Monday, January 12, 2015

Day 2 Post-Op/Day 3 Post-Op

Day 2 Post-Op...

...didn't turn out to be what I had bargained for. To say it was hard would be an understatement of the year.



The day started off well and good. I slept great that night, the Percocet was still managing my pain, I was walking around every few hours as I was instructed to keep circulation moving to minimize the risk of an embolism. My appetite was good and I was feeling fairly well.

And then that proverbial "shoe" fell. And it fell hard.

It was around 5pm-ish that all of a sudden I was hit with a giant wave of nausea. I was sitting in the recliner in the office and it hit me like a tsunami. Ever so slowly, I worked my way to standing and called to Jason. He came in to check on me and I told him to go and get a bucket as I wasn't convinced I was even going to make it to the bathroom a mere 20 feet away. I willed myself to not throw-up knowing that it would cost me dearly. My breathing became more rapid and shallow, my temperature started rising, and the nausea tightened it's cruel grip. After many baby steps of putting one foot in front of the other, I finally reached the bathroom. I sat down because I was becoming so woozy. The last thing I wanted to do other than throw-up was to faint and fall on the floor.

The clock seemed to tick by so slowly. On numerous occasions I felt myself start the throwing-up process only to will myself to keep swallowing in order to avoid the painful convulsion that I was certain I could only hold off for a little bit longer. Jason stood by, fanning me furiously as I was damp with sweat. He quickly ran and got a baggie and filled it with ice chips and it was all I could do to part my lips far enough for him to push a piece in. After what seemed like a few hours of increasing nausea, I started to feel a bit unsteady. I knew that things were not getting better, but were starting to get even worse. At this point, I was overdue on my pain meds and I was feeling it. The additional pain wasn't helping the nausea at all. I put a dissolvable Zofran on my tongue. The mint taste hit me (what an aweful reminder of my past pregnancy). And all of a sudden, it happened. I couldn't control it, I couldn't swallow it down...and that was it. I grabbed the zofran out of my mouth and I threw up. A lot. The pain seared through my midsection and I knew I was going down a bad path. I tried to get the Zofran back into my mouth, but there wasn't much left of it and frankly, it wasn't proving to be too successful at that point. I felt so weak and many times it started to feel as if the room was starting to close in. With what little energy I had, I whispered to Jason.

"Help me."

With worry streaked across his face, he tried the best he could. He came up with a game plan and told me that we needed to get me back to the recliner and get the pain meds in. I, however, knew I was past the point of no return and was going to need more than what he could offer.

"Call 911 or take me to the ER. Now."

He got on the phone and called my dear friend Tricia. She came over immediately to watch Ella and Hattie so we could leave. It took me 15 minutes just to get myself up and out of that bathroom, have Jason put my slippers on, and throw a coat over my shoulders. My walker was put in front of me and I willed myself to get to the van...one way or the other. It was either this or the ambulance was going to have to come for me and I just couldn't leave my girls while they watched me drive away in something that had red lights flashing. They would be too scared. Heck...I was scared and I didn't need any more of it to spill over onto them.

Tricia arrived and I couldn't even pick my head up to see her. I was put in the van...bucket on lap. Every turn made it worse. Every bump made me cringe. Jason called his mom on the way and told her that we needed her to come watch the girls as we didn't know how long I would be there.

We turned at the stop lights into the ER entrance and it happened again. I threw up. Searing pain shot through my body one more time...and with it a warm, wet feeling on my abdomen. I didn't know what had just happened, but I suspected something had ripped open. Jason put the van into park, fetched a wheelchair, and opened the door to get me out. I knew I needed to stay still for just a few more minutes and I concentrated on swallowing, feeling that my body wasn't done forcing out what it clearly didn't want in there. By the grace of God, that was the last time I would throw up.

Jason wheeled me in to the front desk. They immediately took me back and roomed me despite the waiting room being full. I was put on an IV, and a combination of Zofran and dilauded were pumped into my veins. The dilauded was administered every 15-20 minutes until relief started.


The doctor called my surgeon, discussed things with him, ordered an x-ray of my abdomen and admitted me to the hospital. According to the x-ray, I had a lot of air pockets that were trapped inside my body from the surgery. And since nothing was moving due to the narcotics and Zofran, my body decided that something had to give. It took action and forced out whatever contents I had in it by way of mouth. By around 2am I was rolled into my room for the night for observation.


It was a long night with not a lot of sleep...complete with a very cranky nurse the next morning who was more than an hour late in bringing me my pain meds and even argued with me that I had never received any dilauded since 2am so therefore my pain must be being managed just fine and I really wasn't in need of anything. Unfortunately, the night nurse apparently neglected her duty of logging information into the charts before she left her shift. She didn't believe me until I described the vile of drugs that had been administered in great detail.

The on-call doctor wouldn't let me leave until my system started moving things. So starting at 12:00 noon, I was given a package of miralax every hour until 5pm. My body finally cried "uncle" and submitted to what they wanted to have happen. I was finally discharged. I got home around 6pm.

My mom had dropped everything earlier that day when I had called. She packed her bags and got in the car and made the 5 hour trek to the cities. I can't tell you what it does for a girl's spirits to see her mama. There's healing that happens just in knowing she is there.

I was so glad to be home. I have never felt such a searing, intense, brutal pain as that of throwing up 48+ hours after an abdominal surgery. Honestly, words cannot describe it. I'm amazed I didn't pass out. I believed in my heart that things really couldn't get worse and that they could only get better. Things had to look up from here...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Day 1 Post-Op

Everything went really well for Day 1 of Post-Op. I could hardly believe how well things were going...too good in fact. I felt like it couldn't be this smooth. I was taking two percocet tablets every 4 hours and it was doing a very good job at managing the pain. Getting up every hour or two to walk and keep circulation moving wasn't impossible like I thought it would be. My appetite was already back to normal and I wasn't having any nausea due to any lingering anesthesia. My walker was amazing and worth my fabulous find on Craig's List. Things were honestly going so well that I felt like I was waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop...

I also had a extra-cute helper when I would get up to make my rounds from the living room and back to the kitchen. *Notice my drain comfortably resting in my pocket?...man, I hated that thing.*

ps. I don't even remember who took this pic, but since I am blurry, I think it must have been Jason. Sorry, honey. You have lots of strong points, but focusing in camera is not one of them. ;)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Surgery Day

As you recall...I went to bed last night certain I was NOT having this surgery. I would revisit it again in a year or two, but as of this moment, I was putting it on hold.

I woke up refreshed as could be. Jason looked a little worse for the wear. Our conversation began something like this...


"How are you doing this morning?"
 
"Great!"
 
"Okay...you're not nervous or anxious or anything?"
 
"Nope, why would I be? Hey...when can we get the others kids?"
 
"Honey (slowly and with much trepidation)...what time do we need to leave? 10am, right?"
 
"Ummm..Nope! Because I'm not having surgery. I already told you I changed my mind! I made a mistake, this isn't the right time."
 
"Honey...."
 
"Yes dear?"
 
"We need to talk..."
 
 
And so with 30 minutes to go before the estimated time of departure, my husband gently and lovingly laid it all out for me. Explaining that he understood that I was nervous and scared, that he knew how hard this was, and that there will never seem like a "perfect" time for something like this, he told me that this was something that I needed to do. It was important for my overall health and quality of life. And today was the day.
 
I swallowed hard, looked at him, and quietly turned around to gather my things. Said goodbye to Ella and Hattie and hugged them hard. The van was warmed up and I solemnly accepted that surgery was upon me and I buckled myself in.
 
We arrived at the Mercy Same Day Surgery Center and I checked in. The phone rang as I called my mom and told her that I was in the waiting room. Our conversation was cut short as my name was called and I was ushered back to the surgery prep room. I was handed a fancy hairnet (which was 10 sizes too big and kept falling down over my eyes) and gown.
 
 
 
I met with Dr. Ho. She was the anesthesiologist. What an answer to prayer she was. She was so calming, so confident in herself and her abilities, and most of all...has a sensitive body just like me. I immediately felt some of the fear melt away. I was so glad that she would be taking care of me. Dr. Ho told me that she would be watching me constantly. The anesthesia I would be given would be one that had very few side effects as far as the nausea would go. They were planning on intubating me, but I voiced my concern and she went to go talk with the surgeon. Together they decided I would be able to get by on an LMA. It goes into your throat but doesn't go past your voicebox like a typical intubation tube does. Once she was done, the surgeon came in, marked with his sharpie so he knew right where to go to repair my muscle separation and fix the hernia. They departed and left Jason and I alone in the room while they prepped the surgery room. I called mom one more time, she prayed with me over the phone, and I hung up to spend the last few minutes just talking with Jason.
 
video

I was pretty nervous.

Soon the curtains were pulled back and I was asked to get into the wheelchair. They were ready for me. The operating room was so stark white, cold, and uninviting. So glad I don't work there! They had me crawl up onto the operating table and we laughed about the "non pillow" they have for your head. That's it. That's all I remember.

Next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room, Jason by my side. I had done it...the surgery was now in the past and I was so relieved. There wasn't any pain or nausea...yet.

Whew, don't judge the picture. I was on some pretty hefty drugs. They gave Jason all of the post-care instructions (of which I don't remember hearing what-so-ever), wheeled me to the main entrance, and I maneuvered myself up into the van.

It was so wonderful to leave the surgery center and I was looking forward to starting the long healing process.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

1 Day Pre-Op

December 21, 2014

****

We had been up north for Christmas with my family. It was the last Christmas in my parents' house. In just a few short weeks they would be moving down to the twin cities. Jordan was home on leave, Zyra and Aaliyah had made the journey from Milwaukee, Jamie was home from school,  and Jill would be bringing Jory for his first Christmas. It was a big deal. All of us kids under one roof one last time.

Emotions were high. Lots of changes had been happening. Lots of transitions were taking place.

It was difficult leaving my mom and dad's house. It was the last time I would ever set foot there, the last time I would sit and drink tea with my mom in that living room, the last time I would look out at her beautiful greenhouse. It was the weekend of "lasts".

On top of that, I had gotten sick that week. Exactly 1 week before surgery I came down with a cold/cough. It was stressing me out to say the least. Surgeries like mine were cancelled on account of colds and coughs and I had no back-up date. No "Plan B". The week progressed and so did my cold. By Friday, I was feeling completely horrible and I just knew I needed to go into Urgent Care in Thief River. Jason drove me and we sat for an hour and a half just to see a doctor. He looked me over, wrote a heave duty prescription, and sent me on my way. A sinus infection.  Levofloxacin.

~Maybe a chance that this surgery would get cancelled.

I called the surgeon and explained what was going on, he said that 72 hours of that hefty antibiotic and I should be just fine for Monday's surgery. Ugh.

So on Sunday, December 21, Jason, Ella, Hattie, and I left for home. Ben, Lily, and Cora would be staying at Grammie and Papa's house until December 26. They would be bringing Jordan to the airport to head back to California at that time. It seemed liked the wisest thing to do...lighten our load during the biggest part of the recovery period.

I held back so many tears on that trip home. Tears of sadness, tears of loss, and tears of anxiety. Lots of them couldn't be contained and they spilled out down my cheeks.

We arrived home, got unpacked, I did some laundry and tried to prep for my looming surgery. Jason put the girls to bed and I sat down on the couch and my emotions poured out of my like a raging waterfall. I cried until there were hardly any tears left. Blew my nose, gathered myself together. and turned on the tv.

Jason came into the living room and gently asked how I was doing. The conversation went something like this:
 
"Hi Honey...how are you doing?"
 
"Fine, thanks. :)"
 
"Fine? That's good, I wasn't expecting that..."
 
"I feel great, why not? Wanna watch some tv?"
 
"Um...I guess I thought you might be getting a little anxious or nervous."
 
"Nope! Why would I be? Wanna watch some tv?"
 
"Uh....because of your surgery tomorrow..."
 
"Oh that...yeah, I decided I'm not going."
 
"WhAt??"
 
"Yeah, I'm not going to do it. It's too stressful, I'm not ready, Hattie's not ready, the timing is off...and yeah, not going to do it."
 
"But we have everything lined up, we have people ready to help, you weaned Hattie, you have all your supplies, the insurance issue has been taken care of...blah, blah, blah..."
 
"Yeah, I understand all of that, but I'm. Not. Going."
 
 
 
And so I went to bed that night feeling wonderful. The weight of the world was off my shoulders, I slept like a rock, and didn't give that surgery a second thought.
 
My poor husband however, was on a rollercoaster ride he wasn't too sure of...
 

 



Surgery Part 2

Back dated November 2014...

*****

Those best laid plans....

Jason texted me from work:
"Is there any way you can have that surgery before the end of the year??"
 
"No! Not unless there was a really, really...I mean really good reason to. I'm not ready for it, neither is Hattie, and there are a million things going on in the next 6 weeks. Thanksgiving, Christmas, my parents packing up and moving, Jordan coming home on leave, etc, etc, etc)
Why???"
 
"I just found out that my company is switching insurance companies come January 1."

And that is when my heart sank. I teetered between being so mad to crying because I felt so rushed into something that was so huge for me. I immediately called my mom and cried my heart out. I then called the surgeon and asked if they even had anything available. Then I sat down and tried to process what had just happened.

You see, this surgery, is typically not covered by insurance companies. A diastasis typically doesn't cause problems for people. But in a very small percentage of women, it can become a problem that causes physiological issues...and I was one of them. The insurance company and the surgeon went back and forth a number of times until insurance finally decided that they would cover my surgery 100%.

To not get it done at this point would bring risks.  Would the new insurance company go back and forth for weeks with the surgeon? Would the new insurance plan cover it at all? Would we end up with a percentage out of pocket that we would be responsible for? Would the surgeon I want be "in network"? etc, etc, etc. It just was too big of a risk to take...we knew that I had to push for getting it done before the end of the year.

So after a lot of phone calls, my Feb 12th surgery appointment got moved up to December 22, 2014.

Many emotions came. Surgery scared me. Being put to sleep freaked me out. The thought of a 4-6 week recovery period seemed incredibly daunting. Not being able to pick up Hattie for that entire time was heart breaking. Weaning my baby before she was ready was crushing. Top it off that I was taking away Christmas from my kids and husband and it was the icing on the cake of doom. I spent many hours in tears over this.

I took to the internet, gathering information on a surgery of this magnitude, and begin preparing for the inevitable.

Surgery Part 1

*****Backdated....Sometime in November 2014*******

It's been talked about, researched, prayed about, and discussed in great length. And after seeing 7 different doctors regarding it, a decision has been made:

I'm going to have surgery.

**********

Background:
When I was pregnant with Hattie, around month 6ish, I called into the ob doctor. My complaint: pain. I told him that my stomach was hurting so much, that it felt like my insides were ripping apart. I explained that I could barely let my shirt rest on my stomach either because my skin was so sore. He asked a series of questions, made sure that I wasn't having any issues relating to the pregnancy itself and that baby was ok. He went on to tell me that there wasn't much they could do until after delivery and that I was just going to have to get through it. Days turned into weeks and the pain persisted.

After delivering Hattie and returning home, my belly button area hurt a lot. Not the kind of hurt like "I just had a baby" hurt, but something more severe. I could barely rest Hattie on my stomach while nursing and when she slept I had to strategically place her so her feet wouldn't touch anywhere near my belly button. A month went by and although I had healed up a lot from the pregnancy and birthing experience, the hurt never went away in that area. I also noticed that my "innie" belly button no longer remained...I had an "outie" and it made me wince when it would get touched.

I made an appointment to go see a doctor and get this checked out. I was concerned I had an umbilical hernia. According to google, I was a shut-and-close case. :) The doctor examined me and within about 3 seconds confirmed what I had thought all along. He also told me that I had a very severe diastasis. That means that the abdominal muscles that run vertically on either side of the center of your stomach had separated...significantly. So when I had called that OB back when I was pregnant telling him I felt like I was ripping apart, I literally was. I was told to see a specialist and get it taken care of.

I made an appointment to see someone at the Midwest Hernia Center in Edina. He was very nice and I knew he did good work because he had fixed my dad's hernia so he came highly recommended. My mom, Hattie, and I made the trek down there to the consultation.

In short, he told me what I already knew. An umbilical hernia was present and indicated that a diastasis that large on a small frame such as mine could be problematic. I was given two options, do surgery soon (interrupting the nursing of my new baby) or wait until she was a bit older and get it taken care of then. I naturally opted for the "I'll take care of it later" choice. I was not willing to do anything that might stand in the way of a successful nursing experience with Hattie. So I shelved the idea and promised to revisit it in 12 -18 months.

*****
Fast forward to November 2014.:

I had at this point seen 7 different doctors regarding this diastasis/umbilical hernia issue. Each time hoping I would get a different answer, each time receiving the same solution to this problem. After the 7th doctor, I decided it was high time to step out of denial and accept that the solution to the problem was going to require surgery.

My belly button area never really got any better over the 18 months. It still ached at times, hurt at others, had pains shoot through it, burned and generally just caused discomfort. Upon researching the diastasis issue, I learned that it was the culprit of my back going out on so many different occasions, why I was having some pelvic floor issues, and why it hurt to mow the lawn, mop the floor, lean over the tub to bathe Hattie, and made me feel so weak in my core.  Running had become a thing I didn't want to do anymore because it felt like things were ripping further when I exercised.

Surgery.

A major surgery.

********

I thought long and hard about when to have this surgery. I was getting tired of the discomfort and that came with it. I finally made a decision and had the surgery set up for February 12. I knew by then Mom and Dad would have moved down here so they could help in my recovery, it would give me time to prepare for it, and by then I was thinking that Hattie might naturally wean herself. Plus I would get a bulk of the healing done in the winter so by summer I would be back to normal again.

But the best laid plans...

...never seem to work out....