Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pains, Drains and Recovery Gains


I don't sit still well, which makes me a horrible patient.

Actually, this mobility trait has an upside and a downside when it comes to recovery. The upside is obvious, I feel better mentally and recover more quickly when I can move freely. The downside is, for a few days after surgery, I shouldn't be moving freely.

After escaping the hospital yesterday afternoon, I  came home with two JP drains and two On Q balls filled with Ropivacaine. The drains I am familiar with, the 'pain balls' are new to me and provide a regional blockage around my chest. While I still have pain, the level is completely manageable.

Minutes ago I was caught high stepping in the kitchen.
"What are you doing?" my husband asked.
"Um, trying to get my drains going," I replied sheepishly.
He gave a huge sigh and said, "Why don't you go sit down and write a blog post or something."

He's desperate to care for me and I'm desperate to move beyond the place where I need caring for. So this recovery thing has turned into one big compromise. He let's me try to do everything myself and, when it becomes difficult, I ask for help.

Thus far things are working well.

Pains

I'm uncomfortable but certainly not miserable. While the Ropivacaine is still attached, I have weaned down to a single Norco every 8-12 hours. There are niggling pains, especially when I move in a way that engages my chest wall but, for the most part, I simply feel as if someone took a sledgehammer to my chest every time I breathe in deeply.

Drains

My drains went from a decent 30-40 ml output per side every 4-6 hours in the hospital to about 10ml every 12 hours so I am absolutely sure we won't be following the internist's pace of JP drains being removed in "two to three weeks."

There is one spot on my right side where I can actually feel and see the drain tube right beneath the skin. This isn't painful, it's just weird. And this time stripping my drains feels a bit more difficult because in order to gain purchase on the tube, I have to engage my chest muscles. Again, not really painful, just annoying.

Recovery Gains

Perhaps because I was under longer, I had some difficulty with anesthesia this time around and was unable to eat or walk too much in the hours after surgery. Mentally, this weighed on me and I was instantly concerned I would miss some of my early recovery milestones. However, after a bit of sleep in the wee hours of the morning, I was able to walk the ward a few times and discharged around noon on Saturday.

Today the grand plan is to complete the "comb walk" - a 1.75 mile route from my front door up and down neighborhood streets. I call it the comb walk because an aerial  view of the route resembles that of a military issue plastic comb.

Thank you all for the flowers, food, well wishes, positive energy and surprise visits.

All is good.