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I'm just me. Minus the bionic arm.

Posted Sep 25 2013 11:33am
As the title of this post would suggest, I had my fistula removed/reversed on Monday :)
Before getting into the OR, the anesthesiologist gave me a nerve block. He used an ultrasound machine to locate the nerves of my arm and injected them to make my arm numb. I will say-not one of my favourite experiences!

After that, the anesthesiologist that was in the actual OR with me kept asking me to lift my arm up and down. It got more and more difficult as time passed. 

After that when I got to the OR, I was lying down and started to get scared. I could still feel my arm and was afraid that I'd be able to feel the doctor cut my arm the same way i felt the plastic surgeon cut my stomach a few weeks back. So, there was one nurse there who took on "tear wiping" duty. She dried my tears and kept me calm. Around then I heard the anesthesiologist say she was going to give me some medication to relax me. The nurse then came around and touched my fingers and asked if I could feel anything. I couldn't. She asked if I could move my arm. I couldn't. I was glad-I really didn't want to even begin to feel ANYTHING!

The doctor came in and a curtain/drape was put over my head/face-I guess to prevent me from watching/seeing the surgery and or my own blood and gore from my arm. The whole thing took about an hour. I dosed off a couple of times. When it was over, the doctor and surgical nurse (not my tear drying nurse) wrapped my arm in a tensor bandage and sent me to recovery. When I got there, after about 30 minutes, I noticed that my left arm was hanging off of the bed and I had no idea! I had to use my right arm to pick up my left arm and put it back on the bed. It felt sooo weird. 

I gotta say, though. My experience in the recovery room was annoying to say the least. Those of us who have spent a lot of time in the hospital have all had a moment (or two) like this. The nurse was treating me like I was a dialysis patient when I'm not. From the "I brought you apple juice instead of orange juice because I know orange juice is not good for your kidney" to "the medication they have you to make you relax may last longer in your system because your kidneys cannot filter them out like someone who's kidney function is normal" comments. After a while, I just nodded and said "uh huh", as I had just had a medical procedure and was tired of repeatedly saying "that doesn't apply to me for X, Y, and Z reasons". Ah well-bless her heart. 

Finally, I went to recovery room number 2 and was able to get dressed with the help of my nurse. I went home with a sling. 

My arm stayed numb until late Monday evening and the feeling has now come back. Good because I can move my arm, but bad because now I can feel pain! Nothing a little extra strength Tylenol can't fix :) Raising my hand in certain ways, for example, sitting with my arms up at a computer, washing my face, taking a shower, tying my hair up, ect..these continue to be a struggle for now. I hope the pain will subside soon. Thankfully I'm able to blog from my phone while keeping my arm straight...since I'm lying almost completely horizontal in bed hehe. 

The info I was given in recovery for aftercare was based on someone who has just gotten a fistula put in, and therefore doesn't necessarily apply to me. I called the vascular coordinator, but her voicemail message indicates that she's away performing her civil duties as a citizen of this country lol (jury duty). She did give me a few tips, but I would have loved to speak to her again and get some confirmation/reassurance. Oh well-I'll play it by ear and, more importantly, play it safe. 

I have stitches, but they are of the dissolvable variety, so I won't have to go back and get those removed.  

There's always a question about whether or not one should remove their fistula after transplant. I know my girl Sadia, who recently had a transplant, has decided not to. It's a valid argument, since at any time, heaven forbid, one's transplanted kidney could fail and dialysis would be needed again. If that happens to Sadia, well, her access is still right there. If that happens to me, I'll have to have a line put in my chest. 

For me, I did think about this quite a bit-even before receiving my transplant. Let's face it-the reason I wanted it removed is because I didn't like the way it looked-plain and simple. I want to wear short sleeved shirts out in public, at work, and at the gym without feeling self conscious about it. If something should happen in the future and I need dialysis again *knocks on wooden bed post with non-fistula removed arm*, then I suppose I'll need to have a line put in until something else can be figured out-perhaps another fistula? A graft, I dunno. Hopefully, this isn't something I'll have to worry about for an extremely long time (hopefully, not at all!). That said, having your fistula removed is not a decision to be taken lightly. Infact, some doctors will discourage it. Others won't. Others will only allow it if they are confident with your prognosis as it relates to your kidney. As always, this is a decision to be discussed with your doctor and your family.

Up next, a shopping trip. Tank tops, tube tops, sun dresses, short sleeves...all of that. Haha. Well, it's getting cold outside. Maybe in the near future I'll have a warm and tropical destination in the near future. Who knows? So until then, my newly constructed, no longer bionic arm may need to wait :) Do/will the cons outweigh the pros? As someone who used to love and always wear short sleeves ect, and as someone who loves going to the gym and pumping iron, yep! 

I still have the bandage on my arm. I kind of look forward to removing it and seeing what my new battle scar(s) will look like :) 


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