It’s been a week and a half since surgery and the number one question I get now is, “how are you doing?” I said I would use this blog as my forum to update everyone, so I figured here is where I should answer that question.
I am doing well, thank you for asking.
Last week was focused on recovering. Lots of time on the couch watching the Olympics or at the dining room table coloring in my Landmarks of the World coloring book (it was a great time for adult coloring books to become popular). I was on Oxy every day plus Ibuprofin and Tylenol, had a drain hanging from my side leaking red body fluid, and was working on breathing deeply and walking to the end of the street and back.
Now, I haven’t taken so much as Tylenol since Sunday morning. This isn’t to say that the pain is totally gone, it’s just changed enough that it doesn’t need medication anymore. The post-surgery discomfort was at first replaced with shoulder and neck pain from sleeping on my back – which I still have to do until Monday – and has now turned into a subtle but constant feeling of tightness. Imagine what it feels like when you pull a muscle, or try to touch your toes when you can’t – the feeling that your muscle has been stretched to its limit and is at risk of working too hard. That’s what I feel all the time in my side. My muscles are still adjusting to the mesh, trying to pull back against it, against where they were cut in half. This is what I assume I will work on with the Physical Therapist once those sessions start. But for now I’m still being very careful about how I get up and down, not lifting anything heavy, and watching my posture while sitting and standing.
As for the drain, well that’s a fun story. Sunday late morning it just stopped working – the suction wouldn’t stay and it was suddenly hard at the end closest to my body. I called the doctor’s office to see what I should do and while I was waiting it fell out. I repeat, the drain FELL OUT of me. Onto the living room carpet. I stared at it in shock for a second, then calmly gathered it and my medications and got in the car. On the way to the Bennington ER the General Surgeon on call got back to me and told me that it was totally fine, I could go to Bennington if I’d like so they could remove the suture that had been holding it in, but there was nothing to worry about. Apparently this happens sometimes. Would have been nice to know. Long story short, because I’d already had below 30cc the day before and was on schedule to have another low day that day it was ready to come out anyway, so the nice doctor in Bennington cleaned up the black ooze and gauze pad, took out the surface stitch, put a steri-strip on the drain hole, and sent me on my way. But not before telling me how clean it all looked, what a nice job my doctor had done, and how well it is going to heal. Great things to hear just under a week after surgery.
As for my breathing and movement, they’re getting there. I have been out of the house this week, which was a huge step. I can sit up in chairs without backs and go up and down stairs without a problem. Getting into and out of a car is a bit tricky still, as is getting into and out of bed, but I don’t feel so confined anymore. Next week I’ll tackle longer walks and small hills. The main thing I have to remember is that I just had major surgery less than 2 weeks ago. I’m at that tricky point of feeling like I can do more than I actually should do. I’m slightly impatient and one of those people who doesn’t like to be sick or hurt so I’m constantly reminding myself to wait. Healing properly is the most important thing right now.
I still have not found out the results of pathology, and I don’t think I will until my follow-up appointment on September 2nd. So TBD on that one.
In the meantime, I can’t even express my gratitude to the people in my life. In addition to all the nice messages, so many packages have shown up to help me get through this that FedEx and UPS now know us. Flowers, cupcakes, fudge, books, high school in a box, and the insanely generous iPhone, thank you a million times everyone. You really know how to make a girl who just got a little unlucky feel loved.
I’d like to end this with a strange moment I experienced the other night. I was lying in bed on my back – something I’ve become accustomed to – when I realized that I didn’t feel the sheet putting pressure on Tristen. In the past few months I had gotten used to even the slightest contact with my tumor causing some discomfort, but that night the discomfort wasn’t there. For the first time since the surgery I felt what it was going to be like from now on. Tristen is gone. Sure he’s replaced by a partially numb indent, but I’m getting used to what that looks and feels like. In this one moment – a subconscious awareness I had for the contact between blanket and tumor that was awakened because of the absence of discomfort – the consequences of this procedure became real. No more pain. Forever. I can’t put into words what that means to me.