I feel like I owe you an explanation and an apology – it’s not like me to disappear for more than 2 weeks without at least letting my readers know where I am. A big part of me feels bad for not keeping you up to date with where I’ve been and how I’ve been but in all honesty, the past 2+ weeks have sucked. BIG time.
I knew I was scheduled for a planned surgery on the 19th of December. I’m not going to go into too much detail into exactly why I had the surgery because I would like to keep certain aspects of my life private. The Specialist I went to see at the beginning of December said that I could either have the surgery on the 19th of December or in January 2015. He said that I would have to sleep over in hospital for 1 night and that recovery would probably be 2 to 3 weeks. He didn’t go into too much detail on post-op pain and discomfort and I understand why – a lot of people would probably have postponed the surgery indefinitely if they knew everything up front.
I opted for the 19th of December because 1. I had NEVER been to hospital for an operation (except to have my wisdom teeth removed but one can hardly call that a proper surgery), so being the fool that I am, I was actually looking forward to staying over for a night in hospital. And 2. I honestly wanted to get the surgery over and done with as I have been struggling with SEVERE abdominal pain (on an on & off basis) for probably the last 16 years. Previous doctors diagnosed me with IBS, ovarian cysts, stomach ulcers (this one is true but not related to the surgery) and plain ol’ hypochondria.
I figured since I have a high pain threshold, that I would be up and about within a week post-op. Stupid me thought I was different to everyone else, I thought I would heal very quick since I’m superhuman. No idea why I thought I would recover faster than the average human being – I guess it was my way of hoping for the best outcome.
So anyway, fast forward to the 19th of December – I wake up early to arrive at the hospital at 8h00 (my surgery was scheduled for 11h00). I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything after 22h00 the night before, so you can imagine how much I was craving a cup of coffee. I remember sitting on my hospital bed BEGGING Neal to go get himself a coffee, so that I could sniff it. He refused because he knew it would actually make me crave it even more – he’s such a good guy.
So at 10h45 the hospital porter came to wheel my bed into the surgery waiting area – thank goodness Neal & my mom were allowed to wait with me because the surgery ended up only starting at 11h30 as the surgeon was held up in another surgery. I can’t say I was very nervous leading up to the surgery, which is highly unusual for me as I am normally a very anxious person. I was trying to stay positive as I didn’t want to go into surgery with negative thoughts running through my head.
Here’s where it gets a bit weird…
The Anaesthetist (an old man, and by old I mean he resembled Dumbledore) came to meet me at about 10h50 and very kindly informed me that my Doctor was still in surgery, so we probably wouldn’t start at 11h00 as planned. He then said the following to me: “You know…I’m going to give you the good stuff that Michael Jackson loved so much. The stuff he took the night he died.” I remember just looking at this man and saying: “Cool, thanks…” I glanced over at both Neal and my mom & both looked a bit taken aback. Dr. Dumbledore then also went on to tell me that my high cholesterol was actually a good thing – apparently your body needs all the cholesterol it can get. It only becomes a problem if you’re obese, which I’m not, so he basically told me to stop taking my chronic cholesterol meds (nothing to do with the surgery by the way). Still trying to stay positive, I just said something like: “Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.” To be honest, I didn’t want to get into a whole debate with him right before I was due to go in for surgery.
The nurses eventually wheeled me in to the operating room and again the Anaesthetist said: “Ok, so I’m going to give you Michael Jackson’s favourite stuff to go to sleep.” And I remember wondering why he kept telling me this since clearly it would freak anyone out right before going in to surgery. I just said: “Yeah, the stuff that KILLED him!” I don’t remember anything after that…
The surgery was supposed to last for about 30 minutes but ended up lasting for 3 hours. There was no way for the surgeon to be prepared for the utter mess going on inside me and the surgery ended up being a lot more complicated than anyone expected, they also ended up removing my Appendix (which was not planned). Because of this, the Doc said I would need to spend 2 nights in hospital.
Fast forward 3 hours – I wake up in the recovery room with 2 nurses by my side. I really thought I was in the ninth circle of hell. It felt like someone had dislocated my shoulder, broken my collarbone, stabbed me in the stomach, punched me in the ribs and to top it all off – I was finding it VERY difficult to breathe. I was groggy, I couldn’t speak properly and couldn’t tell the nurses exactly what I was feeling…all I can remember is I freaked out and tried to sit up (BAD idea!!) and eventually they gave me morphine & I passed out. The next few hours after surgery is a total blur for me, in fact, everything until the next morning is a blur. The only thing I do recall is the pain and discomfort – as mentioned before, I have a relatively high pain threshold but this pain was on a whole other level.
Shoulder and back pain is apparently very common after this type of surgery, it’s called referred pain. Even with the amount of meds I was on, I couldn’t sleep the first night in hospital – I was super uncomfortable and in a lot of pain. I was unable to sleep on my side or on my tummy (and the foetal position is my favourite position to sleep in), so I was forced to sleep on my back. Meh… Not to mention I was still having trouble breathing, this lasted for a good 7 days post-op.
I hate that this blog post sounds like a total Debbie Downer, but I just want you guys to understand exactly what I was going through and why I went MIA.
Anyway, so I spent 2 nights in hospital and it was not at all what I expected (remember I said I had never been in hospital before and I like to experience new things). A phyiso also came to see me once a day to help me with my breathing and pain management. The service (sounds like I was at a restaurant) was pretty good but I was very happy to leave the hospital on the Sunday morning. Things were difficult when I got home because Neal and I initially didn’t know how to make me comfortable – he eventually created a super comfy area on the couch in front of the TV and that night he also turned our bed into a make-shift hospital bed that was comfy enough to sleep in but also offered support in all the right places. I honestly don’t know what I did to deserve this man.
I had planned to load at least another 2 blog posts before the end of the year and also planned on filming a Christmas makeup look – all that was RUINED by this stupid surgery. Even though I knew beforehand that I would be recovering from an operation, I foolishly thought that I would be able to take photos and write a blog post or 2. I had the best intentions to be active on social media, post photos on Instagram every now & again but in the end I had no energy to do any of this, I was still in a lot of pain and to be honest: I was depressed.
Christmas turned out being the worst Christmas of my life. I could hardly spend time with family because I couldn’t sit still for longer than 10 minutes at a time, and also couldn’t walk around for longer than 10 minutes at a time. Laying in bed (or on the couch) was most comfortable for me because I could breathe easier and the pain was not as intense if I lay down. Through all the pain, all the discomfort after the surgery I never cried once but on Christmas day I just couldn’t be strong anymore and I just broke down & cried – I cried for most of the day. As a result of me feeling the way I was feeling (I was a total grumpy grouch for at least a week and a half post surgery), I shut myself off from family, friends and social media & even though I felt like a failure for not recovering as fast as I had hoped, I also just didn’t care about blogging. I was feeling depressed and despondent. I was furious with my body for growing these ‘things’ that had to be removed in the first place, and was also angry with my body for not healing fast enough.
I haven’t had the energy to apply makeup or style my hair. I’ve been doing the absolute minimum when it comes to my beauty routine, but a few products have definitely been my ‘post-op heroes’:
♥ Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm – this stuff is amazing to prevent scarring. I apply it to my scars every day and even Neal is impressed with how well my scars are healing. I also apply this to any dry areas on my body (heels, elbows and hands) – amazing stuff! I bought my little tube at Clicks.
♥ Oh So Heavenly Beauty Sleep Wish Upon A Star Soothing Pillow Mist – if you read this blog post, you already know much I love this pillow mist. Spending your days in bed can lead to the linen smelling a bit iffy (especially in Summer), so I used this to refresh my linen every day (don’t worry, it doesn’t stain the linen). You can find the Oh So Heavenly range at Clicks.
♥ Vichy Thermal Spa Water – I used this to refresh my skin during the day and it works like a bomb. It has been hot and humid in our neck of the woods, so misting my face with this has been a life-saver! Vichy Eau Thermale contains 15 minerals and leaves the skin feeling soothed & refreshed (and is suitable for sensitive skin too!). Uriage also make a great thermal water, both available at Clicks & Dis-Chem stores. Vichy products are also available at Red Square, Foschini and Wellness Warehouse.
♥ Batiste Dry Shampoo – I was only allowed to shower 3 days after my operation, and third-day hair means super oily roots for me. Well…fortunately I had my trusty Batiste dry shampoo on hand, so not only were my roots looking fresh, my hair was smelling pretty darn good too! Batiste dry shampoos are sold at Clicks.
♥ Blistex DCT Lip Conditioning Treatment – I used this all day, every day. My lips were super dry after the surgery and this conditioning treatment really hydrated my parched lips. I also found the fresh minty scent was nice & refreshing. You can get this little jar at Dis-Chem or Clicks.
♥ Dirty Works 8-in-1 Miracle Cream – I’m not the type of blogger who raves about a product just because other bloggers rave about a product. In fact, I find it quite exciting when I DON’T enjoy a product while other bloggers have raved about it (it’s kind of like: “Yeah…I’m not a sheep!”). This super affordable cream (R 99,95 at Clicks) from Dirty Works have received some rave reviews from a few South African bloggers and with good reason. After my surgery, my skin care routine was basically non-existent. I wasn’t interested in applying serums, day creams, night creams, eye serums or eye creams to my skin – I had no energy to do it and frankly, I didn’t care. I decided to give this cream a run for its money since it can be used as a day- or night cream. It promises to improve skin firmness, brighten, even out skin tone, hydrate, stimulate collagen production, smoothen skin texture, fill fine lines and reduce wrinkles. It gives my skin a hit of hydration without leaving it feeling greasy or sticky. My skin feels smooth (almost like I’ve applied a primer) & healthy and the best part is, I can use it in the morning and at night.
♥ Books – I’m currently reading Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Time.
♥ Magazines – my top picks are Fairlady, Glamour, Woolworths Taste Mag, Good Housekeeping, Your Family and Food & Home.
♥ Mentos, M&Ms and lots of water.
Things got easier for me around the 14-day post-op mark when I had my stitches removed. The pain is a lot better (I only experience pain late afternoon / evening) and the discomfort is better too. My energy level is still an issue for me – I constantly need to take breaks. Take a shower. Take a break. Walk up the stairs. Take a break. Walk around the garden. Take a break. Make a sandwich. Take a break.
My hair is also thinning quite a bit and I have noticed my short term memory has taken a knock but it’s apparently because of the anaesthetics and shouldn’t last too long. Insomnia is also an issue but I’m trying a few things to see if I can kick it to the curb.
It is now 2 weeks and 5 days post surgery and although I’m still recovering, I feel a heck of a lot better. My Doc said I’ll only really feel 100% back to normal after about 6 weeks. I’m feeling more positive these days and will hopefully be back to blogging full-time again next week – I am holding thumbs! I am also DYING to film a YouTube video but at the moment I look like crap (dark circles and I just look tired) and I don’t have the energy for it yet.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to check in on me via Twitter, Instagram and email, I really appreciate it so much.
And a very special thank you goes out to Neal, my mom and my mom-in-law. Neal made sure I was always as comfortable as possible, my mom made sure I had a Bubble Tea to cheer me up on the really bad days, and my mom-in-law made sure we had food to eat (as I definitely wasn’t in any state to do food shopping or cooking).
One thing is for sure, I never EVER want to go back to hospital again. It’s not the hospital so much but rather the whole idea of having a surgery again and dealing with all the pain and discomfort that goes along with it.
So, if I ever have to give birth, I’ll be giving birth in the swimming pool here at home.
…ok, maybe not… It will have to be one of those inflatable kiddie pools.