Sunday, August 5, 2012

recovery (thus far)

Recovery is...going. It's been 48 hours since surgery now, and I will admit that a very few of my sources of laparoscopy info had said that you may need as little as 2 days to start feeling 'somewhat normal' after your lap. To those people I would like to say: ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR EFFING MIND???! Maybe if your laparoscopic surgery was only the laparoscope part-- as in, ALL they did was look around. Then MAYBE you would start feeling better by 2 days later. But if they did ANYTHING else in there (such as, I don't know, remove some giant cysts, some small cysts, some adhesions, and also do a hysteroscopy and D&C...) are NOT feeling much better by 2 days later. Luckily, I had planned for this, so on my own personal "feeling better timeline," I guess I'm right on target. I feel...slightly better than I did the night after surgery. Let's break down the pain, shall we? (Note: I do not expect that most people are interested in any of this-- I really just go into this detail for the people who may be facing a similar surgery of their own. I found this kind of information super useful when preparing for my surgery, and promised myself I'd pay it forward...hence the abundance of details.)

Shoulder & Chest Pain: Yeah, you read me right. Let me quote something from the "postoperative instructions" they sent home with me from the hospital, lest you question why I am complaining about shoulder pain after an abdominal surgery: "Mild to severe shoulder pain is due to the stretching of the diaphragm during distention of the abdomen by carbon dioxide gas during the procedure. The nerve that goes to the diaphragm also supplies the shoulder, explaining this "referred pain". This CO2 pain is no joke, but luckily it's getting less and less bothersome as the time passes (because your body absorbs it eventually). But when it's flaring up...holy crap, it really hurts.

Abdominal Pain: Well, it's pretty bad. However, it's not a whole lot worse than the pain after a ruptured cyst or ruptured hemorrhagic cyst, so it's a pain I'm (unfortunately) somewhat accustomed to dealing with. However, the inability to use my core muscles is a lot worse than it is during regular ruptured cyst-recovery. I can't change positions (like go from laying down to sitting up, or sitting to standing, or roll over) without help...and THAT is obnoxious. I have to lay there and wait for someone to come help pull me up...annoying.

Incision Pain: I have 4 incisions; 1 through my bellybutton and 3 lower down. The bellybutton and one on the left haven't bothered me a bit. The other 2 hurt like crap. They are a combination of throbbing and feeling like my skin is stretched/sewed too tightly. Naturally, these hurt worse if I move or change I'm doing a whole lotta laying reallllly still. I took off the outer 'dressing' (bandages), but the incisions are all covered up with the steri-strip stuff, so I can't really see the incisions or stitches very well. I can't take off the steri-strips for a few more days.

Nausea: Thankfully, I haven't had much nausea at all. Haven't popped a single Zofran even (although they did give me some in my IV when I was still in the hospital). The few 'bouts' of nausea I've had, I was able to sleep off, so...yay for that success story.

Appetite: I eased back into eating and drinking over the first 24 hours post-surgery...starting with mostly liquids and BRAT-esque foods (and saltines. Lots of saltines). Last night and today I've eaten pretty much normal food, but much smaller portions than normal (so that means, probably a NORMAL woman's sized portions. Ha. I'm a big eater...this reduced portion size probably wouldn't be a bad idea to maintain!). I think with the swelling or something, there's just not much room for the normal amount of food in I get filled up fast. Unlike after my knee surgery, though, my appetite seems pretty normal. After knee surgery...geez, I spent so much time barfing, I had NO desire to eat ANYTHING. I attribute this to knowing better what kinds of painkillers I tolerate now, so I'm avoiding the ones that make me sick.

Uhhh..."other": OK, I know I promised I wouldn't talk about bowel function again, but...sorry, folks. So a normal side-effect of the narcotic painkillers (and surgery) is constipation. I had a HORRIBLE problem with this after the hemorrhagic cyst episode in April...awful. So I was prepared to be super pro-active this time around, plus my doctor is alllll about the "bowel health" and loves nothing more than talking about it!! So I've been VERY devoted to watching my liquid/fiber intake and taking Dulcolax on schedule. hasn't worked yet. So today I upped my game and switched to Miralax. Hopefully that'll work soon, or I know how miserable I'll be in a few more days, and I can't bear to think about that. Ugh.

In all, I guess recovery is going well. My parents were here from yesterday afternoon until about 4:30 today, so that was wonderful. They pretty much cooked and entertained and hung out on the couch with me, so that was very nice. We've been watching Olympics like mad (SO THANKFUL that they are on right now!!), so I haven't even had a chance to start reading all the books and magazines I'd gathered for recovery entertainment. But I know I'll have plenty of time to do that the rest of the week...

Sleep is going fine. I've been going to bed around 11:30 or 12 and waking up at 5 or so when my meds run low. Then I have to eat something, take meds, and then I can usually fall back asleep for another few hours. Then I nap a few times throughout the day. Luckily, though, when I'm AWAKE, I'm mostly feeling (mentally) fine (not too groggy or dizzy or whatever else painkillers make you feel). Today I wanted to go on a quick flower walk with my mom (I know, I know...but once I'm UP, walking isn't too bad...I thought I could handle it!)...well, the 10 minutes in the blazing sun and heat, while wonderful for my mental health, was apparently WAY too much for my body. I felt like I'd been hit by a truck, and had to sleep for 2 hours to recover from the excitement (and new bout of shoulder pain). So that made me feel like a real winner. Not.

If that's not a thorough enough recovery-report, I don't know what is. How about a picture-of-a-picture from surgery? (Too much work to get out the with a phone picture of the printed picture)
So the cyst is the whiteish thing (that's the Big Mamajama on my left ovary). The pinkish thing right next to it is my UTERUS. So yes, the cyst is bigger than the uterus. That's not creepy at all.

Also, today I was watching women's water polo, and WOW. First of all...those girls are scary. I would not want to fight with them. Or get on their bad sides. But THEN-- I saw an underwater shot with a serious WARDROBE MALFUNCTION. As in..boobie. Major boobie. It was scary. And that is all I have to say today.


  1. But have you done your word search yet?

  2. I'm glad you are still surviving, and hope that ALL of those areas will be back to normal soon! Now can we talk about adding a little WARNING next time that you are going to show a gross pic like that?! I so could not have worked in the medical field...

  3. I had a gigantic cyst removed from my fallopian tube last year, the size of a tennis ball. I knew I should have gotten a copy of the pictures to show people, it was totally awesome like yours!

  4. I haven't been online all weekend with family in town but I am SO glad to hear the surgery went well and you are home and resting! Sorry about the pain friend... as I was reading, my stomach started hurting imagining how you're feeling, especially not being able to use your ab muscles. Hang in there, prayers sent your way.

  5. Thanks for updating us, I was thinking about you all weekend! I am so glad the surgery went well and that you are feeling better day by day. Take it easy girl!

  6. Yeah, that picture was freaky! I'm very glad you're on the road to recovery...even if it's a bit bumpy.

  7. Glad to hear that you're on the road to recovery, and praying it's a quick one so you get can back to normal! Until then, enjoy the lounging. :) And Olympics. You might be the only person in America who actually sees the results before CNN ruins it for the rest of us with "breaking news" at 4PM....

  8. So, so glad you are feeling okish. Abdominal surgery is always the worst because you never realize how much you use your abs. It's crazy!

    And that cyst was disgusting. But give me a few more years when I'm trying to get pregnant and I will be reading all of these posts again religiously.

  9. Holy grapefruit cyst! That thing was ginormous and you have rightfully earned infinity superwoman points for all that you had to go through. Thank you for posting the pic... if it's any consolation, your fallopian tubes look fabulous!

  10. Erika, I didn't realize you went through all of this. I am searching through your blog history looking to see what it was you were diagnosed with. I have a consultation on tuesday to schedule to have a polyp removed and to search for endometriosis. I also have a cyst but I think it's the kind they leave alone...i hope. I have to say your information is scary and helpful. You have gone through a lot but I'm glad to know you have made it through so I can too.


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