Missing: One gallbladder

I thought my life (health) was supposed to get better after surgery but I’m starting to debate that theory. DH made me a nice, low-fat meal this evening (I confess I ate a bit too much) but now I am SICK! Not really bad sick, just ill. The gas, the nausea, the pain – how can something that isn’t there hurt??? (Phantom pain I suppose, but it is weird.)

OK, so I am only 2 weeks out of surgery. But this was laparoscopic – easy stuff, right? Recovery is a bitch. I’m still wearing sleep clothes that are 2-4 sizes too big because otherwise the waistbands encroach on the bellybutton incision and – ouch!  I wore jean capris all day today and boy am I paying for it now.  I can’t find anything that will make my waist area feel OK.  I can feel the scar tissue building up around the smaller incisions… they feel like little knots.  I know, it’s weird.  And it’s hard to explain.

And now I’m nauseous, even with the nausea medicine.  It’s the weekend and I don’t know what to do.  I don’t know that there is anything I can do – I can’t call the doctor’s office.  And even if I could, what would I say?  ‘You’ve given me nausea medicine and I still feel sick.’  Yes, I suppose I could, but is it worth it?  Sometimes there just isn’t anything they can do.  Take it easy – rest – that’s not easy for a anxious bipolar.  Am I anxious right now?  You bet I am.  After all, I feel sick – just as sick as I did before they took my gallbladder.

Maybe I need it back.

 

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They’re not here for you

I went to the surgeon’s office today for my post-surgery appointment. They told me he had been called in for emergency surgery and could I come back in later? When I left the office, I looked up and saw the medivac chopper getting ready to land. You can imagine my reaction. I started spontaneously shaking and crying even though I was never taken in one of those (I was in an ambulance) but the same thing happens every time I hear sirens. It doesn’t matter if it’s police, fire, or ambulance but the latter is the worst. I just have to tell myself, “they’re not here for you.”

The doctor’s office called back a bit later & asked if I could come in around 2pm. I said I saw the chopper and figured he would be a while. She told me that he had been in surgery since 8am and “they are lining up”. After I hung up the phone, the shaking & crying started again. That’s when I decided I needed to write this post. It seems to have helped as I am no longer shaking & crying, but I am still nauseous and there’s a lump in my throat. But I guess that’s progress.

I just have to remember my mantra: “they’re not here for you.”

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Coffee

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.  ~T.S. Eliot

I didn’t like coffee until I went to Europe.  I always loved the smell, but I never liked the taste.  That all changed when I went to Holland.  I spent a week with a friend of mine in a small town south of Amsterdam.  She made coffee and I fell in love with the stuff.  I don’t like the mundane, dishwater type, and I still take issue with many of the Starbucks blends, but a good, robust cup of coffee is to me amazing.

Only Irish coffee provides in a single glass all four essential food groups:  alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and fat.  ~Alex Levine

Coffee in Europe is very different from coffee we find in the United States.  They brew it stronger and tend to drink it with less condiments.  In France, when you ask for a cup of coffee, they bring you a cup small enough to offend most Americans and there are no free refills.  They also ask you if you would like it Americanized i.e., with cream and sugar.  My husband is brave enough to drink it without either, but I confess to adding cream.  I have found, however, that a beautiful cup of coffee can be had without any sweetener at all.  (Well, excluding the cream that is.)

In Seattle you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running. ~Jeff Bezos

This may well be true.  Seattle runs on coffee.  They drink it, they eat it, they breathe it, they live it.  You can’t go two blocks without coming across a coffeehouse.  Usually it’s a Starbucks but there are other places as well.  I tried to avoid Starbucks in Seattle for the simple reason that I can have Starbucks at home.  But I don’t think I had a bad cup of coffee in the entire city.  Maybe they developed coffeehouses so that people would have somewhere to go to get out of the rain?  I don’t think I would like to live in Seattle – it’s too grey and dreary most of the time – but I wouldn’t mind visiting again just to have great coffee and possibly a glimpse of the Space Needle in sunlight.

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.  ~Author Unknown

Many people think that decaf is an obscenity but I disagree.  First, I don’t personally notice a difference in taste.  Perhaps that just means I’m not a coffee connoisseur, but if I can’t taste the difference, it doesn’t matter.  I like what I like, end of story.  Second, decaf lets me have more coffee than I could have with caffeine.  Too much caffeine accentuates mania.  My limits are about 1-2 in a day, depending on the drink.  Not all caffeinated drinks are created equal, so these numbers can vary.  (I have a previous post on Caffeine.) Espresso contains twice as much caffeine as coffee, oz for oz, but are you going to drink 8oz of espresso?

Nescafe no es cafe. (Instant coffee is not coffee.) ~Mexican saying

I’ve also heard that bad coffee is better than no coffee.  I disagree. If I’m going to drink something for pleasure, I want it to taste good. Otherwise, I’ll just drink water.

I’ll quit coffee. It won’t be easy drinking my Bailey’s straight, but I’ll get used to it. It’ll still be the best part of waking up.  ~Megan Mullally (Will & Grace)

And so this brings me to the crux of my problem:  I haven’t had a cup of coffee in a week.  Not even decaf.  Why? Because coffee is acidic and my digestive system is just not up for that yet.  But I am craving coffee.  Or a latte.  But whatever you do, don’t give me an “Americano” – it is not, and never will be, a substitute for coffee!

The powers of a man’s mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks. ~Sir James Mackintosh

Regardless of what kind of coffee you like – weak, strong, hot, cold, with or without cream and sugar – go have a cup!

 

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Medication Muddle

OK, so if you are like me, you have an overwhelming number of medications and you are a tad bit disorganized and/or scatterbrained.

Is it five medications in the morning and three at night? Or is that six in the morning and two at night? What about the “as needed” ones? Where do they fit in? Where do vitamins fit in? They all look alike because they are all generics because that’s what the insurance company pays for and more than likely the pharmacy has gotten a new supplier and they’ve changed color or size or something. Also there are some that have to be cut in half, which complicates matters. Don’t forget that some need to be taken with food and some need to be taken on an empty stomach so some get taken and some get forgotten. Oh, and did I already take that this morning/evening? And do I need to eat something to go with it? Or when was the last time I took it so I can figure out when I can take another?

Can you imagine what I am like when I have to start a new medication (especially one that requires dosage ramp-up) and try fit that into the mix?

So my doctor says get one of those pill boxes. Sure, that would be great if I could remember to fill it. And then if I did fill it, say on Sunday, it might be at a time when I was taking the medication or it could have been at some other random point in the day. So, is that little box full of pills labeled Sunday something I just took or something I need to take? (This may sound a bit extreme but it has happened before.) More than likely, I’ve never filled the pill box at all. I have, once or twice, discovered that I took my morning meds more than once in a day even while using a pill box because in my morning haze (I am so NOT a morning person) I’ve forgotten what day of the week it was.

So I go to take my meds, and invariably, something distracts me. Like the dog decides he has to go out RIGHT NOW and he starts barking. I started to take my meds, but then I had to let the dog out and meanwhile I got the idea for this blog and I wandered off to start typing and now I can’t remember what I’ve taken and what I haven’t. I know I thought about taking them, but did I actually do it?

This is more apparent with something like painkillers, which I am on while recovering from surgery. I take them then I have to wait 6 hours before I can take them again. Six can be a lot of arithmetic for someone who is sick or in pain. Especially if you are trying to cut back your dosage from 2 to 1 but then the pain lets you know that you can’t do that all the time, so you start to stagger the dosage. So it’s 6 hours after pill#1 that you can take pill#3 and 6 hours after pill#2 that you can take pill#4, but it’s not that simple, because in between you’ve had a nap (painkillers do that) and now you hurt and can’t recall what time you took the damn things – all you know is that you hurt, and wonder how many is it safe to take?

Maybe I’m ADD. Or maybe I’m manic. Or maybe my memory is going. Or maybe I’m just so overwhelmed with doctors, surgeries, tests, physical therapy, medications, appointments, and worrying about finances and going back to work that I can’t keep anything straight.

Am I the only one like this???

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Overwhelmed by Medicine

Medicine: the art or science of restoring or preserving health or due physical condition, as by means of drugs, surgical operations or appliances, or manipulations: often divided into medicine proper, surgery, and obstetrics. – Dictionary.com

I am overwhelmed.

I am trying to recover from gallbladder surgery.  This should be my main focus.  Except that I still have to go to physical therapy – one is for worker’s comp so you can’t get out of it no matter how badly you feel – and the other to be evaluated for the followup on the tennis elbow problem –  and I see that doctor tomorrow morning.  I have (psych) therapy tomorrow night, and I had to find a friend to take me because I can’t drive on these painkillers (yes, I’m still on them, they even gave me more – I’ll come back to that) because my husband has to go for introduction sort of thing for his new part-time job.  Are you confused yet?  Because I am.  If my phone didn’t have a calendar app, I would never know where I am supposed to be or when I am supposed to be there – and I’m not even working.

Problem #1: Gallbladder surgery.  It’s been 5 days.  I still feel like crap.  I’m not eating meals so much as I am snacking on yogurt, smoothies, crackers and some fruit. (And the occasional fat-free/sugar-free gummy bear just for emotional sake.)  I’ve tried a couple of real meals and I just don’t feel well afterwards.  Now I am at the point where I don’t feel well at all.  Probably because my digestive system hasn’t reset yet.  Going along with this issue is that I am still in pain but I’ve been trying to cut back on the painkillers because they accentuate the digestive reset problem.  Also, I’m running out of them.  So I told the nurse and she conferred with the doctor, and they decided that I need to take the painkillers regularly (“as prescribed”) every 6 hours and faxed in a new prescription for me.  Lucky me.

I realize that some people would happy to have a fresh supply of Lortab but not me.  Why?  A couple of reasons. 1) I am allergic to aspirin, ibuprofen and probably all NSAIDs which means there isn’t much in the way of heavy-duty painkillers that you can give me.  So if I should build up a tolerance – well, then I’m screwed.  2) I am terrified of becoming hooked on anything.  I’ve been reassured by doctors, nurses, therapists and even articles that this is not going to happen to me in 2 or 3 weeks recovering from surgery.  Keep in mind, I never said there was any logic behind this fear.

Problem #2: Physical therapy.  Worker’s comp PT.  They had to make sure I came in 3 times this week.  Monday was definitely out.  I don’t have a driver for tomorrow, so that left Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday.  Rather than to cut a day out (which I am supposed to be down to 2x/week now anyway), they had me come in Day 4 after my surgery.  Seriously.  At least they did go a bit easy on me – I can only do some of the original exercises so they gave me new mild (in their opinion) stretching exercises to do. Worker’s Comp said that they would work with me regarding my surgery in terms of dates and obligations.  So I better not catch any crap for having to cut back on my exercises.  At least I didn’t pass out from the Lortab. Also, I had to have one more session on my elbow because I see that doctor tomorrow.  All this PT is definitely NOT GOOD for the gallbladder surgery recovery.  Just saying.

Problem #3: Elbow issue.  This is what technically put me on short term disability (STD) in the first place.  The PT said today that there isn’t much more they can do for me.  We stopped the ASTYM a couple of weeks ago and went with strengthening and it seems to be working really well.  My regular PT hasn’t been there for the past few times so another girl had to do my evaluation today.  She said that there isn’t much more they can do for me.  I have range of motion and a lot of my strength back, so maybe I do have to let the doctor cut open my arm and scrape out the bad tissue.  I get to discuss this with him tomorrow.

Do I have the emotional strength to handle another surgery?  Will it just get worse instead of better?  And what really are the odds of success? 90% or 60%?  I’ve heard both.  Does it even work at all?  I am nauseated by the thought of another surgery.  Especially on the heels of this one.  This is aside from the costs or the fear of returning (or not returning) to work.  I am at a loss.  I really need my friend Klonipin right now, but I’m not sure how well it would mix with the Lortab.  I think they are OK to use together (thanks interactions checker) but I sure as hell don’t want to die because of some stupid meds mixing.

I don’t know.  I am really overwhelmed.


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Surgery went OK

The surgery went OK – I didn’t freak out too much. And I didn’t even back out at the last minute even though they gave me that option. The most frightening part is when they move you from the gurney to the table and strap you down. I was really fighting panic at that point as you can imagine. But then they give you the anesthesia which burns like a fire in your vein and lights out.

I woke up in recovery and wanted to vomit so badly and couldn’t. They kept telling me to open my eyes but whenever I did that the room spun and I wanted to throw up. I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I couldn’t keep the room from spinning and I couldn’t vomit. I kept saying I’m nauseous, I’m nauseous, then they gave me something for the nausea. “This is going to hurt.” Never trust a nurse who says that because it’s probably going to hurt worse than you think.

WHAM! A needle slams into my thigh. Does that help? Not really, no. Then I heard them saying the doctor says maybe she just has to vomit. (I’m sure that’s good for the rearranged digestive system.) I didn’t vomit after all, but I got a little blue baggy to take with me just in case.

Anyway, it’s been 3 days and my leg STILL hurts! I’m not sure the shot helped the nausea much either.

I’ve been lying in bed or on the couch reading, watching tv, or sleeping for the past 3 days. I’ve tried getting up & walking around – hobbling is a better description. I tried the solid food thing too soon & felt like crap so it’s soup, crackers & yogurt for me. I can only sleep in 1 position so my back is cramping up. Hopefully this will only last a few more days.

Speaking of cramping, I think I need to rest now. I’ll write more when I am feeling better.

 

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Donation: one slightly used gallbladder

Yes, I’m having surgery. Yes, I’m freaked out. I’ve been riding the adrenaline (panic) wave all day. Trying to hold out until I can take my double dose of Klonipin. Which really ought to be now. Or an hour ago.

No, really Doc, my gallbladder is fine right where it is. It’s the nausea I could do without.

DH says it’s too late to reschedule. Shit.

Why am I so panicked? Medical trauma my therapist calls it. Near fatal car accident, I call it. Same diff.

I was in a car accident twenty years ago. I was young and beautiful, full of life one minute. Spitting blood, screaming and cursing the next. Waking up in a cat scan and I can’t feel anything below my neck. The excruciating pain of having your hip put back in its socket without anesthesia. Regaining consciousness only to discover you are strapped to a board and literally CAN NOT MOVE.  Passing out – over and over again.  Each time waking up to some new and horrible torment.  Someone has drilled holes in my head and put screws in them.  Four posts connecting my skull to a body cast.  Someone feeding ice chips to me, telling me to hold on.  The priest who never left my side in case I needed last rites.  My parents showing up.  My mother saying, “Oh my God, my baby won’t be pretty anymore.”

No one told me I wasn’t supposed to live.  No one told me I wasn’t supposed to walk again.  Damn, I’m stubborn.

Six weeks in the hospital.  A guinea pig for intern rotations.  People talking above you, around you, as if you are an object on display.  Every day its the same questions, every day the same answers.  By the end of it, I was going to punch the next person who asked if I could wiggle my toes.

I lost teeth, shattered bones, bruised kidneys and my heart, but I never broke a fingernail.

When I walk into a hospital, I get nauseous.  I see a gurney and I have to turn away before I start to shake.  If I visit someone, I perch on the edge of a chair, ready to flee.  Scrunched into a ball or as near to it as dignity allows.  Barely controlling my nerves long enough to show them support.  It’s the thought that counts, right?

Once I had to take my husband to the hospital.  They didn’t know who to treat – me or him?

I’ve been able to avoid hospitals for the most part.  My mom had open heart surgery ten years ago.  I could barely walk into the room before she had the surgery – I certainly couldn’t afterwards.  Enter immersion therapy with Daycare for Psychos, doctor’s offices, various blood work and tests over time.  And still I want to run.

My last encounter was when I had a hysterectomy.  It took everything I could muster just to get to the hospital.  Fortunately, I had the nicest doctor ever but then I woke up screaming in recovery.  The nurse bitching at me to calm down or the morphine won’t work.  What’s your pain on a scale of 1 to 10?  12!

Can’t sit up, can’t lie down.  There’s not enough painkiller to go around.  Six weeks recovery.  But I survived that too.

So now you want my gallbladder.  It’s an easy surgery.  Laparoscopic.  In and out.  You’ll be fine.  Oh and if something goes wrong and we can’t do it laparoscopically, we’ll just cut you open.  No problem.  By the way, permanent side effects range from none to can’t eat fatty foods (goodbye steak) to continual nausea and constant diarrhea. This is supposed to make me feel better?

Oh well, I’m not sure writing this has made me feel any better.  Maybe I should have told you about my new psychiatrist.  She is really cool and she isn’t asking me to go into a hospital.

DH says to focus on a positive outcome.  My new mantra: I will be happy if there is a positive outcome.

 

© Manic Monday (manicmonday123). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Manic Monday (manicmonday123) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.