Thursday, July 22, 2021

Post Op

Hi friends!  I thought I'd swing by to say hello!  I'm actually spending today hanging out on the couch and taking it easy.  I don't think I've said anything about it on here, but I actually had a minor surgery yesterday.  So today... I'm in rest and recovery mode!

Please don't fret!  I'm a little sore but I'm doing fine.  I've had two sebaceous cysts on my head that were really starting to bother me when I lay down, so it was time for us to part ways!  The one in the back center of my head has only been there a few years, but I've had the cyst behind my right ear since Eliot and I lived outside of Boston... which means that one has been around for 10+ years.

Back on July 1st, I had my consultation with the surgeon.  Eliot went with me so we could both know what the plan going forward would be.  My doctor took a look at both of them and said the procedure wouldn't be a difficult one.  He also said that most people leave these types of cysts alone unless the cyst starts to bother them.  In my case, the one behind my right ear has been slowly growing.  The past two years, it's gotten bigger faster and it's become very uncomfortable when I'm sleeping on it.  The other one in the back of my head is right under where my hair bun and ponytail sits.  I don't usually notice that it's even there, except when I lay on my back in bed.

I've been both nervous and excited to finally have them gone.  In the days leading up to my surgery, the one behind my ear was getting really uncomfortable.  I knew that I made the right decision, but I was still anxious to have it done.  I was scared about the surgery itself, but also worried about how much hair he would have to shave off.

Yesterday, the appointment wasn't until 3:00 pm so the morning dragged by.  After what felt like forever, it was time to get ready.  I took a shower, washed my hair, combed it out really well and drove into Biddeford.  Eliot met me in the parking lot and we headed in.  He sat with me in the waiting room until it was time for me to go inside.  

At this point, I was ready but pretty nervous.  Thankfully, everything went well.  The nurses were really nice and set me at ease.  After doing the check-in procedure, I handed the assistant the tub of hair clips and hair ties that I brought with me.  (The nurse who set up my appointment had told Eliot and I that it would be helpful for me to bring small hair clips to keep the rest of my hair out of the way.  She assured me that this would make it easier for the surgeon and that I'd lose less hair.)  The assistant chuckled and set them next to the rest of the surgery supplies.

She left to get my doctor and I sat there waiting for a bit.  It gave me a few minutes to sit there and mentally prepare myself.  Then, my doctor arrived and it was time to go!

While he got ready, we were working out how I was going to be positioned.  They had the chair set up for me to lay down, but the location of both the cysts weren't ideal for that.  I'd have to be on my side for one, and on my tummy for the other one.  Neither really appealed to me, so I was really excited when he asked if I'd be ok sitting upright for it.  I was at the exact right height for him to do the procedure standing behind me with me sitting there.  I joked with him that I was relieved because I was afraid that I'd strangle myself in my face mask.  Then, they told me it was ok to take the mask off completely.  (The ear loop was kind of in the way for the second cyst anyways.)

Photo Source

My surgeon got "scrubbed up" in his gloves and apron.  While he did that, his assistant got my hair clips ready.  That ended up being the thing that really set me at ease.  We were all laughing our heads off.  My doctor had never seen butterfly clips before so his assistant showed him how to use them.  I helped them find the cysts and together we separated my hair.  I put the entire left side in a loose bun while they sectioned off the rest of it to get to the cysts.  Then, they used the clips to pull my hair out of the way.

My doctor loved the clips.  I told him about how the other nurse had told me to bring them so I bought $10 worth of clips at Walmart to make sure that I had plenty.  He joked that I should bill his office for them, because he thought they were genius.  He told me that I was a great patient and his assistant said that I was the patient of the day.  He joked that I was the patient of the year.  I giggled, but I was pleased that it made it easier for them.  I know how crazy my thick, curly hair can be so I was happy that it worked!  It was definitely well worth the $10 I spent on them! 

The moment I'd been anticipating (and also dreading) had finally arrived and it was time to dive into the procedure!  He told me that he'd still have to shave a little bit and I said that was fine.  I had visions of having a visible bald patch behind my ear, but I had made my peace with it.  I figured that I have plenty of headbands to wear over it.  

After he was done shaving both areas to clear the hair away for the incisions, we got started.  He gave me the shots of local anesthetic after reminding me that it would hurt and burn for a few seconds after each shot.  I felt four sharp pinches around each of the cysts.  It did burn, but not like a hurt burn.  Instead, it was a fiery hot burning and I could feel it spreading.  I'm so glad that I took my face mask off, because I probably would have overheated.  As soon as he injected each shot of the anesthetic, I felt like my temperature immediately increased by 10°.  My glasses completely fogged up and I was really warm.  I could feel myself heating up and sweating.

Thankfully, all of that subsided a few minutes later.  He let me know when he was starting and I could feel it, but nothing hurt.  It was like having a dental filling... you can feel the pressure but there's no pain with it.  He did the one at the back of my head first.  His assistant helped him bottle up and label the cysts.  She also kept track of the times and other details that needed to be logged during the procedure.  A few minutes later, he was getting ready to start the second one.  I asked him if I could stretch for a second and I adjusted myself on the chair.  Then, he removed the cyst behind my ear.  

Photo Source

Before I knew it, the procedure was over!  My doctor cleaned me up and got out of his surgery PPA.  While he did that, his assistant went over all of my post op details.  (The bigggest thing is that I can't submerge my head for 3 weeks.)  He told me that the stitches will fall out on their own in a few weeks.  (This was also the first time I've ever had stitches!)  I don't have to go back for a check up, but if anything feels or looks concerning to us, he wants me to come in to have it checked over.

Then, he recapped the procedure and told me how both of my cysts came out really easily.  Neither one of them looked concerning to him but they send them in for a biopsy as a standard procedure anyways.  He said that it would take a week or so to get the biopsy results.  The results will be on my chart online, and they will call me if there's any problems I need to be aware of.  I thanked him before he left the room. 

After, his assistant cleaned me up a bit more.  She added a bit of a special ointment to both of my cysts before taking out the hair clips.  I asked her if I could put my hair back up and she said it was fine.  I carefully pulled it back into a loose bun.  Then, she gave me my post op paperwork and my container of hair clips.  I put my face mask back on and she walked me out to the check out desk and reception area.

I was so relieved to see Eliot sitting in the waiting room.  I asked him if he could see where they did it and he said couldn't find it.  (I couldn't see anything until I got home to our large mirror.)  That gave me more relief.  He would have seen a giant bald spot.

We made our way to the parking lot and our cars.  Eliot hopped into the truck with me and texted his family while I called my parents.  Mom had been expecting my call and I talked for 10-15 minutes while I recounted what they did and what they told me.  I could hear it in her voice that she was relieved it was over.  They had told me the procedure would take 45 minutes and we were in the car at 3:48 so it was spot on.

After letting everyone know that the procedure went well and that I was ok, Eliot and I drove over to Applebee's to pick up food.  We returned home and ate it while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie on our DVR.  I was enjoying the movie, but exhaustion was setting in quickly.  We made it about halfway through it before I was crashing.

Eliot and I decided to go take a nap.  On my way upstairs, I stopped in the bathroom to see myself in the mirror.  Try as I might, I couldn't even see a little bit of where he shaved.  I didn't dig through my hair, but I couldn't see any hint of a shaved spot with my hair pulled back.  I silently thanked myself for taking the time to buy the clips, and to thank the nurse who suggested them.  I'm laid back about my appearance and I had accepted that I might have small spots, but I have to admit that I was still relieved.

Before getting into bed, I had Eliot check my head.  Due to their locations, I can't see the stitches, so he's going to have to keep an eye on them to make sure they don't get infected.  I had him take pictures of them just so we had something to go off.  Plus, that was the only way that I was able to get an idea of what they looked like.  Then, we took a nap for about an hour and a half.  Unfortunately, I didn't sleep well.  

Laying on the incisions is very uncomfortable and painful right now.  I keep telling myself that it will be worth it in the end, but the next week might be a little rough.  When I'm not in bed, they're a little uncomfortable and painful but it's not as noticeable.  I can't feel the one at the back of my head unless I accidentally touch it.  It's mostly the one by my ear that I notice.  Every time I turn my head or lean over it pulls at the area.

During my nap, I had a hard time sleeping because I was acutely aware of my head.  I didn't fall into a deep sleep.  Last night, I got restful sleep but I woke up this morning with the right side of my head, behind my ear, throbbing.  It's a lot better now that I'm out of bed, but it's still pretty sore.  Hopefully that will go away in a few days.

But it's the itching that's really driving me insane.  The incision areas both itch here and there... and I obviously can't scratch them.  I keep lightly tapping the hair over them and that helps, but it's still annoying.  A few times, I've caught myself starting to reach to scratch them forgetting that I can't touch them.  I can take a shower after 24 hours, so I'm hoping that gently washing the areas later this evening will help!

Despite the pain and discomfort that I'm in today, I'm glad to have this done and over with.   Hopefully both cysts won't return and this is the last I've seen of them!  I just need to wait for the biopsy results... which will hopefully come back clear.  Then, this is another thing I can check off of my to do list!  I'm ready to heal and move forward!  °o°

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