The surgery was three weeks ago today and the question that keeps running through my mind is this: why aren’t I all better yet? I mean, I understand that it was a huge surgery with complications that could’ve killed me and that I spent 6 days in the Intensive Care Unit and a total of 13 days in the hospital and that I’ve only been out of the hospital for a week, but really, shouldn’t all of this be done with by now?
Recovery takes time, everyone keeps saying. Be patient; it will get better. Bite me. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with (at least on a physical level and pretty darned close on an emotional one) and after three weeks I’m ready to feel better, move on, and be shed of the pain, discomfort, exhaustion, and everything else that is keeping me from returning to whatever I called a normal life.
But it is not working out that way, my will and desire be damned.
The biggest problem I am having is with the fucking feeding tube – you know, the one that I partially ripped out while struggling against the ventilator that they had to go in for an emergency surgery to repair? It’s still there, hanging out of my abdomen like a pus and blood filled USB cable (how’s that for imagery?). Dr. Frenchy, who I saw on Wednesday, says that it needs to stay in place until it scars over and then they can remove it. Do it too early and place where it goes into my intestine can crater, collapse, and kill me. This means that I will have the gory USB cable in my side until at least the 17th of September, which is when my next appointment with Dr. Frenchy is. To say that I’m unhappy about this is the understatement of the new millennium.
Oh, and the way in which they remove it? They just pull it out. Seriously – grab it, yank it, done. This is, of course, if it doesn’t just fall out by itself, which apparently is a distinct possibility.
In the meantime the place where the tube goes in and the small incision next to it continue to leak and ooze unpleasantness and, now that they have removed the stitches around the tube, there is a decent amount of pain added into the mix. I have to change the dressing on the two wounds three times a day and each time is a challenge to move the tube as little as possible because any little variation in position causes a stab of major ouch.
(tubes – get it?)
Food continues to be a challenge. I have found some things that I can eat and digest without too much drama – applesauce and peaches are at the top of the list – but everything else is a crapshoot. This is why I have lost close to 40 pounds in three weeks. Last night I managed to have some turkey meatloaf and some instant mashed potatoes and that went pretty well. Today for lunch I had a little bit of oven-roasted turkey on a piece of bread and some leftover noodles and it sent me to bed with lower-intestinal pain for almost an hour. It’s impossible to know what’s going to work and what isn’t, but the doctors swear this is going to get better, it’s just going to take time.
There’s that time thing, again. Annoying, isn’t it?
The good news is that I was cleared to do the basics like driving, showering, light lifting, and otherwise tending to myself. I’ve done a little of each and although it ends in me being exhausted, it’s nice to be kind of self-sufficient. I sent my parents home day before yesterday and they are relieved to be back in their own place and I am relieved to have mine back under my control. I deeply, endlessly appreciate them giving up three weeks of their lives to basically sit around and worry about me but I think all of us agreed that it was high-time to return to our regularly scheduled programming.
I have also returned to work in a fashion. I’m certainly not fully back up to speed and certainly not going into the office, but working remotely for bigger and bigger chunks of each day is helping my brain from turning completely to mush.
So yes, I guess there is progress, but I’m just having a very hard time recognizing it and embracing it. It’s much easier to focus on the pain/exhaustion/digestion issues because those are so much more obvious than the little victories like being able to lather areas of my body in the shower that have been in need of a good lather for several weeks. The latter feels good but it only lasts for a few minutes while the pain from eating a piece of bread lasts for hours.
It bums me out but I’m trying not to let it weight me down to the point that the recovery will take even more time than it would’ve otherwise. I understand that three weeks is not enough time to heal from something like this. But if we make it to four weeks and things are not substantially improved, the whining level is going to go up a lot. You have been warned.