Monday, January 29, 2007

Survivor’s Guide to VNS: Part 7 – Recovery

Recovering from the surgery depends on your overall health and age. Younger people heal a bit faster than older. People in poor health heal slower than those with good health. And of course, if there are complications with the surgery, that can increase the healing time as well.

Remember that Out-Patient surgery does not mean you are going to be feeling fine the next day. Your need to rest and take it easy. Four a few days you won’t want to turn your head to far – it feels like the wire-lead will be pulling on your neck… which it is, you just won’t be used to the feeling for a little while. Also, the area where the incisions are will be sore.

I had my surgery on a Thursday and planned to take five days to recover before going back to work. By the fifth day, I was feeling ok and thought I would be fine to work, but on day 6, I was feeling week again and decided to stay home. So on Wednesday I went to work. I managed to get through the day, but was exhausted. Although I had been able to get around and do just about everything, I had not been up and about for 11 hours straight… so by the end of the work day I was feeling not so good. I took the next day off and went back on Friday. I made it through O.K., but was still quite tired by the end of the day.

If I had to do it over again, I would leave at least 8 days to recover before going back to work full time. Although the cuts are small, they cut a lot of stuff under the skin and it takes a lot out of your body to heal.

Here are few questions I have seen on the VNS Message Board and elsewhere:

I’m having my VNS surgery on Friday. Will I be able to lead my Bible study class on Sunday?
No! Stay home on Sunday. Say a prayer the night before requesting a speedy recovery with no complications and sleep in on Sunday. Really, you won’t feel like talking for extended periods of time right after your surgery. Nor will you be feeling like going anywhere…especially with those stitches in your neck.

I’m having my VNS surgery on Friday. Will I be able to sing in the church choir on Sunday?
No. Stay home. You need your rest. As for the singing, get in as much as you can before your surgery and before they turn on the VNS. You aren’t going to be singing in the choir for much longer. Once your device is turned on, whenever it activates, your voice is going to be scratchy and you wont be able to sing, much less talk without “breaking up”. If singing is a major part of your life, you probably want to reconsider getting the VNS.

Can I go swimming the week after surgery.
No. You got to keep your incision site dry. The stitches will act like a wick and draw bacteria into the wound. Wait until the wound is healed and stitches are removed.

When can I start shaving my face again?
You can shave all around your face, just don’t get the incision site wet. Also, shaving on the left side of your neck is going to pull against the stitches and hurt for a few days.

How can I avoid having a scar on my chest and neck?
Some people recommend rubbing Vitamin E oil on the incision site – after the stitches or steri-strips have been removed. You can also get some anti-scaring stuff from your drug store as well. It is pretty expensive, but I have seen a few people that have used it and their scars are much less visible than mine… I didn’t use vitamin E or the anti-scaring stuff.


Anonymous said...

You can get a jar of the Vitamin E goo at Sam's Club. It's this yellow stuff, and one jar lasts a lifetime. All you need it to make the tip of your finger slightly wet, and you can cover the neck and chest scars.

Emeriol said...

Thanks for the tip! I'll update the post!