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Thursday, December 14, 2017

try not to bend

click animations for lots of cool dividers
I am so hungry. I run into all the horrible things people write on the webs about recovering after gallbladder removal and it's just easier not to eat much. I slipped up last night and had my first 'big' meal (I'm 4 weeks out from surgery), ate 5 homemade chicken tenders and spent the night with a bit of a racy heart, like I was in distress. No pain, no nausea or anything else, but that was uncomfortable enough to slow way down on the food again today.

Oatmeal is a life saver. I eat half a serving because diabetic and carb counting (not on meds), and that pretty much controls whatever bile problems might erupt, guess it just kind of absorbs it like a sponge. I also metered out a rice hotdish for a few days with just 4 ingredients- sticky rice, canned chicken, shredded cheese, and broccoli cooked soft enough to crumble up. Stir it all together and add a little onion powder, get it all hot in the oven, and that is a great way to get a little bit of protein and veg and the rice slows everything down and kind of acts like a sponge like the oatmeal. The key to it all, though, is small portions, hold the work detail way down while my body gets used to a missing organ.


The rest of my body is screaming bored. Now that the overwhelming referred pain and constant localized clamping down on inflammation and staving off possible infection is out of the way, my body is no longer having to work so hard keeping an ill organ under control, so the rest of my cells are getting better shares of incoming basics, like fresh nutrients, fluids, oxygen, rest, etc. No more sacrificing for that crazy inflamed gallbladder, right. Except now, healing makes that area a protein hog and I'm feeling a bit STARVING FOR MEAT, lol. Thank goodness I seem to be handling a little bit of milk and cheese ok. I don't think I'll have any more chicken tenders for awhile...

So I guess this is a big deal. At first everyone was all like yeah, you'll be good in a couple of weeks. A month later I'm still running into stuff in med forums about 6-8 weeks and don't lift ANYTHING over half of what they told me I could lift after 2 weeks. I'm finding stuff like this on everyone from professional athletes to super spoonies at death's door. Rule of thumb is give it a couple of MONTHS and even up to a year (or two) to get back to some kind of normal. O_O


I don't see a lot of people writing out exactly what this feels like unless they're freaking out, so I'll point out that the laprascopic punctures combined with the air puffing up the abdomen combined with the digestive system going into shock for a couple of weeks combined with the body overall readjusting to what is basically stab wounds, organ theft, and possible complications that include little bits of fevers here and there, to me mostly feels like I did too many situps the day before and now I feel like I need to be a little more careful doing things. And if I'm not as careful as I should be, I feel it pretty quick, and trying to power through makes it worse. Like, I mopped my kitchen floor last weekend, and I felt that for 2 days kind of thing, so I laid down a lot in between chores during the week.

I've been able to get out to Walmart for some light shopping, and I'm keeping up ok with laundry and dishes, but I'm very tired most of the time. It's funny because being spoonie, even though I'm actually feeling fantastic having that inflamed gallbladder out of the way after 9 months of croaking off with it, I hit that fatigue wall super fast because recovering from such invasive surgery isn't the piece of cake it sounds like. I mean, it's way better than being sliced open, for sure, and getting to come home right away was definitely preferable, but getting a routine back has been a bit of a challenge. I haven't helped much at all with anything holidays, and I understandably pretty much stopped cooking.


Bending is the worst. Too much bending, like tying shoes or picking stuff up off the floor, is like instant bloat reaction and the rest of the day is very uncomfortable, especially to drive or sit and watch TV. Standing up feels the best, walking kind of helps if I'm not too tired, and laying down doesn't feel as good as you'd think it should. If you have any kind of abdominal surgery, get one of those long reachy clamp on a stick things that help you pick up stuff like a sock off the floor. Bending seems to really aggravate, maybe because it puts more pressure on where it's still a little swollen in there.

If you have pets or kids, they will destroy you just bumping around, even weeks later, so keep your automatic guard up and put a hand or arm up before you get bonked anywhere on your stomach. And seriously, don't lift much. Buy your milk in half gallons, stuff like that. Don't be stupid and lift a frozen turkey or a watermelon. I really don't know how people with small children survive surgeries. And if you live alone and have to walk a dog at all, you probably need to just plan on offering someone some cash or a gift card to help you with your pet for the first couple weeks.


This hasn't exactly been a piece of cake, BUT I am apparently very healthy and healing very fast, compared to the nightmares I'm finding online and hearing about from other people I know. I have been working very hard on regaining my health since 2008, the most improvement coming since 2011, with one of the top goals being to get healthy enough to survive surgeries without complications and hospital stays. I changed my diet, committed to physical therapy, started exercising, got help with my sleep disorder, touch base with mental health regularly, managed to clean off handfuls of meds over several years, and am now passing the test with flying colors. I am exactly where I want to be with my health in time for the real deal. If this surgery was done 9 years ago, I'd have wound up admitted and probably even in ICU and then convalescing for months, so it totally paid off to map out a plan and then commit to the step by step process, even though it took a long time and most of it was pretty hard.

I will be 60 in 4 years. By the time my mom was 65 she was in a nursing home. I will not go gentle into that good night. I will not bow to my fate and call it natural aging after a lifetime of sugar and intermittent bouts of heavy smoking and drinking. I refuse to own the mess I made of myself and accept it as 'life'. I want back everything I wasted and robbed from myself, and it's my job to make sure I don't become the burden I would loathe myself for being.


I am so hungry. But it's a good hungry. It's a very healthy feeling compared to the months of swan diving into any distraction I could trying to ignore the problem. I'd rather be a little hungry than in a  hospital.

Surgeries aren't fun any time of the year, but I can say first hand they suck during holidays. If you are having surgery or in recovery this month, bless your hearts. 💗 I hope it all goes well with you.

this also comes in purple
By the way, if you are looking for holiday gifts for older or challenged people, check out home medical supplies in your local pharmacies and retail stores online and point blank ask them if they need any of that, or would they like a gift card. An easy reacher is an awesome thing to have around the house, just saying. 🎄

Sunday, December 3, 2017

the unforeseen complications of cervicogenic headache after surgery

click pic for great article

This.
A Headache From a Pinched Nerve

So many years of physical therapy, strength training, mobility work, chiropractic, and massage for a nasty whiplash from an ancient very nasty accident that healed with all kinds of scar tissue hardened throughout the soft tissues, all nicely undone during one little surgery requiring precautionary airway during anesthesia.

I have everything in that above 'headache' link's list regarding causes for cervicogenic headaches. Another outstanding article is Cervicogenic Headache from the American Migraine Foundation.

I've thought a lot through the years about what it must have been like for people who've had their heads chopped off. Guillotines were heavy enough to lop them off quickly, but someone hefting an axe over another someone held over a stump could easily rebound off a cervical disk. I mean, I've actually done that butchering chickens in the old days, and I hated it. Chopping through neck bone isn't easy, especially when someone is squirmy, and getting a clean lop requires a confident and meaningful downward swing with a good axe. When I hear in the news about journalists' heads being cut off in other countries, I know it's not quick and that they suffer quite badly.

Television makes it look easy. Characters with nothing but swords whop heads off left and right, no problem. If our heads could come off that easily, we'd all be losing heads every time we fall down the stairs or on a patch of ice. Our necks are almost like a string of crochet or macrame, all those interlocking pieces with really tough fibers wrapping around and through it all, because the nerve trunk must be protected at any and all cost. Mother nature made sure our necks are super tough with lots of bone in the way.

I'm a great example. I was thrown out of a flipping car and hyperflexed my neck so hard that my ear was pretty much on my shoulder as I was flung out the window. I was conscious and remember the entire thing. My neck bent like a tree under a tornado hopping around. If you've never seen a solid tree bend in a wind wall, it's really freaky. Trees aren't metal poles, and they can take a bit of bending before they snap. Ice on branches is like that, too, you wouldn't dream a big branch could actually bend so far down and still be ok after the ice melts. Human necks are like that. They don't look like they could really be that bendy because our necks are so short, but mine bent like a spring board shredding all the soft tissues on one side, and how my neck never broke is anyone's guess.

Amusingly, I ran into this doozy just this morning. They still make it sound too easy. Most people aren't strong or practiced enough nowadays to pull this off.


After years of living with sometimes excruciating pain, I had whittled it down via loads of therapies to almost no pain and a whole lot more mobility. By then I had developed arthritis in my neck, both degenerative and stenosis, plus I had a couple of bulges showing up along the way, and about a year or so ago a hands on massage therapist even found a little cystic scar in the very worst spot that finally broke down enough for me to turn my head freely to the left without pain for the first time in years. Well, a lot of that pain is back now, and I can only think maybe being held in one position with airway was really hard on my neck. I'm having a super fibro flare with shooting pains going all over my scalp and down my shoulder, and my neck feels like it took a hard punch. I know this is nothing new and that time and patience and more therapies will help me work it out, but it's been very hard not being cranky, as you can imagine. I'm trying not to be short with people, but it's quite a challenge when all this pain is whinging around my head. One of my cranial nerves feels like it's getting electrical zaps every few seconds, and this has been going on for several days.

Thank goodness the surgery itself went spectacularly well, and I'm healing fast. The pain level in that area has gone down exponentially, and I'm looking back and can't believe how much pain I had been living with and how much it was affecting my overall health and my appearance.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

What is tiny and green and hurting all over?

I've been blogging most of the daily/weekly stuff on #pinkyblog, but since this one is 99% medical, it's going here.

I've had gallstones come and go for decades, sometimes they would just magically dissolve and then come back.  I guess thank goodness for being autism spectrum with a fibro nerve disorder, because I was done dealing with the pain long before a rupture, even though I've been putting up with gallstone problems most of my life. I've regularly passed them, very used to that kind of pain, but this year was really different. I felt short of breath and heart racy with the least exertion that got worse over time, and the worst of the pain referred left, so I was checked for everything imaginable, including pancreatitis and aneurysm. I've seen the pathology report after surgery. I got lucky, my gallbladder wall was only .2 cm even after months of being chronic. My mucosa was still intact, but I was a ticking time bomb this year jammed so full of little rocks and scattered particles inflaming the hell outa the surrounding area.

From the abstract The degree of gallbladder wall thickness and its impact on outcomes after laparoscopic cholecystectomy.
"A greater degree of gallbladder wall thickness is associated with an increased risk of conversion, increased postoperative complications, and longer lengths of stay. Classifying patients according to degree of gallbladder wall thickness gives more accurate assessment of the risk of surgery, as well as potential outcomes."

I honestly cannot even imagine reaching the point of rupture. So many horror stories are coming at me now from all directions about complications that I'm wondering how some of you or your loved ones are still alive. One doctor once called me a canary in a coal mine, aware of my internal environment long before other people normally are, and another told me I'd probably outlive everyone I know just because I can feel every little thing inside me making me a nervous wreck.

Since I've lived with autoimmune flares and resulting treatment wreaking havoc on my immune system, I have a very healthy fear of infection going out of control. I'm not easy to treat because med intolerant, so I confine myself to what others fondly refer to as my bubble world. I still go out and run errands, but I'm super cautious about not ever letting anything touch my face until I get home and wash my hands really good. I've had allergic reactions to simply absentmindedly scratching my lip, and I pick up germs so fast just touching things that I'm usually the only one sick. I've mentioned picking up hand-foot-mouth just from resting my arms and hands on chair handles in a waiting room and not being mindful of touching my hands to my face. I had no other contact with anyone besides my husband for the two weeks prior, and he never got it.

One of my biggest fears is CMV reactivation, because I've been living with a liver condition most of my adult life and possibly even my entire life back to around 11 years old. I had a discussion with a liver specialist one year about aggressive mega supplementation for long periods that I was subjugated to as a child, and it's very possible my stomach bloat and belly pain goes back that far. My liver was already sensitive when I started drinking in my mid 20s and I'm pretty sure I went through liver toxicity after sudden alcohol withrawal about a year and a half later. I've been watched for liver tumors after a ten year stint with lupus meds, and then had a few discussions about autoimmune liver disease after initial CMV infection swelled me up for months, which could actually kill me very quickly if that ever happens. The last thing I want to do with my health is make life harder on my liver.

Most people don't even think about their livers and don't know they live with stenosis for years. I've been very aware since my late 20s because my liver almost never stops sending out referred pain signals, and apparently was able to feel the imminent explosion coming on. I can't tell you what a relief the surgery was after months of pain referring, and after the horror stories I'm hearing from friends and loved ones now about their own and others' experiences with gallbladder emergencies, I'm point blank saying stop blowing yours off before it gets to the point where your life STOPS for immediate emergency rescue after a rupture. That level of inflammation and infection isn't easy to get over and recover from once that happens. That ticking time bomb is snuggled right next to an organ you absolutely cannot live without.

Save the liver! I saw when this original skit first aired. If you cannot view this 3rd party embed, you can see Dan Akroyd's French Chef skit -here-.


I just discovered someone has autotuned Julia Child. 😂