This is the biggy - the full hospital encounter.
Day 0 and Day 1 were spent getting pumped with fluid and mostly on the operating table and so I recalled the day leading upto and the morning in my last post.
Fluid changed me from this..
To this in 8 hours.
Day 2 and Day 3 - Waking up to face the heat!
Day 2 and Day 3 were days of personal challenge and tolerance. I am so glad I barely remember this bit because it was hot...hot as hell and I was chubby as you like from about 6 units of fluid they put in through my Canula on the back of my hand. I sweated, a lot. The morphine was on tap with a thumb presser. I remember the nurses kept coming and going checking my morphine use and telling me I could use it when I wanted and commenting on how I wasn't using it much at all. I was though, I was not in pain as such more discomfort. The more morphine I used the more I itched and no-one told me until later in the week that I could have taken anti-histamine tablets to stop the itching! It would have halfed my personal torture I can tell you. In and out of morphine haze I remembered the physio had told me to clench my buttocks and wiggle my feet, bend my knees periodically and breath deeply to reduce DVP (deep veing thrombosis) and pneumonia chances. So I did. The bear hugger blanket kept my body temperature at 38 degrees Celsius to help the healing, open the capillaries in my blood and such other good for me reasons. It was nauseating hell! It didn't help that when I did the physio I kicked the bear hugger inflating tube and it would deflate, I would cool, I would call I nurse on the button and then, when reconnected to the inflatable blanket my body would try and aclimatise to the nauseating heat again. It was a nightmare. It filled me with dread every time it came loose. Day 2 I was visited by my gorgeous hubby who I was so glad to see.
Day 3 was the worst day for the bear hugger - during a bed bath it was disconnected and I had to endure sickening pain as I moved to aid the nurses change my bed linen whilst I was in it and to get me clean. I was so exhausted from all the moving and the morphine itching (that I couldn't reach or hurt myself trying to scratch), the shifting relentlessly to find some comfort (without much success) as I led on my drains in my back. As I was sponged down by nurses my mouth dried so much I couldn't speak or swallow and I was scared, genuinely. The nurses were busy sorting my drains out as there were 10 of them and bed baths and bed change is not very friendly to drains! I panicked and then tears streamed down my face as I got stuck in a sad, painful, too hard place. I had never felt so low or so afraid in my life. What the hell have I done to myself - why do I have to do this to live? Why? The nurses plugged me back in just before lunch arrived and my temperature soared. I tried to eat some toast but I took one bite and then wanted to cry as the nausea reached a point where I nearly asked for one of those cardboard bowls..but I survived. It passed. I controlled it and then I knew it would be okay. I was tough. I heard a lot of women in the nearby wards who were not so well, I felt for them - I had major surgery and I was well. I was more well than I realised as people kept telling me so.
Day 3 lingered and my tolerance waned as the deadline to remove the bear hugger came closer. At visiting time in the afternoon my husband and my mum-in-law arrived. I was grumpy. I was so hot, so sick of the itching, so tired that I spouted utter crap that I don't really remember. I apologise to anyone I offended if I did..it was hard. I was suffering under that damned blanket. I sprayed myself lots to cool down. I counted the hours, the minutes until it was off. I celebrated the moment everytime someone came in - telling them that today it was coming off. Then..as if the moment would never arrive..it was coming off!! Whoooopeeeee!!! A nurse said the most precious of words to me.."It's nearly time..only 15 minutes to go. Shhhhh..I'll take it off now as I am in here. Okay?" I wish I could have hugged her (no pun intended). It was the best thing ever. Get it off!!
Above is a picture of the very very very helpful healing bear hugger blanket that I loathe. It had moments where both the heat and the morphine combined to create a moment of peace and null void feeling. I remember little really and very glad about that!
At 5pm two of my favourite nurses came in to transform me back into a woman! It was bliss! Another bed bath and a breast surgery nightie (wide and able to slip elbows into arm holes). Angela (my angel) brushed my hair and made me happy again. I felt amazing and by the time that my husband arrived back for the next visiting slot I had been transported half way back to his wife again. I was happy! And I had beautiful flowers and messages of support. Surgery, bear hugger, morphine drip now off the list. I was down to catheter and drain removal now. Halfway there...halfway.
Day 4 was a celebration of surviving Day 3 and getting out of my stupid air mattress bed that made my bum numb and sore. I sat in my chair for the first time and it was almost bliss. Comfort. I ate for the first time in 4 days. I marvelled at the size of my thighs whilst I carried so much water still. I took a photo of my anti-DVT socks...hate them, itchy, get them off too!
I sat for hours and paid for it when I was helped back into bed. I tried to sleep that night but I woke with my teeth chattering, feeling scared. My body had got so used to laying numbly stiff like a log and the drugs had worn off but I didn't wake up in time to be ahead of the pain. My body was in shock. I called the nurse and told her I was shivering. She got me a blanket and left (I was a little stunned). I couldn't settle..still shivering and teeth chattering I pressed the button and asked for pain relief and to get back into the chair so I could sleep. The air mattress was so uncomfortable to lie on with my drains I couldn't stand it. So they changed it at 3am in the morning (sorry ladies) and I slept upright in my chair for 5 hours. Bliss!
Below is a picture of the bum eating but but bed sore preventing air mattress which alternates inflation tubes. You get comfy and then it deflates and you shuffle to get comfy, then it re-inflates..the process repeats. Stab the mattress!! ARRRRRGH!!
This is a picture of one drain - I had 10 of these babies! OW OW OW OWWWWW!!!
Day 5 out came 5 drains! Woohoo!!
It was time, they were coming out - finally some peace. Unfortunately the ones coming out were the ones in the front. My back ones were still draining well and I was not happy. They were agony to lie on. I reminded myself that they would be out soon - the levels of fluid were less each day. The nurse thought it would be the next day they would come out. I hoped, prayed, wished. They didn't come out until day 7 after some mishap with labelling new exchange bottles for some of the drains and the output chart was out of sync. I suffered another 2 days instead. I was a little angry to say the least.
This is a picture of me on Day 5 - tired, exhausted, pained, fedup me! This is what the drains and the bed and the blanket did to me. God I need a facial!! ha ha!
My day improved again when my lovely physio Martine called by to take me for my fist wobbly walk - which I did twice along with catheter and 5 drains in two little handmade shopping bags. Excellent - I was up! I was strong. It was harder than I imagined, like I had been hit with a steamroller but it felt good.
Day 5 was a great day! I began to enjoy my food and the evening hot drink and some light entertainment as the week went on. Things were on the up!
My least healthy meal of the week - cheese and onion pasty and beans with strawberry cheesecake and after dinner drugs! Tasty! I took this one for the hubby!
Day 6 will I ever get out of here?
I looked so much more like me, I had finally got some rest (some) after sleeping for only hours at a time and suffering lots of drain pain. But things were better and the final day was approaching. Although I hoped my remaining drains would be out, they weren't. The mix up with output levels prolonged their stay until Day 7. I coped, I had my catheter out. Still constipated (thats morphine and lazing around for you!) but able to walk up and down the corridor with my shopping bags filled with delicious drain juice bottles! Tomorrow I would fight to get the damned drains out..tooth and nail, I would fight. It was getting silly.
Day 7 Release Mrs Jones!!!
Finally, the day had come. 7 days after I had arrived, 6 days after surgery - I was freed. I was scanning the drain charts with my husband and showing him how they had been messed up and I knew they were ready to come out 2 days before but hadn't been removed. I could see what had happened but in the grand scheme of things, it didn't matter because today I would make them come out. As we studied the charts my surgeon arrived, asked for a boob flash to check healing, checked my drain bottles and paperwork - recognised the error and said that was it, they were coming out today and I could go home! I was speechless!! HOOOORAY!!!
I gulped - held my breath and gambled that the very last drain would be the worst, the one that had haunted me in my sleep. I was right..it was last..it was the best feeling after though as they were all out. WOW! How different my body felt. I had been so tight and now all the spaghetti tubes were out. WOW!!
Angela (my angel nurse) wheeled me and all my stuff, balloon floating high and hidden behind bunches of flowers to the main entrance whilst my husband negotiated his way out of the hospital on his crutches to get the car and come and collect me. I hugged that wonderful lady goodbye and kissed her, thanking her and all her fellow nurses for caring for me. I was free. I was going home!!
So quiet, so peaceful. It was good and weird to be back. The garden was looking great, buds bursting and flowers blooming. The start of the real recovery was here. 4 days after getting home I had my dressings off and everything was looking good and healing well.