I really don't look for things to bitch and complain about. Really, I don't. I always try to see the best and the bright side of things. It just feels like nightmarish things always seem to happen to me, regardless of how positively I approach them. And honestly, I'm getting pretty sick and tired of it!
About a month ago I saw a surgeon regarding my hernia issue. She was actually the same surgeon who had originally fixed my hernia all the way back in 2013. This time when I saw her she told me that the original mesh that was put in place to repair the hernia back then was still in tact and not causing a problem. What was causing a problem is that the hernia had somehow started to make it's way above the mesh and go over the top of it. Eeek! She suggested surgery to place a larger piece of mesh over the hernia and repair the area. She also said that she would be able to release the adhesions that were most likely causing some of my problem. She said that the surgery would be relatively simple and she felt sure she would be able to do it laparoscopically and my recovery would be much easier than a full blown open abdominal surgery. We discussed it for a while and I and I said there was no way I wanted to drag it out and have to wait for months just to have this simple surgery. If I was going to do it, I wanted to do it soon. We talked to the scheduler and there was actually an opening exactly one week later. Sold! My attitude was 'let's get this thing done and fixed so I can start to feel better already.' My attitude should have been, 'Yeah, fuck this surgery, I'm good.'
I guess it all started when I was informed I needed to get this special "surgical soap" nonsense before my surgery and use it not only the morning of the surgery, but also the night before. I had never had to do this before for any of the million surgeries I have had, but I guess protocol has changed. (And boy how!) I played their game and used their weird soap on my abdomen before the surgery. When I got to the surgery center I was instructed to wipe my abdomen down with yet another form of weird cleanser. It was in the form of a wipe this time. At this point I was wondering if they were even going to clean the area while I was actually in the operating room or if that was why I had to keep doing it myself. I felt like all this "pre-cleansing" was a bit over the top, but still, I did what I was told. I guess this is just the way they do things now. I really don't want to get a secondary infection or anything so I should be grateful for all the extra precautions, right? Ehh, maybe.
Once I again prepared my abdomen and sanitized myself with their special Lysol wipe thing, I was given a gown to put on - a very uncomfortable plastic gown. Yes, plastic. I was told that it was some "new technology" that would keep me warmer in the OR. Uh, the gown was to open in the back. I wasn't allowed to even tie it. My whole front was going to be exposed during surgery so I'm not sure exactly what part of me it was going to keep warm. It didn't even have sleeves! But again, I did what I was told. I was getting more and more pissed about how uncomfortable I was becoming, but I played the game. Complaining wasn't going to get me anywhere. I made jokes and laughed off my frustration, you know, 'cause that's what I do.
I had finally got situated in the bed and basically comfortable, but not really, and the nurse came in with two very large swabs of something and shoved them up each side of my nose. "Everyone has Staph and MRSA in their nose so we do this." She said, as she swabbed inside my nostrils. I couldn't even breathe for about five minutes until the extremely strong smell dissipated. It was quite unpleasant. I was assured it was for my safety. Sure, whatever. Just because I was going to be asphyxiated from the smell of the chemicals didn't mean anything. It wouldn't be the Staph or the MRSA that killed me.
After that, the nurse started my IV. Someone else then came in and took some blood from my other arm and that was fine. I mean, it's been about 2 1/2 weeks and the bruises are finally going away, but that's normal for me. Bruising was really the least of my problems though. Once the IV was running fluids the nurse left my holding cell and then came back in and said they were going to give me antibiotics. Standard procedure, no problem. She said, "I see on your chart your are allergic to Amoxicillin. How allergic are you?" "Uh, it destroys my stomach. I get terrible nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and really bad stomach cramps." I explained, thinking they would want to avoid such extreme reactions in my stomach after surgery on my stomach. The nurse continued, "Well, that's not an anaphylactic response and our pharmacy said we don't use this antibiotic enough so protocol says we give it to you unless you have an anaphylactic response."
I didn't even know where to begin with all the things I found wrong with her statement. I mean, for crying out loud! You want to give me something that clearly states a terrible reaction on my list of meds NOT to give me? You have to give it to me because the pharmacy - not an actual doctor - says you have to, and for the reason that you "don't use it enough?!" Seriously??!! Come on now! There are fifteen million other antibiotics that they could have given me that would not cause terrible gastrointestinal consequences. Why would they want to even chance someone having terrible diarrhea, cramping, nausea and vomiting after abdominal surgery? That's just absurd!! Well, apparently it wasn't absurd. She hooked up the Amoxicillin and let it run wide open straight into my veins. My only comment to her was, "Well, I guess when all that terrible stomach stuff happens it will happen when I'm back home and not here, so ya'll don't have to worry about it." She just looked at me and walked out of my holding cell.
After that nonsense happened, the anesthesiologist came in. We talked about my typical response to anesthesia and how I get super nauseated. I explained how Zofran doesn't work for me. He said, "No problem. Zofran doesn't work for everyone. We will give you Phenergan." I said, "Great! Phenergan works very well for me." Problem solved. That was easy.
Nurse Ratched came back in. Actually, that's not fair to say. She wasn't really mean or rude, she was just incapable of actually listening to me and hearing anything that I had to say that would impact the way I was being cared for. She was way too into "protocol" even if it wasn't in my (THE FUCKING PATIENT's) best interest. She handed me two Tylenol. I asked her what the hell that was for and she said, "Protocol says that you have to take Tylenol before surgery because it will help your pain after surgery." I kind of half laughed and asked, "Do I get anything after surgery?" She said, "Oh yeah, we will give you actual pain medicine afterwards. Don't worry. We don't want you in pain." Okay then. I popped the Tylenol, thinking how that was literally the equivalent of spitting into the ocean trying to make it rise, but whatever. I guess they have done actual medical studies about this. Things really had changed with "protocol and procedure" since the last time I had surgery. I kept telling myself to roll with it and that everything would be fine. They do these things for a reason and it will all be okay. It wasn't very long after that when they came to wheel me into surgery. Basically the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery.
"Are you in pain?" The nurse asked. "YES! I'm really nauseous too." I whispered, still not quite all the way awake. "Okay, we will give you a shot of Dilaudid. If that doesn't work we have other things." She said. I drifted in and out of consciousness for a while and then she asked if the pain medicine was working. It was not. "NO! I'm really nauseous too. I don't want to throw up." "Here is some Tylenol. This will help you." She said as she put two Tylenol in my mouth and handed me a small cup of water. Dear God you have to be fucking kidding me! "Take this Zofran." She said. "Wait!" I said. "No, I have to take Phenergan, Zofran doesn't work. I told the anesthesiologist. He said Phenergan." I tried to explain. "Protocol says you get Zofran." She said as she shoved a Zofran in my mouth and told me to put it under my tongue. I had no moisture in my mouth to even dissolve it, even though I just took the Tylenol with water. The pill just sat under my tongue and didn't melt. It tasted so awful it made me even more nauseous. I thought for sure I was going to throw up.
By now I had to pee. The nurse helped me up, but I was moving very slowly as to not aggravate the nausea. Plus my stomach hurt like hell from the surgery. "I'll get a wheelchair." She said. "No, I can walk, just give me a minute." I said. I wasn't trying to be argumentative. I knew walking would help alleviate some of the pain I was in and I also knew it would help wake me up a little bit more so I could think a little more clearly. I just needed a minute. "It'll go faster with a wheelchair." She said. Next thing you know I'm in a wheelchair to go three feet to the bathroom. When I was finished she said, "Time to go." "I'm really nauseous and hurting." I insisted. I knew I had no business leaving the recovery area just yet. I also knew there were plenty of other medications they could give me to help with my nausea and pain. None of that mattered though. As soon as we got back to my holding cell, my clothes were back on and I was being wheeled out to the car.
As if all that wasn't terrible enough, the recovery was a disaster also. I was way to nauseated to eat so I couldn't take the pain medication they sent me home with. I was in so much pain, but not necessarily from my stomach, it was that damn air they use during laparoscopic procedure that gets trapped in your shoulder. It's the worst! I knew I needed to get up and walk to move the air around, only I could barely sit up without feeling like I was going to throw up. I was in a viscous cycle that I didn't think would ever end. After a few days I was able to get the nausea under control enough to eat a little bit and then I could finally take the pain pills to help so I could move around a little bit. That's when the extreme cramping and diarrhea started. Napalm diarrhea is actually how I referred to it because it was extreme diarrhea - even for me. I cramped and my body involuntarily purged everything I have ever thought about eating so much that my whole side started hurting in a way that made me feel certain I had pulled a stitch or re-herniated something.
While I was dealing with the napalm diarrhea that I know was from the antibiotic they insisted on giving me, and feeling like I pulled a stitch or something, I was also starting to notice that every time I wiped after going to the bathroom, things were becoming super sore and irritated. Like so bad I would get tears in my eyes from the painful, burning irritation that was going on from my front to my back every time I wiped. Because I was so miserable from everything else, it took me a little longer than it should have to fully realize there was something happening that wasn't right. Of course, it was late on a Friday when I realized this and wouldn't be able to see a doctor until Monday at the earliest. I thought that perhaps the antibiotic had given me a yeast infection and it got a little out of hand which was why it was so bad. I remembered that I had some leftover Diflucan from the last time I was on antibiotics. I took it and figured I would be better by Monday. I was also more concerned with the increasing pain in my side, you know, because I had to prioritize the shitstorm of things that were happening to me.
Monday came and I was still having mass quantities of napalm diarrhea. I was still experiencing the pain in my side and it wasn't getting any better. I was also still experiencing the fire down below. I had concluded by this point that it was not a yeast infection. My anxiety had become so bad over the weekend and I was so miserable that I somehow convinced myself I had some kind of unfixable rash, perhaps MRSA or staph from the surgery. I had figured that because they used so many different things to clean my abdomen and the rest of my body that all the germs went to my lady parts and went crazy. Well, that and about three thousand other equally as ridiculous scenarios that could no way even be close to what was actually happening. Including, but not limited to somehow immaculately contracting some kind of herpe-gonorr-syphill-aids that you can only get from NOT having sex. Regardless, I thought I was going to be stuck like that forever. I hurt, I was crazy upset, I was more than uncomfortable and I was full of anxiety, so I just cried. That made my side hurt even more. Then I cried more. It was time to call the doctors. As illogical as my thoughts were becoming, they all seemed perfectly logical to me somehow. My brain was just making everything worse. Anxiety is a bitch!
The nurse at the surgeon's office said I was right to still be in pain. I wasn't even a week out from the surgery and she assured me I was going to be okay. Keep deep breathing, take my pain meds, rest, don't lift more than 10 pounds, and they would see me in a week. I also made an appointment for the gynecologist for the following day. Sure enough, I had a rash. She said it appeared to be a reaction to something and even suggested maybe iodine from where they more than likely had put a catheter in during my surgery. I found that interesting as I have never had a reaction like that from any other catheter situation. Then again, they might use different prep solutions than they used to. She also considered the fact that I might have had some incontinence while I was under anesthesia and they just wiped me off with whatever to clean me up. Makes sense. I have incontinence problems when I'm not unconscious! With all of the precautions they were taking to ward off germs it's hard telling what the reaction was from exactly. So she gave me some medication and in two days I was practically back to normal down below.
I was left just dealing with the pretty significant side pain. It was beginning to feel as if I had been kicked in the ribs. From about the middle of my back all the way around to my belly button. I was starting to wonder if I had cracked a rib from going to the bathroom so much. The pain just was not getting any better. By this time it was only a few more days until my follow up visit so I just waited it out.
That brings us to yesterday when I saw the nurse practitioner for the follow up. She was super nice. She was also extremely sympathetic to my whole surgical experience. She checked my side thoroughly and read over my surgery notes. She said the surgeon wrote that I had "extensive adhesions"she had to remove and my abdominal wall had several "swiss cheese" like defects that were repaired. The NP also said that the main incision they used to put all the instruments through is the one on my side right by my ribs. I actually have five incisions, but that is the main one and they used it to dissect down and get the the instruments through to be able to go over and repair everything. That area is definitely going to hurt more. Plus with my Fibromyalgia I am going to hurt longer and feel the pain more intensely than a person without Fibro. Not to mention the fact that I am a slow healer because of all my chronic illnesses anyway. She said that just because they did a laparoscopic surgery and they technically didn't cut the muscle, it doesn't mean it's less painful. She gave me a binder and a heat pack that I can use so I can be more mobile and not attached to my heating pad that plugs into the wall. I'll go back in one month to follow up. Whew! Thank the gods I didn't rupture something!
All in all, I am glad I got the hernia (and apparently the adhesions and swiss cheese defects also) fixed. I am just so over feeling like shit! I thought it would be a relatively uneventful, simple surgery and I would be fine in a few weeks. Not so much. I haven't actually had a full surgical procedure like that in about 7 years. Things have changed. My body has changed and let's be honest, I have crossed over that 40 year old mark. I'm not going to bounce back as fast as I once did. Hopefully I won't be having any more surgery any time soon. Or like, ever. Yeah, never again would be fine will me!