Monday, August 14, 2006

Advice for fibroid surgery.

So this is going to be my last post about my myomectomy. Barring unforeseen shit, I guess. But I'm driving, I'm walking straight up and down (rather than in the Crone position), I'm taking stairs, so other than the ban against lifting anything over ten pounds, I'm back. (And that ban? Extremely useful. Think about how many things in your life are more than ten pounds. Like, oh, laundry baskets, grocery bags, text books... Trust me, I'm milking that ban for as long as I can.)

But I want to gether my thoughts in case someone finds this site by googling--and as a reminder to myself if when I get a Caesarian of things I did right, and things I'd do differently.

Good things to do before you get your abdominal myomectomy:
  1. Get your ab muscles as strong as you can. Seriously.
  2. Get a bikini wax. You don't have to do a Brazilian or a Pamela Anderson Special or The Airplane Runway, just get those top two inches ripped out. Which sounds painful, but is even easier than an eyebrow wax. And SOOOO much better than having to deal with shaved regrowth and chafing. Trust me. Chafing. Bad. Really, really bad.
  3. Plan nothing for at least two weeks after your surgery. And I mean nothing. Not a movie, not entertaining friends, nothing. If you're up to it, great, you can schedule it then, but otherwise, you don't know.
  4. Get more than one pair of drawstring, super loose pants.
  5. Get some granny panties one size too large. Make sure that waistline is within a couple inches of your bellybutton. Trust me, you'll be grateful.
  6. In fact, here are things you should have at home:
  • Ice packs. Little, about the size of your hand, is fine.
  • Gauze pads--lots. Seriously.
  • Hydrogen Peroxide and cotton balls.
  • Paper medical tape, the kind that doesn't hurt (as much) to pull off
  • Lap desk. You are going to be much more awake than your body. Lap desk means you can have your laptop in front of you while you're on the couch/bed.
  • Super understanding family member(s) and/or partner.
  • An updated Netflix queue.

When you've got the surgery, here's what I learned about What To Bring and Do at the Hospital

  1. Don't bother with books. Your attention span won't be long enough to read those things we call words. And paragraphs? BWHAHAHAHA. Magazines with pretty pictures? Excellent choice.
  2. Don't bother with makeup, unless it's moisturizer. You won't care what you look like. However, something like those pre-moistened Dove wipes would have rocked. And deodorant. That would have been nice too. And a kerchief for my hair.
  3. I loved having my laptop at the hospital, but I really only used it the second day.
  4. Cell phone and charger. Good for alarms (when do I get my next dose of morphine?) and the ring on your cell phone is so much less jarring that then ring on the phone in your hotel room.
  5. I had a hard time getting my pain meds on time. My mistake? I kept calling the nurse's station. Get your nurse's pager number. Muuuuch more efficient.
  6. Appoint a trusted friend as gatekeeper. Let everyone know that you'll be updating her as to when you can/want to have guests. Both Andrew and Em did this, fantastically. (I know, that's two, but considering Andrew was in my room every moment he wasn't at work or at home walking the dog, he wasn't always easy to get ahold of) That way, folks felt like they could call and stop by but didn't have to bother me. And then you only have to update one person if you feel like ass reheated.
  7. If you're in doubt--stay one more day at the hospital. I thought I'd stay one, I ended up staying two, and it was the best decision I made.
  8. Best thing I brought: I brought slip-on flat clog/mule shoes for leaving the hospital. You can't reach your feet, but sliding on those Uggs made me feel mildly human.

Once you get home...

  1. Family visiting to help can make all the difference. Remember--they're here for you, not as guests. You should feel free to sleep whenever you need to. If they can't handle it, they shouldn't be there. Have a friend or your partner ready to intervene if it turns out that they are causing more work than they're saving. My parents here kept me sane for those first four days.
  2. Remember that updated Netflix queue? Even better if it's something like Season 1 of The Closer. Short, 47-minute intervals, you can come back to it later, perfect.
  3. Your body will get way more tired than your brain. We rented a wheelchair, and it was perfect because I could go out for an hour or two--which, let it be noted, would wipe me out, but it was SO much better than the brain rot of the inside of my house.
  4. If you're not sleeping well because of the pain, tell your doctor. Get Ambien or Lunestra or whatever. Don't worry about addiction (unless you already have prescription problems). You won't be on it long enough to matter, and seriously? This sleep is the most important sleep you've had in years. Your body needs it.
  5. Walk. Stand. Do it in little bits, but as soon as you can. Focus on your posture. The temptation is to start walking bent-over because MY GOD THE PULLING. But if you start doing that, you start healing that way, and it will only hurt more when you DO start standing up straight. Focus on your shoulders back and down, your butt tucked under, a string from the top of your head pulling you up like a marionette. Gently, feel yourself stretch out. It'll hurt, but it'll hurt less every day. You're going to pay WAY more attention to walking and posture than you ever did before, because if you let your subconscious rule, you'll walk like an 80-year-old woman with osteoporosis. If it hurts too much, talk to your doctor and get the pain meds you need to stand up straight. It'll be worth it.
  6. Watch your wound. I got a surface infection, I have NO idea how. The signs were redness from hip to hip, it was hot to the touch, and I had a fever. If these start up? Doctor's office. NOW.
  7. Then there's the drainage. This may or may not happen to you. So much grossness, but way more scary than actually dangerous or painful. If you start leaking this clearish-bloodyish fluid, that's what it is. If it's pus or cottage-cheesy, that's apparently a worse sign. Just keep the wound clean (that's what the hydrogen peroxide and the million gauze pads are for) and go in for your follow-up appointments.
  8. When you go in for your appointments--if you don't know what a word is, ask. Ask ask and ask again. Even the best doctors start using fancy pantsy words that translate really easily to English. "Serosanguineous" is a word Dr. Doogie, my doctor, dropped on me when I was having the gross leaking episode. What's that? Oh, clear bloody fluid. Why couldn't he say that? Because he went to a jillion years of med school. I'm a smart girl, and he started using words like "seroma". What's that mean? Basically, a gap that developed under my incision between the skin and the layer just below the skin. Couldn't he say gap? No, he says seroma.
  9. Take it a day at a time. More than that, take it in four-hour chunks. Just make it to the next four hours. Even on the days when you're bored out of your gourd, when it hurts more than you can explain to anyone, when you never want to go anywhere ever again, even on those days remember: tomorrow will be better, and the day after that even better, and the day after that, SO much better. Soon, sitting up won't hurt (much). Soon, you can wear regular clothes. Soon, sleeping won't be a matter of finding the position that hurts the least. Soon, you'll throw out all those amber pill bottles. In the grand scheme of things, it'll all be Soon.
  10. Don't be afraid to ask for things you need. Your partner, your friends, your family. One morning last week, I called a friend who works from home. Why? I was out of coffee. I couldn't walk far enough to go buy some, and dear sweet lord did I want some coffee. She was awesome, brought over some for me, and we hung out for twenty minutes. Your friends want to help you out. Let them.

So, that's all I can think of for right now. I may come back and edit this later.

I couldn't have made it through these past two weeks without Andrew, without my parents, without Emily and Nicole and Sarah and Dave and Becca and Eryn. That said? SO much better to be in the world of the walking again.

No comments: