How I’m doin’ 3 months later

A reprint from 25 August 2009

It’s been a bit over three months since a perforated intestine and resulting major emergency surgery knocked me on my ass.  But as bad as that ordeal was, a large number of people both online and in realspace have been very supportive and helpful, a positive experience of human nature that simply has no downside.

People often ask how I’m doing now.  In the best of times I have never been comfortable with that question, but in surgical recovery, it’s even weirder.  Who really wants to hear about which pains are merely annoying and which are scaring the hell out of me?  But occasionally it is OK to take stock, if only to reassure others who might be going through the same experience.  So that’s what this post is about and why it continues below the fold.

I was surprised how much strength was lost; in spite of regular workouts, I am nowhere nearly up to full strength yet. Recently I regained the ability to do situps, and did 15 yesterday.  That’s a long way from my previous record of 100.  I’m doing cardio and low-back exercises, but using 3 lb weights instead of 15 and 25.  My shoulders are both very weak and I can’t do pushups or pullups.

I am still using suspenders instead of a belt. In spite of applying magical oils that are supposed to help, my surgical scar is a lot less flexible than the surrounding skin, which makes wearing a belt or bending at the waist very uncomfortable. That is one factor limiting sit-ups and low-back exercises.

A couple flights of stairs is about all I can do at one go, otherwise I use the elevator which is new for me.  I am back on my bike, riding easy in the low gear range.  I’ve only made short rides on level ground on my unicycle; no charging up the library ramp or anything like that.  We’ll set aside the sound track from “Rocky” for later.

I’m still eating pretty carefully, and certain foods are off my list forever.  For example, I like popcorn, but not that much.  And I’m not taking aspirin for any reason.  Well if I have a heart attack, I’ll munch one.  But being unable to take NSAID medications means my arthritis and chronic pain is much less controlled.

Though I lost 26 lbs in the first three weeks, my weight has stabilized at twenty pounds below what it was on the day of the surgery.  Given my reduced eating habits, it’ll probably stay there. 

My mind has cleared quite a bit though I’ve never been a master of concentration and memory anyway.

The thing that worries me most is that internal pain has not gone down to less than the day before the original perforation.  The surgeon could not give a definitive answer to the obvious question.  What’s “normal”, and what should I be feeling like at three months? Diane suggested that the pain could be nerve damage from the perforation, surgery, and infections, which if true would be fine with me because it wouldn’t be dangerous.  The other possibility, that there’s a chance of a recurrence, truly frightens me.

Takeaway lesson: I’ve had other surgeries, but major emergency surgery with no pre-operative preparation is the worst.  Avoid it if you can

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Older technology guy with photography and history background