Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind


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I Can See Clearly Now, the Drains are Gone

The title of this post makes no sense, since drains are not connected to eyes, but the song has been running through my head since my last doctor’s appointment.

My drains were finally removed last week, five weeks and one day after my surgery.  I knew that one would come out but the other still was collecting fluid and I was pretty sure the doctor would keep it in another week.  Turns out, thought, that five weeks is long enough and way longer than most people have them in, so out they came.  Freedom!

No drains meant I could finally take a shower for the first time since surgery morning, and it was the best shower of my life.  How fabulous to be able to really wash everything in one place without dripping all over the floor and everywhere else!  I felt so clean and normal afterwards, and I know my work colleagues were happy 🙂

Over the next week, though, fluid was building up inside the belly near the incision.  The doctor had told me this was very common after drain removal, and that I would know it was too much if I could push in one spot and see waves in other parts of the belly area.  That sounded so weird I couldn’t conceive of it.  But I did, and it was weird.  it was also uncomfortable and felt very “full”, especially with the compression binder still on.  As though I’d overeaten even when I hadn’t had anything at all.

So I called and got a same-day appointment to have the fluid aspirated out.  Think of having blood drawn, when they change the little vials to get more blood for different tests.  That’s what they did to me, but instead of vials they used what looked like turkey basters (without the bulbs), and pulled out almost a cup of fluid.  The incision area is still numb so it didn’t hurt, it just felt odd.  But it’s definitely better now.

I still have a lot of swelling, especially in my upper thighs, and from the front I look a lot like Jane Curtain in the old SNL sketch of The Widettes, who have ginormous thighs and butts.  Well, okay, it’s not that bad, but it’s a lot lumpier than it was before.  I know it’s from surgical swelling and from the abdominal binder (when you compress something, bits squeeze out both ends – it has to go somewhere).  It will go away.

In the meantime, my tummy is still very flat and I’m enjoying the concept of having a lap.  Did you know that laptops actually work better when they are, um, on top of a lap?  Instead of a pillow carefully positioned to slant the device over the belly rolls.  It’s a novel concept in my house.

Work has been crazy busy.  We’ve been interviewing for a brand new professional position and as a member of the search committee, at least half of every interview day was taken up with something, sprinkled through the day.  Multiply that times four and you can see that not much was going on.  I contemplated going in on the weekend for a few hours just to get some projects in place for my staff, but decided “nah” and will enjoy the weekend in peace at home.  After errands and, um, writing a “welcome to the conference” piece for the annual meeting’s final program booklet.  I seem to work best against a deadline.


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Yes, I Still Have Drains

My surgery was four weeks ago today and in many ways, I’ve come a very long way in four short weeks.  It’s already hard to remember how much it hurt that first week (we do block that stuff out of our heads as soon as possible so we don’t go crazy).

But I still have my drains.  I knew this was coming and it sucks, to put it bluntly.  It was clear to me by the weekend that there was no way that the fluid collection was going to drop to 30 cc (1 oz) per day per drain.  Not when I was still getting 40 cc from one of the three measuring times.  So I tried to just tell myself that I’d have them for another two weeks, just so I wouldn’t be completely discouraged.  Doesn’t mean I have to like them, though.

I went back to work last Thursday, actually managing full time, much to my surprise.  My doctor wanted me not to start on a Monday and it was really smart.  Having two days of work followed by two days of weekend R&R gave me a chance to get more sleep, visit the hair place, and buy little clothes for a baby shower.   They are all so CUTE, it was hard not to buy out the store.

So to summarize:

  • I have drains.
  • I want a shower.
  • I’m feeling much better and have a waist and everything.
  • I’m back to work.
  • My energy levels aren’t all the way back so I’m trying to get extra sleep.
  • Baby clothes are cute.
  • I love my cat.


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Three Weeks Post-Op

I saw the doctor again today, and there was good news and bad news.

The good news (and it IS good news) is that the “under the armpit and over the shoulder” dressing is history, as are the ace bandage wraps on the arms.  The incisions are healing nicely and I can use soap and water everywhere except where the drains are.  And deodorant, which my colleagues at work will be very happy about, because I’m going back to work tomorrow.

The bad news is that I still have my drains.  Much as I despise them, they are doing their job of drawing out fluid which helps me heal.  I was close to crying when I asked the doctor if I was doing something wrong, or was there something wrong with me, that I have them so long.  He was very kind and took my hand and said, “There is nothing wrong and there is nothing to change.  People heal at different times and different ways, and no one way is better than another.”  It did help.


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Wrapped up Like a Mummy

*waves carefully from Connecticut*   I finally got home yesterday and I have to confess, as was true for Dorothy after her ruby slippers trip, “There’s no place like home.”

I am wrapped up with bandages, sutures, dressings, ace bandages on the arms and a compression binder around the middle.  Oh, and there are four drains for the tummy part.  Pain in the butt, and everywhere else in that general area.

Tomorrow is my first follow up appointment and I’m hoping I will come home with a bit less of everything currently bound around me and greater clarity about what they actually did.  The plan was to remove skin only but apparently they also did some muscle contouring which sounds good but is pretty hard to pin down.

Right now it hurts to get up from almost anything (chairs, couch,  and the bed).  Getting up into bed was pretty funny as well, especially with Tessie watching and wondering where her place went.

I definitely need this week off and look forward to enforced quiet.


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Heading back to work tomorrow

Pumpkins on the StairsMy restful healing time off is over and I head back to the office tomorrow morning.  After 2 1/2 weeks of sleeping until I woke up, the clock will rudely awaken me at 5:30am.  Tessie and I have gotten used to not hearing the clock, and I’m not sure which of us will be most deeply asleep when the assault comes.  She’s going to miss me lots, as I will her.

But I’m getting bored at home, and lonely.  I only had one visitor while on my leave and although I’ve talked to plenty of people by phone, email and Twitter, it’s just not the same as face to face people contact.  I’m guessing that close to 1/2 of the day tomorrow will be spent checking in with people and seeing how much stuff piled up in anticipation of my return.

I feel a little as though I’m in high school.  What will I wear?  What will I do for lunch?  What if I forget my password(s)?  What if no one likes me?  Well, okay, that one isn’t really an issue.  But still.  What will I wear?  I’ve lost 12 lbs since I was there last, and have clothes for it being colder but not so much for the 50’s.  But I want to show off a little and not go in on day one wearing ultra-baggy clothes.  We’ll see.

Food will be a little tricky.  I’m eating small bits 5-6 times a day and am bringing some of those teeny Glad plastic bowls so I can divide up some yogurt from the dining hall (I know they have some I can eat) so I can split it into different “meals”.  Tomorrow is the first day of Category Two, which means I can add fish to the menu, but it makes sense to try it at home first before bringing tuna to work, in case my body has problems.

As for the passwords, well, I’m hoping finger memory will bring them back when I need them.


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One Week Home Post-op

Cute Girl with a Basket of ApplesIt’s hard to believe that I came home from the hospital a week ago today.  I still have band-aids and a gauze bandage over my incisions, but the stitches come out on Monday.  They’re starting to be itchy so I know they’re healing up.  Yayyy!

I went for a driving outing today, my first time out since I came home.  It was weird to be driving during the middle of the day on a weekday.  Usually when I’m out driving to run errands, it’s a busy weekend afternoon.  I’m on familiar roads and looking for lane changes and parking.  But today it was crisp and clear day.  The leaves are mostly turned and fallen to the yards and sidewalks in big piles, though there were some faded gold holdouts.

I went to Walmart looking for sugar free Torani syrupsHungry Girl talks about them a lot and uses the syrups, not in fancy coffee drinks, but to flavor shakes and in other recipes.  They’re popular on the banded community to add variety to protein drinks.  Though available online, I wanted to see what I could score locally, and rumor had it that Walmart had a small supply.  I bought everything I found (which wasn’t much) – vanilla, caramel, chocolate, and raspberry.  I can see myself adding some into yogurt when I’m able to eat it.  I’m really craving a gingerbread flavor and may resort to buying that from Amazon.

Coming home I got lost and ended up in a nice little meandering side trip that was calming and mind-clearing through back roads, soft hills, and the unmistakable feel of late fall.  I know we have some warmer weather coming up this week (62 sounds very balmy at this time of year) but I also know it won’t last, so better to enjoy what I have when I have it.

For exercise I walked up and down all the aisles of Walmart, even the food ones, as well as a loop at the complex.   I could feel almost every step and every deep breath in my upper left shoulder, something that seems to be not uncommon for bandsters.  Right now I have a heating pad on it and am planning to sleep on the right side tonight since it’s sore.

My body feels more sensitive, or else I’m just more aware of it.  My tummy is sore only in the middle; the other incisions itch but look pretty good (I peeked when I replaced band-aids). My hair is falling out a bit, more because I was cutting back on food pre-op than because I’m not eating now, tho I’ll pay for this later.  I get hungry but not in the before-hungry way; my small Ensure meals do fill me up and I’m drinking all the time.  My face looks thinner and every morning the scale drops a bit – not leaps and bounds, but I’m down to territory I haven’t seen in almost 4 years.

It feels good to have some time off work, to sleep until Tessie and I wake up (yesterday was our 2nd anniversary together).  To watch West Wing episodes in the morning, then taking walks, futzing around the house, playing with the kitty, and catching up on things left undone, followed by more walking.  All with a water bottle in my hand and my tiny measured sips of Ensure.   I’m almost completely caught up on my sleep and am ready for new things.


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Update on my Houston Family

Donate to the American Red Cross — your help is urgently needed.

The post-Ike situation in Houston is getting very bad.  We hear so much about hurrican preparations but don’t think about what it would be like to live in a place after a major hurricane has whirled through, leaving destruction in its wake.  But we saw all of this in 2005 with Katrina in poor New Orleans, which is still recovering from its devastation.  People suffered from no food, no water, no power, sewage spilling into the streets, debris and damage everywhere.

The same thing is happening in Houston.  Parts of the city are destroyed; others have debris to be cleared but not so much property destruction.  But millions of people have no power under that humid Texas heat.  Food is rotting, tempers are flaring, and energy is sapped.  Relief workers need supplies themselves so they can take care of those who need their help.  Many areas in southeast Texas still are flooded.

I’m grateful that my family is safe.  My brother has a ranch (a fancy name for a house in the middle of nowhere that needs a lot of work) about two hours outside of Houston.  The whole family has retreated there and are enjoying AC, water, power, and literally time to relax.  My nephew’s foot surgery, originally scheduled for last Friday and rescheduled for tomorrow, has been rescheduled again along with all elective surgeries.  All Houston schools are closed for the week at least, so my sister-in-law doesn’t have the pressure of getting back for her teaching job.  And my brother’s office is still powerless so there’s no point in his even trying to work, though there are things he can do on the laptop even without the internet.

They have me and my mom to relay information and news updates while they wait for power to be restored and they venture a return.

They’re very lucky.