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!

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