5 Post-Surgery Necessities

I promise that I’ll lay off the medical stuff as soon as my steri-strips come off (which should be in the next few days!), but until I can go a whole day without screaming because a cat stepped on my incisions, you’re stuck with post-surgery me.

This list is less of a practical guide for after surgery needs and slightly more tongue in cheek, although if you find any of this useful, well great! What a happy surprise!

Two surgeries in two months have gotten me into a bit of a routine (which all you Neurodivergent folks know can be kind of dangerous), and without further ado, here are my post-surgical necessities.

1. Pancakes: One of the suckiest things about surgery is that you can’t eat or drink anything after midnight the day of. Now, I can handle the no fluids things pretty well, but I get seriously crabby when I’m hungry. Especially on days when my surgery is scheduled for 11 am, and I have to spend the whole morning with my stomach doing hungry backflips. It was after this incident that my wife made a deal. I make it through surgery, and we go and get pancakes afterwards. I love pancakes enough that this is enough incentive for me to get through the hunger pains with only minor bitching. On top of being a good bribe, pancakes are carb-y and syrupy, and if you add in some eggs, you could even call it a well-balanced meal. All I care about is the deliciousness though.

2. Stuffed Animals: It is a tradition in my family that after surgery, I get a new stuffed animal. This started about 8 years ago when I had urinary tract surgery. My mother-in-law bought me a stuffed tiger that I named Hobbes. To this day, I sleep with him every night, and the rest I suppose, is history. A stuffed animal is necessary for me, because when I’m exhausted and in pain, all I want is something soft to snuggle. And I think that they’re a great visual representation of the surgery, instead of just remembering the pain and the scars. Luckily I don’t have surgery that often, or I’d have a zoo!

3. A Movie Marathon: Post surgery sucks. Everything hurts, and thanks to leftover anesthesia and pain meds, I don’t have the mental energy to do things like read or knit. But my brain still needs some stimulation, and this is where having a to-watch plan comes in. I use the word movie marathon, which totally works- Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Lord of the Rings all work great for this. TV shows do too. X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are two of my favorites. For me, I just need to make sure I’ve got at least 72 hours with of stuff to watch, otherwise, I’ll just watch Moana on repeat like last time (which isn’t bad, but it means I’ve got You’re Welcome stuck in my head for weeks.)

4. Ice. All the Ice: This is the most practical one. Not only does ice make things feel all icy and numb, but it confuses your nerves so at least if you’re in pain, it’s because your skin is freezing, not the giant gash on your leg. We’re in possession of several of these, that we rotate through the freezer, and are a thousand times better than the contraptions that they send you home from the hospital with. These things require you to fill them with a ton of actual ice- which I don’t know about you, but my freezer doesn’t have enough room to make, and while they insist that they seal waterproof, that is a lie. And the last thing that you want when you’re taking a restorative nap is to have ice cascade down your chest. Believe me, I’ve suffered enough for all of us.

5. Pets: There is nothing better than a snuggly animal when you feel like crap. Both of my cats seem to be able to know when I’m under the weather. Spike in particular zeros in on any trace of blood, and seems to think that it’s his job to eradicate it. Which is not sanitary at all. But does he listen? No. Angel hovers. No matter where I am, he’s within about 4 feet of me. If given the opportunity, he’ll spend all of his time gently patting me with his paw, which he seems convinced is helpful. They both try, they really do. However, there is nothing like taking a nap with a warm cat on your chest, and the most healing thing post-surgery plenty of naps.

So here we are. Hopefully at the end of my surgery road, and moving on to topics unknown! If you’ve had surgery, and have any post-surgery must-haves, let me know! (although I’m hoping that I’ll never need it).

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 hoofbeats, 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.21

Surgery was successful! Do you know what this means? I’ll shut up about hospitals and doctors and incisions for a whole month!! Which is when my next surgery is…Anyway, I was able to predict most of the autism-related surgery issues, like smelly funny from antibacterial soap, and the itchiness of the bandages, but the one thing I’ve struggled with most is that I’m exhausted and drugged, but my brain is bored. And bored autistic brain is the worst.

  • Betadine gives me Oompa Loompa skin
  • Which is worse, infection or showering?
  • I discovered a new favorite food!
  • You can’t write with no words
  • Too tired to read, what now?
  • Making good slime is so rewarding
  • Why are some relationships so complicated?

That’s all for today folks, I’m off to take another nap.

6 Word Stories pt. 20

Sorry guys, this week’s stories are a little medical heavy. With spending New Years Day with a stomach bug, and my surgery coming up this Tuesday, I’ve got a bit of a one-track mind. I’m excited though, once this chest port gets up in, I won’t have to have one find a vein in the arms (if they’re lucky) or my hands/feel (if they’re not). The site has to be kept incredibly clean in the beginning though, and I think that’ll be a sensory challenge. Wish me luck, friends!

  • Hopefully surgery is easy and successful
  • I invited someone over. On purpose?!
  • The fabric store is my favorite!
  • Afraid surgery will be sensory hell.
  • Stomach flu is bad for Autistics.
  • Peeling is fun until you bleed
  • I ran out of samefoods- help!

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 discussions, 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!

6 Word Stories pt. 18

Well, at the beginning of the week I had zero upcoming surgeries, and now I have two. Both of them are good, one is the start of a therapy that should make a huge difference for my POTS, and the second should finally resolve the hip pain I’ve been having, but boy, after months of nothing happening, it’s all coming together! I also had a lovely birthday, and I think I’m handling being old (aka, 30, really well).

  • Doctors need to stop touching me
  • I guess being old isn’t awful
  • Other cane users smile at me
  • Everything I wrapped looks like potatoes
  • My health keeps me from life
  • Pet a puppy, best day ever!
  • Do your cats just…stare sometimes?

I hope everyone has a nice holiday, whatever it is that you do or don’t celebrate!

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 left 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 caused by 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 to 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.