Thursday, February 18, 2010

Home, alive and well, relatively speaking...

Just like they told me - drive-thru surgery! In at 8:30, on the table at 10:45, in recovery at 12:40, home by 4. And today, I feel amazingly well, considering everything.

You, my good readers, might want to think twice about reading thru this post to the end - I'm putting in a couple pretty gruesome pictures (that's one of those oxymoron phrases, isn't it?). Keeping to the trend in this journey, I'm showing and telling all.

The staff at the outpatient surgery unit at St. Joseph's is terrific! Kind, friendly, funny, which
was very welcome, with what they knew they were doing to me! The anesthesiologist was a delight - told me he was older than I am (he peeked at my chart, of course), by all of a month...had intended to retire last year, and the economy screwed up his retirement so he had to keep working, but he had so much fun putting people to sleep that he didn't mind. Told me that I'd start to feel sleepy in about 30 seconds and that a minute later, I'd be waking up in recovery. I said, yes, you're starting to get fuzzy and when I tried to continue with that sentence, I was, indeed, in recovery. So I obviously don't have much to report on the surgery itself!

I was a bit of
a trial to my nurse in recovery - probably because of all my 30 odd surgeries in the past, I need a shit-load of pain meds to have any effect - finally totaled 25 whatever the measurement of morphine and 50 demerol in the IV, and then a couple vicodin for good measure, just to break the high level of the pain.

Beyond the pain m
anagement, I am impressed with the anesthetics advances over the years. It used to take a long time after being knocked out to get my senses back in functioning order. This time, when I woke up, I was awake! And ready to get out of there! I was thirsty and HUNGRY!!

First, they had to show my how to clean the drains that are stuck in me. Reminds me of a turkey baster. Clear plastic tubing, about two feet lon
g (two of them - one from the arm pit area, and one from the chest), draining, by a bit of suction, into soft plastic bulbs that will hold about 8 ounces of blood and whatever else all those fluids are. The bulbs need to be emptied when they are no more than half full though, or it screws up the suction and the fluids might back up into the wound - not a recommended thing to do!

So...I was wrapped up in about 20 feet of ace bandage, really uncomfortable, with these two bloody (literally!!) things dangling from my arm pit - lovely. Actually, I can't let them just dangle, because it might put too much pressure on the wound and they might pull out - also not a recommended thing to do!

Finally made it home (thank goodness for my Silver Fox!!), had a bowl of soup, a couple more pain pills
and crawled in the sack. I figured I'd sleep sort of sitting up, so the drain bulbs would stay below the wounds and drainage wouldn't be impaired. Interestingly, I have found that I can only sleep sitting up during the day - not at night!! No sleep to speak of. But since I had to get up every four hours to clean the drains, I guess I didn't need to sleep anyway! Hopefully I can nap today!

Took the ace bandage off this morning - Dr. K wanted me to wear it for two days, but said I didn't have to if it was too uncomfortable. And it was very uncomfortable. I know the purpose is to reduce swelling, but my poor left boob is still very tender and bruised from the biopsy a couple
weeks ago, and it hurt more than the side with the wound!

Then a shower - it felt so good! But was an interesting experience - managing the shower and holding the damned bulbs out of the way, letting soapy water run over the wound, patting it dry. I'm sure there are layers of stitches under there somewhere, but it is closed on the surface with lots of steri-strips. They stay until they come off of their own accord - probably close to three weeks.

And here is what it looks like. Strange swelling and bruising, with the cut itself buried in the swelling. Amazingly, there is very little pain - mostly just a deep ache. There is a little numbness in the arm, which presumably will pass - it's already fading. None of the anticipated tingling in the fingers.

And I have way more motion than I expected - I was even able to brush my teeth last night! Very welcome!!

Perhaps Dr. K chooses to paint a drearier picture, so if it isn't as bad as is possible, it feels that much better?!!

OK, nap time!

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