One Week Post-Surgery ~ Stitches Out & Scar/Incision Revealed

30 Aug

The harsh reality of being at home without around the clock nurses to help me quickly settled in.  My first day home was Tuesday (5 days post surgery) and I was feeling overwhelmed and struggling to fight impulses to try and clean everything.  I am used to sweeping and sanitizing regularly and like the house to have that clean smell.  Also, for those who have never been to our house, it’s small and with two small kids, it can get messy and cluttered very quickly.

I realized that I try to tuck lots of stuff into cabinets, that doesn’t work when you are not allowed to lift your arms above your head.  I am not allowed to lean forward or bend from the hips, but instead squat straight down keeping the head upright…you don’t realize how often you bend and lean until you are trying to remember not to do so.  I also find that I keep reaching for things even when I squat down and I am not supposed to do that either.  If I weren’t in a hard collar, I’d probably be (1) in even more pain and (2) prevent the bones from fusing properly.

Once home from the hospital, I started wearing a bone stimulator 24/7.  With each level of fusion beyond one level, you have a 20% less chance of fusing completely.  With 3 level fusion, my risk is 40%, so I have been very diligent in wearing the bone stimulator 24/7.

I also quickly realize, once home that I have to be more diligent with my medication as I no longer have the little black button to press to dispense pain medicaition or a nurse to bring me muscle relaxers every 6 hours.  I quickly fImageound that my pain level could easily get out of control if I didn’t stay on top of taking medications on time.

Sleeping is also a challenging because there isn’t a comfortable position with the hard collar neck brace regardless of how many pillows.  Dare I say…I miss the hospital bed and the ability to set the incline to a perfect angle.

Realizing no matter what, you just aren’t going to look pretty when you can’t comb your own hair, wash your own hair and nothing looks stylish with a hard collar feels harsh when you know you will look like this for 6-10 weeks.  Not to mention how quickly the muscles have all atrophied so quickly – who knew.  Ah and how your digestive system just feels off because of all the medication, hydration and lack of exercise.  This is how my neck looked the day before I was to see the nurse.

There is a lot of chaos in the house the first week home as the kids are back in school (so sad that I didn’t get to take Kylah to her first day of kindergarten or get a photo as she walked into her class for the first time).  I had help for me the first few days from my brother and dad, but a lot of the focus goes to the kids.  I start to wonder if it would’ve been a good idea to entertain going into the assistive care living for the first 6 weeks.  I know that this is challenging on others, but this is challenging on me physically, emotionally and mentally.  Unless you have had this surgery, it is difficult to know how someone feels or to even tell them how to feel (those of you who know me well, know I don’t do well with being told how I should feel).  I envision myself feeling an overwhelming sense of joy once I am able to take off the collar, drive (did I mention I was told 10 weeks before I can drive) and do at least some form of exercise again (I was told that in 8-10 weeks, I can ride a stationary bike – whoa, watch out folks). 

Friday ~ One week post-surgery and this is the day that I see the nurse to have my bandages removed and the ends of my dissolvible stitches removed.  I managed to get out of PJs and put on a sundress I could get on without going over my head.  It’s amazing how hot you get wearing a hard collar, especially on an already warm day.

Today is the first day I get a look at the damage that was done ~ wow, much worse than I thought it would be.  It looks like my skin had a very bad reaction to the bandaging, which makes sense since it was both itching and burning. 

This was really hard to see on my own body ~ holy cow.  How is this possibly ever going to heal to the point where it is not visible?  I am trying to stay positive, I really am and I am really hoping that over time the scar will fade into the natural crease…I am hoping it will be turtleneck season by the time I am back in the office and I may need to come up with a new line of fitness tops to disguise my scar when I teach.

We will continue to take pictures every few days (or at least once a week).

In case you are wondering, those two pads on either side of my neck attach to the bone stimulator, which is meant to help the bones fuse.  I get to wear it 24/7 for 3 months.

As I said in my very first post, this is meant to be honest, so if folks are looking for me to pretend that this is all okay and I am just moving along business as usual, but wearing a cast ~ sorry, but I can’t make that promise.  This is probably the biggest challenge ever for me in so many ways.  Most days I feel exhausted, am in pain, am frustrated, feel down and out and wonder how I will make it through the recovery.  The only answer I come up with is: one day at a time.


2 Responses to “One Week Post-Surgery ~ Stitches Out & Scar/Incision Revealed”

  1. ymayle August 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Amy….all I can say is WOW we love you and you are right one day at a time and whenI was dealing with my breast cancer sometimes it was more like an hour at a tim It will get better stay strong………….

  2. Jen Mullarney September 1, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    You are absolutely right, Amy…. ONE DAY AT A TIME! Wake up each morning to another new beginning and leave all setbacks or frustration from the day or days prior behind! Everything always turns out well no matter what. You’re doing a great job physically, emotionally and mentally. And Mark, you’re doing just as hellofajob!! I’ll be one of your greatest fan readers – so while am in Manila, I am supporting you and Mark at heart… Sending lots of love n good vibes across the great Pacific! Xoxoxo

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