What I learned after my Surgery

Above the Koi Pond, Hospital - Westlake, Texas

Above the Koi Pond, Hospital – Westlake, Texas

This is a follow-up to a post I made six days ago called, My Unexpected Surgery.

It’s exactly a week since I had my unexpected gallbladder removal surgery. I’ve been to my followup with the doctor and she is pleased with my progress. I found out a few things, which I thought maybe interesting.

It was bad, but could have been worse Modern Laparoscopic gallbladder surgery is fairly routine. Small incisions are made and guided along with a camera, it’s minimally invasive. For some people, the entire process can be as short as four to five hours, from start to finish. My gallbladder was highly inflamed and enlarged. Apparently, the doctor even considered, a few times, to switch to traditional open surgery, because of my complications. I’m really happy she didn’t. But because of that, the surgery lasted nearly 3 hours and with some minor complications afterwards. That’s why I was in the hospital for three days after the surgery, in additional to my initial first night. But, luckily, we removed the gallbladder before it ruptured. It would have been a lot bigger mess and with longer recovery time, if that happened.

A good nurse makes all the difference The staff at the hospital seemed universally competent. But, of course, that doesn’t mean that they are all equal. Some are rigid, following instructions explicitly, without any rhyme or reason. Sometimes, you luck upon someone who intelligently explains the alternatives. Of course, they follow the doctor’s instructions but they actually inform the patient of the objective and options that are available. Being an analytical person, I found this approach extremely helpful. It also empowers the patient with a sense of choice. Things are not just done to them, there’s a logical explanation of why. People skills are important in almost every profession. They are critical for healthcare, when the patient (the customer) is usually sick, confused and scared.

Hyper stimulation and sensitivity was interesting I don’t know if it was the pain meds — I did get some super strong ones in the beginning — the pain, the operation or some other unexplained factor, but my senses were hyper stimulated and sensitive. I had super vivid dreams, wilder than any with the latest special effects. I would have countless micro day dreams. Regular food was super salty, super sweet and super spicy. I like spicy food but a standard green pepper tasted as hot as a Jalapeño.

Broadcast TV is really bad I rarely watch TV and now I know why. I turned on the TV for a couple of hours and could find anything worthwhile.

I prefer the classic I watched Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets via my smartphone. It was visually rich but not nearly as entertaining as Luc Besson’s 1997 classic, The Fifth Element. The Fifth Element has some of my most favorite scenes from any movie.

Home is better than the best hospital I have a lot of positive things to say about the Hospital at Westlake but ultimately, it can’t beat home, surrounded by family. I was a lot happier when I went home on Sunday.

Structure is good Though doing blog posts during my recovery wasn’t my preferred activity, the act of forcing me to do things on schedule, helps. I started working from home starting Wednesday, and that also helped to pass the time and structure the day.

Unimpressive facial hair I haven’t shaved since this entire ordeal started last Thursday. I’m sad to say that my prospects of having impressive facial hair is just a dream. I’ll be shaving, before going back to work.

Good to have community Support A big thank you to all my readers. Thank you for the comments, the views, the emails and the concern. It means a lot that there are people out there think about me.

I continue to make my recovery, though I’m still not leaving the house. Unfortunately, I missed a photo talk at Precision Camera tonight, which I would have loved to attend.

Looks like I’ll miss Eeyore’s Birthday Party tomorrow. It’s a fun event which I usually attend, but I can’t fathom fighting the crowds to do the photography I like. My energy level is still not high, and I get tired quicker than usual.

Other than that, no complaints. I feel like a very lucky person.


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19 thoughts on “What I learned after my Surgery

  1. You ARE lucky. I had my surgery in Israel and I swear he used a blunt butter knife. I have in incision 6 inches long. My heart surgery incision is shorter. But they did give me my own gallstones in a neat little cup. I should have made them into earrings.

    The weird reactions are probably the result of fentanyl. It makes me sick, but no one believes me until I’m seeing pink elephants with fangs running around the room. It is NOT a fun reaction to drugs and every time I need a surgery, I have to go through a whole process of explaining that they cannot give me opioids. Demerol is OK — different chemical base. Everything else makes me both sick AND crazy. Fentanyl is the worst and they use it a lot in hospitals.

    Glad you are feeling better. Just take it easy until all the incisions are nice and fused. I always do too much too soon and I also always regret it.

  2. So glad you are recovering well. A good attitude always helps and that you have a lot of.
    Lovely pictures, BTW.

  3. A worthwhile read, as usual, Andy. Your experience of hyper-sensitivity is pretty darn interesting.

    Very glad to hear that you’re on the mend.

  4. Good to hear that you’re well on the way to full recovery. One thing you may not realize has been a bit of a blessing: that you actually have access to a small hospital. Healthcare has turned into a predatory, grinding beast of a business. Small hospitals have shrunk in number and are closing daily. It’s partly because of the bizarre economics of insurance and government reimbursements. It’s also because big hospital chains have been buying up small hospitals…and physician practices…and closing them. Really. It’s become a brutal business.

    1. I do feel very lucky, at least two different ways.

      1. That I caught this before it got a lot worse.

      2. That I knew of this small hospital, not far away. I’m sure my experience would not be nearly as good at one of those larger urban hospitals. Just the fact that I didn’t have to wait hours until I was seen in the ER, was fantastic.

      Healthcare is such a big challenge.

  5. Sorry to hear about the emergency surgery, but glad you are OK!

    I feel like we are kindred spirits on a few of your observations. It is super important to pick the right medical professionals, and often it helps a lot to ask lots of questions because they aren’t automatically forthcoming with the details, nor do they know everything you are concerned about. Being analytical helps because you can think through many of the “what if” situations.

    And broadcast TV is OK … they really have a lot of filler when they have to air 24 hours of shows. But the worst thing about broadcast is the commercials. There are so many of them! I’m so spoiled with streaming media.

    Also, I am also super unimpressive in the beard department. Wishing you a complete and quick recovery. Hope you’re doing well!

    PS: Speaking of lots of treatment options, If you feel like reading about our recent hospital experience, we recently went through a rather lengthy radiotherapy medical procedure with our dog. https://www.dogfosters.com/2018/04/14/radiation-treatment-for-dog-brain-tumors-a-personal-experience/

  6. Glad you are feeling better Andy! I had mine removed a few years ago. It was also very inflamed. The pain was terrible. I am sure you know what I mean.

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