Well, this was bound to happen, my 17th surgery. You might ask yourself, “how did Zach get to surgery 17 without 16?”
The answer is, I had surgery 16. It happened over the summer, July 11, 2022, and it was just wisdom teeth. It’s not related to the brain tumor, but I was still put under and cut open by a surgeon. It was an easy procedure and it went super smooth. A week after I got them removed, I was back to normal and active once again.
A month later it was time for fall football camp at Chapman University where I play and go to school.
It was the fourth day of camp, and I was doing conditioning with the team, then I had to use the restroom. At the end of conditioning, I jogged over to the locker room, where the restrooms are, and went. There was just a slight problem upon going, my urine was bloody. This was typical for me. I would workout hard and have “hematuria,” which is the presence of blood in the urine. It went on for a bit after 2020, and I thought this was just a side effect from the kidney stones in 2017. This was a little bit of a different situation this time because this was the fourth day in a row that this happened. It usually lasts about one or two urinations and back to normal. Since it was going on for so long, I had a decision to make, to either suck it up or tell the trainers. I was “on the fence” about this situation for the entire walk back to the field. It is a super short walk but it felt like forever. When I hit the field my decision was made, and that was to tell the trainers.
Not my proudest moment, this was a hard thing to do since my season last year ended with an injury. The head athletic trainer sent me to urgent care, but it was not that urgent. We had practice in the evening and the urgent care was not open at that time. So, I went the following day in the morning. I sat there and waited, then I was called back for X-Ray, and then back to the lobby. I waited longer to see the doctor at the urgent care, and the time to go back finally came. I went back, the doctor asked some questions, gave me some papers saying that I needed certain tests.
A month later, I found out that my left kidney was littered with kidney stones and one stone was around 4 cm. It was a bit bigger than a golf ball and that kind of stone could not be passed, so the urologist gave me three options. Two options would take multiple procedures, and one of the options would mean just one surgery. Since I want to play football in the fall of 2023, surgery was the best option for me. This option meant an overnight stay because they had to go through my back to get the stones removed. It was not how I intended the 2022 season to go since I was slated to be one of the top guys for my position. At that time I could not think of that because I needed to focus on my health.
The next step was to schedule surgery, and that was another journey in itself. Due to the COVID pandemic, surgery was backed up and that made it very difficult to get a date at a hospital that I wanted. After a couple days of figuring out scheduling, I was able to get a surgery date. I was scheduled for Friday, October 14, 2022 at Orange Coast Memorial Hospital. When I was first given this option, I was a bit nervous because I had never heard of this hospital.
I went in for my noon surgery in the morning, and upon getting checked in, the hospital did not have any release forms so my parents could get my surgical information. Since the hospital still had COVID protocols in place, my parents had to wait in the lobby as I was taken back to pre-op. I was getting ready in pre-op and after about 30 minutes my parents were allowed back, so they came back to say their “love you’s” and “goodbye’s.” The case that was before me took a little while longer so I ended up getting delayed about an hour. My mother was doing NPO with me so she was starving and the delay really showed her colorful side. I was not too happy about it but you have to stay composed.
About an hour later, transport came in and said that it was time to go. They wheeled me back and it was about to happen again.
I woke up, not in pain, but in a state of great confusion. Oh yeah, that’s right, and with another catheter. My mind was super foggy and I was super tired. We do have a magic formula for my surgeries which allows me to come out of anesthesia without nausea or agitation – NO FENTYNAL – only Propofol and a little Versed and/or IV Tylenol for pain. I had zero reason to be tired because I was just out for a couple hours. I remember that my surgeon came back and told me that the surgery was a success. I also remember asking for my parents, which was not allowed because of COVID protocols. I was starting to have that mental fog roll away from my mind and was starting to be more coherent. The staff noticed that and called transport to get me wheeled up to my room.
I was wheeled up around 6 o’clock at night, dinner had just wrapped up and I was just out of surgery and starting to get a bit hungry. They managed to get me leftovers from dinner, and when I opened the box that it was in, it did not look very appetizing. To my surprise, the food – meatloaf – was actually good, well not the mashed potatoes, they tasted like a cardboard box and were super dry. The food that I got was not substantial enough to keep me nourished for the night, so I asked my dad if he could grab In-N-Out.
After a great In-n-Out meal the clock turned to 8 PM and that was the end of visitation, so my parents had to go. The hospital did not allow visitors to stay overnight with me due to COVID. I was starting to feel like a lard as my parents left and asked if I could go on a walk. The nurse on the intercom said something but the speaker was glitchy so I couldn’t hear and just said “ok.” I sat there in my room for about 30 minutes, and no one came. I buzzed again to ask and then a different nurse came in and asked what I needed.
I told him and he helped me get up and we started walking. The other nurse came over to me at the end of the hall and she didn’t look too happy. I started walking back and once we hit my room she told me why.
Apparently the orders given to her was that I was to be put on bedrest because my blood pressure was too high. That is what she was trying to tell me over the intercom, but like I said it glitched out and I didn’t hear her properly. I was pretty surprised to hear that when I sat down, so she took my blood pressure just in case. It turned out that the walk lowered it and it was back to normal. From past surgeries and hospital stays, “they” say my blood pressure is high, but, if you take it lying down it may be, but sitting up it’s normal Be aware that blood pressure may be positional so have your nurse take it both lying down and sitting up. I then put on a movie and it was off to sleep.
I woke up around 3 AM with it being pretty chilly in my room, it was loud in the hospital, and to top it off, there was a thunderstorm taking place outside. I tried and tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t, and the next five hours were spent trying to sleep.
The morning came and it was 8AM, that meant shift change, it also meant visitation started. My mom was late, which was bad because she had Starbucks and I was pretty excited about that. Since she was running late, the nurse decided to take my catheter out, and BOOM, I was freed from that horrid tube. Next thing was to get a CT scan done to make sure the surgery got everything in my kidney. The report took a while to get back so my nurse put me on NPO right when my mom showed up with the Starbucks. I was not happy, hangry as the cool people say. The repost came in and my nurse told me that I could eat, finally. I ate, went to the restroom and my nurse started getting me ready for discharge. She was on it, my discharge happened so quickly and I was out of there. Transport wheeled me to the car and it was adios to Orange Coast Memorial and the great staff that took care of me.
I watched my team kick our rivals butts later that night, and it was on to recovery. Wait, I still had the stent in my kidney, which was weird because it would tickle my bladder anytime I moved. The appointment to get it removed was a week after surgery, and it got removed. The process to remove it was not fun so I’m just going to leave it at that. Once it was removed, it was on to recovery, for real.