My First Surgery - Part 1

Last updated: May 2018

Dr. John Rombeau greeted me in the pre-operating room at Temple Hospital on the morning of December 17th 2007. It was around 6:30 A.M. and I was getting ready to enter a surgery that would change my life forever. The nurses had given me some medicine to relax, and I remember how cold it was down there. The warm blankets weren’t cutting it, but I knew that soon I would be asleep. It was interesting: Dr. Rombeau took out a marker from his medical bag, and put an “X” on my left side. Didn’t he know here he was going to cut? I guess he wanted to be sure.

The operating staff rolled me into the operating room. It was huge, with tons of nurses and other doctors. Dr. Rombeau was scrubbing in. They strapped me in, like I was going for a ride on a roller coaster. The anesthesiologist told me to count backwards from ten. I don’t believe I make it to the number five!

When I awoke (which felt like ten minutes later), there were all these people around me. It was my family. I also saw Dr. Rombeau. He said, “The surgery went well!” I really had trouble staying awake and comprehending what he was saying because of the anesthesia they had given me. I was in and out of sleep for the next few hours. The next morning they sat me up, and I was awake enough to listen to what my mother had to say.

She explained that Dr. Rombeau operated for 14 ½ hours! I only lost a teaspoon of blood, but mom said he looked like he been through a war after the surgery was completed. He had told my family that in the 35 years of him doing colorectal surgery, he had never seen a colon so diseased as mine. If he hadn’t removed the colon, I would have had a 96% chance of colon cancer. He removed the entire large intestine, and connected it with an inch of rectum that he left. While he had me open, he did a favor and removed my appendix. He closed off the rectum, so it would heal, and attached an ostomy bag on the right side of my stomach. In three months, I would return and he would remove the bag. He would open access the rectum so that I could use the bathroom naturally.

The goal was to have me out of the hospital within five days. That would put me close to Christmas. By the third day, the nurses had me out of bed and sitting in the chair. What they don’t tell you about is all the tubes that are coming out of many places from your body! I had a tube in my nose (NG tube) that went down into my stomach. Its purpose was to eliminate all the stomach acid that was building up. I had drains (that looked like grenades) hanging out of each side of me. Finally I had a tube to drain my bladder. Another interesting thing to note is that your bowel goes into a state of shock, and literally has to wake up. It takes a couple of days, but the doctors do not let you eat until they hear bowel sounds (stomach growling). My incision was the entire length of my stomach, and included eighty-three staples. I was in pain from the surgery, but determined to get out of the hospital and go home. Well five days came, and five days went…

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