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Idle time is not for the faint of heart

I have never liked to the feeling of being out of control. I will get multiple shots at the dentist to avoid having my conscious overtaken by that noxious gas. I don’t like not being able to stop myself from saying or doing stupid things. I am still so embarrassed remembering my dentist telling me,

“Kari, open your mouth wider.”

And I yelled “Uh-uh! No!”

I am a model patient. Something can hurt like the dickens, and I will not move or complain because I don’t want to be seen as uncooperative. Just give me a little nitrous, and I am literally yelling at my soft-spoken dentist.

Well, my first memory out of surgery is hearing the nurse say through the fog clouded my brain was that she is going to give another dose of Morphine. I was screaming in my head, “No more morphine! I hate this feeling!”

But I wasn’t actually talking, so no one heard my plea. I was having my thoughts impaired. I’m not a genius! I need to save all of the brain cells I have! Slowly the fog lifted and I could hold my eyes open for more than a few seconds at a time. Jordan was at my side, and I remember asking about my lymph nodes several times, but I couldn’t quite remember if I had already asked or if I had dreamed it. So who knows how many times I actually repeated myself. I remember Jordan, my mom, Holly, Adam, and my dad in my room all staring at me. Great.

I didn’t feel too awful. My pain was controlled with the anesthesia blocks and the aforementioned morphine. I can’t remember the conversations we had but I would be mid-sentence, and all of a sudden have the urge to empty what little contents were in my stomach. Four times that happened. I didn’t feel queasy in between; it would just hit me all of a sudden. And wouldn’t you know, every time my mom headed to the door to go home I vomited again. She was literally standing at the door the last time I threw up, and Holly said, “If you want mom to go home, you are going to have to stop vomiting.”

I didn’t trust my legs to work of their own accord, and I felt very dizzy even just sitting up. So, as badly as I wanted to be independent, the nurse half carried me to the bathroom the first time I got up that evening. I stayed in the same room that they had pre-opped me in and poor Jordan slept in a small recliner next to me. (Though he swears it was more comfortable than the pull out couch he slept on in the hospital when the kids were born)

The next morning, after I was visited by the plastic surgeon’s nurse and a physical therapist, we were free to go. I busted out of there as soon as possible, and we were back in Shelbyville by 8:45 am. We made it to my parents’ house where Jordan helped me set up camp in my parents’ recliner. (Where I was sentenced to for the next few days). Jordan left to go grab the kids and bring them over so I could love on them before they left to go camping.

My mom would not take her eyes off of me, and every time I moved an inch she asked me, “Are you ok? What do you need?”

In which I very lovingly replied, “I have to pee! Is that ok with you?”

Mom and I eventually made an agreement. She would not ask me if I needed anything; IF I promised to ask her for help when I did need it. She stopped asking, but I could feel her eyes burning a hole in the back of my head from the kitchen pass through. In the end, the contract was breached by both parties…

Have I mentioned that I am not very good at being idle. By 2:30 that afternoon at the Barlow prison camp I was granted outdoor privileges for good behavior. I was almost to the end of my parents’ driveway in sweatpants and a bathrobe when Holly came pulling in the driveway. As she slowed to a stop, she rolled her window down and asked if mom had already driven me nuts with her smothering…I mean mothering. (I love you mom). She thought I was escaping.

No, not yet. T- 72 hours.

So I walked 1/4 mile less than 24 hours after surgery. Not too shabby.

My surgery souvenirs:

  • I came home with 4 drains, and I had to record the output three times a day and strip the lines of the drains to make sure they were emptying properly.
  • I was given a tank top by the hospital that Velcro’s up the front since I couldn’t lift my arms above my head. I felt like a professional basketball player in tear away pants…or a Chippendale’s dancer. The tank also had a pocket on the inside to hold my drains.
  • The surgical bra I was given buckled in the front and had Velcro on the shoulder straps where I can hook the drain tubing to keep it from pulling.
  • The first few days I felt most comfortable in the surgical bra and an ace wrap snug around my chest. See exhibit A. Just a heads up before you scroll down. This is not the most flattering picture but I promised honesty, and that is what you are going to get. Plus I am more covered that most people at the beach.
  • The only real discomfort I had is from where the breast surgeon removed the lymph nodes under my left armpit. It really hurt to have my arm flat at my side. I was given a cushiony breast prosthetic with my post-surgical bra, and I was told to most people put it under their armpit to pad it. That by far the best advice I have received. It looked ridiculous but gave me so much relief.

  • My sister-in-law bought me a cute belt drain holder that I much preferred putting the drains in the tank top.
  • I was attached to 2 pain balls from the block in my back. They each came with a little black “purse” to carry them in. So if you are counting that is 6 lines coming out of my body. A clumsy person’s nightmare.
  • My pain was so well controlled by the OnQ pain balls that I didn’t have any need for narcotics. I took tramadol and ibuprofen 800mg around the clock for the first two days to stay ahead of the pain. After that, it was just ibuprofen here and there!
  • Believe it or not, ice packs were my best friend and the best pain reliever in my arsenal.

My incentive spirometer: as a nurse, I understand the the importance of the device, but as a patient who has had 2 surgeon digging around in her chest for 6 hours…this thing is AWFUL!

  • I slept in my parents’ recliner the first few nights. The recliner is the only place that was comfortable to sleep. It was 3.5 weeks before I slept in my bed or on my side due to the discomfort.
  • I slept (and am still sleeping) with a pillow one of my friends made for me. I actually have two of these pillows. My mother-in-law made one for me two that was awaiting my arrival at home.

  • The sweet girls from work pitched in and bought me a Brookestone wedge bed pillow system and that thing is snazzy! I have been able to sleep in a bed and not just a recliner and it is much easier than positioning with pillows.

  • The first week was I was not supposed to lift anything heavier than a paperback book. Weeks 2-4 I was not allowed to lift anything over a gallon of milk. Well my baby 5 month old is only a whopping 12 lbs but I was still not allowed to lift her. This made it impossible for me to be left alone with her and someone had to sit on her on my lap if I want to hold her. That was the absolute worst part of this whole recovery.
  • Along the same lines, the best part of my recovery was that my mom kept Robbyn while Jordan and the kids were camping. I just sat with her in my lap and watched her sleep for hours. Not that she is spoiled or anything. If you are having this surgery I recommend getting a cute 5 month old to keep you company the first few days. Also, it doesn’t hurt to have surgery the weekend before a Harry Potter movie marathon on tv.

I mean, COME ON, she pulled the blanket over her head while she was wiggling around! This is high quality entertainment!

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me. This may sound silly or mystical but it is the honest truth:There have been moments where I can tell I have been lifted up in prayer. My burden lessened, I felt a peace, things just seemed easier for a moment, the pain subsided, I felt the comfort…all because of you prayers to our God in Heaven. The thought that people have taken the time out of their busy days to pray to God on my behalf, is so, so humbling. I know I have quoted this verse more than once but I think that we do often underestimate what God is capable of doing.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21

He has done immeasurably more than I could have asked for!

4 thoughts on “Idle time is not for the faint of heart”

  1. Kari, we are always thinking of you and the family. I pray each day for you to have a full recovery. Just know you are loved very much.

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  2. Thank you so much or sharing your story. I have been fortunate with good health so far in my life but I know there are many other women who have no been so fortunate. How do we ever get through the trial of this life without God b y our side. I admire your courage and will add you to my prayer list.

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  3. you are an amazing testimony of God’s love and protection in every place of our lives…Thank you for sharing your thoughts and journey with us all. God is so good.

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