After all the hoopla, travel and what seemed like waiting longer than a full-term pregnancy, surgery is over. I am officially a Bionic Woman. I was scheduled first up at 7:30 on Valentine’s Day, what a way to get that little sparkly something. We’d scheduled a cab for 5:20, since the forecast was for snow (again) and apparently cab drivers in Wisconsin still find it to be a surprise in winter. Of course, they were not on time which raised the anxiety level tremendously. After several phone calls and increasing blood pressure, the cab finally arrived at 5:45. Luckily it was a fairly short trip so we made it on time at 6:00 as scheduled.
There was no waiting around as I’d experienced with my dad’s prior surgeries. Went through the check in process and they sent me up to the surgical floor where there wasn’t even the chance to sit down. They whisked me back to a private room where I answered more health questions, marked the surgical site with the doctors initials and gave a little blood just for good measure. At 7:20 they were wheeling me out of the room to the pre-surgery area. We dropped Gus off at the surgical waiting room and it just broke my heart because he looked so lost. But he was trying to stay calm on my behalf, which of course was greatly appreciated. But after 20 years together, I know that look of nervousness.
In pre-op, the anesthesiologist hooked me up to the IV, they asked my name and birthdate about 50 times. At 7:30, they were wheeling me into the OR, which didn’t look like the OR that I remembered from past surgical experiences. The room was a bustle of activity, Dr. Rogerson said hello and I tried to make a joke about the beach scene picture on the wall considering the snow outside was measured in feet. Renee, the PA, helped me scoot over onto the OR table from the gurney and that is absolutely the last thing I remember. No mask, no count backwards from ten – I was out.
When I woke up in post-op, strangely enough it was like waking up from a refreshing nap. Now when I had my emergency c-section 12 years ago, I remember being groggy for days. But not this time. In fact, I asked the nurse if they’d cancelled my surgery for some reason – had something gone wrong- because I was fairly certain I’d only been in there a few minutes. She just laughed and said surgery went great and it took 2 1/2 hours. But I just couldn’t figure out why I felt no pain.
When they took me up to the room, Gus was shocked at how alert and awake I was considering my post c-section out-of-it experience. They hooked me up to a PCA for pain management. I did use it, only because I was scared of pain (and after my 2nd c-section experience where the post-epidural line kinked and I had no pain relief whatsoever for several hours) I didn’t want to go there. But I if I had to do it again, I would definitely skip the morphine and ask for oral pain meds instead. While the morphine doesn’t have awful side effects for me (all it does it make me sleepy), I think I would have felt much more alert and been fine without it.
Since it was not a private room (with one shared TV in the middle no less), I was glad we brought a poratable DVD player. My roommate had knee surgery and felt compelled to share the details, and her displeasure with the whole experience, with anyone who would listen or had the misfortune of being within earshot. She exuded negativity that was not exactly conducive to recovery. So I was glad I had earphones, movies and my MP3 player.
They had told me that PT would start the day after surgery but that they might get me up to use the bathroom. So that evening, two assistants sat me on the edge of the bed and got ready to spin me over to the bedside potty. I was feeling fairly dizzy but they said that was normal and to just dangle my legs for a bit. When they got me up and over, I was holding onto one woman’s arm telling her not to leave me, that I was really dizzy now (the kind where things are fading to black and you are pretty sure passing out is in your near future). I don’t remember it, but my husband told me that I threw up and promptly passed out. He said they called for help and about 8 people were in there in pretty short order. All I remember is being back in the bed.
I’m so relieved this is over!
February 15, 2008
They really don’t mess around after surgery. The first PT session was held in the bed, apparently after my stellar performance with the pass-out/vomit combo. They had me sit for quite awhile on the edge of the bed and finally did get me up on the crutches to walk out into the hall and back. One small step for a bionic woman! The PT, Desiree, had told us that we’d be amazed at the difference between our am/pm PT sessions in the hospital and she was right on the money. That afternoon, the day after surgery, I walked from the PT room back to my room on crutches. Granted it was very slow and she had me on the PT leash, it was nothing short of amazing. I was also shocked that I could (and apparently should) bear weight on the surgical leg. I’m also shocked that I am not in pain. I somehow expected the surgical site to be painful but there is just nothing. The only thing I’m experiencing, and it in no way rises to a level of pain, is what I’d call muscle discomfort in the surgical leg. When Renee came to check on me, she asked about my pain. I told her there really was no pain, but it felt like I had done a really intense leg/quad workout. She laughed and said, “You did have an intense quad workout, but we did it for you.” But it could not be classified as pain at all.
The PCA was discontinued and I went to the oral meds, which I can’t say I need all that much. One more night in the hospital and I’m moving on the HipHab!
February 16, 2008
After the hospital PT session, I was sprung! It will be nice to get back to the apartment at the rehab center where I can have a little space and privacy (and be out of a stupid hospital bed!). I guess they deem the car transfer and getting to your room enough of a workout for the day because PT starts tomorrow.
February 18, 2009
Last day at HipHab. Hard to believe it has gone so quickly. Didn’t feel so great this morning, they warned us there would be roller coaster days and that it is perfectly normal. Not sure why I felt crummy but it was kind of disappointing since I’d felt so terrific the day before. After morning PT, I felt a lot better, guess you have to keep moving.
Desi had me walking on one crutch today which surprised me. She also showed me how to flip the crutch around to use as a cane.
I am fully bearing weight on the surgical leg and there is simply no pain. I wonder if your brain gets hardwired for it because it’s almost like my body is expecting it but it’s just not there. But the pain had been there for so long, with every single step I took, that I can’t quite process the fact that it is gone. I will never take walking for granted again!
I still have a bit of swelling, but practically no bruising at all. The ice packs definitely help keep the swelling down.
I finally got to see the incision after the swimming session – all the staples make it pretty funky looking. Still don’t have much of an appetite but trying to eat whatever sounds good. I’m not sure if it is the meds or what but by the evening, a few bites are all I can manage.
Every little thing is such a production. From standing up to going to the bathroom, it seems to take forever and I am not one to take my time doing anything. So this is forcing me to slow down which I guess can be a good thing. Maybe it’s a lesson I can carry forward with me, but I can be a pretty slow learner when it comes to that which is good for me. Yesterday was the first PT out of the hospital and we walked the halls, did the small exercises from our book and learned to do the steps. The steps were unnerving to say the least, I just didn’t think I could do it. But following the “up with the good, down with the bad mantra” I was able to navigate up and down. I was pretty worn out after that session and slept awhile. Naps are my new best friend.
Today, we had our first pool therapy which was beyond incredible. The range of motion you have in the water is so much greater than anything you can on land. The water is warm and comfortable, which is very soothing. A clear, waterproof dressing is applied prior to entering the pool. This also gives the added bonus of being able to shower when you get back to the room. After a few days of navy baths, the shower was absolutely glorious. Clean hair is a wonderful thing!
Of course, it is snowing outside. But it’s Wisconsin so what can you expect. It was a winter storm warning yesterday but when you don’t have to be anywhere, the snow is just fine.
The kids and my folks are doing great and surviving. Thank goodness they all have a sense of humor.
April 11, 2008
Had word from Dr. Rogerson that everything looked great and I am healing well. I had been concerned about a “thing” on the xray – it looked like a tiny ear of corn – thought it was a staple or something which kind of freaked me out – especially being so far away from the doctor’s office. But he said it was used to reattach muscle and he uses it all the time. So that was good to hear.
I can work out on the elliptical for 45 minutes to an hour now and walk outside when it is not snowing (and it still is!)
June 14, 2008
Four months post-surgery and I am back on the bike – in France! After meeting our friends in Paris, we walked miles all over the city doing the usual tourist stuff. We are staying in an apartment in Montmarte – I feel like we are having a real neighborhood experience buying fresh bread, cheese and wine each day. We then travelled by TGV down to Annecy where we are now cycling the Piste around the lake. These folks take their cycling seriously here. This is my first time back on the bike since surgery in February and I am one slow poke in comparison (probably because I am nervous about falling off or doing something really stupid). But the scenery is breathtaking and the path is paved so it is a good introduction back to the saddle. I could never have done this trip without having surgery.