In my recent post “Achalasia – The Hellers Myotomy Operation”, I detailed my experiences leading up to and including the operation. In this post, and in subsequent posts, I will attempt to describe the first couple of weeks of the recovery process.
Before going to sleep on the night of the operation, I set up my hospital bed as closely as possible to mimic my bed at home, i.e. head raised about 18 inches and feet slightly raised to prevent me slipping down the bed. I had become accustomed to sleeping on my back because of the achalasia and it definitely felt better for my stomach muscles to be slightly compressed. The only pain I could feel was local to the site of the operation, i.e. a tightness in my stomach muscles caused by the injuries they had suffered during the operation. However, a consequence of the tight stomach muscles was that my breathing was limited to shallow breaths. I guessed that would improve as the healing process got under way.
Once the codeine and paracetamol had taken effect I slept for the next 4 hours. I woke up around 2am and asked a nurse for some pain relief to help me sleep. Expecting some more codeine and/or paracetamols, I was surprised when she returned with a small tub of liquid morphine! It was probably no more than a teaspoon, so I thought OK I might as well take it. I wasn’t going to be driving the next day!
I slept on and off for the next 4 hours, and at around 6.30am business started on the ward for the day. I had my blood pressure, pulse and temperature checked by the outgoing night nurse assigned to me. Everything was fine.
At around 7.30am, I had my first visit from Mr John, the surgeon who had operated on me the previous day. He had his overcoat on and a Costa coffee cup in his hand. He told me that the operation had gone well and that I should be able to go home later that day. I really appreciated it that he had made the effort to come and see me on his way into work.
I was discharged just before 2pm, almost exactly 24 hours after I had been administered the anaesthetic for the operation. I am totally amazed by the efficiency of laparoscopic surgery and how quickly they have you back on your feet. Things have changed a lot since I had my wisdom teeth out when I was in my early 20s! That was the last time I’d had surgery.