Friday, April 20, 2012

railroad tracks

One of the most difficult things about the surgery and recovery is the incision site.  At the risk of being gruesome, I'll try to write about this. 

Almost immediately after the surgery, I reached my hand down and through the bandages was surprised to feel a long line of railroad track down the side of thigh. Obviously I knew that there would be stitches, but I honestly didn't expect to find the incision site stapled shut.  In addition, I didn't expect it to be so long.  A full 16.5 cm.  All around the site, my leg was swollen and bruised.  So much so that I couldn't visualize where the incision was.  Was it on my thigh?  Did it reach up to my backside?  I don't think I actually saw where it was until later in the week when Prof Palmtree came to put on a pressure bandage and the Bear photographed the occasion. 

The wound was not healing well and so the Professor thought putting on the pressure bandage would help the process.  He basically duct-taped my thigh and butt together. It was terribly confining, making even walking difficult.  The nurses had a challenging time getting it off the following day, taking not a little bit of skin with it. Ouch.  And then Palmtree did it again.  I was not happy but the doctor came back himself on Saturday to remove the bandage the second time and lo and behold, the wound was healed enough for me to be discharged the following day.

Once home, my Aromatherapist (I love saying that!) prepared a special oil consisting of wheatgerm, rosehip and frankincense (and some other secret ingredients), and instructed me to massage it into the wound several times a day.  Shvester sent a homeopathic remedy of Arnica for the bruising, but my Aromatherapist warned that Arnica couldn't be used on an open wound (only for bruising) and also counseled against mixing therapies.  Shvester agreed!  So oil it was.

At first the incision site was fairly numb and I couldn't completely feel anything in that area. The staples themselves were uncomfortable.  But not unbearable.  However as time passed, the wound became less numb, sensation and feeling started to return.  Towards the end of the two week period, I could feel the metal prongs digging into my skin. Running my hand over the wound, I imagined the staples felt like how the jumbo staples we use in my office for large training manuals would feel.

Finally after the initial two week period, Bear arranged for the nurse from Kupat Holim to make a house call to remove the staples.  In fact, I could have walked that far but I was afraid that the removal would hurt and then I'd have to walk back home uncomfortably.  Since the nurse didn't even think I could make it as far as the clinic, she readily agreed to make the house call.

Upon her arrival, the nurse stupidly told us that this was only the second time she was doing such a procedure.  She said that usually older patients go to a rehab after the surgery and then have the staples removed there.  What?!  Couldn't she have waited until she was finished to tell us this?  Luckily, it didn't hurt nearly as much I feared.  Really it didn't hurt at all.  Of the 33 staples, I think I felt a pinch maybe 3 or 4 times.  The rest of them I didn't even feel coming out.  Looking at the staples once they were out of my leg, I found it remarkable how small they looked.  Not at all the super sized staples I had imagined.

And what a relief when they came out.  I hadn't realized how much they were bothering me.   Once out, the wound felt liberated.  But so unsightly.  The first day, it looked very raw and there was still a lot of swelling and discoloration all around the area.  I'll spare you and refrain from posting those pictures.

In the last month, we've been very diligent about massaging the oil on the incision site.  Between the Bear and my Mom, and sometimes even L, the scar was massaged and oiled at least twice a day, sometimes more.  The discoloration is now gone although I think that there is still some swelling.  It's hard to tell.  I have  lot of leg. 

I've read that it's important to keep massaging the incision site in order to prevent scar tissue from forming.  The area around is still very hard but the scar definitely looks better and I think eventually, only be a thin line will remain.  Wanna see?

Pretty, right?  OK - but not that bad.  If anyone out there is in the market for a good aromatherapist, let me know & I'll give you her number!

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