I was particularly aware, as I woke up this morning, that my face and neck feel quite puffy. My eyes feel all crowded in by swollen eye lids. I feel like I've gained 10 pounds around my middle too.
This swelling has been developing since my operation three days ago. I thought it was my imagination until I looked in the mirror and saw a big round moon face looking back at me.
Why, oh why, am I puffed up like a balloon after my operation?
Thank goodness for the internet. While it can on occasion lead us down dark alleyways, often it can take us straight into the light...
It seems evolution provided a way for injured animals to lay up for a few days to recover from traumatic injuries. With an injury hormones are released which amend how many of the body's organs and systems work to facilitate survival.
So the post-operative swelling away from the surgery site is fluid retention - a deliberate strategy on the part of my body to conserve water - and the fluid will be released in a few days as my recovery progresses.
The stress response to trauma and surgery
J. P. Desborough; The stress response to trauma and surgery, BJA: British Journal of Anaesthesia, Volume 85, Issue 1, 1 July 2000, Pages 109–117, https://doi.org/10.1093/bja/85.1.109
"The stress response is the name given to the hormonal and metabolic changes which follow injury or trauma. This is part of the systemic reaction to injury which encompasses a wide range of endocrinological, immunological and haematological effects."
"Although it seems that the stress response developed to allow injured animals to survive by catabolizing their own stored body fuels, it has been argued that the response is unnecessary in current surgical practice. "
"The overall metabolic effect of the hormonal changes is increased catabolism which mobilizes substrates to provide energy sources, and a mechanism to retain salt and water and maintain fluid volume and cardiovascular homeostasis."
"Arginine vasopressin, which is released from the posterior pituitary, promotes water retention and the production of concentrated urine by direct action on the kidney. Increased vasopressin secretion may continue for 3–5 days, depending on the severity of the surgical injury and the development of complications."