post-surgery

BLO Update: 1 Mo post surgery

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 8:00 am

It was exactly 4 weeks on 2/17, so it seems like its time for an update on the BLO and my health in general.

Since getting the go ahead on 2/13 to start exercising, I’ve done a Yoga or Pilate’s workout everyday. So I’m pretty much constantly sore from using muscles that haven’t done much of anything for months now. It feels good, and I’m progressing nicely. J. got my balance ball inflated, so I’ll be adding that into my daily workouts for variety.

I’m the same weight post surgery as pre. I don’t have pre surgery measurements, but I’m beginning to track them going forward.

The BLO is . . . well . . . it is there. It is rather uncomfortable, gets in the way, and I frequently have muscle cramps that create an indentation in the top of the BLO (the implant is under my pectoral muscles, so that makes sense). My surgeon told me that 6 mos and as much as a year is common to ‘get used to it’.

I feel its lopsided, and weirdly shaped. The scar bulges at either end and there is a lot of it on my side (which is what gets in the way). The diff between the two sides of my chest is quite noticeable. Even with a bra and top on.

(MORE) surgery or coming to terms with it are my only options. Given my other issues coming up, I’m going to try and ignore it until late June, and then I’ll see. (Not that I’ll stop paying attention along the way.)

In the silver lining department: my pain level is essentially at zero, with occasional moments of discomfort and the cramping feeling. All of the stretching is really helping, and the ouch from that is largely discountable as being normal. Also: the comfrey creme  D. made for me is working incredibly well. The scar is healing very quickly and cleanly. The difference from week to week is noticeable and dramatic. I’m normally someone who scars easily, with scars that last a long (long) time. I truly feel her creme has made a specifically measurable difference. Last: my sense of energy, of vitality, is returning. The well is still low, but no longer depleted. I feel quite healthy and strong and my energy levels are quite high — especially given the long working hours I’ve had recently.

All in all: I am doing well.

Sunday update

Posted on January 24, 2010 at 9:32 am

I’m hurrying to write this before my dilaudid ‘kicks in’ and I become illiterate once again.

I think I got an infection in my breast yesterday — it was hot to the touch, slightly swollen, and red, like sunburned. We called my surgeon (they have a service that puts you through to him directly if he can take the call — very cool) and he put me back on an antibiotic. Took two last night, along with a lot of visualization, and I’m noticeably better today. Whew. (The only ‘fix’ for an infection with a breast implant is to remove the implant and wait several months for the tie to heal, and then re-insert the implant. NO WAY.)

I’ve been feeling a lot of pain, even with dilaudid, and so I’ve been using the hypnotic WAV my psych. taped at our last session. It’s a profound difference. I’m starting to alter it to add in ‘you will feel less pain each day as you heal completely’ because the dilaudid runs out tomorrow and I already know that OTC drugs are not going to work.

But I will be so glad to get off the narcotic. I like the lack of pain, but hate the side effects of fuzzy thinking, lack of motivation, and physical  . . .  blockage. (I don’t want to say more, but its the most common side effects of narcotics, ok?)

I’m looking forward to going for a walk, maybe even two today. That will be a big step forward. Ambien is working to help me sleep, so I’m back to 8+ hours/night, thank goodness. Soon normality will return. At least for a while.

Apparently, I am Injured

Posted on December 30, 2009 at 3:30 pm

WARNING:

A whining, ranting, and generally self-pitying post follows

Perhaps this is obvious to everyone else, but I really though that, SEVEN weeks post-surgery, I would be in better shape. Or at least no longer taking much, if any, pain medication. Every tells me to take it easy, and not be so hard on myself, but I really don’t think my expectations are that great.

Especially since these last days have seen a marked increase in my pain/ discomfort level. I am almost constantly experiencing a ‘buzzing’ sensation in my side and/or in the BLO, it’s somewhat akin to a feeling of heat, only without the actual change in temperature. I have stabbing pains, muscle spasms, twitches, and aches. These feelings often migrate into my underarm and bicep.

I am, to put it mildly, VERY grumpy. I snap. I growl. I am snarky and tetchy. I don’t like anything and am m ore than usually difficult to please.

I am tired.The lunesta seems to be losing its ability to help me get to sleep, and I’m spending hours each night lying on my side waiting for sleep to come. I’ve added hot cocoa (all natural) and herbal teas, and they help. . . but not enough.

I feel weepy and I wonder how long it will be before I feel well again.I truly wonder whether the reconstructive surgery is worth it by any measurable scale. Certainly not on a comparative one, not at this time. I hurt more now than I did with a fresh gaping wound.

Last night I nearly lost it BIG TIME when I realized that I have even more surgery in my future and I literally couldn’t imagine doing this again. Yet, the plan is to do it at least twice more, to varying degrees.

I hurt.

Time Machine: 11/14

Posted on November 27, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Another dozy night . . . although I feel like I slept for longer periods, like an hour or 90 minutes. At 7am, my IV alarm went off. This happened yesterday, and its disconcerting at first. But the alarm just tells us that there is about 20 minutes left of drip. So, it was annoying, and it woke me up, but I didn’t worry. After a few minutes I called in and was told someone would be by in a few minutes to take care of it. That woke my bladder up, so  I decided to go ahead and get up and start my day. The leg-massagers (more about them in a moment) were annoying, but I managed to get them unhooked and swung around so I was sitting on the side of my bed. Minutes passed. I stood up (yay! NO dizziness!!!!) and verified that yes, the only thing preventing me from going to the bathroom was the IV monitors’ electrical plug into the wall. Unfortunately, I couldn’t bend over to pull it out. So I had to wait, listening to the alarm, which was still low on the annoying scale, but growing higher. At 7:20, I called again — apologies, we’ll be right there! And at 7:35 someone came. Just in time, I was getting desperate.

Ah! relief. And I had a bit of a sponge bath and wiped my face (that felt really good) and got a new gown. Vitals still good. Had some more meds (yum). By this time, I realized I had come to a decisions: I was done with being in the hospital. I’m not resting, I’m moderately comfortable, but it’s really boring and I’m not sleeping, so I’m not truly healing. Time to go home.

So I order breakfast and call home at 8am. J is happily surprised at my news, tells me a few things need to be taken care of, but they’ll be by asap. No worries, say I, see you when you’re here. I went for a walk around the floor.

Then I tidied up. Yes. Well, hey! there were odds n ends all over the room, some of my things were in the nightstand thingie, some on a shelf, some by the sink.  So I got them all together, tossed the unneeded things, and got dressed in socks and pants. Decided to wear the hospital gown home because it was easier. Packed up everything else. Went for a walk around the floor.

Right then, breakfast came: a bacon, egg, and cheese breakfast sandwich on an english muffin. Pure indulgence. Pretty good, too. (Too much cheese, actually.) With it I had applesauce and lots of water. I was just finishing it when J and mom came in — they were completely shocked to see me, hair combed, face washed, eating an egg sandwich. I just looked at them and said
“I’ve decided to go home.” and we all started laughing. I mean, it’s such a ME moment, you know?

My plastic surgeon came by and we talked meds and recovery. Seems that my other surgeon had already given the go ahead for me to leave when I want, subject to working out the pain med/nausea thing. The nurse stopped by to make sure I knew what to do with my drains, and she emptied them with J watching — he feels very confident he can deal with it, and I’m grateful. We do paperwork and I get a handful of prescriptions to be filled, dilaudid (pill form), keflaux (anti-biotic), lunesta (to sleep) and three kinds of anti-nausea meds. Then its into the wheelchair (so strange!) and through the hospital and outside.

Ok. So, stop for a moment and imagine you have a 10-lb bowling ball stitched to your left chest. You can’t raise your left arm really at all, and you can’t use it. Now, get into a mid-size sedan. The front seat was out — I was NOT going to wear a seatbelt. Our back seat has bucket seats, which was a bit awkward, and of course choosing which side to be on needs to be based on how easy will it be for me to get OUT? tricky tricky . . .

We managed it and made it home, driving very slowly (J even put on the flashers and went 5 mil/hr over the train tracks) and carefully. It was hard to remain relaxed and just breathe rather than tense up in anticipation of a bump.

Sahsa was left in the back room as we maneuvered me upstairs (tiring!) and into bed. It’s good to be home. Really good. So I went to sleep for a few hours.

Time Machine: 11/13, pt 2

Posted on November 26, 2009 at 6:00 pm

The tough thing about surgery and pain meds is that the whole process really does horrid things to your body. I’m not a doctor, but how I’ve come to think of it is that when they do major surgery, they have to shut your whole system down to be able to work freely. So, recovering from surgery means restarting all of your systems. Its one reason they are so concerned with your bodily wastes — its an easy way to see that many systems are functioning again.

So here I am, 1st thing in the morning, and I haven’t eaten in . . . lets see . . . about 36 hours. I am (to put it daintily) effing STARVING. But I know my body won’t tolerate much, so I order yogurt and whole wheat toast, dry. Well, I had forgotten that hospital food may not be horrid anymore, but it ain’t what I eat at home. So I have strawberry yoplait and whole wheat, but not whole grain toast. Ick.

Oh, and my body hates it, too. Really hates it. Had three small bites of yogurt and a bite of toast then spent 5 minutes holding a bag (conveniently taped to my serving tray) at ready. I did not need it, but that was unpleasant. So, the engine is not ready to restart, but the hunger is making me ill. It’s like my stomach is eating itself. (Ok, change the direction of *that* thought, that’s a little too horror movie for right now.)

J and Mom arrive, full of good cheer and I have to tell them to tone it down. I’m not especially emotionally sensitive, but their energy is *beating* at me, like a Metallica concert right next to the main speakers. They get my meaning and relax and tone down to a more bearable level. We talk about this and that, the well-wishes expressed by so many is unexpected.

My surgeon comes in and gives me the thumbs up for being a good patient. She also recommends that I stay away from sweet things (like the yogurt) and try salty things. After she leaves, we decide to try plain chicken broth and saltines. And yes! I can actually imbibe this  . . . well. . .  not food . . . but sustenance, yes.

Saltines, btw, are a magickal food for me. They were forbidden as a child, so getting any meant it was a special occasion. They are a ‘when sick only’ treat.  Also, having my mother feed me soup was weird, disheartening, and frustrating.  I’m sad to say that it goes down as one of those moments when she felt it was important and I let it happen. Not great. It was easier for me to just pick up the soup container and drink it. (Which I did later, after she was gone.)

I feel so much better for the 2 ounces of salty broth (probably from a bullion cube no less) and a couple of saltines. Its a little shameful. And it took me hours to dink the whole cup. I’d drink a bit, then doze, chat a bit, then doze . . . rinse, repeat. Time dilates oddly, slower at times, then longer. Can time truly be a constant?

Amusingly, I’m supposed to do three laps around the floor today. Not all at once, but at some point. This is in theory a good idea. It’ll get the circulation going, help me feel more alert, etc. But I’m so weak from meds I literally can’t get out of bed. I do not leave my bed, except to pee, at all today.

J and Mom went home for a bit in the late morning . I talked about the meds situation with the nurse and we decided to try halving the dosage and giving it to me twice as often (basically 2mg of dilaudid every 2 hrs instead of 4 mg every 4 hours). So far, its working better. I’m more uncomfortable, but not in actual pain. Its sort of like having a small 10-lb bowling ball attached to my left chest — its so heavy, my muscles are being stretched to hold it up.

I dozed in and out of consciousness. As a note: my vitals are all looking very good: pulse in the low 60s, BP around 120/80, temp around 98*. I’m a healthy gal!

J. came back in the early afternoon just him. He spent several hours with me and I could tell he was whitelighting me like crazy. While he was with me, oh heaven!, I slept. REALLY slept, for a few hours. That was a true gift, and I feel it was J’s presence that did it. I felt protected and bathed in good vibes.

J and Mom came back in the evening. Mom smuggled in her evening drink, it made me laugh to see her sitting with a water bottle in one hand and a bowl of pretzels, chatting away as if we were home. They are much more used to my dozing now. While they were here I had a real dinner — grilled salmon and broccoli. Damn, it felt good to do that. No nausea at all. I ate slowly and enjoyed the flavor (not that the local restaurants have to worry about competition!). J now calls me his brown bear d’amour. 🙂

So, today I accomplished? A real meal, and I worked with my people to find a pain mgmt plan, and we succeeded. Small things take on large importance right now. Its a topsy-turvy world.

Time Machine: 11/13, part 1

Posted on November 25, 2009 at 5:57 pm

Friday the 13th! Today is very weird, not only because I woke up in a hospital, but because I have large gap in my memory of yesterday. I rely on my memory a great deal, having gaps is fairly distressing, even if I know why. In a way, it gives me a glimpse into why people with amnesia freak out so badly, it must be incredibly disorienting, frightening.

I have a private room, barely big enough for a typical hospital bed, IV line, chair for visitors, and sink/cabinet. A TV hangs high on the wall, and I have access to movies (fairly new: A Quantum of Solace is one of the choices), TV, and even the Internet. Without a keyboard, however, I will not be checking of sending emails. That’s probably just as well.

I don’t sleep, I nap for 30-45 mins at a time. With my door closed my room is actually pretty quiet, and I have enough morphine-equivalent in me to make sleeping easy . . . but I don’t actually sleep. I didn’t last night, and I’m not today. When I have company (my mom and J.) I occasionally just lose track and drift away. I can still hear them talking, but I don’t pay much attention, its soothing to know they are there, but I don’t feel like I need to participate.

Yesterday when they moved me into this bed was the first serious pain I’ve had — I was fairly well jostled as they ‘slid’ me from bed to bed, and the pain spike drove right through me. I wanted to curl up, and only force of will kept me at full length (I knew it would hurt worse if I didn’t lie straight). I tried desperately to breathe to relax, but (ironically) the pain meds interfered. So, it hurt a LOT.

I just looked at J’s twitter feed and I can tell you this: I remember essentially nothing from 1:30pm 11/12 until being wheeled into my room around 8pm. What do I remember? Getting out of a wheelchair and onto a surgical table, being helped to lie down. (ed. note: and this is NOT a true memory. I was wheeled from pre-op in the same bed I’d been lying in all day.) There was music playing. A woman was laying out surgical instruments on a table on the back wall. The room was chilly. A Woman and a man helped me onto the table. The man talked to me. The next thing? I was in recovery with a woman checking in on me and going in and out of consciousness.

In its own way, that is fairly frightening. I’m sure its a good thing. But I hate that I can’t remember.

The big thing for me right now is that I have two drains. They need to be emptied 3x/day, and the contents measured. The med staff here keep trying to show me how to do it, and I refuse. J will do it for me. It’s silly, but I just can’t cope with the reality of the drains right now. I also can’t really look down at my chest, I have no curiosity to peek under my gown. None.

I can tell you this: When I got a glimpse of J. through the doorway (they weren’t ready for him to come in yet) it made me very happy. I knew it was all going to be all right when I saw him. That was my first smile.

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