Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Medical Update

A few folks have emailed to ask how I'm feeling. I've been trying to not overload the blog with medical stuff, but I appreciate your concern.

Overall - I'm great. I can't believe surgery was only two weeks ago yesterday. I am moving around with no significant pain at all. I feel like doing some basic work. I'm very bored with TV.

I got the staples pulled yesterday. Dr. Wesley did it for me here instead of driving to Wichita, and he was very gentle, thank goodness. A few of them were a little painful but just a little bit. Mostly it was completely painless. He said the incision looks really good. He has been my doctor for a long time and it was good to check in with him after having such a major medical issue. I am comforted by him and by his nurse, Judy.

I haven't started driving, but feel like I could at any time. It's just a little uncomfortable to sit in the car seat because of the way I have to bend, so I haven't. And, I've been fortunate that friends have been willing to cart me around. Trish took me to the chamber dinner. Barbara took me to get my staples out yesterday. Greg has been my chauffeur since I left the hospital.

I am still having some atrial fibrulation issues and that is really a problem for me. My heart has not been beating really fast, but it is skipping a beat now and then. It makes me feel "not normal."

Feeling normal is what I so desperately want. I know. It has only been two weeks. I'm not good with being sick. I'm sure you've known people like I have who seem to thrive on medical care. They like to go to the doctor, hospital stays are something they don't question, etc. All I can say is they are made of much stronger stuff than me. I am a total wimp.

I just want to be normal. Physically I feel pretty good, other than the a-fib, but I still get very tired. I find myself napping multiple times during the day. I am not on a normal schedule. I sleep for a few hours, then get up for awhile, then go back to sleep, etc. Part of that may well be the a-fib.

Mentally I feel a little out of sorts still. I hadn't taken any pain pills for a couple of days but they encouraged me to take one at night to sleep so I did that Monday. Then I took one before getting my staples pulled, and another one last night. They do help me sleep for longer hours at a time, and that's good I suppose. I have to sleep in order to heal. The mental loopiness isn't related to the pills I don't think. I think it's just a matter of the brain and body saying, "Hey, what the heck, what did you just do to me?" I'm not sure how to describe it other than to say I can focus, but focusing for any amount of time wears me out.

I have been working some from home, easing back into things. There are things that just have to be taken care of. I'm fortunate I had plenty of sick time banked, but as long as I feel like doing things I'm going to.

The bills have started arriving, and it's ugly. But, I'm not sure what options I had other than to get this taken care of. I couldn't ignore it. So, I'll just have to figure that out. I don't know how that's going to work out yet, but I'm just trusting it will become obvious what I need to do.

I'm walking around in the house every day. I walk the circle through my hallway, living room and dining room over and over again. They tell me I did myself a world of good by walking so much in the hospital. So, remember this in case you have to have surgery - apparently walking in the days after surgery dramatically impacts your recovery and recuperation. Everyone seems amazed at how I look and how I'm moving. I still get tired, but am so thankful to have the benign diagnosis and to feel as good as I do. I feel like being up most of the day every day, with just brief naps and rests.

I'm not walking upstairs to go to bed yet. I'm still sleeping in the dining room on the hospital bed. But, I think I could start going upstairs almost anytime. Maybe this weekend I'll start doing that. I have a few steps coming into my house and I haven't had any problem with those. The first day I was very careful to hold the handrail and put both feet on a step before taking the next one. The following day I walked down them going somewhere and then realized I was supposed to hold the rail. But, I was in the yard by then so it was a little late.

I've been able to take a shower by just stepping into my tub. I was worried about that because I have an old tub that's tall. But I haven't had any problem with it. The difficulty is that I can't put the abdominal binder back on by myself so it requires someone to help me. This binder is a big rectangle with velcro on it - essentially a girdle. It holds everything tight so you don't feel like grabbing for a pillow if you start to cough or something. It's a wonderful thing although I sometimes feel like it's squeezing the life out of me. But, it's looser now.

When they weighed me yesterday I had lost 30 pounds. Of course, some of that was tumor and other things they removed, but there were also quite a few days when I just couldn't eat anything. Regardless, I'm not sorry to be rid of those pounds.

I am glad I had the chance to take care of my personal business before surgery - getting Greg set up with power of attorney and getting beneficiaries changed and doing the living will. I also took the opportunity to say something to someone I thought might feel bad if something happened to me. It was good for my own peace of mind that I took care of that, although they didn't respond to my note.

When Steve was out he asked if I went into surgery thinking that could be the end. I was very optimistic that it would be benign and all would be okay, but I was aware that any surgery is dangerous and that that could have been the end for me. I wanted to be prepared just in case. I think I've done everything along those lines I need to do, other than get my house in order, and the chance of that happening is so slim it's not worth worrying about.

Dr. Wesley told me yesterday that if he had had to say he would have guessed this was cancer. Obviously, that's what others thought, too. I feel like I can't really celebrate yet. I still want more confirmation. I am going to get a copy of the lab report and maybe that will make me feel satisfied. I think it's just that it was a few weeks of thinking about what it might be and I have to "come down" from that a bit I think. I was optimistic about the outcome before surgery, but I just need some extra confirmation now after thinking about it so much beforehand.
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