No Pain, No Gain

Post Surgery1
Rachel with her surgeon John Dormans after the big operation

 I’m not a complainer, but last night after my surgery, I was in a lot of pain. Around 2 a.m, I started having terrible muscle spasms in my right thigh, where my femur was cut out. Even though I was getting intravenous morphine through a pump, the pain was a 7 on a scale of 1 to 10. I can push a little button on the pump if I need extra morphine. I was pushing that button a lot last night. Eventually, they started giving me Valium every six hours on top of the morphine.

Now it’s about 2 p.m. and the pain is down to a 2. That’s not too bad. (The worst pain I ever had in my life was in my knee before the doctors figured out that Ewing’s sarcoma was causing it. On a scale of 10, that pain was a 20!)

You can probably guess that I’m not in the mood to write for the blog, so this post is based on what I told my dad, Kurt, and the Inquirer reporter, Marie McCullough. They did the actual writing.

Yesterday was a really long, hard day. I had to get to CHOP at 6:00 in the morning.  I was comfy in my bed in the hotel (we stayed in a really nice hotel) and didn’t want to get up at 5:00 a.m.  I was really scared and just wanted to go home.  In the pre-op area, Dr. Kraemer, the anesthesiologist, came to see me and explained how the anesthesia would work. I told him I didn’t want him to put the mask on my face because I get really claustrophobic and start to hyperventilate. I asked if he could give me the anesthesia through the port in my shoulder since it was already open.  He said OK.  He saw that I was nervous and asked me what was wrong.  I told him I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up. It’s not that I didn’t trust the doctors or thought I would actually die, but this is my first major surgery and I couldn’t stop thinking that something might go wrong. He smiled and told me that I would wake up a few hours after my surgery was over, and not before.  I also asked him to give me what I call my “giggle juice” -- a mix of Benedril and Tylenol – through my port instead of by mouth because it tastes so bad. How bad? Like barf. He said OK to that, too.

I remember my parents kissing me on my head and then getting rolled off to the operating room.  I don’t remember much after that.  When I woke up, Dr. Kraemer asked me how long it felt like I was asleep.  I told him about ten minutes.  He told me my surgery was about eight hours long!

I was soooo groggy and thirsty after I woke up. The nurses gave me some ice chips to crunch on.  That helped a little, but I wanted a giant glass of water. But then I started having nausea from all the drugs in me.  I vomited twice. When my stomach calmed down, the nurse gave me a cherry ice pop. Mmmmm. It tasted so good.

My parents came into the recovery room and I was really happy to see them. I got a lot of kisses on my head.  They said the surgeon, Dr. Dormans, told them he replaced the top two-thirds of my right femur with a cobalt-chrome prosthesis that weighs about five pounds. He said I didn’t have any problems during the operation and there were no surprises.  He came to check up on me last night, but I can’t remember much about it.

This morning some of my friends from Mother Theresa Regional School came to visit. It was nice to see them, but I was too tired to enjoy it. I just wanted to take a nap.

That’s what I’m going to do right now.

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