Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Coming unglued

A week after my endarterectomy (the unclogging of a carotid by making an incision in the right side of my neck and stripping the plaque), the adhesive on my incision is getting a little tattered. I was warned not to tear it loose, though, so shreds of the glue flap around my throat like a tattered sail.
Selfie of an incision

I'm hesitant to scrub it, and am just thankful it doesn't itch awfully while it heals. I'm also advised not to lift over 10 pounds, or not do heavy work, for two weeks. With that restriction, I'm clearing up my internet blogs, and investigating others I might start.
The operation was done at the VA in Minneapolis after they informed me the 70% clogged artery on that side had become unstable. Apparently blood had seeped through the artery wall, underneath the plaque. If it had just been a clog, I would have tried to exercise some self restraint as to diet and exercise. You know, cut back on animal products and start working out 30 minutes a day. (Notice I said "tried".) The instability decided me in favor of surgery, since if I hadn't had it done, the danger of stroke would have doubled every year: in five years, it would have stood at 11%.
I showed up at 5:30, and was under the surgeon's knife by 7:30, then awake by 11 or so. There wasn't much pain involved afterwards, just a general lassitude. The tired feeling continues, more than a week later. I don't know how long the anesthetic will hang on, but apparently it can stay in the system for some time.
I may still have to get the left side cleared up, but that's in the future. For now, I'm grateful that the ordeal is over.
One tip: if you're in the hospital for any problem where you're semi- or wholly-immobilized, ask the nurse if  they have a leg compression system. This pushes compressed air up your legs from foot to knee to prevent an embolism (blood clot) from forming. In my case, my legs felt really cold, then began to shake and ache. Within five minutes of having the boot applied, the warmth returned and the ache was gone.