Thursday, July 16, 2009

One Year Later

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I went into for my heart surgery. It’s seems like the last year was a black, empty hole in my life. Which it was!!. I spent July to March, just recovering and then this last May, I had another surgery. I am still not 100% recovered yet.

I remember going into the surgery, expecting to wake up with a small hole in my ribcage and one in my groin vein. It was going to be fairly easy and I would be out in a few days and back to work in a couple of months. Imagine my horror, when I woke up and I hurt like hell and I was stunned to look down and see tubes sticking out of my chest and blood draining from them. I was shocked to say the least!! I went in the surgery expecting one thing and woke up with something else completely. Oh, the pain, it was awful. I couldn’t talk since I had a tube down my throat. I was dying of thirst and couldn’t drink. They would only put a lip balm on my lips. I was strapped down so I couldn’t move. I couldn’t go to the bathroom. I was yellow and puffed up bigger that the Pillsbury Doughboy. I could see the shock in people’s eyes when they would visit.

Did I mention the pain? I am sure I did. I hurt so bad that I would cry. They would give me some more pain meds but it still hurt. ALL THE TIME!! I remember one night, one nurse was chatting to her friends outside the room and I could not sleep (since they were chatting) and I hurt really bad. I kept asking her for some meds and whatever she gave me didn’t work. Not only I could not sleep but also I hurt badly and finally she upped the dose so the pain was semi numbing. I asked her for a sleeping pill and asked her to quit talking to her friends so I could sleep.

Apparently, people who came by said I looked like hell. Gee, thanks, I guess I did. I remember my fingers were huge!! I could see a fat, yellow-white body with tubes sticking out and it seemed surreal. Finally, they took the tube out of my throat and I was allowed to eat ice chips. Never in my life, ice chips tasted so delicious. I mean, I looked forward to eating them. Then I was able to eat sorbet. I ate a lot and now I am not interested in ice chips or sorbet anymore. After a bit, I could eat normal food but as soon as I would eat it, I would throw it up. The food was awful anyways!!

The pain still was horrible and I had problems breathing. I would gasp for air. The Doctors and Nurses would reprimand me for not blowing a lot of air into the air device (which measure air flow). I could barely blow 500 and they wanted me to get at 1200-1500 or so. I kept complaining that I had a hard time and I felt like they thought that I was lazy. Not at all, it was because both lungs were filled with blood. Once they drained it, I could breathe a lot better. They sent me home the next day after they drained my lungs. My lungs filled up quickly again and I had to get them drained again. I would go to the lung Doctor for month trying to get that issue fixed.

I was in so much pain the entire time, every time I move my chest would scream out in pain. They finally took out the catheter so I could go to the bathroom. It hurt to get out of the bed and move. A few days later, they sent me home. I was so weak and was hunched over in my wheelchair. Getty thought for sure that he would be bringing me back very soon. I still was in pain: to breathe, to walk, to sit, to move, to stand, to sit, you name it. My front chest would grate and stabs of pain would shoot everywhere.

The chest is not lined up correctly now after a year and I can’t do some items still. I have a hard time lifting and turning and if I do it wrong, the pain will take me to my knees. Sometimes when I sleep, I wake up in severe pain as I must turn in my sleep and my chest scream out in pain. I have learned to live with the pain now. I am hoping it will heal but I think it was not set correctly, as one side is higher than the other is so it is something I have to deal with now. They are not opening me up again. Twice was enough!!

I had too many surgeries. The first two did not work in July and then I had to have it fixed in November. Then the last one in May. As well as a bunch of minor procedures. The two month supposed surgery/time off turned into over 7 months, then part time at work and now I am full time. Even now at work, I get tired and my chest starts to hurt. Will it ever quit hurting? I don’t know.

I can’t grab and flip sheep anymore so I have to have help now. Once I grabbed a lamb and flipped it, then my chest grated and I dropped the lamb as I couldn’t breathe or move. I hurt so I quit. That really limits me on the farm. I can not sling the 50 lbs of cob over my shoulder like I use too. I ask Getty to move that now. Stuff that I used to do, I can not do anymore. The chest pain really limits me a lot. It not the same as before. Tossing the saddle on the horse is out of the picture. I still haven’t figure out how I am going to saddle my horse. That is the twisting motion that hurts my chest. Sometimes I forget, like when I grab hay and it quickly reminds me that I BETTER STOP NOW!! So in my farming work, I have to rethink my approach or ask for help. I really haven’t written about this very much as I have Getty, Janet, Chuck and other folks who have stepped in to carry that part of the load. But I can’t rely on them all the time.

It would have been nice if they actually closed me up nice and lined up but they just put me back together as fast as they could. I guess I will pay the price now. I am glad that Swedish didn’t have to open me up and they did it right. I was too weak anyways for them to open me up. The clamshell that Swedish put in worked and my heart is much better. I have color and gained weight. I might even think about eating less ice cream now!! I had lost 30 pounds during all of this.

I have a huge ugly scar on my chest. It is very wide and dark, and there are other scars on the chest. There are some to the side and on my stomach. It would have been nice to have a thin scar but this one is not thin at all. I guess they didn’t worry about that when then close the chest up. I won’t be modeling for any bikini ads at all!!

There were a lot of things that went wrong that shouldn’t have and later things that finally went right. At least now, the hole is closed (Thanks to Swedish) and I don’t have to worry about that. It was scary to find out that after my two surgeries by Overlake, that the hole had opened up again to the same size that it was when I went in. Then I had to get enough strength to heal so I could have another surgery. That had me worried for a bit. Getty was a trooper during all of this as he thought that I was not going to make it. There were many times on the couch that I struggled hard to breathe, that is hurt so much that I want to throw in the towel, that I was so weak that I felt like giving up but I am a fighter. The love of the family and friends and Tess and Nan was strong. Everyone should have support like that in times of need. It’s taken me a year to write this down as it is a hard subject to talk about.

It’s hard to believe it is a year later now. Tomorrow my mom and Kimiko will come over and we will feast and walk around and garden where a year ago, I couldn’t do any of that.


sheepkelpie said...

I was just thinking about all you went through. Times like that try (wo)men's souls. You met the challenge, and whipped it's butt.
In time, hopefully, your chest will calm down, and you will slowly be able to do more. Thanks for that write up Diane. I knew that you had held back on your blog entries during it all- it had to be worse than you wrote, which it was. Thanks- you give us all someone to look up to.

DeltaBluez Tess said...

Yes, it was a lot worse that I let on. A whole lot!!

I still am not healed yet. My mom's best friend, Kimiko was reading the blog and translating it for my mom so I didn't want my mom to freak out. I tried to keep it positive when she would be here. She is a very traditional Japanese lady and would have freaked had she know how bad it was. As it was she was very worried. My brother and Getty knew how bad it really was. On the bright side, my brother and I met for lunch every 2-3 weeks since we work next to each other....where as before we were too busy but now, we realize what is really important.

gvmama said...

That was the year that was.
Be proud of all you have accomplished. I'm proud for you.
If you "get up" it's a good day!

Monique said...

I remember that day - I was in NOLA and talking to Getty on the phone a bunch of times to check in.

Its true, you did look like hell ;) But I am grateful you came through it ok. I know things are still hard for you, but we are all here to help you when it is needed.


Janet said...

I was just telling my husband the other day how different this year is from last. Last year you were soooo thin, your lips were bluish, and your skin looked grey. You were skeletal and couldn't even lift a glass of water without being in pain. Even months later in the Winter you'd make me drive way under the speed limit on your gravel driveway because the bumps in the road gave you shocks of pain. You really looked like death warmed over. I have a new respect for people who have chest/heart surgery - I realized that a cracked chest is way worse than the broken pelvis I'd gone through a few years ealier (and that hurt like crazy!). I also remember that I'd escort you down to your barn so you could look at your sheep and the dogs and you'd be tired out from just walking to the barn and sometimes you wouldn't even remember that I'd stopped by for a visit. Jerill, Mattie, Scott and I are very happy that you are finally on the mend.