It’s day five of recovery and Rachel’s progressing well. Yesterday, after her hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment, Rachel felt strong enough to trek upstairs to take a shower. It was definitely a milestone, since more than five minutes of activity has been wiping her out. Some of Rachel’s friends from nursing school have been helping take care of her during the day. One of these buds helped getting Rachel in and out of the shower and with the surgical dressings The whole process would have been really tough for just one caretaker – and Rachel’s tiny & I’m a big dude. I couldn’t be more thankful for these amazing friends in Rachel’s life. Afterwards Rachel felt great – and later that night I did my very first ponytail (not such a bad job, eh?).
One of the trickiest parts of the recovery so far has been Rachel’s drains. These are the devices that help manage swelling post-surgery. They look like little plastic scrunched up grenades w/valves similar to any bike bottle at their ends. They’re attached to little tubes and need to be emptied & measured regularly. There’s more to them, but I’ll spare you the details. But basically the goal is to have less drainage over time and Rachel’s way beyond her goals.
So at first these bad boys were daunting to even look at. While Rachel was in the hospital, I observed the nurses effortlessly emptying them and making sure they didn’t get in Rachel’s way. After some education, I found out that these are pretty common after major medical procedures, which really helped put them into perspective. Soon, as my hesitations/fears began to wade I started to creep closer and closer to the nurses caring for the drains. After realizing that the process of taking care of them was fairly easy (and summoning past lifeguard/first aid training), the whole cleaning/upkeep process has become routine.
Not surprisingly these little f*ckers have really started to hurt. Rachel’s left one has become a particular thorn in her side (couldn’t help myself) and is consistently the reason her pain score above a 2 or 3. Today Rachel talked to one of her doctors and she advised that we tweak the dressings around the pesky drain. With the help of two nursing friends (and Mom who got us our supplies) we managed to do some redressing, which seems to have alleviated the worst of the pain for now. We’re crossing our fingers that this will continue to provide Rachel relief.
Overall, I’m just so thankful that Rachel was so proactive going into this journey. From the physical preparation to the way she’s rallied her community to help – she’s really given herself the best chance possible at bouncing back quickly. I couldn’t prouder to call Rachel my wife.