Post-Op

Lord have mercy.

Things are going well after the surgery…I am 72 hours post-op.   I have been doing my laps (AKA the old man shuffle) around the 6th floor (3ish laps 3-4 times a day).   I get a little faster each time.  I have been told I am the perfect patient for the nurses and techs – all my vitals have been good and I am managing my pain well on my own.  Plus I have a personal nurse (Grammy) and doctor (Russ).  So that’s nice.

The doctor removed an 8lb cyst fully in tact – like a giant water balloon, which by Russ’ assessment was bigger than a football.  It was only attached to my adrenal gland, so a little of that had to be removed as well, but nothing serious. Russ got to hold the cyst, just like he did with our babies.  (I’m so glad he gets so many hands on medical experiences by hanging out with me.)  When the surgeon told my family how big it was, my mom said “that’s as big as another baby…she just gave birth to an 8 lb 9 oz baby”  And the doctor replied, “At least you don’t have to send this one to college”.

While I was in the PACU and still a little groggy, I hear the surgeon talking to the nurses about the surgery he had just finished (mine) and how big the cyst was.  Then he showed them a picture and I heard many loud *gasps* and “OH MY GODS”.  We got to see a picture when the anesthesiologist did rounds – crazy that that thing was inside of me.  We’re trying to get a copy of the picture so we can share it with all of you.

I don’t have much pain at my incision site (my 8.5″ incision site) (!) (I guess there goes my illusions of wearing a two piece bathing suit this summer).  Drugs are FABULOUS.

But there are a few post-op things that are rather annoying.

1)  The pain I am experiencing is in my neck, shoulders, and behind.  I have been given two explanations for this.  a) there are air bubbles trapped inside from being opened up and they’ll go away eventually or b) they are sore from being strapped awkwardly on the OR table during the hour and a half long surgery.  I also think it’s aggravated by the uncomfortable bed that I’ve had to sit/lay in most of my post-op days.

2)  I was in PACU (the place you hang out in until you are unloopified) after anesthesia for six hours because I had to wait for a room to become available.  I was SO bored.  I couldn’t sleep because the only thing dividing me from my neighbors was a curtain, and I had really noisy neighbors.  And they wouldn’t let my family all come back an hang out with me.   They could only come two at a time and couldn’t stay long.   There were no TVs, I didn’t have any of my things.  I cried at one point because I was so bored.  Then Russ finally came back and I was reunited with my phone and facebook, so all was right with the world again.

3) I am usually an easy stick for IVs and blood draws, but because I was dehydrated when I came in (because I couldn’t have any liquids the night before), it took forever for them to get what they needed.  My right arm/hand alone has 14 sticks.  I even had to have them redo my IV yesterday because the first one came lose and started making my wrist swell.  I used to not mind having blood drawn, but now, every time someone comes in to do it, I tear up a little worrying how many times it will take this time and will they roll my veins around trying to find it (FYI – that HURTS).

4)  I’m really dirty.  I haven’t had a shower since Wednesday night…I had to wash my abdomen with this anti-bacterial scrub Thursday morning, but I wasn’t allowed to use any other soaps or shampoos – or lotions after.  I look really rough (so I’m especially glad that I had nine visitors yesterday).  I’m hoping they remove my IV and epidural today so I can get clean.  I think I’m ready for drugs in pill form.

5)  I’m really tired.  I can’t get comfortable in the bed.  I usually sleep on my stomach and that’s pretty much impossible at this point.  Plus, people keep coming in my room.  At one point, I was trying to pump to keep my supply up for Caleb when this is all over, then three different people had to come in to try to draw blood.  Then the tech had to come in to get my vitals.  Then the food service came by to drop off my liquid lunch (mmmm).  Then the chaplain came by to go over the living will options.  OMG.  I think at one point, there were 8 people in my room at the same time.  So I started to LOSE IT.  And the chaplain just stood there and very systematically went over the paperwork.  GREAT JOB Mr. Chaplain.

6)  I’m very hungry.  I am still on a “full liquid” diet, which is an improvement over the “clear liquid” diet.  I have now had grits and mashed potatoes and ice cream.  But just to recap, since Monday night at 6:00 pm (142 hours ago), I have eaten:

  • 3 small cups of jello
  • a teeny bowl of grits
  • a bowl of mashed potatoes
  • a popsicle
  • half bowl of chicken broth
  • half bowl of tomato soup
  • two cups of pudding
  • half cup of ice cream

Yumm-o.  I’m a little frustrated because the doctors should have changed my food orders yesterday, but when they were rounded, I was pumping, and I really didn’t want 5 strangers staring at me while I did that (think Grey’s Anatomy when the attending, residents, interns, and med students all come in together).  So we ask them to come back in a few minutes.  They never came back.

7)  I am glad that I can drink whatever I want now.  The first 24 hours after surgery, they wouldn’t even let me have ice chips.  But since my mouth was really dry, they gave me a cup of water and a bag of sponge swabs to moisten my mouth.  Awesome.

8)  And finally, because of the fatigue and drugs, I am still a little loopy and have trouble defining the difference between reality and dreams.  Yesterday, it was really hard to keep my eyes open, so I would dose off in the middle of a conversation with Russ, then wake up and continue the conversation that was going on in my dream rather than the one we were actually having.  Poor Russ – he was just so confused.

It’s good times here in the hospital.  I am hoping to go home today, but it’s looking like it’ll probably be tomorrow.  Keep the prayers coming, specifically that I can manage my pain with pills and that I don’t go completely crazy.

Prep

I haven’t had anything to eat since Monday at 6:00 pm.  To say I am hungry is a GROSS understatement.  I cannot think over the loud sounds coming from my stomach.  I cannot write a coherent post because of my headache (just to warn you).

I am so hungry that the baby food I was feeding Caleb looked really appealing.   I am so hungry that I nearly wept after a commercial for velvetta/rotel queso dip.  That actually still sounds really yummy – I think I want that for my first meal after the surgery.  or pizza. or Chick-Fil-A.  or my mom’s cubed steak and rice and gravy.  or ice cream. or…all of the above.

Surgery will be tomorrow morning at 7:30 am.  Even though we have to be there by 5:45 am (meaning leaving the house no later than 5:00 am) , I am still really excited that I’m first on the schedule. because 1) I get to get it over with, 2) I will get to eat sooner, and 3) It’s the surgeon’s first surgery and he’ll be all fresh and on the ball.

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Do not read past this point if you don’t like potty talk or are easily grossed out or will look at me differently next time I see you.

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By some miracle, I have managed to finish everything on my pre-op to do list.  And I say miracle because I have to go to the bathroom every 10 minutes.  AND Caleb is sick and fussy.

I lost 3 lbs yesterday, though I do not recommend “go-lytly” as a diet tool….as my doctor joked, it makes you go heavily.  I am completely empty.  And now I only go liquids, which is a very strange sensation.

I am very thankful for comfortable pajama pants without those darn time-consuming buttons and zippers.  I think I may have to invest in some pajama jeans if this ever needs to happen again.

I am very thankful that we have a two bathroom house.

I got mad at Russ on Sunday because he was telling church members how he would be making sure that I was doing all the right things to heal correctly, like getting up and walking as soon as possible…and…passing gas….guess after this post, I shouldn’t really get mad at him.

I’m thinking a blog post from post-op is in order, because if it’s this inappropriate on here hungry, just think about the inappropriateness and TMI that will be written whilst on heavy narcotics.

Stay tuned, I know that was the best tease ever.

body talk

Last Sunday, as people were leaving and hugging me and making me cry, one woman (a breast cancer survivor) told me how smart I was to get that weird spot on my abdomen checked out and for getting a second opinion because she found her lump and the first doctor she saw didn’t think it was a big deal and sent her home.  The second opinion doctor immediately ran tests and found out it was cancer and that it had grown remarkably since the visit with her first doctor.

So I started thinking about the importance of knowing your body and all of the warning signs I was having that I ignored.

1.  As already mentioned, I was HUGE when I was pregnant with Caleb.  People keep asking why they didn’t see it on an ultrasound.  I think it’s because both my babies hung out on the right side of my uterus (perhaps because the football was pushing them over)…whenever they did an ultrasound, they always stayed on the right side.

2.  Caleb was born in July and I slowly started losing the baby fat…until late November.  The picture below was at our Women’s Retreat in the middle of November.  Not super trim, but not big either.  Later in the month, I started noticing that my abdomen was getting bigger again.  I thought it was just the four Thanksgiving dinners.  But it continued and my clothes were starting to not fit well again…but I thought that was because of the Christmas dinners.  Except that I wasn’t really gaining weight…just my tummy was getting bigger.

3.  On December 10, I went to a wedding that Russ was officiating and took Taylor.  We had fun, but about 10 minutes into the reception, my back started killing me.  I could barely sit it hurt so bad.  So we left early (didn’t even get cake!).  By the time I got home, I hurt everywhere and collapsed on the couch while Grammy came to my rescue and got Taylor ready for bed.  It took four motrin before I could sleep.  I think it was because I was wearing a skirt that was a little snug (since my belly was getting bigger) and it was pushing too much on the cyst, which was pushing on my kidneys and everything else.

4.  I’ve always had stomach issues, but my stomach was hurting more often.

All of these things (back pain, belly getting bigger, stomach hurting) led me to think (fear) that I was pregnant again.  But I figured out that I wasn’t…and didn’t really think too much about the symptoms again until I started poking around on my belly.  I remember feeling stupid for even asking Russ because I thought it was probably just a body part I hadn’t felt before.  And when I went to the OB, she didn’t really feel it, and I could tell that she thought I was overreacting a little.

BUT I’m glad I got it checked out and that I got a second opinion from a doctor who definitely seems to know what he’s dealing with better than the first.

So, I say to you, dear internets….know you body and if something doesn’t seem right, get it checked out.  two or three times.

FULL

Thank-FULL

I am a little mushy these days…just truly overwhelmed by all there is to be grateful for.   Like my family, church, friends (who are like family).  I had my appointment with the second opinion surgeon today.  I am truly thankful that Russ is in med school and therefore working at this great hospital and on his OB rotation working with a gyn-onc surgeon who knew the surgical oncologist who is DA BOMB.  Not only was he great, but every single person – nurses, NPs, techs, check-in people, financial counselors – was super nice and helpful…explaining everything and being very reassuring.  After my appointment, they sent me over to pre-op for blood work, an EKG, and to talk with the prep nurse and anesthesia np.  While there, three different people offered me a drink.

I know I’m in good hands.  Surgery is scheduled for NEXT Thursday at MUSC.  They can’t do it laproscopically because of the size and just to make sure they don’t let any of the fluid leak.  I’ll be in the hospital for 3-4 days, then home to grammy care for at least two weeks before I’m able to take care of myself and the kids.  I still won’t be able to lift Taylor for a while, so I’ll have to do some creative parenting.   I’m a little bummed about the wait, but totally worth it to be cared for by the best.

Stress-FULL

Have I said that our new pastor is great?  He is.  Today, I was cracking some (probably bad) joke about how I would be spending a lot of time on the couch in the next few weeks and how I’m not really good at sitting.  He said…”You know I think this thing (meaning my cyst) is stress…I was thinking about that e-mail you sent me about all the transition you’ve been through here, plus the two babies, and Russ in medical school…that’s a lot of stress.”

He then pointed out how in Psalm 23, it says “He MAKES ME LIE DOWN in green pastures” and tells me that I need to actually take the time off when I’m recovering.  Which is going to be really hard.  I’m not a sitter….I don’t sit still long.  There’s always something that needs doing.  And if I don’t do it, no one will.  (I know that’s not actually true, mostly)

PLUS, if I’m really gone for a few weeks, he might realize that he doesn’t need me.  And I need to be needed.

But he insisted and gave me a stress inventory thing.  It said that if you scored higher than 200, you were over you stress threshold and needed to take some time to evaluate and fix things.  I scored a 380.  Let’s recap the last 5 years:

2006 – Graduate from seminary, Russ start taking undergrad science courses, live with parents for a summer, apply and interview for jobs, start first real job, buy first house (a fixer-upper)

2007 – Still learning first job, pastor has knee replacement surgery and is out for 6 weeks, Russ finish undergrad science courses, works as ER tech and takes MCAT, get ordained, have baby

2008 – pastor of 33 years retires, solo for 5 months, Russ starts med school, BAD interim starts

2009 – bad interim gets worse and is let go, new interim, secretary of 15 years retires

2010-  new secretary, let custodian of 12 years go, new custodial service, pastor has knee replacement surgery and is out for 6 weeks, have baby, new secretary doesn’t work out, new secretary #2, interim pastor leaves, finish CE certification exam

2011 – new pastor begins, FOOTBALL CYST

Thank you God, I’ll take the hint…I’ll rest.  Maybe.  A friend posted this link about doing nothing on facebook…I couldn’t do it.  FAIL popped up within the first 15 seconds.  I’m going to try again after I post this.

Opposite of FULL

Just to make sure I win the weight loss challenge, I am fasting for two days.  TWO DAYS.  before my surgery.  I am really not exciting about the clear liquid diet leading up to the surgery…really not excited.  I really like to eat.  I’m going to be really hungry.

4th, maybe 5th

So you know how there are various stages of grief:

  1. Shock and Denial
  2. Pain and Guilt
  3. Anger and Bargaining
  4. Depression, Reflection, and Loneliness
  5. The Upward Turn
  6. Reconstruction and Working Through
  7. Acceptance and Hope

I am now on the my 4th stage of coping.  The first was Task Mode Business/Money Spending/Eating.  Then there was Spend as Much Time Hugging my Kids as Possible.  Then there was the oscillating between Freak Out and Denial.  And now, I’m on Want to Crawl Into Bed and Sleep Until It’s Over.  And of course, they’re really in no particular order and I have relapses at all stages and find myself doing a little Task Mode today as well.  But really I just want to crawl in bed.  I’m not really motivated to do anything else.  We have youth group tonight, which I usually love, but tonight, I’d rather be sleeping.  We had worship this morning, also usually a great love, but today…sleep sounded much more appealing.  My bed is warm and cozy and there are episodes of my guilty pleasure shows on hulu that need watching.

But it was good that I went this morning.  It was hard, but good.  Hard, because I had to update each person I saw…after about 20 updates, I went into the choir room and hid until the service started.  Good, because I was overwhelmed with all of the hugs and “I love yous” and promises of prayers and well wishes and offers to help from babysitting to doing laundry to nurses offering to do whatever I needed while I was in the hospital, even if I wasn’t on their floor.  (I like these people a little bit).  Excuse while I wipe tears from my eyes.

…..

OK, breath in, breath out.  Really, it was amazing.  You never really know the support system you have until you need it.  I’ve always known that we’re blessed with an AWESOME family, and great friends, and a wonderful church family…but now I can multiply those adjectives by a quadrillion.  Easy.

OK, now I’m on Appreciation and GET THIS THING OUT NOW.

Thanks internets for listening.  Update to come tomorrow following 2:30 appointment.