Days 3-5: Moving on from the post-PAO blues

Day 3 was the toughest day of my hospital stay. It took me a while to get the fentanyl out of my system, so I still felt pretty dizzy, but I was  more aware of the pain than before. I struggled a bit with the noise and general hustle and bustle on the ward. It felt rather overwhelming and just ‘too much’. I felt a bit weepy, but it didn’t last long. By the end of the day, I felt better.

Once again I was disappointed with my lack of walking ability. I had hoped that today I’d get onto crutches, but all I managed was about seven steps with a walker before collapsing into a chair. I couldn’t lift myself back into bed and by the time I lay down, my ears were ringing, the nausea had returned, and I was sweating like I’d just finished a six mile run!

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Note matching DVT socks and regulation hospital gown – classy!

The good news is that from that night, things began to get a little easier. I started to get some proper sleep. And on day 4, I finally got onto my crutches! I made it to the bathroom where Irish helped me have a sit-down shower and a proper hair wash. Since I wasn’t attached to any drips or pumps any more, I changed into my own nightie. I cannot tell you how good this felt – it felt like a huge step forward in my progress as I’d never have managed all that on day 3!

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A hair wash and my own clothes – that’s better!

The nausea and breathlessness rescinded gradually. I ate more, I slept more. I even read a chapter or two of my novel and began to enjoy my visitors. I still felt very wobbly on my crutches and had one stumble in the bathroom where I had to put my weight through my operated side to avoid falling – ouch, but no real harm done. On day 5, we borrowed a wheelchair and Irish wheeled me around the hospital. It felt so disorientating – amazing how your world shrinks when you can’t move easily. I practiced on my crutches knowing that the smiley physio girls would give me the all clear to go home on day 6 if I could move safely on them.

I began to be aware of things I’d found helpful and things that I didn’t – so here are my list of Do’s and Dont’s for post-op recovery.

DO:
1) Take laxatives from day 2. You will need them. I asked the nurses for some, and I ate a lot of dried apricots.

2) Count up all the tiny wins – the first time you sit in a chair, the first time you brush your own teeth. This helped me realise I was making progress even though it wasn’t always as fast as I liked.

3) Tell the nurses if you have pain, nausea, or itching from the medication. They do not want you to suffer.

DON’T
1) Be too ambitious. I felt exhausted for about 3 days after surgery. My body needed rest and didn’t react well to the meds. Don’t punish yourself if you don’t hit your self-imposed goals. Nobody cares about them except you. Let your body recover in its own time.

2) Take too much stuff. I didn’t need half the clothes or books I brought. There is a tv attached to the hospital bed which costs a fortune but which gives you a bundle of about 20 channels plus about 20 movies and Internet / landline calls. It’s worth the money in my opinion.

3) Worry about being self conscious. These nurses have seen EVERYTHING. They have cleaned up, measured, and thrown away every bodily excretion you could think of. There is a time to worry about dignity and this is not it. That said, the staff were great at giving me as much privacy as is safe. Those hospital curtains are not pretty, but they serve a purpose.

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6 Comments

  1. This is very inspiring – you are clearly a very determined and courageous lady – keep going. Can only remember back to both my (very emergency) caesareans which were nothing like as debilitating as this but I wish I’d had those gems of advice beforehand. I wish you all the best. Also, totally relate to what you say about your world shrinking. My son was ill for a long time and while we were in hospital and focussed on his treatment/recovery a lot and my horizons narrowed to unbelievable proportions. Thankfully managing to broaden them out again these days 🙂

    Reply
    • Thank you for such a lovely comment, you just made me well up a little bit! So sorry to hear your son has been unwell – from watching the distress on the faces of my friends and family I think it hits loved ones just as much. Illness or major interventions like this are life-changing for entire families, not just the patients themselves, aren’t they. Especially where children are involved.

      As for determined – it is exhausting! I think I have an egg-timer’s worth of determination and it appears to run out just after lunch! However I am discovering the immense healing powers of the ‘mad men’ box set – how did I not know about this series earlier?!

      Reply
  2. Great post. Well done

    Reply
  3. becky

     /  November 11, 2012

    i have my op for my hip on wen and i want to be out of hospital by sat 4 my sisters bday heres hoping i make it.

    Reply

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