Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Nathan's Gall Bladder Surgery

L to R:  Michele, Nathan, Allison
Those hospital gowns make you look
sick even if you're feeling fine.
Yesterday Nathan had his gall bladder removed with a minimally invasive technique called the DiVinci Robot.  Only a few surgeons in Baton Rouge are trained on this procedure.  They only make one incision thru the belly button, inflate the abdominal cavity with gas so there's plenty of room to operate, and send minute robot hands in through the navel to cut the gall bladder away from the liver, clamp off the arteries, and remove the sac out through the navel.  The whole procedure is visible to the surgeon through a lighted camera that goes in there too, and he watches a screen and manipulates the arms from a booth.  For those who aren't too squeemish, there's a YouTube video of the equipment and procedure here.  It's wonderful to know that somebody out there is really thinking and working hard to invent better medical procedures.

Typical surgery takes about an hour, 3-4 hours to sleep off the anesthesia and fight off nausea, and you go home same day with a few stitches and a skin patch over your navel.  They say you can return to work in a few days. Swim, play golf, run in a week.

Nathan fasted overnight.  Allison brought him to OLOL for 8 a.m., a reasonable hour. I arrived around 8:45. We hung around the prep room where they put him in hospital gown, laid him in a gurney, he signed a million forms, they poked his arm with an introvenous needle, took his blood pressure and temp several times, scanned his armband barcode, and answered his questions--his main and oft repeated question being "Can I get a video of the procedure?"  And in the end, he got one.

Nathan and me.
They make him leave recovery
in a wheel chair.
Allison HAD to depart for work at 9, so when Nathan went in for surgery at 10, I began texting her updates every time I got one.  While he slept it off in recovery, I poked around the gift shop and found him a cool helium balloon with an aquarium theme that says

"Get Better Soon"

And I mean it.  It's totally weird to see your tall, healthy, atheletic son in a hospital gown and then a wheel chair.  Made my stomach do several flips.

Allison picks Nathan up at the parking garage.
Allison got off in time to take him home around 4:30.  Total of 8.5 hours at the hospital. The aide wheeled him to the 2nd floor parking garage, where his chariot awaited.

I headed to Walgreens near OLOL Hospital to fill his prescriptions.  Man, I can't believe this Walgreens is so incompetent.  Located right at the exit to the hospital, they had long lines of cars at the drive up window and people inside wanting prescriptions filled, but they only had one active pharmacist, one aide typing in data, and an aide in training doing something with the other pharmacist, who was also on the phone.  And they are all back there joking around, hardly making eye contact with the customers. They said mine would fill in 30 minutes, but oops they never got around to typing in my info, so I had to wait another 30 minutes to get just 1 prescription filled. What poor business practices!

Nathan felt nauseus that whole evening but ate some pasta, and by next morning the nausea went away.  His biggest complaint -- a feeling of extreme dehydration and like he'd been punched in the stomach with a jack hammer!  And his throat hurt so he didn't feel like talking. They advised him to walk and move around to dispell the gas, not lay up in bed all day, prescribed an over the counter stool softener just in case, Gasex, Lortab for pain as needed or if he preferred, Extra Strength Tylenol.  He is able to eat normally.

By the way, Nathan had no gall stones.  The procedure was necessary because of a bile duct that had been malfunctioning for years and not expelling enough bile.  I believe he attributed this to eating too much rich food for too many years.  In the last 3 months, based on the incredible Forks Over Knives documentary and other sources, he's eliminated all animal products from his diet, has lost 25 lbs, and feels better than ever. He's learned to substitute other things for meat, such as the usual grains and beans, flax seed powder instead of egg as a binding agent, no-chicken boullion, Tofurkey for ground meat in chili, burgers, etc., which he says tastes good and has great texture, using more extensive spices for flavor, and he's experimenting with other products.  He's become addicted to fresh fruits and veggies.  His trek reminds me of my macrobiotic diet years ago, except that now the culture and the science is so much more supportive of meatless cuisine.  He is inspiring me to reduce my own meat intake once again. The circle turns back on itself.

Because this is a dog blog, I suppose I need to say at least one thing about dogs.  Nathan has 4 dachshunds and they all like to pounce on him.  Doc advised Nathan to wear a pillow over his navel when the dogs are loose.  Visualizing that makes me laugh.

The wonders of science give me faith in the human race!  But before I get too euphoric, let's see how he recovers.

Upwards and onward!
P.S.  Forks Over Knives streams on Netflix, and is available on DVD from and other sources.  They also have a website: and have a couple of cookbooks out now.

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