Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Recovery from Hell

When I began gaining consciousness I remember someone saying, "her binder is too tight, she needs a different one...". When I woke I was in a huge recovery room, I think there may have been one other patient there. I overheard someone mention the time being 10, I immediately thought they must be saying 10 minutes. I asked the nurse what time it was and she said, "10 after 10"....10pm!?!? I was supposed to be done between 3:30-5:30pm. I immediately began to panic thinking something had to have gone wrong, or they found something unexpected. Not to mention Ryan and Jaycie had a four hour drive ahead of them and I didn't want them driving through the night. I asked to see my family but they said I had to wait an hour so they could keep an eye on me. I was trying not to be frustrated but I wanted to see my family and I wanted to know why surgery took so long. I was so dehydrated I couldn't talk, my tongue would get stuck to the roof of my mouth and my lips were glued together. The only thing they gave me was a sponge stick to dip into water and suck on.

10 hours later and I'm all Done!

My biggest concern about this surgery was what I was going to look like after. I've seen a lot of mastectomy scars and they are brutal. I asked to see mine and to my relief the scars aren't nearly as bad as I expected. My plastic surgeon was able to fill my expanders 150 cc's. In a couple weeks I will go in to get them filled more, and hopefully every week up until radiation starts.

They finally wheeled me out of the room and I saw the back of my dad's head and yelled, "Daddy!" and began crying. My dad, mom, stepdad, boyfriend Ryan, girlfriend Jaycie, and aunt were all there patiently waiting. All I wanted was to be embraced by all of them, but the nurses wouldn't let me, they wanted to get me situated in my room first. There was a phone in my room and I began calling my parents over and over, but apparently the phone did call long distance. Because I was in a room with another patient, I was only allowed two visitors in at a time. Everyone went home for the night, except my dad, he sat in an uncomfortable chair through the night. Every time I woke up he was there sitting wide awake watching over me.

Catching some ZZZzzz'ss

The next day they transferred me to my own room. Everything is kind of a haze for me, but what I remember it was terrible. I was on too many pain meds and felt awful. They told me they needed to take out my catheter, I had no idea I even had one in, except for I knew my legs kept getting tangled in some awkward tube.  They pulled it out and said I had six hours to pee on my own. I didn't think it would be an issue since they had been pumping liquids through my IV and I had been chowing down on water.

Walking with my monitor

The nurses gave me three goals that day: pee, go on two walks, and manage my pain levels. I was so drugged up every time the nurses came in to talk to me I could barely keep my eyes open. When I thought it was time to pee, my bed was raised and I was assisted in standing. I was dealing with nausea and was informed that it was from the anesthesia and would only last 24 hours. I got to the toilet and expected pee to just flow out of my body like any other day, but it didn't. In fact all I could do is sit and wait, and wait some more, and in between waiting I would puke. It was an ongoing process. Every time I got up to the bathroom to pee I would puke, one instance I got to the bathroom but collapsed on the floor and just got sick again, my mom was standing there feeling helpless. Keep in mind I just had my chest cut up so my whole upper body was incredibly tender and every heave hurt. I couldn't walk on my own I used my IV monitor as a walker. The nurses kept pushing the issue that I needed to walk that way they could discharge me, so I tried but it ended with violent vomiting. I didn't eat for three days.

Lots of pain meds...

Trying some massage therapy

The lady in charge of the START research project came in to monitor my process. Every side effect she asked if I had, I had. My dad became furious and told her to take me off the medicine because I was so ill. After much discussion she finally agreed to pull me from the study. My doctor came in and I asked her to give me the lowest dose of pain meds. I was only supposed to stay in the hospital for two nights, but my doctor decided it was best if I stay another night. After I stopped the research pain meds and started taking weaker meds I was able to eat and hold it down. I started to hold my own cups, food, and pee on my own! The last day I was there we even went for a walk. (Not a long walk, but it was a start!) I was finally release on that Friday, April 5th. I stayed at my Aunt's that night and headed back home on Saturday.

I ate that whole sandwich all by myself!

Hallway where I first attempted to walk

Waiting on valet to bring the car!

Leaving Stanford Hospital!!!

Drain #1

Drain #2


Today is one week after surgery and I'm doing a million times better! I only have to take half of the pain med dose that was subscribed. My mom still comes over everyday to help shower, but I think I could do it on my own now. I can maneuver in and out of bed. I'm not in a ton of pain, the only thing I really have to complain about are the drains. My left side is so uncomfortable all day everyday. I am hoping to get them taken out on Thursday when I go back down to Stanford. I have to thank all my friends and family for the support. My Aunt Mary has been amazing and has been to almost every appointment. She's my voice and doesn't take any shit from any doctor. She's also saved me hundreds by letting me stay at her house when I have appointments down at Stanford. I have the most amazing father anyone could ask for. He took three weeks off work to be with me during everything. He stayed by my side night and day in the hospital, he cooks me breakfast lunch and dinner, and even brings me breakfast in bed, and wakes up every couple hours every night to give me medicine.

Ryan and I eating ice cream and working on a puzzle in the comfort of my own bed!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Sam! I was one or two years younger than you at Chico High. I remember your face really well and how pretty I thought you were and are. Thank you so much for sharing. You are so brave and strong. I hope you are feeling happy and healthy, and if not, I hope it is right around the corner.

    So much love,