Utter ExhaustionPosted: March 3, 2011 Filed under: breast cancer, Surgery | Tags: breast cancer, cancer battle, DIEP, hospital, Methodist Hospital, morphine, new boobs, plastic surgery, recovery 12 Comments
Hi, It’s Amy again….
Nancy is utterly exhausted. The nurse for the start of our night, Le, said that is the worst part of this particular surgery for Dr. Speigel’s patients. The arterial blood flow HAS to be checked every hour….EVERY hour. Nancy is tired….tired.
Now there is a tiny bit of a fever coming on…..the nurses aren’t too concerned but listened to her chest and said she has some phlegm in her lungs….not that big of a deal but after such a major surgery and after so much inactivity, it could progress to more of a concern. Nancy has been tasked (see Daily Goal #3) with doing cough and deep breath exercises 10x per hour. Now this is important because it keeps her lungs expanded and allows better air flow. So now, instead of resting through the night and just having arterial checks to the new girls, she is also going to have to continue the breathing exercises every hour and not just when she’s awake. She’s a trooper, though, and we worked through the first session after having the “you need to pay attention to this” talk and she was able to meet and then exceed the milliliters of airflow per deep inhalation….probably the last 6 of the ten times, and do her coughs, too. She is working on this and knows it has to be done and is not complaining.
NOW….what she IS complaining about are 2 things. And, mind you, she is not really complaining too much. I’ve only had to charge her the $10 for “having to put up with your complaints fee” twice today. As much as Nancy would like you to think she’s a troublesome patient, she is not, at all. In fact, the staff enjoy her very much. Her easy going nature was complimented today when she had to make the effort to get in the chair to sit for another hour. Le, her nurse commented about how Nancy’s attitude really made her job easier.
Complaint number 1: This particular complaint is what brought on the $10 charge twice today. The ICU room was hot, very hot. In fact there were heaters brought in just for this purpose…two of them. Seems that the stomach tissue that they harvested for her new breasticles doesn’t realize that it has to get it’s heat source from her body instead of the outside air now so for the next few weeks Nancy needs to have a warmer than normal outside air temperature. I think Dr. Spiegel even mentioned not running the AC at her house but Nancy and I decided to let that one go over our heads. The hot temp in the room coupled with Nancy’s hot flashes brought on by her medically induced but necessary menopause do not make a good combination. She actually assessed herself the charge after I mentioned that I charge $10 at my house for being “grouchy, irritable, or just plain mean.” Then she said, “And you can charge me another $10 for this one…..” as she launched into her next complaint about the heat. We got icepacks for her neck and her legs and put cold washcloths on her feet. Plus we got her the med that prevents hot flashes that had been overlooked on her orders…
Complaint number 2: Headache. A bad one. She’s been dealing with this all day. The nurses say she had a pretty major dose of morphine in the ICU so that is a side effect of morphine and it should work itself out as she uses less and less morphine. Because of this, Nancy has decided that Mr. Morphine Pump may not be summoned for his duties at every thought of her becking and calling for him. She’s thinking about it before she presses the button. On one side there’s the headaches. On the other side there’s the pain. It’s a delicate seesaw to manage but she seems to have hit on a solution. Norco. That’s Tylenol laced with Codeine (or is it Codeine laced with Tylenol?). She tried just plain Tylenol, but it didn’t help. But the Norco seems to have hit the spot. Instead of alternating Tylenol and Norco as was originally planned for this night, she will be alternating Norco and more Norco, every 4 hours. Yay Norco!
She is resting comfortably now for the 55 minute catnap between arterial checks and breathing exercises. I just put her sleeping mask on her to aid in not fully waking her for the checks/exercises. She hasn’t called for the Ambien yet but it’s a matter of time.
Besides finding the Norco solution, the next bit of good news is that she managed to move from her bed to the recliner, sat for an hour, then ambulated back to the bed with only 1 morphine pump at the beginning of the whole scenario. The nurses are impressed with how tough our girl is! She really is doing remarkably well. Another upside is that she doesn’t seem to be plagued by the nausea that chased her after her mastectomy and subsequent infection surgery.
Just so everyone knows, Nancy’s phone is with her but on silent and on the bedside table. When she wakes up, we give it to her and she sees your texts, emails and Facebook posts. Trevor & I have been reading the blog and Facebook comments to her and they just make her smile. She is so appreciative of everyone’s support. It means the world to her. She is so exhausted that she just hasn’t been able to focus on responding, plus the drugs and the headache have her where she can’t really focus but just know that you are important to her and she is thankful.
On one last note. Dr. S. called to check on her. He called the room and I answered. “Who is this?” he asked. “Amy” I replied. “Oh, Hi Amy, How’s Nancy?” Dr. S. was glad to know she’s doing so well. We talked about how good the results look and how healthy the skin looks and what great blood flow it all appears to have and how the doppler ultrasound (the hourly check) sounds so strong. I asked Nancy if she wanted to talk to him and she silently shrugged. He must have heard the shrug because he asked incredulously, “Oh, she doesn’t want to talk to me??” so she talked to him for a moment. She complimented him on the symmetry of her new rack and said she figured he must have done the shaping, and she reiterated how happy she is with the results.
Here’s a snapshot of the board in Nancy’s room: So does there look like a winner in the turf wars?? Just askin’….
Stay strong, woman. I send you my love and admiration. I’d really like to come down and be with you, so if Trevor and Amy need a break, I’m happy to come hang out in the hospital, too, if that’s helpful. Whatever you need.
All I’m doing here is having odd dates with odd ducks. Well, the one tonight was actually a little Trevor-y — attractive, math-minded, analytical. Interesting date, but, believe me, if I were to come to Houston instead it’d be like that line from Office Space, “I wouldn’t say I’m missing it.”
We’ve been following the blogs – thanks, Amy for apparently having your laptop or iPad with you and doing such a great job (with a lot more detail!) filling in for our absent-minded son! We are really both relieved and grateful for Nancy’s rapid rate of recovery – she’s an amazing woman. Please pass on our love from all of us here in Southport.
Jody, for Preston, Lane, and Pappaw (Leon Jr. to arrive from Dallas later today)
Extra heaters + fever + menopause = torture. You have my sympathy! Glad to hear you are such a tough cookie! I can’t tell you how happy I am to know that you are doing so well. Hoping that the hourly checks will not be necessary anymore ASAP. What a wonderful support system of friends you have. But, I am not surprised because you are a great friend.
Great. Juuusst great. Now I can’t complain about having to go to work all week AND having to cook my own meals. Thanks a lot Nancy. Couldn’t you whine a bit and toss out a “why me” and “it’s not fair” once in a while.
Seriously you’re doing great and I’m standing by to help in any way.
You are one incredible lady, Nancy! I am glad to hear you are doing so well.
Nice job Amy, thanks for all the great info. I don’t know about you, but I feel a lot of pressure when writing these posts to uphold Nancy’s high standards of quality. You are doing great!
Thanks…a hard act to follow, for sure!
Thanks for the update Amy!! Nancy would be proud! Soooo glad she is hanging in there! I am sure her little fan she brought with her is on overload! Give her my love!
The fan is in use!
[…] has struck Nancy down or she’s in a morphine haze, puking or both as is the usual case when I blog for her, let me tell you that she is doing just […]
[…] drugged up to mildly lucid, I figured out that this wasn’t going to be an easy recovery. In Utter Exhaustion Amy explained: “I’ve only had to charge her the $10 for ‘having to put up with […]