I’m now three days postop. No take-backsies. Sorry, boys.
Sunday was surreal, like a Christmas Eve so wonderful you couldn’t believe it had finally arrived. Yet it wasn’t until I finished work, stood up and glanced down at my countdown calendar and saw this that my stomach suddenly dropped, and, as the kids say, shit got real.
Holy crap. This was happening. In less than 24 hours, this was happening. Where had the time gone?
Fortunately I was still shagged out from working overnight or else I wouldn’t have been able to sleep at all.
I had to check in by 6 am for 7 am OR time, which meant we had to leave at roughly 5 am. Ugh. I joked that they wouldn’t even need anesthesia, I’d still be asleep, but the truth is I sprang out of bed like an 8-year-old on Christmas morning. It WAS Christmas, the best ever, and my Pegasus was almost here.
The only other surgery I’ve had in recent memory was my gallbladder removal, so all my expectations were informed by that. The prep was similar. I met my nurse, Ashley (who took the news that I was a difficult IV stick as a personal challenge, and succeeded on the second try), my anesthesiologist, and of course Dr. Steinwald, who drew all over my chest like an artist with a sketch pad. Tery was allowed in the room the whole time.
Ashley showed me how to use my incentive spirometer (a device you inhale through to maintain a certain level of air flow–expands the lungs to prevent pneumonia. I type about them all the time, it’s always interesting getting firsthand experience). I did it twice and she proclaimed I was the best at it she’d ever seen. Aww, shucks…
Then Ashley said she was giving me something to “relax” me. She started wheeling me to the OR and I remember talking with her and then I was out before we got through the hall. I never saw the operating room, whereas for my gallbladder I remember joking with the team before the gas mask descended onto my face.
The waking up process was much different as well. For my gallbladder, I remember gently being coaxed awake by a patient nurse who fed me ice chips for about 30 minutes before I was deemed coherent. For this, it seemed like I was surrounded by people coming and going, and all talking to me as if I understood them from the second I opened my eyes. Dr. Steinwald passed through, no idea what he said. A different nurse attended me, an older woman who surely would rather be retired (but things don’t work like that anymore, as my own mother can tell you). She didn’t have ice chips but progressed directly to bottled water. Fortunately anesthesia doesn’t make me nauseous.
My throat was killing me from the breathing tube, but I didn’t have the impossibly dry mouth I got from surgery in the past. And, of course, my boobs were gone. As soon as I regained my senses, I looked down at my utterly flat chest in happy disbelief. Gone, baby, gone. Tery told me they had weighed roughly 2.5 pounds each. 5 pounds that weighed a hundred to my psyche. I was over the moon.
I was told there would be an hour of observation before they released me. That hour flew by, mostly because I was still in and out of consciousness. I don’t even remember the IV being removed. I vaguely remember nasal prongs coming out (because pure oxygen delivered straight up your nose is just fantastic). Tery helped the nurse dress me, and then they both walked me to the car.
I made a little video, but my movie skills are shite compared to my way with words. Here it is anyway:
I rested when we got home, but was up and about that same night (in stark contrast to my gallbladder, where I was down for the count for a good three days). The difference, I’m convinced, is being able to use abdominal muscles. Take care of those puppies, they really are your best friends. In fact, Tery crashed harder than I did (she doesn’t handle early mornings well) and I was up before her. Dr. Steinwald called me personally to check on me, a nice touch I thought.
Here I am day three, and nothing about this recovery is like that first surgery. Not only am I fully mobile, but I never lost my appetite and I’m in infinitely less pain–after my gallbladder, I knew exactly when we were coming up on the four-hour mark between narcotic doses and I was desperate for them. This time all I have is a generalized bruised soreness, nothing unmanageable at all.
Which is for the best. Like they do for most people, opiates give me constipation from hell. It was the worst part of last time, and again this time. After two days (actually three, I couldn’t go on Sunday either) nothing had worked, not senna, not Ex-Lax, not probiotics, not Metamucil, not lots of fruit, not Fleet’s enemas (quantity three. Desperate, I tell you). Then yesterday morning it was like they all kicked in at once. Oh, sweet blessed relief. I was hearing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in my head.
Something I didn’t have last time was drains. Everyone says these are the worst part, and they’re not wrong. They aren’t as gross as I feared (you never actually handle bodily fluid), but annoying for sure. You have to be constantly vigilant about snagging them on things, even in your sleep. And I haven’t been able to see how shirts fit me yet because they’re incredibly obtrusive and they pucker out clothing unnaturally no matter where you try positioning them. My output has been steadily decreasing to almost nil today, and I think the exit sites feel a little stingy and irritated, so I’m really hoping they can come out tomorrow (if not then I’m stuck with them all weekend, so fingers crossed for me).
I’ve got an Ace wrap around the area about as tight as it can go, providing compression. Whereas this is preferable to ice packs for swelling (which Dr. S specifically advises against), I have to say, my sympathy goes out to transgender people who get through the day by binding. It’s nearly as miserable as having boobs, and since surgery I have to make a conscious effort to stop hunching my shoulders forward, a strange side effect no one mentioned.
So that’s it. I’m excited to see the actual result (everything’s under lots of bandages right now). I’m thrilled that my recovery seems so trouble-free thus far (knock on wood), and I’ll be back with more pics soon. For now, have a before and after.