I’m coming up quickly on one month of no smoking and, honestly, while I can appreciate the difference it’ll make in my health, man, there are just those times when a smoke fits the bill! Dealing with the Nicoderm 21mg patch has been… interesting. Vivid dreams and moments when I don’t have to look at the clock to know it’s time to change it. My Quit Coach tells me that my success so far has been all me – the patch just takes the edge off the withdrawal symptoms and, yes, they are a royal bitch and a half… but there are times when I’m not sure which is worse – the withdrawal or the way my body is reacting to the patch, like some of the weirdest dreams I’ve ever had.
I confirmed today that I will be undergoing surgery to repair the aneurysm in my belly; folks, this was never an “if” situation – it was a when and when the woman asked me when I wanted to have it done, telling her “The sooner, the better!” was stupidly easy. Leaving this thing alone and hoping it won’t go pop just wasn’t an option. Of course, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t have one of those weird, funny moments with a doctor…
So, last Friday, I met with the doctor who will be doing the surgery and we’re talking about this and that but I’m getting the weirdest impression that he’s thinking I’m not going to have the surgery… even though I make it clear to him that I understand what not having it done means. So, it was really a matter of picking the procedure that scares me the least: I opted for the less-invasive endograft… and I even had to mention three times to the man that this is the option I chose since I had to make the decision right then and there.
Or, really, it was a matter of me telling him what I had already decided before I saw him last Friday. I’ve had plenty of time to think about this and, trust me, it hasn’t been fun for me – this is some frightening surgery we’re talking about. The choices were the endograft, when they thread graft material through my femoral artery and then “unfurl” it, molding it to the shape of the aneurysm and, thus, giving it greater strength and fixing the problem.
To me, this isn’t any more dangerous than the cardiac catheterization I went through several years ago… only this time, I hope I don’t wake up while they’re in the middle of doing it. I’ll have to have the endograft checked periodically to see if any adjustment is needed but, okay, that works for me. The procedure, I’m told, will take about two and a half hours and I’ll spend the night in the joint and be on my way home the next day – if everything goes well.
And I firmly believe that it will; I put it all in God’s hands and I’m just not gonna worry myself sick about it at this point but, yeah, I do worry about it.
The other option is where they go into the abdomen, cut out the aneurysm, and replace it with graft material – Dacryon seems to be the best material to use for this. Now, the good doctor was kind enough to run through the endograft procedure with me… but wasn’t all that keen to tell me about how they do the graft – but that’s okay, I know this already and, well, knowing that they’d have to stop my heart and bypass it in order to cut out the aneurysm just scares the shit out of me. There’s the risk of blood loss – rapid or otherwise; the risk of infection, the sutures could leak, blood clots could form and wreak all kinds of havoc, necessitating a much longer stay in the hospital.
Both procedures have 98% success and recovery rates so this works for me, too although, like I said, doing nothing just isn’t an option. It’s given me a lot to think about leading up to both my Friday meeting with the doctor and my picking the day for the surgery and I kinda wish I could go ahead and get this done before the day they’re gonna do it – because I’ve got a little over a week to think some more about this time-bomb in my belly and not thinking about it is really hard to do when you’re going through nicotine withdrawal and dealing with the patch.
Again, those two things make me feel pretty weird and feeling my body adjusting to not smoking is even weirder. A bit of time after changing my patch, Jeez, I feel like shit and it’s not an easy sensation to describe except it makes me go lie down or, at the least, go sit in the comfy chair and put my feet up. But maybe an hour after I’ve had it on, I start to feel better and given the alternatives, making myself endure this really sucks. Two hours later and it’s like, whew, man, am I glad that’s over with!
I am breathing better; when the nurse took my BP and pulse Friday, it made me and my baby blink. My BP was 100/80 and my pulse was 60 and I can’t honestly remember my pulse ever being that low as an adult and, yeah, it does make me feel pretty weird. My nerve pain, well, what can I say about it other than it pitches a bitch regardless and dealing with it and the withdrawal symptoms hasn’t been easy. My Quit Coach also said that one of the keys to quitting is to avoid stress… like this pain is gonna let me do that? When you tack on withdrawing, the crappy stuff the patch seems to add and, oh, yeah, there’s still that thing hanging out in my belly, hey, what’s there to be stressed about?
I think the coach was taken aback when she asked me what could be done about eliminating my pain… and I told her there was nothing that could be done; she was quiet for almost a minute because I’m sure their scripts don’t cover this peculiar situation. Then again, people who don’t suffer through chronic, incurable pain don’t quite get it – but I didn’t hold it against her. It’s been a bit of a struggle because I’m supposed to avoid stress… while I’m being stressed with the rigors of quitting.
But I’m officially quit as of 2/7/12 – I had stopped before this date but for the quit program, I had to pick a quitting date… and the 7th was picked purely at random. Again, I give big time props to my baby, who has been quitting right along with me – having a partner go through this with you does make quitting easier.