WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2015
Thursday, October 1st. It’s MALS release surgery day, baby!
I had to be at the surgery center in downtown Cleveland at 5:15am, so my morning began at the ass crack of 4:00. My alarm went off and even the dog didn’t move. I hopped in the shower to get ready to go. I had to extend my “summer maintenance” for a few more days and shaved all locations necessary in the southern hemisphere. (You’re totally welcome, surgeons.) Just after that, I applied the antiseptic stuff the doctor had given me to my abdomen. Two pretty big hits of the runny red liquid. I realized I should have shaved after applying the cleanser. It burned. I later read the directions which said to apply a small amount only to the area of the body being operated on. Glad I didn’t go with my original plan of dousing my entire body, figuring I’d rather be safe than sorry.
Ready to go and we fly downtown. Zero traffic and we make it there in plenty of time. We check in, take our seat and wait to be called back. (“We” is me and my husband, whose response when I originally told him what time I had to be there was “Good luck with that.”) #insicknessandinhealth
My oldest sister has now arrived and I’m back in pre op. I had said to my mom the night before that the only thing I truly get a little stressed out about when it comes to pre op is the insertion of the IV. I have zero fear of needles, but for some reason, an IV causes my ass to pucker and I get a little skeeved out. Along with sharing my anxiety, I also related that I’ve always had good luck with them. Never once have I had an issue. That was a very stupid thing to say out loud the night before a pretty major surgery.
The IV lady comes in to pre op and asks which vein I’d like to use. While I appreciate the thoughtfulness of that question, my answer is always the same: whichever looks the flipping juiciest. I don’t care. Just hit it. She finds one that “might work” and injects, noting that I’m pretty dehydrated so my veins are almost non existent. Right side, back of hand: MISS. With that, she leaves, saying it’s protocol to give the patient a little breather after an IV miss and that she’d send another nurse in for the next attempt. Sweet.
IV lady number two comes in and she is armed with a needle full of numbing medicine and an IV needle the size of Rhode Island. SONOFA! She hits me with the “pinch and a burn” numbing medicine and I’m cool. Then before I know it, the IV is in. What the what?! I didn’t feel that. At all. Why not just start with the numby numby goodness? Left side, back of hand: HIT. (I’m later told just before wheeling me into surgery that I’m going to have 3 more IV’s inserted and that one might be into the artery in my neck. *ass pucker* In recovery, I learned that these were the moves they made: left side, back of hand #2: HIT; right side, under side of wrist: HIT; and right side, bend in the arm: HIT.)
I remember saying “hi” and “good morning” to everyone in the operating room. From their reactions and responses, I don’t think they get that very much. (Nor does every… single… other… person we passed in the hall on the way to the OR.) As they rolled me up next to THE table, I look up and see the clock. Surgery was scheduled for 7:45:00 and the clock read, I shit you not, 7:45:03. I immediately noted the time, told them how impressed I was and asked if there was some sort of comment card I could fill out. Maybe they laughed? I don’t really remember. Anything after that…..
Panic #2 for me (after the IV) comes in post op. Two words: bed pan. I’ve never used one and come hell or high water, I am not using one today! I heard I had a pee catheter in me during surgery and that’s totally fine, because I didn’t know about it. And while I could have gone the rest of my life without knowing it, I’m fine with that. But a bed pan? Awful. It’s now 4:35pm. (I think.) I’m finally awake enough to kind of look around the room, see what’s going on and realize “Oh, garbage. I have to pee.” So I wave down a nurse and say “I need to use the restroom” to which she replies “I’ll go get you a *gulp* bed pan.” (I swear to you she gulped! OK, maybe not.) With every ounce of energy I can muster, I eek out “No! I can walk to the bathroom.” Alien stare. “I’ll have to check with your nurse to see if that’s ok.” *please be ok. please be ok.*
I get the green light to get out of bed and walk to the bathroom. I can only imagine that I looked like a drunk on the street trying to pass their sobriety test while on my way there. Holding on pretty tightly to the IV stand with one hand while making sure my ass isn’t hanging out of my Diane Von Furstenberg with the other. (No, really! I found out she designed the gowns at Cleveland Clinic. *or maybe I was punked with that*) I somehow make it there and back without falling over or having to tap out by pulling the red “help me” cord. Success! And I take comfort in knowing that this will be another hospital stay down without the use of a bed pan. And this is a very big deal for me.
They find me a room around 5:00pm and I’m whisked away to what turns out to be the equivalent of a room at the Belagio. I tell you, Vascular Surgery Step Down’s got it going ON. I lucked out and got a private room with a nice TV and a lovely window. There was a comfy (I assume) Lay-Z-Boy chair, 2 other chairs and a bench that pulled out to a bed. And the nurses?! Oh my world, they were ON POINT. Leslie, Elarry, Marina and a CSU nursing student, whose name is eluding me right now. (Yikes.) I was given tremendous care.
But no one has cared for me like my mom. She puts her life on hold to help me with mine. Taking time away from my dad, her own house and her own commitments to make sure that I can function every day. And that my house, my family, even my dog, function every day. She is amazing. I am so incredibly blessed to have her and there are no amount of words I could ever say to express to her how much I love her.
So now we wait. I’m 6 days post op and feeling all of the normal wear and tear of a surgery. Things ache. My lungs hurt. My incisions are sore. I’m tired. I can’t walk very far or sit up for very long. ….and I’m nauseous at times. These are typical post op symptoms that are getting better as surgery gets further in the rear view mirror. So I guess I’d say my status is “day to day”. But aren’t we all.
A huge thank you to Dr. Gabbard (GI) Dr. Kroh (GI Surgeon), Dr. Park (Vascular Surgeon) and all of the nurses and staff who helped me at the Cleveland Clinic. Those people are truly heroes and angels for what they do to help people on a daily basis. All my best and love to you all… and may I never have to see you again. 😉
CARLY!!! That was the CSU nursing student’s name. Carly. Thank you, lady.