Surgery recovery is the pits. There’s no way around it.
My two year old is slapping me in the face and I’m completely defenseless beneath the layers of gauze, the belly binder, two abdominal cavity drains and the laptop.
And the pain. Holy crap balls it hurts.
Thankfully it’s pretty manageable with pain meds, but I’ve discovered that it’s really important to be proactive and stay ahead of the pain. The first two days after surgery were really bad, and even now on day four I’m still incredibly sore, but I’ve managed to wean myself down to about one Percocet every eight hours; I got lazy with my med regimen the last few hours though and am paying for it now.
I spent one night in the hospital and was hooked up to a pain pump of IV morphine. I was on a liquid diet until I went home the following night, which wasn’t a huge deal considering I had no appetite. Before they’d let me leave I had to be able to pee after catheter removal, do a lap around the hospital floor with a walker, and pass gas.
Here are my insights into diastasis surgery recovery so far:
- You literally use your abs for everything. I was completely surprised the first time I tried to talk without my belly binder on; I was speaking but no sound was coming out. This has since happened countless times when I don’t apply enough pressure to my stomach with my hand or my belly binder is too loose–I literally can’t speak.
- Don’t laugh. I’m serious, don’t do it. Yesterday was the first time something funny happened since surgery and I started laughing. My husband and son of course thought it was great I found something funny and kept egging me on until I started laughing really hard, but the laughing promptly turned into crying because it hurt so bad. When something funny happens now I bite my lip as hard as I can to make it stop. Sad. I know. I love laughing, it’s one of my favorite things. <sigh>.
- You can’t sleep laying down. You will be sleeping (or not sleeping) in a reclined but upright position for at least a week or two. Laying flat on your back puts too much pressure on your abdomen, and it’s still even uncomfortable to lay on my side, so I sleep propped up with a million pillows behind me, and suffice it to say I’m not sleeping much.
- You will get constipated from the narcotic pain meds. And you’ll probably get hemorrhoids from sitting so much. Because you’re sitting even when you’re sleeping. You sit. A lot. And your butt will get really sore. And you’ll get hemorrhoids…in case I forgot to mention that…
- I feel tense a lot. You will be in a belly binder for several weeks to keep everything cinched tight, which causes you to feel really restricted and slightly claustrophobic after awhile. You’ll use a spirometer after surgery as well to help ensure you’re taking deep breaths, because you’ll have a tendency to take really shallow ones. I often feel like I’m not getting enough air, or like it’s hard to breathe deeply, which makes me feel super anxious and tense in my upper body.
- You’ll feel generally uncomfortable all the time. There are very few positions that are semi-comfortable to sit in, so prepare for a sore butt. It’s uncomfortable to sit but it hurts to stand for too long. The pain meds are amazing but they make me feel loopy and groggy and slightly nauseated. Just prepare to be uncomfortable no matter what you’re doing.
- Walking is really hard. I was up and walking the day after surgery, but very slowly, not far, and with a walker. Each day has gotten a little better, but you won’t be able to stand up straight for several weeks because of the tightness in your abdomen, which means you have to walk with a hunch that also causes lower back pain.
- You will need help. I suck at asking for it but we’ve been really blessed with great friends who have been providing meals and helping to entertain our kids. Again, walking is hard, you won’t be able to lift anything, and changing positions is painful. You need to rest and take it easy, so try to get help with cleaning your house, playing with your kids, cooking meals, etc.
- The drains are uncomfortable. I have two and to be honest I didn’t even wear pants (or underwear) for the first three days after surgery because the waistline really irritated the drains (I’m not even sure why I’m wearing pants now…). I can definitely feel them and they burn a bit when I get behind on taking the Percocet, and you’ll also have to dump them each day and measure how much blood/fluid has accumulated in them. I carry them around in my pocket like they’re my little pets.
- You’ll forget why you wanted this surgery in the first place. You’ll be so busy wallowing in the misery of your sore bum, aching tummy, sleeplessness, hemorrhoids and immobility, you’ll wonder why you ever decided to get this surgery in the first place. But I’m trying to remember that the first two weeks are the hardest and in a very short amount of time I’ll be feeling better and this will all have been worth it.
I know this was a whiny, mopey, woe is me sort of post, and I’m sorry. I’m lucky to have had this surgery. I know that. On a bright note, every day is better than the day before. But my bum hurts and I started my period today so I’m cranky.
Try me tomorrow. I might be less grumpy.