Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth." Genesis 9:13

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I am not writing much because as it turns out healing from major surgery is tiring.  The first few weeks I was so tired on pain pills and just early recovery.  Now I only take a pain pill very occasionally but as I do more I get more tired which adds to the fatigue I already because I'm recovering from major surgery.  The last several days have been about driving and tomorrow I'll drive up to see Dr. Mind myself, an hour each way (plus extra time so I can stop if I have to).  Driving is tough.  It's hard to be comfortable in the driver's seat and it's scary that a sudden stop will hurt. As a passenger I find myself keeping my hand where it would "protect" my belly in an accident.  I have a hard time driving the speed limit, especially on the curvy, hilly roads that are the norm here.  When you learn to drive on them you learn for life how to do it at a normal speed.  Right now I drive like a tourist, slowing for each curve and hill, not knowing what is coming, even though I do.

I am spending a lot of time sleeping.  I often go to bed by 6.  I usually don't sleep then but I start the process.  And most days I still nap.  If I don't nap I have, like a 4 year od, quiet time.  

I'm doing more now.  I can be up and comfortable for longer periods.  I am able to make simple meals, do dishes, do laundry (except carrying it; I carry small piles instead of large ones).  Yesterday I went to Walmart myself.  I pushed the cart which I'm not allowed to do but the purchases weren't heavy.  Nonetheless my body was displeased and I was done for the day, except I had to do some things to burn off energy.  The hard thing at this point is that when I'm tired I'm done, then and there.  It makes it hard to make plans.  I think though that partly my body is absorbing this sleep and fatigue that makes me rest whether I am manic or agitated or anxious, as a gift.  It's been a long time since I have just slept like this and it seems to be good for me to catch up a bit.  Because of how severe my insomnia was I really haven't ever had time to truly rest and recover from pertussis 2 years ago.  I had 2 weeks off for that and then was doing computer work.  

The weird thing is that my sleep is still disturbed the usual times.  Partly this is due to napping but I don't often fall asleep very early, no matter how tired I am, how early I was up, or what I did.  I still just struggle to sleep at night.  But I am rested and that's what I care about at this moment.

One thing that was neat was that I did something I'd forgotten about and it really showed how far I've come.  Last year there was a stretch of time Dr. Mind was using an anxiety inventory to track my anxiety.  It went from severe to extreme/panicky and then kept going higher on that scale. It was clear evidence that I was in trouble.  I remember my score being 62 and I think 48 is the cut off for severe and extreme begins there.  Last night I did it for the first time in months.  My anxiety is still in the severe range but closer to moderate than the other end and it is HALF of what it was 10 months ago.  It's not often that severe anything is a great improvement but in this case it's a huge difference.

Otherwise I'm just hanging out at my mom's.  There's a construction project that will be done in the next week or so and my asthma and I are staying at my mom's until the air is clear.  There's just not a lot of point in dragging the cats home while they are used to this one room existence and then dragging them back and then repeating with them going to the kennel in a few weeks while I'm on vacation.  And it's really ok to be where I can rest as I need/want to and not have to get bogged down in trying to make healthy meals, do things that are too much for me so far, etc.

Here's what I have learned:  Never compare a hysterectomy to a C-section.  It is much more difficult to recover from.  Do not underestimate what a hysterectomy is like.  I thought my laparoscopic procedure would be about the same as my exploratory laparoscopy a year ago.  That would be wrong.  The exploratory poked around and took biopsies and removed cysts.  The surgery removed an enlaraged organ and parts of 2 other organs.  I have hundreds of internal sutures.  I have permanent sutures that are basically where they wire the pelvic floor together to prevent prolapse.  I have barbed sutures where I used to have a cervix.  I have three healing on inch incisions (they said they were only half that but they cut beside last year's scars so the total effect is inch long incisions.  I have a belly that still gets crampy and "pinchy" and swells to unreasonable sizes.  I am months from wearing regular clothes, party because the idea of even trying a waistband makes me want to hide.  I still waddle when I walk although sometimes I make it across a room a little more gracefully now.  As soon as there is swelling though I am back to walking very oddly.  Some things are already different.  My skin is back to it's normal self after a slide into acne and oil.  I have only had 2 headaches in the last 5 weeks as opposed to having them about 15 times per month the last several months.  I'm not in pain except for surgical recovery.  I can empty my bladder fully and it holds a lot more.  I didn't even know what a luxury it was to not have to pee every hour or so.

So things are improving slowly but I am not saying much because I am often asleep and also need to lay on my side much of the time for comfort (sitting normally is a source of painful pressure and swelling) and it's hard to type that way.


Michal Ann said...

Thanks for using your limited energies to give the update. I'm glad you're having better rest and fewer headaches. Wow! You're able to drive now! I look forward to hearing more good news such as the decrease in anxiety.

Thanks for the explanation of the medical technicalities. I hope you don't feel that I've compared c-sections to your surgery. I have no idea how they compare but that's not the point, is it? They're both serious, involving layers and layers of stitching...seven, I think. I got a wound infection with the first one which was a horrendous experience that kept me in the hospital for 9 days. I had to go home to my mom's too, but like you're experiencing, it's the way it had to be and had it's blessings and benefits.

Keep up your excellent self-care and soak up all the rest you can get! Looking forward to hearing more about your visit with Dr. Mind.

Thanks again for writing.

Love, Michal

Anonymous said...

Weird, I'm not getting comment notification. I'll have to mess with blogger.

It's not that it's not ok to say the hysterectomy and C-section are similar, it's just that a hysterectomy is a much more involved, intense surgery. The c-section is straightforward, cut down to the uterus, cut into the uterus, pull out baby, inspect everything, sew it up. The hysterectomy, regardless of what kind of incision is used involves detaching the uterus at every point (8?) and sewing the new edges together. In mine and many cases the fallopian tubes are also freed and removed. If the cervix is removed as mine was the uterus comes out through the vagina and then a new closure for the vagina is contructed. Those sutures are the murderous barbed ones that cause extensive swelling. I still have no sign of those leaving at 6 weeks today. They also put in several huge permanent sutures that prevent prolapse.

The c-section also emotionally is different; you have a new baby to take care of, you have happy hormones being released, and you aren't grieving the absolute inability to be pregnant. With hysterctomy you have hormones everywhere causing mood swings, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, bad dreams, etc. That happens even with ovaries.

So in short, they have similarities but are different. The worst thing about the C-section without complications is the incisional pain. With the hysterectomy I didn't see anyone bothered by that aside from some incisions being pulled on by clothing or one being more painful than others. The pain with it is from those hundreds of sutures, the barbed wire, and the loss of organs. It's hard to explain but sometimes I can even tell that things are still shifting around in there, trying to find new territory.

I'm surprised how different it is, but the c-section is more straightforward. In fact in my support group the women with the larger incisions were often the first back to work and life. I'm not sure why but somehow.

Just Me