Western education 2013

Saturday, September 5, 2009

.... pain

... amazing how pain is something we quickly forget about until a reminder notification in the form of extreme arm pain in the middle of the night gets you up....

It has been slowing creeping down my arm making even the slightest movement upwards an agonizing event but I persist in stretching the muscles and tendons until it becomes excruciating. I saw the nurse last on the 1st of September and all looked good at that time, so what has happened over the past four days? I have been emptying my own surgical drain for over a week now and my hopes of getting it removed before the weekend look fairly slim as the volume being removed has not reached the goal of 30 cc yet.

I am up after a relatively descent sleep yesterday but the pain kicks in as soon as I attempt to pull my hair up into a bun. I have not taken a shower since the morning of surgery on the 25th of August and I eye the en-suite shower with a sigh. I cannot take one until the drain comes out and the wound has healed. Max attempted to bathe me the other night and we laughed like idiots when i asked him not to step on the pump sitting on the floor at the end of a long see-through tube inserted under my arm - he pretended to stomp on it and with his hands at his chest showed what my breasts would look like after. He is looking forward to the reconstruction end of the deal and has already put in his request. The pain is excessive but I refuse to take anything for it. The phone rings and it is my nurse Maureen. She is expressing concern and wants me to call the surgeon's office to see what they want me to do. She would like me to go to emerge and that sentiment is reflected in Trudy's advice when I call. Go to UH, your surgeon is in surgery and will see you when he is done. I arrive in the ER at UH at 11:15 am carrying my medical docket from my home care - this has all the post operative information and the intake nurses are impressed that I have made their job easier. I am taken to a bed in the ER department an hour later and wait there for 40 minutes until the surgeon's students arrive to evaluate the situation and then report back to him. They are really young and not too sure about what they need to do but I humor them by complying to their requests. They are trying to determine wether the issue is muscular or vascular... at least that is what I surmised by the repetitive muscle push/pull test. The pain is almost at my wrist and is now difficult to extend it. The muscular part of the inner forearm is painful to the touch and this has now extended as well to just above the wrist. There is swelling at the exit wound for the drain and it is difficult to pull my arm in to the chest. The young lad is now looking into the young gal's face and searching for a 'what's next?' and asks her if she has anything she would like to ask - 'no, I'm good' she says and looks down at the paperwork - awkward moment for the both of them, I just smile rather amused by the whole experience and know that this is a learning experience. The surgeon will be able to sort it all out when he comes down later.

I am laying on the gurney trying to close my eyes but the conversation in the curtained off bed beside me has captured my attention. The patient has been in an altercation with her now ex-boyfriend and he has punched her hard enough to bruise and possibly crack her ribs..... I can hear her telling her friend that the old ladies at the trailer park have taken out their lawn chairs at 3 in the morning to watch the police arrest him...... not something I would be proud of for sure. Too many people seem to get themselves in situations that are clearly not in their best interest, yet they stay. Life in my world is precious and although I have had my ups and downs in relationships - when my ex hit me in front of my two year old while pregnant with my second child - it was a no brainer.... the relationship was over and that was that. It took a long time to work through that and raise the boys alone for a few years but it was worth it. I am mentally sending her best wishes that she gets herself to a good place and enjoys the kind of relationship that I have.

My surgeon arrives and is wearing a big smile and his hospital greens. He has just finished his last operation of the day and tells me that I should not apologize for inconveniencing him. The small cubicle is now filled with a nurse and the young female student as the Doctor sits himself down at the end of the gurney. I think the drain is what is antagonizing the nerve that we saved during surgery and it needs to come out now. He gets a pair of scissors from the nurse and cuts away the stitches holding it in place. He offers to have me pull it out and I look at him funny. Go ahead, it won't hurt!! I pull out about 6-8 inches of tubing painlessly and the nurse is amazed at how little was inserted. Apparently if you have breast reconstruction or augmentation, the tube insertion is quite long - oh goody, another tube to look forward to in the ensuing months!! The cubicle next to me is quiet.... it is their turn to listen in to our conversation. The surgeon is now instructing me to keep my breasts up and supported by a bra until all healing is complete.... and then we laugh when I say that my husband has already offered his support while the surgeon is making hand gestures to that effect. The laughter is infectious and even the nurse is finding this amusing. The surgeon flashes me another white grin and lets me know that the pathology is not in yet but he will be seeing me on Thursday. I thank him and think - what a really genuinely great guy and realize that I am so lucky to have people like him in my journey. The nurses are smiling at me and wish me well in my journey... one even looks for me after I have left - with my post surgical care records in her hand she is searching for me and is relieved when I have caught her on my way out of the washroom. Thank you for helping me today and I am off.... it has been 3 1/2 hours at UH.

Although I still have pain in my arm this morning, it is nowhere close to what I have been experiencing over the past few days. I have nerve damage in my back and know that it will be at least a week before the pain dulls but until then, I will continue to stretch and keep my muscles and tendons from stiffening up. Good thing I was not taking those pain pills, I may not have noticed the pain soon enough.... nerves are not so forgiving with constant aggravation. Pain, I explained to my eldest son, is nature's way of warning us that something is wrong. That being said, my sinuses were bothering me last night, so I took a sinus pill - medicine is good when it is used properly.

I am looking forward to our annual neighbor BBQ. I was unable to make the things I wanted to so I had to be satisfied with a trip to Costco. I will have to do something special for my neighbor friends when I am up to it.

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