Hysterectomy

I premised yesterday’s post by saying I have problems.  Well, here is another one of my problems.

Over five years ago, I had a full hysterectomy where they take out both the uterus and the ovaries.  Prior to having them out, I lost a significant amount of weight (25 pounds) and was very fit.  A lot happened prior and we ended up in the DFW area 6 months later.

Moving is a big stressor and having a son with autism and trying to locate services in a region that is not helpful is even more stressful.  In California, there were regional centers that got you in contact with specialists, set up and held copies of all evaluations, and helped pay when your insurance would no longer cover services.  Due to those factors as well as moving from part-time to full-time work, trying to hire a sitter for post-PPCD hours and around therapy hours, and everything else in between, the past four years I gained *GULP* over 40 pounds!

Of course, I was no longer going daily to the gym or eating as healthy as I was in California and no longer lived in a walkable city.  And, as in early years, therapy hours change, and you have to recreate your whole schedule at a drop of the hat.  The past year things have settled down.  I have lost 13.5 pounds ( the past four pounds due to surgery and not being able to swallow hardly anything weeks after).  Now, I am stagnant.

I am logging calories and points.  I am staying on the lower end and, once I was cleared, am adding exercise slowly.  Well, the past 6 weeks, I have stayed the same weight.  No fluctuations as people like to tell me happens daily.  I started weighing myself more frequently instead of weekly and each time it is the same exact weight on the scale.

Yesterday, a woman linked an article about full hysterectomies and how weight gain is significantly higher than those who have a partial or go through menopause naturally.  Today, I looked for articles about weight loss after a full hysterectomy.  All stated that it was SIGNIFICANTLY harder to lose weight after a full hysterectomy and needed SIGNIFICANTLY more effort.  Sounds lovely, eh?

 

Ant Bites!

Let me premise this by saying I have problems.

Thursday night, we went to the library for my son to meet his Reading Comprehension tutor.  I was discussing a test he had the previous week and then, OW!.  I walk a little further with her and feel an ouchie on my toe.  I see this black ant and I try to fling him off casually as we are walking and talking.  Eventually, Roger goes into a study room with her and I investigate my foot.  Two bites.  I didn’t know blank ants bit like this.  Rob appears about 10 minutes later and my foot is incredibly itchy.  Then I feel something on my other foot — another black ant (or the one I tried getting off my right foot).  By now, I feel itchy head to toe and feel like I am covered in ants.  I hate that feeling.  I could not wait to go home and take a bath.  After my bath, I put cortisone cream on my right foot and, once it penetrated, I put socks on.  My itchiness would not subside, so I took Benadyrl before bed.  The cortisone cream was doing NOTHING.

The next day I awoke with itchy foot and exhausted body.  By noon I had drank 4 cups of coffee and was still exhausted.  Then, I noticed my throat/windpipe seemed like it was narrowing and my voice became very hoarse.  I decided to call my insurance company’s nurse line to see if I should go to the doctor. After extensive questioning and my history of allergies and having experienced anaphylaxis previously, she said I had to go to the doctor.  Of course, both my physician’s office and allergist’s office close at 1 pm on Friday.  I had to go to RapidMed.  Thankfully, the wait was not too long.  I ended getting two steroid shots (one in each hip) and prescriptions for 1. more steroids 2. antihistamines 3. a pill for allergic reaction.  I had a 4th prescription for epipens but they are backordered at all Walgreens.  They have not had them for months.

Before bed I took my prescription antihistamine that did absolutely nothing for the itchiness, I applied more cortisone cream and was incredibly itchy for hours.  Finally, I fell asleep and woke up groggy and with the same itchiness.

Today, I started my steroid pack and took the pill for allergic reaction.  I am not sure which one is helping but the itchiness has subsided a bit.

Oh, and one last thing, on my internet searches, I found out that there are Black Fire Ants and their bites are just like the Red Fire Ants.

Loyalty

I do not have that much to write about today.  I, thankfully, slept 6.5 hours.  I worked.  I had coffee with “the girls”, as my husband puts it.  I picked Roger up from school and took him Pokémon hunting in the park.  I tested Roger’s spelling words for tomorrow’s test.  I made his lunch and breakfast for tomorrow.  I folded laundry and am now riding the stationary bike before taking him to his Reading Comprehension tutor.

The highlight of the day was receiving a set of easy stretches/joint exercises from my friend who recently became a yoga teacher.  The lowlight of the day is reading about a restaurant moving two doors down from an exact same type of restaurant that has existed in a now growing but previously stagnant shopping center.  Everyone is so excited and I got so riled up.  Why would they allow a pizzeria/Italian restaurant two doors down from a place that has been in that plaza for years?  Had anyone heard of loyalty?  A friend said it was because “because people only care about money and as a democrat that greed infuriates us”.  This restaurant that is moving in will, most definitely, ruin the other family-owned business.  How terrible!

Now, I feel like I need to order a pie everyday to show my support.  Would that be considered a highlight or lowlight?

Surgery Insomnia

I’ve always been a light sleeper which makes for a restless night when sleeping with someone else.  And when I complain about Roger waking between 5 and 6 every day despite the time he goes to bed, my mother reminds me that I did the same. “If you were up until 2 am, you still were up by 6.”

Since pregnancy my sleep has worsened.  I used to be a still sleeper – staying asleep on one side all night long.  With pregnancy, I could never get comfortable and my husband’s coming into bed late (the night owl) would wake me too. Once Roger was born, he slept terribly as an infant.  Through his toddler years he would only nap if in constant motion, which meant I had to walk him around in a baby carrier or stroller (if I sat or stopped walking he would immediately wake up) or drive him for an hour or so twice a day.  During ages 2-4, Roger would wake up extremely early in intervals (a week period of 3 am wake ups) and return to the normal 5 am.  And then, a month later, he’d do the 3 am wake ups again.  It was cyclical.  That did not mean he would go down for his one nap any earlier or, on good days, just skip that nap altogether.  Lucky me, his naps ended at 3 years old, as well. On rare occasions, Roger will still have his extremely early morning wake ups and be up for the day.

I wanted to give you a background of my sleep before delving into this “post-surgery insomnia”.  I realize that immediately following surgery, and the first couple of weeks after, sleep is going to be all messed up due to medications and pain.  I think I actually slept better those first few weeks getting the most sleep I have had in years.  However, the past two weeks or so I have had several days of early morning wake ups (being up for the day ranging from 1am to 4 am).

When I returned to work, the insomnia was not the worst thing since I could work instead of drowning in thoughts of “c’mon sleep” and trying techniques to fall back to sleep.  This morning I awoke at 2 and tried my version of counting sheep.  By 2:45 I decided, instead of lying there and doing nothing and being wide awake, I should just get up and start work and hope for a nap later.  BUT before I did that I googled various searches for post-surgery insomnia.  Most articles dealt with the immediate weeks following, but I found an orthopedic surgeon’s website that wrote about the matter:  “Surprisingly, there are no published studies on the frequency of sleep disturbance several weeks or months following joint replacement surgery. However, in one study of patients with broken bones, 41% of patients with shoulder fractures and 36% of patients with knee fractures had difficulty sleeping 3 months after the injury. Even a year later, 20% of patients still reported insomnia.”   I may not have had joint replacement, but I did have cervical disc replacement with a plate and screws.

My husband suggested I add more whimsy to my blog.  With my lack of sleep, I respond, “Well, tough titties”.

Surgery Files: My recovery at home

I was discharged on July 15th after two nights in the hospital.  (That tells you what a big surgery it is since they love to release you right after the recovery room!)  I remember very little of that day except that I stayed in bed the first 24 hours at home, in the dark, without the tv on, or reading books, or looking at my phone.  I could not handle any light.  When I wasn’t sleeping, I was crying over my horrible decision to have had this surgery.  For me the worst part was my throat – I could not swallow ANYTHING.  Everything hurt so much.  I had anxiety over taking medicine and staying hydrated. Drinking water hurt so terribly and I choked continually trying to eat or drink anything.  I started taking pills with applesauce which seemed to be the only substance I could “easily” intake.

On July 16th, I made it downstairs and took my first post-operative shower on my shower chair.  The whole ordeal exhausted me and put me in an utterly foul mood.  I was not very optimistic at this point.  Thankfully, Rob called my neurosurgeon’s office regarding my choking.  They prescribed prednisone and by the end of that pack, I was doing much better.  I was still choking on water but to a lesser degree.

By July 18th, I was turning a corner and not just sitting/lying in bed or sitting in the recliner.  I started walking around the house more.  On the 19th, I took my second shower and it, again, exhausted me.  I think I was overdoing the walking and started feeling not-so-great again on the 20th.

The days and weeks since surgery have had many ups and downs.  Today I am feeling pretty good, but yesterday was a really terrible day where I did not/could not leave the house.  I had to use the shower chair to get dressed after my bath.

Here’s hoping for continued good days and fewer of those bad days!

 

Surgery Files: Remainder of Hospital Stay

The remainder of my hospital stay is pretty fuzzy.  This post will be less story-like and, instead, be a list of what I can recall (since it will not form a complete story).

  • The inability to swallow anything without choking — I was put on a liquid diet.  Things like applesauce I could swallow best.  Drinking items like water were the hardest to get down without constant choking (even on one little sip).
  • Being taught to use the mechanism that tests lung capacity (googled it and found the name to be Spiro-Ball) and my lung capacity was awful.
  • Rob staying the first night in the hospital with me (I remember he did but cannot remember that night at all)
  • Realizing, after being constantly itchy, that I am allergic to morphine (instead of giving me an alternative medicine, they just gave me Benadryl and continued with the morphine drip)
  • Being told I needed to walk more but really doing the bare minimum
  • Not really being taught how to put my brace on and adjust it correctly (or at all for that matter)
  • Switching rooms and trying to reach my parents before their visit.  This ended up in my parents first going to the first room and then having to walk to the opposite side of the floor and my mom falling.
  • My mom refusing to immediately get an x-ray (which the staff probably would have gotten her into ASAP) and instead, after an hour or two, going to ER and being there til 1 in the morning.
  • The nighttime staff being non-attentive the second night when I needed to make my several trips to the bathroom
  • Still being allergic to morphine (so not using it as often as I needed) and given Benadryl.  FINALLLY, before being discharged after the second night in the hospital, they took off the morphine drip and gave me pills: Tylenol 3 and muscle relaxers.  Trying to swallow pills with water was a nightmare.
  • Telling the nurse how I was given the instructions to only take one Tylenol 3 every 8 hours and up to 3 times a day for the muscle relaxer after she told me to repeat the meds in 4 hours.  She could not believe that infrequency.

I do not remember the drive home (although I do remember waiting with the nurse for Rob to drive up).  I do not remember walking upstairs and lying down for the first time.  It is probably best not to remember those things too clearly for I am sure they hurt like hell.

Tomorrow I will try to post about my first week at home (or at least the first full day).

Surgery Files: Day of Surgery

I am going to explain what I remember about my surgery and recovery.  There are definitely really foggy areas, but bear with me.

We arrived at the hospital at 5:30/6 am on Friday, July 13th.  The check-in was the normal process but instead of heading to the back where I have gone through some out-patient procedures, they brought us to the second floor.  I knew I would be spending a minimum of one night for this ACDF procedure (anterior cervical disc fusion) on two levels: C5-C6 and C6-C7.  In layman’s terms, they are taking out those two discs, replacing them, spacing them out as they should be (instead of rubbing on each other and the spinal cord) by putting a plate and screws.  In the process, they move your esophagus and vocal cords to the side.

The enjoyment of the surgery day began with the first nurse trying to put the IV in my right hand.  Once in, she said she lost the vein and was digging inside my hand with that large IV.  I could not hold back tears – so friggin’ painful.  The second nurse comes in and tries to put an IV on the side of my left hand/wrist area.  She sprays something to numb the area and, again, misses.  A third nurse, who looked utterly pissed off because she is probably always called in to do things correctly, quickly inserted the IV into the top of my left hand.  However, by the time the surgeon came in, I was still in tears over the first IV attempt still hurting. The normal paperwork was signed and questions asked and I was rolled back closer to 7:30 than 7 am .

I awoke in the recovery room unable to breathe.  That I do remember.  I was crying trying to breathe.  Rob relayed that rather than the 45 minutes we were told I would be back in recovery, I was there for roughly two hours.  He was not informed of what was occurring but just told the surgery went well and no drain was needed.  At some point, I passed out again and woke in my room.  I saw Rob quickly and, again, upon waking, I could not breathe.  They rushed Rob from the room, took an in-bed X-ray and wheeled me down to get an emergency CT scan.  Thankfully both came back “normal”.  I had to keep oxygen on at all times.  At that point I had not been able to drink anything but given grotesque swabs for my mouth.

Other things I recall from that day:  Carolyn bringing Roger with Get Well balloons to see me (she was so sweet to watch him while I was having surgery).  Rob being utterly sweet and kissing me in the bed.  My parents visit is utterly blurry.  The itchiness of the oxygen up my nose was horrible.  My inability to swallow without choking was horrendous and lasted about a week.  They told me they were putting steroids in my IV.  The nurses wanting me to get up and walk around after the breathing ordeals (yeah, no – to the bathroom and back was fine – and there were many walks to there since I pee a lot).  I remember trying to push the morphine button as often as possible while conscious.  That is about all I remember.

Tomorrow I hope to blog about the rest of my hospital stay.   Thanks for reading!