Recovery Days 1 and 2
Posted on 12/19/15 at 10:00 p.m.
Sorry I haven’t updated since yesterday. It’s been an exhausting and brutal couple of days. Ana’s pain has been really bad. They wanted her to sit up and start walking yesterday (in retrospect, this seems pretty unrealistic only 24 hours after surgery…) but she barely moved at all. She slept well last night, but the problem with a good night’s sleep is that she can’t administer her pain medication as often as she might need it. She woke up this morning with a pain level of 9 (out of 10) and it took a couple of hours to get it under control (they added an oral pain medication this morning and that plus the self-administered medicine finally got it under control). By then she was afraid to fall asleep and wake up in excruciating pain again. I promised to press her button for her every 15 minutes if that happened (I’m not supposed to do that). I only had to do it twice and then she woke up and seemed to feel better.
Most of today involved the tortuous steps associated with recovering from a big surgery. She had the catheter removed and an I.V. changed. She was approved to drink clear liquids including broth and juice (she’s been successfully drinking water and juice throughout the day.) She spent an agonizing half hour trying to sit up and put her feet on the floor (with lots of help from me and a nurse who reminds me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer – and is just as tough). Ana is very angry at this nurse for pushing her so hard, but I think she’s what Ana needs. I find it too difficult to push her to do things that hurt her.
So, thanks to Buffy, Ana got a lot accomplished, but it was physically exhausting and painful for her. Each tiny step forward was fraught with anxiety or outright terror of experiencing more pain. This fear seemed to be nearly as debilitating as the pain itself. I got impatient with her a couple of times when she’d refuse to do something (let the surgeon remove the dressing to look at her incision, for example) and then she’d get really upset thinking I was mad at her. Then we’d get caught up in this cycle of, “Why are you mad? Why are you yelling at me? I’m not mad! You’re the one that’s mad!” As you might imagine, this wasn’t super productive or helpful to Ana.
I finally decided to stop helping Ana thwart the doctors and nurses orders (within reason) even if it meant she’d be mad at me sometimes. This was extremely hard to do because it meant allowing them to change the I.V. when she was already in a lot of pain (for example) or waking her up from a comfortable nap to get her sitting upright in bed. I know that by doing this, Ana felt as though everyone – including me – was against her but I kept reminding her that this was all stuff she needed to do to get better. This naturally enraged her, but I’m hoping some of the truth of this sunk into her stubborn teenage brain.
So, it was a day of anguish for me and pain and fear for Ana. I couldn’t muster the energy to write an update in the midst of that. But now her pain seems more controlled and she has gotten through a day filled with difficult milestones. I’m hoping her next reward will be that she’s allowed solid food again (I’m still waiting to hear back about this).