Recovery Day Three
Posted 12/21/15 @ 4:20 p.m.
When it comes to post-surgical recovery, a day and a half makes a world of difference. Ana’s pain peaked yesterday morning when she woke up (once again) in agony. This seemed like a huge setback since there was talk of increasing the narcotics (dose) to try and get the pain under control which would’ve made her more drowsy and even less mobile than before. Luckily the culprit seemed to be that they had switched one drug to “as requested” instead of giving it every six hours without us asking for it. This drug is called Toradol and is an NSAID (like advil). It didn’t seem like it was working very well when they started giving it to her on Saturday, but it was likely taking the edge off of her pain.
So they resumed Toradol round the clock on Saturday and they kept everything else the same (she had the pain pump and extra doses of the narcotic if needed). As noted in my last update, she got out of bed for the first time and sat in a chair for about 20 minutes. This was a huge accomplishment and I think helped her realized that she was ready to move more (even though she didn’t actually want to move more).
This morning was the true turning point. She woke up in much less pain than she’s been in, though she was still rating her pain level at about a 5 or a 6. But she hadn’t been pushing her pain button at all, so when the pain team came in we talked about switching her to oral oxycodone (the same drug she was taking prior to the surgery) and getting rid of the pain pump. Apparently patients start to do much better once that pain pump is gone, likely because the drug-induced fog lifts somewhat. A very perky PT guy came in around 10 who I’m pretty sure Erica Chase-Salerno would’ve LOVED (Erica is currently having her own holiday hospital adventure). He distracted Ana by singing Disney songs really badly and when I told him she was more rock and roll than Disney he switched to a terrible rendition of Comfortably Numb. He got her up though, and she walked as far as the door (with me following behind her pushing a chair so she could sit down) and then back to the bed. She sat in the chair for 30 minutes or so even though he wanted her to sit in the chair for an hour. I told her she could get back into bed if she promised to walk to the bathroom in a couple of hours.
At that point the nurse came in and insisted on a sponge bath which motivated Ana to want to take a shower. I really didn’t think that was going to happen, but to my utter shock, she was able to get out of bed almost entirely unassisted, walk to the bathroom (also unassisted) and take a shower! There was a chair in there if she needed it. She then got dressed all on her own (bless her stubbornness) and by this time it was clear she could move around very well. Dr. Yamashiro came by in time to see her get up from a chair and walk into the shower and his jaw about hit the floor.
I forgot to mention that she had a blood transfusion last night around the same time as she sat in the chair. She was very anemic and this was likely contributing to her extreme fatigue (so not just a drug haze, but actual exhaustion.)
She’s been awake since the shower/walking, watching t.v. and eating a bit. There are basically two milestones she needs to reach to get the heck out of here – make sure the pain is controlled (as of now, it is) and have a bowel movement (she has bowel sounds and some gas, so that’s excellent). Dr. Martinez dropped in for 30 seconds and was also really shocked at the change from yesterday to today. She said it’s highly likely that Ana can be discharged tomorrow if she continues on this arc of improvement (though Dr. M can sometimes over promise).
Jim is on his way here now and we’re going to switch off. I’ve been here five days with Ana. I’m actually feeling okay physically but I’m mentally drained. I miss Emily and I want to clean up the house and get ready for Christmas (with the hopeful expectation that Ana will be home).