5.5 Weeks Post Op

The recovery keeps moving along. I guess this time more smoothly than it has been. The wound that opened back up is now almost closed. It’s pretty amazing how quickly that healed up. Originally, the wound was about 4cm deep and is now probably less than 1cm. I still can’t quite picture what it’s going to look like once it completely heals up. The edges need to come together more. I really hope I’m not left with a giant ugly scar. The scar after surgery looked so neat and thin before it reopened. Luckily, my scars fade pretty nicely. The scars from my compartment syndrome surgery are now barely noticeable. Unless someone is seriously inspecting my legs they really don’t notice.

I’m now able to walk without crutches (for the second time). I still need to work on regaining my full range of motion, but I’m definitely seeing a lot of progress. I’ll be starting home PT soon, which apparently I can get because I’m still having a visiting nurse help with my wound care. The wound has now healed enough that I only need a new dressing every other day instead of every day. Yay!

I’ve been feeling a lot less tired than I was. I think the anemia has improved even though I don’t have any test results to show that. I don’t feel lightheaded as easily and I have more energy. I guess I’m feeling less like a zombie compared to how I was a few weeks ago.

I had a CT angiogram yesterday, which will look at the arteries in my leg to see if the graft is holding up. My worry is that the hematoma that formed after surgery might have impacted the graft. It was a pretty significant hematoma; 3x4x10cm. My doctor also said that depending on the results of the angiogram I might be able to get off the blood thinners. I really hope so because I am so over these blood thinners! They’ve made my already dry skin even drier, and I’m sick of bleeding everywhere.

Now is just the hard part of waiting for the results of the angiogram. My guess is I won’t hear anything until next week because of Thanksgiving and all. I have an appointment next Wednesday, so at the latest I’ll hear then. Who knows, maybe the wound will be all healed up by then?

I always find waiting to be the hardest part of this whole process. I’d take physical pain any day over the anxiety I’m feeling right now. Luckily, there’s a holiday tomorrow with lots of good food and family to provide a distraction. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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4 Weeks Post Op

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“You got this.” I’ve been telling myself this every day of the recovery.

Slow and steady is the name of the game. The reopened incision is slowly healing and will just be a matter of time. I found out that the reason the wound reopened was definitely due to bleeding. Since I had a blood clot after surgery I was put on blood thinners, which meant that my blood couldn’t clot as well as normal. I ended up with a hematoma (bleeding) in the wound. This was evidenced by an MRI I had a week ago. Over time it built up so much pressure that the incision opened back up.

The blood thinners have been a bit like a double-edged sword for me. Now, obviously blood thinners were necessary because of the blood clot. Left untreated, blood clots can potentially be fatal. However, the blood thinners also caused a hematoma to form, which then reopened the incision and has delayed the healing process by quite a bit. I sure hope I don’t get a DVT during the next surgery and need to be on blood thinners again. I’m getting pretty sick of compression socks and accidentally bleeding on everything.

It also makes me wonder if there’s something about me that makes me prone to hematomas. I’ve only had 2 surgeries and both times I developed a hematoma. Come on! The second time makes sense because of the blood thinners, but not the first.

My main complaint this week actually hasn’t been about the wound, though. I’ve been more bothered by how low my energy level is. At the ER I found out that I’m anemic. I’m so tired that I feel like I could sleep all day and still not be rested. I also get out of breath so easily it’s ridiculous. Plus, my already pale complexion looks even paler if that’s possible. I’ve never been anemic before, and I’m really not liking this. I’ve been a vegetarian for the majority of my life and have been proud that my iron levels have always been fine. I’ve even donated blood before. I guess it makes sense that I’m anemic now given how much blood I’ve been losing. I’m working hard at eating iron-rich foods and a multivitamin with iron, so hopefully I’ll feel better soon.

Good news! I had an ultrasound done on my leg to look at the veins this week and check on how the blood clot is. They found no visible blood clots in the veins in my legs! Yay! Of course they couldn’t see all of the popliteal vein because of the open wound that was bandaged up, but above and below look good as well as all of the rest of the veins in my legs. At first I thought the blood clot was just in my popliteal vein, but when I looked back over my medical record it actually said there were small clots in the popliteal, posterior tibial, fibular, and gastrocnemius veins. I’m beyond grateful that they don’t see any blood clots there anymore. I was expecting it to take a lot longer! Maybe this means I won’t have to wait a really long time to have surgery on my other leg.

Anyone have any good TV show series that they would recommend? I’m running out of ideas of what to watch on Netflix and Hulu. Thanks!

3 Weeks Post Op

I had originally started a post last week just updating that my recovery was going smoothly and that I kept improving. I had gotten to the point where I could walk without crutches for short periods and had even gone on a stationary bike (very slowly) for a couple minutes. The incision looked like it kept healing nicely.

Unfortunately, that status changed last week. Saturday night when my mom went to go change the dressing she noticed that a small part of the incision looked like it was spreading apart slightly. Naively, we redressed it and decided to go get some steri-strips in the morning thinking that would be enough. Let’s just say that when we went to redress it in the morning the incision had not stay closed. I will not be sharing pictures, but I’m sure you can guess what it looks like.

After a trip to the ER we’ve got things sorted out. I guess the theory as to why it reopened is mainly due to the blood thinners I’m taking for the DVT. Apparently there was a lot of bleeding into the wound, which created swelling and pressure, and therefore reopened the wound. I’m counting down the days until I can stop the blood thinners, but I’ve still got a few more weeks. I’m sure it doesn’t help that the incision is on a joint, so it’s being stretched whenever I move. The incisions up by my groin where they got the vein for the bypass is healing quite nicely. Again, this is probably because it’s not on a joint.

I don’t think we have all the answers as to why the incision reopened. Whatever the reason, I’m still on the road to recovery, but just with a bit of a setback. I was told it will take 3-4 weeks to heal up. The wound has to heal from the inside out. If a few stitches were just put to hold the skin together then that wouldn’t be good because the inside isn’t healed.

A visiting nurse comes every day and cleans it and redresses it, which is not a fun process. It’s not that it feels really painful, just extremely weird and uncomfortable. It also doesn’t help that I know they’re literally in the middle of my leg. I find myself starting to freak out if I think too much about what’s going on. I can’t believe there’s literally an open wound on the back of my leg. The good news is that it’s not infected. Everyone keeps telling me that it looks clean, which is great. I’m on some antibiotics just as a preventative measure. I also have youth on my side. I’ve been told multiple times that I’m going to heal much quicker from this than someone just 10 years older than me.

Yes, this is a bit of a setback. However, I’m thankful that I can already tell some improvement in my right leg after surgery. Just at rest I can visibly see that my right foot is now pinker than my left foot. What used to be my “bad” leg is now my “good leg” and vice versa. Even with this complication from the wound and a DVT in the popliteal vein the circulation has already improved. For that, I am beyond grateful! That means more to me than anything. Check out the pictures below comparing pre-op to post-op.

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PRE-OP

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POST-SURGERY: My right foot is now pinker than my left! Yay for Circulation!!!!!