Adventures in Surgery

Waking up from surgery is weird.

Everything around you is beeping, you’re groggy, and if you wear contacts like me, you’re totally blind.

As you’re trying to figure out what hurts where, the doctor comes in to talk to you, and you’re trying as hard as you can focus, because surgery is unpredictable, and last time you had a post-surgery doctor talk, you found out that you unexpectedly lost an appendix.

Collateral damage, they called it.

As I sat there, waiting, I realized that I was expecting the worst. Which makes sense when you go into a procedure not sure what you’re going to find. This time, the worst case scenario would have been that the surgeon found nothing visibly wrong, and decided to do a nerve graft in hopes that it would give me some relief.

Nerve graft is a very neat and polite word for a violent procedure. It involves severing a nerve, burying the ends into the surrounding muscle fibers, and slapping some cadaver tissue on top so the nerves can’t re-grow.

This is what I was expecting when I woke up.

And I realize that this makes sense. As a person with chronic health issues, I’m programmed for everything to be difficult. To have to fight tooth and nails for answers that don’t exist. My medical experience is trying new things in hopes that they do something. Anything.

Nothing is ever straightforward. You’re experiencing X because of Y, and Z is what we’re going to do to fix it. No. This doesn’t happen. That’s not what it means to be a spoonie*.

In medical school, young doctors learn a saying ‘When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras’. It teaches them that 99.9% of the time, the most obvious and straightforward answer is the right one. The majority of people are horses.

I am a zebra.

So as I sat, as a zebra, in my hospital bed, I braced myself for the worst. Grey answers, no answers, only a guess to why I had been in pain for almost 9 months. No guarantee that any amount of surgery would every relieve my pain.

The surgeon started talking and oh man, was I surprised. There was a straightforward answer for my pain: a major sensory nerve was being compressed by a large tendon. There was an easy fix: they manipulated the nerve and got it out from under the tendon. Result: total pain relief (once the awkwardly placed incision healed).

Blew. My. Mind.

I didn’t realize how good it feels to have an answer. I can’t explain the feelings of validation when a doctor says “Yes, there was a good reason for your pain, there wasn’t much that you could do to manage it, and you did everything right.” I think vindicated might be an appropriate word.

My pain is vindicated.

I am vindicated.

And I am on the road to a full recovery.

*a word for someone who lives with chronic illness. See Spoon Theory 

For the Neurodivergent version, see reticulating splines

 

 

6 Word Stories pt. 19

Hey there, I hope you all had great Christmases, and that you’re ready for the New Year. We have a low key night planned, mostly focused on snacks and board games. I’m still working on handling the surgeries. After a lot of discussion, it was decided that since I’m going to have 2 surgeries in the first month of classes, it wouldn’t be a very good idea to try, since I wouldn’t be able to drive myself to class, I’d be on painkillers through  them, and I’d likely be sleeping too much to do homework. In happier news, my in-laws got me a heated blanket for Christmas! I’m a heating pad addict, and had been wanting a blanket, and they got me one without even asking! It’s so soft and so warm, the only downside is that the little bastards love the blanket too, so I’m constantly covered in cats.

  • I won’t need my cane soon!
  • Upset I had to drop classes.
  • Maybe I should be more upset.
  • Changes are coming soon- stay calm.
  • Special Interest gifts are the best!
  • Thanks heated blanket, I’m so warm!
  • A new year, new bullet journal.

Have a very nice rest of  2017, and I’ll see you next year!

Torn By Caution

I think that I’ve mentioned here and there that I’ve got some medical issues. I’m dealing with two right now.

One is, I’m having a lot of pain and numbness and tingling in my right leg, all the way up to my hip and lower back. After 7 months of pain, 5 different doctors, 4 MRI’s, and 3 injections, we’re at the final option: surgery.

The second problem is chronic, and it’s called POTS. It’s a neurological condition that’s cause my dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, and I’ve been dealing with it for almost a decade. I’ve done all the tests, I’ve tried all the meds, I’ve suffered through all of the therapies. Except one.

Fluid therapy. My neurologist isn’t really a fan of it, and he has some valid reason, but we’ve run out of things to try and improve my quality of life. This therapy involves getting a liter or two of IV saline a few days a week. Problem is, getting IVs put in that often is hell on your veins, and often results in blowing out a lot of useful veins. So we’ve decided to put in a port, and what does that mean? Surgery

I’ve been out of school for about 6 years, and this spring, I planned to take a class or two at my local community college. I was really excited, because if these classes went well, I was going to start the process of getting a Bachelors.

But there’s an issue here, and I bet you’ve noticed it. I need to have two surgeries, and they’re both going to be during the first month of classes. So what do I do? I’m torn. I want to go back so school so badly. I’m ready to move forward with my life and this is the way I’m going to do it. But if I’m couch-bound for a week both times, my work will suffer. If I’m on pain medication and unable to think straight, my work will suffer. If one or both of the surgeries cause a POTS flare, my work will suffer.

So what do I do? Be cautious and realistic by dropping my classes? Or follow my heart and hope that it will work out? I just don’t know.