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  • A Different Kind of Marathon – III

    Posted on October 22nd, 2013 Michele Sun No comments

    Thur 10/3, Woke up in my room in darkness and could barely see anything since I didn’t have my glasses, but I could hear the beeping sounds from all the machines and monitors around me — this definitely was a hospital room. I was feeling thirsty, stiff and very drowsy, not sure how long I had been laying still. Fell back to sleep again shortly till the morning shift nurse came in to give me couple shots, and I asked her to find my glasses and iPhone for me. The lab technician came to draw my blood, and by this time my right inner elbow was so badly bruised that he had to try to draw blood from the back of my hand; it hurt when he pricked the needle but compare to my abdominal pain it’s really insignificant.

    I tried but could not remember much from yesterday, only the “It’s 6:30” Mary told me and her hug. I couldn’t recall anything in the Surgery Center after answering my DOB, or when and how I got back to my room. I had a very vague memory of nurses working around me and hooking me up with monitors, and image of someone walking into my room. But I was so drugged out that I wasn’t sure there was or who had come the night before.

    The morning shift nurse helped me to sit up and brought me breakfast which was very minimum, but I was so weak and had no appetite for anything. I did manage to finish that tiny slice of French toast and drank the juice and Ensure. After breakfast I spoke to my parents on Skype and my hoarse voice must worry them a great deal, because later I learned that they started checking for flight to SF. In my tiny voice, I told them I was fine, nurses here were very helpful, my room was comfortable, and I already ate my breakfast..etc. All I wanted was trying to assure them not to worry.


    Dr. Nayak came early in the morning to check the incisions area, and he explained what were taken out of me yesterday. I felt very indifferent when he told me that they had removed a tumor larger than 12cm, along with other parts of me, and it took them longer than what they had originally predicted due to the size of the tumor. He told me the name of the tumor and said it’s abnormal and a very rare kind, but I couldn’t remember the name correctly. I was too drugged out so I had no reaction to what he was telling me. The only thing I knew was the pain in my lower body, and I wasn’t able to move at all.

    Then Dr. Nayak showed me that small remote controller connecting to a machine next to my bed, and he instructed me to use that morphine to manage my pain. I was given lots of pills including narcotic medicine, iron pills, stool softener.. etc. I also was instructed to exercise my lung continually, to make sure there would be no blood clot in my lungs. But it hurt when I tried to breathe, even more than after they drew the fluids out of my lung. After doctor left, I was in and out of sleep for most part of the morning and skipped lunch again, except I drank the orange juice. I was wondering with all the fluids I had drank why I didn’t have the need to go bathroom? The nurse answered it’s because I had an urinary catheter inserted into my bladder.

    That afternoon they moved me out of my private room in MedTele ward, and into a crowded room on fourth floor with three other patients in it. I was not happy about this transfer, but Dr. Tee had cleared me from cardiac monitor already so I didn’t need to and could not stay in MedTele. Three nurses came to help with the move because I had so many balloons, flowers, candies…etc. They grew by days!! Once we got to the new room there was just no space for my growing belongings.

    In the afternoon Marcia and Michael dropped in to check on me since I was out of reach the whole day yesterday, and I was so happy to see them; they were becoming my family! They asked about the operation yesterday and I told them that I didn’t remember anything but I shared what were discovered and removed. Marcia advised that I could file for disability now while in the hospital, and glad that she shared this with me because eventually I did go that route after checking out of hospital. Nurses had told me that when I felt strong enough I should get out of bed and walk a little to help with recovery. Since I was accompanied by two strong runners now, I decided I should try to get out of bed and walk with their help. We called the nurse in and she removed the catheter for me, and I joked when she closed the curtain for me “I don’t want Michael to see my naked butt.” LOL….

    You would think that sitting up is easy, but it was so difficult for me even with help of the nurse, Marcia and Michael. After I got disconnected from the oxygen and morphine, the three of them had to pull, push and support me while I tried to wiggle and inch  my butt to the edge of the bed. And I immediately felt very dizzy when I sit up and feet trying to touch the floor. I had to sit for few minutes and took in deep breath while Marcia and Michael steady me, and then I stood up and started moving toward the bathroom. Marcia and the nurse carried me by my arms from both side, while Michael walked behind me supporting my back. We slowly moved closer to the bathroom and let Michael waiting outside.

    It’s just impossible for me to sit on the toilet as it hurt too much to squat, and I tried really hard to lower my body with help of Marcia. She was puzzled when I asked her to turn the faucet and let water running, so I told her that I needed the sounds of running water to help me pee. We always say runners share everything, but having your friend helping you to pee and watching your butt being wiped clean must have set a whole new record I think!

    I told Michael that I wanted to try walking in the hallway, so with their support the three of us embarked on one long and tough journey together. I told them “let’s go see the sun” as we baby-stepped toward the end of the hallway where there was a huge window. I moved so slow that Michael joked “By the time we get there, it will be sunset already.” LOL~~ All of a sudden I felt drowsy and nausea, and I told them that I was about to throw up. Marcia nervously said “hold on, hold on, I will go find something for you.” Michael helped me to stand still in the middle of the hallway with machines, monitor stands.. surrounded us while Marcia  went running around and trying to find a container in case I did puke.

    Took a while for the nausea to go way and luckily I did not make a mess in the hallway, instead with their help we turned around and walked back to my room. With our teamwork and their “pacing“, I was back to my bed and feeling more exhausted than completing any marathon. The nurses were so impressed that I could get out of bed and walked in less than 24 hours after such big surgery. Well, they had no idea what I was before this surgery — I am a RUNNER.

    After Marcia and Michael left, I dozed off again till Anita came visiting after work. She was obviously not happy with the room I was in now, and she felt sorry seeing the loud conversations and TV noises from my roommates really bugged me. She went to talk to the nurse about I couldn’t rest because of all the noises, so the nurse came talking to the loud speaking group. Unfortunately the visitors and other roommates just continued their carnival all night. Before Anita left that evening, she and the nurse helped me to pee again. Because of the nausea experience in the afternoon, this time the nurse suggested me to pee into a toilet chair. I did not have any strength in me to be a heroine again and I was in too much pain to worry about my modesty or privacy, so I agreed and let the nurse moved the toilet chair next to my bed. With their help, I struggled out of bed and tried to pee into the potty. My abdominal had absolutely no feeling or strength at all, so I asked “Anita, can you whistle?” Oh boy, she totally sucked at this :-p

    Friday 10/4, last night I probably only slept for less than 2 hours with the dramas going on in this room; one of the patients was so delusional and she got out of her bed and fell in the bathroom. I was awaken by her, her family, nurses and social worker..etc. I felt I was about going crazy in this room by the minute, plus the pain was getting worse since all the drugs from the surgery were fading away from my body now. Instead of being reluctant like yesterday, I needed my morphine now so my body could heal.

    Dr. Tee and Dr. Nayak both came to check on me, and they told me the pathology report would come out next week. Meanwhile my hemo was getting low again  because I had lost a lot of blood during the surgery. Dr. Tee ordered blood transfusion for me again, and she also would arrange having me transferred to a single room so I could rest and recover better. I was advised to get out of my bed if possible, and walked a bit with help if I could.

    Jackie came with boxes of scallop porridge for me during her lunch break, and she had the nurse to heat-up my lunch for me. And to cheer me up, she even packed them in new and colorful GladWare containers because I like beautiful things. She was so considerate to prepare Azuki (red bean) soup as well, to help producing blood. Since there was no refrigerator in hospital room, she ended up bringing those extra food home and re-delivered after I got home later on. We joked that I needed a nice resort room, and ironically later I found the room was more expensive than a nice hotel actually. I was and still am grateful for how much Jackie had helped me like a mom would do, and with her busy work schedules she still messaged me and asked me what I felt like eating; she even brought a beauty bag filled with dry shampoo, hair brush, soft toothbrush, mouthwash..etc. for me.


    Later in the afternoon, I asked the nurse to help me getting out of bed, and I tried to figure out the best possible way to avoid putting pressure onto the surgery area, or pulling my muscle…etc. I started walking in the hallway with support of the rails on the wall, and slowly I made it to halfway to watch the sky and east foothill more closely. I was longing to get out of depressing hospital room and I missed fresh air. I wanted to feel normal again, and very little did I know how upside down my life would turn.

    The afternoon shift nurse tried to work on the blood transfusion, but somehow the IV catheter was leaking. I had blood streaming down from inner elbow down my wrist, so she called another nurse to help and they started a new IV catheter on my left wrist. My poor left arm was just as messed up as my right arm now. Good thing was two nurses came to tell me that they would move me to a double room but they wouldn’t put any roommate into it. With all the balloons, flowers, candies.. I got, this time they put all my belongings on my bed and pushed me in a wheelchair while I hold on to the IV Pole; efficiently they transferred me into a different room with view to the foothill which I used to run to on weekday mornings. Dr. Nayank had told me that it would take at least 6 weeks to recover and resume my normal routine, so I wondered when I would be able to run at my favorite trail again?

    Will I be able to back to the normal Michele? And why am I feeling so incomplete now…..


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