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Sleeping after surgery

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Hi, my name is Tiffany and I had a partial nephrectomy 3 weeks ago.  I thought thinks were healing fine, I was able to sleep on my side with a pillow propping up my stomach.  The past few mornings I've been waking up on my stomach and it feels like its going to explode with I get up. I'm waking up 3-4 times per night propping myself up on pillows etc.  I havnt had a good nights sleep since a few days before my surgery.  How long before this pain goes away and the bulging from my side subsides? I start work next week and Iha experiencing massive brain fog and fatigue and severe pain after I'm slightly active for a few hours. 

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

Tiffany, others may have a different view but I have no doubt of mine. 

I'm afraid it may not be music to your ears but to me it's clear that you're not in a fit state to start work next week and it's that simple.  Maybe you'll recover so fast, young as you are, that it will all be different  a week on but I think that's unlikely. 

If you try to start too soon it will be bad for everyone.  You won't be productive, you'll feel rotten, people around you will be anxious about your capabilities and worried for you.  Probably most important of all, you will inevitably delay your recovery - set yourself back so much that you would have got much further by taking it carefully now and building on a sound basis.

What you are going through is all going to get steadily better - so long as you give it a chance.  Plenty of water and regular walking or other exercise will help speed the healing up and trying to do too much too soon will be a sure fire way of slowing it down, as you're already discovering.  Give yourself a chance and the bulge will subside (over months, rather than days) and your sleep will improve, carrying everything else along with it, if you don't set yourself back.

Brain fog, fatigue and a lot of pain are the clearest possible indication that you're pushing a bit too hard.  You won't be much use at 'work' in that condition.   Stop whatever you're doing that's causing the pain well in advance of the likely onset and please consult the necessary docs (whoever they are in your case) to keep the pain well under control - it's possible (I speak from very hard-won knowledge on this subject!) to  do so but only if you know what you're doing.

Keep us posted on how you're getting along and we'll try to give further ideas as you come to need them.

 

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

I'm a teacher and next week is just meetings, no student contact.  I was thinking I could use that as a stepping stone to dipping my feet in the water, that would mark my 5th week but you are absolutely right I feel like it may be too soon and I'm worried.  How can I be the productive star teacher they praised all last year (I worked the entire year with cancer) I feel like although they might be understanding I would be letting them down.  

 

I can handle the pain, but the fog and lack of sleep are doing a number on me.  I will call the dr today to discuss better pain management, thanks so much for the advice 

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I could not have possibly given any better advice!

Your body has been assaulted in a horrific way! Your entire collection of organs has been jostled, rearranged, turned upside down, abused and misused.  It takes time to recover!  If you don't give it the time it needs, it will bite you back with aches, pains, discomfort, brain fog, and much, much more.

I was not allowed back to work for 6 weeks, and that was strictly light duty!  I have only recvently been allowed full duty, with lots of time for naps as needed.

The only thing worse than delaying a return to work would be to go back too early and get fired for not keeping up.

Hang in there! It will get better, but it will get better faster if you cooperate with your body.

Michael

 

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Im under contract so I'm not worried about losing my job due to illness plus I belong to the union.  I am however worried about not being the best me for my students.  I think I might go in and see my boss today.  I think I might need a few more weeks.  I can't see myself functioning properly at this point. Thank you for the advice

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

I too teach under contract.  My supervisors were most understanding.  While under light duty I made brief appearances to establish my presence with my students and for them to get a glimmer of who I am and what they could expect.   It helped when I finally got back into the classroom under full load.

Are you in the public schools or post secondary?

Public school hours and agendas can be grueling. Its a little easier for those of us teaching in college or university.  Thjere is usually a little more down time between classes to recuperate.

Good luck!

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

I'm my admin will be understanding, bomut I teach middle school and I'm concerned with not connecting with the kids if I take time off. i had an ilcoworker in my position and she never really was able to connect after being out so long.  :( time will tell I'm going to listen to my body. 

Texas_wedge's picture
Texas_wedge
Posts: 2807
Joined: Nov 2011

I nailed my colours firmly to the mast at the top of this thread and it seems I was not alone in my reaction - we all think you should give yourself a bit more time.  

I thought Michael's comment was valuable - he dealt with the problem you foresee by making a limited contact and it worked out 

"I made brief appearances to establish my presence with my students and for them to get a glimmer of who I am and what they could expect."  

Maybe you could find a way to do something similar?  Anyway, I'm very glad you're going to cut yourself more slack, and good luck!

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Thank you, I agree his statement made a lot of sense.  

I am alive
Posts: 200
Joined: Jul 2012

Tiffany,

   Glad to hear you are going to cut yourself some slack and head back  to work a couple of weeks later. A couple of weeks can make all the difference in the world.

In reading about how poorly you've been sleeping I remembered that for a time post surgery I could only sleep comfortably on the living room sofa. Have you tried sleeping there? I don't know why it worked but sinking into the sofa cushions was definitey more comforting to my poor body than the bed. 

And finally, I learned that using pain meds properly was a good thing. With zero experience in surgery I began the post-op process proudly eschewing the pain pills as prescribed, as if I'd get an award for only taking 4 pills a days instead of the 6 recommended.  So what I got was a lot of break through pain, which only made it take longer for the next pain pill to take effect. Are you taking your meds as prescribed so that you prevent break though pain? I had never even heard of "break through"  pain before but now I have hard-won respect for the concept.

How lucky you are to be returning to the classroom. Those kids will keep you fully engaged in moving forward!

TillieSOK's picture
TillieSOK
Posts: 232
Joined: Jul 2013

My daughter, a RPT for mostly geriatric patients, said do NOT let the pain get ahead of you, because you will never catch it if it does, and you will feel like crap trying to fight whatever you are in pain from AND the pain....so take those meds AS prescribed and let your body rest.  I think a partial is more debilitating that a radical, because there is more left in there that has to heal.  We're all here for you.

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

I understand great advice the only problem is I have no meds and the dr says take Advil oTylenol that's it and neither work for me. So I suffer

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

All my docs told me I couldn't take anything but tylenol any longer.  Maybe one of the wiser heads can weigh in on this! I was told Advil was too hard on the remaining kidney.

I use athritis strength Tylenol  Frown  It's not great,but it does offer a little relief.

 

NanoSecond's picture
NanoSecond
Posts: 475
Joined: Oct 2012

Advil (Ibuprofen) is not recommended because it is metabolized by the kidney whereas Tylenol (Acetaminophen or Paracetamol) is metabolized by the liver.

However, Ibuprofen is the more powerful and effective drug for pain and inflammation.  It is likely OK to use it occasionally but never exceed its recommended dosage.  Of course you should discuss its use with your doctors.

No alcohol should be consumed when using either one of these drugs.

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

I haven't had the nerve to have a summer drunk bc of all the meds.  I'm not a drinker but I cook with alcohol and became ill after dinner last week. Lesson learned. I'm not sure but. I re read my nurses email she says Tylenootter Advil, but maybe the fact that I had a partial makes it ok...idk

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Yes I know they don't get a long with the kidneys but its all that works for me, my nurse says ibuprofen is ok

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Yes I know they don't get a long with the kidneys but its all that works for me, my nurse says ibuprofen is ok

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Funny you recommend the couch it was my saving grace when I returned home, now I can't even get comfortable on there.  It really sucks.  As for work I'm going to take my time but part of me welcomes the distraction but fears the all that cancer sympathy stares.  

FiatDriver
Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2013

I am sorry to hear that you are having difficulty sleeping.  I experienced something similar.  It took me about 2 weeks to sleep pain free in my bed.  I slept sitting up in the recliner in my living room which is very unusual for me but it worked then I gradually started sleeping in my bed.  At first I sat up in bed propped up on pillows and eventually made my way down to sleeping like I normally sleep.

I also want to mirror what others are saying.  You should stay home and take it easy as long as you need.  You need to make yourself strong for next year's students.  

 

 

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

In the hospital I slept more in the chair then at home I slept on the couch. The funny thing is after being up for 24 hours, I ended up falling asleep I sitting straight up in the recliner.  Maybe ill try that tonight.  Right now I'm laying on my stomach and it kills!

FiatDriver
Posts: 11
Joined: Jul 2013

I was exactly the same way.  There was something about the way I was stretched out that made it too painful to sleep laying down in any position.  I never sleep sitting up but I had no problem doing it after surgery.  Maybe it was the pain meds. 

It didn't take too long to return to normal so hang in there.  For about a week after surgery, I felt so bad that I didn't think I would sleep comfortably again and then it took a couple more weeks before I was back to normal.

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

A month almost and I still can't sleep through the night. It sucks.  Couch for me to it I'm desperate 

icemantoo's picture
icemantoo
Posts: 1376
Joined: Jan 2010

Tiff,

There is a big difference between  3 weeks after surgery and 6 weeks after surgery. You will feel much better in 3 weeks. Unless you have compictions you should fell wee enough to go back to work at 6 weeks. The only problem the first few weeksback to work is that you may be a little fatiged before the 8 hours are up each day. You deserve a little vacation. Going thru our little initiation is not the Summer Vacation a teacher needs.

 

Icemantoo

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

Agreed I need a vacation away from all the cancer healing. I need a few more weeks bc I know I'm useless right now.  I'm a star teacher and want to remain so

Dawndedoe
Posts: 6
Joined: Aug 2013

Hi there, 

 

I had a laparoscopic radical nephrectomy on May 16th.  It took me a good 4-5 weeks of sleeping on the couch with a mattress wedge.  That was the most comfortable I could get.  I was not allowed to go back to work for 6-8 weeks.  I did return after 7 weeks but only part-time for the first week and then as I felt fine I returned full-time at 8 weeks.  Here is the thing, my job is not labour intensive and I sit at a desk in front a computer all day long.  

You are looking after and working with kids all day long.  I do have 4 kids and my surgeon had requested that someone else look after them for 5 weeks post-op.  I did have my mother looking after them. 

I would advise to take more time, especially if you are a teacher.  Your days are going to be tough at first even if you feel fine now.  

Dawn McKay

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

hi dawn thanks for the advice.  I keep telling my mom I wish I had something to wedge under me so I don't move. I teach middle school so the kids are a bit more responsible and less needy but I hear ya even with permission to stay at my desk it will be hard.  So I'm taking my time on the return will go speak to my boss tomorrow.  

MDCinSC's picture
MDCinSC
Posts: 574
Joined: Feb 2013

Think in terms of you being a teacher's aide, if you will, for a couple weeks til you're a little stronger!  Hopefully your sub you'll be "aiding" will be sure to defer to you as the permanent teacher!  It will likely help that person too, if you establish a presence. You know how kids love to make a substitute squirm! Laughing

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

My principal was not in today but I was going to ask her for an aide to take on the bulk of the work Thor the first month or so To help me out, I guess I'll try tomorrow

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

My principal was not in today but I was going to ask her for an aide to take on the bulk of the work Thor the first month or so To help me out, I guess I'll try tomorrow

Phoenix Rising's picture
Phoenix Rising
Posts: 147
Joined: Jul 2012

Hi! 

I had a midline incision for my radical nephrectomy and it starts at the middle of my chest and goes straight down to a region we shan't discuss. I was off from work 6 weeks before the surgery and 8 weeks afterward. After surgery I could not sleep on my back or else I would feel like I was gasping for air; and if I rolled on my stomach the pain was excrutiating. Like several others I slept in a recliner.  I used one of the cushy neck-rings they sell in airports as my pillow, and a body pillow between me and one arm of the chair, to help keep me upright. Boy, that was some good sleep! The second day I slept in that position, I got a full 8 hours. 

 

Don't rush to get back to work. It's okay to be broken and in need of fixing. 

T1ffanyz's picture
T1ffanyz
Posts: 41
Joined: Aug 2013

so glad so many convinced me I was better off sleeping upright.  It works.  I tend to hate being downstairs alone so I've spent a few nights on my moms recliner when she's not using it, the nights I'm up in pain I sleep in it during the day too bad work will soon interrupt my naps! I am taking it easy heading back to work, I visited today and walked across the courtyard and nearly passed out! It's too soon to trek across campus!

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