My first afternoon in the ward was uneventful, aside from standing up and walking around the bed for the first time with the aid of a physiotherapist. I chatted cheerfully with my family (while itching quite a bit from the fentanyl, but it didn’t really bother me) and then settled down for sleep. Here began the hardest part of my stay in hospital. My neck was beginning to swell a bit, and as I lay flat on the bed and slept (which meant I was not pressing my green painkiller button), my pain started to build. The nurses came to check on me every two hours, and on their first check I woke up in pretty severe pain. I grabbed my mobile phone and chatted to friends and family to keep myself distracted while I stayed awake to hit the green button the moment it lit up again.
Despite the fact that I was in pain and seeing double, I was in pretty good spirits. I had been very shocked by how little pain there had been so far, so it felt like now I knew what I was in for and knew that I could handle it. I remember also thinking that it was really cool that I got to know what this felt like, but I’m a bit morbidly curious like that. Within an hour or two, the pain had subsided to a manageable level, although I didn’t get much sleep at all that night.
The next morning a nurse came in and removed my IV, so we needed to find me a new painkiller that I could take orally. They started me off on endone (oxycodone). My family and the nurses also noticed the swelling in my neck and suggested that we incline the bed upwards to help the swelling go down and relieve some of the pain. This made it much more uncomfortable to relax and sleep, but I do believe it helped me recover much faster.
It didn’t take long after taking the endone for me to start feeling some nasty nausea, so the nurses gave me a vomit bag and an anti-nausea medication that you place under your tongue (it tastes absolutely foul). Half an hour later, the nausea was worse, so they gave me another anti-nausea tongue thingie. I was truly feeling some of the worst sickness I had ever felt at this point. Around lunch time my mother and sister came in baring a beautiful white moth orchid, but instead of being able to thank them I instantly started vomiting large amounts. Vomiting when your neck hurts to move is not fun, but thankfully it was over somewhat quickly and I instantly started feeling better.
I spent the rest of that afternoon half-way between sleep and waking, completely and utterly zonked. Thankfully one of the nurses realised quite quickly that this was a bad reaction to the endone, so I wasn’t given any more of it. I was again not in much pain, so they decided to offer me ibuprofen and paracetamol for a while and see how I handled things.
You’ll have to forgive me, at this point I start forgetting what happened on what day. Being in hospital, you tend to lose track of time. I spent most of my time watching Futurama on my laptop, chatting to friends on my phone and spending time with my family. Once a day the physio would drop by, and each day I could walk a little further, although I felt very dizzy doing so. My mother needed to give me a hand with showering, although my strength and balance were coming back surprisingly fast. I was alternating between two paracetamol and one ibuprofen about every three hours, and my pain was extremely manageable. In fact I’d almost say it was easy. The nurses kept asking “how bad is it on a scale of one to ten?” and I’d usually reply somewhere between one and three. This is coming from me, one of the biggest wimps I’ve ever known who is terrified of pain and still yells “ow” when she gets and injection.
Speaking of injections, they also started me on heparin injections in the stomach twice a day. The injection itself didn’t hurt much at all as they were tiny, but as I got more and more of them and my stomach got bruised, they started leaving me with a sometimes quite painful aching for up to half an hour afterwards. However, they were surely a lot less painful than getting blood clots in my legs!
We also one day noticed that I had a surgical staple in the side of my head. That was a bit alarming, seeing as it was quite a way from the surgical incision, but the doctor informed us that it was because of the system they use to keep the head steady during surgery. Apparently it broke the skin and hit an artery, so they had to staple it up quickly as I was waking up from surgery at the time. The nurse came and removed it, which was completely painless.
I’m going to have to stop there for now, I’ll cover my discharge and settling in at home in the next post 🙂