I had surgery yesterday.
I am in recovery now, about 60% “with it” as the anesthesia continues to wear off and the painkillers begin after the upteenth trip to the pharmacy.
Let me explain.
Back in 1999, the summer before my junior year at Xavier, I had a big surgery, the kind where they actually open you up, to remove ovarian tumors and cysts that were causing sharp abdominal pain. After biopsy, the report read BENIGN and confirmed they were dermoid tumors – relatively harmless, usually benign, but complicating the life of women like me nonetheless. I fully recovered and healed and went on my merry way of life.
After I got back from the Philippines, I went hunting for a good doctor and went through the whole assessment testing, which included an ultrasound given my medical record. According to my results, things looked a little fuzzy around my ovaries again and my doctor began consulting with a specialist. Nick and I started meeting with doctors over the past two months and they recommended Laparoscopy to take a look inside and remove anything that shouldn’t be there – scar tissue from my previous surgery and these new growths that are being spotted again.
Laparoscopy pretty much reminds me of a three armed Inspector Gadget like person sticking one hand – camera and flashlight device – right below my belly button, and then two hands on each side of my waist which are like robotic hands to manipulate my organs and remove anything the doctor deems problematic.
So, around October, my doctors told me I’d probably need this but a billion reasons to wait came up. First I needed to do additional appointments with another doctor who would be doing the surgery. That took 5 weeks. And then December started getting crowded. And then no operating rooms were available. And then insurance compatibility came into question. And then Sunday night I had 102 temp with a case of strep. With antibiotics, the doctor at urgent care wasn’t sure if I’d be able to have surgery. We placed a frantic call to my doctor/surgeon. He said as long as we tell the anesthesiolgist, we should be ok.
FINALLY though, it all came to fruition yesterday. After all the months of waiting and getting sick earlier this week, it was finally here.
My surgery was scheduled for Wednesday, December 17 at 1:30 and we arrived an hour early like they suggested. I had been so ready for this surgery, I didn’t really feel all that nervous and I knew it wasn’t go to be as extensive as the one I had almost 10 years ago. So, Nick and I hung out, admiring my name on the wipe board and gave the socially awkward nurse a new name – George. One, he looked like George Kostanza from Seinfeld and two he was a bit like George O’Malley from Grey’s Anatomy.
Dr. Liu, the chairman of some uber important department at Case Western and supposedly the best in his field, was my surgeon. Grateful isn’t a strong enough word when you have excellent healthcare and benefits. While he doesn’t have a lick of Dr. McDreamy/Patrick Demsey in him, he was a thorough and surprisingly giggling doctor. At first, I was taken aback by his constant smiling and small laughs that followed everything he said, but Nick seemed to like it. He thinks anytime a doctor is not somber it shows your case is not that serious.
The nurse looked disapprovingly at my nose and said, “You’ll have to take out all body piercings,” but her look said, “WHY DO YOU YOUNG PEOPLE HAVE TO BE SO RADICAL?”
I asked if there was anyway to keep it in because I was afraid of the hole closing. You’d think from the look she gave me that I asked for a push of crack before I went under.
Anyway, the narcotics and drugs started pouring in around 1:50pm and the last thing I remember is watching a needle go in and a doctor’s voice say, “this is a narcotic, it’s going to feel like I gave you a shot of tequila…” and Nick saying, “Oh, it won’t take much, believe me…” and then laughter. I felt my eyes roll into the back of my skull and the doctor yelp, “Woah!” as I slumped and don’t remember anything else.
I awoke as they were prepping me in the O.R. and noticed it was all men fussing over me and tucking in my arms really tight at my side and wrapping me with blankets. I wished someone would talk to me as I started seeing little shapes in the air float around. One of the last things Nick said to me was that if his mom had been there as the nurse, she definitely would’ve talked to the patient, but everyone was too busy being nurse, doctor, or anesthesiologist to make small chatter. Too bad.
Then I was knocked out again.
I awoke to a nurse calling my name and feeling like a train ran over me. She was asking if felt alright and I nodded thickly, wanting to see Nick but not having ability to move. Something was up my nose and I felt like I was the only person in the hospital.
She leaned over and semi-yelled, “Would you like to take a nap?”
I tried to muster the strength to yell back, “Yeah if you stop screaming in my ear. I had tumors removed from my ovaries not my ears.” But I just nodded and went back into a dream world.
I awoke to find Nick and my sister. And something in my right eye.
I could barely talk or walk to the bathroom, but felt like there was a grain of sand tucked behind my eyelid.
It was around 8pm by now and I thought I’d be home by 6pm. It was taking much longer than we anticipated. It was right around that time when I realized I was hungry. I wasn’t permitted to eat since dinner the last night and felt weak and nauseated from my empty stomach. Nick placed a graham cracker on my lips and I took a bite.
It might have been the drugs. It may have been the fact I was so hungry I could have eaten a hippo, but I tell you, that graham cracker exploded on my tongue with flavors I’ve never experienced. The honey and sugar melted all over my tongue and coated my dry mouth. And the ginger ale! The sweetness waved over my teeth and I thought it tasted like heaven. My taste buds were reborn. I wanted to savor it.
In the meanwhile, lovely nurse Julia who I didn’t rename because I liked her pulled some doctor from boofoo to look at my eye. The pain was worsening and he took one look and said I’d have to see an opthamologist to diagnose it. Thanks genius. I think my 3 year old nephew could have given that medical advice. The best part is that he was walking away as he said it. Nice attitude.
He came back and said to the nurse, “Well, just say that I examined her and it could be something. It could be nothing. You won’t be able to find an opthamologist at this hour (harr, harr, he laughed – what the hell is so funny about that? I have a grain of sand in the back of my eye – how comfortable do you think THAT is).”
The he says, “Maybe conjunctivitis.”
That’s when I said in my head to myself because my lips were immobile, “Get this fool out of here. Even I know it’s not pink eye and why in the hell would I have pink eye after I wake up after surgery.”
He looked at me for once, “How do you feel?”
Pissed off at this Dr. Faux, “Terrible.”
Lovely nurse Julia privately didn’t like the doctor either. She kept saying it wasn’t right to send me home in pain if it was caused by my surgery and didn’t give me meds for it. She proceeds to call all these different doctors – all of whom, I’m sure – are eating their roast beef dinners in their condos or lake front houses. Dr. Liu, my surgeons is finally reached and gives a possible diagnosis that makes sense: corneal abrasion.
During the procedure it’s possible that my right eye wasn’t completely closed and without the lubricating protection of a blink or being fully closed, the gas used to pump up my body during the procedure had caused slight damage.
Fine. More drugs.
At this point, I feel old.
The eye drops feel like I threw rubbing alcohol into my eye and I nearly screamed in shock when they coated my eye. Nurse Julia, “Yeah, that’s definitely an abrasion if it hurts.” Great.
More drugs to combat nausea.
More graham cracker heaven and ginger ale.
We drive home.
It takes me eons to get on the living room couch and ask Nick for a strange compilation of foods: graham crackers, milk, peanut butter, banana. mashed potatoes, green beans.
I have no idea what that’s about, but he writes everything down and jets off to the store while I am falling asleep sitting up.
The drugs are messing with my brain. I wake up three times with my arms in front of me, wacking the air and vision of neon parakeets flying in front of my face. I’m yelling, “No! No!”
Poor Nick has to deal with his psychotic wife who has delusions of a parakeet and needs mashed potatoes.
This is the prognosis that Nick gave me from my doctor:
The surgery was much more complicated than expected, but it was successful. There was considerable scar tissue from my previous surgery which took a long time to remove. Small dermoids were removed from my right and one larger one was removed from my left. The procedure, which he first estimated to take 1 hr and fifteen minutes took over two and a half. Poor Nick was in the waiting room with no one informing him of what was taking so long until George Kostanza/O’Malley came in to tell him everything went well. That was five minutes before the doctor came though. Nice effort, George.
So, right now, I’m in a lot of pain and keeping my mind busy so I don’t think about it.
We thank everyone for their support and prayers. Recovery time should be about two weeks. I’ll be able to travel for the holiday but will be sitting most of the time and steering clear from the stairs.
And just as 2009 arrives, I’ll be as good as new.
Again, thanks to all for their prayers and well-wishes. Once I’m off the drugs, I can thank you properly in person.