On the mend

Let’s pick up where we left off, dear reader. As you already know, I came home in a fair amount of discomfort. Thankfully, I also came home drugged up and bearing a temporary stash of drugs to maintain the druggy state. They delivered in their promised one-two punch: lessening of pain, and increasing drowsiness.

I should point out that until Friday, I had not really known pain. My previous experiences had been limited to bonks of the head (one of which has left a noticeable scar) plus a few nasty scrapes. And with one exception (which led to stitches in my nose), every injury was resolved with a simple bandage.

Now I understand why “keeping up on your meds” is so key during recovery.

Because this was Day Surgery, I was kicked out of the hospital at the first earliest convenience, which happened to coincide with when Alex could conveniently return to pick me up. As a result, I was the last patient to leave Day Surgery (there was one other, remaining overnight).

I suppose recovering at home is far more preferable to staying in the hospital. There’s no nurses getting you up every few hours, no roommate in severe coughing fits, no all-room pages, and so forth. It’s your own bed, your own bathroom, your own environment. There’s a comfort to that. It also makes me wonder just how far a) our medical technology has progressed, allowing people to go home almost immediately after surgery, or b) how little our healthcare system can support overnighters, and therefore force us out as soon as possible (the “revolving door medicine” issue). I suspect it’s a bit of both.

I passed out in bed not long after getting home, hugging Monkey and Choo Choo (Monkey being especially doting on her poor, owie’d daddy), and downing 8-10 unsalted Premium Plus crackers and a popsicle — the only real food I’d had in almost 24 hours. I waited long enough to pop another Percocet tablet, and laid down.

Now I would like to say that I had envisioned having a good sleep after that. Why, I have no idea. In retrospect, it was such a naive belief as to compare it to the relative innocence of my kids. I was up four times that night, either due to the meds having worn off, the need to pee (my water intake must be pushing my hydration point well past the “safe” limit), or simply because my lower back felt like it was doing to implode. Nausea was also a common factor, which I’m not sure should be attributed to the anesthesia, the meds, the pain, or a weird combination of all three. The only time I did get sick did seem to help much more than should be allowed for the minute volume of ejecta.

Getting in and out of bed was just short of hell. There was no easy way to achieve a vertical stance. Swinging my legs out left me in a partial-vertical/mostly-horizontal state that required either an overhead handle to pull myself up (which we sadly are lacking in our bedroom ceiling), or stomach muscles capable of pulling my upper half into at least a sitting position. Given the broken nature of my muscles, I had to resort to a completely haphazard form of rolling to my left, a partial clockwise rotation to force my feet of the edge of the bed, then pushing myself to sitting (all the while breathing sharply from the pain), and then pushing myself up to standing (thankfully, we have a high bed). The act of climbing back in bed made only slightly more simple as a result of lifting my feet (Alex helping with my left leg, as the aforementioned broken muscles were not cooperating) and sliding in.

Suffice to say, Alex and I were up frequently throughout that first night. I could not be more thankful to have someone with me — I shudder to think of how awkward and difficult this would have been if I were still single.

The next morning — which I take only as the point at where the ambient light in my room was more than the nightly minimum — I ached myself up to quickly down a Tylenol 3 (for which Alex had so graciously filled a prescription) and try to move around a bit.

One of the things in the literature you’re handed before being discharged from surgery is about the absolute need to get back to “normal activities” (with a few notable exceptions) as quickly as possible, provided you don’t push yourself. (In other words, if you do physical labour, you’re going to be a while; programmers shouldn’t have too much trouble.) In short: walking. The key is to walk as soon as possible so your body doesn’t try to heal itself “badly”.

Problem: it was snowing. Again. We’ve seen more freshly-fallen snow in April than we have in the previous three months, combined. The thought of slipping on said new snow pretty much kiboshed my external sojourns, and left me doing laps around our kitchen island until the ache was something akin to a burning ember crammed midway between my hip and my [Insert your own preference for terminology to male reproductive apparatus here] and pressed down on with a 10 lb weight. That’s what’s kept me, for the most part, in a prone position in bed, watching a marathon of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations.

My food, at least on Day 1, was kept to crackers, water, ginger ale (to combat nausea), half a can of chicken soup, a peanut butter and honey sandwich, and a fairly steady stream of pills. Hardly fulfilling, but in the interests of keeping my stool generation to a minimum (remember: groin injury + cut abdominal muscles) seemed prudent. Not to mention anything heavier might bring on more nausea.

Last night, I slept with more pillows, and considerably more soundly. Having not taken any other medication during the night, I woke up notably more pained than I had several hours earlier. A top-up of Percocet seemed to help, as would a fresh ibuprofen intake a couple of hours later. A couple of cups of strong coffee also did wonders, and was a welcome change from water and ginger ale.

I’m also finding that I’m not as much of a wimp as I had thought — this isn’t nearly as painful as I had imagined. I’m finding that I’m also listening to my body more clearly — when it tells me not to do something, I’m damn well listening. It means I don’t sit on the floor (it’s painful to get up), I don’t lean strongly to grab something (I go over to it), and picking up anything heavier than my laptop is a strong “no”.

Today was better than yesterday, but still tiring. I’m not going to try to go into the office tomorrow, even though this is a launch week for a project, and I need to ramp up on my next major project. Timing is everything, and there is never a good time for surgery. Hopefully, though, Tuesday will be my luckier day.

Until then, I’m staying on top of the meds, and snoozing when needed. Which, it also seems, is right now…

One Reply to “On the mend”

  1. Thank you for posting your experience with an inguinal hernia from discovery to recovery. I am pretty much undergoing the same ordeal with a personal twist and can empathize. Good to be prepared for what might be coming.

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