Sunday, July 31, 2011

Better in some ways, worse in others

Last night, my fever kept climbing, and I kept feeling worse and worse until I went to bed.  I was otherwise in a good mood, and I'd spent a lot of time with my mom, talking about break-ups and school and life.  I know that a low grade fever is fine, so I wasn't terribly worried, but even so, fevers do suck.

I prefer not to take fever reducers when I've got a fever.  It's not that I don't want to feel better.  I just like knowing just how sick I am; it's hard to monitor an illness when you're masking a symptom.  So I went to bed with a fever hovering between 99.7 and 100.0.

I woke up at 5:45 in the morning feeling wretched, and as much as I love any chance to use that vocabulary word, it sucked.  My fever was hovering around 100.4, my head was throbbing, and I just felt like crap.  I caved and took one more oxycodone and two Tylenol.  I also texted my mom to let her know, and went and got my ice packs for my legs.

About an hour later, I woke up feeling no better, but no worse.  My fever was still going strong, so I just switched my ice packs.

I woke up around 8:30 covered in sweat, which was gross, but it meant that my fever had finally broken (confirmed by the thermometer).  Yay!

I'm still dealing with a bad headache and fatigue; I suspect my fever will be back tonight.  But my legs feel all right.  A bit twingy and uncomfortable, but nothing unmanageable.  My knees didn't end up locked over night, my feet aren't any more swollen.  All in all, a good night for my legs.

Not much on tap for today.  I need to rest some more because I didn't get a lot of restful sleep.  My mom is going to come over again to watch a movie with me.  Loki will do hilarious and annoying things.  Predictable day!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Good mood fading a bit

Thursday and Friday both went so well.  Saturday is definitely a let-down.

Last night, I decided that my pain wasn't bad enough for oxycodone while I slept, especially since I don't like sleeping while I'm taking it.  So I just took some Tylenol, and some hydroxyzine.  I should have adjusted my pillows better as well.  I'd been making do with three pillows (one throw pillow, one standard IKEA pillow, and one giant king-sized pillow), but I had set them up badly before calling it a night.

I woke up in a lot of pain around 4:45 in the morning.  My pillow arrangement had left my knees extremely hyperextended, and my feet and calves weren't elevated enough, leaving my ankles and feet very swollen and in a lot of pain.  I took one oxycodone (difficult, since I was out of it and my vision was crap), readjusted my pillows, and went back to sleep.  I woke up again at 8:20, not feeling much better.  I added another large pillow to the pile to fix that problem, and then went to get ice for my legs.  I should have iced my legs more on Friday, so I'm making up for it by icing them as constantly as possible today.  I then took two more oxycodone.

I've been sleeping on and off the rest of the day so far.  I got up to change my ice packs, and when I did that, I washed up (hair, face, body), put in my contacts, and changed into clean sweats.  Walking around was exhausting, but it's good for my legs.  There's a sizeable blue bruise growing on my foot, which I find amusing.  My mom is a bit grossed out, but it's expected--just lots of fluid.  It's definitely uncomfortable, but I guess it's turning the bandages into compression stockings.  They're staying on very tightly!  It's irritating, skin-wise and pain-wise, but I'm glad the dressings are staying on so easily.  One less thing to panic about.

My mom is here with noodle kugel and some of her work for school.  I will probably nap for a bit and then watch a movie with her.  I'm trying not to eat too much (stuck in bed + no appetite), but I'm also trying not to eat too little (body needs fuel to heal + oxycodone).

The biggest downside to today, besides all the painful swelling, is Loki.  He was a huge pain in the ass all morning, waking me up by slamming toys against the side of his cage and screeching at the top of his lungs.  He knows when I'm sleeping or trying to sleep, and has known for a long time (since college), so this isn't a case of, "Oh, he doesn't know any better."  I can tell he's a bit freaked out by the strange circumstances: mommy is home all week, her legs look funny, her mommy is around a lot, there are those scary crutches, etc.  I wish he would be better at remembering, though, that when mommy is lying down with her eyes closed, SHHHHH.


I was feeling a little warm, unrelated to the weather, so I checked my temp.  Unsurprisingly, I have a low-grade fever (99.1).  This doesn't mean that I have an infection, of course.  My immune system is very aggravated right now from surgery, and fever is part of that system.  Unless it goes up to 101.something, I should be fine.  I'll just keep an eye on it, but it does explain the loss of the good mood a bit.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Hey, I had surgery!

This is going to be a long post because I want to remember as much as possible about my surgery yesterday.  Apologies in advance, all you tens of readers!  Warning: I'm writing about surgery; while most of it isn't that squicky, some of it might be a bit TMI.

Wednesday night, I had some trouble sleeping.  I had to sort of re-dump my friend earlier that evening, and although I hadn't pigged out before midnight, I was feeling extremely nauseous.  I thought about throwing up so I could maybe sleep more easily, and ensure that there wouldn't be anything in my stomach come morning, but I decided I'd rather feel sick now than get dehydrated later.

I woke up around 5:30 and slept on and off until 6:15.  I got up and went to the bathroom, and while I knew I could brush my teeth if I wanted to, I opted for quick mouthwash instead.  I wore a comfortable cotton tank top, which was not too tight, but clingy enough that it wouldn't be baggy and revealing any boobage.  I also wore sweat shorts, as recommended by the clinic, and my new BU zip-up hoodie.  I had to wear sneakers, which sucked.  I knew why I had to wear sneakers, but even so, I knew my feet would be a bit swollen after surgery, and that it would be tough to get the sneakers back on.

My mom picked me up at 6:30 and we arrived at the center around 6:50 for a 7:00 check-in.  Check-in was smooth and easy.  The nurse at the front desk was very informative and very friendly.  We sat around for a bit longer, maybe until 7:45 or so, and then I was called in for pre-op (before I went in, I gave my mom my sweatshirt because it was cold in the waiting room, and I was just going to be putting it in a locker until after surgery anyway).  I changed into socks and a gown, got weighed for anesthesia purposes, and got on the gurney with some awesome warmed blankets.  My vitals were taken, and I got my IV set up.  I was really amazed at how great the staff was; they were obviously busy and working, but always smiling and conversing with me.  I felt really safe and comfortable.

They brought my mom in for pre-op for two reasons.  First, she would be given my prescriptions (to fill while I was in the OR), and very often patients don't even remember pre-op instructions.  Second, I was just going to be sitting around and waiting for surgery, so she was there to keep me company.  She was still cold, though, even with my sweatshirt, so the staff brought HER warmed blankets!  First one, and then two more later on when she was still cold.  At one point, my mom (wrapped in three blankets with the hood of the sweatshirt up) rested her head on the gurney and took a nap.  We were both pretty warm and comfortable!

The anesthesiologist and some nurses came by to talk to me about what to expect, asking me for my name, DOB, and surgery each time (gotta make sure they have the right patient).  The staff was surprised and a bit concerned that I was having both of my legs done at the same time, which made me a bit worried, too.  Finally, around 9:20ish, my surgeon came out to talk to me.  He had been in one surgery already that morning, hence the lateness, but hey, at least I wasn't the last procedure of the day, waiting even longer :)  We went over the procedure one last time, and he checked with me one last time to see if I really wanted to have both legs done.

His concern wasn't rude or even misguided.  My risk of blood clots is relatively high.  Not only do the chances increase because I'm having two legs done, but the pill I used to take had twice the risk of blood clots as most other birth control.  I know I've been off the pill for two months (I've got massive weight-loss and extensive acne to prove it!), so I hope that means that whatever risk I had from the pill is now gone, but I'm still worried.  Finally, my doctor (and most doctors) usually give patients aspirin post-op to help prevent blood clots.  Aspirin is really great for that, but I'm allergic to it.  There really aren't any drugs in between aspirin and the super powerful blood thinners, which would be extremely dangerous, so I'm not on anything at all to prevent clots.

I'm just being vigiliant, and hopeful that if I get a clot, the pain will be obvious and I'll call the doctor right away.  Hopefully, there won't be any clots at all!!

So he marked both legs with a marker, and the anesthesiologist came by and gave me a cocktail of sedatives.  I handed my glasses to my mom for safe-keeping, put on the hair net, and got wheeled into the OR.  I moved from the gurney to the operating table, and they gave me a mask.  That's all I remember before waking up in recovery two and a half hours later.

I was not happy when I woke up, which sucked.  I'd been in a good mood all morning, so it was a downer.  My legs were uncomfortable and in a lot more pain than I thought they'd be in, or at least that I'd hoped.  They had given me pain meds during surgery, and so I guess I expected them to not have worn off by the time I woke up.  I was happy that my throat didn't hurt from the breathing tube, though.  I don't think it was the pain, just the stress of surgery in general, but I couldn't help but cry a bit as I woke up.  It was distressing because I didn't emotionally feel like crying!

After another half hour or so, I was definitely awake, and the staff helped me change back into my shorts and tank top (my mom still had my sweatshirt, but I felt okay, temp-wise).  They also got me crutches and helped me move into a nice, soft arm-chair that had leg support.  That was really painful, and it made me worry that I was really screwed.  I mean, it hurt that much and was that difficult to move from the gurney to the chair, and I needed two people to help me.  They got me settled in and brought me some crackers, ginger ale, and oxycodone.

My mom came out to sit with me and listen to post-op instructions from my doctor and the staff.  My doctor said that the surgery went well, and that while he didn't notice any signs of compartment syndrome, he didn't expect to.  My CS is exercise-induced, and I hadn't induced the symptoms, so there shouldn't have been any.  He did say that there was some increased pressure in the right calf, which wasn't surprising; when I arrived that morning, my right calf was aching, and I had mentioned it to my mom and to the staff.  My mom questioned him a lot about how to prevent blood clots, and the only advice he had was to make sure I was getting up and moving around every hour or so.  Because I just had my fascia worked on, and not my muscle or bone, my legs are fully weight-bearing.  It's a bit uncomfortable and painful, since I do have incisions and I literally had pieces of fascia taken out of me (some of it was deep inside each calf), but I can walk without even using crutches.  I use them sometimes, though, because my balance isn't great.

The staff gave us more instructions after that.  I got information about who to call if I had any questions or problems.  I also was told that I would need to keep the current dressings on for a week, and they gave us materials and instructions to put new (lighter) dressings on when the time comes.  I won't be able to take real showers for another week, after I get my stitches out.  Bummer!  I also got a cool ice-pack holder and some ice packs, so I'm switching legs every so often.

They gave me three different medications.  I got oxycodone, which has been working very well.  I also got a stool softener because oxycodone can cause constipation.  I find that highly annoying, but I'm glad they at least warned me.  I also got hydroxyzine, which I find hilarious.  I first took hydroxyzine back in high school for my hives and edema.  I hated it; it wasn't that effective, and it knocked me out.  My allergist at the time was a total tool, and he kept insisting that I stay on this medication even though it was ineffective and the side effects were interfering with my life.  I was falling asleep in class every day, and whenever I woke up in the morning, I'd be extremely groggy.  After falling asleep while sitting in traffic on the way to Boston, I stopped taking it completely and demanded a new med.

Hydroxyzine isn't just an antihistamine or a sedative.  It's also an anti-anxiety med.  But that's not even why they prescribed it for me.  It's an anti-nausea med, just in case I have post-surgery nausea!  Cool.

A nurse helped me into a wheelchair and brought me downstairs, where my mom was waiting with the car.  I got home around 3pm, and my mom and I got me all set up in bed.  We spent the next few hours hanging out, resting, watching some TV, and talking.  She made sure I ate some food, even though I had no appetite, and that I took my meds on time.  I got up every hour or so to walk around, which went pretty well.  Loki is unsure of what to make of the whole situation, but he seems okay!

Even though I know I'd be in a worse mood if my pain were worse, I don't feel loopy from the meds.  I'm just in a really good mood.  I wasn't even sleepy when I got home yesterday.  I did get hit pretty hard with sleepiness later in the evening, but generally, I'm awake and alert.  Pain is not completely gone, but it's nowhere near how it was when I first woke up, and even that wasn't excruciating.

Right now, my biggest complaint is that I keep needing to pee, but when I go to pee, it's like I don't really HAVE to pee that much, and I don't pee completely.  I'll sit for several long minutes, and when I'm finally done, I'll stand up ... and feel like I have to pee again.  Arg!  If this persists through Monday, I'll call my doctor.

This morning, I woke up at 8:40 in some pain, so I took my meds.  The staff called me at 9:30 to see how I was, and the nurse I spoke with said that if I was doing this well after surgery, it bodes well for my recovery.  I'm very happy about that!  I forgot to ask about the peeing thing, but I did ask about clots, and she told me what to look out for.  I was feeling pretty icky at that point, not leg-wise, so I got up, put in my contacts, washed my face, washed my hair in the sink, and did a quick sponge-over before changing into clean clothes.  I feel a lot better now!  Just a little sleepy; my mom broke up with her boyfriend last night, and called me afterwards, so I stayed up to talk to her about it and didn't get as much sleep as I thought I would (I got about 9 hours instead of, like, 12).

We'll see how today goes, but I'm so relieved that surgery is over, and I hope my recovery goes smoothly!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Let's have surgery!

In 7 hours, I will be on my way to the surgical center in the 'burbs!  It's finally time to have my bilateral fasciotomy.

I was supposed to get a call from a nurse three days before my surgery, and a call from the administrative assistant two days before to give me the exact time of my surgery.  On Monday, I was feeling a bit panicky, so I called to see why I hadn't heard anything.  You know, because surgery was supposed to be Tuesday.

The administrative assistant was confused.  Apparently, my surgery was Thursday, not Tuesday.  And they would never have scheduled it Tuesday; the surgeon is in the office on Tuesdays, so clearly, I just put down the wrong date.

I wouldn't have put down the wrong date.  I don't do that, not with stuff like this.  Do you think I put down the wrong date for my colonoscopies?  I don't think so.

Fine.  So I was cleaning my room on Tuesday night, and lo and behold, as I am cleaning up my desk, I find all the paperwork from my consult.  Including a form where the administrative assistant, the same one who told me that I must have been mistaken about the date, had written that my surgery was scheduled for Tuesday.  So, I wonder why I thought surgery was on Tuesday!


Whatever.  The downside to the mix-up?  I backed out of the flute ensemble I do every summer.  I hadn't been feeling well last week, and knew I needed to take some time off to recovery before surgery.  With flute ensemble, I wouldn't have a day off at all; rehearsals were Thursday through Saturday, the concert was Sunday, and Monday I'd be running around doing errands, and cleaning up my room.  So I cancelled.  It turns out, I didn't have to; I would have been able to rest all day on Monday and most of Tuesday.

The upside?  I was able to meet up with a bunch of friends for ice cream in my hometown.  Two of my friends are leaving Boston on Friday and Saturday, and I'm not going to be able to get to their going-away party tomorrow night, so this way, I actually got to see them before they left.  D'awwww!

I'm all ready for tomorrow.  I'm going to sleep in my loose clothing (got a sweatshirt ready to go as well), I'll be wearing glasses, and I've got my phone all charged.  My mom will hold my phone and wallet while I'm in prep and surgery.  I know I'll be bored during the two hours between arrival and actual surgery, but I'll either nap or daydream.  Or a combo.  My apartment is clean and my fridge and pantry are stocked.  I have a key for my mom so I don't have to get up to let her in for the next week.

As for entertaining myself, I've got a computer with internet and Netflix, some Netflix discs on the way, a coloring book and crayons, a book of brain teasers, a ridiculous parakeet, lots of books, and lots of friends to entertain me.

I bet I'll still be bored, though.  When can I go running again?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Going away ... starting to hit me

This afternoon, my coworkers surprised me (sort of) with a goodbye party at the Boston Finale.  It wasn't a huge surprise; I knew that my going-away party would be today, and by the time my friend mentioned that the errand I was accompanying her on was to get a cake for her friend's birthday, and it would require us to take the T, I figured it out.  But it was still awesome and heart-warming, and I kind of like that they wanted to surprise me.

The good news for them was that I had NO idea what gifts they had gotten me.  We just had a going-away party for another coworker last week, and she had requested a bunch of gifts.  She had excitedly and correctly guessed a whole bunch of them, and we felt a bit deflated.  So I told my coworkers not to worry: I really had no idea what I was getting, and wouldn't guess.  I mostly stuck to that promise.

We had appetizers and a "main course," all of them delicious desserts!  The drinks were yummy, too; we mostly got fruity cocktails, and everyone loved what they got.  I got blueberry lemonade (two of them), and it was very, very delicious.  We all dug into the awesome desserts, too.  Badass.

My gifts were all very thoughtful, funny, and personal.  It was really amazing to see how well my coworkers knew me, and how much they care about me.  They know I'm having surgery in a week, and so to get me through my boring recovery, they got me a coloring book, 96 Crayola crayons, brain teasers, and pencils and erasers to do the teasers with.  That'll give me a break from reading and Netflix, and the brain teasers will keep me sharp for September!

Since I sold my car, I got a gift certificate for Zipcar, which will definitely take the edge off, so I can feel better about making a trip or two.  I got a cute BU hoodie, so I can apparently not get shot on campus (I didn't realize that you couldn't be on campus without swag, but it's good, I don't want to get shot).  I don't have any BU swag, so this is my first piece!  It's awesome.

From our academic coordinator, I got the required milky white thigh book.  It's about vampires, apparently!  But it took six of us twenty minutes to find ONE sex scene!  How disappointing.  But I found one, and read it, and we had a good laugh before the uncomfortable waiter came back!

To improve my wardrobe for grad school, I also received an awesome Portal T-shirt, with Still Alive lyrics on it.  Booyah!  It's like they KNOW I forget to do science because I'm chatting ... how strange that they figured it out.

My two friends presented me with their favorite gifts.  One friend presented me with a chemistry cocktail set!  Now I can serve drinks in test tubes, and have it actually be okay--I mean I never did that, what?  It's a set I've been interested in for a while, which no one at work knew.  Again, they definitely know me very well.  My other friend presented me with his favorite gift.  It was a Red Sox lunch bag (I tease him a bit because he has an old school lunch bag he uses; now I have one, too!).  But there was more inside.  He explained it was necessary for grad school, and I jokingly said, "Oh, so, alcohol!"  AND IT WAS.  It was full of nips of all kinds, mostly flavored vodka and rum.  YES.  So that's the only gift I managed to guess, and it was by accident.

The lab we started in has a tradition, where the PI gives the departing employee a beautiful wooden box.  It's such a tradition that usually, that's when people start crying; it's always the last gift.  I'm the first person from my boss' (new) lab to leave, and she wanted to start her own tradition.  I could not BELIEVE what it was ...

It was a 2-volume copy of the sixth edition of The Origin of Species.  From 1896.


No, really.  Wow.

I'm still in shock a bit!

Finally, I got my scrapbook.  It was AWESOME.  My coworkers are fantastic.

They loved the gift I got them (a new digital camera to replace the horribly shitty one that the lab has been dealing with for a very long time, it seems).  I was glad; I was worried they might refuse it because it wasn't cheap.  I did get it on sale, and I saved up for it, so hopefully they won't be worried that I dug myself into a financial hole.  It's a decent camera; not the best money could buy (because I don't have $300), but it's good!

All in all, I had a wonderful afternoon with my coworkers, and I'm sad to be leaving the lab.  It's really hard to accept that I'm going to leave on Friday evening and that'll be it.  How can that be it?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Breaking up with friends

When we think about break-ups, it's usually in the context of committed romantic relationships.  It's when the relationship isn't working anymore, so it breaks up, and the two of you spend time recovering by hanging out with friends, possibly eating ice cream, maybe watching bad TV.  And then you get up and think about starting another romantic relationship with someone else.  Or something like that.

Breaking up with friends is different, and rarer.  It's not uncommon, at least in my experience, for friendships to become more or less intense.  The people I talk to on a nearly daily basis, or the people I talk to about deeply personal issues, are not necessarily the same people I was super close to four or five years ago.  We don't just change as people; our circumstances change.  I'm certainly not as close to most of my high school friends as I was several years ago, but many of those people live in different states now, and I see them infrequently.  Some of my closest friends right now, I didn't even know a couple years ago.  And yet for the most part, these fluctuations occur with little or no ill will.  Sometimes, we lose touch.  Sometimes, we get back in touch.

I have been dumped by a friend.  The two of us were on and off close for years, and by high school, we were very close.  And being close friends who were both heterosexual and of the opposite sex, we had our fair share of confusing, "Is this just friend love or what?" drama.  And then by senior year, we were fighting a lot, and somehow, we just imploded.  After graduation, my friend told me that our friendship was over, and I was devastated.  Not only was I on the upswing of the "I think we should be more than friends" arc, but I couldn't comprehend that this person who had been so important to me for the majority of my life suddenly didn't want me in it.

I spent my summer before college crushed over this loss.  And if you know me, you also know that I don't take stuff like this without a fight.  I tried to win him back.  Made promises.  Spent a lot of time crying in therapy appointments.  Worst of all, I knew that it wasn't as if I hadn't done anything wrong.  I had just assumed that he and I would always be friends.  I had also assumed that he was, for lack of a better reference, my lobster.

It's been a long time since I graduated from high school.  This friend is back in my life, and on the rare occasion we've been in the same state, we've tried to spend time together, over dinner or coffee.  And when we do, things are great.  But our friendship isn't ever going to be as strong or close as before.  I'm sad about that; it would be awesome if we could be close again.  But I'm okay with it.  I'm several years older and wiser (although in several more years, older me is gonna be like, "Wise?  At twenty-four?  I call bullshit!"), and I can't know for sure whether this person would still be my very, very close friend if we hadn't broken up back then.

I can't say that this friend break-up was worse than my first big relationship break-up.  But then again, that relationship break-up was a hot mess.  And I was sick at the time, which made everything much worse.  But years later, I'm glad to be out of that romantic relationship.  I'm not glad that I lost my friend.

Six years later, I find myself in the midst of another friend break-up.  This time, I'm initiating the break-up.  I sort of wish that would mean that I could be cool and calm about it, and unwavering in my stance that this break-up needs to happen.  But this is me, people.  My ability to be cool, calm, and unwavering is questionable at best.*

I don't feel comfortable putting in too many details about the reasons behind this break-up.  I'm reasonably sure that the only folks who read this blog either don't know me in real life, or know me well enough to already have all the details about this mess.  But at the same time, I don't want to assume that there aren't exceptions.

The bare bones behind this friendship break-up?  Hurt, betrayal, loss of trust.  Not feeling valued as a friend.  It's gotten to the point where thinking about this person makes me queasy, being around him ruins my appetite, and talking to him causes me to vomit.  I know I deserve better from someone who is supposed to be one of my best friends.  And I know I shouldn't have to stick with a friendship that makes me physically ill.

But this break-up isn't going very well.  Not that my last friend break-up went well either, of course.  But in this case, there are two major problems.  The first?  Man, my friend isn't sorry.  He's pissed.  He doesn't understand why I'm dumping him, even though I've explained it extremely clearly.  His response is along the lines of, "I didn't mean to hurt you, therefore everything should be fine, and also you are being unreasonable and here's how this is completely not my fault."  Understandably, this does not make me feel like he values our friendship.

The second problem is me.  As I said earlier, I am not really the cool, calm, collected, unwavering person I need to be in order to keep this friendship over.  I'm devastated that it's ending, but it was my decision to come out and say, "It's over."  I know that barring the right response and reaction from this person, I need to stick with my conviction.  But this is hard.

I know that I am losing someone I care very deeply about.  I have a small list of people I would probably die for, although I would appreciate it if no one would actually put that to the test.  And he was one of those people.  The thought of not talking to him every day, of not spending my upcoming birthday with him, of not seeing him every weekend-ish, it hurts.  It makes me not want to break up with him.  But I can't sacrifice my emotional and physical health for someone when the pay-off is ... nothing.

While he completely misunderstood what I meant when I said it, I stand by my assertion that this break-up is worse than my romantic break-ups.  No matter what happened with my boyfriends, I wasn't losing my best friend.  I could tell myself, "There will be someone else, someone better, who will love me for who I am," and let that person go.  There was no gaping hole in my life where the boyfriend used to be.  But there is one where my friend was.

I hate it that it's just as hard dumping my friend as it was to be dumped all those years ago.  Maybe it's because when I was dumped, I was remorseful beyond belief, and the friend I'm dumping is not.  Maybe it's because it wasn't my decision last time.  Maybe it's because I'm just ME, and this is how I handle things (e.g. not well!).  Maybe it's because my old friend was just as conflicted and miserable and heart-broken, and I painted him as a villain for so long.

Friend break-ups suck.