Chronic Pain, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, health

Week 1 Post-Op

Disclaimer: This post is part of a Surgery Recovery Diary and therefore there are some graphic photos included.

As I am writing this post, I am actually 4 weeks post-op but let’s rewind time and go back to week 1 of recovery, shall we?

Week 1 went by pretty quickly, mainly due to the fact I slept through 75% of it. For that reason, I am not going to go into detail of what I did each day because no one needs or wants to read about the ins and outs of my daily naps.

Instead, this post will focus on the memorable parts of each day (both good and bad).

Monday 21st September – Day 2

Highs:

  • Ice Machine: The feeling of the cold ice water circulating round my leg was honestly incredible. After 24 hours of intense pain, the ice machine did the job of finally reducing the pain enough so that I could actually feel an effect from the pain meds.
  • Facetime with Hannah: I have zero recollection of what we actually spoke about as I was still out of it on meds but just knowing Hannah was there with me (even through a screen) meant the absolute world to me.

Lows:

  • Pain: I had alarms set throughout the day to ensure I took my pain medication every couple of hours as prescribed but even this wasn’t enough to get on top of the excruciating pain.
  • Lack of Energy/Weakness: This was something I was not expecting to struggle with so badly. I figured I would attempt to be independent and get out of bed and go to the bathroom by myself and it was going pretty well. That was until I almost passed out and ended up stuck in the bathroom until Mum woke up and came to rescue me.
  • Getting Up: Due to the weakness in my whole body, Mum had to physically lift my leg up every time I needed to get up or move at all, which was incredibly frustrating.

Tuesday 22nd September – Day 3

Highs

  • Sleep: A postsurgery record of 11.5 hours of sleep and only 3 lots of morphine needed through the night. Definitely helped me feel slightly better mentally!
  • Fresh Clothes: Just like fresh bedding, when you’re stuck in bed there is nothing better than changing into some fresh clothes to give you a boost and get you through another day of bed rest.
  • Little moments of independence: Surgeries like the one I had mean relying on others heavily during recovery so little moments of independence such as managing to get to the loo by myself mean everything.

Lows

  • Itching: There is only one thing worse than a bad itch and that’s a bad itch that you cannot get to. The skin around my incision became really itchy on day 3 but because it was completely covered by a dressing, I couldn’t relieve the itch.
  • Dead weight leg: For reference the brace my leg is in weighs just over 1kg and because I have newly placed screw in my knee, I have to be extremely careful about moving my leg in order to avoid fracturing the bone. This means that for the first week I could not move my leg at all without physically picking it up and placing it where I wanted it to be.

Wednesday 23rd September – Day 4

Highs

  • Showering: First shower post-surgery! Mum helped me wash and dry my hair and I finally felt a little bit more human.

Lows

  • Waking up from the pain: Is there anything worse than falling into a deep sleep, only to be woken up by agonising pain?
  • Showering: The most exhausting and terrifying moment of my whole recovery so far. The whole process took about 40 minutes and was filled with a lot of panicking from both Mum and I every time I accidentally moved my leg.
  • Changing compression stockings: Not a pleasant experience and definitely requires two people to complete the task.

Thursday 24th September – Day 5

Highs

  • Coffee – I’m not saying I’m addicted but after a week of not having any, the first post-surgery coffee. was incredible! I also got the added enjoyment of witnessing my mum attempt to work out how to use my coffee machine for the first time
  • TV – After a week of staring at the ceiling, twiddling my thumbs and sleeping, I was finally able to concentrate on something for longer than a couple of minutes so I got to enjoy a few episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, which definitely helped the day go by more quickly.

Lows

  • Bruising – There weren’t many lows from day 5 as I had a pretty positive and progressive day for the first time but the one main low was the bruising. Almost all of the post-surgery bruising had come out, my leg looked like it had been coloured in by a 3-year-old with a crayon and the straps of my brace sat directly on top of the worst of the bruises, making them pretty painful.

Friday 25th September – Day 6

Highs

  • Zoom – Work had a 15 min Zoom party to say goodbye to my Manager before she went off on Maternity Leave. Despite still feeling pretty out of it, I felt well enough to join the call so I was able to see everyone for the first time since I left the office to isolate pre-surgery.
  • Mum’s Birthday – The one plus of having surgery was that it meant I was able to be at home for Mum’s birthday and to celebrate with her. 

Lows

  • Pain – After a lovely morning of seeing my colleagues on Zoom and getting to celebrate Mum’s birthday with her, the afternoon was plagued by excruciating pain that morphine would not touch. The pain was so bad that it took me 4 hours to muster up the courage to move so that I could go to the bathroom.
  • Bruising – I thought the bruising had all come out the day before but I was wrong, I woke up to an even more colourful leg and with deeper bruises coming out, the more painful my leg got.
  • Lack of Sleep – The pain in my knee was so bad that all I wanted to do was sleep but it was also so bad that I couldn’t actually fall asleep so I spent the afternoon dozing on and off and trying desperately to fall asleep properly.

Saturday 26th September – Day 7 (officially 1 week post-op)

I have no highs and lows from day 7 because all I did was sleep and ice my knee (I confirmed with Mum that I barely did anything but sleep and it turns out she has the photos to prove it!).

Overall, the first week of recovery mainly consisted of pain, sleep, a lot of bruising and a lot of itching. Whilst I spent the whole week in bed, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to progress a little bit each day and whilst the progress was never big, it was the little moments each day that kept me going even when the pain was horrendous.

In terms of general recovery from surgery and from the anaesthetic, it took about 3 days for my appetite to start coming back and I really struggled to keep both my eyes open due to exhaustion for the first 4 days. I had no major side effects from any of the medication I was taking and the dizziness from the anaesthetic went away relatively quickly compared to past surgeries I’ve had.

Thank you for all the support and lovely messages I’ve received through my recovery so far.

Keep your eyes peeled for Week 2 of recovery, which will hopefully be coming soon!

Lauren x

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