I wound up in the ER on December first. What I thought was out of whack blood sugar ended up being appendicitis.
After an inconclusive MRI, the surgeon went in and removed the buggar. Because I was 32 weeks pregnant, laprascopy was out of the question and I had a traditional appendectomy. When I woke from surgery, I was only interested in whether I was still pregnant (yes) if someone let my wife know I was out (yes) and if I actually had appendicitis (yes.)
When they wheeled me back to my room, they got the wheels of my bed stuck in the elevator door tracks and maintenance had to use a hydraulic lift to get me out. I would have laughed had it not hurt so badly to do so.
Surgery really pissed off my uterus and I went into preterm labor for twenty-four hours. I was contracting every 2-3 minutes and they started taking about lung developing medications. Thankfully, my uterus chilled out and the baby decided to stay put. They sent me home after a few nights.
One week later, my incision began leaking a God-awful smelling fluid when I got up to go to the bathroom. At first, I thought my water broke. My wife threw up in the garbage from the stench.
The nurse on call told us to cover the incision with a feminine hygiene pad and asked how quickly I could get to the ER.
After we arrived, I endured some poking, prodding and two IV’S (my potassium was seriously low) before they sent me back into surgery.
When they wheeled me into the hallway outside the operating room, I freaked out. The appendectomy was my first surgery since my breast reduction in 1998. When he put me out, the anaesthesiologist literally choked me long enough for me to still be able to speak THREE sentences. He didn’t prepare me for the practice and it terrified me. I was anxious over it happening again.
I may have started crying.
I expressed my fear and they explained the practice, why it’s done, etc. I was also assured the new anaesthesiologist would talk me into dream land and wait longer to apply pressure to my trachea to prevent aspiration. This time, I was completely unaware when the procedure was done. Both the surgeon and anaesthesiologist were amazing and it was a much more pleasant experience.
When I woke up, they had removed a lot of dead tissue from my abdomen and extending into my back.
Thankfully, my uterus behaved.
I was now sporting a lovely wound vac to heal my incision from the inside out. This vac would also pull out the infection and promote healthy tissue growth. My incision was approximately seven inches long, two inches wide and five or six inches deep.
The very next day, I had a second surgery to remove more dead tissue and replace the wound vac bandages. My infection wasn’t reacting to my antibiotic, so they changed it.
Forty-eight hours later, I had a third surgery which began under conscious sedation. They needed to make sure all the infected tissue was removed as well as change the bandages on/in my wound. When I began hitting the nurse who was monitoring the baby, they put me under general anesthetics. I was completely unaware any of this happened until I was told after the fact.
With a wound vac, the bandage change procedure needs to be repeated three times each week. The goal was to get me healed enough to do the changes in the clinic instead of having to be put under. My fourth change was done under conscious sedation, but I was completely unaware of anything going on.
They sent me home after nearly a week. The next bandage change was done in the operating room and I was aware and felt every horrifying move. They removed the tape, pulled out the “sponge” they pack the wound with and then put in a new sponge, vac and tape.
It was hell, but it was my last operating room change.
However, even with oral pain meds and topical numbing medication, the next two weeks of changes (in the clinic) were the stuff nightmares are made of. I started crying the night before each change and cried through the entire process a time or two.
I was miserable.
My four year old often told me, “I miss my old Mommy. I don’t like your cut.” She even came to me, crying, carrying a photo of her Mama and I. “Will you ever be THIS Mommy again?”
It shattered my damn heart.
I was broke. I was depressed. I felt hopeless. I was scared I would lose the baby. I faced my own mortality and what that would mean for my wife and my children. I felt completely alone, useless and lost.
I couldn’t work, clean, homeschool or cook. Hell, I couldn’t even wipe myself and I often peed my pants.
I lost my shit.
Slowly, things began to get better. I could get up with less pain, I could get some basic household chores done and my clinic appointments began to hurt less and less.
Today, five weeks later, they removed my wound vac. To add some more spice, I have a suspected hernia, which I was warned was a possibility after major abdominal surgery…especially with a quickly expanding baby belly.
The surgeon doesn’t feel it will impede my labor/delivery, but we will see what my OB thinks. I’m terrified of having to have a cesarean section, much less a hernia repair (which also has a “difficult” recovery, but not as rough as what I have already experienced.) I’m essentially terrified of giving birth and enduring more pain, even if I do get a baby out of it all.
I’m scared. As hard as it is to admit that, I am. I doubt my ability to get through it, even though this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m sure this comes from the trauma of the events in the last six weeks.
I just never want to be back in the hospital.
This isn’t how I wanted to look forward to birthing my last child. This isn’t how I wanted to think or feel about what’s to come. This isn’t the way I wanted things to be.
I’m stressed by all we still have to get done to welcome this baby in less than three weeks. I’m still healing. I’m still slow. I’m still sore. Then there’s the normal third trimester exhaustion.
So, yeah. December has not been kind and January is full of fear and anxiety.
I will be happy when this is all far, far behind us and I can be happy, healthy and pain free. For now, I take it day by day. I do what I can. I try to be kind to myself. I hold it together as well as I can. Some days I succeed better than others.
I keep telling myself there is another side to this and I will get there…eventually.
My lovely wound vac.