Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The slow return to "normal"

I'm one week out from "being on the losing end of a gentleman's knife fight" as I heard surgery described. I'm not really into knives, so I've chosen to illustrate that concept with a pick-ax and Minecraft world (nod to my kids and Photobooth).

It's been interesting to be a participant observer in this process.

My summary thus far: This bit of pain I can handle, no problem. Nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and general malaise...ughhh...that part has been a little harder.

The pain/discomfort since getting through that first night of belly bloat has been very manageable. I won't pretend it's been bad or even close to what others deal with on an ongoing basis.

Mainly I just have to work around sliced left obliques and some disturbances to the rectus abdominus. I need to be careful when I get up, but the whole right side is just fine and usable. Coughing, sneezing, laughing, or turning over in bed take a bit of pre-planning. But the incisions themselves aren't even that sensitive and at this point I don't think a whole lot about them.

When I move, I'm bent over and slow for the first few steps, there's some groaning and wincing now and again, and I have to be careful. It's a very small price to pay.

I have even found a few times to use my situation to my advantage. Last night I did say to the kids, "don't worry about your poor mom, held together with thread and staples, I'll bring it to you!!!" And I did enjoy showing my longest incision at the waistline to Grant's soccer team, by request.

Whatever discomfort I am experiencing, I am fortunate that it's productive, good-in-the-long-term discomfort. I have been WAY more stressed from other pains - the unknown, the more chronic, or the race-threatening pain.

The nausea and dizziness were more frustrating. I felt pretty good on Thursday when I left the hospital and then backslid on Friday at home and just did not feel good. I'm sure that was from the lingering effects of anesthesia, morphine, Lortab, red Jello, non fair-trade coffee, and other toxins still in my system. Dr. Davidson had encouraged me to move around a good bit so I got one walk in during the day and by the time I felt up to walking again, it was dark. So I hit the treadmill for a short (12 min), slow (2.5 mph), amble. I thought about how weird it was to be on the treadmill, 3-1/2 days out! (Then I thought, somebody should probably hide the safety key that prevents it from turning on.)

Saturday and Sunday mornings I woke up with a headache and had a very hard time dragging myself out of bed. But eventually I did, and I drove Grant to soccer games both days and enjoyed watching and walking around the field. The fresh air and company did my psyche a lot of good. I drove the boys to a sleepover Saturday, and folded a few loads of laundry. Aside from a lot of extra napping, life was getting back to normal.

Monday morning I woke up wanting coffee for the first time. That was a good sign! I worked a good bit of the day, and finally no dizziness or nausea or headache, just a little tired.

Fortunately, I'm on no prescription meds and even stopped the Tylenol. I'm taking my multivitamin, D3, a baby aspirin, and Arnica Montana for the bruising. I'm eating good foods (thanks April, Therese, and Gail!), staying hydrated, and resting.

Psychologically, if I let myself think about it, I can get weirded out by the idea of a 7" long patch on such important artery. It's amazing to think that can be done without leaking and sometimes I worry if anything I am doing is jeopardizing the healing -- some position, or movement. It somehow seems wrong to just be just sitting and walking normally with that going on inside. But I don't dwell.

All-in-all I have to say this has gone pretty smoothly. I keep perspective that it's a fix to a plumbing (vascular) problem, not something chronic or ongoing and I am extremely fortunate to have had the chance to have it corrected.

Check out the "expression" on this flower from Coach Jim and his family. This has been cracking me up!

Clearly I have more time on my hands these days to notice screaming flowers and make Minecraft green screen photos.

Tomorrow I get un-stapled and can check in with Dr. Davidson and see how his training is going for the Mountains of Misery century ride the end of May.

I hope your spring training is going well!