Surgery – Complications & Recovery; Part 2

I DO NOT have the weight of the world on my shoulders and need to remember that!

(Note: This blog was written about my recent tummy tuck and arm lift surgery and the recovery process)

Monday 20th Feb – The pain is not too bad today  – I finally got out of my room and walked with one of the funnier nurses, i’ll call her Ye. She is an absolute cracker (this means she is extremely funny in Aussie slang for my American friends) and makes me laugh…  We walk up and down the ward a few times, and that is it – back to bed, wiped out again..but at least my hemoglobin levels are rising…  Mum came in after work and we went down to the cafe for a latte… It is the simple pleasures.

Tuesday 21st Feb – Had one drain tube removed today! One down 4 to go! I also went outside for the first time since admission and had coffee in the court yard! – Lovely day and I feel the last of summer slipping away as i am still stuck in here. Today was supposed to be the day I would get out… But given the complication of blood loss and still having tube in I will be here for a bit longer, House is not even talking release dates yet 😦

Wednesday 22nd Feb – Two more drains out today – Still get light headed easily and resting a lot. Went for a couple of small walks off the ward today. My Dad came in on his way past which was a good distraction. Not a lot to report, my pain levels increased a little tonight managing this has been a little hard, but pain means your healing right?

Thursday 23rd Feb – Well I awoke today in pain, big pain and I was also upset on top of that, I suppose being my 10th day in here was getting to me a little. For some reason I am feeling the pain in my arms and abdomen more, it is a burning aching feeling.. I struggled with pain management all day.

Thursday night turned into a bit of a farce.. I asked my nurse at 7:30pm for pain relief she never came back with it. I am not one to keep buzzing and annoy them and thought that she must be caught with another patient. But at 7:50pm the pain became worse, a lot worse. So I buzz again and 5 minutes later she comes in – sees the tears rolling down my face because of the pain ( I don’t like to cry by the way) and exclaims “Oh I forgot about your pain meds” scurries off and then comes back in (sheepishly) and gives them to me, and seeing that I am clearly upset, quickly leaves.

The problem is that the pain was full force now, and took ages to get back under control… The key with pain management after major surgery is to keep it at bay and take the meds on time otherwise if can become excruciating… A point lost on this nurse today.

I do want to add that although I have been harsh here, I have massive respect for Nurses. Two of my best friends are ICU nurses, my house mate is also a nurse, plus the nursing staff here have been amazing, most going above and beyond the call. For me the issue was the nurses attitude to me today, which was short and abrupt all day and then she snuck away after giving me my medication, not a great look really – but you get poor performers in every industry!

Friday 24th Feb – Day 11 Going a bit stir crazy, but got another tube out – Only one to go…House said that I can hopefully have the last one out tomorrow and be released! YAY – but it depends on how much fluid collects… I am literally willing it to stop… Power of positive thought can’t hurt, can it! The pain is a little better today. Have been very grateful for all my visitors and friends / family calling. On a bad note though I found out that my Grandpa fell over, tripping on a step and has fractured his pelvis! -He is currently in hospital too! – My parents have really hit the jackpot with both of us in!

Saturday 25th Feb – Day 12 I didn’t sleep well last night – I awoke to House and a Nurse coming into my room, House was on his early morning rounds, and, at 8:10am I got the news that I wasn’t going home. Still draining too much and the tube can’t come out; House explained that while sometimes they let people go home with one or two drains still in, he won’t release me today given the extreme heat and my continued low hemoglobin levels, he said he wants re-assess the drain tomorrow and hopefully I can go home then.

It takes all my energy not to cry when they are in the room. I fully understand his reasoning and know that it is made in my best interests… But I just want to go home, sleep in my own  bed, sit on my couch…

I call my friend Janelle who was going to pick me up and take home. She listens to me cry and assures me that I can continue to hold out. She comes to visit later together with her partner – they make me laugh and cheer me up. I have continued to receive many supportive texts and calls from friends and family, thanks guys – these are so very welcome.

One of the things that has surprised me is that I tire so easily, I still have to rest regularly after 12 days. I really didn’t think of that prior to surgery, I thought that I would be sore and tender, but the fatigue really does hit me hard a few times each day. I just spoke to one of my nurses who just dropped in to say hello.  She asked what I was doing and I explained about my blog and that I was writing about the fatigue.. She explained that it has hit me harder because of the lower hemoglobin levels and that my body may continue like this for a few more weeks. This means that I will need to reassess my plans for when I return home, building in short walks and naps over the course of the day.                                     But that’s OK because at least I will be home.

So, being excited about going home tomorrow may have been premature. It is 10:00pm now, and I was just about to post this when I decided to check the drainage bottle, it is already at 100ml, so I think that it is now unlikely that it will come out tomorrow, my nurse agreed… I am worn out, sad, I can’t get my hopes up anymore 😦 that being said I should be more grateful for the good care I get here!

Will keep you updated in the next installment.

Till then, Lin xox

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Where’s your head at?

Escaping from negative thought patterns is hard work.

Recently someone introduced me to the concept of gentleness. Now I can hear some of you now say What the??, Yes, I know what being gentle means, and as a social worker, friend and family member, I know I can be gentle to others,

But gentle to myself – well that is where it gets hard.

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When this concept was floated, it kind of stuck a chord with me. I have beaten myself down for years, told myself that because I was fat, I didn’t deserve to be “happy”, I didn’t deserve good things in life, I was a failure, blah, blah, blah – you get the idea. Bascially I spent the majority of my day mentally beating myself up on every aspect of my life.         And let me say this is not the mindset of someone who will succeed at anything.

Body acceptance and being gentle to yourself is sooo important when it comes to changing in the long term…. I found this article that explains it a little.

“We may balk at the idea of body acceptance. If we accept our bodies, won’t we become complacent? If we embrace our imperfections, won’t we lose our motivation to exercise or eat right? Actually, the opposite is true. Some studies have shown that a healthy body acceptance actually encourages us to exercise and eat right. The reason? People who are comfortable with their bodies emphasize function over appearance, so they eat more intuitively, eating foods that make them feel good when they’re hungry. Meanwhile, people who diet because of body dissatisfaction are more likely to fail.via The Perfect Body – How to Accept Your Body Through Exercise.”

Looking back (Ahh don’t we love hindsight) I can now see that by hating myself, I was not allowing myself the space to build on any positive changes. Changing and Escaping from this mental game was part of what allowed me to change and keep changing.

It started with me believing that this time – with the Lap Band, I would have a tool that would help me succeed. In fact I think the Lap Band allowed me some mental space, it gave me a physical barrier to stop eating too much. This assisted me in looking at the weight that slowly came off, and over time (months and years) realising that I could win at this as it was not coming back on. I started to really believe that the weight was coming off for good. That I could accept the fact that I was changing, and that I might get to a place I was OK with. It also stopped the daily ritual I had of mentally abusing myself for eating too much or not doing enough exercise.

It is important to note here that I don’t think that being gentle of myself is the same as making excuses for eating poorly or not exercising, that to me (now) is not negotiable…         Being gentle means I will not abuse my mind, call myself names etc. I will speak positively to myself and say “anti up girl you can do it”, “stay strong” and “Yes I can”

I still struggle with being gentle with myself, it is a new concept to think about… But I now realise it has been something that I have been practicing unconsciously over the past few years. I am not skilled at it yet… I am still scared of putting weight on, and I am still incredibly driven and feel bad when I don’t exercise or eat something I perhaps could have said no to. But I now know that mentally abusing myself was part of the cycle that kept me obese. While I am gentle to clients, friends and family, Now I need to practice being accepting and gentle to the person I will spend the rest of my life with… Me.

I hope that after reading this you will think about being more gentle to yourself too and rephrase old negative thoughts to a new positive framework… I can change, I will succeed, I have strength, I am enough.

Till next time, Lin xox