Dec 6, 2008

Post-Surgery Commentary

I just came out of the hospital about a week ago, and shazaam, what an experience! Have you ever had a surgery before? I haven’t, which everyone at the hospital found “incredible for someone as old as you.” What does that mean? They thought Moses is my contemporary, which is so not true, but I did date his much younger brother, Shmoses. What a gentleman!

Anyway, about surgeries. My two sons, Joe my husband (remember, that’s a pseudonym – his real name is Hunky), and my parents have had surgeries, but the hospital experience that I remember the most was when Cindy Brady had her tonsils out. You watched The Brady Bunch, right? (If you’re too young, stop reading this now. You sicken me.) Cindy was scared of the hospital, but after the surgery, there she was, happy as a lark, sitting in her hospital bed eating ice cream with doting Mike and Carol watching over her. It was marvelous and genius writing! So that’s what I was expecting. [Side note to old people: Was it Cindy or Marsha with the tonsils? I can’t imagine it was Jan. She had that fake boyfriend and all those Marsha-envy issues. What a loser.]

So you see why my pre-surgery expectations were that when I woke up, my family, Mr. and Mrs. Brady, Alice, and Sam would be surrounding me and everything would be all happy again? Actually, that’s pretty much how it was, except that only my husband was there. The Brady family had another gig. The surgery went terrific and I felt fantastic for hours . . . until the anesthesia wore off. That’s when all hell broke loose. But let’s not get into ugly, graphic details. On the positive side, the hospital nurses were great. They were helpful and nice.

I also had a TV in my room. It was 5 inches wide and placed 12 feet from my face. Obviously a cruel hoax played by a young person with vision. I didn’t know if I was watching the Spanish channel or Geraldo Rivera on FOX News.

Another disappointment: I specifically requested a young male roommate, but woke to found there was a woman next to me. She was a loud talker. I’m a loud talker too, but not in churches, cemeteries, or hospitals. This woman (who I couldn’t see because of a thin curtain draped between us) AND her noisy visitors all sounded like they were talking through megaphones just beyond the curtain to annoy me. Their voices were garbled too, like when Charlie Brown’s teachers talk to him. When she finally said goodbye to her visitors, I tried to clap obnoxiously but only managed to pull out my IV and knock down the nurse-calling device, the only link between me and the outside world. I couldn’t get to it, so I knew I was screwed. When the visitors left, the darn woman decided to put the TV on really loudly. I wouldn’t have minded if she was elderly, but unless I see a hearing aide, I don’t want to hear it! Hey lady, don’t worry that I just came out of surgery. Of course I want to listen to you watching that annoying soap opera on that 24-hour SOAP channel. What’s it called? I can't remember the name.

Maybe it was the medication, but suddenly angry thoughts filled my head. When I packed for the hospital the night before, I had debated whether to take my harpoon tranquilizer gun that I use when saving wild animals in Africa. In retrospect, I realized I made the wrong decision. If I had brought my harpoon gun, I’d have used it for evil. No, I wouldn’t shoot the woman. I could never harm someone, but I’m sure that shooting the power button on the TV would deliver the right message without exchanging words. Words can leave lasting scars.

Anyway, if you know me, you know I pray all the time, so by 8:00 p.m., my prayers were answered and they released the talker. She went home with her talky husband to her surely barky dog, who she also talked about all evening long.

Then they brought me a really nice roommate who was sadly in a lot of pain too. I was tied to my IV and a catheter and she was bound to her bed too. We must be about the same age because we were similar in action. We kept hitting the nurse call button several times in a row, not knowing a single push was all that was needed. We both wanted the lights off and gasped in surprise every time the nurse switched them on at night. And we'd drop things from our beds every now and then, both knowing it would have to remain on the floor. Our only reaction to losing something off the bed was a slight sigh. We had an unspoken understanding that those items were lost to us forever. We didn't speak to each other. We were in too much pain. But now and then we'd let out a chuckle at our own misfortunes, and I know she and I both found comfort in understanding each other without speaking. She was really a highlight of my stay.

I was offered real food as time progressed. I was tired of broth. I don’t cook well, so I was looking forward to a well-cooked hospital meal. What I didn’t know was that I would be too nauseous to want to eat for the whole week. The smell of anything they brought from the cafeteria made me sick. I figured they couldn’t mess up oatmeal, but they must have hired a blind chef to mix it in the sugar. I tried half a teaspoonful, and felt like I was eating oated sugar-mush. It was horrible. I almost vomited, but thank God I didn’t because I had dropped the vomit catcher on the floor the night before.

Anyway, I’ve said enough about the hospital. It’s been a long week. Lots of downs and a few ups. I am ready to be normal again, but when things got bad yesterday, I spent the whole day in the hospital and learned that my larger fibroid had actually grown in size. It seems that it is a fighter and is reacting adversely to the docs trying to kill it. It was attacked in surgery, bruised, and therefore became swollen, massive, and very angry. When you are pregnant and have a large mass in your body, you fall in love with it. This large fibroid is different. I feel like I’m carrying Satan’s spawn (or Voldemort – for you younger people), and I’m hoping Harry Potter and Hermoine will come and save me from its evil. I know it’s too late to ask for Dumbledore’s help. He died in the fifth book. So right now, the fibroid is winning, which is why I am not doing well, but I feel confident that I will prevail by the time I write my next posting. Otherwise, if you start reading my blog next week and find out that the fibroid is writing, you’d better just shut down your computers and throw them out the windows. It’s really smart and diabolical. I’ll bet it knows how to write a computer virus.

I told the kids that the fibroid had grown and explained why, and then I heard my middle son talking on the phone to his friend. He said to another 14-year-old, “You know how I told you my mom has a fibroid? Well, she bruised it and it grew.” I laughed so hard to myself. What a cutie. I'll bet his 14-year-old friend doesn't even know what a fibroid is. And he probably thinks I fell and bruised it. My husband's reaction to this charming story was “Cute? He’s dumb as a rock!” I disagree. I’ve seen some pretty bright rocks, like Rock Hudson. And he was gorgeous. (Are you young people still reading this? You'd better google "Rock Hudson.")

Anyway, that’s almost it from here. Two final things. First, my entire church prayed for me at every mass last Saturday and Sunday, BUT by mistake they said my name was Rita. There’s probably a Rita out there who is just having the best week of her life, and she has no idea why. Darn Rita.

Second, I know my husband and kids probably won’t read my blog, but I have to say they have been fantastic. My husband has been so helpful and supportive, and only left my hospital room apologetically upon my insistence that he get some food. He’s the best. He and the kids have waited on me hand and foot all week. Thank you Joe. Thank you, boys. Thanks to all the great friends who cooked meals, sent things, checked on me, and called. Thanks to the kid who I'll call "Daniel" who called at 10:45 at night last night to ask if I could have a Indian New Year party for him. I really enjoyed our chat, Mr. Daniel!

Third (out of two), Mom, Dad, and Annabel, I can’t thank you enough for being so concerned too. You weren’t trying to get in my will, were you? If so, think again. Cash speaks a lot louder than your blah, blah, blah. Regardless, you are always there for me, and I am so grateful!

Fourth, thanks to Jill (another pseudonym), my friend who is not a doctor but has watched enough episodes of ER for me to trust her medical counsel whenever I have ailments. I had to call her quite often this week, including at 3:00 a.m., but she hung up on me, yelling, "Stop calling me, Jackie! I hate you." I'm sure she thought it was a prank call. Come to think of it, I'd better try calling her again right now. I'll call collect so she'll know it's me.

Anyway, as my husband said, everyone has been SO nice that he’s planning to schedule a surgery right around Christmas. We can’t wait! Thanks for reading. I’ll keep you “posted.”