Saturday, September 18, 2010

Recovery + TAC Tips

Sorry it's been so long.  Neither sheer agony nor any kind of complication or drama has prevented me from updating, which is good news!  I've been quite well, just resting and being relaxed.  My mom came home with me after the surgery (thank you, Mom!) which was a huge Godsend.  She was able to get me out of the house every day (NO driving for 2 weeks for me, even though I broke that rule today).  Nothing major, but I at least got out to civilization at least once a day, and to my OB for a follow-up.  She also kept dishes washed and she vaccuumed and let the dogs in and out. She also cleaned up my barf when I threw up all over the kitchen floor while it was still wet from her mopping it.  I love my mom.

So, recovery from surgery has been pretty much what I expected.  Thursday was surgery, Friday I rode in a car for 4 hours (with 1 break to walk and eat), Saturday rested, then Sunday flew back home.  I was adamant about getting through the airport without a wheelchair and I did great.  No wheelchair or assistance!!  The pain is just plain weird.  It feels like my abs are in a constant state of doing a sit-up, very sore.  When I touch my stomach near the incision, it's completely numb.  It feels like there's an invisible pillow tucked in there. I talked to the nurse at my OB and she said she had a c-section and a tummy tuck and 7 years later, she still has no feeling in that area!  I don't know why, but I'm wondering if feeling will ever come back for me there.  It's totally fine for now, but it definitely does feel weird.  Other than the numbness and soreness, I have some random sharp twinges that take my breath away, but no constant stabbing pain or anything.  I basically walk around hunched over like I'm 99 years old. It's very attractive.  It also makes me realize how weak my back is!  I have also had some bladder issues, I'm waiting for my urine dip to come back to see if I developed a bladder infection from the catheter.  Dr. H gave me an IV of antibiotic to prevent this, but I alllllways seem to get bladder issues.  It's probably just me.  Lots of cranberry juice has helped tremendously already. 

EDITED to add:  I have since recieved the results and there is NO infection.  Turns out I was having bladder spasms, and was told to lay off the acidic drinks such as cranberry and tea.  It's helped a ton since I stopped drinking those!
It's now been 9 days since surgery.  I'm starting to feel like my organs are back in the right places.  About 4 days ago, I took my last Percocet (I still have about 40 pills in the bottle) and have gone down to just Tylenol.  2 Percocet at a time is for when you want to sleep, 1 was maintaining the pain during the day those first few days.  If I took 1 right now, it would probably have the effect of 2 since my pain is so much less.  Today, I cheated and DROVE to Target (about 15 mins one way) and did just fine.  I should have eaten something first, because I started to feel a little hot and lightheaded, but the drive went just fine.  I treated myself on the way out to some Chik-Fil-A sweet tea and those little nuggets on bun things.  I forget what they're called, but YUM!

I'm rambling.  Since my thoughts are so scattered, I'll bullet point some tips that have helped me:

  • Absolutely, 100% REQUIRED is a travel pillow of some sort.  I fortunately found one just in time at Target the night before.  Mine was $2.50 at the dollar bin and has the styrofoam beads inside.  That type in particular is great, because I can press it against my stomach and massage the beads, which in turn massages my stomach and feels SOOO good.  You will need it when you stand up, when you cough, sneeze, laugh.  It takes a lot of pressure off.  I am still using it 9 days later.  I also use it when I sleep at night to give a little support under my side-belly.  If you have a nice flat tummy you probably won't have to do that, but I have some extra that pulls my incision when I lay on my side. It's also amazing in the car.
  • You will have a funky discharge after the surgery.  Mine looked like Cheetos rubbed inside my pad.  It was gross!  I finally realized it was probably iodine because Dr. H said he basically used loads of it.  I had some clotty mucousy stuff, too, which was a rather disturbing find.  By the time I left the hospital, I just used some liners (bring some) and was able to forego those a couple of days later.
  • Pregnant or not, you will most likely have an ultrasound the next day before you are discharged, so be emotionally prepared for that room if you haven't seen one for awhile.  The tech will give you a picture of the beautiful band holding your cervix iron tight!!!
  • If you're traveling to Dr. Haney, make sure to bring AT LEAST $40 in cash for parking - it was expensive, and cash only, but there were Chase ATM's inside the hospital.  Try to get there at least an hour early, it was hard to find where to go, and parking was hard to find - it is a VERY busy campus!
  • If you're seeing Dr. Haney, be prepared to do a lot of waiting.  Don't take the times they give you very literally.  Just use that time to relax and mentally prepare and talk with your husband alot.  He will be short on conversation the next few hours!  We waited quite a bit, the surgery was a little late (about an hour) and discharge was really late (4 hours after we were told).  Waiting for a bed out of recovery also took FOREVER. L&D was packed. Just be prepared, its a big place, lots of patients.
  • MOVE, MOVE, MOVE!!!!!  It helps the anesthesia out of your body and speeds healing.  If I am lazy for awhile it's harder to get up, but if I stand up and walk around the house at least once an hour, it helps a ton.
  • Be prepared for constipation.  Dr. H prescribes Colace, but just pick it up and start taking it.  I went 5 days and it was getting really painful.  I was eating a lot, too, which of course compounded the effect.  Have some Milk of Magnesia on hand in case the Colace isn't working.  I was stressed for awhile that it wasn't going to happen!
  • Go ahead and have some cranberry juice on hand - it will help your bladder avoid infection or recover.  It did wonders for me.
  • Start saying NO to obligations and really take time for yourself.  I thought I was going to be SO bored recovering at home, but my mind is kind of blank right now and the exhaustion comes and goes.  I haven't even been reading at all, or needing to keep "busy."  Just sitting around petting my dogs and watching Season 6 of Grey's Anatomy has been all I've needed. 
  • Oh yeah, Dr. H's TAC patients are able to "donate" a fat sample during the surgery that goes to research ovarian cancer - just to give you a heads up to think about it.  You have to sign the form to accept or decline the donation.  The research topic may change in the next few weeks, but when I was there, it was fat for ovarian cancer research.  I told them they could take it all, and the Dr. said that was what everyone said!  LOL.
  • DO NOT overpack.  Your husband will be stuck with whatever luggage you bring so pack light.  I used my own toiletries (I ended up not taking a shower, but you may.  I was too skeeved by the incision still).  I didn't use any of my own clothing or socks until I was discharged.  Your pillow and a brush, toothbrush and some panty liners are about all you need.  When you are discharged, make sure to get lots of comfy stretchy pants to wear home.  If you have maternity pants, pregnant or not, they are very comfortable and give extra support. 
  • If you want, give your husband a list of "chores" to do while you're out.  Mine was super bored for about 4 hours, but he had his laptop (there was great free Wi-Fi) and he updated my blog and message boards.  Also make sure he's okay on snacks, but there is no eating in the waiting room.  Keith went to the food court and got a wrap or something that held him over.  He was able to sleep in a cot next to my bed, so all in all, he was pretty taken care of.
  • Granny Panties.  Enough said.

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