Week five. Where do I begin?
The Color Red
Week five started off with redness. I noticed the top of my surgery site looking a little red. Red? Why? I don’t have room in this recovery for redness. I also realized the redness was accompanied by a little bit of pain, which increased quickly. Okay, so redness and pain. I gave my surgeon’s office a call, and the care coordinator told me just to keep ice on it and take some Tylenol.
Okay, I can do that. Because it’s not an infection, you know. I don’t have a fever!
Quickly I realized the ice and Tylenol weren’t cutting it. I decided to take off my steri-strips. It took a little more force than I realized it would, but anyway, got the steri-strips off and the first look at my incision. Other than the redness at the top, it looked great. Clean, closed, healed. But the redness and pain, it was starting to concern me.
Each day said redness and pain would increase. On Thursday, I realized something was really wrong. I called the office again and told them I think it might be infected. They made me an appointment for Monday, but went ahead and called in some antibiotics so I would have them over the weekend. I also asked for some painkillers because, let me tell you, the Tylenol was a joke. I loathe taking medicine, so this might just show you how much pain I was in. I was getting to the point of barely being able to move due to the pain.
Weirdest Nap Ever
My husband hadn’t been to pick up the two prescriptions yet, and I realized I had one painkiller left over from when I first had my surgery. I had kept a few back and saved them in case of emergency. Let me just say I am so glad I did that. I took the painkiller and laid down to try and nap, since it was really the only thing I could do.
Great nap. A few hours later, my hubby comes in with my daughter, saying she’s ready for a feeding.
He stops, and a disgusted look came over his face. What’s that smell? he asked.
I stopped, and realized I smelled it too. I don’t know, I said, maybe the baby’s diaper leaked on the bed and we didn’t realize it?
I sat up, only to come to the realization that my binder was leaking blood. Wha? I opened my binder to find my camisole shirt absolutely and completely soaked with blood. I gasped. I looked like a stab wound victim! Oh, no, I had to look at my stomach! I peeled back my shirt and saw this disgusting red liquid oozing from a newfound HOLE in my incision. And it was RANK. The whole room reeked!
IT WAS INFECTED! And it had built up so much that my skin couldn’t take it anymore, and burst through a weak point in my pretty incision. I was in shock… my mind started racing. I mean, what do you do when that happens?
I was relieved to find out it was four o’clock in the afternoon and the doctor’s office was still open. I called them up and breathlessly explained to them what I just woke up to. What would they say? What would they say??!!
The nurse on the line calmly responded, Okay, just wash the area with soap and water and cover the hole with gauze. You’ve got a prescription for antibiotics, so when the doctor sees you on Monday you will have already taken them for several days.
That’s it? I asked her. Yes, apparently, that was it. So I hung up. Well, at least no emergency room visit today. It might sound funny upon reading, but at the time I was almost in panic mode. I’d never encountered anything like this in my life, so I had no clue what to expect! Her response did give me some sense of relief.
So that’s what I did. I washed the area with soap and water. Covered it with gauze. Marveled at the fact that none of the mess got anywhere on the bed… I’m still mystified by that. Threw away the blood- and infection-soaked undershirt. Opened the windows, turned on the fan.
Wondered how this happened. The incision itself was not infected. I saw it myself and had pictures to prove it. So how did it get infected underneath, inside? But then again, so many things started to make sense. Now I know why I felt like I had been fighting the flu for the past week. Now I know why I was having night sweats and chills. I was thrown off by not having a fever, but apparently you can have an infection without a fever! Why was I the last to know? So many unanswered questions remained, though. I would have to wait until I saw my doctor on Monday.
To add even more fun to the mix, the antibiotics that she prescribed to me caused an allergic reaction in my breastfeeding daughter. So Friday, after two doses, I had to call and get another antibiotic which, thankfully, my daughter tolerated fine. Except this antibiotic came with a warning from the pharmacist: it is notorious for causing terrible diarrhea. She told me to be sure and eat yogurt and take probiotics while on this medication. The information page that came along with it was even more alarming. This was a serious antibiotic.
Good thing I love my probiotics. I eat lacto- fermented vegetables quite often, and according to Dr. Mercola, one bite of a lacto-fermented vegetable has more beneficial bacteria than a whole bottle of probiotics! (You can find out more information about lacto-fermenting vegetables online, they provide a bounty of health benefits and are truly a necessary staple in our home.)
I should mention here that after all of that mess was squeezed out of my surgery site, I felt such a great relief in that area, from the pressure being released. I realized that the pain had lessened, to such a degree that I could actually pick up my seven-month-old daughter again! I was overjoyed to be able to pick her up and hold her, although very weak from not having held her standing up in many weeks. So that was something to be happy about.
Nevertheless, it was still a long weekend, but finally, Monday arrived. I’m not going to lie. I was afraid. What would she say? What would she do to me? Was she going to open me back up? Was she going to put me in the hospital on intravenous antibiotics? I had to go by myself while my husband watched our four young children.
The time came for her to take off the gauze I had applied and look at my stomach. I was surprised to see the hole had grown since that morning from the size of a BB to a little bit bigger than a pea. Actually, then I realized there were two holes! They quickly gave way to one large hole, that ended up being about the size of a nickel, right before my eyes. This was craziness!
My surgeon let me explain what had happened and she started taking gauze and pushing it into the wound. She then poured hydrogen peroxide into the wound. The peroxide, which immediately bubbled and fizzed into a small volcano, I couldn’t feel, but her pushing around with the gauze was terribly painful. And I had just taken a painkiller. It did not help in the slightest. In essence, she was trying to soak up any infection with the gauze and kill germs with the peroxide.
I asked her how it could have gotten infected inside, when the incision itself wasn’t infected. She explained that I probably got a bruise, which pooled blood inside underneath, and got stagnant, which later became infected. As soon as she said that, I realized she was right. A week or two prior, my baby daughter, just being a baby and innocently kicking her legs, accidentally kicked me right at the top of my surgery site. It was so shockingly painful that I thought I was going to throw up at the time. The next day there was a strange, brownish bruise right where she had kicked me.
Oh, how I wish I had known that a bruise could turn into an infection! I would have been clued in so much sooner! We could have caught it before it got to be so bad!
But what can you do? I simply didn’t know. Don’t be like me. KNOW THIS!
She then proceeded to take some thick square gauze, and some tweezers, I kid you not, and use the tweezers to shove the gauze into the hole, effectively stuffing it like a stuffed animal. Or a turkey. Or something. I now had a hole in me packed with gauze.
She informed me that I would have to repeat this process on myself, twice a day until the wound closed up. Say what? Again, I felt dazed. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I wasn’t supposed to get an infection. I felt like I was getting pale from what just commenced in my stomach. I didn’t want to have to stuff myself like a turkey twice a day and pour peroxide in myself. I was also incredibly sore from all of her maneuvering and stuffing.
She wanted to see me again in a week. I was hoping it would be healed by then, and was dismayed at the thought of having to come back, but what could I do? So I made the appointment and I was out the door, still in shock.
Week five: began with redness and pain, ended with infection, antibiotics, peroxide, gauze, and yes, still pain. Much pain. And even more disappointment.
You can view before, during, and after pics here.
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