Surgery Nightmare

It’s been a week since my knee surgery, and I’ve been hiding like a cave troll because not only have I felt like one until now, but I also looked like one (however strangely didn’t smell like one?). It was my sixth surgery overall, and third one on my knees. And it was a chipping nightmare.

I’ve waited five years for this surgery, ever since I was attacked at an Amity Affliction gig in Melbourne in 2012, my knee dislocated for about an hour and a half before we realised the ambulance wasn’t coming and took a taxi to the hospital. They couldn’t pull me out of the cab because I was screaming so much, so they gave me a morphine whistle, and I don’t remember much after that. Also, I’d apparently snapped the medial quad in the process. Strangely, the surgeon decided that my left knee (previously dislocated and operated on) was in more need of surgery, so he opted to do that instead. Apart from a long recovery and a short-lived bout of hives from a recovery IV, there were no problems.

However.

I informed the anaesthetist that after my first knee surgery on the other knee in 2006, I’d had issues with my TMJ, possibly due to position/breathing tube during the surgery, and that I’d had the hive reaction to the IV after my last surgery. Although no one else could find a cause, he pinpointed in my file that it was due to morphine, so decided he’d concoct something that wouldn’t give me a reaction. I told him whatever he recommended, as he was the expert and had taken the time to call and do a pre-op meeting with me. The surgeon said it was a normal histamine reaction, and not an allergy.

As soon as I woke up in recovery, I immediately started screaming. I could feel every single incision point, and it was all burning, and my hands were tingling like crazy – like they were going to explode. The nurses told me to meditate and focus on my breathing and that the doctor would be there soon. Apparently he came an hour later, after telling my parents I’d be out in 40 minutes, and I remember him asking me the same questions and everyone being quiet and telling me I was just panicking and to breathe. I just kept apologising through tears for causing a fuss and scaring the other patients in the ward. After a while, I realised there was one nurse next to me, telling me to wake up and breathe because I’d fallen asleep after a huge cocktail of painkillers, and my breathing had slowed to 4 ‘resps’ per minute. Later, she took me to my fam, waiting in my room.

I had been in recovery for three hours.

When we got to the room, she explained what had happened, while I started feeling extremely hot, and my hands and arms felt again like they were going to explode with pins and needles, now spreading from finger tips to elbows. I was on so many medications that I couldn’t stay awake, even though I wanted so badly to tell them my perspective, but I just remember everyone putting cold packs and ice around my body. That night, I stayed awake after everyone had gone, with two drips of ketamine, fentanyl and oxycodone in my arm and heart-rate monitors every half an hour, annoying the nurses when I told them something wasn’t right or that I needed to go to the bathroom (the drips had to be unhooked and a rollator brought to me to get out of the bed), until they took the painkiller button away from me (that particular time I’d used it twice in an hour – it’s meant for every few minutes).

I stayed in the hospital two nights, saw the surgeon for one minute, during which he prescribed a double dose of painkillers to take home, and awaited the anaesthetist, who never showed. The pain was always there, and I had to confirm to the nurses, through sobs, my name – for the fifth time during that shift – in order to get the dose they were late with. When I got home, I realised they hadn’t given me any painkillers, just the long-acting ones for night, so I had to fight for that, after which they claimed I had ‘left’ it at the hospital, later that night.

Every day since, I’ve been battling with the pain, barely sleeping, barely able to eat, and throwing up every. single. day. I have horrendous nerve pain under the operated area that feels like hot needles being shoved into my skin, and bad pain and muscle spasms under the knee that, again, the painkillers only make me feel drowsy or disoriented for.

To be honest, it’s been one of the worst time of my life, not counting a slew of other horrible things that have happened in the past couple of days, unrelatedly. I thought I was well-prepared, but I guess things like these are impossible to anticipate. I can’t wait for this to be over and to move on with my life already!

UPDATE:

Almost a month on from surgery, I’m still battling nausea and vomiting almost a litre worth each time, but only when I eat meat and dairy?! So I’m basically an unwilling vegan at this point – or plant-based, I guess. The stitches have been taken out, and I’m getting around in a wheelchair with a leg extension and crutches, which have been really hard on my shoulders and wrists. I’m really trying to be positive, but at the same time I have to study for a supplementary exam, even though I was advised to take this semester off, and have three medical certificates. So I’ve been trying to cut down on painkillers to concentrate…it’s not been great.

All I want is to be able to walk by myself and get on with my life. It’s so frustrating and lonely, but I have another appointment with the surgeon in a week, so hopefully I’ll be able to start physio. I just wish everything wasn’t so difficult. Even things like showering are so draining and leave me with lasting pain, and my body feels twisted to the point that my back will hurt more than my knee. I feel awful asking people to get me this and that and being waited on, or making a trip out for a couple of hours into a major, planned out endeavour. If it sounds depressing, it’s because it is. I’m trying to remain positive; really, really trying, so I don’t want to even mention the majority of things. Maybe I’ll do an honest post on what to expect some day when I’m more removed from it, but right now it’s just too fresh and painful still.

Anyway, I’ll start posting more again from now on, about actually interesting topics, instead of my personal hardships!

What the Heck is Hygge?

Higgledy-piggledy? Higgy? Hickey?

Hygge is actually pronounced “hoo-guh”, and it’s a Danish concept. The closest description in English would probably be somewhere along the lines of cozy/cuddly/rustic. Imagine being curled up by the fire in some fuzzy socks with a cup of hot chocolate while there’s a thunderstorm outside. That’s pretty much an encapsulation of Hygge.

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Dim lighting, comfort food, comfy clothes and soft fabrics, and snuggling up? Do all Danes have EDS? LOL, bad jokes aside, this sounds like my perfect evening…or perfect anytime, actually. I’m obsessed with candles, super soft textures, warm lighting, fire (not like, in an arson way, as in; I wish I could have my own fireplace O_O) and smooth music…not to mention committing carbocide every now and then :/. It would be my dream to live in a treehouse in the woods and to cook a hearty, homemade Christmas feast for all my closest friends and family. Imagine doing that after playing in the snow all day – oh my!

It really might be the perfect lifestyle for those with chronic pain/illness. Everyone talks about minimalism and de-stressing and decluttering and all that, but really, it’s been there all along. Get back to basics and live like your grandparents, or even great-grandparents. Ditch the laptop/phone for a book (ok that’s probably my most difficult obstacle), invite your friends around to help cook or bring their own addition for dinner, turn the TV off and have a games night. Low-energy (I was going to clarify in terms of spoons, but I guess it is low energy because you’re not using so much electricity too?), low-cost, social quotaย and I can wear my uniform of a hoodie & leggings with my socks in the shape of ice creams while I eat, drink and be merry? If that’s being an old man, then call me Grandpa, because I am so here for it.

You might think it sounds boring or old fashioned, but Denmark is home to some of the happiest people in the world. Treating themselves to a pastry, cycling most places, leaving work on time and achieving that work/life balance, while spending time with family really seems like the recipe to happiness. Not to mention getting away from blue light from screens, which can really mess up your circadian rhythm and continue that low-grade stress cycle, which is a real killer.

It’s a weird catch-22: I feel like I don’t have enough energy to do stuff, but I still want to be productive or at leastย do something, so I watch something or read on my laptop or phone. But I might as well just sleep if I am that tired, because I’m still connected and on call to the rest of the world. There’s just no escape or switching off. It’s like the opposite of meditation…and I should know, because I am extremely guilty of that insomniac life. It’s all about quality, and to be honest, if I’m awake, but I’m just procrastinating and wasting my time, is that really worth doing over having a quick nap and then being able to get back up and at it? ‘Stay awake for the sake of being awake’ should not be a mantra. It’s all about quality. Quality time with loved ones, quality food that you enjoy eating – even if it’s not strictly ‘healthy’, energy spent on quality entertainment, as opposed to not really doing anything while surfing the net or watching reality TV. Nowadays people can’t even have a holiday because you can get roaming on your phone overseas, and you can keep up on Facebook with every minuscule nuance of your kind-of-friends-but-we-haven’t-seen-each-other-in-two-years life, instead of going away, having an adventure, and having something to really talk about when you get back, instead of “Oh, did you hear about…” “Oh, yeah, I saw it on Facebook” *crickets* (guilty, guilty, guilty).

But learning about Hygge feels like someone is saying: “Hey, it’s ok to unplug and get away from it all. It’s ok to relax, it’s ok not to be available at all times, and it’s ok to treat yourself!” And I think that’s an important reminder, especially for people with chronic illness, who feel guilty about what they can and can’t do, or push themselves because they don’t feel like they’re doing enough. Treat yourself like a friend, and have a hyggelig (hygge-ly) time ๐Ÿ™‚

For more information, I recommend reading or listening to The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (he should know: he works for the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen!)

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