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Monday, October 26, 2015

Yet Another Surgery

As you may have guessed from the title, I had yet another surgery. This past October, I had another hernia repair. To recap what led up to this surgery, here's a quick time line of events. Surgery as a baby led to scar tissue causing a bowel obstruction in 2005 requiring surgery. That surgery created more scar tissue that led to another bowel obstruction in March 2014 requiring surgery. That surgery caused a hernia that was repaired in August 2014. That hernia repair failed leading to this hernia repair in October 2015. 

Needless to say, I'm done having surgery for a loooong time. This time they used a plastic mesh to do the repair. I asked them to do that last time, but the surgeon was insistent on not using plastic and I know him and trust him. I work with him on a regular basis. After it failed he admitted that he severely underestimated how much and hard I cough with having CF. A point I tried to iterate before the hernia repair in August 2014. I need a strong incision not just because of all the intense coughing I do on a daily basis, but because I need to be able to exercise without the risk of causing another hernia. There's always a risk, but the risk is significantly smaller with plastic mesh. So I had surgery. 

This time the recovery went A WHOLE lot smoother. The incision was the same, only slightly smaller than before by an inch or so, from just below my sternum to right above my pubic bone. The amount of intervention required was the same with the addition of plastic mesh and a few more sutures. The one variable that changed: I got an epidural. Epidurals scare me. Monica has gotten two and was fine. I've taken care of hundreds of patients with epidurals all who were fine. BUT, I've seen what happens when they go bad first hand and it's not pretty. It's scary. I did not get one with the first three surgeries. This time I had a great anesthesiologist who convinced me to do it. One big kicker was that he gave me versed (a sedative with an amnesia effect) before doing the epidural. I don't remember a thing, lol. I think it truly made a HUGE difference in my recovery. 

With the prior surgeries I was up walking the day of or after surgery but with lots of pain. Lots. Doubled over and walking very stiff, and unable to take deep breaths which hugely affected my ability to cough up mucus and oxygen requirements. In fact in August 2014 I almost got sent home on oxygen but weasled my way out of it. Perks of being an RT. :) In fact I had probably the scariest moment of my life after my August surgery. Directly related to my inability to take deep breaths and needing to be on oxygen. That's for a different time though. This most recent surgery though I was up walking the day of surgery with virtually no pain. I could cough like I normally do and get mucus up. It hurt but nowhere near like it did the other times. My hospital stay was therefore shortened and my total recovery time was shortened by a couple weeks. It took about 8-10 weeks to really feel back to myself. This time I felt great after 6. The only thing I can pinpoint it to is that epidural. I'm a believer now! :)

On a side note, I discovered that I'm very allergic to mastisol. A liquid adhesive used to adhere steri-strips. I broke out in a horrible poison ivy looking rash with huge weeping blisters. It spread all across my abdomen, back and down my groin. Super fun! I was out of it for about a week. I was taking the maximum amount of Benadryl allowed in a 24 hour period combined with pain pills and a couple tubes of various anti-itch medicine. That was the worst part of the whole recovery. So the moral of the story is: get the epidural. In all reality the odds are pretty rare that anything should go bad. I was just being a worry wart. And a little macho too I guess. Which I may add the anesthesiologist called me on, lol. 

On a final side note, I no longer have a belly button. After 4 surgeries they said it was time for it to go. It created a weak point in the incision. The boys were very confused by it. Maybe I'll have to get a tattoo of a button in its place! Haha!

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