Sunday, August 28, 2011

Week One Post-Op

I'm breaking my recovery experience into blog posts by week.  This first post covers week 1 starting from the night I got home from the hospital.

The first night, I was pretty woozy from the anesthesia. I ate a little chicken noodle soup, took some pain medicine, and got set up on the couch. I stayed on the couch 24/7. I had to sit up when I slept, because lying down was impossible with the pain from the leads. I couldn't take any pressure on my head. The first 4 days went pretty well. I took my pain meds around the clock and the post-surgical pain was well-managed. My back and neck were sore from the tunneling of the wires, and my low back/hip was very sore and swollen. I kept ice packs on these areas regularly throughout each day which seemed to help with the discomfort. I didn't have any headache pain but did feel sore and tight where the incisions were. I didn't use the stimulator much because when I turned it on, I got very intense pain at one spot on each lead. On the end of the right lead, a bump formed underneath that was very sore to the touch. It seemed to be caused by post-op swelling.

I was able to shower and wash my hair after 48 hours, but washing my hair was very difficult. I gently squeezed shampoo into my hair - there was no scrubbing of the scalp. The dermabond used on the incisions kept them completely dry and protected.

By day 5, the numbness in my head had totally worn off and the swelling from the leads really started to hurt. On top of that, I got a headache. I still couldn't stand to have the stimulator on very high at all, but I kept it on as much as I could in hopes it would help the pain. The rep warned me that the stimulator would not help with post-op pain, so I figured I shouldn't worry that it didn't seem to be very effective.

The wires also seemed to tighten up around day 5 (which turned out to be due to the swelling around them). When I moved my head, the wires would pull on the leads. This really hurt, so I tried to stay as still as possible. I started spending a couple of hours a day face down on a massage table each day that a friend let me borrow. It was nice to be able to give my neck a break and to lie down. I usually dozed while on the massage table, a lucky break since I was sleeping so poorly.

I had quite a few visitors during that week. My boyfriend and I started a care calendar through Lotsa Helping Hands. This site is free and enables you to set up a calendar through which your friends and family can sign up to help with meals, visits, rides, errands, cleaning, etc. We were well fed during week 1 - a welcome break to my boyfriend who was taking care of me on his own while working full time. It was also nice for me to have visitors to break up the monotonous hours on the couch. I highly recommend using a site like this because your friends and family want to help, they just don't know what to do. Also it takes the pressure off of you to come up with ideas of how they can help by allowing them to sign up for what they want to do and when.

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