world outside ward 98, especially as I had no oomph to feel like reading to while the hours away.
My husband visited me every evening, although I don’t always remember him being there as I was so tired. He bought me food to eat – better than hospital food but my appetite had both gone and taste buds changed. It was always great to see a friendly face though.
I can’t fault my consultant, who on the a Thursday, gave me her mobile phone number, so that if I had any problems on her day off and over the weekend I could call her. I’m not sure many consultants would do that.
The sub ward I was on had just 4 beds and luckily for me I only shared with lovely (poorly) ladies. It does help if you are staying in hospital that you have bed fellows who you can chat to for a bit. You also hear some sad illness stories too. The only thing that I didn’t like listening to was the tales of chemotherapy, which at the time I did not know if I had to have. I’d have rather been a bit more blinkered at that stage.
Sleeping was very difficult. Discomfort played a big part but being in a warm hospital didn’t help either, together with early wake ups for medicine, then breakfast. I may have even done some internet shopping during one sleepless night! It took a few further weeks at home for sleep to get back to normal.
I needed to start exercising. After all, the leaflets say that this is the road to recovery. First I could only make it from my bed to the window and back holding on to my mother in law. Then I made it to the dizzy heights of a circuit around the ward. It is amazing to think that I could barely walk only 2 1/2 months ago and now I almost back to normal.
On Sunday afternoon 5 days after my op, I was allowed home. I’m not sure that I was ready for home but I knew that I would recover better at home. As usual, the drugs were the hold up to going home. I changed in to my comfy clothes, put my coat on but couldn’t do it up and I had to wear my slippers as my swollen feet wouldn’t fit in to my boots. I must have looked such a funny sight.
Best of all, I hadn’t seen my 2 year old daughter for nearly 6 days.