Saturday, March 19, 2016

The first 24 hours post surgery

If you missed the first post and are looking for information about how the surgery went, you can find the post here.

Today, I want to tell you about the first 24 hours and also what I did prior to surgery and what my recommendations were from the experts. I think everything that I have done has had a huge positive impact on how I'm feeling 36 hours later.

My surgery was 2pm on Thursday. On Friday, I woke up (see previous post) feeling pretty darn well. I was a little stiff in the incision area but (again) not debilitating, more of a nuisance. I took Tylenol at 7am.

I didn't take any over the counter medicine for the rest of the day.

I had the day off from work. I was advised to take the day off from work to avoid making any decisions. Sedation stays in your bloodstream awhile.

The day after surgery, there were 4 things that stood out to me.

1.) The bloating is SO BAD. If you are a woman who has been pregnant, it's very much like being 12 weeks pregnant. If you haven't been pregnant, imagine the worst cramps and bloating and stomach issues that you can get during your period. It was very uncomfortable. (Read on for what I did that I truly believe helped). In a nutshell, I couldn't bend over. My entire middle was gone. My waist is normally 26 inches, and I have defined ab muscles. Yesterday, I was just under 29 inches. I didn't measure my hips, but the bloating doesn't really seem to go down that far.

2.) The day after surgery, I have virtually no pain. I am absolutely shocked. I can feel little twinges when I don't move for awhile. (JMan visited to take care of me yesterday, and we spent the day watching movies). The twinges tend to happen when I go from laying down to twisting to sit up. It's not even painful, just a minor twinge.

3.) I showered. I was able to shower after the surgery, but I was pretty worn out. Obviously, I can't scrub the incision. Having the hot water running all over, felt really good. I also think it helped relax me.

4.) I started walking and doing core exercises. (see recommendations below). As for core exercises, I did these. I intended on just doing the deep breathing, but I moved on quickly when I realized that I had no pain at all. None. Zero. Zilch.

I also did a 1 mile walk. I started at 30:00 pace on 0% incline and by the end I was at 2% and did 1 mile in 20 minutes. No pain. Zero. Zilch.

After both, I felt better afterward than I did before.

The rest of the day was uneventful. I slept great. In fact, the night of the surgery, I was only able to sleep on my back. Sleeping on my sides was really uncomfortable. Last night, I could sleep on my sides or back. I'm not about to try laying on my stomach. I have accidentally hit my stomach a couple of times, and it hurts. So, I don't think I can sleep on my stomach yet. (Again, getting hit in the stomach was much like being pregnant. If you are familiar with the baby kicking your intestines, THAT's exactly how it feels. I give out a little "oof", and that's it.)

Let's talk about recommendations

During my initial consultation with my surgeon, I told him that I'm a triathlete and that I work with a nutritionist. I was training 13 hours per week. I'm in exceptional shape. At that time, he gave me a few pieces of advice about supplements, then said, "It's great that you work with a nutritionist. In fact, don't listen to me. Listen to her. She's the expert."

How can you not love a surgeon who says, "Hey, this isn't my area of expertise."

If you read my blog regularly, you know that if I pay for information, I don't share it. I have a Coach who creates workouts for me based on my abilities. I have a nutritionist who set up a plan based on my own nutritional needs.

This time it's different. I worked with Dina for this information, but it's not specifically tailored to me. This is information that pretty much anyone, heading into surgery, can benefit from.

Pre-surgery: for 1 week prior
-Vitamin C: 1 gram 2x/day
- Zinc: 30 mg /day <— can cause stomach upset and nausea so be sure to take with food
- General nutrition: “anti-inflammatory foods” —> lots of leafy greens, variety of vegetables, berries; watch simple sugars. Cooking with turmeric would be great (dry or fresh)

Post-surgery: for 1 week post
- Vitamin C 1 gram 2x/day
- Vitamin E gel cap to break open and apply to skin where procedure was performed (depends on incision size)
-Check your omega-3 dosing and aim for 2 grams DHA + EPA total per day. (I don't eat seafood, so I always take Omegas.)
- Protein: be sure you’re getting no less than 120 grams per day in the week following. (This is based on my weight of 136lbs.)
- the anti-inflammatory food focus as mentioned above should continue.

If you are going to be put on antibiotics, then a probiotic wold be good to take. Also, if you are on pain meds, some of these can cause constipation so you’ll want to be sure to drink plenty of fluids.

I did everything that my nutritionist recommended with the exception of one thing. I have not used the Vit E on my incision. I read several research articles about this. Using vitamin e too early, can cause skin irritation and delay the healing process. I decided that was a risk I didn't want to take. I have vitamin e and will use it once the incision is healed to reduce the scarring. For now, I'm not doing it.

Let's talk about the bloating for a minute. The bloating and constipation were pretty bad. I had forgotten that she had mentioned taking probiotics. I didn't have any at home. (I don't eat yogurt). Mr. Tea and I went to the store and bought some Kombucha.

I was advised by my surgeon to take a stool softener. When it comes to medication, I'm a naturalist. I've said it before. My preferred method is to use natural foods, spices, etc to recover. I didn't even buy a stool softener. BUT, I would have used it if necessary. In my case, the natural remedies worked for me. (The exception is Tylenol. As of this writing, I've only taken it twice. Once for the headache and once in the morning the day after surgery).

I'm not typically someone who jumps on a band wagon. At the same time, I was a little desperate. I really wanted the bloating to be a little less uncomfortable. I knew that Kombucha is known for being an acquired taste, and that (anecdotally people report that it helps with constipation and bloating).

I decided that no matter HOW BAD it tasted, I wanted to try it. Surprisingly, I didn't have a problem with the taste at all. In fact, I liked it.

The best part: instantly, my stomach felt better. The bloat didn't go away instantly. It just felt better. The next morning, I woke up and realized that I wasn't as bloated as I was the day before.

In addition to that, I'm having berries and citrus fruits at every meal (which is pretty normal for me anyway). The difference, right now, is that I'm focusing on the fruits/veggies that act as natural inflammatories.


This is really important if you are an athlete. When I was researching, I only found posts from bodybuilders. I couldn't find any information from triathletes. (As I previously mentioned, I found two very helpful blogs: one from an ultramarathoner and one from a runner/swimmer/golfer). Both the ultramarathoner and runner/swimmer/golfer were able to move immediately and started running very quickly. If you are a bodybuilder and are going through this surgery, you can't be too careful with the heavy lifting. Your fitness will come back. It's worth taking the time to heal.

From my surgeon: No olympic activity for the week after surgery. For the first week after surgery, your lifting limit is what you can lift with one arm. Then, you need to use two arms to lift. So, if you can lift a 50lb toddler with one arm, your weight lifting limit is 50lbs....and you need to use two arms. No steeplechase race the first week after surgery.

I want you moving as much as possible. Walking, going up and down stairs. Do everything you can and let your pain tolerance dictate how much you can do.

I should also say, swimming is not allowed, but that has to do with causing a possible infection and has nothing to do with physical limitations. The soonest I'm allowed back in the pool is after my follow up exam which is in 2 weeks.

So far, this surgery has been incredibly easy on me. I believe a lot of that has to do with the fact that I'm a very coachable athlete. I work with my team. If I have questions, I ask. Whether I'm working with my coach, nutritionist or surgeon, I see us as a team with ME being their #1 priority.