So let’s see, I left off with me being in extreme pain in the middle of the night within the first 24 hours of surgery. I didn’t intend to leave such a cliffhanger, it just felt like a good stopping point at the time until I re-read it and realized why so many people said ending there was torture. Sorry ‘bout that!
I ended up taking 3 more Vicodin and a Xanax and drifting back to sleep for a few hours. I woke up and took more pain meds, and then my mom drove me back to Ruff Plastic Surgery. I was greeted at the car by a nurse, Sharonda, and she helped me walk into the building. I had actually called and requested a wheelchair, but when Sharonda came down to the car (without a wheelchair), she said Dr. Ruff really wanted me to walk on my own because the more I did, the quicker I’d heal. The visit there was a blur – literally. I was brought into an exam room immediately and there were three people there – Sharonda, Lori, and Michelle – and they all helped remove my garment (which was still unhooked from the night before, but I was still busting out of it).
I remember standing there and feeling like I was either going to pass out or throw up because the feeling was so intense when the garment came off and I’m pretty sure I did pass out a bit. They were putting those smelling salts under my nose and the three of them were holding me up while they put another (larger) compression garment on me. I remember being told to keep my eyes open and just being in SO MUCH PAIN I couldn’t even get my head around it. They put medical foam pads into the garment which help keep things smooth and contoured post surgery, and then I was sent on my way back home. I was bummed because that day was also when I was supposed to get to get a first glimpse at the results of my surgery, but because I was in such a haze during the whole switching the compression garment ordeal, I didn’t even get to see what I looked like underneath the compression garment.
Clipping the drains to that chain ended up being clutch.
That said, I was given scripts for much stronger pain meds (OxyContin and Percoset), and was told to take the Oxy every 12 hours, and then the Percoset for breakthrough pain every 4-6 hours as needed. The new pain meds were like night and day. I basically slept on and off the entire day and only really woke up to take my antibiotics, more pain meds, and to use the bathroom (only to pee – more on that later). I also got lots of gorgeous flowers delivered, which was definitely the highlight of the day (from my close girlfriends, my office, and my old boss).
And a balloon!
I was still in a good amount of pain even though it was much better managed, and I remember telling my mother more than once that if I knew how painful it would be, I wouldn’t have had the surgery. She told me it was too late. Ha. Truth.
So that was the first day post surgery. Not one of my better days.
The next day was Wednesday, and that was the day I was told that if I hadn’t had a bowel movement (BM), I had to start doing something to change that. When I woke up that day, the pain was much more manageable, but my stomach was in KNOTS. I felt bloated, uncomfortable, crampy – you name it. I barely even felt any pain from the surgery itself – all I could think about was how to empty my system. Warning – TMI ahead – so if you don’t like poop talk, I’ll see you tomorrow.
I had actually started taking Colace (a stool softener) on Saturday before surgery, because the anesthesia and the pain meds can really back you up. I was taking that once or twice a day, but come Wednesday, that proved not to be enough. Natalie (the OR nurse) called me in the morning to see how I was doing, and was relieved to hear the pain was much more under control. She asked about whether I’d had a BM, and told me that she would text me the recipe for a cocktail that there was a 95% chance would get things moving in 2 – 6 hours.
This is what I had to drink, I kid you not:
4 oz. of a mineral oil enema (ie. one that is intended to go in the other end, but it was just mineral oil), 4 oz. of apple juice (for flavor?), and 1 shot of vodka (to help me forget I was drinking an enema?)
I drank it like a champ, choking down the cocktail while promising myself it would be worth it when it got my system moving. Well, guess who was part of that 5% that it didn’t work for? Awesome. So, not only did I drink an enema, but I also did not have a BM as a result.
I called the nurse back after the 6 hour window had passed because I was getting more uncomfortable by the minute, and I was told to try taking a laxative. That was at least intended for oral consumption, so it went down easier. I popped 2 Senokot and hoped for the best. Matt had come back that night (and was the lucky one to get to purchase said laxative), along with a few of my closest girlfriends, so it was nice to have the distraction and the cheer squad each time I got up to try to use the bathroom. Everyone left around 10 that evening, and I coaxed myself back to sleep with more pain meds and Xanax. I woke up once in the night for more pain meds, but overall it was pretty uneventful.
When I woke up Thursday, I literally felt like I was going to explode. My stomach was going crazy and I couldn’t think about anything else besides the gastrointestinal issues. I was doubled over in pain and switched myself from the narcotics to Tylenol so I had a chance at getting things moving (plus the surgery pain was feeling a lot more manageable that day). I spoke with Lori from RPS, the nurse practitioner, and she said that she had a lot of issues with constipation during her pregnancy and that I should try suppositories. So, my mom went out and bought me some from CVS, and after several hours of concerted effort (I will spare you the details here), FINALLY, finally, finally, I had a BM. And then probably 10 more in the next several hours because everything I was doing to get my system moving kicked in at once. But I’d take that over the previous situation any day.
PS: I’m really glad I just shared that story with the world.
I also took my first post-op shower that day (thank God I bought this shower stool – best purchase ever). And by “I took”, I mean “I was given” my first shower. By mom and good friend Kate, and to say it was a humbling experience would be an understatement. It actually wasn’t as painful as I was expecting (I’d read horror stories), but being a 29 year old female unable to bathe herself was a tough pill to swallow, even if it was temporary.
So then came Friday, 4 days post op, and it was the first day I woke up feeling pretty good. I was very sore and quite stiff when I first woke up, but after taking a few Tylenol and walking around a little bit, I loosened up, and actually ventured outside for the first time post-surgery, besides that fun compression garment switcheroo earlier in the week. My mom and I went out to lunch, and even though the restaurant was just 1.5 blocks from my apartment, it took me a good 20 minutes to get there because I was walking so slow (and so hunched over).
That’s probably how I look while dancing, too.
I was pretty uncomfortable at the restaurant so it was a fairly quick lunch, and I couldn’t really eat much because my appetite was still all messed up from the meds.
But! I was walking. And I was outside my apartment. And I was feeling a bazillion times better than I was the days before.
Better place to end this one, eh?