'Crohn'icles - Season 25 Episode 3, "The Surgery"

Well nothing went according to my plan. I'm really not sure why I even attempt to make plans at this point. You would think I'd learn by now. There was no extending the antibiotics and putting off seeing the surgeon until after the pandemic situation got a little better. There was no decrease in discomfort and drainage from the abscess either. What did happen, however, was a phone call, then an actual face to face (or butt to face as it were, tee hee!) visit with the surgeon, and then an appointment for surgery. Well shit.

As I braced myself for another disastrous surgery and a horribly painful recovery, I was still not prepared for what I was about to face. I knew that the offending abscess was still there. It was draining still - mostly blood and it was becoming quite a bit more painful. I also noticed that I had developed another lump on the other side which I figured was another abscess. My surgeon said she would be sure to check the entire area thoroughly and I shouldn't worry. She would take care of everything - as conservatively as possibly - and I would recover with no problem. Yes, it would be painful, but I would be able to get through it. She did her best to put my mind at ease. And it didn't matter that I made her tell me over and over that I was going to be okay because I was freaking out about it. She was wonderful and really helped ease my mind as much as humanly possible. A surgeon with a good bedside manner - who knew? I kept telling myself that people have hemorrhoid surgery and women have epiziotomies on a regular basis and if they can go through that and heal, I could get through the abscess surgery and heal. I was still really scared though.

The day of the surgery was weird. Because of the pandemic no one was allowed to be with me, though I had to have someone drive me home due to the anesthesia. As I walked into the surgery center alone, I quickly realized I was the only patient there. Even though it was 6:30 am, it was still weird that there were no other patients. It drove home the realization that what I was about to face was serious and emergent because all elective surgeries and procedures had been canceled. I didn't want to be there, but I had to be there. Luckily, I only had to wait about ten minutes before they took me back to pre-op. Surprisingly, everything went so much smoother than the hernia surgery. Mostly because I was prepared for the weird plastic gown and all the dumb "protocols" that were totally unnecessary and caught me so off guard when I had the hernia surgery just a month prior. I didn't have to have IV antibiotics this time either so that eliminated the whole napalm diarrhea issue from last time too. I even had a very long conversation about my post op nausea issue with the anesthesiologist and he promised that I would not be getting Zofran after the surgery. Everything that happened seemed so much better than the hernia surgery. But I was still freaking out.

When they took me back into the operating room the anesthesiologist and nurse were talking to me about how they were going to give me something to make me feel "happy". I kept telling them I was not happy. "I'm not happy. I'm still not happy. I'm really still not happy, guys. Can you help me out here?" We laughed. The anesthesiologist said, "How about I give you something so you don't care so much?" I said, "Sounds great! But I still care and I'm still not happy." We laughed again and that's the last thing I remember until I woke up in recovery.

The first thing I noticed when I woke up was that I was not nauseous. The second thing was that I actually wasn't in much pain. The nurse kept telling me to just close my eyes and take a nap. She wasn't trying to get me up and get me dressed and out the door like they did after my hernia surgery. Everything was completely different than before. I remember asking the nurse if everything was okay and also if I had cancer - not even sure where that came from, but I remember asking her. She told me I was fine and had nothing to worry about. She explained that everything went well and I only had one small incision and one stitch. I wasn't really comprehending what that meant but I started crying. I felt relieved and happy. Then I fell asleep.

Once I woke back up she offered me some crackers and because I was still not nauseous at all, I happily ate them so I could take a pain pill - an actual pain pill, not a stupid Tylenol. It was just a whole different experience than the hernia surgery post op. Once I was more awake I learned what actually happened during the surgery.

The original abscess was free of infection and she checked it to see if there was any tunneling or fistulas into other areas and surprisingly there was not. Because it was basically just a pocket of scar tissue at that point, there was no need to lance it or flay it open so she was able to just leave it. The other lump was actually a cyst that was becoming infected and possibly turning into an abscess so she removed the cyst and was able to clean and close that wound using one small dissolvable stitch. Everything else in that area was okay and no more surgery was needed. Easy peasy. Like really, easy peasy. No one expected that - not the surgeon, not the nurses, and not even me.

I'm about a week out from surgery and recovery hasn't been as terrible as I thought it would be. Don't get me wrong, it's quite uncomfortable and there is pain and drainage and I really can't wait for my body to get back to some kind of normal again. I am also getting really tired of having to keep a gauze pad in my butt crack and constantly feeling like I have a wedgie. But I am super thankful and totally not complaining (much) because I know it could have been so much worse and I am so glad it wasn't.

I need to take a moment here to thank my friend Vern who writes the blog Crohn's, Leaving the Seat Down. He too suffers from perianal Crohn's disease and has a lot of experience with abscesses and surgery for them. He really helped to calm my anxieties about what I was in for regarding the surgery and recovery. No question was too gross or too personal because he's been there and he gets it. That really helped me and I totally appreciate his support. Vern is a long time Crohn's warrior and writes a great blog about his journey. He also is taking part in the 25th annual Gutsy Walk so that Crohn’s and Colitis Canada can fund the most promising research into these diseases, and continue to offer essential patient support programs. You should consider donating to the cause by visiting his personal fundraising page HERE. Just sayin'!

Next time on 'Crohn'icles, DRUGS!

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