To start I would like to say that this blog will return to more regular updates real soon. Life keeps throwing me into the ditch and so I have not been able to blog as much as I want to. Also I have been blogging a lot about life, instead of about more interesting topics. That will even out in time. I do have a few things that have been written and drafted out but not finished. I hope to get back to them real soon.
However, today’s blog is another personal entry.
Note: This post details some of what happened with my surgical procedure. I will try not to be graphic, but if you are sensitive to medical descriptions like I am, this is my warning to you that this post could make you uncomfortable.
I had my surgery on Thursday. I am doing okay.
Leading up to the day of the surgery I had to take some antibiotics. While I am normally quite tolerant to most medications, that particular antibiotic made me very sick. I had severe headaches, stomach pains, constant nausea, muscle pains, no energy and bouts of depression. I looked up the medication and I found I had pretty much all of the common side effects, except the allergy side effects. Since I was not having an allergic reaction I continued to take the pills until the night before the procedure.
Because of how sick I was feeling, I could not stomach that pill further and decided I had to stop taking it and could not take it ever again. Since I made that decision, I was able to sleep better that night. While the sickness continued I could tell that things were already getting better as time passed and the side effects eased up.
On Thursday August 7th, I went downtown to see the surgeon and got there with a good thirty minutes of lead time. However, there were complications with the person before me and thus I ended up waiting almost an hour to get in. That is fine, I like a doctor that does not rush for the sake of time but takes care of their patients and wants to get things done right.
I had taken an anxiety pill ahead of time, so while normally I would have felt much panic and anxiety, instead I felt pretty relaxed and ready to get in and get this taken care of.
When I was called back, I was led into a room with a bed covered in white sheets and a small pillow. I took off my shirt, leaving on my tank top, and I removed my shoes and was instructed to lay down on my back with my arm up exposing the left armpit with the infection. A sheet was put over me.
I explained to the surgeon the situation with the antibiotic and he felt that I made the right decision. I had taken it long enough for it to have the effect that was intended. The size of the infection was down and ready to be removed, so it turns out that the decision was a good one for both me and him.
It was explained to me that I would not be put to sleep, instead I would be numbed up with anesthetic and the infected skin and tissue would be removed.
I was also warned that the initial shots would be very painful.
I must say all along I have felt this surgeon is extremely nice and very knowledgeable about his profession. I was misdiagnosed before by another doctor and another surgeon before meeting this particular surgeon. He knew exactly what was wrong within minutes. So going into this procedure I felt much confidence in this surgeon.
Some towels and plastic coverings were placed around the infected area. The large moveable lamp above the bed was adjusted and the surgeon talked to me while he began. He let me know kindly everything that was happening and warned me before pain.
When the first few little shots of anesthetic were injected I felt like it was totally fine. It hurt, but it was nothing to what I feared it would be. I started thinking to myself that this would not at all be that bad. All of those thoughts quickly vanished when he put the larger needle into, what felt like, directly into the infection. I was warned it ahead of time there would be a hot injection. I have not felt that kind of pain in a very long time and I cannot find words to correctly describe how awful that felt. It felt like someone had set my nerves on fire. It caused me to cry out in agony, it was awful.
Luckily the pain quickly disappeared in less than a minute as the anesthetic took its effect on my nerves.
At that point he mentioned I would feel pressure but I should not feel pain and to say if I do feel any pain. He took out the scalpel and started cutting into me and I felt it and told him I felt the pain, so he had to do further injections of anesthetic on me.
He said to me he put so much in that I could probably feel it dripping down the side of my body now. I told him I could not feel anything at all, no dripping or anything, so I felt I was ready to go!
After that I literally felt nothing except movement and pressure. I heard yucky sounds of snipping, cutting and stuff being put on a tray. Tools being used and exchanged. Brief words spoken between the nurse and the surgeon. For the most part he worked on me. Between the anesthetic and the anxiety pill, I felt just fine and relaxed. I could have been sitting at home enjoying life, except of course for the man hovering over my armpit.
What an awkward place really. I can think of many other awkward places for an infection though. It is right in the crevice of my armpit where it folds, making it a difficult location. I was told ahead of time that I would not be sewn back up, instead it would be left open in such a way that my body could heal from the inside out. Closing the wound would allow the infection to be reintroduced and I would have to be cut open again. So instead I would have to take careful care of it at home while it healed.
After only about twenty minutes the surgeon let me know I was almost finished, but he explained to me that he had to stop the “little bleeders” before he could bandage me up. The surgeon held his hand on my wound while waiting to get setup for the next part. The nurse brought in a machine. I did not actually see the machine, but I heard it being brought in and set up. The nurse seemed new to the machine so she had to fiddle with it a bit and asked some questions about it. A flat cold material was attached to the skin on my stomach. It had a flat surface with some wires sticking out of the top leading to, I assume, the machine.
Google tells me this machine is used for Cauterization. This is the process in which flesh is burned to stop the bleeding. I still do not know what the thing on my stomach was for in connection to this.
The surgeon turned on the machine and held to me what looked like a thick long pen-like device. He activated it and a swishing sound was heard. Then he used it on me. I smelt the smell of my own burning flesh and long thick strands of grey smoke rose above me within my view. He worked on it for a short while and then declared that finished.
He bandaged me up and explained the home care process. I would need plenty of gauze, two bottles of peroxide and paper medical tape. I had to clean and rinse the wound twice a day, pour peroxide on it, then cover it with gauze and tape it securely. I needed the peroxide to be fresh as it loses potency after being opened, so after two weeks I will have to change bottles. I need to do this for a solid month and come in for another appointment. I do not have to take any further antibiotics. I can take over the counter pain medications for pain. I was not to start this process until Friday though, that I needed to leave the current bandages on for a day.
His nurse was instructed to give me a sampling of tape and gauze and instructions for me. After the surgeon finished with me, his nurse came back into the room with a bag. She said she had given me enough stuff for a whole month, that I would just have to buy the peroxide. What a kind person she was been to me.
In all honesty, everyone at that facility had been consistently very kind to me and I feel like I really got the best surgeon I could have for this whole situation. He was brilliant, professional and so kind to me and so was the nurse. I am so thankful for that.
I put on my shirt and shoes, noting a huge bandage under my arm but still unable to feel anything, and walked out of the room. Well I hobbled out. My body was in shock. My hands and legs were uncontrollably shaking, I was very unsteady and feeling quite a bit fuzzy. I guess while my mind was relaxed from the anxiety pill, my body was not at all relaxed and had a huge jolt of adrenaline and shock. This made it rather difficult to walk.
Luckily I had a family member with me and they drove me to the store and picked up my peroxide, then they drove me home and dropped me off.
I talked with my roommates for a while, but they noted I was dozing off mid-conversation. I headed down to the computer and let my online friends know I was doing okay. I was fighting sleep at every step. What should have taken about 2-3 minutes took around 20 for me. Between the shaking and the exhaustion, I was having a difficult time keeping my thoughts together. Eventually I made it to the bedroom and I do not even remember changing clothes and crawling into bed.
Around four hours later I woke up and I felt like I had had the best sleep I had gotten all week long. I was still numbed up from the anesthesia so I could feel nothing still. So other than stomach discomfort that I always seem to have these days, I felt like a million bucks.
I noted as the day went on the bandages got more and more soaked with blood. The surgeon mentioned I might bleed, but I would just need to apply pressure and let it be. I was not worried, I had not seen the wound yet, but I felt okay.
That night I went to bed and hoped I would sleep clear through the night. Instead I slept a few hours and woke up in discomfort. My nerves were alive and well it seems.
I also felt very sick. Again. Every day all week long I had felt sick from the antibiotics and again still I was waking up feeling sick. At 5am I crawled out and looked at the bandage in the mirror. It was clearly very soaked through with blood. I felt it was time to face the situation and take care of it.
I pulled off the bandage slowly. The tape made red marks all along my skin and caused me pain all by itself. As the wound was slowly exposed to air, my nerves woke up even more. The pain had arrived.
As soon as I saw the wound my stomach turned. I started sobbing. I have such sensitivity to medical things. I have never seen anything like this before on my body. I do not know what I expected, I guess I was thinking it would be smaller. Instead I have a neatly cut round hole that goes an inch into my body, a finger could easily go into it. A pit in my armpit.
The surgeon had cut it this way to avoid it from healing together in a way that would cause it to heal unevenly. The wound needs to heal from the inside deepest point up to the top. It needs to fill itself in as it heals.
I tossed away the bloody bandages and started the shower. If I had thought the air awakened my nerves, I was definitely not prepared for the water. I chose lukewarm water on the colder side. When the water ran over it, that is when I felt real pain.
I stood in the shower like that for several minutes letting the water wash out the wound. I could not touch it, everything hurt so much, I just had to let the water clean it best I could.
I had two large bottles of peroxide, however we got a peroxide squirt bottle as well. The surgeon had instructed me to pour the peroxide on, but because of the angle I had to find a different way to achieve that so the squirt bottle was the answer to that.
I clenched my teeth and aimed the bottle for the hole in my body. I knew this would be bad. I squirted it on several times as fast as I could. It was awful, painful, my nerves were very alive and protesting hard. It burned like hell.
I washed the excess peroxide off my body, but left it on the wound and stepped out of the shower. I called down my roommate, a retired nurse, who examined me and declared that while it looked awful to me it was in very good condition and uninfected. She helped me dress the wound and tape me up.
Once covered I felt better again. The nerves were calm and the pain was dulled. After dealing with the infection for months I was used to chronic pain in that location, so a bit of pain was bearable.
The rest of the day I slept. I could not stop sleeping. I felt sick still, my energy zapped and I felt weak. I needed recovery time. This hit my body harder than I expected, I really did not know my body would be in such shock. I was not expecting that.
Today is Saturday, it has only been a couple of days. I have discovered that while very few people have sensitivity to paper medical tape, my skin is very sensitive to it. I have red painful marks from it all around the wound. We are working on a solution for that situation. We are trying different bandaging methods. This is a month long situation, so I need to find something that works.
I have changed the bandage only three times now. I can tell you that each and every time is horribly painful. I assume that this will ease up as the days pass and eventually it will not be such a painful ordeal. Thankfully though, the every day pain between bandage changes is dull and bearable.
At least now things are healing. The infection is gone and my body is healing and this is progress in the right direction. I am still having bouts of sickness, but it is not the same nausea and awfulness that I had with the antibiotic. My body is just dealing with all of this and I can live with that.
So anyway, that is what is going on in my life and that is why I really have not been writing here so much lately. Between Listeria, the storm, and this I have been busy feeling sick or being sick.
I have gone through a lot lately and really am hoping that some good stuff will find its way to me soon. I count my blessings and never stop appreciating the wonderful things, but I honestly could use a round of good stuff to offset this round of bad stuff.