There’s no place like home

19 Nov

Finally going home!

Well it finally happened.  After 15 days in the hospital, I was finally released this past Wednesday and I must say it was one of the greatest feelings of freedom I’ve ever experienced.  As indicated in previous posts (which are still a blur to me as I re-read them), following my surgery on November 3rd, I was on track to be released within 4 days – the doctors were very pleased with my initial signs of recovery.  However things started to not look so good as I developed an infection in one of the wounds.  Needless to say the extended hospital stay was quite necessary, but as I continued to improve, I also continued to grow more stir-crazy; the last few days were especially restless.

Now that I’m at home, I am adjusting to a temporary different way of life.  Due to the wound infection I developed, they had to open the sutures to remove all of the bacteria.  Once the wound had been opened up, they couldn’t just stitch it back together again.  Instead, they re-dressed the wound with the assistance of a ‘wound-vac’ which creates a negative pressure system that helps wounds heal 40-50% faster than normal.  There is now a small hose that runs from this wound into a vacuum system which will accompany me everywhere for the next 2-4 weeks.  Every three days a nurse comes to the house to put fresh dressing on the wound and ensure that recovery is as expected.

I previously mentioned I would be sporting a colostomy bag post-surgery.  Well I was mistaken – it is an ileostomy bag.  A colostomy bag is used when the contents of the colon are redirected; an ileostomy bag is used when the contents of the ileum (or small bowel) are redirected. During the digestive process, food hits your ileum before your colon, therefore my entire digestive system past my ileum is essentially shut down for now and being diverted into a wonderful pouch that is secured onto the front of my stomach, thus allowing everything below this point to heal.  I empty the pouch 7-10 times a day and change it out every 3-5 days.  This whole experience has really provided me with a crash course in anatomy, as I can literally see my pipes through the bag…when I was bored in the hospital, I would eat something, and then time how long it would take to see it come into the bag!  Albeit temporary, wearing this bag makes one feel less than stunning, so please feel free to send any fashion-forward tips for concealing a decent-sized plastic pouch on the front of your belly that contains no-so-appealing contents…

Em and Nick enjoy 'date night' at the hospital

While there is still a long road of recovery that lies ahead of me (i.e. another surgery in 4-6 weeks to reattach the small bowel in order to remove the ileostomy bag, and a cancerous lesion that still remains on the liver) I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers throughout this arduous process.  Your positive vibes allowed us to remain upbeat through challenging times, which goes a long way.  A quick example: one difficult part of this entire process was that Nick had to travel for work a great amount of the time, so I was so thankful to have Mom, Dad, Bill, Jane, Nora and Jan around throughout various times of my hospital stay.  One evening however, Nick showed up and surprised me when he was supposed to be out of town.  We took advantage of the few hours we would have together and enjoyed ‘date night’ – which consisted of several laps around the hospital hallways, but not before getting all decked out. I ditched my hospital gown for a new silk robe that was given to me, brushed my hair and put on some lipstick (the hospital socks and IV cart accompanied us on the date)!  At a time when I was feeling so miserable, it was the strength that everyone else was sending that enabled me to muster up the ability to make this happen.  Thanks again for all your support, I am constantly reminded I am not fighting this battle alone!

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6 Responses to “There’s no place like home”

  1. Jill (Flaherty) Link November 19, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Emily – so happy to hear you are out of the hospital. I have been following your journey and am so amazing at your outlook and insight into the process. Keeping you and your health in my prayers. Jill

  2. Stephanie Djerf November 19, 2010 at 11:57 am #

    Emily – you are truly amazing! I love that you have kept your sense of humor beautifully intact through all the in’s and out’s (literally). Thanks for allowing us all to follow your progress.

  3. Mary November 19, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

    I love you Emily!!!! You’re in my thoughts ALWAYS!

  4. Barbara McCarthy November 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm #

    Em, You’re an inspiration to absolutely everyone! I think of you all the time and send lots of prayers. Thank Allison too for keeping you in everyone’s thoughts. And, of course, your blog is the best.

  5. Stacie garvert November 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

    Em: you have always been an amazing person but you are proving to be the super woman we all knew you were. Nick married the best there is!!!!!! You are ALWAYS in my thoughts and prayers….love, stacie

  6. Jill November 19, 2010 at 7:42 pm #

    Words cannot describe how strong you both are! We are so happy you are home, together, all of you. We are thankful for your continued upbeat spirit in spite of what has been thrown at you. We love you both (all!) very much! Jill, Patrick & Hank

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