Recovering, Slowly but Surely

So, this whole surgery recovery thing has been a lot harder than I thought, y’all.

Let’s go back to Monday morning. We arrived at the hospital two hours before my surgery time and I was feeling intensely anxious as I watched all the doctors and nurses arriving for the start of their shifts. Soon after arriving I was taken back to the pre-op area where I had to get undressed and redressed in the oh-so-glamorous hospital garb– a GIANT PERSON sized gown, compression sleeves for my calves, and XL sized socks that came well above my ankles. I was bummed I didn’t even get to keep my underpants because I specifically wore my Batgirl knickers for bravery. I was IV-ed up by a lovely nurse, and shortly afterwards the anesthesiologist stopped by to talk with me about medical history and walk me through general anesthesia, etc. He could tell I was nervous (what else is new) and ordered me a shot of Versed to help me feel more relaxed. Shortly after getting that my family was allowed to come and wait with me. I don’t really remember much of that period thanks to the drugs, but my family tells me I was quite entertaining and insistently tried to tell them that the ceiling tiles were moving. I have this photo on my phone that I have absolutely zero recollection of taking:

Dr. Shepperd, my surgeon, came to check on me and talk about the procedure. After answering all my questions, he asked if he could pray over me before surgery. He sat on my bed with his hand on my shoulder and said a prayer, which I very much appreciated because it helped calm my mind a bit. Soon enough, some nurses came to roll me away and I had to say bye to my family. The operating room was SO BRIGHT and SO COLD– it felt like I had been rolled into a meat locker. I had to relinquish my glasses before going back, so being surrounded by lots of nurses/doctors in a bright, scary room that I couldn’t fully see made me start to feel anxious again. The nurse anesthetist let me know that he was giving me some more Versed, and then placed a breathing mask on my face and asked me to take full breaths. After 4-5 breaths, he said he said “You’re going to go to sleep now” and sure enough, I was out within seconds.

Next thing I remember, I was struggling to wake up in a dark room and I was hurting BADLY– my abdomen was on fire and my throat was very sore from the breathing tube. A nurse was gently patting my shoulder and asking me to breath on my own, and I vaguely remember moaning about how much my belly hurt and not wanting to wake up. My nurse assured me that he would get me something for the pain, and spooned some ice chips into my mouth to help with the sore throat. The nurse was named Bill, which I only remember because I’m pretty sure I asked him what his name was about twenty time, and he was SO NICE. I didn’t ever want him to leave. He had a quiet, soothing voice, and really helped calm me down when I woke up scared and confused. One thing I distinctly remember is him making a joke while fixing my mussed up hospital gown saying something about how it was massive and wrapped around me six or seven times. I was given something in my IV to make the pain better, and Bill kept reminding me nicely that I needed to wake up and breath. Once I could breath on my own and was more awake, he wheeled my bed into a recovery room where my family could be with me.

Another nurse brought in some sprite and saltine crackers and said I had to 1. urinate, 2. drink something, 3. eat something, and 4. have my pain managed before I could be released. Scott and my mom fed me crackers and encouraged me to drink a little, and they helped me go to the bathroom too. Slowly during all of this, the pain came back and I was completely miserable. I don’t know if I have ever experienced that much pain before– laying was brutal, sitting was brutal, standing was brutal, NOTHING came easily and I was so very tired. I couldn’t get comfortable on the bed and everything seemed to make the pain worse. The recovery nurse let us know that the pharmacy was working to get me something as soon as possible, but eventually 30 more minutes had gone by with no word on the medicine. I was hurting, half-delirious, and I desperately wanted to be in my own bed. My mom told the nurse we had changed our mind about the pain medicine and asked her to bring the discharge papers. The nurse came into the room and asked if I was sure I wanted to leave, and reminded me that she couldn’t allow me to leave unless my pain was better. “I’m okay, I think I’m just uncomfortable,” (lie) “I think I will feel better if I can just go home” (truth). Later (after grumpily fighting with Scott over not wanting to put my bra back on– I won and left the hospital bra-less) I was loaded into a wheel chair and taken to my car. Scott dropped me off at home, and then went to the pharmacy to get my medicine while mom watched over me. Mom gave me one of my leftover pain pills from my wisdom teeth surgery (thank goodness we still had them), and I immediately sat down on the couch and fell asleep for a few hours. When I woke up, mom had cooked her special spicy turkey and white bean soup, and Scott had returned home with lots of post surgery goodies– pudding, apple juice, and peanut butter crackers.

So, all in all, not the worst thing that could have happened to me, but definitely not something I’d wish on anyone else. The wait for the pain medicine was frustrating but not the fault of the nurse or anyone at the hospital, that’s just how it is sometimes. My post-op nurse, Bill, was an angel and I wish I knew his full name so I could send him a thank you note or something (mom and Scott said I wouldn’t stop deliriously talking about how great he was when I was in the recovery room– I stand by my declaration, BILL WAS AMAZING AND I LOVE HIM). Dr Shepperd said that my surgery went well. My gallbladder was very, very full and looked very inflamed and irritated. On his examination he thought there must have been dysfunction with the valves releasing the liquid inside my GB. Additionally, he found a small hernia in my abdominal wall when he made the incision in my belly button, so he fixed that up as well. I suspect that was probably caused by the horrible virus I had back in March when I spent 3 days violently vomiting and pooping, all the heaving and straining involved definitely could have caused a hernia.

I have two incisions, one small one near my hip bone and one large one in my belly button, with internal stitches for the hernia and some kind of weird glue stuff holding the incisions closed. I am VERY sore and my belly hurts pretty badly. I can’t get around very easily on my own, and like I said on my other post, I have never been SO AWARE of how much you need your abdominal muscles to function like a normal person. I haven’t taken any of my pain meds today since they make me feel woozy and weird, so I’m hurting a little worse today but feeling less foggy and helpless, so that’s good. The bloat from the gas used to inflate my abdomen and the swelling is hilarious (and painful, but more hilarious)– my family has had a great time poking fun at my big, round belly. Aside from one random middle of the night vomiting episode the night after I got home, I have been able to eat without incident, although I’ve been taking it slow trying to introduce more fatty stuff into my diet. So far it’s just been a lot of soup and crackers.

At this point it’s just resting and trying to gently ease myself back into my normal activities. I’m tired and sore, but happy and ready to be myself again.

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