Surgery & Post-Op World

First of all, I’m going to say that I’m pretty impressed with myself for writing a blog post just 24 hours after coming out of surgery. Also, this was my first ever surgery, so I thought I’d share some thoughts and feelings about the whole experience. If you’ve been following me for awhile you are probably aware that I was diagnosed with a labral tear in my left hip back in March (MRI was back in January). Of course, with Covid-19 any kind of surgical consult, let alone treatment was pushed back and back (also I was floated around to 3 hospitals because very few surgeons specialize in hip arthroscopy apparently).

My sexy hospital bracelet.

I didn’t choose the surgical route lightly. Actually, I took advice from several physicians and healthcare professionals before making the decision. My rheumatologist (actually my rheumatologist was on mat leave so it was the one covering for her) diagnosed the hip tear and sent off for a surgical consult. She also told me to start physiotherapy for the tear as it is often helpful. Because things closed down because of the pandemic, I started virtual physio with my regular physiotherapist mid-April. Though exercise helped a bit, it was minimal. I added chiropractics, and massage back into my routine care (because of my undifferentiated connective tissue disease as well) in July, and then most recently started seeing the naturopath again at the end of September. All helpful, but not enough to take away the excruciating discomfort cause by the tear. They all also offered opinions, some differing, on whether I should have surgery. At the end of the day, with research done on my own, I decided that as my naturopath put it, surgery was really the only option to fix the problem.

And my sexy post-op selfie.

Now, I actually wasn’t nervous about the surgery, especially after finally meeting with the surgeon mid October, and literally being booked for surgery less than a month later. He was confident, read me off the risks which were minimal, and again, I did some research on long-term outcome studies. Yesterday, after I had been checked in, and then taken into the pre-op area for some vitals and questions, I started to get nervous. However, the amazing healthcare team (all the pre-op, op, post-op nurses; pre-op and op anesthesiologists and assistants; and of course my surgeon and surgical team) made me feel at ease. According to my surgeon after surgery, it went “perfectly.” Also a relief.

Post-operatively not so fun. I wasn’t actually nauseous at first and the pain in my hip I rated at a 6-7 (for which they had me on morphine) after about 30-45 minutes later (really was out of it and couldn’t keep track of time) I rated the pain about the same, so they gave me oxycodone, which then made me nauseous. It took another 2.5 hours for me not to feel “as nauseous”… basically the least amount for me to go home (and my pain was also down to about a 4 at the time). Long day. Probably longer for my amazing friend, Mike, who picked me up from my appointment and then took care of me at home (even brought groceries, and Starbucks!). The nausea stayed until like 7:30pm. Honestly, I think food helped. And I was pretty out of it all day. Oh yeah, they gave me Gravol for the nausea which totally made me drowsy. But we had sushi, and watched Netflix until like 9, when I passed out in bed.

Is everyone else singing, “Vanilla Ice, Ice, Baby…”

At this point I’m more annoyed about the post-op complications I guess? First, sore throat which apparently is common after coming off of general anesthesia, but I didn’t know that. I’m trying to drink a ton of liquids to help! Second, I have numbness in the groin area… maybe I’ll share more about that on a later post but let me say, not fun. Finally, living alone and trying to get around on crutches post-op is not fun. I have to ice my hip constantly, and then it took me forever to get coffee/breakfast ready for myself this morning. If it weren’t for the pandemic, my mom would’ve flown out to help me. Oh well, I suppose this is Chronic Pain Warrior life.

I’m quite impressed with my breakfast abilities this morning!

That was mostly thoughts… as for feelings, I’m tired and sore and frustrated (about the numbness) but also relieved to have the surgery over with, and hopeful that I will have significantly less pain in my hip. I mean, if I’m going to be a practicing therapist soon I need to be able to sit for long hours without looking like I’m in discomfort, so I can be present on focused on those future clients of mine!

If anyone else has an op/post-op experience they’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you. And remember, keep making the most of it. 🙂

Diagnosis Update

Isn’t it always the case when you have an autoimmune disease that there are multiple updates over the years? Like either a change of diagnosis or an added diagnosis. I follow so many people on Instagram with the same experiences. This week I had an appointment with my rheumatologist (and a resident, so two docs which was fun – by the way I love that the hospital I go to is a teaching hospital because I think that makes everyone work a little harder to provide excellent care), and of course there is an update to my diagnosis.

Image from: https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/conditions/autoimmune/index.cfm

Lets travel back a bit. First I was given an incorrect diagnosis of gout back in 2015 by my GP. Fast forward to February 2016 when I first saw my rheumatologist, ran some tests and then a month later gave me (maybe a little too quickly) a diagnosis of lupus. Fast forward to June 2016 and she added fibromyalgia to the list. Then we skip over to November 2016 and she decides that I don’t qualify for a lupus diagnosis and I am a “mystery.” So I have remained with a fibromyalgia diagnosis since then.

Me back in 2016.

Now my diagnosis has been updated to Undifferentiated Connective Tissue Disease, which upon looking up what exactly that was, makes a lot of sense. So what is UCTD? It’s a systemic autoimmune disease that doesn’t quite fit the criteria for any differentiated autoimmune disease – like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or scleroderma, etc. I’ve read some different statistics on it, and it seems that around 25% of rheumatology patients have UCTD, and only between 20-30% of patients will eventually get a diagnosis of lupus, RA, etc. Symptoms usually include high ANAs, arthralgia/myalgia, arthritis, Raynaud’s, and fatigue, among a few others.

My symptoms include consistently high ANAs on blood panels that are taken every 6 months, arthralgia/myalgia, I don’t quite get full-blown Raynaud’s but certainly very red and slightly swollen fingers in the cold, sometimes numbness in my fingers or toes, and fatigue. So, while I don’t fit the criteria for lupus, I certainly fit the criteria for UTCD.

Now how does this make me feel? Honestly, a sense of relief. I am happy to have a diagnosis again, and one that seems to actually fit what is going on. My rheumy is going to fill out the paperwork I need for my work coverage (because they’ve been after my sick days), which also makes me feel relieved. Basically, I feel like it’s good to get a diagnosis because the waiting game on diagnoses can be anxiety-riddling experiences as I’m sure many of you know.

Relieved at my diagnosis but missing my baby.

I also want to give you an update on Spike, because last week I mentioned he was at the vet. Unfortunately he had to be put down. I am heart-broken as I’ve lost my best friend.