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The Gallbladder Story Part II - "The Recovery"
Maybe this should not be entitled “the recovery” because I am still in the process of recovering. Ok, the recovering.
One of the greatest days that I have had recently was the afternoon of Sunday, May 4th. I was released from the hospital and I stepped out of the surgical ward and into God's world. The sun was shining, the wind was blowing, the sky was blue, and all of creation seemed to be celebrating with me. The hospital is a nice place to visit, but it is also such a wonderful place to leave.
Being at home was a whole new experience. The hospital was nice, but very sterile. At home, I have everything of interest at my fingertips. It feels so much better to be around your own stuff, sitting in your own chair, relaxing among familiar surroundings. At home, every one waits on you. Well, that lasted about 24 hours, then the head nurse announced to the kids that it was good for Dad to get up and walk, and they should stop helping me. I took a nap in the recliner.
Once at home, I was lavished with all kinds of wonderful food. Raegene's chicken soup, Kathy's chicken with rice, MaryAnn's chicken casserole, Glenda's salmon, Greg's ribs, Dave's pork chops, Dorothy's sorbet, a friendship meal, and every variety of Popsicle. I slept in the recliner.
On Monday, I returned to the doctor's office to have my drain removed. Kathy warned me that this was going to be painful. She encouraged me with the words, “take narcotics.” So I was a bit worried about this procedure. Our appointment was at 5:15. Getting in and out of the car is not very easy. Walking is very painful. Everything is painful. My belly is one big swollen painful heap.
Finally we are called to the back. A very nice young lady named Kim is going to remove the drain. She is young, maybe 17, I think. She tells me that this is not going to be pleasant. Yes, I have heard that. She asks me to lie down on the table. She straps me down. She cuts the stitch that holds the drain in place and begins to pull.
Now the drain tube is a ¼ inch plastic tube that wanders around your insides collecting extra fluid. Kind of like a French drain at a construction site. When Kim begins to pull on this tube, I can feel my insides begin to move around. She explains that sometimes the tube has to pull around various parts……..no kidding. There is a snag. Maybe it is hung up on a lung. She puts her foot up against my ribcage and gives a yank. I give a yelp. The drain releases and she begins to wind it up. There is a hose hanger on the wall and she loops the tube around it. 10, 15 25 feet. This is a long hose and it sure felt more like a garden hose than a ¼ inch tube.
Over the next few days, I enjoyed Popsicles, TV, and sitting in the recliner. I took long naps and slept at night the best that I could. Each day I felt a little better, and it was a great joy to be able to take a shower. The worst part of the first week was the 29 staples holding my incision closed. They itched, they hurt, and they stung. It was hard to get comfortable at night. On Friday, they were coming out.
Driving. A lot of you could not believe that I was allowed to drive so soon. Well, I was just following doctor's orders. They told me that as soon as I got off of the pain meds, that I could drive. Since I love cars, my last day of pain meds was the Saturday, the day before I left the hospital. Technically I could have driven myself home from the hospital, but my head nurse said “no” to that idea.
It is Friday. Eight days post surgery and the staples come out today. I drive to the doctor's office where I am greeted again by Kim. She has a sly grin on her face. She enjoyed pulling out my drain on Monday, and now I am in her clutches again. I ask her if this is going to hurt. She says, “not any worse that the drain removal did.” I lay down on the table. She grabs a pair of pliers. One by one, the special pliers opens the staples and she pulls them out. Ok, this stings, but you know what, I am so much better than the week before, lets get it over with. 27, 28, 29, ok Mr. Brinkman, that is it. See you later.
How did I get to be Mr. Brinkman anyway? That is what they called my Dad.
On Sunday I went to church, shook hands before the services and went home. I was still very tender and sore. On Monday, I went to the office in the mornings. Other staff has taken over much of what I was doing, so I just caught up on some stuff and visited with some folks.
Every day that week, I felt better. Everyday I felt a little stronger. The swelling started to go down and I could sleep better with the staples out. I began eating a little bit more. I lost 15+ pounds during this episode, and I actually feel better in some ways. I am eating less, and eating better. Since you need your gallbladder to digest fatty foods, I am avoiding them. I have not eaten any fried foods since April 30th. I feel that for the first time in a long time, I am in control over my appetite instead of the other way around. That is a good thing.
Normalcy is slowly returning to my life. I am doing well at work, I am eating regular meals, and I am attending some functions that normal people attend. Some have been worried about me doing too much, too soon. I have consulted with three doctors who all told me the same thing. “Take it easy, if you feel tired, take a nap. You will know if you are pushing too hard.” Well, I want to assure you, I have tried to be careful and I am resting. It's just hard to keep a good man down.
One of the things that I have enjoyed the most during this recovery is the showing off of my scars. I have made some big tough guys feel squeamish. I have showed my incision to lots of people. Brent said that I lifted my shirt so many times, that he thought I was vying for a spot on “girls gone wild.” I had a shirt made with the word “Brinkmanstein” across the top. I drew the scars and marks on the front of the shirt. That part of this has been kind of fun.
In a few weeks I will be back to normal, if the Lord allows it. I will be working in the yard, mowing the grass, planting trees and building retaining walls. Later this year I hope to return to the octagon to resume my career as an ultimate fighter. Just kidding.
We have an awesome church family. I so appreciate all of the visits, cards and food that you, my wonderful friends have showered me with during this time. You know my wife is out of town a lot and the kids are home for the summer, so please keep the food coming.