Home > Uncategorized > How I’m doin’, three months after

How I’m doin’, three months after

August 25, 2009

It’s been a bit over three months since a perforated intestine and resulting major emergency surgery knocked me on my ass.  But as bad as that ordeal was, a large number of people both online and in realspace have been very supportive and helpful, a positive experience of human nature that simply has no downside.

People often ask how I’m doing now.  In the best of times I have never been comfortable with that question, but in surgical recovery, it’s even weirder.  Who really wants to hear about which pains are merely annoying and which are scaring the hell out of me?  But occasionally it is OK to take stock, if only to reassure others who might be going through the same experience.  So that’s what this post is about and why it continues below the fold.

I was surprised how much strength was lost; in spite of regular workouts, I am nowhere nearly up to full strength yet. Recently I regained the ability to do situps, and did 15 yesterday.  That’s a long way from my previous record of 100.  I’m doing cardio and low-back exercises, but using 3 lb weights instead of 15 and 25.  My shoulders are both very weak and I can’t do pushups or pullups.

I am still using suspenders instead of a belt. In spite of applying magical oils that are supposed to help, my surgical scar is a lot less flexible than the surrounding skin, which makes wearing a belt or bending at the waist very uncomfortable. That is one factor limiting sit-ups and low-back exercises.

A couple flights of stairs is about all I can do at one go, otherwise I use the elevator which is new for me.  I am back on my bike, riding easy in the low gear range.  I’ve only made short rides on level ground on my unicycle; no charging up the library ramp or anything like that.  We’ll set aside the sound track from “Rocky” for later.

I’m still eating pretty carefully, and certain foods are off my list forever.  For example, I like popcorn, but not that much.  And I’m not taking aspirin for any reason.  Well if I have a heart attack, I’ll munch one.  But being unable to take NSAID medications means my arthritis and chronic pain is much less controlled.

Though I lost 26 lbs in the first three weeks, my weight has stabilized at twenty pounds below what it was on the day of the surgery.  Given my reduced eating habits, it’ll probably stay there. 

My mind has cleared quite a bit though I’ve never been a master of concentration and memory anyway.

The thing that worries me most is that internal pain has not gone down to less than the day before the original perforation.  The surgeon could not give a definitive answer to the obvious question.  What’s “normal”, and what should I be feeling like at three months? Diane suggested that the pain could be nerve damage from the perforation, surgery, and infections, which if true would be fine with me because it wouldn’t be dangerous.  The other possibility, that there’s a chance of a recurrence, truly frightens me.

Takaway lesson: I’ve had other surgeries, but major emergency surgery with no pre-operative preparation is the worst.  Avoid it if you can.  :P

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 28, 2009 at 09:23 | #1

    Hope you find what’s causing continuing pain.

    I’ve never had any surgery, but I will avoid emergency surgery at you suggestion!

  2. August 28, 2009 at 23:18 | #2

    I’ve had surgery before but it wasn’t emergency and was pretty routine stuff. Hopefully you find that cause of pain and figure out the next steps from there.

    If there is something positive to take away from the experience I guess you could say you are eating better and less and you lost some weight. Not that you wanted to reach those goals this way, but at least there may be a bright side.

  3. August 30, 2009 at 13:19 | #3

    Of course we all recall the definition of “minor surgery.” It’s surgery on somebody else.

  4. August 31, 2009 at 00:02 | #4

    Don’t know if this is any comfort, but after my mother had her appendix removed, it took just over a year before the pain went away.  Until then, she was convinced something was horribly wrong.  Turns out it just took that long for the nerves and muscles and assorted viscera to convince the brain that “no, really, everything’s just fine, no worries, just because we’re stiff today don’t mean we’re having an emergency.”  And then boom, pain gone.

    Right after that, I ceased being able to keep up with her…

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