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Dealing with Post-Surgery Pain and Physical and Mental Exhaustion

06 Aug

I’m tackling another tough subject, but I want to help to bring awareness to yet another important topic and how you can be proactive about your healing and working with healthcare professionals along with the support of your family, friends and/or advocate(s). 

If you haven’t gone through a major surgery or other debilitating illness or treatments yourself you’ve likely never given it much thought. The exhaustion and pain your body can experience after a major surgery is indescribable.

But maybe you know all too well or you’ve seen the painful look on the face of a loved one. The pain you see in their eyes and the blank stares into the distance or the difficulty to breath.  For most it’s difficult to relate though you have a deep compassion. I’ll note here a link to a previous blog post I wrote on empathy “Empathy: How We Can Be Better at Listening and Responding”.

But if you’ve experienced it yourself you likely have a great deal of compassion for those going through difficult times now and have a deep gratitude to God for getting you past this hurdle. I remember after one surgery how difficult it was to do anything because of the pain and sheer exhaustion. I remember asking my family to help me walk from my room to the chapel which was probably only a few doors down. They reminded me that I can pray right in my room but no I wanted to walk to the chapel.  I was hooked up to all kind of tubes and I couldn’t walk on my own. They helped me up and arm and arm they practically carried me down the hall to the chapel. When I got to the chapel even though I wanted to pray so badly all I could do is weep. We walked to the chapel day after day and still I wept.

Power Verse: In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. (Romans 8:26)

I remember vividly the reoccurring dream I was having at that time of being in a prison cell. It was cold, dark and lonely cell. It was a manifestation of how I felt in my body at that time imprisoned in pain. But then one evening everything changed; I was back in the prison cell in my dream, but suddenly it was as if the Lord’s hand came down and literally pulled me out of that pit. I knew it was going to be okay it was a turning point for me that day forward my body started to improve in the recovery process and little by little I regained my strength.

Power Verse: He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. (Psalm 40:2)

The Surgery
I had a polyp that was cancerous and it was on the muscle of my rectum so he would go in and remove the polyp along with the entire rectum. The surgery would warrant a colostomy but and at that time I was told that I would not require any follow-up treatment (radiation, chemo).  The day of my surgery time went by very slow. Everyone was waiting while I was in surgery to hear the outcome of the procedure and to see me and know that things went well. It wasn’t until the evening when I was back in my hospital room and I remember being in a lot of pain. I was really out of it between the surgery, medication and the pain I couldn’t even open my eyes. Praise God the doctor had a good report for me and my family all went well with the surgery (Thank you Lord!). Still I knew it would be a long hard road ahead.

Hospital stay
The length of time in the hospital will vary for each individual case depending on surgery and healing process so please speak to your doctor(s) about the anticipated post-surgery recovery time and know it’s a hurdle you can pass.

Post-surgery pain and recovery
I get this question frequently… I’m afraid I will become addicted to pain medication after my surgery or treatments. Pain after surgery and/or treatments can be very depleting and the body needs rest to heal.

Please have your family members, friends and advocates keep a record of your medications and symptoms. Times medications are administered and what dosage (you have the right to request copies of medical records. Work with the hospital case worker assigned to your case) or any responses to your treatment either positive and/or side-effects. It’s expected that medication(s) will likely be part of the recovery process and can be necessary to relieve the pain. Please remember it’s only for a short time so it’s critically important to follow the doctor’s instructions and be diligent about keeping a personal health record and to keep communication with all treatment doctor(s). And please don’t attempt to self medicate or regulate it’s not a time to worry about becoming addicted to medication. It’s important to discuss any concerns with your physician(s) along with the help of your case worker and advocate (family/friend or advocate) and keep in mind it’s for your benefit to allow for healing.

I recall after my surgery there was a time I was on 36 pills a day for period of time. It wasn’t forever but it was for a season and Praise God its 24 years later and I’m grateful to share this message of hope with you. No one wants take pain meds, but we must do what we have to do to fight and get strong and allow the body to heal.

Getting help from a professional patient advocate
I wanted to list a resource here because not everyone has a family member or friend that is in a position to act as an advocate on your behalf that are both prepared and equipped to deal with coordinating care pre and post surgery and/or treatments.

AdvoConnection
The patient advocates, navigators, health advocates, case managers, coaches, eldercare, birthing and health care assistants at AdvoConnection may be able to help you get the help you deserve.

Find patient advocates, navigators and case managers who can:

  • accompany you to appointments or stay by your bedside in the hospital
  • help you learn more about your medical condition and necessary treatment
  • help you make difficult medical decisions
  • maintain a healthy pregnancy and raise healthy babies by working with a midwife, doula or lactation specialist
  • help you navigate the insurance maze
  • help you file health insurance claims, and manage or reduce your hospital and medical bills
  • find legal assistance after a medical error 
  • track paperwork and records
  • … and more (website http://www.advoconnection.com/index.asp or call 1-888-478-6588).

If you are feeling or experiencing something similar, I’d love to hear from you. I didn’t have anyone who could relate to me at the time and I don’t want that for you.  Please send me an email or reach out to me via Facebook or Twitter.

With love and God’s Blessings,

Dee Dee

Email Me: littledeet@yahoo.com

E-mail the techie behind the Chat With Dee Dee (Blog, Facebook & Twitter pages) who happens to be my daughter.

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