Back Online, 11-01-21

I haven’t been recording anything in my journal or blog for almost a month now because I was recovering — and am still recovering — from my surgery on October 8th.

According to the pathology reports, the doctor excised three small fibrous tumors (“yellow-tan” in color) and seven “suspicious” lymph nodes. One of the tumors was adhered to the abdominal wall, and here was one that was laying on the iliac artery. The doctor had to be really careful about that one so as not to nick the artery.

The surgery itself took about 3 hours, but then it took forever for me to wake up from the anesthesia. No nausea after surgery this time, but I just couldn’t seem to wake up fully. I’d wake up, fall back asleep, wake up, fall back asleep… Eventually, the male nurse who was tending to me, just stood by the bed and poked me whenever I started to drift off again. He also had a loud alarm that went off when my breathing slowed, so I could hear it and rouse myself again.  *Sigh* I got into the hospital around 9:30 in the morning, and was finally able to go home around 8:00 pm.

The first night home was a little rough for both my sister Melissa and me: for me, because I had trouble finding a comfortable position in which to lay, and for Melissa, because she kept listening for me to make sure I was breathing and didn’t fall into too deep a sleep. She could tell when I was doing well by my snoring. Hah! Glad that came in handy for something.

The last time I had surgery (in 2019) recovery took 6 weeks. This time, because fewer and smaller things were taken out of me, the doctor and I were hoping that my recovery would be a lot shorter…but it seems like it’s going to take the full 6 weeks anyway. Over the weeks that followed, I was disappointed that I wasn’t feeling better sooner, and was frustrated with myself.  So much so, that I tried “forcing” myself to do things, like doing small chores and walking before my body was ready, and that would knock me back. Some mornings, the pain was so intense that I couldn’t stand up straight, and I would vomit… And that was very disheartening.

In the middle of all of this, the mattress on my bed gave out completely, and I couldn’t get comfortable at all. I had to set aside some funds to buy a new one but had to wait until my social security money came in around the 28th, and then could only afford an off-brand bed-in-a-box from Amazon. Melissa didn’t want me getting something that may or may not work, so she spent time doing a lot of research online and found a firm Serta she thought might work well for me and ordered it. I still had to wait for it (it was delivered on the 29th), but I am sooooo grateful for it. I’ve only had it for a few days now, but have been able to sleep more soundly at night because of it. I still have to get up in the night to pee (TMI, I know), but once I fall asleep, I sleep a lot more soundly which is necessary for healing. Thank you, Melissa!!

Because of my pain and lack of sleep in the weeks before, I didn’t have any appetite, and had to force myself to eat — sometimes successfully, sometimes not. I lost about 6 pounds. I can well afford to lose the poundage, but that’s really not the way to do it. Getting my digestive tract to work right was also a struggle.  Some of the pain meds make my BM’s soft, but then the Oxy makes me constipated, so it’s something of a juggling act.  Around the 26th, I finally got my appetite back and had a big meal of chicken and green salad.

On the 28th I went to the surgery follow-up appointment with Dr. Suby and Melissa went with me. I’m glad she did; I couldn’t have gotten through it without her. I was in some pain that morning, but was also frustrated by the fact that I had to go to the Response Road facility for the appointment. I hate that place. There’s nowhere to park in the huge parking lot, and all but one of the entrances to the building were closed off because of COVID protocols. We finally found a spot to park on one end of the building, then had to walk to the other side of it to get inside. Once inside, we then had to walk all the way back to the opposite end of the building again to check in for the appointment. By then, I was exhausted and hurting, and couldn’t breathe with the face mask on… and I had a total breakdown and ended up crying through most of the meeting. I was such a mess.

All of the bits of tumor and lymph nodes that were extracted and tested revealed no signs of cancer, so that was good to hear. But the doctor seemed sort of surprised by the fact that the surgery didn’t help alleviate some of my abdominal pain — and that I was having such a difficult time with the recovery. She said the first thing she wanted me to do was to get the pain somewhat under control before going on to anything else. So, I’ll be on more Oxy for a little while. Then she wants me to get another CT scan or MRI, and have an appointment with a pain specialist. If the abdominal pain isn’t being caused by the tumors in the abdomen, she said, it might be caused by something in the spine. (Eew. Let’s hope not.)

I got messaged by both radiology and the pain management folks before I got home after the appointment.  Dr. Suby suggested I got immediately over to the ER to get the scan done, but I told her I just couldn’t do that. My sister Monica had gone to the ER and never came out (and had died just the night before this appointment); I just couldn’t deal with it.  I’ll call / message radiology and the pain people early next week and set up appointments then. I wanted a drama-free, appointment-free weekend.

So, anyway, now I’m home, got my new mattress, got my appetite back and hopefully will start healing in earnest. I can’t say thank you enough to Melissa who saw me through all of this and was such a great support.

Hopefully, I’ll be out and doing my nature-tracking thing again before Thanksgiving.