Wednesday, March 23, 2005

G Tubes and Surgical Complications Explained

Kelli got her G tube out today with no pain whatsoever (she was worried it would really hurt). I found out that the G tube had been inserted into the bypassed stomach to drain stomach acids and gunk out. My current understanding is that, since food will no longer enter it, only a minimum of stomach juices will be produced and they get dumped downstream (where there is still a connection to the intestines). The ‘pouch’ which is left to digest the food produces the appropriate amount of acid relative to its size.

We asked Dr Bogojavlensky (who assisted Dr Todd during the second surgery and was the one who took Kelli’s tube out) what exactly did they find during the second surgery. I did not explain to Dr Bog (pronounced ‘boge’ – everyone calls him that) that my understanding was that one of Kelli’s drain tubes was clogged and the end was broken plus there was a hematoma (a mass of blood) in the abdominal cavity. Dr Bog explained that when they went in for the second surgery they found a mass of blood, yes, but it was from bleeding along the staple line of the stomach. He did say that the bleeding had stopped prior to their going in.

He expressed that this was a scary complication, one that makes a surgeon question their own surgical ability, but was likely the result of the anti-coagulants that they use to prevent a possibly fatal complication: pulmonary embolism.

Dr Todd had previously mentioned they had replaced the broken G tube with a slightly larger one, so that part of my understanding of the situation remains intact.

So all’s well that ends well.

I found it interesting that, while everyone was very up-front about the possible complications before she underwent her surgery, once there WAS a complication – no one really explained what had happened. They assured us that everything was okay but did not go into any detail.

At the time this was all I needed. I was very worried (to the point of tears when she was wheeled away for the second surgery) that my wife was going to die. Upon hearing that she was going to be fine, I was satisfied. But everyone from the nurses to the doctors avoided saying anything specific about what had required her to undergo that second surgery other than the fact that since she was in pain they wanted to check. Even Dr Todd said nothing more specific except the “hematoma” which meant very little to me at the time. I imagine this was for liability reasons but it was nice for Dr Bog to take the time to explain the situation and admit the gravity of that situation.

While Kelli still is not recommending the surgery to anyone (due the sheer amount of pain she had), I think we are both satisfied that she’s on the road to a slimmer, trimmer new Special K.


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