Rick Genter's blog

My chronicle of my experiences, starting with my upcoming plastic surgery.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More than a feeling

Recovery from this operation involves a myriad of sensations.

The primary sensation, as I've mentioned before, is tightness. It's hard to describe, other than the skin on my butt is so tight that it literally feels like it's too tight for my body. Ironically, I end up walking slightly hunched over because I also don't want to strain the incision in the front.

The second most felt - or rather, unfelt - sensation is numbness. Currently I have no feeling most of the way around my waist. It's not an unpleasant sensation, but it's odd.

New sensations are starting to come forward now, though. Occasionally I'll get a very targeted, brief itch. I think it's coming from the incision itself; I expected such as part of the healing process. (Don't cuts always itch as they heal?) Obviously I can't scratch them, partly because I'd be afraid of damaging the incision, and partly because it's underneath both the binder that I wear and the clear plastic tape that covers the entire incision.

The binder is interesting. It's basically the same material as you would find in a flexible knee brace with Velcro strips placed at strategic intervals so that its size is adjustable. I wear it as tight as is comfortable. So far I've only taken it off once since leaving the hospital, and that was when I took my shower. I'm going to take another shower today, so it'll come off again today (and I'll get another look at how the incision is doing).

Other sensations I experience are brief flushes of warmth. Often when that happens I think "Oh crap! I've overdone it and ruptured the incision and am bleeding all over the place!" but it's not true. I think it's just another by-product of the healing process.

The most disturbing sensation is the tugging and pressure sensations when I deal with my drains. When I empty them I'm also supposed to "strip" them, which involves "milking" the tubes, trying to force any liquid in them down into the bulbs so that it can be emptied as well. The purpose of this is to clear out any clots that may be obstructing the tubes. The clots are normal - after all, the liquid is partially blood - and the stripping and draining is supposed to be performed at least a couple of times a day. I do it once in the morning, right after breakfast, and once in the evening, right after dinner. In the hospital they did it every 8 hours, but I'm not getting up in the middle of the night to do it :-).

Anyway, when I strip the drains, I either feel a tugging, which I try to minimize, or an internal pressure if any of the fluid gets pressed back into me, which I really try to avoid.

The other sensation is soreness in my shoulders, elbows, back and legs. This has nothing to do with the operation, but rather with how I'm compensating for my limited mobility during my convalescence. Last night my shoulders were bothering me enough that I ended up taking a Percocet so that I could sleep. That stuff knocks me out cold, which is good, because then I get a good night's sleep.

By the way, shoulder and back problems are normal for people who are or have been chronically overweight. I experience shoulder pain any time I walk for more than a couple of hours at a time, even without a backpack. I talked with my doctor about it, and she said that people who are overweight for a prolonged period (i.e., decades), can develop arthritis in their joints from the abuse they take. One more reason to get and keep the weight under control. I just wish I had "gotten it" sooner.

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