Thursday, April 10, 2014

Surgery and Recovery

Friday, April 4th, I went in to the hospital at 4:30 a.m. to have my first surgery ever, an anterior cervical discetomy and fusion. To say I was terrified would be an understatement.
I had so many thoughts and fears running through my head...
would I die during surgery and my girls be without a mom?
would I be injured during surgery and possibly paralyzed?
would I be nicked during surgery, causing a need for a blood transfusion that I would never take (again leaving my girls without a mom)?
would I experience complication afterward that could be life threatening, like a blood clot?]
will I ever be able to wear necklaces again since I will have a scar smack dab in the center of my neck?
will the pain finally be eased or will it only bring on a new set of issues?
will I finally get to be me again?

Weighing the benefits versus the risks were hard. Relatively it's a safe procedure with few complication. 
Everyone knows anything can happen.
For someone who has never had anything worse than the flu this was a majorly emotional and mental stressful situation.

So I went in and was taken to a admittance room where they did a few basic tests, urine sample, blood pressure, me in a hospital gown.

Then around 6 am I was moved to the holding room where they put my IV in. The anesthesiologist came in to go over what he will be doing and answer any questions I may have. My surgeon came in and went over the procedure with me and my girls and answered any last minute questions. I was terrified and there may have been quite a few tears shed.
My poor sweet Lena kept looking at me with this longing look in her she wanted to soak in every aspect of me...the shape of my eyebrows, the curve of my nose, where the freckles lay on my face, the crease in my neck, the rise and fall of my case she didn't see me again. 
This broke my heart.
I had no control over the situation.
And I was terrified. 
I was wheeled into the operating room fully awake. My nurse tried to make small talk with me to stop the tears that fell unaided from my eyes.
I was then moved to the cold operating table with the large lamp ahead of me. The anesthesiologist told me he would give me some medicine now to put me to sleep and they'd wake me up later.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and fell asleep in prayer.

I remember hearing a nurse telling me foggily that the surgery was over. I felt an excruciating pain on the lower right side of my neck and surmised this must be the incision site. My throat hurt like hell and I felt like I was going to vomit and poo at the same time. The only word I could get out was "sick". I'm not sure how long I was in recovery or exactly where recover was. Previously I was told that I would be taken back to the holding room where I had spoken with my surgeon to recover.
I just recall having some of the weirdest dreams you can imagine.

They got my girls and around noon moved us to my room. My throat hurt so badly. I felt a huge lump in it and it was just easier not to talk.
Most of the day I just laid in bed with my eyes closed. 
They brought me broth to sip. It felt good on my sore (from being intubated) throat but each time I swallowed it hurt from the front to the back of my throat.
It hurt to open my mouth very wide. It felt like the entire inside of my mouth hurt. My whole neck hurt. And each time I swallowed it felt like the substance had to cross over a lump to make its way down my esophagus. At the same time, each swallow produced this pain across the back side of my neck.
The pain was so bad it caused me to draw my shoulders up, hold my breath and almost think it easier not to even try. 
It was miserable trying to find a comfortable position. It hurt to lay down, it hurt to sit up, walking completely winded me. I had a drainage tube coming out of my neck. My butt was numb from sitting so long. I was miserable.

When I went home the next day I couldn't find any comfortable place to lay or sit or lounge. Finally my husband brought his beach chair into the house and fixed it up for me to sit/lounge/lay in. This worked for a while. 
At the end of the day I was in tears because I was so physically, mentally, emotionally exhausted. I felt like I just couldn't go on like this. But I was thankful to just be alive. 
After two hard nights we had to go purchase a recliner for me to lay in. Since I'm going to be in this position for 6-8 weeks we better make it comfortable. Did we plan to have to spend money to purchase a new piece of furniture? Absolutely not. But when you can't move your neck and you have to recline 95% of your day, you do what you have to do.
One bonus...the only real that Micah has been spending so much time bonding with me. I'll never know what his story was before we got him, but it took two years for him to even lay close to us and he is still so skittish. I think this recovery will bring about alot of close bonding between us. 
So while this is not a flattering picture of me...this is me...everyday...all day. Just sitting in my chair, watching tv and being loved on by my cats. 
I finally get to take my first bath today. I am beyond excited. I have never felt so dirty. The soreness of my throat is starting to subside. I don't eat as much as I used to and what I do eat takes forever to do it. Drinking still makes me wince in's just not as painful as it was the first few days. I think this morning was the first morning that I was able to take a drink without drawing my shoulders up all the way.
By night I am usually in tears. I am so exhausted from doing absolutely nothing. Muscle relaxers and Hydrocodone have really helped me sleep. My sleep hours are so messed up. I wake up at all times of the night, which means I sleep at all times during the day. I guess this is good..sleep helps you heal.
I have my two week follow up next Friday. 
But most importantly...I'm alive!
And I get to shower today!


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