Patrick’s anatomy

For some of our more curious readers, here is an image that can hopefully help you visualize what all the hoopla of “bowel obstruction” is about. The connection point between large and small intestine isn’t very visible because it’s so narrow, but the results of this narrowing is apparent in how much the small intestine has been stretched out as a result of the pressure. Kinda reminds me of those cartoons where there’s a kink in a garden hose that fills and fills until it looks like a big balloon.

In other news, we should find out in the morning whether or not we can go home tomorrow. The docs are a bit worried about making sure that we have a plan to feed Patrick without causing him to loose too many fluids so it’s hard to keep him hydrated. So we’ll see how he does for the night and they’ll make a decision in the morning.

Results of today’s tests and surgery

Today’s been a pretty busy day. Patrick went at 9:30 to have an upper GI study today. They put a contrast solution into his stomach through his G-tube and then watched it move through his intestines. He’s had this test done a couple of times and the results are always quite interesting to see. As we knew, Patrick’s small intestine was quite fat and stretched out and his large intestine was pretty narrow, though not as narrow as I remember it being last September.

At the end of the study, the radiologist compared today’s images to the ones taken in September. Her result: “No significant change”. Yup, that’s right folks.. all that worry revealed that they officially discovered that Patrick’s anatomy is just as we expected it would be 6 months after his reconnection.

They are still wondering if this odd anatomy is to blame for some of the recent infections. (Bacteria or yeast from the gut leaking into the bloodstream through thin walls).. but are going to watch for a while to see rather than taking immediate action.

So – this afternoon Patrick had a new central line placed. This one has two lumens, meaning there are two tubes so you can put incompatible things in at the same time without them mixing like antifungals and TPN. We’ll be starting a new therapy hopefully tomorrow, too, where we fill the unused lumen with a solution that helps kill bacteria and fungus.

We’re still waiting for a plan to move forward from here. For some reason, even though little has changed anatomically, they’re acting as though something major was still wrong and therefore trying to make changes to diet, etc. I’m having to go all out working as Patrick’s advocate right now.. fighting for people to think things through and decide what’s best for Patrick based on himself, not on general rules and practices.

It’s exhausting work, so since he’s sleeping, I think I will too. Hopefully it’s a calm, restful night and I’ll be ready to get up and start pushing for a discharge plan tomorrow.

Update: Two weeks (and a day) after surgery

Well, it’s been another week. Most people are surprised to learn that we are still at the hospital. Well, we did think that the recovery would be no more than two weeks.

But here we are.

It turns out that Patrick’s large intestine is needing much more time to adapt than was anticipated. The problem is that, never having been used, first it had to wake up, and then it has to stretch back to a normal size.

They did a contrast enema today. That means they squirted contrast in Patrick’s bottom and then watched on X-ray as it moved up through his large intestine, and then his small intestine.

The good news is that it moved through without problems. There are no obstructions or strictures. The bad news is that, well, it still resembles a long noodle more than a colon. And it’s fitted to a small intestine that is quite stretched out.

So the stretched out, and therefore weaker, small intestine is trying to push things through a super tight large intestine (imagine a balloon that hasn’t yet been inflated). And it’s just not working very well.

I’ll talk to Patrick’s surgeon tomorrow about the study and see if there is anything more that can be done. So far, though, the answer I’m given most often is that we just need to wait. Hopefully time and use will balance things out.

In the meantime, we just keep waiting here. I don’t know quite what to do with myself. Without feeding, ostomy, IV’s (I’m not allowed to touch them), or even diapers really, there isn’t much in the way of my normal nursing duties to do. So I’m trying to spend my time just being a mom… playing with Patrick and helping with the basic things like sleep, comfort, and cuddles.

The good news is that Patrick actually feels quite well, as long as we don’t let too much build up in his stomach. And this lends itself to fun new adventures like baths in a bathtub and learning to sit.

It’s not the easiest thing being cooped up in this tiny crowded room together with nurses going in and out all the time. We get a bit bored of each other sometimes. But we’re doing the best we can and just praying that Patrick’s body is up for the challenge it’s been given.