Thursday, August 12, 2010

Recovery Journal - Part II: The path is not always straight

My surgery was a week ago today. When I awoke this morning a few minutes before 7 a.m. I thought to myself, "last week at this time I was in pre-op surrounded by my doctors who were asking if I had any last minute questions." This week I am in my own bed and pretty comfortable.

"Not bad," I thought.

But the week has not been what I expected. I had been told by a multitude of women who have all had the same surgery that you feel a little better every day. All said that the swelling and gas both inside and outside the digestive system cause the most pain and that this gradually gets better every day. So this is what I expected.

My surgery was on a Thursday. I came home from the hospital on Friday. That day I could not sleep on my side because my digestive system was just too painful. I don't really like sleeping on my back but it was the only real choice the first three days, after that it has gradually improved and rolling over in the middle of the night is no longer painful. That part of the progress has been good. By Saturday I already found it easier to get up out of bed, although I did have sharp pains in my shoulders that I have been told are small gas bubbles that found their way up once I became more vertical. Every day I went outside for a walk two or three times, just around the block on Saturday and a bit longer on Sunday and Monday. By Monday, I was happy with my progress. My abdomen was still very swollen, but I was walking more normally, getting out of bed easily and primarily relying on ibuprofen for pain.

Unfortunately, I developed a fever Monday afternoon. My doctor had said to call if I developed a fever greater than 101 degrees. When my temperature went from normal to 100.8 in less than an hour I called before he left for the day. He asked me a series of probing questions and none of my answers indicated other symptoms indicative of a post operative infection. He told me to take Tylenol to keep the fever down and to call him in the middle of the night if necessary if it went up. With Tylenol every few hours I was able to keep the fever mostly under 100 degrees but I felt awful. I had that all over achy yucky feeling that accompanies a fever. The next day I went in to see my doctor who confirmed with a battery of tests and a physical examination that there was no sign of an infection. I felt rotten, but there was no explanation other than this might just be my body's way of dealing with the assault of the surgery. I didn't like the answer -- especially as the fever didn't start until four days post-op -- but I went home to take more Tylenol and rest. On Wednesday the fever was going up despite all efforts to beat it back so my doctor sent me for an abdominal ultrasound. All findings were normal and I had no other symptoms of having picked up a virus: head, throat, lungs, stomach, all were fine.

On Wednesday evening the Tylenol seemed to get an upper hand on the fever and bought it down to almost normal. It is amazing how much more human you feel when you don't have a fever and don't ache all over. The fever did not spike again in the middle of the night as it had the two prior nights and today, I feel pretty much human. The fever did not return all day until late afternoon, and now it is only slight. So I think I have rounded a corner.

The one week post surgery report is: abdominal swelling is already noticeably less, not gone, but I can put on jeans that were nowhere close to closing on Monday; my only pain is in the bottom of my pelvis at the internal surgical site and it is wholly managed by a little ibuprofen; my digestive system is slowly returning to normal; I get tired easily (my doctor told my husband to expect me to do half as much half as fast and to need to nap frequently). Not bad for one week post-op, but I could have done without the three days of mystery fever.

And now a shout out to my husband and my friends who have taken amazing care of me. Friends have brought food every day, have come to stay with me while Matt has been to work, have driven me to doctor's appointments, and have even run errands and folded laundry. And then there are my long-distance and online friends who have showered me with words of encouragement. How lucky I am to have such an amazing group of friends in my life!

Thank you all!!!

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  1. Glad you're feeling better. But take it slow & don't get too frisky too soon!! ;)


  2. Thanks Kathi,

    Not feeling frisky at all :( But definitely on the mend.