Recovery Days 3 – 14

I didn’t keep up my blog. It was too difficult to sit at the computer and the pain escalated.

Day 3

Day 3 was not so bad. A bit more than day 2, but the pain in between the painkillers (roughly 45 minutes of it) was something close to a really bad sore throat. Nothing unbearable.

I noticed my tongue went numb at the sides, and it gave a weird taste to everything. This lasted until about day 14. It was always more prominent in between pain killers.

Day 4

Day 4 was bad! This is when the pain really started kicking in. I slept more; 2 hours at a time. The painkillers wore off about 3 hours in, and the pain in between was rough. Ice, fruit popsicles (mango and peach), and gargling salt water helped reduce the pain a little.

I made a big mistake. After eating a meal of scrambled eggs and bread, then gargling with salt water, I inspect my throat. I see clumps of white, like some of my food is stuck there. I gargle some more and it refuses to loosen. So I stick my finger back there and try to separate it. It wasn’t food. It was part of the healing tissue. The pain was excruciating. It brought tears to my eyes. Don’t try that. Ever.

My brother and some other visitors showed up throughout the day and talking to them helped distract me from the pain. I even went to the grocery store to refill my cooler with ice and pick up more food (eggs, Hawaiian sweet buns, and cauliflower).

The biggest moment of despair for me was when I realized that I was going to be out of painkillers tomorrow and I hadn’t called the doctor yet. This was terrifying because I needed to be on the maximum dose, and still suffered.

Day 5

Doomsday! I woke up with my whole body itching. I noticed that every little scratch I had on my hands was infected. I had a low grade fever. The pain was horrible! I called the doctor and asked if I might be infected, and if I could have a refill on the painkillers. He was in a surgery, so the message was passed on. I got a call back several hours later saying that I was to come in at 10 am the following day. I asked about the refill and she said I would get it when I came in. This was doom! It meant I had to ration my painkillers up until I could get my refill.

I decided to get the worst of it over with quickly, and dropped to 1 pill every 4 hours (from 2). It was rough. The closest thing I can relate it to is when you bite your tongue really bad, and then it gets infected and mouth just radiates pain. It was like that but everywhere. Tongue, throat, ears, cheeks, jaw, everything. Then someone shoves some salt in your mouth. Then they add Listerine. It hurts. I got through it. I didn’t cry. It was bad, but I’ve had worse.

As soon as I knew I could take 2 painkillers again, I felt so grateful. They ease the pain within 15 minutes, but the full effect takes place 30 minutes in. I slept until they wore off 2 hours later. Then I struggled. This repeats itself until 10 am the next day when I’m 2 hours overdue for a dose.

Day 6

I did a lot of things right, but chief among them was picking the best surgeon. He’s just such a nice guy. He showed so much empathy for what I was going through, and was very encouraging. He didn’t make me feel like an idiot when I told him about my suspicion of infection. He said I was healing well, encouraged me about the pain, told me it would get worse before it got better, and sent me away with a refill prescription.

It also helps that my surgeon is a 5 minute walk from my house, and the pharmacy is a 5 minute walk from his office and my house, making a very manageable triangle of convenience.

While I waited at the pharmacy in agony, I started shopping for things that would make me happy. Peanut butter and the forbidden ice cream. They have coffee flavor, and I can’t resist.

I walk home, crush my pills and fall into the happiest sleep I’ve had since the surgery. I somehow sleep for three hours and wake up in agony. The ice cream beckons me. I know it’s bad. I know it will produce phlegm. I know it will make me want to cough. I’m 1 hour away from my next dose, and I have an idea. The ice cream is perfect! It soothes my throat like nothing else has. There is no residual sting. My idea works, and I never cough.

My day ends with more visits, and another trip to the grocery store. I still wear a mask, and it’s quite funny watching people avert their eyes when you make eye contact.

Day 7 – 9

Much like the sixth day, except better because of ice cream.

At some point the doctor gives me a prescription for 10 mg instead of 5 because I was consuming close to the threshold of acetaminophen. One more refill, one more trip to the pharmacy.  I’m taking 10 mg every 4 hours on the dot.

Day 10

I slept through the four hour mark, not once, but twice. Each time I wake up in pain. I take the full dose, and go back to sleep. This occurs all day, and I finally sleep. By afternoon, I’ve decided that I’m going to sleep in bed tonight. I slowly move my whole operation upstairs to the bedroom. Clean sheets (for the 5th time since the surgery), and my bed feels like heaven. I sleep.

Day 11

My brother and his family come over, and I babysit my 6 year-old nephew overnight. He knows I’m recovering and is very sweet about it. Normally we stay up all night and play Minecraft, but he crawls into bed and falls asleep as I’m taking my evening shower.

Today I operated on 1 pill every 4 hours throughout the day, and 2 every six hours throughout the night. The pain is bad, but bearable with the dose I’m on. I want to wean off the medicine because I know that the pain gets worse when the scabs start coming off, and I’m overdue for that. I don’t want to pick up another refill. For some reason it feels like failure.

Day 12

I spend the day with family, and my nephew walks the dog with me for three hours. He takes me through my neighborhood and shows me all his secret paths and “shortcuts”.

I’m down to 3 doses per day. The pain is getting better, and I am not constantly aware of it.

Day 13

I sleep all day and all night. I take 3 doses throughout the day and night. The scabs show no signs of coming off.

Day 14

I take no pills today, as I intend to drive myself to work tomorrow. The pain is like a sore throat, but yawning is bad. I sleep a lot, but less than yesterday. I wake up at 2 PM and stay awake until 10 PM.

Day 15 – Back to work!

I woke up at 2 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep. I read a book and watched TV. I finally doze off at 5:30ish AM. I wake again at 7 AM. I’m tired, but I can’t go back to sleep.

I intended to work half a day, but I ended up staying all day. I took Tylenol at work, and made it through the day. I was even productive.

 

Recovery Day 2

Day 2 was a little more painful than day 1. The painkillers wear off approximately 30 minutes before the next are due, but the pain is easily manageable.

Ice is my best friend. Any pain I feel is soothed with ice.

I’m not sleeping normally. I sleep for 30 minutes, then wake for 30. I’m not sure what’s waking me up.

There are several things I have to do throughout the day:

  • Walk my dog – I wear a mask to keep the air in my mouth and nose humid. Walking is not so hard, but I don’t have the strength to do real walks.
  • Feed the animals – Because I’m not supposed to bend over, this is challenging. I manage by sitting instead of leaning down.
  • Shower – The doctor said no hot showers, so my showers are lukewarm. They feel amazing! Somehow everything feels better after a shower.
  • Brush/Rinse – gotta keep that oral hygiene up! In addition to a mouthwash rinse (I don’t recommend Listerine during this time), I gargle body temperature salt water. It seems to help.
  • Laundry – Sitting in the recliner this long has made me obsessed with changing my sheets. I’m changing pajamas twice a day as well. The medicine makes me sweat even when I’m cold.
  • Refill my ice bucket – I have a giant cooler (which I’ll talk about more in my post about preparation) that is storing 5 bags of ice. I refill several times a day. Ice is the best!
  • Refill my humidifiers – I do this every 12 hours when they run out.
  • Drink – I’m averaging about 17oz every 2 hours.
  • Eat – Today I discovered that I can easily eat scrambled eggs. Small bites. They taste better than I remember.
  • Take deep breaths – Every time I wake, I take several breaths to keep my lungs inflated. The painkillers subdue my breathing even more when I sleep. I need to avoid getting pneumonia.
  • Medicate – I’m crushing the pills into Mighty Mango because it’s thick enough to hold it in place while I guzzle.

Things I have trouble doing:

  • Watching TV – I can’t stay awake long enough get through a whole episode of anything. The Smithsonian Channel has become my friend.
  • Sit upright at the computer – For some reason it makes me nauseous after several minutes.

Recovery Day 1

I woke up the day after surgery in about double the pain from the prior day (roughly 5). I developed a low grade fever specifically in my cheeks. The surgeon called me and said it was normal, and to up the pain killer dose as it contains Tylenol that will bring the fever down.

Today I am still hungry. I explored my protein options by making a soup. I ate something pretty much every hour.

Turbinates

The bleeding stopped in the morning, so I was able to remove the gauze from my face. I still had quite a bit of bleeding going down the back of my throat.

The fever in my cheeks is related to the turbinates reduction, and it’s not gone above 99.5 so far.

I started using a saline spray with my shower today, and that helped clear up some of the blood.

I started bleeding again later in the afternoon when I got sappy while watching a movie. No crying!

Tonsillectomy

My uvula has swelled up to the size of a grape, so it feels like I have something in my throat. There is some slight bleeding at the top of my throat, but nothing that looks alarming.

I noticed that when I move my jaw, I hear a crinkling sound. I can tell that my jaw will be sore within a day or two. I started chewing gum to help with some of the tightness.

Overall

Besides the unexpected constant hunger, today has been pretty smooth. I had the dog walker come take my boy for a long walk. I chatted with several people on the phone and had one guest in the evening.

 

Adventures in Protein

I’m a weight lifter, so normally I’m eating quite a bit of protein every day. I had heard from other blogs that after surgery you feel nauseous and have no appetite. This was not so for me. After eating about 5 tubs of apple sauce, four popsicles, and 1 tub of jello, I was craving protein.

My brother had to keep me in check yesterday not to get adventurous, and so I resisted the urge to up my caloric intake. This morning I couldn’t take it anymore. So I made this soup that I am now impatiently waiting to cool:

  • 5 small golden potatoes (boiled)
  • 3 jars of Gerber baby chicken food
  • 2 cups of chicken broth

I threw those three things into the the Blendtec, and set it on the soup setting.The baby food looked disgusting, but after it blended and heat up it tastes quite good. If this goes down easy, I’m going to add cauliflower and spinach to it.

I’m hungry.

Surgery Day

After weeks of preparation, the day is finally here. I’ll write a separate post about my preparations later.

I treated myself to a final dinner yesterday evening. A delicious drunken ribeye steak and a chopped salad. It was delicious!

Wakey wakey!

My brother arrived late lastnight and so we got to bed pretty late. This made my 6:30 AM wake up somewhat difficult. I took a long hot shower and put on some lose pajamas on as instructed. I spent some time setting up my recovery area on my reclininer before we left for the surgical center.

The procedure

I had it done at a surgical center. My surgery was delayed by an hour due to some complications involving the surgery before mine. I had a chance to get some sleep while I waited. All the medical staff were really nice, and preparation was easy. They gave me a nasal spray called Afrin (?) which cleared up any nasal congestion, and was simply amazing. The last thing I remember was joking with the anesthesiologist about the conversations we would have during surgery. She had a kind laugh.

I woke up in pain toggling between 7 and 8 on a scale of 10. They gave me three doses of morphine which brought me down to a 6. My brother was waiting for me after the surgeon met with him. I was delivered ice and popsicles which helped ease the pain, but after receiving a percocet and juice cocktail, the pain dropped down to a 2. Something like how it feels when you wake up at the start of a sore throat.

Due to the turbinate reduction, my nose was bleeding both out into gauze and in down my throat. I was told this is normal, and that after 2-3 days it will stop. Even with the gauze blocking my nose, I can already feel like I’m breathing better.

Home

Seriously, every single time I stand or move, my nose starts dripping blood. I’m glad the told me this is normal, or I’d be worried. It’s a lot of blood. (Related to turbinates, not tonsils)

I came home to a lovely surprise of flowers and a teddy bear! It made me smile. The bear is meant to keep the one depicted in the first post company. 🙂

My brother has been really nice bringing me things when I need it, and taking my dog out. I just wish he could pee for me too! I know this is a post about being alone which starts tomorrow, but it’s really nice to have help especially with the turbinates bleeding issue. If I only had the tonsils out, it seems like it would be doable to be alone the first day too. The doctor insists I have someone overnight the first night.

Although I can have up to 2 percocets every four hours, I’ve been fine with just one. It’s kept my pain below a 4 pretty consistently.

I’m  hungry. In addition to popsicles, I’ve been eating apple sauce, jello, fruit bars, and Mighty Mango juice (by Naked). Tomorrow if I feel up to it, I might make something with more protein.

My evening ended with some friends who came over to check on me and keep me company. It was really nice.

Alone

I am scheduled to have my tonsillectomy and turbinate reduction surgery in two days. I googled the f**k out of these procedures to mentally and physically prepare myself for what’s to come. I’ve read so many great blogs and articles from people who’ve been through this (I’ll add links later), but the one thing that I could not find is an account of someone recovering alone, with minimal assistance. This is why I have decided to blog my way through this process. I hope that this can someday help someone who is faced with the recovery process alone.

Why am I alone?

I’m geographically separated from most of my family and friends. I have several good friends in the area, most of them have children and families to care for. My brother lives and works in a city 1.5 hours away. He’s going to take the day off on the 11th to get me to and from the surgical center. If I really need help, he’ll stay longer.

Some friends on the other coast have offered to come for a week and look after me. I didn’t want to accept the offers because I don’t think I’ll be good company. Besides, who needs to see me in the condition I’ll be in. I’m reserving that splendid sight for only family.

In case of emergency

There are several friends in the area who will be checking in on me (thanks guys!), so I have the support if I need it.

Abandoned plans

I have an awesome grandmother. The kind who’s more active and lively than most people my age (36). She’s also been a notorious rule-breaker and has generally bushwhacked her way through life. For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to fly her up here and have her care for me.

When I texted her about my upcoming surgery, she responded “Great! Have all the ice cream and cake you can eat! You’ll be fine within a few days.”

Now, if this is not where you’ve started your research, you’ll probably know by now that ice cream and anything dairy is a big “no-no”. I tried telling her that, but she responded “Do it anyway! It’s the perfect excuse! That’s what I did when I had mine out when I was five.” There were several additional texts to the effect of “Forget what the doctor is telling you.”

That’s when I realized she wasn’t going to be a great nurse for this situation. Nope, not the kind of grandmother that’s going to let me be a big whining baby. Besides, she was probably busy anyway.

 

(Photo credit)