Back from Surgery

What a pain!

Most folks didn’t know I had surgery scheduled for last Wednesday. Although you might think I write in this blog about every aspect of my life as it unfolds, I don’t.

I didn’t want to write about it. There were too many unknowns. The huge lump in my abdomen could have been anything from a fibrous growth to a nasty bit of cancer. Surgery could have required removal of just the growth or removal of some important stuff it might have been attached to, with all kinds of reconstruction within. I could have come out of surgery and been back to normal in a week or two or the surgery might have been the first awful step in a slow spiral down to a painful death.

So I guess you can see why I didn’t want to write about it.

Surgery was Wednesday and it was the best case scenario all around. The growth was a hefty six pounds in weight, but it wasn’t attached to anything important. They took it out and, while they were in there, they took out a bunch of female parts a 44-year-old woman doesn’t really need anymore.

I was in the hospital for two nights and three days. I shared a room with a woman who was going through pretty much the same thing I was — but worse. I think she lost more parts.

The worse thing about the experience was the pain. We’re talking pain that just won’t go away. Pain when you move. Pain when you think about moving. I was screaming when I regained consciousness in post-op. They asked me, on a scale of one to ten with ten being the worse, what was my pain? Ten! I screamed at them. It was a question I’d hear over and over during my hospital stay. The answer ranged from four to eight after that initial ten.

They had me on three different pain killers. One was a device literally stitched into my wound area. It leaked out a novacaine-like substance to deaden the pain on contact. The other was morphine attached to an IV going into the inside of my elbow. I had a pain button and when I was in pain, I’d push the button. A bit of morphine would go into the drip. Of course, this was limited to one little bit every six minutes. If I pressed it every minute, I’d still get it just every six minutes. It made a reassuring beep-beep-beep sound every time I pushed the button, whether morphine went in or not. The third painkiller was oral and although it had a different name, it was based on morphine, too.

So it’s no wonder I couldn’t keep my eyes open in the hospital. I was doped up with morphine for three days straight. I felt pretty stupid bringing an overnight bag with two books and notebook in it. I couldn’t focus my eyes on anything long enough to see it, let alone read it. I listened to podcasts for a while, but even those put me to sleep.

Days and nights blended into each other. The clock on the wall showed five minutes later every time I looked at it, no matter what time I looked at it. The night nurse must have been bored the first night because she came in to do a survey at 2 AM and tried taking me for a walk at 4 AM. (I was too nauseous for the walk.) To make matters worse, the pre-op nurse had screwed up my IV by putting it in my elbow instead of my hand and the IV machine required a reset every 2 to 45 minutes. All day and all night. Every time it needed the reset, it would emit a loud beep-beeeep. I quickly learned how to reset it myself so I wouldn’t have to wait for the nurse. Not only did it keep me up, but it kept the woman on the other side of the curtain awake, too. When the nurses caught me resetting it, they weren’t happy. But I wasn’t happy listening to that thing beep for ten minutes while I was waiting for one of them to show up. Besides, the pain button didn’t work unless the IV machine was working.

Anyway, I’m home now. I dosed up with some morphine before leaving the hospital (I’m not an idiot, you know) and spent most of the ride from Banner Good Samaritan Hospital to Wickenburg in a state of semi-consciousness where my only thought was, are we there yet? I managed to throw up nothing — it’s when you go through the motions but nothing comes out — after a nice hot shower. Safeway brand Tums and Sea-bands (which I’m still wearing) helped out there. Yesterday afternoon was a drug-induced confusion of watching television through out-of-focus eyes and drifting off to sleep. Finally, I could stand it no longer. At 8 PM, I took the heavy-duty pain killers and went to sleep. I was up again when those wore off at midnight and managed to stick it out until 2 AM before taking another dose. Then slumber until 6 AM, our normal wake up time.

This morning, my coffee wasn’t very good so I switched to tea with some lightly toasted and buttered bread. It’s my first piece of really solid food since Tuesday night. Now my job is to get into some kind of ritual that’ll let me get on with my life while I recover.

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