Crohn’s Disease and the Longest Month of My Life (pt. 2)

OK, here is the second part of my story discussing my recent emergency hospital stay. If you haven’t read the first half, click here.

After both surgeries, I continued to stay in the ICU at Henry Ford Hospital in downtown Detroit. I have to admit, I don’t remember much of the first week and a half — thank you, pain medications — but I was fortunate to have a number of friends and other family members come to visit me for chunks of the day. When I wasn’t out for the count, I had access to my laptop, the TV, and reading material, so I was pretty well occupied.

I had incredible nurses in the ICU. I’m not exaggerating. I can think of only two I didn’t personally care for, and I had a lot of nurses attend to me. Of course I had my favorites. These were women and men who were upbeat, kind, encouraging, helpful, and sympathetic to my situation. They never hesitated to get me what I needed at the drop of a hat, and were always there in seconds if I needed something at 2am. One even braided my hair a few times, one gave me a small, wooden cat figurine after we bonded over our cat photos on our phones, and one male nurse in particular was incredibly easy on the eyes, which is always nice, ha. I’m so thankful for the nursing staff in that ICU. They definitely made the experience much better.

Throughout my three-to-four-week stay in that section, I underwent so many CT scans and x-rays I lost count. I had to have two PICC lines inserted into my arms, injections each day for reducing the risk of blood clots, drains inserted into my chest and abdomen to get rid of fluid that had built up, and was subjected to another procedure that I won’t talk about, but definitely do not want to experience ever again.  I had the NG tube in for a while (meaning no food), but they took it out after a couple weeks to see how my body would do. Unfortunately, I had to get another reinserted because I was throwing up and producing too much bile. Let me tell you, having an NG tube put in is one of the worst experiences of my life. It’s indescribably awful. But it was needed and was in for at least another week.

henry-ford-hospital-downtown-detroit2

(Photo by Justin McKee)

I was literally wasting away in the hospital. Not being able to eat food for weeks, I got used to crunching on ice chips throughout the day. I lost a lot of weight. In addition, bathing wasn’t exactly an option. Nurses can scrub you down with a soap solution and warm water on wash cloths, but you never really feel clean. Washing your hair is impossible, and mine quickly became the greasiest its ever been. I had dry shampoo on hand, but you can’t use that forever. The hospital offers this shower cap with soap that is supposed to work, but it only ends up leaving your hair one step less greasy than it was before, so using it was a moot point. And don’t even get me started on shaving. My armpit hair and leg hair were competing to see which could grow the longest. It was disgusting, and I felt like a caveman.

Once that fourth week hit, I was going stir crazy. Finally came the day where I was released from the ICU and taken to the regular recovery wing of the hospital. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the best experience in that area. I could honestly feel my sanity slipping from me. I hadn’t seen anything but hospital walls and hadn’t breathed fresh air in a month. It drives you mad. And I could tell I was changing. I was increasingly cranky, pessimistic, and emotional. Beware. Luckily, I was only there for four days and was thankfully released in the middle of that week.

You have no idea how it felt to be wheeled out of those hospital doors. I cried, smelling the air and seeing traffic, buildings, and people.

Since I was released, I’ve been healing and taking it (relatively) easy at the home of my parents. I’m trying to regain the weight and strength I lost, and attempting to find my love of food once again. Right now, I’m eating toddler-sized portions and some days struggle to have the energy to get out of bed. Other days, I’m raring to go, able to shower and walk around without getting tired. More of those days are happening, though, which is encouraging. The incision on my abdomen is tiny and thin now, and almost closed. Follow-up appointments are this week, and I’m hoping for good news.

Although I don’t know how long I will have to be a guest in my parent’s home, I’m hoping to get back to my own cozy abode as soon as possible. Wish me luck.

—K

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
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3 Responses to Crohn’s Disease and the Longest Month of My Life (pt. 2)

  1. Leslie says:

    I definitely wish you luck, glad you had great nurses.

  2. Bobby says:

    Great, I am happy for you. My Uncle was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. This is so helpful! http://surgeons.sydney/

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