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This Won’t Hurt [Me] A Bit

Says every surgeon ever. I’ve had three surgeries now and while they happily describe cauterizing the bed of my liver or cutting bones from my nose there is one word they noticeably avoid in connection with cutting me up: pain. They speak of “discomfort” and “soreness,” and somehow always manage to skirt the “p” word. I guess they’re afraid that ms-8GQ8rTif they’re honest about how surgery makes you feel they’ll be out of a job–as if the general population isn’t intelligent enough to realize that being cut and cauterized and debrided and stitched and stapled is going to cause pain. Of course once they’ve actually had the surgery the patient will be very aware of just how far the term “soreness” is stretching it, but that’s not really the surgeon’s problem anymore right?

I’m being passive aggressive. Maybe I should just tell you the specific reason I am annoyed at my surgeon, and surgeons in general, at the present moment. Of course having had two surgeries in the past I was already aware heading into this one of the surgeon’s code–I knew that “discomfort” meant I’d be in significant pain–but really I couldn’t have foreseen this particular scenario:  I’ve been having a reaction to the pain medicine my surgeon prescribed me. It makes me itch all over like crazy, even when I take Benadryl. Tuesday I called my surgeon’s office and told them this, hoping that I could get a different medicine to help with the pain, but not cause me to scratch myself to death. Their obnoxiously polite response was that I could try taking more Benadryl and if that didn’t control the itching I could try taking Ibuprofen instead of the narcotic pain killer. And let’s not forget the suggestion that I should really be tapering down my pain meds anyways because “most” people experience the worst pain in the first couple days–essentially “stop being a baby.” Needless to say I was unhappy with their insulting and useless advice. Especially when I did try just taking Ibuprofen and discovered that I had not turned the figurative corner I supposedly should have floated around by then–my abdomen still freakin hurt.

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So I was left to struggle on my own–attempting to find a balance between pain, itchiness
and drowsiness that I could handle. Yesterday I think I finally did drag myself around that magical corner and the pain poofed suddenly into soreness (actual soreness not a surgeon’s “soreness”) that can be mostly managed by Ibuprofen.

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Today is one week post-op and I feel a million times better than I did just a couple days ago. I’m eating a moderate amount, although I still feel overly full and a little sick every time I do eat. My stomach has deflated pretty much all the way and I just have a little residual swelling from my insides being poked and prodded. I’m still much more tired than normal, even without pain killers and Benadryl combining against me; if I make it, today will be my first full day without any prescription pain meds whatsoever.

Before the surgery I read accounts of people who said they only used narcotics the first day or never needed them at all–as Hagrid might say, that’s codswallop in my opinion. Or as I might say, that’s stupid. *Steps on soapbox* Everybody on the internet is trying to sound tough and it gives people unrealistic expectations. With my first two surgeries I tried to do the same thing–prove how tough I was by using as little pain killers as possible–but I learned that it just delays healing and makes you miserable. Being in a lot of pain puts extra, unnecessary stress on the body that makes it harder to heal. Plus when you’re in more pain you’re less likely to do things that are good for recovery like get up and walk around, get enough sleep and even eat. So take it from me and just take the meds. Ok rant over. *Steps down*

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Incisions Update:

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1 week post-op tummy–not too shabby eh?

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Close up on oblique incisions 

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Close up on belly button incision–can you believe they got my gallbladder out through that little thing?

A Lap Chol Tale–Nieces Make It Better

Ok so this post is going to be interesting. The plan is to write some today, some tomorrow before and after surgery. We’ll see how it goes. By the way Lap Chol stands for laparoscopic cholecystectomy- which I can neither say nor spell without help so I’ll stick to the abbreviation.

Thursday: Prepping for Surgery

I’ve had a running list this week of stuff I need to get done before tomorrow: laundry, change sheets, vacuum, charge electronics,  shave legs, acquire necessary post-surgery food and drink supplies, do as much yoga as possible (before I can’t for a while), try very hard not to have another bad gallbladder attack, do pre-op interview and blood work,  etc. I am also doing my IG infusion tonight as I doubt I’ll feel like doing it tomorrow.

I’m weirdly excited for tomorrow–the kind of excited I suppose a pregnant woman feels when she’s finally going into labor. No matter the pain ahead, I want this thing out of me! (Except it would be totally weird and gross if they handed it to me afterwards).
My family has joked that I should ask for my gb after the surgery–I could take it home and set it in a jar on my bookcase. They think they’re so funny. *Rolls eyes* Well I have always admired Severus Snape’s interior decorating skills. I guess now’s my chance to get
the authentic creepy-guy-in-a-dungeon look.

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Friday: Surgery Early this morning I woke up and the butterflies hit me hard. I finally gave up on sleeping and watched videos of my six-month-old niece on my phone. My older brother, sister-in-law​, younger sister and I all shared a house up at school this past year. Second semester (she was born in December) if I was really nervous or stressed about something it always helped to hold my little squishy for a bit. Since we’re separated for the summer, videos had to do today. I felt much better after watching her try to sit up and grinning as her parents squished her cheeks with kisses.

I didn’t actually get a chance to write before the surgery. I didn’t wait in pre-op very long before they brought mom back, which was totally not my experience with my other surgeries.

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Making important life decisions while waiting in pre-op

While we waited together my mom drilled me on what I want to get my masters and PhD in. I told her I figured it’d be ok if I didn’t figure that out before they took me back for surgery… We were waiting for a while.

Not long before they wheeled me back my sister sent me pics of her two little girls. My 20-months-old niece was trying to walk in her daddy’s shoes while her new little sister watched her with wide eyes from her swing. I was still smiling when they came to wheel me away.

My doc said the surgery went very smoothly. Unlike my previous surgeries, I didn’t even realize I was going under in the OR. I remember taking some deep breaths of oxygen on the operating table and then waking up to a recovery nurse telling me I needed to breathe slower. I also had a much harder time waking up from the anesthesia than I have from my previous two surgeries. I’m always very clear headed–no funny drugged stories from me sadly–but this time all my body wanted to do was go back to sleep. It was also the first surgery I’ve been in significant pain as soon as I woke up. My shoulder and back hurt really bad from the gas they had pumped into my abdomen so they could see what they were doing. I really wished I had thought to bring along some Gas-X or something. They gave me my first pain pill while I was in recovery but it didn’t do much for the gas pain. I took gas medicine as soon as I got home and within half an hour the pain was all but gone. So far the gas pain has been the only thing to come close to the pain of an attack.

I got home at about noon- having reported to the surgery center at 7:45 in the morning. I got situated in the recliner, and once the meds kicked in and my pain eased up I dozed off and on while Bones solved crimes in the background.

By this time my 20-months-old niece was up from her nap. She saw me sleeping in the recliner and thought I was playing one of her favorite games- “nigh nigh,” where you pretend to go to sleep and then pop up and squeal “wake up!” Everytime I closed my eyes I’d hear the rapid pitter patter of tiny feet come up to the side of the chair, followed by a careful pause as she stood and watched me with her big, brown eyes. Then she’d get her little curl-covered head as close to mine as she could and squeal loudly, signaling me to pop my eyes open and yell “wake up!” It hurt to laugh, but it still felt good, if that makes sense.

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I got holes in ma belly

Saturday: Day One of Recovery

Last night I didn’t get much sleep. It hurts a lot to lie my side, which is how I always sleep. When I finally did fall asleep I woke up a couple hours later because my body was complaining that it was overdue for another dose of pain medicine.

I haven’t been hungry at all. Yesterday I just drank Gatorade and ginger ale; today I forced myself to eat some Jell-O and Cheerios because I was getting a lack of food migraine, but I’m still not hungry.

I spent most of the day in the recliner watching Harry Potter and Bones and napping. My abs definitely hurt when I move, but it’s not agonizing. It feels a bit like when I put my IG needles in a bad spot on my tummy and they rub against the muscle– at least that’s how it feels as long as I keep up with the pain meds.

They put water proof bandages over the 4 incisions in my belly so I got to take a shower today. It especially felt good since I’ve been feeling itchy from the pain meds–apparently it’s a pretty common side effect of narcotics. Just another reason not to like them I guess.

Sunday: Day Two of Recovery

Last night I slept much better and today I finally felt a little hungry–so we’re making progress. Otherwise it was pretty much post-surgery business as usual: recliner, tv, naps; I was not surprised, but still a little bummed I didn’t feel like going to church.

My incision sites are more sore today and I’m beginning to see nice little bruises blooming under the edge of the bandages. So far I haven’t actually been feeling a ton of pain where my gallbladder used to be, which surprises me. But hey, I’m not complaining.

Monday: Day Three of Recovery

Last night I fell asleep about an hour before I was up for my next dose of pain meds and then I slept for a good twelve hours, so I was seriously feeling it this morning when I woke up.

Once the meds kicked in I had a small cup of cheerios with blueberries and I am seriously stuffed.

A nurse called to check on me this morning and told me I could take the water-proof bandages off. As you can see my tummy is still pretty swollen–I’m having a hard time getting all the gas out. I thought my belly button incision would hurt the most because it’s twice as large as the others, but actually the little ones on my right side have been the most painful so far. Yesterday I was also running a bit of a fever, but the doc said that’s normal as long as it’s below 101.

Ok who’s ready for a nap? I know I am.

Photo on 6-5-17 at 12.36 PM

These holes are so much smaller than they feel