Monday, April 20, 2015

The first week at home, post-surgery

I'm sure everyone is on the edge of their seats wondering how things have been!   

As I mentioned before, I started keeping a note pad of when I take my medication, so I'm not taking it too frequently.  Things seem to be going well. About every five to six hours for the pain medication.    
I think Sunday morning is funny. I woke up and decided that half a pain pill would do.
Fifteen minutes later I mentally slapped myself and took the other half.  
Monday I decided I'd had enough and had to do a sponge bath!  First, I knelt on  the floor and washed the hair by tub faucet. This is something I haven't done often since high school.  It's funny that even though I've been in this house for fifteen years, the fact that the faucet is on the opposite side of the tub than the one I grew up with throws me off every time I wash the hair this way.   Next up, it was sitting on the side of the tub while not getting the lymph node incision or the surgery foot wet.  It takes so much longer when one has to be careful about surgery sites!   I was exhausted by the time I was finished and ended up just putting some basic hair cream (Aveda Be Curly) in my hair and using the blow  dryer/diffuser on it quickly.  Curly it would be for the next few days.  I chilled out, took pain pills--and the hour long naps that came with it--and waited for the Mike to get home.  I think the worst part is the pain pills and not being able to focus on anything for too long. I have no idea how people function who become hooked on these things.  

Feeling spiffy with a sponge bath, washed hair and non lounging clothes! 
Hubby got home about 5 tonight and came in the kitchen door, which was a little odd. Then he had me come out to the kitchen. Um, okay--he wants me to walk. OH! FLOWERS.  
Yes, I'll hobble to get my flowers :-) 
Flowers from my fabulous husband. 

Leftovers for dinner: Porkchop, corn and instant mashed potatoes 
A few weeks before the surgery, I made up freezer meals for The Mike, as I was to be gone for about a week, and also for the first week at home.  Some meals were complete (meatloaf frozen with sweet potatoes), and others were just cooked seasoned meat we could pair with something quickly.  The porkchop fell in the second category. I had no problem whipping up some instant mashed potatoes when circumstances prevent one from standing/being in the kitchen for long.  

As for the foot, we have to clean and re-bandage twice a day.  I've been doing this in the morning about 8am and The Mike does it in the evening --so he can see what it looks like as well. We've been cleaning it off with a quick swipe of alcohol (not the drinking kind), and then placing Bacitracin on the stitches/incision line. The next thing we do is open a piece of 2x2 gauze to the rectangle and place that between the pinkie and ring toe.  Then we wrap it with a bit of roll gauze, and put the ace bandage on at night.
Tuesday night I got frustrated with dinner.  I thought we'd have these two entrees, split if we'd like, with some ground beef and veggies.  I bought them a few weeks ago when I was in the grocery store.  
I confess, I didn't even look at the ingredients--those of us with food allergies know this is necessary!  
As I was heating up the Enchilada Pie I saw that it has soy in the ingredient list.  Yes, someone puts soy sauce in the enchilada pie.  Granted, it was GF, but that didn't help with my soy intolerance, so the hubby took one for the team and had it for supper.  I had the fabulous Amy's mac and cheese. 

Wednesday the toe was a little more red at the base, but it wasn't bothering me.  At 1pm I got the call from the doctor's office that the pathology of the skin and lymph nodes removed had come back and it was clean. All my margins were clean!  FABULOUS!   This meant no radiation, no chemotherapy. This would be another thing to note. The punch biopsy --and ultimate bad news of cancer--took two weeks to get the news back, as it was sent to the local lab and then Mayo Clinic for confirmation. The  good news with the skin removal only took four working days to have the results.   

About 3pm my toe had been throbbing a bit, feeling swollen, and then it started going numb--just the surgery toe.  So I did what most people would do and I freaked out a bit.  I called the surgeon's office, and was told he was out of the office for the rest of the afternoon, and of course in surgery on Thursday. I offered to send photos of the toe to the nurse for her to review.  I sent one from Monday and then the one below.  She called back within a few minutes and made an appointment for me to come in on Thursday morning to see one of the surgeon's associates in the office.    

The Mike had an out of town meeting on Thursday and he asked my father in law to come and take me to the doctor appointment. Hubby didn't want me trying to drive myself while still on the pain pills --I offered to abstain from one in the morning. 
Modified house slippers
One of the things we had to figure out was "what shoes would I wear".  Since the appointment was first in the morning, I wasn't going to change out the Ace bandage and I needed to find something that would accommodate.   The Merrill slip in shoes I bought for post-surgery wouldn't work (drat).  My current house slippers wouldn't work, but wait--I have my old house slippers!  The old Keen slippers had been coming apart and the lining had compressed, so I didn't feel bad about modifying them. A quick cut to the front area left the toe bumper in place and the leather bottoms on concrete would be fine (they're not on ice--just in case you walk on your stoop to meet the mailman!)  

With the shoes figured out, we headed to bed. We have switched sides of the bed so that the left foot can be elevated and on the outside of the bed. This, in turn, has completely thrown off the Felix cat who is use to hopping up, curling up on my chest and going to sleep, and cuddling against the head on cold days. The cat didn't know what to do when he hopped on the bed and found The Mike in my spot.  The cat did, eventually, go to sleep on his chest, but he was noisy later throughout the night.
Cuddlebud Felix during the day--napping on the chest
Thursday morning I had another sponge bath--not as exhausting as the first. I even had the energy to straighten my hair!  My fine escort arrived on time and we were off to the doctor!  The nurse took the covering off and then my FIL and I just hung out in the exam room for what seemed like half an hour, but probably wasn't that long.  We had a nice chat about a variety of things.  

Then the doctor came in and introduced himself.  Interestingly, in a good way, the doctor did wait for me to announce who was with me.  He then said he knows not to assume anything, that the person with me could be friend, brother, partner, husband, etc. (So true!)

The doctor said my toe healing is normally and not to be worried by the swelling/redness, that this is just basic healing. (okkkkaaayy).  That it can do this as the patient starts to feel better and starts doing more. I didn't think I was doing a lot more in the last few days. My laundry is by the kitchen (no stairs) and I can stand on my right leg while moving wet towels from the washer to the dryer.  

Orders:  he said to just continue the Bacitracin and gauze cover for the day, and then to see the surgeon tomorrow as already scheduled.  

We headed home, but first made a stop at McDonalds for me to treat my FIL to breakfast and where I enjoyed a sundae. Hey, it's GF and I've been having eggs for the last week for breakfast. My FIL headed home after dropping me off at mine.  I texted Mike about the visit and with my sister who had a mastectomy the day after my toe surgery.  She said my toe suture site looks worse than hers.  HA!  

I took an early afternoon nap, worn out from the days events.  I had set out hamburger to thaw and peeled and sliced the sweet potatoes for dinner.  When the Mike got home I was refreshed and had little time to spend in the kitchen since the prep work was already accomplished. I use Popular Paleo's recipe for the fries
This is healthy, right? 
Thursday would also be the last day I'd take any pain pills. That's a great feeling.  It took a while to differentiate between foot/nerve pain and toe/surgery pain. Once I did I was able to dial in the pain meds as needed for that.  Friday night I was having some toe pain, but had gone over 24 hours without any pain meds and was not going to give in to that!  

Friday arrived and with it a later appointment time, this meant I would change out my bandage first and then had to go through my shoes to see what would work. The Merrills were still out, the old stretched out Born sandals wouldn't work--as the leather strap cut across the toes horizontally.  I tried a few pairs of flip flops before trying my Hospital Hill finish shoes from 2012.  BINGO!  The straps cut back on the foot like true flip flops should.  However, I still don't understand how people walk in these things all the time!  
Perfect shoes for wounded ring toe
I paired these up with my "new" brown Athleta skort--I purchased it last fall, but hadn't worn it yet--and a nice springy orange top. I thought it screamed "refreshing".  With wardrobe out of the way, I had some time to kill before The Mike got home and I was feeling pretty good. I decided to make cupcakes and cake donuts. Okay, not true cake donuts--but rather some of the cake mix in the donut pan.  I always freeze most of the batch after baking; otherwise, they wouldn't last a couple of the days with The Mike' sweet tooth.
Yes, I put a towel under the cooling rack. It makes crumb pickup easy. 
Same scenario as the previous day: the nurse removed the bandage and left us alone for about ten/fifteen minutes. The surgeon came in with a shadow med student, and the nurse.  He said the toe was looking good, the swelling can be expected and the redness seemed to be okay, as there was no streaking from the toe down the foot (which would be really bad).  As a precaution, he ordered an antibiotic--Keflex--and then said to come back in three weeks. He'd like the sutures to remain in for a total of four weeks, since it's the foot and all.  The toe wasn't numb as it was the previous day and the doc didn't have anything to say about that.  

Then we learned something new before leaving--the nurse put gauze between the pinkie and ring toe and then started to wrap it. The surgeon said we need to put gauze between the other toes as well, in order to prevent toe sweat/funk and to provide some cushion and comfort. He was right, it felt much better than just the gauze pad at the suture site we were doing.  When we got home, I ordered some of the plain surgical gauze from amazon.  It would squish more easily in between the toes, and provide for some more air circulation than the gauze pads we were using. 

While waiting for Target to fill the RX, we headed to Culver's for sustenance. The location does now have UDIs GF buns, but I still prefer to just have the burger on its own (with green beans below), and save the carbs/starch/bread for something like pizza.   I was good and did not have any custard.  They forgot to bring The Mike's to the table and upgraded him from a medium to a large. He was not offended by that gesture.

We were going to head to the grocery store after the doc appointment, but I was pretty tired from the days events.  We headed home. I had a nap, The Mike worked from home.
For dinner we had an un-photogenic dinner and a reminder Saturday morning.  We made a box of Annie's Mac and Cheese, paired it with some mixed frozen vegetables. Then The Mike had left over hamburger with his and I had some sardines with mine.  It was tasty.  However, I awoke Saturday morning starving.  It's one of those reminders as to why I don't eat a lot of pasta for a main meal.  It's also a reason I don't "carbo load" with pastas the day before a race.  I prefer a small carb of a baked potato and then grilled salmon or some other light protein.  It works much better for my body. 

Saturday we made a run to the grocery store --oh, how I wish I could actually run, or walk full footed.   On with the snazzy sandals and off to the store. I think this store is rather large, and normally I just stick to the perimeter---as I usually just run in to get things from the healthfood section , meat and fruit/veggies which are all on the perimeter. This day, I had to walk a few of the aisles and it was more walking than I was use to.  I also climbed over the cushions to elevate the foot a few times. After my afternoon nap (man, I am sounding like a baby or 90 year old with all these naps!),  my left groin (lymph node site) was a little tender.  

We whipped up a Greek inspired pizza with the Chebe crust for supper. Red peppers, red onion, diced ham, left over bacon (how did that happen?), kalamata olives and feta cheese were the toppings.  I haven't bought a lot of cheese since January, so we are sticking to the idea of keeping consumption of that low.  To the crust, at the time I added the eggs and oil, I also added 2 tablespoons of milled chia I had soaked in 4 tablespoons of water.  I pulsed this in the Kitchenaid food processor, then added just under the 1/4 cup of water to create the consistency. The chia add nutrients, protein, fiber, omegas, antioxidants, and more.  This link provides amazing nutritional information on this seed that helped nourish the Aztec and Mayans.
Saturday night I felt a knot/ball under the groin incision site.  EEK.  A little worried, I knew I had probably over done it on the walking today, and we decided to see what Sunday brought.  

Sunday the knot/ball was a little smaller and I thought maybe it'd go away during the day if I kept it a fairly calm day.  However, we did need to head to Target to get the Felix cat (hyperthyroid) his wet cat food for extra calories. He's a bit spoiled.  

Smokie is spoiled as well: 

We also finished our weekend marathon of watching Netflix's Daredevil series. It is AWESOME.
Sunday evening dinner was created by Just Bare Chicken, pan cooked with salt & pepper, Three Bridges GF Ravioli, and then sauteed red onion and red pepper with wilted spinach and garlic. The red splash is pasta sauce.  

As I was typing this up, we were watching an episode of "How The States Got Their Shapes"---the Hatfield and McCoy episode.  There's a state line marathon event in June so named Hatfield McCoy Marathon.  It sounds great. I may try to add this to the 2016 schedule.  It's June 13, 2015 this year.  Too bad it's not near the Lynchberg, VA race---Oak Barrel Half--which was April 4, of this year. 
I'd love a medal formed from the barrel of Jack Daniels whiskey.  

To recap: 
The toe is doing well. Still red, but that's okay since there's not streaking on the foot.
Getting ready in the day can be exhausting. 
Finding shoes to work with a wrapped toe is hard.
Having great friends and family to help out is priceless.
Having a freezer with meals or half meals is a great idea. 
Being able to have the energy to walk around feels fabulous. 
Being off pain pills is great. Naps not required unless I exert myself with walking/shopping.  

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