Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Post Hernia Surgery

Getting my clothes on at the hospital and riding home in the car were not too bad. For sure, I knew my guts had been cut open and my brain was still a bit groggy from being put out, but I was feeling OK all things considered.

Most of the way home I relived how foolish I acted after waking up from the anesthesia, high fiving the nurse and then when the surgeon came by, I high-fived him too though the memory of him looking at the nurse with this quizzical look when I put my hand up and her telling him to high-five me still causes a wry grin to spread across my face.  All fairly silly stuff and what happens when your brain gets zoned out by heavy drugs. And, for some reason I woke up with this insane desire for chocolate cake. I wonder if someone talked about cake during the surgery and my brain picked up on it.

After getting home, I limped upstairs to lay on the couch and maybe watch TV and check email. Before too long, with pillows under my knees and head, it was lights out again while laying on my back. At the time this seemed a good idea. After waking up and finding that the normal movement pattern of turning to my side to get off the couch was way too painful, like a knife in the gut painful, second thoughts about the wisdom of sleeping on the couch were front and center in my pain seared wide-awake brain. Try as I might to find a way to move without pain there just wasn't any way around it so I slowly and in agonizing pain slid, shifted, pushed, pulled and cried my way off the couch.  Once crawling downstairs I looked at the hydrocodone pills and decided to wait until the morning to try them. Instead I took some ibuprofen, ate a little food, and then crawled into the spare bedroom bed since my moaning and groaning would surely wake my wife who needed to work the next day.

This is the end of the story for now.  Since the response was pretty underwhelming, I ran out of motivation to keep this going through my recovery phase.  Suffice it to say, I did recover.  Most likely the surgeon nicked a nerve during surgery which apparently happens all the time.  Six months later I was having some minor problems with leg strength.  My advice is that though no one tells you should do it, get Physical Therapy even if insurance does not cover it.  Your core muscles are weak.  If you don't rehab them completely you are going to end up with back pain, hip pain, and maybe other pain that radiates down your leg. 

Any questions, leave a comment.  Thanks!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hernia Surgery Part II

This is part II of the day I actually got my gutpatch inserted. If you missed part I you can read it here.

Here I am at out-patient admittance dressed in my prescribed loose fitting sweatpants, baggy button up shirt and jacket.  My wife is dropping me off and helping make sure the payment agreement all makes sense. Basically, the hospital made me a deal that if I pay my deductible the day of surgery, they will only charge me that much no matter what.
Hopefully this includes the nurse anesthetist and all the other stuff that gets tacked on. It's only been 5 weeks since surgery and you can never be sure for a few months how it will all work out.

So, they tell me right away that the surgeon is running late because of some emergency that morning.  I ask about coming back in a couple hours and they don't want to let me go. Vee Dont Vant To Let You Go.  OK - I'll stay.  

Most important takeaways:

  1. If the nurse getting the IV into your arm misses twice you can ask for a different nurse. I should have done this before she missed five times and I told her she was making me feel sick, didn't want to look like a heroin addict, and could not take her missing again. She cheerfully got another nurse who got it on #2. 
  2. Take care of things that require clear thinking before they get the IV in you because there are drugs to "help you relax".  
  3. It's not that hard to get up and go to the bathroom carrying your IV bag.
    Plus the bathroom has a place to hang it. If you have to go, then do it before surgery. 
  4. Falling asleep in pre-op is good. It makes you forget the surgeon is running two hours late and you are laying around waiting to be cut.  
  5. The surgery room was not like a technology manufacturing cleanroom.  If you have worked in cleanrooms like in a fab operation then a hospital cleanroom does not seem that clean.  Operating cleanrooms would probably be class10K in my old tech world though would probably test out around 1-2K with a particle counter is my guess based on many years in that world. Other people will probably just think it is a very clean room.  I was a bit taken aback myself.
  6. A local anesthetic and drugs to put you in lala land really means you are out cold but not so far that the anesthetist has to shove a breathing tube down your nose or throat. My recommendation is go with the local and lala land drugs. A friend had a tooth chipped by the breathing apparatus down his throat. His dentist said it "happens all the time" because operating personnel don't care so much about your teeth.  
  7. You will say and do stupid stuff when you come out of anesthesia. Don't worry about it. As we said in Part I about KYST and GYST, add NGF at this point.  Really, in your delirium if you start high fiving the nurses and the surgeon, telling the operating room nurse she has a cute outfit on really meaning it, and begging for chocolate cake it is OK.  They have probably seen and heard worse than that.  
  8. The loose fitting clothing is super important NOW.  It is hard to move and having clothing that is easy to get into now is less painful. Slip-on shoes are a nice touch as well.  
  9. Even though stuff hurts at this point, it is nothing like its going to hurt in a few hours or tomorrow morning.  
Try to sleep after you eat something.  You will probably be hungry from the overnight fast.  I did not get a headache from no caffeine because there was most likely two gallons of ibuprofen in me at that point.  I ate and then fell asleep on the couch.  

Next installment is about waking and getting up the first time and you can read it now by clicking HERE!  

Please comment below and I will answer all questions. This blog will only become useful if people comment and add their experience and ask the questions which other people share but are afraid to ask. Plus, everyone's experience is different. How did you find out you needed surgery?  Were you scared? How did you deal with it? Was it relief to know? Or, was the info a complete surprise? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Let's Have a Hernia Repair Operation - Step 4 Part 1

Why should you read this? Who should read this?

This post is going to provide some info about what it is like the day of surgery and is primarily for the novice surgery patient who, like me, had little experience with hospitals, doctors, nurses, hospital procedures, etc, and were nervous due to fears of the unknown and well-founded concerns about what can happen even during the simplest of medical procedures. If that is you then read on. 

Wear loose fitting clothing ✅
No food and drink since midnight ✅
Something to read ✅
Fully charged Smart phone ✅
Patience ✅
Driver ✅
Living Will - draft (hmm.. bit of a fail here) ✅
Advised brother and dad and kids ✅
Prayed for doctor and nurses ✅
Credit card ✅
Identification (drivers licence) ✅

These are some of the things you need on the day you go in for out-patient or what is more correctly known as ambulatory surgery. Some of this checklist is provided by the Ambulatory surgery center (ASC) or surgeon, and some of this is what you need to maintain your equanimity or possibly more colloquially known as KYST and GYST. See picture or click links if you don't know these FLA's.

There really is no way around the fact that unless this is the second hernia operation you are having, you don't know what is going to happen, you are extremely nervous, and anything to help you feel prepared is going to increase your feeling of control which helps you relax. There are probably a few readers that can surrender to the situation - my hat is off to you and I salute you and am envious. Most likely though you "surrender folks" are not even reading this because you have evolved past the need for this kind of banter, dry humor, and detailed information.

For the rest of us, doing something to prepare ourselves for the unknown the best we can, lets us relax a little. We have something familiar to fall back on when in a new situation.  For example, when waiting around to be admitted, or laying in the gurney prior
Hospital Gurney
to surgery, having your smart phone that you know how to use, gives you a familiar pattern to engage in which is relaxing.  A book can do the same thing. Or, reciting a prayer you know. Any of these activities engage you in something you know how to do and that will help you concentrate on what you know and forget a little bit about what you don't. That brings us to fear of the unknown.

 In order to help you, the reader, feel better I am painting a picture of what you are likely to experience so when it happens, you will remember and possibly say to yourself "oh yeah, I remember Gutpatch talking about this". That alone will let you calm down because it then becomes a shared experience between you and me.  And, the surgery thing can be a lonely experience. Gutpatch might be one of the few people that understands what you are going through. Check out this article in The Atlantic about extraordinary experiences both good and bad.  I believe that though this article talks mostly about extraordinary positive experiences that it applies equally to something that is usually perceived negatively like surgery.
People who had extraordinary experiences, meanwhile, had “little in common” with those who had run-of-the-mill experiences, and the resulting combination of strangeness, jealousy, and abnormality caused the extraordinary people to feel left out. In other words, you had to be there. Apparently, though, we don’t anticipate the social rejection that might ensue when we try to regale our acquaintances with stories from our trek across New Zealand.
Hey, hopefully you have lots of friends who will call you up, come see you, send you flowers, listen to you talk about how much it all sucks, and bring over food. All I can say is - don't count on it, and if it happens, count yourself really fortunate and say thank-you a lot. But mostly, even if our friends and family know about what you are getting ready to do, they will think it is not a big deal, or they don't want to be too involved because you don't want that, or for a billion other good reasons give you lots of space. If that is case, you are back stuck with Gutpatch. 

Sorry to get a bit psychological here. I think if you understand how things might go, you will have an easier time. And, it is OK to talk to yourself and imagine Gutpatch is there actually telling you this stuff to your face and you are arguing with me and telling me I'm full of it and to go screw off. That is OK!

This is getting a bit long so I am going to break it into two parts.  Part II will be coming soon and cover what is gong to happen once they open the door of the waiting room and escort you back.

Read Part II by clicking HERE!

Please comment below and I will answer all questions. This blog will only become useful if people comment and add their experience and ask the questions which other people share but are afraid to ask. Plus, everyone's experience is different. How did you find out you needed surgery?  Were you scared? How did you deal with it? Was it relief to know? Or, was the info a complete surprise? 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Flower My Pedi Please - And I'll Take Those Shoes, What a Deal - Scooter Girl Gets Some Pre-Op Glam

Ready for Dancing in these
Flower my Pedi Please!

A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do!  You've been told you will not be able to walk for 6 weeks and that you will be in recovery for 6-12 months after surgery, what does that girl gotta do?  

She has to go the day before surgery and invest in an amazing pedicure. 

Nothing completes a girly girl like a bright pink pedi with a pretty flower painted on top.  

Even though I could not sit properly in the pedi
massage chair due to my swollen and damaged hamstring, I managed to sit cockeyed through the procedure while a very nice lady at our local salon took care of my soon to be bed ridden feet.  Being that it was summer and I would find myself indoors for a while, I opted for a very bright shade of hot pink and had her top it off with a daisy hand painted on each large toe.  While I didn't know if it would be allowed to stay on during surgery, It is up to your anesthesiologist, I took a chance and was relieved to find my pretty pink toes staring up at me post-operatively. A little bright spot through my pain wincing eyes.   

This post is simply to bring a little lightheartedness into the story of Scooter Girl's Proximal Hamstring Rupture repair.  

Trying on just for fun paired with compression sock
I have to say that I was very happy with my decision to take care of this pre-surgery pampering.  I have enjoyed glancing at my feet at times while laying down for all hours of the day. It somehow brings the feminine to a place that, much of the time, seems dull and boring.

Girls - Take Care of Yourselves!

I'll Take Those Shoes, What a Deal!

Part two of this post, Ladies?  You know how every now and then you stumble upon a pair of shoes?  You know the ones, high end designer, the last pair on the discount rack?  You do the double take, that glance, which makes you flush with instant recognition that they were just waiting for you and only you, then the hesitation, "what if they don't fit?"

These are the ones!  Magnificent!
A week before my surgery I was out with my husband, niece and grand niece.  He needed a pair of work shoes so the four of us launched out towards one of our favorite shoe stores.  As I hobbled about in discomfort, holding onto the day as a token of a day out before my long recovery and housebound days would keep me inside, unable to sit and unable to stand and walk unaided for many weeks, I ambled to the discount rack.  I had been hoping to spot a pair of shoes for my niece as a gift, however, there, in a perfect brown box atop the little velvet bag and baggie of two extra heels was THAT pair of shoes.  $250.00 Ellie Tahari kiwi and cream stiletto sandals.  I knew in an instant they were for me.  At a half size too small according to the box, I snagged the box off the shelf in such a way that wreaked of sneaky, looking over my shoulder in hopes that no one else was trying to dive in at the same time. I strode over to a little bench, reached down through my pain and put those little kiwi sandals on my feet.  They were a perfect fit!  I stood in them, wobbly leg, "she has conquered."  I watched as my husband made his way over to me, standing tall, proclaiming, "THESE SHOES SHALL BE MY MOTIVATION TO DANCE AGAIN AND BE WHOLE!"
$19.99.  Now all I needed was that pedi and I was ready to be cut open and face what was coming next.

Ladies - Take Care of Yourselves!

New Pedi added 9-26-15 with yellow sunflower
I could finally sit for it.
It helps to feel girly and fresh in my cocoon

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Every Event Needs An Outfit -Scooter Girl, Fashionista or Practical Stylist ???

The Gluteal Fold - The crease separating the buttocks from the thigh - according to the medical dictionary and my doctor.

Here are some images to help understand where I am going with this posting.

Realizing that within days I would be receiving a slice in my gluteal fold of 8-9 cm, and three screws embedded into my Ischial Tuberosity (sit bone) which will hold my proximal hamstrings in place through the tendon to which they are attached, I had a realization that regular under and outer clothing would not be the recovery fashion of choice.  After pondering this for a short while, I instantly came up with my plan, after all I am a fashionista right?  Boy boxer shorts, tank tops and tee shirts and thong underwear where what I set my shopping sights upon.

This ended up being a simple task as I pondered the selections in my local "big box store", you know the one, as I happened upon packages of very colorful old fashioned cotton boxers in the men's section.  Colors of oranges, pinks, blues, lime and lemon.  I actually tried them on and found the bigger size, in my case medium, was the better choice because they fell loosely over my gluteal fold.  I proceeded to the ladies tee shirt section and to my delight I found tee shirts and tank tops in every color found in the boxers.  Onto the ladies underwear department and voila, thong underwear and simple cotton sports bras in mix match packages, in the same colors!  All on the cheap, yet as I checked out with my lot, I felt quite happy with myself and my bags full of color coordinated post operative attire.

Here is a sampling:

One must not lose sight of fashion just because 

they are going to be laid up for several months with a cut along the panty line and screws placed just beneath said cut.

As an additional bit of fashion advice concerning the day of outpatient surgery and dressing for the ride home, invest in a comfy granny gown, found at the same big box store.  My husband had the idea, which I at first questioned, being that the styles went against my fashion style and judgement.  He went out the day before surgery and just bought one going on the hunch that I would be comfy for the ride home wearing a long, gently flowing gown.  He was right, I admitted as he placed it over my head before leaving the hospital for the groggy ride home.  No undies needed and the ride home was cozy as could be wearing this:

The moral of the post op fashion story, dress for comfort, but do not compromise on style when you will be wearing the same kind of clothing for weeks on end during a long recovery period.  In my case, I am still enjoying the selections 7 weeks post op while in my cocoon, unable to drive. You will appreciate the colors and coordination and have some sense of control when you cannot wear your favorite pre-surgery attire.  

Trust me however, during such a long recovery, you will open your closet, pull out your favorite items and glance at them with longing.  At this point, they will not provide bodily comfort however they will motivate you to look ahead into the future, beyond recovery.  In the end, I think Scooter Girl is both fashionista and practical stylist!

I hope this has helped someone out there toying with this same issue.  Stay tuned for more stories from Scooter Girl, tales of a Cartwheel injury, Complete Proximal hamstring Tear/Avulsion/Rupture....all three will come up on a search.

Thank you for reading my stories, please feel free to comment and share yours.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Ma, Do You Want To Be Lame For The Rest of Your Life? Get an MRI ! Notes from Scooter Girl

There comes a time when your kids speak to you with firm, emphatic, COMMAND!  "Mom! go get an MRI, call right now."  "Ma, do you want to be lame for the rest of your life?  Get an MRI!"  Your leg will never heal right and you will physically be half the person you were!  Those words cut right through the fog that had been lingering over me for a week after the cartwheel.  I had been going it alone, not thinking it was so bad.  I wanted to believe that it was just a bad tear.  Yet, it only felt worse, and to top it off, I was concerned about spending money on myself for medical treatment.

I made an appointment to see my primary doctor right away.  They were able to get me in within two days due to a cancellation.  At the appointment my pain level was really high and after climbing up to the exam table, getting the once over of the leg by my doc, climbing down and standing, due to my inability to sit properly I nearly passed out as the pain level was through the roof in several places behind my upper leg.  She said she could not tell how severe it was and referred me to the organizations non-surgical ortho doc. several days away.  I was spasming so badly in her office she offered me a shot of Ketorolac Tromethamine (Toradol) in my right buttock.  She also gave me a prescription for Tizanidine for muscle spasm.

I went home that day, knowing that something was really wrong, called my son, who lives in Asheville, and his response was of major concern spoken with authority.  While my husband didn't think it was as major, my son had a bad feeling about it.  He was incredibly angry that the doctor didn't order an MRI that day and implored me to call her office and have her write an order for one immediately and to go ahead and call an MRI agency and make my own appointment.  Honestly, it all seemed so difficult for me.  I have been healthy my whole life and navigating medical calls and appointments was looking like an arduous task ahead.  He spelled it out for me, about being lame the rest of my life, walking with a limp, never having my healthy leg again.  His words cut right through me!  My kid, the one I spent his life caring for, guiding, consoling, disciplining was now in the role for the first time of instructing me with firm voice and tough LOVE!  My sister, who lives in Kansas City was mirroring his same concern and at the same time she was trying to guide me on now to arrange my own MRI.

I was able to get my MRI referral and make an appointment with an independent imaging company the next day.  My husband drove me and by this time he was beginning to suspect that my injury was more complicated then a hamstring pull or belly tear.  (the belly is what the middle ground of our hamstring is referred to, typically the location of a regular sports injury tear, when some of the fibers have torn cross-ways).

I spent my half hour in the MRI tube, joked around with the technician about how I had injured myself with a cartwheel, and upon finishing, I looked at her in the eye and said, "okay, I know you cannot tell me anything, but should I be worried?"  She looked back at me and said, "It is good you listened to your pain." Then upon leaving the facility, with my disk in hand, the other tech yelled across to my husband, "she deserves a really expensive dinner out tonight, but no dancing!"  Chuckles abounded, I was worried.

I put that disk into my computer as soon as I got home.  After figuring out how to open the files, I was able to see the 200+ images.  Of course I could not tell what I was seeing with the exception of one thing.  The bad leg was completely white on the images.  Swollen tissue compared to the other leg and white stringy webbing.  I sunk, I knew it was not a good thing I was seeing.  The next morning, Friday first thing, my doctor's office called to confirm that I was keeping my appointment on Monday with the Orthopedic Doc.  Her nurse was very concerned and just blurted it out ---- "you have a complete hamstring tear and will possibly need surgery, please keep that appointment!".

                                                 One of the images

Hamstring research commenced - now I knew my life was about to change, I called my son and my sister and thanked them for making me act.

You just never know what will happen when you do a cartwheel AND listen to your kids when they speak with wisdom!  

Thank you for reading.  I have much to tell going forward, stay tuned and I welcome your comments and good humor.  Rachel - Scooter Girl.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Oh Man! Getting Surgery Scheduled - Step 3

Gutpatch Sees the Surgeon

When writing this post the first time, I tried to be humorous and witty and light-hearted. After reading the draft and realizing it was anything but those things, I left it on the shelf a few days. While getting mad at a file cabinet and trying to undo my stitches and thinking back about this time (yea - random actions and thoughts coalescing at a weird moment) , I realized there was just nothing humorous going on at this point. I was scared and in the unknown.
Yea, I had consulted with a couple doctor friends long-distance, my local nurse friend and others who had the operation. But, at this point, I'm thinking have I jumped too fast? Should I get a 2nd opinion? What am I doing? Here is what was going on at this point. Sound familiar to anyone?   

There is a protocol most of us have to follow in order to keep the insurance company happy. First you have to go to your general practitioner (GP) and then they refer you to a surgeon.

The office where my GP (who is a nurse practitioner) works could not get me in for about a week and a half. I did a little studying up on inguinal hernias since I was fairly certain that would be the diagnosis. After a drop your drawers exam, he confirmed that indeed that was what I had. He had assisted one of the local surgeons (Dr H) many times and he said that guy was a very confident surgeon. He also mentioned there was a new, younger woman who recently moved to town that was highly skilled.

One of my river rafting friends has been a nurse for 30+ years and recommend Dr H without me even asking. Another friend had used Dr H the year before. And, I found out Dr H had been doing something like 50 -70 hernia operations a year for several years. So, I made an appointment with Dr H. A couple weeks later on a Thursday I see Dr H who confirms the hernia diagnosis with a physical exam, says x-rays and/or ultrasound are not needed, and asks when I want to do this. I'm thinking these things always take forever to get scheduled and say the sooner the better. He asks. "How about Monday at noon?".  OK, I stammer out, and off he goes to the next patient. I get a booklet of dos and don'ts for before the surgery, and a pre-op test request I need to have done at the hospital: EKG and blood work for various things, and some kind of questionnaire to fill out and submit when checking in to outpatient. They send me over to the hospital which is next door and I spend 15 minutes getting the blood drawn and the EKG done.  

One of my main concerns was anesthesia because I had a step-mom and step-dad and father-in-law all develop dementia or Alzheimer after undergoing a general anesthesia (GA). I wanted a local and not GA if possible. He said bring this up with the anesthesiologist when admitted for the surgery.  He said with the local they numb out the area being operated on and put you into lala land. With GA you are put out completely.  I forget to ask what type of surgery he is going to do - laproscopic or standard though he did confirm the insertion of a mesh material.

The mesh is used like a tire patch, left in place, and your tissue grows in and around this stuff providing a hopefully permanent fix to a hernia on that side. Hence, my post-op nickname now of Gutpatch.

I get a call on Friday from the hospital regarding a couple things. First, my blood work and EKG look good. Then they interview me over the phone about medical conditions, current prescriptions, what vitamins do I take, etc. Then I get instructions about not eating or drinking after midnight the day of the operation. Also, someone from the financial side calls to say if I pay the day of the operation I can get a discount. In a daze I agree and then realize when talking to my wife later, I am not really sure what I've agreed to.  

Then of all things I'm talking with a good biking buddy telling him about what is going on and he says, "I would never let Dr H cut me! He messed up some kid by getting him infected and went back in and that didn't work and then they had to take him to another hospital 60 miles south, blah, blah, blah.  Oh, and by the way, I shouldn't tell you this now, so forget what I just told you. Besides, it is all third hand."  

Well, Holy Jesus, Yikes, Oh My God and now I am physically sick to my stomach scared.  And, thinking back to the conversation with my GP was he saying something in code not wanting to overtly say anything negative about Dr H who does 50 - 70 of these operations per year? "He is a confident surgeon".  He didn't say he was a good or excellent surgeon. He sort of sounded upbeat when talking about the new, young woman surgeon and then sounded serious talking about Dr H as "confident". Oh man, did I miss something here I should have asked more about? Should I delay and get a 2nd opinion? 

I decide to call the hospital and ask for infection rate data. They ask me to leave my name and number and say someone will call back. Indeed, the Infection Coordinator calls back in under an hour and I quiz her. They have had no infections in the last year. There were 90 hernia operations done last year and Dr H did 80% of them. I ask what were the infection rates of previous years and get a run-around answer like either she doesn't have the data or does not want to share it. 

After sharing all this with my wife later in the day, she asks what are you going to do. I've already decided that all this doubt is like the negative self-talk that tries to stop me when kayaking or rowing my cataraft through a Class 3+/4- rapid. And, it feels like the pit in my stomach at the top of a 40+ degree snowy slope before I ski down. The correct course feels like I should do what I do in those circumstances. Put the fears aside, relax into the situation, and freaking go for it! One thing I have learned is that if fear freezes you up, then the worst will probably happen. If you stay loose and reasonably confident yet still careful and not over-confident, things usually and always up-until-now work out alright.  So, I'm going forward with the operation next Monday and just a weekend to fret my way through. 

Click HERE to read the next exciting post about hernia repair!

Please comment below and I will answer all questions. This blog will only become useful if people comment and add their experience and ask the questions which other people share but are afraid to ask. Plus, everyone's experience is different. How did you find out you needed surgery?  Were you scared? How did you deal with it? Was it relief to know? Or, was the info a complete surprise?