On the road to recovery

First Posted: 8/26/2009

I hesitated to write another column about my experiences this summer that involve my colon and all the trouble it has put me through. But, I honestly believe there needs to be an end to this story and I believe our readers want to know how everything turned out.
I promise, this is the last column I will write about the health of my colon.
With that said, Ill give those uninitiated readers a recap. In early May, I woke up with a sudden sharp pain in my lower left abdomen that just wouldnt go away. I soon found out that I had a condition known as diverticulitis with an added infection. I spent five days at Northern Hospital while doctors tried to nip the infection in the bud. I came back to work for two and a half weeks before the pain returned. One trip to the Emergency Room and a CT scan later, I was in an ambulance headed to Forsyth hospital for probably the most unpleasant experience of my life, having a tube stuck right through my skin to drain the same ever-growing infection.
Nine long days later, I was home again and headed back to work.
It was decided during my days in the Winston-Salem facility that I would have a laproscopic procedure to remove the damaged part of my colon. I met with Dr. Stanley Fuller, who seemed confident that I could make it through the surgery with only a five-percent chance of having a colostomy bag, which ranked right up there as one of my worst fears.
In the meantime, Dr. Fuller wanted me to have a colonoscopy so he could find out what was really going on in my colon. I chose Dr. Appler, whose office I pass every day on the way home. Im friends with his wife Kate, so I thought Id let him give it a go. I dont want to say much about the process other than the cleansing process before the procedure is truly awful. But it is a must-happen situation. The nurses in the new surgical wing of Northern Hospital, where the procedure took place, made the whole process so much easier.
My surgery was scheduled for Aug. 11 at Medical Park Hospital, but while I was waiting, the pain in my abdomen returned, causing me to rush to Winston for an emergency CT scan. It apparently didnt look too bad on the scan, but they wanted one more look before cutting me open. I went on oral antibiotics until the day before the surgery.
I was feeling very stressed about the surgery, knowing that while it would fix the problem that has plagued me all summer, I would wake up in pain and be forever physically changed. So I went to see Dr. Button, a chiropractor and expert in acupuncture. My back had been killing me, Im sure some of that came from the stress of my impending surgery. Not only did he relieve the pain in my back, but I asked him if he could do some acupuncture to ease my anxiety. Not only did it work, but it worked so well, I went back one more time hours before my surgery to have him treat my anxiety again. I didnt have to have one drug to calm my nerves until they put me to sleep in the operating room. And I sometimes suffer from panic attacks, so thats not only amazing, but outright extraordinary to me.
To make a long story a little shorter, the surgery went well. The first thing Dr. Fuller said to me as I woke up was that I didnt have a bag and they were able to do the laproscopic surgery after all, meaning that I had a small incision. There had been a chance they would have had to cut a much larger opening to get that nasty infection out.
As it turns out, my colon was attached to my inner abdomen wall and was thick and diseased. The infection was also much larger than they anticipated. But all the of the junk was out of me and I was feeling no pain that was until the operating room drugs wore off.
I spent the next four days recuperating in the hospital before heading home. I have spent the last week and a few days recovering at home. I had planned to do so many things during my down time, like getting caught up on my reading, organizing my files and do some creative writing. None of those things happened.
I ended spending most of my days on the sofa watching TV or sleeping. But thats exactly what they told me to do, so I dont really feel that bad about it.
I want to thank all of my friends and family who came to the hospital or my home to visit. Some brought food, others sent flowers. I am so grateful for the experience because I found out that so many people care about me. There are not enough words to express my gratitude to those who supported me through the whole process.
The other thing that I gained through my experience is knowing that just when you think you have it pretty bad, there is always someone who is going through something much worse than you.
Its good to be back at work. I am truly blessed to be healthy and Im glad to be on the road to recovery!
Mondee Tilley is a staff reporter with The Mount Airy News. She can be contacted at [email protected] or at 719-1930.

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