The ups and downs of my hospital stay after pituitary surgery
A columnist shares her experience as an inpatient after a tumor is removed
I opened my eyes and scanned the room. It was dark, so I knew it was late. I was in the neurosurgical intensive care unit and had just survived brain surgery. A nurse was standing nearby charting, and I could see the warm glow of the computer light on her face as she glanced over to me. I mumbled something to her, closed my eyes, and drifted back to sleep.
If you are new here, hello! Last November, I had transsphenoidal pituitary resection surgery at age 31 to remove a 3 mm tumor from the right side of my pituitary gland, a procedure my surgeon hoped would put me in remission from Cushing’s disease. Today, I want to share my raw post-surgical experience.
My first morning post-op
The morning after the procedure, my surgeon came by to check on me. He asked if I remembered him stopping by the previous night. I laughed and said, “No.”
“Didn’t think so,” he replied before adding that the surgery went very well. I asked him if he thought I was in remission. He said, “The proof is in the pudding. Time will tell.”
Over the next few days, nurses checked my vitals, drew labs, and measured my urine output. The latter was important in screening for diabetes insipidus, which is common following pituitary surgery. My dad came by every day and hung out with me, which I was beyond thankful for.
The arterial line that was placed during surgery to monitor my blood pressure and provide blood samples ended up failing, so my medical team decided to place a peripherally inserted central catheter, or PICC, line instead. After hearing the list of possible complications, I panicked.
Later that evening, I started crying uncontrollably. My dad had left for the day, but my nurse was trying to console me. I wasn’t having it.
Then the night nurse came on duty. I looked over at her, tear-stained and embarrassed. She asked what the matter was, and I told her I was worried about getting an infection with the PICC line going straight to my heart. She listened to me, validated my concerns, and offered me two options for how to proceed.
That conversation allowed me to feel heard and validated. After talking it out, I no longer felt distressed.
From bed to a chair
Later that night, I was transferred from the ICU to a step-down unit. I had to be getting close to discharge!
On my third day post-surgery, my nurse said, “The doctor wants you to sit upright in a chair.” I was confused. She added, “He does this with all his patients.” I got out of bed and begrudgingly moved to the chair next to my bed.
“Good! You’re up!” my surgeon enthusiastically said as he entered the room. He explained that he wanted me to sit upright in the chair for the next 12 hours and walk five laps around the hallway every hour. I looked at him with concern, hoping he was joking. I was met with a look that told me he was dead serious.
Despite the headaches, relentless nausea, and overall malaise, I sat upright for five hours in that chair. I tried hard to sit up longer, but I didn’t feel well. I also completed five total laps around the nursing station. Although I didn’t meet the goals my surgeon had set for me, I was proud of what I’d accomplished, as I’d been bed-bound the past two days.
Looking back, I realize why my doctor suggested I do these tasks. I truly appreciate his care and concern in helping me get better faster.
Time for discharge
The next morning, a nurse came into my room and told me that my surgeon was planning to discharge me. I was overcome with joy.
Although I was beyond excited to leave the hospital, I was also overwhelmingly thankful for what happened there. As my dad said many times throughout my stay, “All the staff here are top-notch.” Everyone who cared for me after my pituitary surgery made a positive impact on my life. But I was even more grateful to potentially go into remission from Cushing’s disease. I was ready to live my life.
Special thanks to my surgeon, my otolaryngologist, my nurses, and all the other hospital staff members who cared for me after my surgery. I couldn’t have done this without you.
Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.