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Category Archives: surgical menopause

Probably TMI for most

Well, I won’t go into all kinds of details, but still, you’re forewarned.

I was talking about some anxiety in my last post. Here’s what is going on. I’ve been doing hypnotherapy during a few of my regular therapy sessions with T in order to work on my cardiophobia. We’ve actually been working both with CBT and hypnotherapy for my fear of exercise. Part of my fear is because of my heart, but part of my fear is also putting myself in more pain than my daily dose…on purpose. I’m in pain pretty much most days, but exercising means I’ll be suffering more pain because of strained muscles and such.

So part of my therapy is to exercise. Shocking, I know. We have both a treadmill and a recumbent bike in our house (the treadmill is like…oh, 15 years old, but it still works!), so I have options on what I can do for exercise with machines. The bike is newer than the treadmill and it has those little dohickies on the handles that measure heart rate, which is a no-no for me. Just watching the heart rate go up is an anxiety trigger. So many people say exercise helps their anxiety, but it’s actually a major trigger for me. I started riding the bike (I figured it was lower impact on my arthritic knees than the treadmill) every night, with the intention that I was riding it to work on my fears, not on my weight loss. It gave me permission to see the exercise as something different…not to be perfect at it, not to think that if I only ride it a few minutes every night that it was a failure because a few minutes is a waste in the weight loss world. No, it’s part of my therapy, part of my recovery, and even sitting on the damn machine is an accomplishment.

I started slow with the bike, literally and figuratively. And I met my first goal of riding the bike three days in a week…and then I just kept going. I’ve been able to increase by one minute since I started. I’ve learned not to put my hands on the heart rate dohickies…and if it is too tempting, I’m going to put socks over the handles to make them not work. I listen to a little music, I play a game or two on the iPad if I have it. I go in, I get on, I ride, I leave, I recognize the accomplishment of what I’ve done. I went ten days. Some of the days I could have talked myself out of it (the a/c upstairs died again…my knee hurt, I had another owie which I’ll explain shortly) but I didn’t talk myself out of it. My mental recovery seems to be so much easier for me to work on than my physical. I haven’t really ruminated on that very much, but I suspect that is coming in therapy soon.

Monday night I went to shower and I realize there is a redness under my right boob. I’m endowed and…droopy. I’ve been that way all of my adult life, I’ve never gotten a heat rash or sweat rash under my boobs before (I am wondering if this is because of the surgical menopause and hormone issues). I don’t sweat like normal people. My first thought was oh shit it’s breast cancer because it was only under one boob and I know that there are some breast cancers that present that way. I managed to convince myself it wasn’t cancer even before the redness showed up under my other boob. At that point I was pretty well sure it was a heat rash (or sweat rash) from riding on the bike. So now I’ve got knee pain, foot pain (stupid plantar faciitis) and underboobs rashes. *sigh* I go buy these things that go under the boobies that is supposed to help wick away sweat. The are uncomfortable and weird and they move around. Joy. I also buy some tea tree oil and a powder for rashes and fungus, in case it’s a yeast fungus under there. The under-boobie wicky thing seems to help but not make it go away altogether yet.

Wednesday night I’m on the bike again (I’ve even been able to ride when I’m home alone, which is a big deal for me because if I have a heart attack on the bike…and I’m alone… shudder) and I’m like what is that pain? It’s in the crease of my left leg where it meets my groin. And I’m thinking it’s another damn heat rash. Great. I put some gauze in the crease and try to deal with it for overnight. Next day, I put another clean bit of gauze there to keep the area from rubbing and getting worse and I go about my day. I get on the bike again last night and I’m like … unh, that hurts. I finish my predetermined ride and go shower and suddenly I’m realizing it’s not the heat rash in the crease of my leg that was hurting. I have a cyst…my guess is an infected cyst (I get sebaceous cysts under my arms sometimes, but not for a while) or it could be an ingrown hair. It’s, uh, down there. Ya’ll ladies know what I mean. It’s in an unfortunate place, making sitting, standing, walking, lying down all very very uncomfortable. Dammit.

I tell Hub about the issue (he looks somewhat horrified), I go to sleep and wake up this morning first thing to call my doctor’s office. I don’t want to mess around with this area, so I beg them to fit me in today. They do and I go see one of the other doctor’s in the practice. She says “abscess” but won’t otherwise identify if it’s from a cyst or an ingrown hair. She doesn’t want to do anything with it but suggests I see my gyno to see if they want to drain it or what. I tell her my gyno is an hour away and not likely to be able to fit me in today, so she suggests I see the gyno in their extended practice and she goes to make an appointment for me. When she comes back, she tells me I’ll be seeing the nurse practitioner that afternoon, and oh by the way here is a prescription for bactrum (antibiotics). Oh how I love pills. And ABs are my favorite.

I go back later to see the NP, who tells me she can’t drain cysts and all the doctors are booked. But she graciously offers to do a lookie loo to see if the cyst actually needs to be drained. She measures it and says it doesn’t look too big, but writes down the info for future reference in case I come back with an issue next week. “Good news!” she chirps. “I wouldn’t drain this. It’ll drain on its own. Take your ABs and use warm compresses and a sitz bath as often as you can manage.” We talk about timing for when the pain will abate and what to expect from the “draining” and I go home.

The first time I saw the cyst last night, it was white. By the time I got home and everyone was done poking at it, it was a purple-red. Yay. (I told you, TMI.) Upon getting my ABs, I come home and go look up my blog post from when I had to take these particular ABs, and I apparently have nausea, bad taste in my mouth, and dry mouth (editing to add, and dry/itchy eyes near to the end of the course of ABs) to look forward to for ten days at least. Two pills a day over ten days. The NP told me to be happy, the other option is something like 4 pills a day over 20 days or something ridiculous. But at least I have experience with this AB, so maybe I’ll be okay with taking it more easily. (Prolly not, but one can hope.)

This is what I get for exercising? One time I went to vacuum my bedroom…I plugged in the vacuum and 10 seconds later the circuit blew. I reset it, plugged the vacuum into a different outlet across the large room and 10 seconds later another circuit blew. I reset it, used a plug in the upstairs hallway and THAT one blew. I decided at that moment that G-d did not want me to vacuum. I wrapped up the cord and put the vacuum away. So, is this what I’m getting about exercising? Multiple messages saying “don’t do it!” Well, another conversation for therapy, I guess.

Also, ow ow ow ow. 😦

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Here I am

I have wanted to write new posts, but there are things that have happened and I didn’t know where to start. So I started nothing. And then more things happened and I just wanted to blurt them all out in one post, but then I thought that’s no good way to share the different types of information.

None of that has changed, but I’m writing anyway.

Mid-October, Butthead started limping again. 10 weeks after her surgery. We started her on some pain killers and hoped that she just pulled something or overdid it. I didn’t not feel good about it because it was like she was fine, then she tried to play with Le Moo, and a few hours later she was limping. But we tried to be positive about it

The next morning, I woke up and I was spotting. Spotting post-menopause and post cancer diagnosis is bad. I was entirely freaked out. It wasn’t a lot, but it was terrifying to me. I contacted my oncologist’s office and they fit me in for that afternoon with the office PA. Hub raced home from work and we made the hour trip to the doctor’s office, all the while trying not to fall right over into a panic attack. When we finally got in to see the PA, she did a (painful!) exam and decided that there was a stitch migrating out that was causing a tiny bit of blood. She saw no lesions and no other issues, so she said she would consult with my doctor, but if no one called to follow-up, I should rest easy that it was just the stitch migrating from the second surgery. Not unusual, she told me. If it continued or got worse I should call them again. By the next morning it was done and I’ve been fine since then. But shit that was scary.

Butthead continued to limp, despite NEW painkillers. And by the following week, there was a terrible CLONKING noise coming from her knee when she was walking. Not all the time, but a lot. And that’s not right. So I called our vet (my uncle) about 10 minutes after I first heard the noise and he suggested that I come in to the office for an xray. So again, Hub rushed home and we packed Butthead up and raced down to HIS office, which is 90 minutes away. He sedated her and did an xray and physical manipulations (we actually HEARD the clunk upon manipulation in the exam room prior to sedation) but he found nothing out of the ordinary. He suggested that the knee was moving more than he would like, possibly because of severe atrophy from her quad muscle. Again, I was distressed, because this seemed to happen overnight, but we went home with instructions to continue pain meds and work on building up the quad muscle, which upon tightening should keep the knee in place. However, after a week of pain meds and exercises, and the vet talking to his colleagues, we decided that Butthead needed a second surgery. So off we went for a third Thursday in a row, over 90 minutes in traffic, to the vet’s office for surgery. He found that Butthead’s meniscus (a fatty pad in between the upper leg bone and lower leg bone where the knee joint is) was smashed on one side. So he had to remove that, and in addition he put in a nylon string attaching top and bottom bone, hoping to keep the knee more stabilized while we worked on muscle building.

We brought Butthead home and have been in post-surgery recovery mode with her. She’s still limping, but much like after the first surgery. Prior to this surgery, she wasn’t using the leg at all, now she is using is more each day, especially outside the house. Hopefully this will work and we can go back to exercises in a week in order to build up her quad muscles. UNfortunately, some of those exercises include walking (slowly) up stairs, and walking (slowly) up steep hills. Both of those things are hard on MY knees, so Hub gets the brunt of that work.

Which brings me to me. I’m feeling rotten. I’m not sleeping and I’m in a lot of pain all over my body. I’ve developed plantar fasciitis in one foot, which causes me to be in pain every time I stand up from sitting or laying down. Once I walk it off, I’m mostly okay in that fashion, but when I sit down again and then have to get up, it starts all over again. Plus, the rest of my body just hurts. Fall seems to be a bad time for me, pain-wise, and I have no idea why. I’m walking like an old lady again, and yet trying to just keep going because my Mom needs me. And my dogs need me. And my husband needs me. And my brothers and Dad need me. So I push on when I have to, and try not to limp too obviously so no one knows how bad it is. Except Hub, who sees me without the mask.

I am in pain all day long, and it screws with my sleep as well. And no sleep means no restorative sleep, which means no healing of muscle pain. Which means more pain. Which means less sleep. Which all sucks very much. Let’s not even talk about the ongoing nightmares. Or the hot flashes (and hot flushes) that go on all night and through the day. Or the PVCs that are hanging around again, although they’re mostly mild at this point.

In two weeks I’m going to see a hypnotherapist to see if she can help me with the sleep and the chronic pain, and some of the health anxiety that comes along with all that. I’m mostly okay with the health anxiety (though today has been a struggle) but it does keep me from exercising, and I need to get some exercise.

Then there’s the refrigerator saga (we’ve gotten a new one but not gotten paid for the dead one, plus the new one is smaller and waaay noisy), the dishwasher saga, and new on the scene, the laptop saga. Good times.

October was a struggle and so far, November seems on par. More about that in the next post.

 

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The men-all-pause

I was really concerned about my surgical menopause, after having my ovaries removed in the second surgery. Everyone talks about hot flashes and night sweats (which are apparently hot flashes but at night) and moodiness. Among other things, of course, but those are top issues that women report. I wasn’t sure how soon I’d be feeling the effects of the surgical menopause, as anecdotal reports varied, depending on the individual. I figured mine would be slightly delayed, because of my weight–fat around your waist especially is full of estrogen, and that would likely keep me from falling into the surgical menopause immediately. But even women who are overweight often have menopause symptoms immediately after surgery, so you just never know.

I had one hot flash (so far), I think. I’m not sure if it was because I was getting a fever from an infection, but it felt like what I’ve heard a hot flash feels like. But beyond that, I haven’t had hot flashes, per se. I just…get hot. And then I get cold. And then I got hot again. Especially at night, I go through this cycle of having the ceiling fan on and an oscillating tower fan right next to the bed, and I start with my sheet and comforter on top of me. Then I get hot, so I throw off the comforter, then I throw off the sheet. Then I get cold, so I pull the sheet over me, but that’s not enough because the oscillating fan is blowing RIGHT ON ME, so I have to pull the comforter over me to get rid of the chills. But then I got hot, so I get rid of the comforter, but I’m too hot for the sheet, so I throw that off again. Then I’m cold, because FAN BLOWING ON ME, so I yank the sheet over me again, and then the comforter. And then I repeat this cycle. At some point, I know I fall asleep, though I don’t think there’s been a pattern of whether I have the sheet and/or comforter on or off me. I just know that repeatedly through the night I wake up and go through the cycle of hot cold hot cold sheet comforter sheet comforter hot cold hot cold. And no matter how many times I wake up and go through the cycle, it keeps me awake for about an hour as I cycle through the hot cold sheet comforter routine. I don’t really SWEAT like a lot of women talk about (sweating through their night clothing and/or sheets), my internal thermostat is just messed up. But really, I don’t sweat too much anymore unless it’s really humid out and I’m working my ass off at something, then it’s like face sweat and, well, boob sweat, but not all over sweat. So maybe I just don’t sweat enough to have night sweats. Either way, this hot cold cycle is annoying and unfortunately affects my sleep, but it’s manageable. Because I don’t sleep well most of the time anyway, so this is nothing new.

I thought for a while I was having dry mouth from the SM, but that went away about a week after my last round of antibiotics (from the incision infection). I am having some headaches, which could be the SM or it could be allergies. I’m pretty new to these spring and summer allergies, so I’m still trying to figure out what is an allergy symptom and what isn’t. My hair isn’t falling out, yet, and I’ve had no moodiness. None, zip, zero, nada, zilch. I thought that would be a big thing for me, because I do trend to moodiness, but nope. No crying jags, no anger, no swing from happy to sad. I’ve been pretty okay–moderate–and I keep wondering when it’s going to hit me. More than the hot flashes, even, I thought it was going to be moodiness. I warned Hub, and apologized before I even went into surgery. My fingernails, though, are bad. I’ve always had issues with my fingernails, but over the last ten years or so, they’ve been pretty good. They would grow fast, and if I kept them trimmed to a certain length, they weren’t too prone to breaking. And they grew at a pretty good pace. Now they’re breaking all over the place, and not growing back very quickly.

What is most distressing for me at this point is the fact that I’m losing words. Or not being able to find the words I want. Hub has found himself jumping in to try to finish sentences for me when I stop to try to find the words I want. The words that might be just out of reach, or totally out of reach. I find myself pausing a lot, searching for words when I speak, searching for words when I’m writing something (an email, a blog post…doesn’t seem to matter). I feel like something is wrong with me. I mentioned it to Hub who suggested it might be the hormone shifts, and I think I read that somewhere, but I’m not 100% certain. Whatever it is, and I hope it’s SM, it’s scary and frustrating and distressing. I’ve always been someone who thinks thoroughly before I speak, but I’ve never had this much loss for words.

I have had much more muscle pain, which can also be a SM symptom. I saw the massage therapist last week and she beat the hell out of me. I was actually hurting for three or four days before it started to recede. But again, I do have myofascial pain syndrome, which is a muscle disorder, so it could be that I’m in a flare because of all the hormonal changes (and the physical stresses I’ve been under because of the surgeries and because of the care I’ve had to give to Butthead after HER surgery). It’s so hard to tell what is SM and what might be something else.

I’m having lots of dreams and nightmares…much more than before. Prior, the dreams would generally happen in the morning, after Hub got up but before I would get out of bed. Now they’re happening all night, and when I wake up and go back to sleep, I fall back into the dream/nightmare again. They’re vivid and uncomfortable dreams, and they generally leave me feel unhappy and distressed.

Oh, and the hormonal acne shit is driving me a bit batty. I thought with the lack of hormones, the monthly acne would go away. Nope, instead it has gotten worse. It’s all along my jawline, my chin, along the sides of my nose and nostrils, and around my mouth. Prior to the surgery, I would have one or two pimples per month, but now I’ll have several at a time. It’s frustrating because I don’t know what to do for it. Before I would wait it out because, well, hormones. Now, if I don’t really have hormones, when will the damn things go away? Bleh.

It’s still possible for other symptoms to crop up at any point. I have my fingers crossed that nothing gets worse and everything gets better, but I’ll do my best to cope no matter what comes.

 

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Guilty is as guilty does

I know that doesn’t make any sense. I just had no other way to title this post.

I had to cancel my baby toof extraction because my incisions were looking bad and I watched to tear the flesh from my stomach because they itched so bad (for days on end, prior to even seeing the surgeon/gyn onc the week before). I had left a note for the surgeon over the weekend, and on Monday they said “they’re healing, no worries!”. But by Monday morning, I knew they weren’t right, so I made an appointment with my primary doctor (who is ten minutes from my house versus over an hour to the surgeon/gyn onc, an hour to wait to see him, and then over an hour home) for the following day. She took one look at my incisions and put me on 10 days of oral antibiotics PLUS topical antibiotic ointment. Let us not forget that I already DID seven days of antibiotics for the UTI that I had finished just the week before. So I’m back on antibiotics (another four days) and feel nauseated and my mouth tastes terrible all the time no matter what I do. I saw my primary as a follow-up yesterday and although *I* don’t see much improvement, she was happy with how the incisions looked. And as a matter of note, she said if she had seen me like this last week, she would have suggested that I was allergic to the dissolvable sutures the surgeon used. I asked how long before the sutures dissolve and she said SIX WEEKS is the norm. Ugh. I’ve been through the standard with Hub and my antibiotic pills…he’s stayed with me for half an hour after each pill until yesterday. Yesterday was the first day I took the pill alone.

Tomorrow we take Butthead to get her ligament surgery. We’ve been able to keep her pretty quiet 97% of the time. I kind of think the pain medication has been keeping her quieter than usual, but whatever. She’ll be in surgery for probably two hours tomorrow, then in recovery. I hope we’ll have her home in time for dinner, but we’ll see how it goes. Also, tomorrow is the first time I’ll have a chance to tell my uncle (our vet) about my cancer. Not looking forward to that convo, but I want his family to know.

On to the guilt…

My mother got the results of her PET scan (I went to the appointment with her), and unfortunately it wasn’t good news. Although the lymph nodes that were targeted by the radiation shrank, they didn’t go away (or back to normal size? not sure the terminology)…and there are new lymph nodes showing up in her neck, sternum area, and the back end of the pelvis. There’s no potential for cure anymore, only the possibility of shrinking the nodes and extending her life. We’re going back to looking into clinical trials (including potentially gene therapy) for treatment. This shit is so aggressive, and now that it’s in her lymph system, it’s going to keep moving around. This was just a couple of months since her last PET scan. And the initial recurrence after her chemo was three months. It’s so freaking terrifying, I can’t even find words for it. I know that it’s possible to live many years with cancer, if the treatments available can keep the cancer at bay, but it requires continuous treatment, basically. But I’ve spent many moments trying to push out of my head the thoughts of what might happen to her…what might be her path. What her quality of life might be. What suffering she might have during this journey. If I think too much, I would be constantly in tears. I do my best to push those thoughts away and stay in the moment. It’s been particularly difficult during my recovery because I don’t have a lot to do with the energy and stamina I have at the moment.

I feel guilty that my path with cancer is presently so much shorter and with a better outcome. I feel guilty that as I got good news, she got bad news. I feel guilty that I’m not able to spend much time with her right now as I recover. I feel guilty that I’m not able to be the cheerleader and distraction-person as I recover. I’ve been mired in my own issues with recovery and have barely seen her (though we talk on the phone several times a day). I feel that I am failing as her support. I doubt highly she has any of these thoughts, but I do. They are my constant companion these days.

I have been pretty lucky so far with the surgical menopause. I had one hot flash and luckily Hub was with me and I knew right away what it was. That doesn’t mean I didn’t clutch Hub’s hand for dear life, but it was over relatively quickly and it hasn’t happened yet again. I still get cold and hot (I pull the covers over me and then throw them off repeatedly all night) a lot, but I can deal with that. I haven’t been terribly over-emotional or moody, though I’ve had a pretty constant headache which could be hormones or it could be the antibiotics. It still very possible for the symptoms to ramp up, but so far it’s been very manageable.

 

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Six month increments

I had my post-op with the surgeon on Tuesday. After waiting over an hour for the appointment (it’s almost criminal, seriously, wth?), he came in with a big ole smile.

Everything was clear, “negative” pathology, and we’re good to go. He talked a little bit about the cancer again, then asked if we had questions. I asked what the final stage was, and he said 1A, which is the lowest stage with a cancer finding in the uterus. So then I said, “Um, okay. What do I do now?”

Nothing. “NFT” — no further treatment. Every six months I go in for exam and pap (to check for cells on the vaginal cuff, which he said is where recurrence is most likely to happen), every year I get a follow-up CT…for five years. I try to pay attention to any new symptoms (pelvic pain and/or bleeding), and I go on with my world. Make sure to get my mammograms (these estrogen based cancers “travel in packs” he said, so breast and colon cancer are issues…). Good news, I get to do mammograms and 6 month exams during my birthday month. Happy birthday to me.

On his way out of the room, the surgeon asked if I was having any hot flashes or other surgical menopause symptoms. I said I didn’t think too much was happening yet, that most of my hot nights were probably from the fever from the infection. He nodded, said he’d see me in six months, and left the room. I’m still cold a lot and then get overheated when I try to stay warm, but I’m handling that. But again, I think because of my weight, the SM symptoms might be delayed for me. We’ll have to see.

I’m a little numb. It’s good news, I know it is, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel. I worry about missing recurrence symptoms. I worry about cancer popping up somewhere else. End result, I don’t really feel like my worry is gone, just pushed off and moderated a bit. Ugh. I wanted to feel elated. I wanted to feel relief. Instead, my brain just found something else to worry about.

On top of ALL that, my mom was checking on our dogs while we were at the follow-up appointment. She let them out around lunchtime and Butthead flew off our deck (not unusual) to chase a rabbit (not unusual) and came up lame on her back leg. She’s been having some mild limping after laying down, but upon movement, she seemed to be fine. We’d been monitoring her, but it seemed to be getting better. Mom told us Butthead laid in the yard for a bit, then when Mom called her back, she tri-podded it back to the house. Not good.

When we got home, she was still pretty bad. Within an hour of being home, I was on the phone to the vet, because this looked BAD. Our regular vet (my uncle) is out of the country, so we saw one of the other vets in his practice. She was barely finished with a physical exam when she gave us a grim look. It was as we anticipated…she tore her cruciate ligament in that back leg. And that means surgery. Which we would ONLY allow my uncle to do…and he’s not home for another two weeks. And Butthead is an active, restless, young dog. So we have to keep her quiet for these two weeks, then 4-8 weeks AFTER surgery. It’s so horrible to watch her limping around. It just breaks my heart.

And on Wednesday I go to get my baby toof removed. Which I’m freaked out about. On Monday we go to get the results from my mom’s follow-up PET scan after her radiation treatments.

So my brain has plenty to worry on. Woo.

 

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1 degree of madness

This recovery has not gone well at all.

The surgeon told my husband and mother in the hospital (while I was in post-op recovery) that the surgery went “perfectly” — it only took 30 minutes versus 90 and I lost no blood.

When I woke in recovery, I felt awful and dizzy and nauseated. They moved me to a cube where my husband and mother were waiting, but I couldn’t open my eyes and there was some kind of goo all over my face (forehead, cheeks, nose–which later I was told was from the tape from the breathing tube, but I didn’t have that issue last time). I was so dizzy that I couldn’t open my eyes. I hurt all over. I stayed in the hospital longer this time than the last time. They took me into surgery early (like 8:30am) but we didn’t leave until 5pm. That was over an hour more in recovery this time.

On the way out, the nurse handed over prescriptions. We were both horrified to see the surgeon was sending me home with injectable blood thinner. I had to inject myself in the stomach once a day subQ for fourteen days. I HATE NEEDLES and Hub is so terrified of needles that when he has to have his blood taken for testing, he has to go to a specific lab that has a gurney because he has to lay down because he has passed out in the past. Hub tried to get the injections from the hospital pharmacy so the nurse could demonstrate the first injection, but when he got there they were closing. FUCK.

So we came home and he went back out to put the prescriptions in. The prescription said to start the shot the next day, so I tried desperately to ignore the thought. First night, Hub helped me clean the area with alcohol and I gave myself a shot while he was looking in the other direction. The shit burns…for like 20 minutes afterward. It’s bad. I hate it. I have four more to go.

Saturday night I went to give myself a second shot, but I was really cold. But my face was so hot. So I gave myself the shot, Hub gave me an ice pack for my face, and then he put a blanket over me because I was shivering uncontrollably. And then I had a full-on anxiety attack. I was lying prone on the bed, head covered with the ice pack and a towel, body covered with a blanket, feet up on a pillow, crying and shivering and it was terrible. TERRIBLE. Overnight that night, I was SO HOT. I was sure it was from the surgical menopause. I didn’t sleep, I sat up all night feeling hot and sweaty and miserable. The next day, Sunday, I was pretty miserable. I was able to do my shot that night without another anxiety attack, but I was so hot all the time. I finally started taking my temperature when I couldn’t sleep again. I have 3 thermometers… two oral and an ear one. Two of them were new because I thought my old thermometer wasn’t working right so before this surgery I ordered a new oral and decided to try the ear one. By 1am, all three were reading 101 or over. The surgeon said if I had fever over 101 to seek attention. I woke Hub and we had a long conversation about what to do…ER, walk-in clinic, wait for the morning. He HATES the ER because no matter when we’ve gone, it’s always been mobbed and we end up having to wait forever to get out of the waiting room. It’s a terrible process there…they always seem overcrowded and understaffed. Our choices were limited and I was so freaked out about the fever, that we headed out, leaving the dogs alone in the house because I didn’t want to wake my parents and scare them if we could get in and out at the walk-in clinic. So at 1am Monday morning we headed out, but the walk-in clinic was locked up and closed down, even though the hours showed them as being open.

So at 1:50am, I checked in at our local ER. My temperature on their unit was 100.8 and my pulse was high. I felt like I was burning up. The triage nurse offered me ibuprofen or tylenol but I said no because I had just seen the terrible new report on NSAIDs and heart issues (also the reason why I’ve taken NO pain killers after this surgery). So we sat in the ER while I was hot and cold, waiting for someone to call my name. They took me back for blood and urine and an IV, then sent me back to the waiting room. By about 4:30am, when the triage nurse came to take my temp again and it showed 101.3, I took the tylenol. It was another hour plus before they took us back to a cube. The nurse came in about half an hour later and took my vitals again…the fever went down somewhat and my BP was low. About twenty minutes later, the PA came in and said my bloodwork indicated an infection…probably a UTI. She did a physical, then decided to send me for a CT (with IV contrast) to make sure I had no abscesses from the surgery. Went for CT after giving more pee for a culture (which the next day came back inconclusive), then waited around for IV antibiotics. CT was negative, so they gave me the IV antibiotics and by 8:30am they sent us home with a week of oral antibiotics. Hub and I both went home and straight to bed. He slept

For two days I suffered with the fever, taking tylenol every six hours to keep it below 100 degrees. I’ve never had a UTI before, so I had no idea about the symptoms, even though the PA asked me and the surgeon’s office asked me (when I called to report in Monday afternoon). I thought I was just recovering from surgery and the pain was from that. I thought the fever I had was just hot flashes and night sweats. I just had no idea.

Did I mention also that my baby tooth and the surrounding gum has been irritated since surgery? Even though I told them about the tooth, I think he bonked it. And I don’t have the energy (or the immunity & stamina) to go to the dentist and have them rip it out. Plus, I’m on blood thinners, still, so I suspect going in to have the tooth removed right now is probably not a good idea.

I’ve been SO tired during all this. I assume it’s not just the (second) surgery, but also recovering from the infection. And also the antibiotics are making me nauseated 24/7. I get out of bed and within an hour or two, I can barely keep my eyes open. Then the rest of the day I’m struggling between trying to rest and being exhausted. I am not moving around nearly as much as I did after the first surgery, so despite the fact that I DESPISE the injectable blood thinner, at least it has helped my anxiety somewhat about the blood clots.

I’m also struggling from nightmares about the cancer and tomorrow’s follow-up appointment with the surgeon. I know he’ll have the pathology report, which will set me forward to the next step in this journey. At the very least, I made it through yesterday (Sunday) without a telephone call from him (which is how I heard about the cancer initially, with a phone call from him on a Sunday during lunchtime). It was harder than I thought to go through the day yesterday, as every time the phone rang, I was sure it was going to be the surgeon with bad news…

It has amazed me at how I could tell the different between 98.6 on my thermometer and 99.1. I can feel the heat start, I can feel the chills start. It’s not even a full degree difference, and yet I could tell when it was time to check my temp and take more tylenol. It’s the same with the house thermostat…there’s a major difference for me with 1 degree whether it’s the heat or the a/c. Is everyone else so sensitive? (this was the reason behind the title of the blog post, so I figured I’d better explain the non-sequitur.)

 

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Rinse and repeat

So here I am, just days away from surgery number two. I wrote about my pre-surgery nerves in this post last time. I’m feeling pretty crappy these days, some of which is because I haven’t been sleeping. I’ve been having nightmares and I’ve felt overheated at night. I’m terribly heat intolerant, so it keeps me away and/or wakes me up when I’m too warm. And of course, if I’m warm when I try to go to sleep, then I can’t fall asleep. So it’s been sucky sleeping lately. Not a great way to go into surgery, I’m sure. Also, my throat has been dry in the mornings and my nose feels stuffy. I’m hoping it’s allergies, because I can’t take the thought that it’s a cold, which might (or might not) postpone my surgery. No fever, so I feel like just a cold won’t be an issue, but my anxiety makes me worry about it. Repeatedly and often. Woo.

In my previous post, I talked about all the prep work I was doing in advance of surgery. I re-read the post and feel kind of embarrassed at how much I was doing. I made all that food and ate none of it. I got all that yarn and used none of it post-surgery. I borrowed all those books and it was over a week (or more) before I could read anything. I used almost none of the things I packed to take the hospital. Even so, some of it was worthwhile. I’ll be changing and washing sheets in advance, because I like the comfort of the laundry detergent when I get into bed. Hub will be getting me deli turkey and making me gluten free biscuits because those were the two things I ate for the first two weeks, almost exclusively (great diet, eh?), along with plain water. So no soup, no lemonade, no mushrooms and cheese…that was all a waste of time the first time.

I’ll pack my small bag for the hospital with pain medications (leftover from the first surgery, so we don’t have to pay for them a second time), my gluten free chewing gum (peppermint, to get my stomach working again), and my pillow for the ride home. I’ll have my lip balm and my cell phone and my advanced directive (again). That’s pretty much it.

I’m still going to the library tomorrow, so I don’t have to go soon after surgery, but I know now that reading will be nearly impossible the first week. Even watching television was nearly impossible, because my brain just wouldn’t focus.

And on top of things, I’ll be worrying about surgical menopause. Woo hoo. There are horror stories about this, and I’ve been trying really hard not to read them. I talked with T about them at my last session, but I’m not sure I can be reassured about this. I’m mostly worried about the insomnia…and then the possibility for increased depression and anxiety. There’s a whole host of new symptoms for SM that I’ll have to learn, and that my health anxiety will have to feed on. I’m wondering if acupuncture might help. I’ve been trying to read about it, but I know full well that acupuncture doesn’t always work for everyone.

I finally saw the massage therapist last week. It was so nice to have her work out some of my muscles. I wasn’t able to lay on my stomach, but she was able to work most everything while I was on my side. I can’t say how much it all helped long-term, but it felt really good during (with the exception of the trigger points which generally hurt like a mofo). I really hope I’ll be able to get back to her more quickly after this surgery than after the first. My muscles really took a beating after surgery.

No matter the fact that I went through this surgery (basically) once before, I’m nervous. I know now how it is going to feel to wait in pre-op…and how I felt in the post op, and how gross and out of it I felt in recovery. And on the way home. And the immediate days following. I made it through, obviously, so I get that, but it doesn’t mean it was easy and/or no big deal. In the back of my head, I’m also thinking about actually making it through the surgery. I’m afraid. I don’t know another way to be at this point.

My PVCs have mostly dropped off in the last two weeks or so. I had some last night, but they were mild and didn’t last very long. I hope that continues, because I can do without those.

 

 

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