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Ben's Surgical Recovery, Days Two through Four

As with my last post, so as not to bury the lede:  Ben is recovering well from his abdominal surgery, and the doctors are thus far satisfied with how he is doing. His blood work continues to look good, he is making regular trips to the bathroom, and he is making regular walks around the hospital floor. So far everything looks good.

That being said, the last three days have been long. To be more specific, for me the last three days have been terribly long, and for Ben and his mom they have been horrifically long. I have managed to get somewhere between two and six hours of restful, uninterrupted sleep each night. That may not sound like much, but it is heaven compared to what Ben's mom has been getting. She is there in the hospital room all night, and between all of the various crisis that have erupted (more on that below), as well as the blood draws, vitals checks, and other random interruptions she has only been getting 15-30 minutes of sleep at a time. She might get a few hours total of sleep each night, but it is with constant disturbances and not any kind of a deep or restful sleep. I frankly do not know how she is managing to keep it together, but somehow she is.

As for Ben:  When last I blogged I said I was going to take a nap. I got two hours of sleep and then returned to the hospital, walking into the room at 1am. that was when I discovered that only a few minutes earlier Ben had pulled out the NG tube going through his nose and down to his stomach. One moment his eyes were closed, and the next he had his hand in his mouth and was pulling out the tube. His mom was within arm's reach of him, but she did not have any chance at stopping what was happening.  By the time she had grabbed his hands he was gagging while a loop of tubing dangled out of his mouth. With both of her hands full she could not press the call button for help, so she had to yell to get a nurse's attention. The room rapidly filled with nurses and techs, but the damage was already done. The doctor had left explicit orders that nobody was to even think about trying to reinsert the tube if Ben pulled it out, so first they had to pull it out through his mouth to stop him from gagging, and then pull the whole thing through his nose. I gather it was truly horrific. Of course, Ben was completely satisfied since he had succeeded in getting that thing out of his throat.

I stayed awake the rest of the night, administering regular doses of morphine since Ben has not yet grasped how to medicate for pain levels. Sara tried to sleep, but as I said there were constant noisy interruptions all throughout the night.

The next day, Saturday, Ben was making regular attempts to get at his foley (catheter). I am sure he was feeling inspired by his success the night before. At lunchtime the doctors decided it was okay to have it removed, and Ben was extremely relieved to have it gone. Unfortunately, for the remainder of the day he completely failed at going to the bathroom at all.  With multiple attempts, all he could manage was a few drops. The nurse did an ultrasound to look at his bladder, and confirmed that it was filling normally. They wound up needing to do a straight catheter in the middle of the night late Saturday / early Sunday in order to drain his bladder. Ben did not enjoy that one bit.

Sunday was generally a much better day. Ben finally managed to use the bathroom (several times), and so the threat of future catheters was finally eliminated. Also that afternoon the doctor removed the dressing from his incision, which meant that Ben was finally able to take a shower. On top of all that, Ben went for his first short walk outside of the hospital room. The most difficult thing that day was that his IV site had to be replaced. It took three different sticks before finally getting a site that worked. Ben was a trooper though the whole thing.

As for today (Monday), Ben took several walks with each one going further than the last. The doctor was very pleased with his progress. There is a chance that tomorrow they may be able to remove the drain that has been dangling out of his stomach since the surgery. Once that is gone, the only think left sticking out of him will be the IV. Here's hoping.

The other big thing that happened to day was that Ben asked for juice. He didn't get any juice, but just the mere fact that he asked for something food related was a very good sign. The doctors will be in at 6am tomorrow for the morning rounds, and we will check with them on whether or not we can move forward with clear liquids. Tomorrow promises to be a very exciting day.

We have no idea yet how much longer he needs to be in the hospital. We are just taking it day by day. He will need to be tolerating solid food and passing everything successfully before the doctor even thinks about releasing him, never mind the state of his incision. We are clearly still several days at a minimum away from him being safe to travel. I think it is very likely we will be here though the weekend.

Still and all, things are going well and we are seeing progress in Ben every single day. He has shown an amazing degree of courage and strength through this whole thing. I wish so much that he didn't have to go through any of this. I'm just glad that he is finally getting the help he needs, and that he is in the care of such excellent doctors.


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About Shmoolok

The word "shmoolok" is a mashup of the longtime computer handles for my wife and myself ("Shmooby" and "Lokheed", respectively).

I originally created this website to be a place for my family to connect, but it has since grown into something a little different.

As for me -- I am a father, a husband, a son, a software developer, and a writer. On any given day I am not sure how good I am at any of those particular things, but I do try my best.

Thank you for visiting my website.

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Ben and Snow White

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