Today I had my PEG tube removed. It was not quite as traumatic as getting it inserted, but it did have its moments.
The alarm clock went off at 5:00am, because I was told to be there by 6:30am. I didn’t hear it go off, all I remember is being shoved forceful from the bed by Carey when she “claims” I didn’t respond to her “gentle” attempts to rouse me. Personally, I think she woke up in a pissy mood and took it out on me. Of course, I can’t prove it. She also claims I snore but as I am not conscious enough to witness my own snoring it’s her word against mine. Believe what you will, people.
Weary, tired, and strangely sore on my shoulder (she claims she didn’t punch me) we drove to Winter Park Hospital. We arrived on time and checked in. And we sat for two hours.
I kind of expected it, so I wasn’t too upset at that. Carey napped against my shoulder and I read a book on my iPhone. Amazon has released a Kindle app for the iPhone, so I buy books online and read them on my phone. Very cool – although I have to be careful not to break the bank buying books now because I read so quickly.
So I was finally admitted back to the room to get my tube removed. The nurses and doctor all remembered me from when I got the tube inserted in the first place. They were, like most people, frankly amazed at how well I look. I don’t look like a cancer patient who went through months of chemo and radiation. Again, I stressed that I don’t know what I was supposed to look like, and I don’t know why I look so well. But I am glad I apparently came through this round so well.
They asked me to take off my shirt and they examined the hole in my stomach where the tube was inserted. They were pleased with how well it looked. Most people have skin irritation and skin infection at the entry site. Truthfully – I have had both, but I learned to take really good care of it. I clean it sometimes twice daily and make sure it has plenty of anti-bacterial cream on it. Apparently a lot of people don’t do that and the nurses were expecting to see a caked, bloodied mess.
So they took an x-rayto make sure there were no obstructions. They were surprised that the staples were still there. When they removed the staple bindings 6 weeks ago, they were supposed to fall into my stomach and get passed. They were still clinging to my stomach lining. They were not unduly concerned – it happens to some people and is harmless. Just not often enough to be completely normal.
After the x-ray, the technician deflated the bladder in the tube. The tube was held in my stomach by a saline-filled bladder that prevented it from being pulled out. The saline looked like beer – it was a dark amber. I asked if they could pour it in a pilsner and had it over.
After the bladder was deflated, the nurse asked me if I wanted anaesthesia to numb me before the removed it. Remembering the hell I went through as a result of pain medication when they put it in, I said no – just yank it out. So they did.
I was told to exhale hard and, as I did so, the nurse put one hand on my stomach near the hole and the other grabbed the base of the tube as it exited the hole. With sharp force, he pulled it out.
It hurt. Like hell.
A geyser of blood and stomach acid shot from my belly and flew about three feet. My wound was burning from the pain and I had the oddest sensation. I felt some glimmer of “phantom limb syndrome.” I felt like something was missing from me and at the same time I could still feel the tube inside me – even though it was gone. It was most disconcerting and it took me a few moments to recover.
I was bleeding profusely and the nurses were a little concerned. It was not supposed to bleed that much. Well duh, I said, you yanked it out like my belly was a wall socket – it made an audible POP as it exited my body. That can’t be good.
Eventually the bleeding slowed and they took another X-Ray. One of the three staples had fallen and was gone. so now I have 2 staples still in my stomach. I am OK with it as long as I don’t get stopped every time I go through airport security.
So here I am, after recovering for a bit at the hospital. I am really sore, I have a bandage over my hole. I have to be careful how much I eat for the next couple of days. I am like that cartoon character that gets shot full of holes and then drinks a glass of water. The water pours out of me, literally, once my stomach gets too full.
I was told that the stomach is very elastic and should close within 4 hours. The abdominal wail should heal in about 2 weeks and the epidermis layer should heal in about 3-4 weeks.
That means in 2 weeks I can work out, lightly, again. In 3-4 weeks I can start surfing again.
That’s a chapter that is over. I went through hell these past few months to rid myself of this cancer. I feel confident that we got it. In six days I get my next set of scans that will conform our success – then I do it again 3 months after that. If all goes well, I’ll be in a closely-monitored state for a few years but hopefully I will remain cancer-free.
And I’m not a cyborg anymore!