Boy, what a relief to get out of the anticipation stage! By the time I was in the prep room getting fussed over by nurses, I felt much more relaxed than I had in the preceding weeks!
The anesthesiologist was right — as soon as he gave me some kind of anti-anxiety medication, my memory gaps open. I was in the prep room and then I was in the recovery room. Crazy stuff — he told me I was totally awake when they wheeled me into the OR, gave me a spinal block injection (!!) and did whatever else they do before actually beginning, but I have only the vaguest memory of the OR ceiling and a rush of activity. Later, at home, I kept finding electrodes stuck to me in odd places and wondered why, since no one had ever hooked them up. “That you know of,” my husband quipped, reminding me how much happened to me without my knowledge.
The doctor was also right about my waking up alert, without a long groggy climb. In the several hours after waking up, I had a dose of fentanyl and, later, oxycodone, even though the spinal block was still keeping me partially numb. At first, I didn’t feel the notorious effects of those meds that I had dreaded. Bu when I first tried to sit up, and later when PT tried to stand me up, I was overcome with dizzy, sweaty nausea and my blood pressure tanked. That was the worst experience thus far. But by evening, I was able to stand up and move around and then I graduated to walk back and forth a few times in the night.
The pain has been off and on. Sometimes the actual incision site stings, sometimes my whole thigh throbs. The thing that really knocked it out was the muscle relaxer flexeril, better than the opioids. In the morning, OT came to help me figure out how to put on socks and deal with the shower and such. She told me the pain would increase for the next 24-48 hours, which was definitely not what I had been told before. But she was right, the most intense part thus far was Saturday evening, 30 hours after surgery. Both kinds of pain were bad and I had a hard time getting into bed. Oxy didn’t really help but flexeril again saved me by easing the pain and pushing me into deep sleep.
On post-op day 2, the pain was fading enough that I took only Tylenol all day. I was able to walk and do my PT exercises without too much agony. But I felt woozy and light-headed and very weak all day. I walked around the house numerous times and did my PT three times as directed, snoozing and grumpy the rest of the time. I was not looking forward to many days like that. But on the other hand I started to get handy with the walker and figured out how to carry things around so I could let my husband leave the house.
It’s post-op day 3 and I’m much better on all counts. No narcotics last night so I feel more like myself. The pain is really fading fast — I took half my Tylenol dose this morning and did my exercises with very little pain. I braved our awkwardly-designed shower and got clean, which felt great but also tired me out.
I guess I’m now at the base of the long, gentle slope to get up to better than I was before. That’s pretty good for day 3. I’ve been warned that it will take longer than I expect, and longer than I want, to recover my energy and strength. I imagine I can shed the walker within a day or two, but that doesn’t mean I’m going hiking. Aside from pain, the PT at the hospital said overdoing it too soon could cause tendonitis, which doesn’t sound good at all. So my real challenge from here is probably to take it slow enough.