Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A really, really good day.

Today was really great. I did not expect to have the kind of day I had today, so every new thing just made it all even better.

Checking in on how I'm doing physically- I woke up feeling really unsure about how I was going to make it through today. There are some very distinct challenges involved with this surgery (I'm assuming not all surgeries under general anesthesia leave you with no voice for several days to weeks afterward.) Four days after my surgery I don't have a regular speaking voice and often can't talk above a whisper. If I don't talk at all for a while I do have a little more tone to my voice but being the solo parent in a house of three kids and navigating visits from friends- kinda hard to be silent for any length of time!

I am steadily taking 400mg of ibuprofen every four hours on the dot. I wake up in the night to take it because when it wears off, it wakes me up. It's not intense pain, it's a dull pain that allows me to also feel the swelling in my neck (which presses on my esophagus sometimes and feels really uncomfortable). The general tightness in my shoulders and neck is almost gone but I've got this stinging/burning sensation and it's sometimes itchy under my bandage. Add to that, my skin is getting pretty irritated from the tape (which is solidly adhered to me, not lifting at all yet!) and I'm working to not touch my neck much - but it's a challenge. I don't want to get an infection, I think my worst fear right now is having to be opened back up again. That was NO fun.

Again I say to you whackadoos who said this surgery was easy- did you not have to wake up from general anesthesia? That was so awful, I hate not having control over my body and being reliant on someone else to meet my physical needs in this way, hovering between awake and asleep and not being able to just decide to be awake, or asleep. It reminds me of when I was younger and I drank too much and wanted to sober up because it was starting to freak me out, and I couldn't just will myself sober. I can't will myself to be fully awake from anesthesia all of a sudden and it makes me feel a sense of panic.

So that's the hardest part of the whole thing honestly- that and the dehydration. I guess I can write more about that now that my stamina is a little better. After my surgery they left a heplock in but took the IV out, so no more fluids going in. I was taking ice chips right away but I was also very nauseated. I did not have a catheter so output was measured by a 'hat' in the toilet. The first shift of nursing did not track what I was drinking at all, and did not track output really because I only got up once and there was no hat in the toilet (and I didn't know there should be one or I would have asked for one). Consequently I got extremely dehydrated but didn't realize that was what was happening. All I knew was that I was feeling sicker and sicker and I just couldn't drink enough water to make my mouth stop feeling so (increasingly) dry, and I kept sleeping instead of being awake and feeling bad. I was sipping as often as I could but it kept making me want to throw up. I only barfed once but the nausea was ever present and really just got worse and worse, and I was terribly weak.

Finally at some point during the night my heart started feeling funny. I couldn't figure out what was going on but I thought, "I'm in the dang hospital, I might as well have someone take a listen." I called the nurse to come in and listen and my heart rate was like 120-ish. My oxygen levels were hovering around 91 so we put the canula back in my nose and it hit me - I was dehydrated! I actually thought about all those survival shows and how they talk about the signs of dehydration and then I finally consciously noticed that I hadn't peed, that my mouth was extremely dry, lips were feeling cracked, and now my heart was racing out of my chest. I asked for an IV, I took some calcium and shortly after I felt a world better than I had before.

Note to self (and to you): Keep the IV going until you're solidly eating and drinking!

Gluten free roasted cauliflower gnocchi
with garlic, prosciutto and parmesan
As to today, sweet Jolene came and liberated Niall and Eidie from the house for a few hours, and Erin and I went out to lunch at one of my favorite places. It was actually quite exhausting- mainly because I couldn't shut up. We sat down and got our water and I started feeling woozy and queasy and wondering if it would be rude to ask to go home, but we stuck it out and ate clams and alsatian tart flambe and scooted home. It was perfect and wonderful to catch up and it also showed me that I'm not quite ready for lengthy outings. Then my pal Heather delivered an incredible dinner and even stayed for about an hour and we got some really rare, precious time to just catch up with each other and talk about our respective futures. I rented a movie for the kids and then Jolene came over to taste some of that amazing dinner and brought a hard lemonade. We chatted until way past the kids bedtime and she scooted home.

I so rarely get this easy kind of time with my friends where there isn't some kind of lengthy planning, timelines, limits and juggling. It was delicious having people come to me and while I couldn't entertain for long, the time was so warmly spent - my heart is really full tonight even if I go to bed with no voice.

Tomorrow, more friends taking Eidie for some adventures, another friend bringing food for dinner and movie night and wine with a friend. I feel like I shouldn't be having this much of a good time when I'm so reliant on people just to help me get through each day- but I am having fun, and I hope they are having fun, too.

My aunt called today to tell me that she thinks she can't go with me on this trip we've been planning for some personal reasons, and I talked with her about seeing past them. I told her that if cancer has taught me anything, it's taught me to learn to receive without guilt, and without feeling that I don't deserve it. I spend a lot of time convinced that people don't know how selfish I really am, that if they knew, they wouldn't love me as much. The truth is that I am as real as I can be in any given moment and that I still draw the most incredible human beings around me.

I told my aunt that she doesn't have to get cancer to learn to receive the gifts that are coming her way just because she has given truly of herself to others. I tell my friends all the time- our friends are reflections of the energy we put out into the world, and that they are exquisite human beings to have pulled us all toward them. I only figured out a few days ago that the same is true of me.

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