Hi everybody, I hope you are keeping warm, safe, and well. We have a situation here, and I may need some help in a hurry, please. Let me give you some background.
Last week my brother's partner was taken into the hospital for urgent surgery. She was weak already: the operation took six hours and she needed 16 units of blood after a near-fatal hemorrhage. She had a hysterectomy as expected: they found a large tumor, the cancer had spread to the intestine, so she had (we guess) a Hartmann's procedure, leaving her with a stoma.
The tide of the COVID-19 epidemic is rapidly rising here. She is in a rapidly filling urban hospital 200 miles from her home, having had the op three days ago. We think it is extremely likely that she will be discharged home very much earlier than normal, simply because her chances of survival may be better at home than in the hospital. Nursing support once home is likely to be very stretched – she lives in an isolated area. She is likely to be on opiate painkillers for the post-operative pain, not good for establishing and settling a stoma. Guys, this is going to be a mess!
She has two advantages on her side: (1) she has my brother caring for her, a level-headed retired social worker but not medically trained. (2) she has me: I've been through the sudden arrival of a stoma after emergency surgery stuff, though obviously not the other bit. I'm locked-down in another country, but that's life. And I ... have you!
Dear friends, please help us if we need it. I know this community is no substitute for a doctor and can't give medical advice. But I'd like to help my brother when questions come up 'is this normal?', 'do we need to watch this?', 'do we need professional help now?' I might even put a photo on my page and ask for opinions – not of us are squeamish any longer, are we?! Starting for now, as he prepares to drive her home (120 min journey!) possibly tomorrow or the day after (5 days post-op), what does he need to know/consider/get? Foods to start to build her up? (She is vegetarian!) Bed protection? Anything else apart from the obvious?
Sorry to press the panic button, but we could be dealing with life-and-death here. We may need all the support we can get. Thank you! Chris