Ah, life. It never quite settles down like you think it's going to.
Two and a half weeks ago, I picked my parents up from the airport--a real treat to have them all to myself for the first time since I was 13 months old and blessed with a baby sister--and prepared myself for surgery. Huzzah! The thought of getting the overly large, fairly disgusting Abner, the tumor, out of my body was positive enough that I wasn't overly concerned or nervous. I had every confidence in my doctor, and the ideology that once Abner was gone, I could move on.
For the record, surgery totally sucks. My dreams of one day getting an internal bra are currently on hold, as I'm not certain that I will ever be able to reconcile myself to elective surgery.
Funny story: We had to be at the hospital ungodly early--6 a.m.!--and so as we were hustling out the door, and I was grabbing things I thought I would need in the hospital for my one night stay, I misplaced my phone. I knew I had several people to update, but could not find it anywhere and didn't have time to lose. We got to the parking garage at 6 a.m., and by 6:15 a.m., I was in the prep room changing into my beautiful gown and hairnet, and wondering what to do with my glasses, when my mom stands up and finds my phone in her back pocket!! I had slipped it in there before going downstairs to get something at home. You might have had to be at the hospital in the wee hours of the morning to find it funny, but truly, I thought it was hilarious.
All the TV shows and movies always show people counting backwards from 100 or being told to think of a happy place before they go in for surgery. But that's not true. The residents came in and made sure I knew what was going to happen, the anesthesiologist came in and explained what his role was going to be. We discussed that everything was going to go well, and only the worst scenario would involve an epidural and complete hysterectomy, and then I was wheeled out the door and promptly forget everything until I was in the recovery room.
Coming out of anesthesia is weird and not very fun. I could overhear the nurses saying something about my left ovary being removed, but had no way to ask, "Um--what the heck??!" since it was supposed to be my right ovary. By the time I got my eyes opened, I tried to focus on the clock to see how long I had been out, hoping that would indicate whether or not I had needed the epidural or not. But the clock was spinning on an axis, the same as though I were on a very fast Ferris wheel. I couldn't get my eyes focused, and for some reason, that made me cry. Actually, I was just leaky and weepy anyway. Not in pain, not uncomfortable...just confused and crying.
A nurse was near me, keeping a close eye and I managed to ask a few questions, "Was there an epidural?" "Are my parents OK?" and "Why the left ovary?" There wasn't an epidural, the surgery had gone well and there was just a surprise with which ovary had been enlarged and needed to be taken out, but everything was good. And my parents were OK. She noticed my tears and told me that it was normal for me to cry--that often happens with female patients coming out of anesthesia. She told me something that men were prone to do, but for the life of me, I can't remember.
At some point, I was taken to my room. I vaguely remember going into the elevator. My parents were there waiting for me, where I said--still crying--that they took the wrong ovary. I could hear the worry in my mom's voice as she was like, "WHAT?" but didn't have the control left to explain that it was intentional and that it was OK. I fell asleep after that, I think.
You can imagine that having a six inch incision is not a fun time, and it isn't. Especially if some of the meds make you nauseous and throw up. And if you cough. Or laugh. Or move. The first pair of nurses on shift had me control my pain meds as I felt I needed them, which was sort of a crappy move on their part, as there were then lulls in which I was hurting pretty bad. At one point, I was in so much pain and they had come in to give me meds, but they asked me what the scale of pain I was in. I asked them to clarify and they told me to classify it from 1-10. The problem with that is, what classifies as a 1? What's a 10? (Look up Brian Reegan's sketch on the ER, and you'll understand.) I didn't feel like I was dying, I hadn't given birth, or had a leg severed off. I imagined those were the tens. So I said a five. I'm certain they thought I was the biggest whiner. Then they asked what my tolerance level was and I just said, "Not this!" It was agony! And really, that was the worst of it. Except when I puked a few more times. That was pretty awful too, but once I figured out it was the IB Profin that made me sick, I stopped taking it and was fine.
My parents stayed with me during the day, and then left at night. My mom thought I was being a huge baby and told my sister who told me. Rude. I loved when Thelma, the best nurse, came on shift, because she knew how to control my pain and when she was in charge, I never lagged for meds and was kept nice and comfy.
They had me up and out of bed and walking around the next morning. It hurt so much to get in and out of the bed, but, it didn't take too long before I was up and walking circles around the hospital floor. Sometimes with my mom and dad, and sometimes by myself while they stopped at home and got some food. The TV didn't work, but whenever I took pain pills, I was passed out for a few hours at a time, and so that was easy for me to avoid.
I had a lot of visitors, which was pleasant and some were unexpected. It was a perfect way to pass the time between hazy pain pill naps. A couple walked around and passed the sacrament to LDS patients on Sunday and I went to their sacrament meeting in my hospital gown and blanket with no bra on. It was a half hour. And simply the best. Maybe we should revisit the whole three hour thing? They had two talks and the sacrament in half an hour with a "come as you are" attitude. Utterly brilliant.
After that, I was discharged from the hospital. Which my parents were very happy about. They were practically chomping at the bit to get out of there and be somewhere where they could get some work done, instead of watching me lie around in pain. I made it home, and really, just took a pain pill, slept, walked, slept, took a pain pill, then slept for about two days. Then I was sleeping a little less, and watching more TV, and occasionally walking. And mostly watching my parents blow through a to do list like crazy.
I was still coughing while at home, which was pretty awful. And we watched comedians and Miranda, which made me laugh so hard I cried, and then I cried just because it hurt to laugh. Oi.
By the time my dad left, almost a full week later, I was feeling much more the thing. So my mom and I were able to accomplish a lot the whole second week I was in recovery. Including, taking lots of naps and watching all the pilot shows that came on TV.
Really, I think that is the key to recovery: TV and sleep. And more sleep. And, surprisingly, getting up and walking about.
It was so wonderful to have my parents here to help and get me through this. For as many offers as I had for people to take care of me, I don't think I could have comfortably relied on them as I was able to my parents. I am so SO grateful they were here. It almost makes me want to cry again! (Apparently I do that a lot.)
My mom left on Sunday, which sucked...but what can you do? I was fit and ready to go back to work, and so there was not much more I could do--no relapse I could truly threaten--and she had to get back to real life as I did. Siiiiiiiiiigh.
If anybody hears of a job my dad would be perfect for in Utah, please let me know immediately. I would like to have them closer to me.