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!

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Post Surgery

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My dog was happy to see us home again.

I’m finally back home from surgery and I’m doing pretty good. Overall, the operation went really well. I ended up staying in the hospital from Friday and got out Tuesday midday. Disclaimer: if you have a weak stomach, then don’t scroll to the bottom to see post op photos.

The operation was definitely a lot more involved than the surgery I had for compartment syndrome and lasted quite a bit longer. Luckily, the surgeon said that the vein they used for the bypass looked great, so hopefully that’ll hold up well over time.

The first night after surgery was pretty rough. My leg kept cramping up. I was on some pain meds including a pump I could use to administer pain medication when I needed it. The only problem was that I was so tired that I would fall asleep and then wake up in excruciating pain because I hadn’t been pressing the button. Then it’s hard to get caught up with pain management. Plus, I guess I had a reaction to the Dilaudid because I could not stop itching – mostly my face, but also my arms and neck. It was pretty strange.

I also found out that I have a DVT (blood clot) in my right popliteal vein. My doctor said he’d be surprised if I didn’t have a DVT. Apparently, they needed to do a lot of manipulation of my vein during surgery. So, that just means I’m taking blood thinners and wearing compression socks. The theory is that as long as I’m on blood thinners, the clot won’t get any worse, and over time will be broken down. Unfortunately, that means the surgery for my left leg will be delayed a bit because I can’t have surgery while still on blood thinners. Hopefully, a repeat ultrasound in a few months will show the clot is gone.

I got up out of bed the day after surgery. It’s pretty painful, but manageable. Bending and straightening it out hurts since the wound is right on a joint. I’ve just been elevating my leg a lot, icing, and working on my range of motion. Netflix and Hulu are helpful too.

Around the second day post op I started feeling nauseated. I was hoping I could tolerate the pain meds better after getting sick from the Percocet after my last surgery. I guess my body really can’t take narcotics, though. I ended up just switching to Tylenol, which has made things manageable. I’d rather be in some pain and not be nauseous than be pain-free and puking. That’s just me, though.

I was discharged on Tuesday and we made it back home on Wednesday. I started physical therapy today and am so glad to be on the road to recovery. I’d take ANY day of post op pain/nausea over the emotional pain the past 10 months have been. I have hated waiting for appointments, waiting for referrals, waiting for test results, and feeling like I was getting nowhere. I can take the painful compartment testing, but I can’t stand feeling lost. I’m just so glad to be headed in the right direction.

I received excellent medical care while at the University of Maryland. The doctors, nurses, PT’s, etc. were all fantastic. I can’t say enough good things about the care I got. I would highly suggest going to the University of Maryland for the treatment of popliteal artery entrapment syndrome.

The pictures below show the scars from surgery. They look pretty bruised up because of the blood thinners, but that’s normal.

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My leg 2 days post op

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the scar on my upper thigh where they harvested the vein to use for the bypass

The blood thinners made me bruise pretty badly from the IV’s.