I am currently sitting in the hospital room, watching Clement rest, surrounded by subtle but interesting experience of staying at the hospital - the beeping of the monitoring machines, the footsteps of the hospital staff, phones ringing, occasional coughing, the scent of the antiseptic hand wash, ah... hospital life. I've never had to take care of Clement (or anyone, for that matter) at a hospital for this length of time. Thankful that his bed is by the window, with a gorgeous view of the city, the sunlight shining through. While recovery has been quite challenging, we feel so blessed and thankful for this journey.
The day before the first surgery! It's purge day. C and I still had to run some errands in the morning before the purge, so we did that because we know C wouldn't be able to leave the house once we start the purge. The purge was really hard, as usual, but what made it tougher this time was the addition of tons of antibiotics to help reduce infection once the surgery happens. It was so bad and nauseating that C actually vomited much later... ugh. It was so tough seeing him suffer. Plus, I wasn't truly off work that day yet, I had to still finish some stuff. But by God's grace I was able to wrap things up, and my dear assistant has been an angel and is helping while I'm away - so I was able to spend some quiet time with C, watching a movie, some prayer time and we tried to rest as early as we could.
D-day! We woke up around 5 and headed to the hospital. My sister Krisha actually flew all the way to the Philippines to be with me as we waited during the surgery, and I feel so incredibly blessed for her love and care for us. When we were growing up, we really didn't get along, but I'm so thankful that God brought us closer together as we got older. My sister Kay also took the day off so she could be with us, as well as C's parents, and I felt like we had a little arsenal of prayer warriors going into battle.
My heart was so full.
We headed to the surgical daycare, got C checked in, and thankfully he got his surgery at the expected time of 8AM. They did all the prep as well as the epidural, and before long was ready to wheel him into the operating room. The surgeon came to see us just before the surgery to check in with me, as well to get my phone number so he could call me once the surgery was completed. And so we waited.
Thankfully the hospital was located in a great neighborhood and there's lots to do, so my sisters took it upon themselves to distract me so I wouldn't be sitting and worrying, haha! So we went for a walk and was able to relax and wait until the surgeon gave me a call. Close to 5 hours, we received the phone call that he was transferred to the recovery unit, but of course we wouldn't see him for a little longer. After about two hours, we finally saw him, but he was really groggy still. After a little over an hour he was transferred into his room, yay!
We got settled into a nice semi-private room by the window, which I'm thankful for. C was pretty tired so we just let him drink some liquids and sleep, and called it a night.
Bright and early I headed over to visit C, and also because I wanted to be there when the doctors come by, but we still hadn't seen the surgeon. But he definitely looked better and more alert this day. They encouraged him to go for a walk, so he did a half lap, and then later on did a full lap again. We quickly realized that recovery isn't going to be easy nor instantaneous, but we were thankful for his improvement. He also nibbled on some solid food that day but he decided later on not to do it (haha!) as he felt some gas and tightness around. He later discovered that walking would help reduce the gas and increase some blood circulation throughout his body. We also got the visit from the stoma nurse as well as the dietitian, so those were all good lessons to have. Had a steady influx of visitors too, which I know encouraged C.
Krish and I got to do a nice long run this day because the Seawheeze is just a few days away. I felt great and definitely felt excited about it, because now I'm running with my sister. It was a great pace and we were still chatting! So stoked to run this half marathon with my sister. After that I headed over. We quickly learned that hospital food is definitely not tasty, haha, so we fed C some delicious congee from his mom, who's really an awesome cook. We love her delicious meals. And of course he had tons of fluids throughout the day. He was a little bit more active today, walking around and sitting up quite a bit. Still quite a bit of pain in the surgical site, but that's to be expected because it's probably like a war zone inside... a whole organ was removed, plus there's a new drainage system, and the internal pouch was also made, so there's so much healing to be done! We are thankful that his bowels have started to work, and so he was able to practice emptying his pouch and cleaning up afterwards.
C had the room to himself yesterday but it was short-lived as a new neighbor came in late at night, for some emergency but oh well! it's the reality of hospital stays. C looks better today, his body isn't as swollen anymore and they took out some of the pain medication as well. Grateful that he is quite mobile, getting his blood circulating through his body. But, the road to recovery is still quite long, but we are thankful for God's grace every step of the way.
Today we listened to a church service since it's Sunday but we're still at the hospital. And we learned that waiting on God is really about His presence, and not His present. I know we've been praying a lot for C's healing, but we also have definitely felt His presence through this journey, encouraging us, shaping us and compelling us forward. We hope that we would really use this experience to bring glory to God.
WAIT - W for Word of God, A for Active Anticipation, and I for Intimacy with God, and T for Trusting in God.
C's output is starting to be more solid today, but still watery and the output is still high, since it's his second day with real output. So we're hoping that it would improve over time.
Once we left to call it a night, C shared to me that he had some quiet time with God and he felt really grateful for this journey of healing, and that he was hopeful for his future. We're also truly thankful for all the support we've experienced from the family and friends at this tough time. I know C is a fantastic patient but this journey was really tougher than what we thought, and sometimes people don't understand what it's like to have pain all your life, and to have surgery but we're talking about a change in lifestyle here. There's so much more to learn and adjust to - it's not simply a removal surgery. It's not just our bodies - it's also our minds, our spirit that is affected.
Some days definitely go by quickly than others. It's hard to believe that we're Day 4 post surgery, but have been here for 5 days. Clement has more energy and has been walking around laps around the floor. Still some pain but better than the past couple of days. Thank God for His continued grace and for the many prayers we've received all over the world.
Since the surgery took quite a bit of time, he had some phlegm that needed to come out, and so it's tough to cough because it hurts but he's finally getting the hang of it. His output is still watery, some solids but the doctor said we'll need to see more solid output before we leave the hospital. Today is a holiday, so I think the hospital is a little less staffed, we won't be able to see the stoma nurse until tomorrow. We're praying that tomorrow when we do see the stoma nurse, he would have more solid output, get our supplies, and hopefully get the go signal to move forward. Thankful for his many visitors and also for the opportunity to eat more solid food... like this donut he so happily ate, LOL!
Looks like we're not going home today, because C's output is still pretty liquid and we haven't seen the stoma nurse. Plus, C had some new pain in the stomach area today, so we're praying hard that it would be resolved soon. We knew recovery and recuperating weren't going to be easy but it's harder when you're actually going through it. I know ultimately this will help C, but sometimes it's tough when you're still going through a rollercoaster when this is supposed to help tremendously.
Soon - a word we say way too often.
But on the positive side, C is getting a lot of rest that he's never had. It's like a retreat. Hospitals in a way, force you to focus on healing and resting, than if he was at home. He's also grateful for technology and entertainment so he's not too bored. It's definitely forcing a lot of time with God, too, which is never a bad idea. Sometimes these pauses in life are what we need to draw even closer to God.
But it just really sucks watching him in pain.
A setback, and it's really disheartening. We don't know what's causing it. Apparently it started last night almost right after the IV was taken out (which I don't think has anything to do with it), and it's been pretty constant pain until now. Lord, have mercy.
Thankfully, after some medication, the pain subsided a little bit towards the late afternoon yesterday. Some of the pain returned the next morning but it wasn't as bad as before. As of now, we've attributed it to the wound healing on the inside, so hoping it'll get better soon.
Before we knew it, the doctors came by and mentioned to C that he could be going home today, especially since the pain was currently under control. They wanted to see more solid output, again, so we hoped and prayed that if it was God's will, he would be going home.
And surprise! The surgeon actually came by!
And so did the stoma nurse and the dietitian - it was a busy morning to say the least. Then we knew that they were going to send us home soon. The surgeon said that we would be looking forward to the Surgery Part 2 in about 3 months, and he did warn us that it was going to be tough. So we'll definitely need to look at our travel plans and move things around if that was the case. But for now we're gonna focus on healing for C. The better we figure out his new system, the better the j pouch transition is gonna be, because it'll be similar-ish output.
The stoma nurse also noticed that the stoma would now need a convex flange, so there's definitely gonna be some trial and error until we find the perfect fit. We knew recovery wasn't going to be easy but we are grateful for all the prayers and support we've had. I'm also really glad that I got to take some time off, because I really don't know what else to think of at this time, but I can't help but to be in absolute care mode. In these times you just realize what is more important than anything in this world, everything else just falls short.
And before long, the hospital went into discharge mode - prescriptions, follow up meetings, community care support, removed the staples, provided supplies for the next little while, and then suddenly we were on our trip home.
It's a bit surreal but at the same time we know our journey is far from over. We now have to figure out the right appliance and supplies for C, the right diet and proper introduction and reintroduction of foods, strengthening and recovery and tons and tons of healing. Plus, we will soon be back for the next surgery. But, we will take it one day at a time, relying on God's strength and grace.