If I’m being honest…. which I am, the days that followed my surgery were all a bit of a blur. My sisters and mam came to visit the day after, but my main memory was my first proper physio session. I had met my physio before my surgery and immediately clicked with her. When she came to see me after my surgery and asked if I fancied a walk I literally thought she had lost the plot, but as usual I accepted the challenge. Of course, in my own head I was sure I would walk up and down the corridor no problem…… I wasn’t long being corrected. Firstly, let me tell you even moving in a bed with chest drains and a catheter in is a marathon never mind walking. She supported me all the way until I was able to stand. After being in bed for two days (I know normally its living the dream!!!) standing up was so strange.
She held my catheter bag (I told you I’m good at details!!!) and another physio held the container for my chest drains while we made the slow shuffle out the door. The first while was fine and my physio kept me talking, after another few minutes I knew I needed my bed. The pain built from my chest and eventually cut through me from the chest drains. I got back to my room and praised Jesus for morphine! My physio told me to try to get out of bed as much as I could over the next few days, and honestly, I did, but all I could manage was 5minutes sitting out of bed before the pain from the drains got the better of me.
As I came more back to myself I noticed the absolute state of me!!!! Being a beautician, and in general being a human being looking as well as I can is important. I hadn’t been able to shower, my gown hadn’t been changed, so basically, I stank and my hair was stuck to my head with grease, these were the least of my problems I know but it’s something you should know. I brought dry shampoo with me but I knew even that wouldn’t do the job…… I gave it a go none the less. Thank god for my sister who brought me in roll on deodorant and water wipes! Day by day I felt more like myself but sleeping was another major difficulty. There was no way to get comfortable, plus sleeping in a hospital is never easy. Over those first few nights I’d say I slept about 3 hours per night, then a few more during the day.
3 days after my surgery the nurses started talking about taking out my drains, catheter, and pacing wire that was in my heart. Once they mentioned it I was like a dog with a bone and kept asking them when they would come out, until, I think they were sick of listening to me!! Firstly, came the pacing wires, these are two probes connected to my heart on the inside so they could shock my heart if anything were to happen, thankfully they didn’t need to use them. These came out after one pull, uncomfortable, yes but nothing I couldn’t handle. The catheter was next and it was nothing, I didn’t even feel them taking it out. The nurses said they would leave the chest drains for another few hours, I asked if they would hurt coming out and all I got was that they would be uncomfortable. You’d think after my operation I wouldn’t be bothered……. But I was asleep for that part! Eventually, after another morphine tablet (I knew when I got this that there was pain somewhere down the line!) my chest drains were coming out. 3 nurses arrived along with some surgical looking equipment. The nurse explained what was going to happen and I was nervous. I’m ok if I know there will be pain, I’m not ok with not knowing what’s going to happen. They started to remove them and it felt like there was someone inside my chest putting out my ribs, I know some people might not want these details but my only way to tell my story is to be honest. My first drain got stuck and so it took longer than normal, the second one was quicker but just as painful. They stitched me up and let me rest. My physio came in just as they were and was so annoyed because she had to wait an hour before I could move…… I was less annoyed about that part!!
That evening I felt as free as a bird, I got out of bed by myself and walked up and down the corridor. It was this day that I made up my mind to write this blog. I was one of the youngest on the ward and on one of my walks I met a woman whose son, younger than me, had just had his operation. She asked what day I was on, I told her 3 days post op. It gave her hope for her son, they, like me didn’t know what to expect coming into this and were hoping to learn as they go. If they are reading this I hope he does as well as I thought he would. I hope anyone going through this does as well as they can, stick together, set little wins for the day, but stay strong and keep on keeping on.