Sunday, December 29, 2013

How Not to Do Christmas, Surgery, and Recovery. Or Maybe How You Should Do It. I Can't Decide.

Last week I had sinus surgery. The week before that I was diagnosed with pneumonia.
This made things interesting.
To try and sum it up as neatly and simply as possible, the surgery was something I have wanted to do for years. I finally have health insurance that would cover the surgery for me with almost nothing out of my pocket. (With my old insurance I would've had to pay close to $8000 out of pocket for the surgery.) It was important that I get the surgery in 2013 before my employer-provided health care plan changes in 2014 to meet ObamaCare requirements, and I suddenly would have to pay more for the surgery. (I will never understand how ObamaCare helps anyone. I'm just screwed every which way with it!)
But I digress. Getting sick out of the blue, and getting severely sick so suddenly, complicated things a bit. The surgery was tentative right up until the moment I arrived at the surgical center and got cleared.
The surgery itself was fairly simple, textbook, nothing big. I've had chronic sinusitis for years, and my sinus infections are now antibiotic resistant staph infections. Fun stuff. So the surgery was ordered to fix a few things so I can finally, for the first time in about 3 years, NOT have a sinus infection! Yay!
My little sister, Steph, was my caregiver and driver for the day. I think she was more worried and concerned about everything than I was. The surgery went well, and I was fine.
My doctor (a guy I think is fabulous and would recommend him anytime) tried something new on me. He left a steroid implant in my sinuses. It's a time-release capsule that delivers the anti-inflammatory steroids directly in the sinuses. (I don't feel it.) I have had absolutely NO bruising, no swelling, nada. It really had been great.
I felt so fantastic the first few days after the surgery that I agreed (like a crazy person) to host Christmas dinner for several friends on Christmas day. At first the general idea was that I wouldn't feel well, and wouldn't be able to drive, and therefore, wouldn't be able to go anywhere for Christmas. (I was okay with that.) When the idea came up to spend it with friends, I said I wouldn't mind having 2-3 friends over who would understand my situation, and they could do all the work and food.
Ha. Well, I've never been good at saying no. 2-3 people became 6 or 7, which became 10-12. And then the day of there were 17 people in my house. 2 days after I've had major surgery, I had 17 people in my tiny one bedroom apartment.
Doggy Blur. I saw a lot of this last week. Dogs moving very fast in circles.

Oh and a second dog. A dog bigger than my own dog.
Thankfully the visitor dog was great, and got along with my own dog beautifully. The two of them kept each other entertained for hours and weren't a problem at all. (Except for the part where they took over my bed and kicked me out.)
My sister did a ton of decorating in my apartment for me. And helped me prep Christmas dinner.
Remember how I love to brine turkey? Of course I had to do that too. Two of the guests coming to dinner brought over turkeys in advance for me to prepare and cook. Just to illustrate how crazy this whole situation was, one of the turkeys had to be delivered a few hours after I got back from the surgery. I was completely out of it, still under the influence of the anesthesia and oxycontin. Completely loopy and delirious. I texted the girl that I did not know and had only met very briefly one time, and told her I left the door open for her, and explained my situation. This poor girl had the unenviable task of letting herself into an apartment she's never been to before, not knowing if I was awake or asleep, and put a turkey away. And there are two large dogs in the apartment. Who doesn't love the awkwardness of that situation?
How perfectly beautiful is that turkey? No basting. No roasting bag. Nothing. Just brined it. (I had already started to carve it when I stopped to take this picture.)

Well, thanks to the anti-inflammatory steroids, (which if you don't know is completely normal to be prescribed after surgery, the implant part is the unusual part), I was completely WIRED the first few days. We're talking I was up doing laundry, cleaning the apartment, cooking, decorating, etc. I couldn't see why I couldn't do everything in the whole wide world. I felt fine!
There was some pain. But I had plenty of painkillers to take care of that. I really thought I had lucked out! I felt better than ever before! Woohoo!
Many thanks must be given to Sam, Candace, Molly, and Tonya, for making dinner go so smoothly. Sick or well, I wouldn't have been able to do all of it by myself. And there were portions of the day where painkillers were very needed! By the end of the day, I had many physical reminders that I technically still have pneumonia and just had surgery. And I had no trouble pulling back and relaxing and sleeping. Prior to that, I hadn't been able to sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time for 2 nights. I was EXHAUSTED.
The melted snowman in my bathtub.

Besides the dinner, Christmas was very nice. I got to talk to every member of my family, and in a few cases open presents with them on Skype or FaceTime. We were all spread out all over the world this year, so none of us got to be together. It's nice to have free technology that keeps us together.
When I say I slept on Thursday, I mean it. Other than getting up to walk the dogs, I didn't do squat. I stayed in bed, watched Netflix, and slept. A lot. One of my friends brought over a humidifier for me that made it much easier to breathe and sleep! Bless her!
I kept thinking that I didn't feel like I had had surgery or pneumonia at all! I totally lucked out! (With the exception of the whole not sleeping thing.) 
On Friday I attended the wedding of one of my original YW. I've been looking forward to this wedding for a while now. She's been off at school in Idaho while planning a wedding in DC and Roanoke. I've enjoyed serving as a lifeline for her, helping to get different things in DC planned and organized. (Fun fact: I also helped her with her college homework. She would email me her papers to proofread and help with. I'm happy to say WE got an A in English. This is important to me because I didn't get an A in that class when I was the student.) You know how much I love my YW, and I'll be thrilled to attend all of them. But since I got to help with this one a bit, and it is the first one I got to attend (she's my second one to get married, the first one got married in Canada, so I didn't get to attend), so there's a special place in my heart for this one.
I ran into my uncle after the wedding and told him I had the surgery. He's had it twice before. He was surprised to see how well I looked and that I was out running about. He mentioned that he was out of commission a good ten days after his surgeries. I patted myself on the back, pleased that I was still doing so very well after the surgery.
It was probably just a few hours after that that I hit the wall. The figurative wall, not a literal one. Although, it truly feels like I ran face first into a literal way at this point.
I do believe all that fun energy the steroid implant was giving me is gone now. Because wow do I feel like crap. The last 2 days have been all about staying in bed with ice packs and painkillers. It's just plain awful.
I'm going with the fairly logical assumption that I don't feel as bad right now as I would have felt without the steroids earlier in the week. And I've healed up some obviously. I am so incredibly glad I didn't have to feel that bad, because this is bad enough. If I had had to feel worse than this all week, I don't know if I could have survived it. My coughing and pneumonia symptoms have also resurfaced.
In spite of just how easy last week felt, right now I can't forget that maybe I'm not the bionic woman, and maybe surgery and pneumonia take some time to heal from. It's not so fun feeling like you've been hit in the nose with a baseball bat.
But you know what is amazing? Being able to breathe through my nose and feeling the air hit places in my sinuses for the first time in years.
(Not so amazing: non-stop nosebleeds for a week that are apparently totally normal during this process)
So there you have it. My completely unconventional Christmas and surgery.
I'm going back to sleep now.


  1. Anonymous3:09 PM

    Rememer the dish set you received from the anonymous person when you worked in Acookeek? Merry Christmas

  2. I do remember!
    That was one of the coolest, most surprising, and most thoughtful gifts I've ever received.
    And I never did figure out who was behind it. If it was you, thank you again!


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