I was able to go the day without painkillers and shuffled around in a bit of a haze. Â I hadn’t slept well and couldn’t really study nor do anything like clean. Â I didn’t do anything today except make a crappy cake. Â I think the cat was even underwhelmed with what I managed to accomplish today. Â I’m glad I return to work on Monday.
The drainage tube extended a full 8″ into me from the start of the incision below my armpit and parallel with my nipple. Â It sat collecting fluid into a suction bulb that I drained every 12 hours which I assiduously measured as a proxy for healing. Â I had four of these in me, in total, two into my chest and two into my abdomen. Â The drainage rate on two had slowed enough that the surgeon felt comfortable removing them and today I had that done. Â Removal was very quick requiring a snip from scissors on a suture and a methodical tug. Â The surgeon also wanted to check on my scar sight and began peeling the adhesive plastic layer from my stomach to investigate.
Surgeon: I’m going to start peeling back the adhesive layer, you may feel a bit of pain. Â Tell me if you want me to stop. *pulls*
Surgeon: Ok, I’ll try slower. *pulls*
Surgeon: I seem to be taking the hair too. Â You have a bit more of that than most of my patients. Â But we need to get this off so…
Me: How about I take it off in the shower when I get home. Â You said I could shower again, right?
Surgeon: That should do.
I went home, excited to shower, and removed my clothes and the two layers of wraps. Â This left me holding the two bulbs still in me while I set the shower to the appropriate temperature, got in, and felt water from something besides a sink tap wash over me for the first time in nine days. Â I soaped up the area around the adhesive wrap and began peeling. Â Despite the action of the water and soap, peeling hurt and took much hair with it. Â Once I had peeled the adhesive layer to the point of my surgical scar, Â the pain skyrocketed and the peel rate went down again by half. Â I began running out of hot water. Â I was standing in the shower, holding two vacuum drainage bulbs, being pelted with cold water. Â My vision began to narrow and I felt like I was about to faint. Â I refuse to drown in my own shower, so I crawled out, toweled off a little, and sat on the toilet to finish what I had started. Â When done, I held up the adhesive piece which looked like a wookiee pelt and I scratched my head. Â My hair was still oily. Â I spent 30 minutes in the shower and had failed to actually wash. Â I rewrapped myself, rehung my blood grenades and crawled into bed to let the hot water heater recharge.
I had dropped off low carb eating in advance of surgery and stuck to a varied diet. Now that I was home again, I faced the fact that the primary food shopper, me, has been rendered hors de combate so I had to forage off of whatever foods were still around from before surgery. That meant a lot of baking ingredients and canned goods.
I stared at the can of Chef Boyardee for about 30 seconds, dumped it into a soup bowl, popped it in the microwave and waited for the self-dignity depletion signal/microwave beeper to go off. Stooping to Chef Boyardee is now a milestone on my road to recovery. I had dumped the can’s contents into a bowl, and began staring into the middle distance as I consumed salt, starch, and the meat-like filling of the ravioli when I realized that both my cat and dog were staring at me waiting for me to put the can on the ground. It’s nice to eat beeferoni and not be judged. Â I again understand why people have pets.
Immediately after surgery I spent about half to two thirds of the day in a Percocet-induced haze. Â The sleep that came was not restive and my days settled into six hour cycles of four hours knocked out, about an hour of just being slightly dazed and then an hour in pain waiting to take my next bout of pain killers. Â By now, that cycle had turned into two hours of being somewhat loopy, two hours of being useful but not being about to completely think straight, and two hours of dull ache. Â During most of the day I still didn’t have the mental acuity to study so I passed the days with other things. Â Today that thing was trying to learn how to do Tuvan throat singing. Â I found some instructional videos on Youtube and over the course of five hours taught myself the basics of overtone singing. Â
The muscles used in this style of singing seem to be used for almost nothing else and after my first few rounds of singing I found the muscles of my face starting to fail me. Â At the end of five hours, everything between my nose and neck hurt like hell and I realized spending four hours a day practicing would result either in an inability to swallow or a tongue that’d be able to crack walnuts. I felt like hell but was another day closer to recovery.
I transitioned back to my house from my mother’s today and I was glad to return home. Â I noticed the smell of cat and smoke as I do every time I return home after an extended time away and Max seemed excited to have me back. Â He even seemed to pick up on my frail state and was extra energetic when playing with his socks or bedding so I wouldn’t have to do much work to play with him.
The stairs were slow going and going up and down them in a 15 minute window left me winded. Â Sleeping still required me to prop up my back and bend my knees and achieving this posture required gathering six pillows from around the house, that is to say all of the extras. Â My dad knew that nicotine would interfere with my recovery and politely hurried through his cigarette when he saw me approach.
Some standard elements of my house had become traps. Â The tubes in me had a tendency to catch on door knobs and chair arms so whenever I stood it was with caution. Â The mail box seemed an impossible distance away and getting up to let out the dog or cat required willpower. Â Max no longer bothered me to let him out at night just so he could come in and get a treat and the cat seemed to use his litter box more.
This household too molded to my needs and I appreciated it.
After four days I could now shuffle around the house at about 3/4s of a mile per hour. Â This mobility was exhilarating for someone used to running and I did repeated donuts between the kitchen, living room, and dining room to celebrate. Â In the mid afternoon, I was visited by the mother of a friend of mine from middle school. Â She asked me a question I’ve chewed on a lot, “when did you decide to start losing weight?”Â and I finally answered it:
I never decided to lose weight. Â There was no Damoscene moment where I resolved to be slim, in fact it was the opposite of a planned choice. Â I had taken a very long road trip and managed to lose 10 lbs during this time by simply eating two large meals in a day instead of foraging interspersed with proper meals. Â I hadn’t decided to start doing anything, but only to continue doing things that I had done almost at random out of the necessities of travel. Â Each subsequent change was largely like this, I had found myself doing something that seemed to work and resolved to make it a habit.
This reminds me of how the body evolves defenses to infection. Â The body spews out white blood cells until one of the variants works. Â That one gets to reproduce and the other die. Â Here, I tried a bunch of things at random from changing my treadmill speed to not eating hot dogs and if something seemed to work I stuck on with it. Â Some odd things came out of this like learning that I do better having a very rich dessert after dinner but only if I eat three hours or so before bed. Â This calorie burst seems to sedate me for the evening and I have no urge to snack before bed.
I didn’t choose to lose weight, I simply chose to habituate things that seemed to lead to weight loss. Â So far that’s worked. Â I hope it continues to. Â She brought me fruit salad. Â I hate grapefruit but the thought was nice.
Today I was contacted by the MetLife regarding my short term disability claim.
Claims Investigator: When do you think you’ll regain the mobility required for your job?Â Me: Probably a week but mobility isn’t the restricting factor. My work is mentally demanding and doing it on pain medication will prove difficult.
In comparison try chugging a bottle of Nyquil and then doing your taxes.Â Claims Investigator: I think I understand. How long will you be on pain meds?Â Me: Three weeks.Â Claims Investigator: We will check on you then.
I tried eating today and encountered a problem. Â Food caused my stomach to expanded and my expanding stomach pushed against my abdominal wall and that felt very uncomfortable. Â It took me over two hours to eat an apple and a serving of toast was about my limit. Â I took to calorie dense foods to get around my perpetual hunger and ate some cheese. Â The cheese tasted wonderful and that’s mostly what I ate for the day. Â Drinking also proved uncomfortable for the same reasons as food so I felt pretty dry most of the time.
Late in the day, I felt like I had a bowel movement coming so shuffled over to the toilet for the first time post surgery and waited. Â Normally, I would have pushed a little to get things moving but the muscles involved in that proved unresponsive or were in pain so I could in no way help my stool along. Â So I sat and sat while taking sips of water. Â I felt foolish after 30 minutes rolled around but I certainly had no where to be. Â The pain meds made me a bit loopy making studying out of the question. Â So I simply sat. Â Three and a half hours later I pooped and I felt like I should look into the bowl to find a golden egg based on the effort that went into birthing that single tiny turd.
My mother checked in on me every three hours or so and I received a medication of some sort every six. Â It was odd being checked up on. Â These visits seemed to happen around the clock and there were stretches where I wasn’t sure what time it was despite having ready access to a clock. Â Each activity had to be temporarily relearned in some way that I didn’t need to use my abdominal muscles. Â Sitting upright required rolling onto my side and using my arms to push me up while rolling back. Â Coughing, sneezing, and laughing all hurt like hell and I was perpetually hunched over at about a 15 -25 degree angle from the horizon. Â I didn’t have the mental capacity to listen to audiobooks let alone study and I passed the day in an indolent stupor.