Post-op: Day five.

by Jillian Bogater (Exile From Hysteria)

suitcase

First, I’m glad to say the pain meds are working. I’m on percocet every four hours, and I’m feeling minimal pain from the hysterectomy. Mostly it’s just when I get up and sit down. Somehow the abdominal incision still feels numb, so mostly it’s internal stuff (especially where my right ovary and fallopian tube were removed) that’s causing me discomfort.

I’ve been home for two days and have been trying to get up as often as I can. This usually means for pee breaks (I’ll circle around to the kitchen to take the scenic route back to the recliner). Walking is good to prevent blood clots and to build strength. I ask no questions. I just walk as much as I reasonably can.

I found that I packed well for the hospital. I used everything I packed, and only sent my dear boyfriend home for a backscratcher after an unfortunate allergic reaction to a painkiller.

Here’s a list if what I packed:

  • Two pairs of pajamas. After the first day, I was ready to ditch the scratchy hospital gown and put on something that made me feel good. I also brought my own socks, although the hospital socks worked well.
  • Shampoo/conditioner. You’ll love having your own stuff when you finally get your shower. This also goes for toothbrush/hairgel, etc.
  • Computer/cell phone/power cords. I didn’t use these much the first day. I was sleeping, and if I was awake I was busy hitting my painkiller button. But by the end of day two I was on my computer, checking my Facebook and posting a blog update. I found my attention was short, but I still appreciated the distraction.
  • Lap pillow: This is essential, especially with a abdominal incision. I used it to hold close as I sat up in bed, and sometimes just laid it atop my belly for a gentle pressure on my abdomen. I found countless uses for the pillow, including placing it beween myself and the seatbelt on the way home.
  • Sleeping mask/earplugs. I got mad use out of the eye mask. I was fortunate enough to have a room of my own, but there were some lights that wouldn’t go off. And sometimes I wanted to snooze while my boyfriend was in the room. I never had to use the ear plugs, but I’m glad I had them, just in case.
  • Underwear. I bought undies that are about a size too big to accommodate the dreaded swelly belly. It ends up they fit perfectly. I made sure they are cute and girly, just because pink and purple polkadots are awesome. If you have an abdominal incision, you need to make sure the waistline of the panties is higher than the incision. Mine lies about five inches above the cut.
  • A personal item that brings comfort: I brought with me a crocheted uterus, complete with ovaries. She’s got a cute smile, and it reminds me of the great journey I am on.

The great victory since I’ve returned home is that my bowels have resumed function. I had no idea that once the surgeon touched my intestines, they would react by significantly slowing down. It took a while to bring them back to life, a process that almost was thwarted hours after my surgery when I was accidentally fed a pork chop instead of ice chips for dinner. Yeah. A few days of abdominal discomfort followed and finally was resolved through belly massage, drinking lots of water and walking a lot. That and twice-daily doses of colase.

What I find  most amazing about this whole experience is that I was in the hospital for a total of 52 hours, from check-in to exit. I find this hard to comprehend, when I consider that I underwent major surgery with at least three pairs of hands inside my belly. I was ready for a four-day stay, and was shocked when the nurse cheerfully told me it was time to go.

While I did find comfort in having a button of dilaudid at my fingertips and a medical staff and my beck and call, there’s a lot to be said about recovering in my personal space.

As they say, there’s no place like home.

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