Women's Health

Surgery Day

March 23, 2019

The day of surgery started off about as expected. No food or drink since about 8PM the night before. No coffee was the hardest, but I had enough on my mind that the impending headache was the least of my worries.

I am not afraid of being put under. This would be my third time and I have never had a bad experience with it. No nausea or bad reactions of any kind.

I worry more about the surgery and potential complications. My family has a history of blood clots, and while I have never had one, the fear is always in the back of my mind.

The wait was long. I arrived at 10 AM. I was settled in by 10:30 and had my IV by 11. I have to give props to the RN Michael, who put in my IV. Not even a tiny bruise remains. He was very skillful.

My BP was a little high, as is typical. Something I need to have checked when I recover fully.

My husband kept me company during the long wait. He was very patient and helped me to stay relaxed. Having someone to support you is priceless.

It’s Time

I was rolled to the staging area outside the OR at 1 PM. I have no glasses on, so I can’t see very well. No glasses, no jewelry, no lotions, no perfumes or deodorants, no nail polish allowed.

All of the nurses, doctors, anesthesiologist, everyone was extremely kind and comforting in the moments leading up to surgery.

Lights Out

The anesthesiologist spoke to me the entire time they were preparing me. It was a little disconcerting to be strapped to the table with my arms out to the sides, but I wasn’t frightened.

He told me I’d feel a little burning sensation and then I’d feel sleepy. I just breathed deeply and waited. No burning. No pain. No sleepy feeling. Just…. poof.

I am not sure if I remember dreaming. I’m not sure if I should dream in a situation like this, but I feel as if I did. I remember waking up as they were removing the tube from my throat. They told me to cough. The memory is very vague and fuzzy. Not a bad experience at all.

In recovery I coughed a few times, but had trouble swallowing. Not because of pain, but as if my muscles just weren’t up to the task yet. The feeling passed with time.

After about an hour in recovery, they took me back downstairs to where my husband was waiting. He gave me my glasses and I was so grateful to be able to see again. It was at this moment I understood that he really has no idea how blind I am without my glasses!

The nurses gave me graham crackers and apple juice. Food never tasted so good as it did at that very moment.

Time to go home

Once I was able to pee on my own, which didn’t take long after having some juice, I was able to go home. Peeing burned a little, but not badly and only that one time. After that I felt pretty much back to normal.

I have three incisions. Each about a centimeter wide. One on each side of my abdomen and one inside my belly button. Two of the three were bleeding after I went to the bathroom, so they checked them before I left. They concluded that it wasn’t active bleeding but rather oozing of leftover blood mixed with the lidocaine they injected to help me with the pain.

What to Expect During Recovery

I was told to expect shoulder pain as a result of the CO2 they inflated my abdomen with during the surgery. The excess gas apparently irritates a nerve causing referred pain.

What I didn’t expect was shoulder pain, abdominal pain, chest pain and neck pain.

I was terrified that something was wrong.

I knew I had to pass gas to relieve the pressure, so I wouldn’t take the Percocet they prescribed. A known side effect is that it could actually slow my system down and thus slow down my ability to relieve the pressure. I took only the 600mg of Ibuprofen for pain.

Night 1 – Elusive sleep and severe pain

The first night was very rough. The gas pain was so severe I couldn’t sleep on my side. It felt like crushing chest pain and I couldn’t breathe deeply. I could only lay on my back. I’m a side sleeper, so this made for a very long night.

Day 1 – Steady improvement

The day after surgery, I was still struggling with the pain all over. I was walking periodically to try to get my system moving so I can relieve the gas pressure. It was a slow process.

When the hospital called to check up on me, I told them about my pain. That it was all the way into my neck. I also told them I couldn’t breathe deeply without pain.

My first disappointment was that they just told me it was normal because of the gas. They didn’t give me any instructions for relieving the pain. They also didn’t tell me that if I didn’t do deep breathing exercises, that I risked developing pneumonia! For this, I had to do my own research. After talking to my sister in law, who is a nurse, that’s the first thing she told me!

By evening, the pressure had decreased significantly, but I wasn’t completely out of the woods. Desperate for a good night’s sleep, I downed a Percocet.

Night 2 – Sweet Sleep

The Percocet helped me sleep. I could actually sleep on my side without feeling like I was suffocating. My sinuses never felt clearer. It was fabulous! Up until this point, my gas pain was so severe, I barely knew the incisions were there.

Day 2 – Out and About

The second full day after surgery, I was feeling much better. The gas pain is nearly gone by now. I can feel the incisions now, though they’re not unbearable.

I ran some long overdue errands with my hubby that we could never do because we’re never off on the same day. He took me out to lunch.

At this point, I’d eaten quite a bit since coming home, but hadn’t had a bowel movement. For someone who goes every day, this has me concerned. Food is going in, but nothing is coming out! By now I’m also barely passing any gas.

There is still some pain in my neck left over and that concerns me even though it is not severe.

Night 3 – Med Free

I did not take any pain killers before bed. Nothing really hurts that bad, and I didn’t want to slow my recovery with the Percocet.

I slept pretty well for the most part. No worse than usual. I was able to sleep on my side, so that is promising.

Day 3 – Still Med Free

Today is my third day post-surgery. I have minor pain around my incisions. I hold onto my stomach as I move around, mostly to keep my clothes from rubbing.

I still have some pain when I breathe deeply, but if I walk around and do breathing exercises, I find that the pain decreases. Normal breathing or even yawning doesn’t hurt at all. It increases if I sit slouched down and restrict my breathing, so I have to maintain good posture or walk frequently to keep the air moving.

I had a bowel movement! Finally! I feel significantly less bloated and heavy.

I still have some minor twinges of pain in my neck and chest on occasion, but there has been significant improvement overall. Much of the time I feel no pain at all. I’m thinking of spending a half hour on the treadmill today to work on my breathing. Just a nice slow walk.

Looking forward to my checkup in a week. Not looking forward to going back to work on Monday.

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