Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Screw the photo essay, I'm going back to bitching about stuff and folks. PART ONE

Judging by the precipitous decline in readership following my attempt at photojournalism, I can only conclude that you do not come here for my mad photography skills and clever captioning. You don't have to tell me twice - I read you LOUD AND CLEAR. Which is why today and tomorrow I will not be posting a single photo. No, instead, I am going to be unloading some seriously repressed emotions regarding the division of responsibility in my household, and how this weekend, I felt as though perhaps it was just COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY OUT OF BALANCE. Now, to be fair, I am emotional, and my nerves are frayed, and I am experiencing a serious hangover from the general anesthesia that was administered Friday afternoon, so perhaps my judgement is skewed.

Turns out that having extensive -albeit laparascopic - abdominal surgery leaves me feeling a bit out of sorts. Go figure.

Let me back up and start from the beginning.

On Wednesday, we decided that my gallbladder needed to come out. Sooner rather than later, actually. Sooner was Friday. The general surgeon was on board as soon as I told him I was feeling worse by the hour. And then another surgeon (who had already been planning on taking a look in there in a few weeks) cleared her schedule to get in on the action. And then a third surgeon wanted to put his own stamp on things. So one two three - THREE surgeons scrubbed in for the Daffodil Campbell version of an afternoon delight. I should have brought party favors and cupcakes, or at the very least, my flask - but I was sort of distracted and to be honest I had trouble choosing a theme. Then Sam flat-out refused to stop and pick up a pinata on our way to the hospital. He is no fun at all.

Surgery wasn't scheduled until 2:15pm Friday. I received my instructions Thursday night: nothing at all to eat or drink after midnight.

Nothing. For 13 hours.

Anyone who knows me, knows that I do not go for 13 hours without food. Ever. Even at my sickest, I have always managed to choke down some yogurt or something in the morning, because my blood sugar gets all wonky. But Friday morning it was strictly NPO all day long. So I did what any normal mother would do before going to the hospital.
I did the laundry.
I changed the sheets on all the beds.
I made meat sauce from scratch.
I vacuumed our bedroom and cleaned the bathroom.
And then - with 30 minutes until check in time at the hospital - I took a shower, hopped in the car, and zipped down to town. Sam dropped me off right in front of admitting, and I kissed him goodbye and told him I would have them call afterwards. He went to get the kids from school, I went to get my stomach cut open.

My anesthesiologist looked like Anthony Bourdain, which I found strangely comforting. Two of my surgeons were there before I went under to talk to me and reassure me that they were present and accounted for, and lucid, which I also found comforting. There was rock music playing in the OR and they put a warm blanket on me and started the drugs. And then they went ahead and got to work. While Sami drove the kids home and gave them snacks and walked the dog, the team removed my gallbladder. And detached my intestine from my liver. And found some fallopian tube that was left behind during my hysterectomy, and missed again during follow up surgery. I had a total of 6 incisions - but since they were able to do everything laparoscopically, it means much faster recovery, and much smaller (almost non-existant) scars. 

I was scheduled to go home that night - laparoscopic surgery doesn't require a hospital overnight - but they couldn't get me to wake up. I can't say I did it on purpose, but I haven't had a good night sleep in three months, so you can't really blame me for riding that anesthesia as far as I could.

The problem was, I had somewhere to be that night.

I had a pre-existing work commitment, and it was something I was really looking forward to. This whole surgery thing was planned sort of last-minute, and coincidentally right around  the time I was supposed to be released from the hospital, I was also supposed to be checking in for a staff retreat at a hotel on the other side of the island. And dammit, having my gallbladder removed was not going to keep me from a free weekend at a hotel. Sam knew that was my plan, and as the hour got later and later Friday evening, he started to panic a little bit. He certainly didn't want to be the one to tell me that instead of going to a hotel I was staying in the hospital on a plastic mattress with an IV that didn't even have a morphine pump. He kept calling to be absolutely sure they weren't gong to let me go home. He had the car packed, and the dog was already at the kennel for the night. Finally, at about 8:30pm, the nurse told him it couldn't be avoided. I was spending the night in the hospital. He suggested giving me some more medicine to insure that I actually didn't wake up at all until morning, for everyone's health and well-being.

She thought he was kidding.

When I finally woke up at 9pm and realized I wasn't going to the hotel that night to sleep in a luxury bed and have room service, I was pissed. The nurse brought me some broth and tea to make up for it. I was not amused. They added some jello, and it took everything I had to not wind up and throw it into the hallway. Then they told me I couldn't leave the hospital until I peed in the potty.

Fuck. That. Shit.

You need me to pee in the potty? Oh, I'LL PEE IN THAT POTTY.

I sat on that toilet off and on for almost 5 hours. Turns out, my brain would not let my body pee. It's a trick that general anesthesia plays on me - I am completely unable to pee for hours afterwards. But I persevered. Mind over matter. I sang, I watched youtube on my phone, I played solitaire, I drank endless cups of tea, and I walked in circles around the bathroom. At 2am I triumphantly staggered out into the hallway, clutching my IV rack, with my johnny untied and hanging open, and a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of my foot. "I peed." I announced. "I want to go home now."

The nurse coaxed me back into my room with a syringe of morphine, and I followed her like the pied piper. She got me settled in bed, dosed me liberally, and turned on the Food Network. I was just about to doze off, sort of woozy and cotton-mouthed, staring catatonic at Guy Fieri. And then my roommate woke up.

I think we can all agree that, even under the best of circumstances, it can be tough to have a roommate.

The hospital is not the best of circumstances.

I realized within 30 seconds that she was in the bathroom, and had not bothered to close the door. She was in there, peeing and farting and flushing - all with the door wide open. When she shuffled past again shortly thereafter, I was also aware that she had not bothered to wash her hands.

I immediately decided that I had to get the hell out of that room. But the morphine was kicking in, and I couldn't remember how to call the nurse, and they were making brisket on Food Network, so I decided to wait until I saw my nurse again to raise the red flag of bio-contamination.

And then I forgot.

I woke up at 7am WHEN SHE DID IT AGAIN. "That's it." I said to myself, struggling up out of the bed. "I am outta here." I texted Sam, and went and found a nurse and informed everyone that I was going home. I offered to take out my own IV, but they insisted on handling it themselves. Sami and the kids arrived as I was digging my clothes out of the plastic bag I had stuck them in the day before during pre-op.

"Hey." I greeted them with a smile. "Did you bring up my toothbrush?" Sami looked panicked. "Uh....did you pack a toothbrush?"
"I threw my whole kit in the overnight bag in case I got admitted yesterday. Remember?" He looked relieved and unzipped the bag he had dropped on the floor as he walked in the room. "I just told you to pack for the kids." The panicked look returned.
"The kids?"
"Yep, remember, I said 'I'm putting their clothes in here, but nothing else.'"
"Oh. Yeah."
"Do you need to go to the drugstore to buy toothbrushes now?"
"Did you remember everything else?"
"Um, I think so, yeah."
Turns out, notsomuch.

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