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Another Day Another Surgery

I'm going to fast forward a little bit here. It's six months after my homecoming, yay! I've done it all, I got out of the wheelchair, I climbed the stairs, I took my first at home shower (omg the euphoria, I will never take showering for granted again!), my mom has gone home, my ex-husband has died from cancer, my kids are ok, I even started going to the gym. No, I am not skipping over the devastating fact that my ex-husband died, I'm just not ready to talk about it.

I was seeing a wound Dr regularly. I had several extreme wounds from my surgery and hospitalization, a massive bed sore and several surgical site dehiscence. The surgeon that was overseeing the healing of these wounds warned me that I may have a hernia because of the severity of the abdominal wounds. He told me to wear an abdominal binder, and I did, uh kinda. I wore it as much as possible anyway.

Low and behold I started to get a tiny bulge at the site kiddingly referred to as my third belly button.

I told you health professionals have a weird sense of humor. It didn't hurt so I didn't pay it much attention until one day one of my kids said, "hey Mom, that bump looks bigger", and it did.

I think I may need to explain something about myself that I think is normal and probably an aspect of self awareness that many people share. What I see in the mirror is not what other people see. Many times over the years I had lost weight and not noticed, sure I noticed that my jeans were loose but it was on a visit to Colorado when my Mom practically pulled my pants down that I actually noticed I needed new jeans. Or when I was sick I didn't notice that as my belly filled with fluid the rest of me became skeletal. The scariest part of my illness for my children was when I turned yellow but I didn't notice that either.

When my son brought that to my attention I went to my Dr and she said I probably had a hernia and she referred me to a specialist, ugh, again (insert eye roll emoji). I went and he confirmed that I did indeed have a hernia, three to be exact. He explained that it wouldn't be a laparoscopic surgery that was outpatient, it would be another abdominal surgery and mesh screen. He explained that with liver disease I probably have low platelets and may need a transfusion too. I would be hospitalized for a couple of days.

At this point, heeding advice from my mother I had started talking to a therapist. I was not impressed with the cost nor did I find it helpful. I had mentioned this to my mom during a conversation and she made a new suggestion, a nurse coach. I had heard of life coaches before but never a nurse coach and it sounded intriguing. Someone with medical knowledge and experience with dealing with people like me. My mom connected us on Facebook and Suzanne and I started chatting. She and I hit it off right away. I gave her some background information and she laid it out for me what to expect, a holistic approach, all of me. Not just the physical but the mental too. She was the one that helped me get this page started in fact. So when I got the news about the upcoming surgery it was obviously a main topic of conversation, I was scared. I was also determined to be positive about the situation. I'd been told I couldn't work out anymore for fear of causing more damage but I was going to do everything else I could to make my body and state of mind as prepared for this surgery as possible. Suzanne taught me meditations, sent me links and articles about the right foods to eat before and after surgery, she even sent me music to listen to during surgery prep. I was sure I was going to start having panic attacks but I think that being prepared like that kept them at bay.

Weirdly enough I felt almost at home when I got to the hospital. My heroes the nurses were as welcoming and calming as usual, explaining exactly what to expect. Then my surgeon came in and reiterated what he'd already explained about the procedure. I went to sleep and when I woke up I was in my room with bag of plasma hanging up next to me, yes I did need a transfusion. I was apparently with it enough to message everybody that I was ok and I even had a conversation with my cousin. The anesthesiologist explained that I had a abdominal block that should last about a day and then I would be on regular pain meds. My surgeon explained that my muscles were like swiss cheese and I had severe adhesions, my intestines were adhered to my skin, creepy.

I'm not going to lie, there was pain, not so new to me really. Then I had the blood pressure problem that plagued my pain management previously. I have a calm persons blood pressure, so low normally that giving me pain meds put me at risk for it dropping to low. I literally had to be crying in pain to raise my blood pressure enough to get a dose for relief. Needless to say I wanted out of the hospital. With a quick prescription fill I had everything I needed to control my pain at home, ice packs, heating pads, Netflix, my cat and my kids.

By this point I felt like a pro taking care of myself. I had a drain in, I knew how to empty and measure. I still had a cache of bandage material from my wound management. I had a mission, get out of bed and of course ask my surgeon at my first checkup, when can I take a shower?

I admit that patience isn't one of my virtues. It's been slow going, according to my standards but not really. First the drain was removed, then the staples, and then the steri-strips fell off (with a little help). It's been a little over a month and I'm ready to get going again. I've already been to the beach, though not in the water. I've struggled with a little bit of depression from my limitations, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope that was my last surgery. The bump is gone, and the new scar is less severe looking than the previous one. I still get sharp twinges of pain that everyone assures me is the healing and creation of scar tissue and mesh and previous scar tissue figuring things out in there. I consistently stop myself from googling issues with mesh surgeries because I know there are horror stories out there. Instead I try to hold fast to my positive attitude and visualize a fabulous outcome. I use the tools Suzanne helped arm me with to calm me down. And just try to have a little more patience.

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