pain, lack of pain

So I figured I’d be in a lot more pain.  And again, I find myself fortunate to reside on the easy end of a bell curve.  This would be the PainFeeling bell curve, joining the AnesthesiaRecovery bell curve.

It’s day 3 post-surgery and I haven’t taken any pain relief meds in 23 hours.  Kinda crazy considering I just had my chest cut off.  I’ve had hangovers that lasted longer.

Yesterday I didn’t take much either.  I took a lortab at 6am when I got up to empty the drains*.  I didn’t really need anything else the rest of the day.  The lortab probably wore off around noon, and I was able to deal quite comfortably.

*The drains are the worst.  I described in the last post where the tubes are.  The tubes connect to these bulbs that I safety pin to my shirt.  The bulbs collect all the yuck (blood, surgical irrigation fluid, lymphatic fluid) that my body wants to get rid of.  I empty the bulbs three times a day, this sad, tense little ritual, and record what my body is expelling.  My surgeon said when I record less than 25ml per day for two days in a row, the drains can be removed.  Y’all when that happens it will be like having my 21st birthday again.  It will be like winning the lottery except instead of getting cashmoney, I get comfort and sanity back.  It will be like taking a beach vacation, but without the sand and the flying vermin.  There’s this thing you do when you empty the drains–Milk The Tubes.  They could call it Drive A HorseNail In Your Side.  You slide all the stuff (yesterday I had a stringy blood clot that resembled an embryo) hanging out in the tubes down, into the bulbs.  And it hurts like fire.  Like literally someone forcing a nail into the spot where the tubes go in.  It’s teeth gritting, just-breathe kind of pain.  And the beautiful part is it doesn’t really stop when you’re done.  A nurse at the hospital told me it’s because when you empty the drains, the pressure from the suction is increased.  So it’s this thing you need to do, but sweet jesusmaryandjoseph, it’s like the worst part of the day.  Three times.

Then at midnight, I woke up in such agony I was afraid to move.  Funny (funny “that’s fucked”, not funny “ha ha”) how shit can change so quickly.  It was all in my right side, around the drain area.  I had brought the lortab bottle up to my nightstand in case that happened, so I took a pill and was back to sleep in no time.  Thank all the gods above and below.

This morning, things were okay to good.  I decided I would take a lortab if I needed it, but otherwise wouldn’t bother with plain tylenol or anything else (lortab is a hydrocodone/acetaminophen combo drug; can’t have ibuprofen for another couple days).  I’ve really been taking it easy today, basically sitting around and knitting, so apart from the dread drain emptying, I can deal no problem.  My chest is still tight, especially under the armpits, but it seems a tiny bit better than yesterday.

So Yay! less pain!  The other feelings though I need to mention.

My chest is numb.  When I touch it, my fingers feel my skin (it’s hard and weird, like there’s a thin wooden board just below the surface) but my chest itself doesn’t really have much sensation anymore.  I was warned about this.  It’s still odd as fuck.  I occasionally get a sharp, stabbing pain in the area where my breasts used to be.  It’s brief, like a flash of lightning.  And some itchiness, but that’s primarily more lower, in the area of the drain tubes and dressing, I suppose because of the adhesive there.  Odder is the sensation of bugs crawling across my chest.  It doesn’t feel creepy exactly, I don’t swat imaginary bugs away, more like a bizarre tickling.  But the weirdest part is these sensations, these feelings on my chest are like phantom sensations, feelings.  Like if I wanted to touch the sensation with my fingers, I would not put my fingers against my skin; I would touch the area a couple inches in front of my skin.  My nerve endings are having a party, but the room no longer exists.

So I guess recovery is going well.  I can deal with the level of discomfort I typically experience and if it goes beyond, I have a bottle of pain pills.  I’m getting acquainted with the new ways my chest will experience sensation and, though it’s a total mind-fuck, I’m down.  Stuart is literally doing everything around the house, which is enabling me to literally do nothing around the house…and accomplish the amounts of rest that I otherwise would find impossible.  I’ve got him for two more full days before he goes back to work.  I am beyond blessed that my recovery is going so smoothly and I can credit him for a lot of it.  His birthday is tomorrow; I can’t wait to be fully recovered so I can give back.


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