I didn’t keep up my blog. It was too difficult to sit at the computer and the pain escalated.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I sleep all day and all night. I take 3 doses throughout the day and night. The scabs show no signs of coming off.
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.