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Friday, December 9, 2011

Losing a Part of Me...

On Tuesday this week Mark and I drove to the hospital in –9 degree weather to have my gallbladder removed. This week I’ve been recovering in the form of laying on the couch and ordering Mark around. So the topic most clear in my mind at the moment is my absent gallbladder and my present abdominal pain. So can we have a little fun with this post and just let me whine a little? And if this is silly and rambling, just blame it on the pain meds.

I’ve learned a lot this week as I bid farewell to the little green organ nestled next to my liver. (I don’t think it’s actually green, I think that’s just what all the cartoon pictures look like). Surgery has taught me a lot about life, love, and the pursuit of happiness and liberty and justice for all….actually it hasn’t taught me any of that, but I think it has taught me some things about myself. First of all, I am not as tough as I thought I was. And my temperament is lot closer to that of a grumpy old man than I ever thought it was. Before surgery I liked all of my nurses/doctors, I thought they were lovely. After surgery I wanted to punch them all in the neck. Before surgery I was smiling, charming, polite and slightly nervous. After surgery I was whining, moaning, swearing, and really f-ing frustrated. Before surgery I took things like urination and swallowing food for granted. After surgery I was extremely aware of my body’s ability, or lack there of, to do normal daily activities, like chew and swallow a piece of toast. Before surgery I thought my nurse had my best interest at heart, after surgery I was sure she was trying to torture some sort of information out of me. I was conned out the recovery room and away from the fabulous IV pain meds with the promise of seeing my husband. I had been asking for Mark while I had also assured the anesthesiologist of my need for intravenous drugs. She told me if I could handle leaving recovery and taking oral meds I could be reunited with Mark. I saw this as a type of bribe but I took it I anyway. Then I was informed I had to eat something to be granted the oral meds I was promised. So I thought toast would be easy. But my ability to chew and swallow seemed to have disappeared with my gallbladder. So I tried a spoonful of pudding. As the pudding slid down my esophagus and into my stomach it triggered an overwhelming feeling of nausea. While it felt like a hundred tiny gremlins were stabbing me from the inside out, the nurse was telling me that part of the pain wouldn’t go away with medication but with movement. I then told her I was pretty certain I was gonna puke on her. So in my haze of incredible pain that might not go away unless I get up and do a jig, and my overwhelming desire to puke, the nurse decided to give me anti-nausea meds through my IV but first had to run some extra saline through my line. So on top of the pain and nausea my right arm was on fire. I was ready to scream, “I’ll tell you anything! I’ll admit to the crime! Just please stop the torture!” I was pretty sure this was not your ordinary nurse, I think she worked for the CIA.

This is me before surgery, when I still thought I was a tough cookie.
I was not at all prepared to be in so much pain and I wasn’t at all prepared to not feel better in a few days. You see, it was a laproscopic procedure, which is supposedly a minor surgery. It is certainly a lot less invasive but I didn’t realize how much trauma it would do to my insides. That, coupled with the today’s healthcare system sending you home was soon as you can take 10 assisted steps, I thought this whole recovery thing would be a piece of cake and I’d bounce back like a champ. Cause I’m a tough cookie. Yea, I think maybe I’m more like a big baby. I am unaccustomed to needing help getting in and out of bed and being afraid to take a shower. I am unaccustomed to the simple act of going to the bathroom feeling like a huge accomplishment. And I’m certainly not used to not handling pain well. But I am incredibly blessed to have a loving, doting husband who has made this recovery a whole lot easier. And who tries to convince me I’m not a huge baby.

Today, as I try to wean myself off of vicodin, I am feeling better. I am feeling weak and my stomach still hurts and I feel perpetually dizzy but at least I can actually pour myself a cup of coffee. I really haven’t learned much from this experience, except that I am grateful for my husband and that I never want to have another surgery ever again in my entire life.

So what’s the most invasive surgical procedure you’ve had to endure? Were you prepared the trials of recovery? Did you learn anything deep and meaningful from losing an organ or vessel? Was your nurse also a trained CIA operative?

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