• Jan Baker

Recovery... the 5 W's!

Updated: Apr 18, 2021

You may not have heard as I don't tend to shout loudly about these things, but this week I had an operation. Routine by hospital standards, terrifying by mine. Firstly, there's COVID-19. Who wants to go into a hospital treating COVID-19 patients for an operation where they have to monitor your breathing? Then there's the fact you have to do it by yourself. No visitors. So you put yourself entirely at the mercy of strangers. Don't know about you, but that's enough to make anyone anxious before you begin. I have never been so relieved to use the essential oil "relax" rollerball I designed containing Lavender & Mandarin. It certainly got me through a few anxious days leading up to the dreaded day, as it definitely settled the dull muscular ache in my chest that I get from time to time when my stress levels are higher than they should be. I can certainly recommend it from personal use if you are feeling at all anxious about anything at all!

When? - It started with a bump. A car crash actually - 2 years ago this month. I was a passenger. A lady pulled out in front of our car to turn right at a junction, didn't see us and we hit her head on at 40mph - the speed limit for that road. Couldn't avoid her. A head-on collision - Bang indeed! It's taken two years because of COVID-19 but finally, on the 9th February, I went in to have my operation to stop the pain in my upper abdomen that I'd been suffering with ever since. (Ours was the red Mazda - I loved that car.. was really, really miffed to lose it; however, we were lucky, the car did its job, airbags & seatbelts saved us & we walked away from what could have been a very different outcome - reasons to be cheerful part 3!)

Where? Switchgear. For the accident at any rate. Neville Hall for the operation. I'd already had one set of pre-op swabs and bloods taken at Ystrad Fawr and was ready to go. Then the pandemic struck so the operation was delayed. Turns out by almost exactly a year. I did have a bit of a giggle though. When we were driving around looking for the entrance to Abergavenny Ward, I noticed there were signs for the mortuary right next to the day surgery unit. Seriously, it's the unmarked blue box on this map - between pathology and pharmacy. Not exactly the most reassuring place to put it and probably why they don't label it! It did really amuse me though at the time! And having to enter the ward through the maternity entrance also made me giggle even more - I am supposed to coming home with less of me, not more!!

Taking my final transfusion bloods turned out to be a bit of an ordeal in the end. Pre-op bloods were fine. Everything behaved as it should. That last time, though, the nurse stabbed me in the right arm to begin with. No blood. She then proceeded to fish around a bit with the end of the needle - prod, poke, ouch - and I thought, I'm going to have an almighty bruise there tomorrow. My blood must be like the Queen - just doesn't turn up for anyone... So she ended up stabbing me in the left arm as well, found a vein and then typically, couldn't stop it bleeding. I came home with two huge wads of cotton wool taped to each arm. I said to the nurse as she was taping me up, "Ummm...I though my operation was supposed to be Tuesday!" Thankfully, I keep Calendula oil at home and I rubbed it on my needle marks to help them heal. And I must say, it did stop the bruising in its tracks. Marvellous stuff Calendula oil. Comes from Marigolds - seriously, look it up, it's amazing!

Why? - I am over 40, have had children, have lost weight and am female. That makes me a great candidate for gallstones, as I tick near enough every box for this condition. I am assured that the gallstones were there before my accident but when I went for a scan, they also discovered a couple of cysts. I've been in pain in my upper abdomen ever since the car accident and, as gallstones can cause real complications later down the line, I was advised to have my gallbladder removed. Now Rosemary, Marjoram and Chamomile are great for helping with gallbladder pain & I have relied on these essential oils for nearly two years to keep me mobile and working. I'm currently using them as a "pain blend" post-op as I recover. They are also great for headaches - so when I started developing one yesterday, it was the first thing I reached for. As a combination for pain, they are absolute liquid gold. Honestly! You need to be careful with these oils though if you have any medical conditions so please do ask first before trying them at home on your own! And do you like the sexy DVT socks they issue?

Valentine's Day lead up was quite busy but any work this week has been balanced with plenty of rest too. Obviously I will have to be careful of my stitches for a few weeks. This is why I braved my op during lockdown, while clinic is closed. It gives me time to heal without letting my clients down. The shop is open as usual but it will be a few weeks yet until I'm fully back on my feet. The ward I was on is COVID-swabbed weekly. We were all masked at all times and when I went into theatre, the staff were dressed up in Beekeeping Hazmat suits, ensuring the safety of everyone, which was reassuring.

Who? - The team at the hospital couldn't have been lovelier. They put up with my nervous chatter and I had about 8 specialists walk through the door to speak to me about my op before I walked down to theatre. I have a horror of anaesthetic. Memories of 30-years ago, counting down and the absolute "bang" of shut down as the anaesthetic took hold. This time is was much gentler. I lay on the bed, had a clear mask, inhaled a few times, they gave me some "happy" juice and that was the last thing I remember before waking up.

I was happily discharged the same day. First on the list means more time for recovery afterwards. The man who came after me wasn't quite so lucky. So lots to be grateful for. The family have also been brilliant. They've ensured that my grandson hasn't climbed all over me this week and I've pretty much been left to recover in my own time. Lots of sleep - the post-recovery oils are also sedative in nature - and careful rest.

What? - A week on I can say I'm feeling a lot better. I am mobile and getting up more frequently. My tummy has settled - being pumped full of carbon dioxide gas isn't funny as it gives you horrendous wind pain for a few days. I have been so grateful for my peppermint tea this week! Oh and never underestimate the relief at being able to finally go to poo without splitting your stitches! Seriously! The most underrated function ever! Getting comfortable at night is a little difficult but my oils mean that I now only take painkillers when absolutely necessary. I've had a bit of a strep throat - they use a tube to help you breathe with a general anaesthetic - but a combination of Eucalyptus, Peppermint & Juniper has seen that off. I am still treating my hands with Calendula oil after my cannulas, as there was some bruising. I went to sleep with one and woke up with two - go figure!

Now it's just a matter of time. I am hopeful that everything will settle nicely and that as the days pass, I'll be able to get more and more back to normal. The family are taking care of order deliveries for the time being as I'm not yet allowed to drive. My tummy is already feeling less tender as it recovers, and I have some wonderful rosehip oil, together with a scar oil I made up of Geranium, Lavender & Frankincense to use once the waterproof glue has disappeared from my incision points. I have three scars - one under my bust and two on the right hand side of my tummy. The fourth was made inside my belly button, so no scar will show here. I'm glad they were careful though, because, as I told my children when they were growing up, if you unscrew your belly button too far, your bum falls off!

Jan x

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