Tuesday, November 1, 2011
R.I.P. Pillsbury Doughboy
Yesterday was the "big day"--not for the sake of running around in scary or cute costumes for Halloween, but for the surgery that I so valiantly scheduled and endured endless tests to qualified for--primarily the heart stress test to prove that my heart was physically and spiritually healthy! It all began with me arriving at the hospital at 10:00AM for check-in for the 1:00PM surgery--a full hour before I had to be there. From the front desk--where they attempt to "ease one's mind" by discussing payment and other horrendous financial obligations--they whisked me back into the pre-surgery suite to prepare for the surgery. This is where the "patient"--me--gets to get prepped for surgery.
First there are the endless questions that I have already answered several times prior to this moment concerning my health. I am not sure if this is some sort of psychological test to see whether or not my health status has changed since the last time I answered all these questions. Then comes all the health measurements--height (yep, I am still the same height), weight (actually had lost some weight wading through all the repetitive questions), blood pressure, and more. And then, finally, the gown.
Hospital gowns are a severe test of one's humility. They never seem to fit--either too large or small. Every draft can be felt in a hospital gown. One has to endure endless wise cracks (pardon the pun) about the moon rising that seem to crack (again, forgive the pun) everyone else up except the person having to endure this humiliation. I got to lay there on the examining table--you know the ones I am talking about that are made out of plastic and covered with a think sheet--for over three hours thanks to the backlog of surgeries that bumped mine to 3:15PM. To say the least the draft in the air, the cool temperature of the room, and my embarrassment definitely added a little color to my cheeks.
Eventually a young medical person arrived and introduced himself as the anesthesiologist. He wanted to inform me of the process of putting me under for the actual surgery and the risks that that might involve--you know the usual stuff to ease one's mind before surgery. No big deal he said as he listed a myriad of possible things that could go wrong. Then he proceeded to ask whether or not I would like a little shot to help with the anxiety he just created--sort of pre-sedative before the real stuff. Something to take the edge off, he said. Sure, I said. I was thinking that it would be something that would relax me before the real McCoy . . . the next thing I know I am waking up in my hospital room, feeling extreme pain, and looking at the wife and a nurse! I don't know what that stuff was but it sure calmed my anxieties! It was good stuff--I guess that is what they mean by better living through chemistry!
Since I pretty much missed the whole surgery--though I did donate my body to the process--I was informed about what the surgeon did. Basically through the wonders of a procedure called laparoscopy the doctor went between the skin and muscle to determine the size of the hole that was creating the hernia--turned out to be a hole about the size of a silver dollar. They mapped this out on my midsection, then cut out the mesh that they were going to use to cover the hole, and then proceeded--again through the laparaoscopy process--to insert this between the intestines and muscles where the hole was. On this mesh were eight strands of surgical stitching that was the pulled through the muscles and skin to my midsection. I now have twelve little holes that form a perfect circle on my stomach area! To say the least it was and still is painful! Worse than the first two surgeries I had for this hernia.
From there it was pretty much routine hospital stuff that one endures after a surgery. Lots of antibiotics to fight infections. Walking up and down the hallway. Liquid diet--which is wonderful when one hasn't eaten in nearly 24 hours! Beef broth does not quite hit the spot like a Whopper or Big Mac. Pain medicine. Being woke up every hour on the hour throughout the night. But, I got smart. I asked for some pajama bottoms to wear under my hospital gown--much warmer! My overnight stay was not too bad . . .
. . . that was until the next morning--this morning--when the nurse showed up with another shot needle. Just a little ol' shot to prevent blood clots in the stomach, she said. Of course I wanted to know exactly where the shot would be administered--the stomach, she said. Really, I said. Really, she said. Visions of the scene from Pulp Fiction in which John Travolta has to pound a syringe of adrenaline through the chest and into the heart of Uma Thurman as she is unconscious due to a cocaine overdose. The nurse assures me that it won't hurt. I can't get the scene out of my mind. Surprisingly, the shot didn't hurt. The nurse just laughed. That pretty much was the last of my humiliation while at the hospital--that and not being able to tie my shoes because I couldn't bend over. Thank goodness the wife was there to tie my shoes!
Needless to say the adventure is now over and the period of recuperation has begun. The doctor set me up with some pretty good pain medicine, though it is nothing like the stuff that knocked me out with. Instead of knocking me out it makes me sleepy all of the time, but I feel nothing for the most part. It even allows me to tie my own shoes, but I have elected to wear my slipper instead. I have survived yet another hernia surgery--and knowing my abs of cotton candy, the mesh should prevent further hernias. I want to thank everyone who took the time to say a prayer for me, or to think of me, as I was having the surgery--I appreciate each and everyone of those prayers and thoughts. Each one was helpful. It is good to know that there are folks out there who care--thank you all!
The wife has reminded me that it has been a "big day" and that the doctor wants me to rest. With rest comes recuperation and healing. The sooner I heal, the sooner I can quit asking the wife to tie my shoes. I know she would appreciate that. In the meantime, join with me in remembering the Popping Fresh Doughboy--may he rest in peace!