Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"simple and routine"

It is hard to believe it has only been three weeks since my surgery. Some days it feels like it has been months. I've debated long and hard whether or not to share what happened and have decided to because so many people have asked. While nothing life threatening or major happened, it was still  painful and intense and rocked my world in ways I wasn't sure my world could ever be rocked.

The good news is that I don't have cancer! I DO NOT HAVE CANCER! And that is a huge, huge relief. Even though the chances of me having caner were quite small, there was still a chance. The bad news is... well, things didn't exactly go as according to plan...

The morning of the surgery the anesthesiologist and I decided it would be best to just sedate me and use a local anesthetic instead of putting me completely under, which made me feel a lot better. They did say that if they couldn't sedate me enough they'd have to put me a under, but he was pretty sure that wouldn't happen. Well, that did happen, and they ended up putting me completely under. Then they ended up taking 2 cm of the cervix, instead of 1/2 cm like they said they would. 2 cm is roughly half the cervix. And because of that, there was more bleeding than there was supposed to be, so they had to use sutures and cauterization, instead of just cauterization.

I was only supposed to be in recovery for about an hour, and then I'd be able to go home, except I finally started to come out of the anesthesia about 3 hours after the surgery had started. And when I did, I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I was shaking and moving around the bed but not able to form my words to tell them I was in pain. The nurse thought I was cold, so she gave me a blanket. M came in the recovery area and saw me and knew that was my reaction to pain so he insisted that they give me pain meds; the nurse insisted I was just cold and gave me another blanket. He insisted again, and she asked me what my pain level was. When I told her it was a 6, M replied with, "Her 6 is your 12, give her some drugs". They did, and I promptly had an allergic reaction to them. So they gave me more drugs to reverse the drugs and then gave me some more drugs for the pain. But I was still in pain. Lots of it.

I felt burning and told them, they thought it was from the allergic reaction I had to the pain meds. But it wasn't. This was a horrible different pain but I was too drugged to convey what I was feeling and what I meant. They gave me more morphine and my will to care decreased dramatically and I decided, stupidly, that the pain would go away soon and I'd just go home and tough it out. After routinely popping a vicodin and 800mg motrin every 6 hours until the next day I knew something was definitely wrong and called to ask for a prescription for stronger meds. The doc said no, as he rarely even prescribes motrin for this kind of recovery and told me to come in, because something was definitely not right.

My mom drove me back to the hospital and I slowly made my way to the GYN clinic. I could barely walk and contemplated stealing a walker from an old lady but decided that wouldn't be a good choice. When I got to reception they saw my face and took me directly to a room. My BP was through the roof and I was hurting worse than I ever had before. The doc came in, asked if he could do an internal, took one look at me, turned green and ran out of the room yelling for the head RN and 2 other doctors to get in the room now. They insisted I take some pain meds immediately and then they all proceeded to examine me like I was a medical anomaly.

It turns out that I was not slightly psychotic when I was in recovery screaming in pain. That burning I felt was, in fact, burning and I had suffered from an extremely rare and incredibly painful complication during the surgery. I had an allergic reaction to the surgical prep solution and it caused second and third degree chemical burns everywhere they had used it. Using your awesome powers of deduction, you can figure out where it burned me, given what kind of surgery I had. It hurt. It hurt so bad that I would have so much rather had gone through all 3 labors and 4 births of my kids again, without any pain meds, again.

None of the doctors in the room had ever seen this before. They had only come across it briefly in medical books and only one had actually heard of it through a second hand story from med school about this type of reaction. They didn't exactly know what to do so they left the room and consulted their colleagues, Dr. Web, MD and Dr. Google dot Com. (I'm sure they didn't google, but I know they had to go looking for the solution to my problem.) And because it was my luck, there was nothing they could really do, except medicate me and wait for everything to heal. It wasn't like they could skin graft the area... We all made the decision that it was probably safer for me to go home and be on bedrest than to stay in the hospital. The risk of getting an infection at home was so much less than getting an infection if I stayed in the hospital.

So I went home, armed with vicodin and expecting to just sleep for the next week. I was under strict instructions to take my 1000mg of vicodin every 6 hours, along with my 800mg of motrin and not to lift anything heavier than 10 pounds or to drive, use a credit card or make any kind of important decisions. And then we would just deal with the liver problems at a later date.

I was pretty good about staying in bed. Restless, but too weak and in pain to really get up and do anything. After the second day of pumping myself full of drugs, I was still in just as much pain as I had been before, and I didn't feel good at all. So we made the decision to go to the ER. I was freaked about going there. Could you imagine the look the triage nurse would have given me when I told her what the problem was? "Um, yeah, my hoo-ha is completely burned and I need some pain meds." I'm 99.8% sure she would have excused herself right there and called the cops and social services.

Thankfully, my doc happened to be on call up in Labor and Delivery so after a call to him he told us to just come straight to L&D and he would take care of me there. By the time we got there I was in so much pain I was shaking again. They immediately got to work letting the nurse in training start my IV. And lets just say that didn't go so well, for anyone. After she blew a vein and I promptly proceeded to pass out, she passed off the IV starting duties to another nurse, who blew 2 more of my veins. After M almost decked her and as I was sobbing hysterically (honestly, my pain was at least a 10 out of 10. I was begging to just go home... I couldn't do it anymore) they admitted defeat and called the anesthesiologist in. He shot me up with some lidocaine and put the IV in on the first try and then gave me a fantastic cocktail of morphine and benedryl and I slipped off into night night land.

While I was all, "duuuuuuuuuh", my doctor and his colleague went in and removed all of the dead skin and surgical packing. And even through all of the morphine it still hurt but I felt almost instantly better with everything out of me. Then they admitted me to the surgical unit, sedated me and let me sleep for the better part of the next 15 hours. Again, because the risk of infection was great, I went home the next day to try to heal and rest. Things were going pretty well after that. I even managed to take the babies (my mom drove) to their GI appointment an hour and a half away.

And then less than a week later, I was in pain, again. But this was a different type of pain. A new pain... one that was actually worse... and the fun began again. 

(continued soon, because I KNOW you all love hearing about my body ;) )


I heart said...

OH MY GOD... I hate your damn cliffhangers! haha Jo, I'm so sorry to read all of this. This sounds like pure torture. :( All I can say is that I hope you're feeling better now!

Marie said...

JoAnna, I am so sorry you've gone through so much trauma. You have got to be one of the strongest people on earth. Hang in there. Hugs and prayers

Moore Musings said...


Nansi Masihi said...

WOW!!! I can't believe all you have gone through....hope you are starting to feel better:)

Jenni said...

OMG Jo! I can't believe that happened to you! You poor thing! I hope you start to heal quickly!

Anonymous said...

Why does it seem if it is going to happen to anyone it happens to you? You are one strong lady. You're in our prayers.

Tammy W.