Life With Adhesions

A little blog to help people understand what it is like to live with adhesions!

I’m Baaackkk!!

Hello everyone out there in internet land, I’m back from surgery and my month spent recovering in sunny California!  Annnnd, drum roll please, I seem to be doing better 🙂

Here’s the breakdown of how I spent my May, 2012;

We arrived in sunny CA on May 4th.  The trip was mostly uneventful and we had the foresight to request assistance in the Denver airport and that was the smoothest we have ever travelled through an airport, security and all (my hubby jokingly suggested that I always ask for assistance as we were treated royally the entire time and breezed through so quickly) 🙂  The flight wasn’t too long, but I was sore and definitely bloated by the time we got to California.  We picked up our rental car and drove the 45 mins to the town house that we had rented for the month. The place we rented was about 2 blocks from the beach and even had a hot tub on the roof!  The bedrooms were on the first floor and the living room and kitchen were on the second floor so I definitely had my work cut out for me going up and down the stairs, but I just took it at my speed.  When we arrived, we had originally planned to crash out for a nap (we had been up at 4am to catch our flight) but unfortunately, the unit next to us was having it’s carpet and furniture cleaned so the noise was ridiculous and so we decided we would power through and go and get some groceries instead!

We arrived on a Friday and my appointments didn’t start until Monday, so we had a few days to run around and get things organized before it all began.  We also had time to walk down to the beach and several days to enjoy the hot tub before my surgery on Thursday.  I was pushing myself because I figured “What more harm could I do??” and “You only live once, might as well enjoy my time before surgery and then I’m sore!” It was great to “live” a little 🙂

Monday morning we had an appointment at 9:15, but we had to be there at 8:45 and oh, did I mention that we were staying 1 hour away from the doctor’s office and two crazy highways later (one was VERY curvy and winding at 65miles/hour – not so good for my queasy tummy)so we were up and out of the door for another early morning (did I mention my hubby is NOT a morning person at all!!) 🙂  We spent the morning meeting my wonderful doctor (Dr. Andrew Cook) and his Nurse Practitioner, Linda.  It was a FANTASTIC appointment – Dr. Cook is so knowledgable and touched on EVERY single issue I have been having, not just my adhesions (I have some liver issues, some inflammation issues and some suspected psoas muscle issues we found out).  It was amazing to finally  have a doctor who was treating the WHOLE person and had a plan to continue to help me on all levels and he was finally putting all the pieces together as to possible reasons why I have been having the pain and inflammation and such a rapid regrowth of adhesions every time I have surgery.  He felt very confident that he could help with my adhesions and then when I got back home, I could start to work on healing the rest of my body and mind!  Our appointment lasted all morning and I was exhausted by the time we got home!

We went back on Wednesday for our second pre-op appointment (again, another EARLY morning drive on the 17) to answer any other questions I had (and I had a few that I thought of since I had time to digest all the info he went through on Monday) and run through the finances, etc…  (The cost of the procedure is not for the faint of heart, but like my husband always says, “How much is your health worth?”.  We are very lucky to be able to do what we did and I am grateful everyday for being able to travel there and pay for it!!!) By the end of the appointment, I was excited for the next day and ready to begin the fun bowel prep that goes along with all of these wonderful surgeries.  I will spare you the gory details!!  We drove back home and tried to enjoy our evening together.

Thursday morning arrived and this time we needed to be out the door by 5:15 so that I could be at the hospital admitting by 6:30am (did I mention already that my hubby is barely conscious in the mornings – he he, actually he did really well and wasn’t even that grumpy.  Poor guy!) We got checked in by a wonderful nurse (took about 1 hour and 30 mins to go through all the paper work and info that they collect – very detailed!) and I was in for surgery around 9am.  I was a little nervous, but mostly excited and felt that I was in very confident hands!  Dr. Cook suspected that it would take about 2-4 hours depending on what he found – the plan was to go in laproscopically  and to use a laser to “free the adhesions” from my organs and my insides.  Then, he would use an adhesion barrier (Interceed), and gently lay it over the areas where most of the adhesions had formed.  He explained it this way – If you fell and scrapped both of your palms on the ground, you would have 2 open wounds.  If you stuck your hands together while they were healing, the new skin would heal the two wounds together.  However, if you put something in between the two wounds (the barrier) they won’t heal together and stick.  This is how it is with adhesions – Everywhere you touch the organs inside you it makes an area where the adhesions can “stick”.  If you put Interceed inside over the areas, then the adhesions have a less chance of sticking things together.

So, I got to go to sleep while my husband had to wait in the waiting room watching for updates on my number (They have a TV screen that tells you which patient (your number) is in surgery, in recovery, etc…) 2 hours went by, 3 hours went by, 4 hours went by and then finally 4 hours and 15 mins later, finally an update that I was out of surgery and in recovery.  Then my hubby had to wait for Dr. Cook to come out and talk to him (he wrote up my file first (which outlined my extensive surgery) so my hubby had to wait quite a while for him to come up to chat).  He describe him bounding out to find my husband with a big smile on his face and he was stocked to see my husband and tell him all about the surgery.

Here’s what he found; adhesions, adhesions, adhesions!! This time my adhesions weren’t all “spider-webbey”.  What he found were all of my lower bowel encased in adhesions (think like a sausage casing – my bowels were stuffed inside the casing (adhesions))and then the adhesions were stuck to my abdomen wall (with my bowel inside).  My left side of my intestines were stuck to my right side and they were also attached to my bowel and then to my abdomen wall as well).  No WONDER I was in so much pain!!  He was able to free all my internal organs and then spent the a good amount of time placing TONS of Interceed all over so that they wouldn’t reattach (hopefully).  I spent a few more hours in the recovery room and then my hubby was finally able to see me as they moved me up to my room for the night.  I was on some good pain meds and feeling pretty good when I finally was able to ask my husband – “Did he get em?” and “Do I have to have the second look?” to which I groggily replied, “I don’t wanna!” 🙂

You see, here’s the amazing thing about Dr. Cook – in about 10% of his cases he does was it called Early Second Look Laparoscopy (ESLL) where he goes in about a week later to “look” around and “remove the adhesions before they have strengthened. He uses a combination of gentle traction and hydro-dissection (gentle water pressure) to separate the adhesions. Afterwards the adhesions can reform, but on average they seem to be smaller in size and less dense.” (vital health website, He doesn’t know if you are going to need this procedure until he goes in the first time and sees the type of adhesions that you have and how aggressive they return.

Well, I got to be one of the lucky 10%(sarcasm noted) and instead of going in a week later, because of the aggressive nature of mine and how quickly they have returned the last 2 times, he decided to go in 5 days later.  So, that meant on Monday we had a post-op appointment from the surgery on Thursday and pre-op for the ESLL on Tuesday.  Did I mention that we were an hour away and that I just had a 4 hour surgery 4 days earlier? 🙂  For the record, I was highly drugged and feeling pretty good for the circumstances.  He was fairly confident in the first surgery, but we felt that ESLL was definitely necessary for long-term healing.

So, my surgery on Tuesday wasn’t until 3:30pm which meant for a loooong day of waiting and wondering what they were going to find -not to mention I still wasn’t anywhere closed to healed from the first surgery!!  YIKES.  I was a little more anxious this time, just because I wasn’t sure what he would find and I still hadn’t had enough time to sort of forget the trauma that goes on in your body when you surgery.  Oh, and don’t forget, the lovely bowel prep that I needed to endure for the second time in 5 days!  AUGHHHH – not something I would recommend anytime soon.  Anyhoo, this procedure was only scheduled to take about an hour and I would be able to go home after I spent a few hours in recovery.  Everything went well and Dr. Cook only found about 10% of the adhesions had reformed and he said that there was still a lot of Interceed in there (it takes about 1 1/2 weeks to completely break down and be absorbed into the body).  So, he added some slurry (another level of protection) and after using the water to knock the adhesions down, he stitched me up and sent me to recovery.  I was quite queasy this time round, and they didn’t want to use a whole lot of pain meds on me b/c the more they used, the longer they needed to keep me (their hangup, not mine – I would have rather had more pain meds and stayed a little bit longer, but alas that’s not what happened).  At about 7, I was released to be able to go home (did I mention that we were about an hour away from the house and a windy road??)  Oh well, we made it home without any major incidents (the nurse had given me an icepack for the back of my neck and that helped with the queasiness a bit.  I’ll have to remember that trick!!).  And, it was nice to be back at “home” in my own “bed” to recover.

We rested until Friday when I had my post-op and a 3 hour appointment with a Functional Nutritionist.  Things went well at the post-op and I was feeling pretty good overall.  I didn’t have the same tell-tale “pulling pain” that I had experienced for the last 2 years (that would come back a week or so after my other surgeries), I just had “healing” pain which was a totally new experience for me.  Dr. Cook was extremely positive and he said that chances were good that they wouldn’t come back – especially since so few came back 5 days later!!

We figured out that my wonderful hubby drove about 23-24 hours all combined between all the appts and surgeries in just those two weeks!  I am lucky to have such an amazing husband 🙂

We were smart and had planned our trip so that I would have almost 2 full weeks of recovery after the second surgery so that I could travel the 7 hours home on the plane without any major issues.  We were hopeful that it would be enough time, and even more hopeful that I would be feeling well enough to do a little sight-seeing and have a “mini-vacay” while we were down there.  About a week after surgery and MANY naps later, I was starting to feel better. It felt different right from the start and I was relieved to not have the constant pulling pain that I had lived with for so long.  We were even able to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium where I let my hubby push me around in a wheelchair so that we could see the whole thing.  We made it down to the beach a few times as well and even got to watch the sunset on the beach the night before we had to leave.

We had a mostly uneventful trip home – the last 2 hours on the plane were fairly uncomfortable, but we survived and I was very happy to be home and in my own bed for the night!  Our Mocha cat was VERY excited to see us and slept on our heads for the next few nights.

We have been home for almost a week and I am starting to settle in.  I still have some healing pain (my doc said to take it easy for 6-8 weeks – no house work, heavy lifting, bending, etc…) but it is so strange to be able to rest and actually feel better!!  I’ve been having some queasiness in the mornings, but I have my phone appt with the wonderful doc today, so I’ll ask him about that and see what he says.  It’s so nice not to have to take my cocktail of meds so that I can “survive” the day.  I can’t wait to start LIVING again 🙂

Now that the adhesions are gone (I’m being cautiously optimistic) I have a whole list of other things to work on from my Doctor and Functional Nutritionist  so that the rest of my body and mind can heal – it’s been a very difficult 3 years and I am looking forward to taking the time to heal my whole body completely!!

I am going to try to live in the moment and enjoy however long I have of “adhesion pain-free” living.  I will try to update in a while and let you know how things are progressing!  Thanks for reading and I hope that I can be of some help to someone out there!!