I still hurt. I had hoped I wouldn’t be saying that at this point. But the truth is, it hurts. Not the sort of hurt which requires painkillers anymore (I couldn’t wait to be rid of them) but the sort of uncomfortable that makes you really really bloody grumpy. And the itching. Oh the itching. But let’s rewind a little.
My surgery happened 3 weeks ago today. My dad came to the hospital with me at the crack of dawn as Gabe needed to take the children to nursery. “You’re definitely not the first or the last but we can’t say what time you’ll be going into theatre yet”. Don’t worry I said to Gabe, you’ve got plenty of time to get here. And then all of a sudden I was taken down to theatre. It appeared the plan had changed. Poor Gabe made it to the hospital a few minutes after I had gone down and then all he could do was wait.
Meanwhile I was sitting in some sort of creepy theatre waiting room, with a load of other people waiting to be sent to sleep and sliced open, all of us clutching the pillows we had been told to bring from our rooms for grim death. Some time later I was taken through into the pre-op room where the anaesthetist managed to hit my vein first time despite them making a valiant attempt to run and hide. It beat my only other experience of a general anaesthetic where it took the guy 5 attempts to get the cannula in and we later found out he had retired the following day – and clearly not before time. In went the relaxant and I’d just let them know about my new job when whoooooomf I was gone. Clearly they don’t find stationery as interesting as I do.
I came round in a room full of other recovering patients having a nightmare that I was being held against my will and injected with heaven knows what in a drugs trial! I was in and out but remember being told I was being taken back to my room. I don’t actually remember getting back to my room. The next few hours passed in a haze of waking and sleeping, feeling violently sick and being brought rounds of toast which never got eaten. When I eventually came round enough to try and get out of bed I was horrified to be told I had to keep the corset I was wearing on 24 hours a day. Even when going to the loo. This information was more than my poor drug addled brain could take. “How??” I asked and was directed to the bottom end of the garment where it became apparent it was utterly crotchless. There I was, at the absolute least sexy I have ever been (and let me tell you that’s a pretty impressive achievement considering how incredibly unsexy I manage to make even the sexiest of moments), wearing something that would make a porn star blush.
The next morning me, my vastly reduced stomach and my porn star regalia were discharged, after passing the stair test with the physio. This involved hobbling along a corridor which felt even longer than the walk between the Piccadilly and Jubilee lines at Green Park Station when you’re late for a meeting and going up and down 10 stairs, one step at a time, whilst trying not to face plant because I was so bent over I couldn’t see in front of me.
It took a couple of days to stop feeling so monumentally sick and be able to eat anything at all. I was dosed up on codeine and absolutely exhausted. The pain was well controlled although at nighttime things got a bit sore and I had to (and still have to) sleep propped up with a pillow under my knees as I can’t lie flat. Getting in and out of bed is akin to a whale arising out of the ocean and I have to give myself a count to three and fully commit because the thought of how hideous it is makes me feel ill. On the whole the thought of it all is worse than the actual pain but we quickly had to ban any laughter in the house as it feels like my insides are going to come spilling out.
I was very, very nervous before the 1 week check. I was terrified about seeing the wound and taking the corset off made me feel swollen and vulnerable. Gabe was craning his neck to see but it took me a long time to dare to look down. When I did, I winced. The wound is from hip to hip, wrapping around to the sides of my body. Everything was bruised and swollen and I was covered in purple pen (or at least I thought I was but 2 weeks later I’ve learnt it’s actually surgical glue) which looks like the Joker’s smile. I was glad to get the corset back on. Things were looking good though and everyone seemed pleased. However, my abdominals were in an even worse state than expected when they got to them and the repair job has been huge. I’ve pretty much got to rest up for 6 weeks, which is not easy when you have two very small children but to say Gabe has been an absolute legend is the understatement of the century although, like a reformed smoker extolling the virtues of a smoke free-life, he’s starting to get a bit bossy about the housework like he’s ever cleaned one of our toilets before this month and if he weren’t going back to work, things could turn nasty.
3 weeks in and I’m feeling the strain. I’m tired, bored and grumpy and although it’s not painful as such, it’s tight and itchy, the bits on my hips make me cringe, the corset is driving me bonkers, I can’t stand up straight so my back hurts, I’m twitching about the fact clothes keep being put back in the wardrobe with the hangers facing the wrong way and I miss being able to cuddle my children so much it actually hurts. After a call to the hospital to get some more gamgee led me to ask whether the swelling I’m getting is completely normal (it is) they suggested I have a quick check whilst I was there and although I was mortified I was wasting their time, it did reassure me and resulted in them letting me take off my surgical stockings which I will be burning on a pyre once I can do the same with the crotchless corset. For now, I’m allowed to move into support wear that is less restrictive and more crotchy and can just wear the corset when I need to be a bit more active, or when I fancy taking up a career in blue movies.
And my stomach? Well my abdominals have come together and I no longer look pregnant. There’s a lot of work to do to strengthen them up and there are no guarantees they will hold. I’m not allowed to do any exercise until at least 6 weeks but the relief at being able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes is more than I can describe. If it weren’t for the fact that I look like a 90-year old nursing home escapee when I walk along in public, I would already feel vastly more confident. We won’t know the final outcome for at least 6 months, if not a year. The operation has been even bigger than I could ever have imagined and it’s proving a gruelling slog but I’m trying to take one day at a time and hopefully the result will make every hunched up step worth it.
Next stop the 6-week check.