One step forward...

The first few days back at home went as well as could be expected. I spent a lot of time watching World Cup Futbol on TV, and generally laid around resting. The nights were pretty rough due to getting up at least once per hour for the bathroom. I have a whole new appreciation for you ladies who get up with babies all the time, and I didn't even have to look after a little baby. Well, unless I count myself. That would be a big baby I guess. If it were up to men I'm sure the race would be extinct by now.

Dale is a very light sleeper and while she swore it didn't bother her, me getting up all the time, at some point I decided to set up 24/7 on the couch so I could get up and go as needed. This had the added benefit of being able to turn on the TV if I couldn't sleep. I had also extorted a new iPad out of Dale as a welcome home present so I was awake goofing around with it all the time. Shiny.

Then things got nasty.

After nearly a week at home doing my best to get my recovery going in earnest, I had a fairly alarming episode with a lot, and I mean a lot, of blood in the toilet. This wasn't like when I was first showing symptoms, this was bright red, fresh blood. On reflection I could think back to the Tuesday after I got home and remember that I hadn't been feeling too well since then; feverish especially. My surgeon Dr. B was on vacation that day and so his office recommended I go to the Urgent Care Centre at the hospital. Dale raced home to get me - no way could I drive myself - and we headed down there. It's about a thirty minute drive right across town when the traffic is heavy, and I did my best to slam my butt shut, crossed fingers over every little bump. Dale was like Mario Andretti, trying to avoid every sewer cover.

As luck would have it, there had been a fire alarm at the hospital and they weren't letting anyone in to the building, so for a few minutes we sat on the sidewalk in the summer heat until one of the senior firemen got a look at me and let us in. I was taken in quickly and the bleeding intensified quite a bit. I was getting really concerned and emotional; I mean, my nerves were pretty much shot by this point as sleep had been hard to come by, I was still on all kinds of meds, and I was bleeding profusely out my butt. The ER doctor took one look in the toilet bowl and there weren't any further questions after that.

Well, I guess this explains the low hemoglobin levels I was showing when I was in hospital the first time.

The hospital staff contacted Emergency at the Trillium Hospital where I'd had my surgery and we rushed over and got seen nearly right away. On the one hand I was glad to be seen quickly and get the royal treatment, but on the other hand I could see how concerned all the nurses and doctors were about my present condition, and everyone was really kind of hustling around. This was not a soothing scenario.

It was well into the evening now and poor Dale hadn't even had lunch, so she went off to get something from the Tim's in the hospital, and brought it back to my stall to torment me with the smell, not that I had an appetite. Eventually she had to leave to get Maddy and look after things at home. Despite being concerned for my own well being at this point, I was also feeling really guilty. I had become a burden. Of course, hardly anyone in Dale's position would ever say that it was true but it didn't stop me from feeling that way. I imagined how people who are really sick, and depend on their loved ones for months and years, must feel.

So once again I was left alone with my thoughts and a bunch of machines. And I swear to you, it was the same guy from my hospital stay a few stalls over from me in the Emerg. "Oh my God YOU'VE GOTTA HELP ME!" I wondered if holding a pillow over his face would be 'helpful'. I was a little cranky. There was also a hilarious conversation one of the demented patients had with his shoes.

Did you ever see a newspaper story about hospitals being over capacity and people spending several days on a stretcher in the corridor? I was going on six hours and I don't think I had ever been so uncomfortable, no matter how I laid or adjusted the bed. And I couldn't get a pillow. None. They don't have any in the Emergency room, and I got a bunch of mumbling and shuffling of feet when I asked why. I ended up trying to make one out of sheets, hospital gowns, toilet paper or paper towels. MacGyver gets cancer.

At some point I was rushed in for a CT scan and wheeled back to Emerg to wait for the on call surgeon. I was really afraid at this point that another surgery would be required and I could hardly bear the thought of it, and with a great effort I had to remind myself that this was hopefully just a little setback, and I might be cured of the cancer. Thankfully surgery wasn't to be. The CT showed some fluid and bubbles around the staples where they had rejoined my intestine, which had either been there since the surgery or maybe from the bleed I had that first night, or from some other source. We never did know for sure. The risk of getting an infection was very high so I was put on an IV for fluids and antibiotics, and was admitted to the hospital. After 9 hours on an emergency room stretcher with no pillow, I was finally brought to my room at 2:30am, exhausted but unable to sleep.

Geez, serious bleeding out my arse, back in hospital, hooked up to machines, more meds and rushing to the toilet every fifteen minutes. What else would go wrong?



  1. Wow, Paul. I finally took the time to read the story so far, and realized that you went through all this just before the UWO conference that year. We get so mired in our own lives, until we learn of someone with real problems. Thank you for being brave enough to share this, with wit and humour. The flatulence episode reminds me of something my brother said, after the same operation. Someone commented on how much weight he had lost, while he was proudly farting his way to recovery. He said, "Yes, I'm gaunt, with the wind." Your kind of guy.

  2. Dan I had no idea your brother has been through this also. I just found someone else with their own cancer story I guess. That's a pretty good line. I might use it. ;)