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A quick note on pain. (I’m fine. Just remembering.)

I have few complaints about my time in the hospital.  The thing is, the complaints I have are things that were consistent and kind of important.

For instance, the pain management – it really sucked.

I must have told 7 people on Friday, individually, that I couldn’t have dilaudid because I have a bad reaction to it (I get nauseated and get a massive headache, which I found out in January when I had that food poisoning incident).

I woke up from surgery on Friday night (very late – they started my surgery nearly 4 hours after they were supposed to, which is another story I don’t have the energy to type, right now), listening to nurses ARGUING with each other about my chart and the fact that they couldn’t get my boyfriend (who was sitting in the waiting room, where they told him to be so they could call him on the phones provided) on his cell phone.  You know, because we were in the basement.  Hence the wall o’phones.  Which only my surgeon had the wherewithal to use, before I’d awoken.

[That rectified itself when Forrest took it upon himself to find us, and literally ran into us when we were switching elevators.  I was still writhing and making weird noises, however, so it wasn't a great reunion.  He was worried, and I was throwing up and yelling.]

Here’s the thing – I don’t actually remember the pain I was in.  I remember my reaction, and I remember the nurses talking about what time it was because they had to chart different things they were doing.

I woke up from surgery at around 10:30pm.  They literally said, “Okay, 2230, patient is awake.”

I didn’t get my first dose of post-op medication until around 11:15pm (aside from an injection of a minor anti-inflammatory because my movement was making things swell – I’m not joking when I say “writhing”).

For 45 minutes, I was where I imagine childbirth would put me, and what was happening around me?  The nurses were trying to get a hold of my surgeon to ask if morphine was okay, because I’d told so many people that dilaudid was not, and that’s what they were getting ready to give me.

My surgeon got a hold of them fairly quickly, but they had to set up my paperwork for a morphine drip (with a button, because hell yes), and that took some time.

I’m not angry…like I said, I don’t remember the pain…but this sort of thing went on all weekend, with everything from my painkillers (because they were trying to have me leave Saturday afternoon – tactical error) to my gas medicine (because even though the doctors ordered it, the nurses missed the part where I had a cane and was brought in via wheelchair and were trying to get me to walk up and down the halls, which would have been fine were it not for my nerve issues).

The position I was laying in after I awoke was very distinct and telling:  my back was arched, I was basically laying on the balls of my feet and shoulders (something I couldn’t even do before the surgery), and the nurses kept shifting me around to keep me from moving my abdomen too much.  I kept rolling back to that weird arching-back thing, anyway.  I kept trying to say something (I have no idea what, but apparently the urge to talk is the same no matter what anesthetic I’m on…at least I didn’t cuss like a sailor, this time?), but could only moan like what I assume sounded like a deaf woman having an orgasm.  I had these alternating pressure cuffs on my calves, and the leg that wasn’t presently being massaged felt like it was on fire (as an aside, I want one of those machines so badly).

I finally was able to utter the phrase, “I’m going to throw up.”

I was given phenergan.  Over and over again, for a total of 5 doses in those 45 minutes.  I still threw up from the pain, but I managed to get it all into the little baggie they had in front of my face.

Finally, I was handed the little button for the PCA morphine.  They’d adjusted my dose three times after listening to me, until I was on a dose that should have knocked me out.  I was awake the entire night, and not entirely because Forrest was snoring (though I tell him that, because it’s kind of funny, and he IS loud – I just should have been able to sleep with my pump set to what it was).

After about 30 minutes on the pump, I felt okay unless I tried to sit up on my own (I gave the back of that bed a workout – every time I had to get up to pee for the first full day, I had to lower the legs as far as they’d go, then raise the back to almost vertical positioning and then kind of scuttle-butt my way off of the bed).

I got to a point later in the afternoon on Saturday (while they were trying to discharge me), where even my surgeon could tell I was miserable, and he decided to keep me again overnight so we could work on controlling my pain better, because the nurses weren’t keeping to the schedule, and they’d stopped giving me the liquid NSAID that was supposed to control incidental pain (they gave me 2 of the 4 doses they were supposed to…they just stopped).  I could barely move, and I laid there with my teeth gritted and eyes closed.  My dad and stepmom were in the room, and they thought I was asleep because of the lack of movement.  I couldn’t speak, once again, because of the pain.  It was awful.

Compared to how they were giving the gas meds, however, their command of pain med schedules was masterful.

Sunday was tolerable enough that I went home in the early afternoon.

And despite it all…I don’t remember a damned thing except my reaction.

The brain is a wonderful thing.


This post took about 2 hours to write, because my hands are super-sensitive about having a large IV in each of them.  I will resume general hospital and recovery stories (including the Traveling Case Study) when I can.

Thanks, everyone, for the well-wishes, donations (both monetary and the items for the raffle!), and companionship.  When I was bored in the hospital and only had my tablet, you liked, commented, responded, and lightened the mood considerably.  I seriously appreciate that.

I still haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep, so I’m going to try to fix that, now.

I will have some funny stories, I promise.  They just mostly involve my surgeons.  (I have to admit, DaVinci lived up to his nickname, and saved me from the awful worst-case scenario, despite the fact that he likes to operate while wearing bright red Crocs).


Generally, things are okay, right now.  I have some things that are awful, but that’s to be expected.  Overall, peachy.

Thanks again!  going to go away for a few more days, methinks.

8 comments to A quick note on pain. (I’m fine. Just remembering.)

  • khamosh

    I’m glad you aren’t angry because I’m still pretty irritated about your doctors’ orders not being followed very well. Your doctors, including the residents, were great but the floor nurses couldn’t manage to stick to any sort of timetable. Except for the one that involved checking your blood pressure They managed that one so well you didn’t get squat for sleep at night.

    • I kind of think it’s funny that they were checking for low blood pressure that was technically impossible because I wasn’t on nearly enough medication to make my blood pressure do anything dangerous. Clearly no one was charting anything but my urine output…heh.

  • Your last line says it all.

    We can remember it really hurt, but not the sense memory.
    Something pleasant (a kiss, for example) we can remember the passion, the taste, everything

    Thank the gods!


    • I now know why women have more than one baby…they really don’t remember how awful it felt while giving birth, if it did hurt at all!

      I’m really glad my periods are nothing more than a memory, now. :-)

  • Joseph

    Glad the surgery is done, may the healing and recovery come quickly!!

  • Gerry

    The strange thing for me was waking up after neck surgery and not being in pain. It was a very alien feeling after a rather long time.

    I’m happy for you that part of healing is complete.

    • I imagine that would be very odd (in an awesome kind of way). I will probably experience something similar when I go a month or two without a period. “Wait…wasn’t I…no, I guess not…”

      Thanks! :-)