It has been a month since I had my first ever major surgery. I’ve been to Operating room twice before but that were from two minor procedures (one was EGD on 2015, and Endocervical Polypectomy on 2018). This time was a major one but before that, I would like to walk you through with my whole experience from my first ER experience until today.
April 26, 2020 5AM. I felt an abdominal pain which lasted for few minutes while I was on my shift (I was on graveyard shift back then). I assumed that this was just one of my gastritis attack. Pain was relieved then and I was able to slept after. Upon waking up, I felt that pain again. Tried doing some relieving measures like applying warm compress and by drinking yakult. Still, the same pain persists and it even got worst around 9pm.
I tried my best not to bring myself to the nearest hospital because we were on ECQ that time, no available cab and Grab around but when I knew that the pain is not tolerable anymore, I reached out to one of my friends who had a car and asked if they could bring me to the hospital. Thank God for friends with car. LOL
I could remember my Emergency Room journey at that time: how they were so strict at the Triage Area because of the pandemic. Good thing, I didn’t had any fever at that time, and the process just went smooth because of that. At first, I was nervous because I might get the virus from the hospital, but thank God, FEU was not receiving any Covid 19 patients (even suspected cases) at that time LOL.
The ER was quiet at that time. And that was my first visit to the new ER of FEU. Lol. I could remember our duties way back college days, when ER duty was one of the most tox-shifts we had. This time, it was kinda peaceful.
ROD attended me immediately and ordered the usual medications for abdominal pain: Esomeprazole, Ranitidine, Buscopan via IV and Gaviscon PO (eww Gaviscon, tastes like toothpaste LOL). After an hour and two, the pain still persists. I even vomited which was really weird. I felt a colicky pain that time and I asked the ROD if he could order abdominal ultrasound (o diba nagsuggest talaga ako sa doctor haha).
They brought me then to the ultrasound room, and while the tech does my ultrasound, she then called another tech and said “may stones”. Upon hearing that, I got nervous again and said to myself “sh!t, may gallstones ata ako”. They brought me up back to ER and waited for results….and tadah! Yes, I got gallstones.
The ROD told me that he would refer me to Resident Surgeon. Okay. A lot of things we’re running in my head at that time, like, how my friend would get my things at home and who will accompany me during my admission until the surgery. Anyway, did I mention that I do not have any family member with me at that time? My parents are stucked at the province, while my brothers are abroad. LOL
The resident surgeon came for consult, and she advised that they won’t be doing any surgery at that point because first, of the pandemic restrictions, second, the size of stones were small enough at that time and she told me to just monitor for any recurring pain afterwards. I can have my surgery when the situation gets better, coz if I will be having this surgery during ECQ, it will be costly as compared to the usual operation. Around 2am, the pain was relieved and I was discharged at 3am. They gave discharge instructions like diet modification and prescribed me with medications for pain.
Thank God I didn’t felt any colicky pain again, except for the gas pain that I felt when I tried to shift my usual milk to Soya Milk and Almond Milk. Plant based milk now sucks. Sad.
Fast forward to January 12, 2021.
As I went to the office, I suddenly felt an abdominal pain. I went to our clinic and asked for Buscopan. I took one, and waited for the pain to subside. Pain got even worst and I vomited after. Went back to clinic and asked if they could refer me to the nearest ER. The nurse just gave me contact number of our Maxicare Liaison officer but the number was out of reach. I decided to call Maxicare hotline myself and asked for the nearest hospital that is Maxicare accredited. They referred me to Medical Center Taguig and brought myself there.
Same routine: health declaration at the Triage area. Got confused with the Triage Nurse coz he kept on asking me if I have an Attending Urologist (nakarinig lang ng stones, urologist na agad. LOL). Got inside their ER and I was attended immediately by their ROD and a Nurse. Asked for my medical history, yadda yadda… even asked me to have PT prior receiving pain medication and I refused coz hello, wala pong chance na mabuntis ako LOL. Signed a waiver instead haha
Infairness, mabilis naman sila sa ER. They gave me the usual IV medications and extracted blood for some laboratory tests. Pain was relieved afterwards, but, blood chem showed elevated SGPT and SGOT levels (these are liver function tests). ROD ordered some repeat ultrasound to check for the size of my gallstones.
I was okay after, felt no pain thank God. But I was nervous by my liver function test. I scheduled an appointment for a consult and ultrasound at MHC Venice. Good thing my abdominal pain didn’t recur as the appointments at MHC was kind of hassle, but I understand because, Pandemic. LOL. Did the tests on January 19 and showed the results to a General Surgeon on January 22.
Good news, my liver is in normal shape. ALP is also normal. But, my gallbladder is already distended. Also, one of my gallstones increased its size to 1.1 cm. Doc Dave, my Surgeon, advised me to have my surgery as soon as possible. I even bargained to have it scheduled in the next two weeks but he told me that it’s not possible, my gallbladder might explode soon and can cause further damage LOL He told me that my gallbladder is already a ticking time bomb. He just consoled me by telling me that “pwede ka na magunli samgyup kahit kelan pag naalis na yung gallbladder mo” LOL DOC so comforting. Haha. He then scheduled me for Lap Cholecystectomy on January 28, 2021. Ordered me some antibiotics pre-surgery and some tests for Cardio-Pulmonary clearance, including RT PCR which is a requirement for all surgeries to be done in hospitals.
I didn’t really see this coming, I was kinda surprised but also, I am kind of expecting this to happen, but not so soon LOL. I had all the tests prior the surgery. Thank God for HMO LOL but RT PCR was not covered, good bye 5k hahaha.
January 27, 2021. After shift, I went home first and packed my stuff then went to the hospital for admission. The admission process took time as expected.
Yes, I admitted myself without any assistance haha. I brought with me some art materials and my journaling stuff just in case I got bored during my hospitalization. Luckily, the nurse inserted my heplock at my left hand haha. I was able to journal that night without any hassle. Ate few snacks until midnight in preparation for my fasting.
January 28, 2021. The big day. My surgery was rescheduled to 1PM, just right coz my friend, Osh, will be arriving at the hospital at around that same time. I just watched some shows on the cable to relax myself before the surgery. They brought me down to OR around 12:30 PM and prepped me. I had a little conversation with my Anesthesiologist and saw Doc Dave arrived at the OR and then..everything went blur.
5:30 PM. Woke up and found myself at the Recovery Room of course. I asked for a bedpan cause, no. 1 haha. Still felt groggy from that General Anesthesia. No other complaints noted. They brought me back to my room at around 7:30 PM
Upon arrival to room, I almost shouted out of excitement when I saw my friend. LOL. The first thing I asked her was “can you please get my phone. i have to inform my family that my surgery went well.” LOL phone agad hahahahaha. We talked a lot as if nothing happened but I had a hard time laughing coz of the surgery pain. 😅😅
The surgery was not that painful, surprisingly. I even ambulated around 9:30 PM. The nurse was shocked seeing me walking around the room post surgery. But I had difficulty on coughing (this is usual post surgery caused my the ET tube inserted for General Anesthesia, not Covid, okay lol). But overall, I was fine really. Osh left the hospital around 10:30 PM and told me she’ll be back when I’m about to be discharged.
Around 11:30 PM, I had my first ever fever and I felt nauseous as well. It started when the other nurse gave me oral medications because he told me that my surgeon ordered to have me on general liquids that time. Nabigla ata tiyan ko sa tubig lol. Good thing, my nurse on duty was fast, she immediately gave me some medications for nausea and fever.
January 29. Day 1 Post Op. Still no sign of flatus. hahaha. I tried to walk outside my room so that I can pass out air out of my system and be discharged the same day lol
Around 10 am, Doc Dave did his rounds. The usual, he asked me how am I doing and did the wound dressing.
He also discussed what happened during the surgery and why did the surgery took 4 hours instead of the usual 2 hours Lap Cholecystectomy.
He said that he had a hard time removing my gallbladder. First, he saw that I had a lot of adhesions, which was weird because this was my first abdominal surgery ever (only to find out that Cholecystitis can cause adhesions). Also, my gallbladder was so inflamed, he had to slow down the process of separating it from the Cystic Duct, refer to the lower part of the drawing above. He was actually a bit worried that time coz he was not sure if there were some stones dislodged at the CBD, and it was something that we need to watch out for because worst case scenario, he might do additional surgery for that complication (e.g ERCP).
He wanted me to discharge that day but I asked if I could extend another day. I was hesitant to go home without any sign of flatus, because I had a trauma from my mom’s surgery way back 2017 when she was readmitted because of her Post operative Ileus. He agreed and advised me to update him from time to time, if there are any concerns.
Around afternoon, I called the Billing Department and asked for the running bill. After few hours, they gave me the copy and to my surprise, my bill was about to reach my maximum benefit limit of my Health insurance. Hahahaha. Again, I walked and walked so that my intestines could wake up LOL
January 30. Day 2 Post op. I woke up at around 5am and finally, (+) flatulence. LOL. I immediately sent an SMS to my surgeon and told him that I am confident to go home already. Totoo nga sabi ng friend ko na nakaka-utot daw yung hospital bill HAHAHAHAHA.
My surgeon already cleared me for discharge. Reached out to Osh and unfortunately, she wasn’t able to accompany me during the discharge process but that was okay. I just asked my nurse if I can do the process myself LOL. He said that it was okay and he will just let someone accompany me at the ground floor. So I did. O diba bongga, from admission to discharge, ako lang. HAHA #StrongIndependentWoman
My total bill was around Php 189k (almost USD 4k), My health card was maxed out, good thing Philhealth covered 31k from the total bill. My out of pocket was 28k. Not bad. I thought I would be paying more than that, but still, it was a lot. I got discharged around 1pm and got home here at QC around 2pm-ish.
Home at last. I was advised to switch my diet to DAT (Diet as Tolerated), so I tried baking some chicken breasts and potatoes. Yup, no oily foods for now!
January 31. Day 3 Post Op. Found an Easy Phamax Wheatgrass powder drink (not sponsored LOL) at my stash and decided to try it now. I got it from my MasarapBa Bag purchase months ago. And yep, it helped me 💩 . LOL. Success. That moment when you had a good 💩 LOL. But after that 💩 incident, I got really exhausted. I’m not so sure but I think that’s one effect of me adjusting to my body without the gallbladder? LOL whatever.
After I regained my energy, I went out to buy groceries and some stuff for my wound dressing. Pain scale is already at a 5 so yep, That’s how my high tolerance to pain was all about LOL
I had this friend who got her gallbladder removed as well, and she told me that her diet post surgery was really back to normal, but since I am still worried about my liver (despite normal utz result), I decided not to eat red meat, and eat only vegetables and chicken instead.
I had diarrhea which lasted only for 2 days. It was really exhausting but my surgeon told me that diarrhea was one of the adverse effects of cholecystectomy. Some patients had chronic diarrhea lol primarily those who eat fatty foods, so yeah, no more fatty foods as much as possible.
Feb 2. Day 5 post op. I already resumed working, but I temporarily worked at home. My manager allowed me to work at home while recuperating from the surgery. Actually, I can rest for couple more days but I love working, just kidding. I don’t want to take time offs that long coz I might get drowned by work stuff when I come back late lol. Anyway, most of the patients who had the same surgery as mine went back to their normal routine after few days post op.. for example, my brother haha .
Feb 5. Day 8 post op. Had my follow up consultation with Doc Dave. His initial reaction was “ayan, hindi ka nanilaw. Good job”. No yellow discoloration on my skin, so I was cleared from any complication yay. He also gave me a go signal to stop wound dressing coz my surgical site was great and no infection was noted. Advised me not to do any physical activities in one month (e.g. exercise and lifting heavy objects). Yay! I am blessed to have met Doc Dave coz he really did a great job on my surgery, and knowing that Hepato Biliary surgeries is his specialty that’s why I was in good hands. I didn’t regret that 28k out of pocket coz I realized that if my surgery was done by a normal surgeon, he/she might have opened me because of my biggie gallbladder. It was such a relief knowing that my surgeon really did his best not to do any further incision coz the recovery for that will take longer than usual.
So yep, I thank God for a smooth recovery and for giving me strength all throughout the recovery process. Also, I thank God for blessing me with good surgeon and great nurses during my whole hospitalization. I am now on a regular diet and I am really trying my best to eat healthy now. Though I had my first samgyup last feb 19. I didn’t ate a lot, don’t judge me! LOL
This blog was too long haha and if you already reached at this part, thank you! Maybe I will just create another blog to discuss some medical terminologies that I’ve mentioned in this blog. Sorry to non-medical folks for those jargons lol. You can just comment on this blog if you have any questions. Again, thank you for taking the time in reading this blog. Have a nice day!
Cheers, Yeye ❤