Real Life superheroes were scrubs and facemasks everyday. Its easy to tell them, because while they are saving the world, they are also carrying a smile, and a cheerful voice, with all the litany of obnoxious questions they must ask before they can finish your form.
I had surgery today. It was – well I should say ” I was told” it was scheduled for 7am – it was “actually” scheduled for 7:30am – the surgeon was … well her RL things were spilling all around and she didn’t get in till just before 8 – the surgery started just after 8 or closer to 8:30 which is what P says since they called him to let him know “they got started”….
This was somewhat an elective surgery – elective by the fact that it wasn’t endangering me imminent at this present moment in time. I could have waited for x amount of time in the future when it were – it could have gone away, or it could have killed me unexpectedly (or rather in the world of a virus, by design) –….. Yes folks, lets put out the roulette wheel or the loaded gun and lets gamble with your life “elective surgery” — so really in a real sense, not elective at all, timely is a more appropriate description.
While all surgeries are scary – this time, in particular is a scary time to be at the hospital and to be “one” with the knife so to speak.
Lets start by saying that P and I neither one slept well – being woken by clarity of conscious, and heartfelt empathy for each other and the folks that would be helping me today – kept me from consolidated sleep. Which ultimately wasn’t a horrible thing, because it made rising at 4:30 – to allow “get ready time” before heading to the hospital (about 30 minutes away) to arrive by my 5:30 report time – allowed this to be a less stressful endeavor.
P is great, I adore him – always have – he rolled out of bed, and tried to encourage the dog to roll out of bed. Starbuck is like “whats wrong with you hooman – this is WAY WAY too early – its sleep time still” – until I came back in – having finalized getting myself ready – to encourage Buck with a “come on hippo, lets go lets go” — he sniffed as if to say “Fine but I do this underdress and there better be treats later” – as usual he was a great dog did his business and got back in to plop into his favorite resting spot and crash again.
We picked up the pace and headed out the door.
There was a surprisingly bigger number of peeps on the road at 5am than I had anticipated, expected, or even considered. This made the drive in the dark a bit more stress ridden for P. I had suggested he get coffee for himself – before realizing Starbucks wasn’t even open yet. He elected to pick it up on the way home.
We arrived about 5 minutes before the report time; he dropped me and as pre-arranged took off to head home before the insane drivers became more prolific, and to get some sleep – atleast one of us should we had devised – before I’d be scrubbed, happily medicated, wheeled in, surgeried, and done well before his normal wake time – or so we thought.
As I entered the surgery center, and approached the check in counter, I was greeted by a chipper young woman that was, to my surprise and delight, actually ready and enjoying her day. What a wonderful unexpected blessing. She also helped me complete my check in paperwork – as Poohs typically have trouble reading/responding to things, and we laughed as I mentioned this to her.
As I waited in the lobby, a wife who had also arrived for her surgery, with her husband in tow were bantering back and forth in the row in front of me. She as very very nervous. I chimed in to help her break her anxiety a tiny bit and to make it more light hearted, we all three had a good laugh for a few minutes, before the nurse arrived and called my name back to the next step.
The gentleman escorted me to the back, he was social friendly and we had a lighthearted quick exchange as he walked me into the next phase of this party – the COV test. I could write a whole book about this test. None of it would be pleasant. Sufficied to say, the general thing I can say that will be appreciated by every woman is … it was a man that designed bras, and it is self evident that this was the case…. I’m quite certain it was a male research clinician that designed this test – with never having the joy of experiencing it. I have had alot of truly horrible things done to my body over the past four years in particular, and this is a “joy” (insert a shit ton of sarcasm here) that I will gladly pay substantially to avoid ever doing again. Not only did it requiring removing my mask, having my personal space invaded by a nurse with a … qtip that had been weaponized…. twice….. it required one of the most painful things I’ve had to withstand in a long time. They shove this qtip like thing up your nose, far enough to touch your brain. Little known fact that this is what you do to test for cov. This is allergy season, my sinus already hurt. There are still lurking tumors in my brain, my head hurt. I’ve been off – by hospital requirement – my anti-inflammatory supplements for a week, my head hurt. But no no, lets rock the vote, and go for the full monty – No way you won’t be in pain with this!! I feel for the poor tech that did this test, what a horrible horrible job to have. I wish I could recall her name. I tried very hard to remember all of the superheroes today and this one was absolutely one of the ones I felt the strongest for and about. No one wants this job; well I suppose if you were a person that truly enjoyed inflicting pain to another human being over and over and over again all day — maybe this is your bag. Never does a person leave her care without being actually hurt.
I cried. It hurt. It didn’t last long – thank the stars, but man it was up there with cutting things open and off by myself. NOT PLEASANT.
This kind person and I talked all the way along the path to where she escorted me to room 28 – a number I thought was odd, being the first patient to walk back into the surgery area, but turned out to be nice…. apparently the ultra friendly people all got assigned to this section of the surgery room, so I felt glad to have been one of the patients assigned here too.
I had left my cell phone with P – out of many reasons, the first being that youtube recently (Simon Sinek) mentioned something I hadn’t considered, that being addiction to Dopamine is evident in addiction to cell phone – picking it up and scanning it everytime something goes chime or buzz, is a form of pez dispenser/pavlov’s dog for the human dopamine — So well … me in typical fashion – lets try to work on minimizing this – its something I’ve considered multiple times with my observations/discussions with April. The second being – no sense making it a target. Hospital folks are superheroes, but even they have their weak spots; they are also underpaid and under appreciated — sure lets put the people who are responsible for keeping you alive on a salary that isn’t at all commissary with work/responsibilities. — we seem to do that alot in this country/society. but I digress – this is a topic for another blog
I quickly changed into the “hospital attire” — its like when you go to the costume ball, everyone wears a costume. They had given me one of the “regulation” masks – which are horrible things. Holding a mask by my ears? Really? Did no one consider that this is a weak piece of cartilage that controls alot of trigger points in the rest of the body for things that are important? The mask is important, but how about we “tie” it to our face, instead of attaching it to a part that will inadvertently get uncomfortable, and btw, peoples ears are NOT all the same size, so these can’t possible fit “one size fits all”
The nurse – Jennifer, came in to check my vitals – blood pressure was high (again) no shock, I took my anti seizure med but not my anxiety med…. note to self, maybe next time don’t forget to ask if its “okay” to do this. Much to my delight, Jennifer was a superstar, and got me the “premeds” my surgeon had ordered to “help” medicinally with the healing — an anti-inflammatory, and a pain med (oxycodone) — I told Jennifer she should have led with this… I’m not at all a drug addict, but I know the effects of Oxy, and I have to say, it is one of the most potent, most addictive and fastest acting– “flush my cares away” meds I’ve every had….. She also explained to me that she would “need” a pee test for pregnancy…. I laughed. … good thing intuition told me when I was first brought into this room, and the kind lady told me where the bathroom was, I elected to not use it at the time…. because after so long without any fluids… there was no way I’d have been able to evacuate my bladder earlier, and still have enough to give for a pee test.
I’m guessing it must have – as expected come back Negative – same with COV test, but I honestly never found out. Jennifer did check and confirm for me that my surgery time was indeed not 7:00 but infact, 7:30.
Next came the Anesthesiologists or as I like to call them “the partridge family” — aka “come on get happy” — these are the people that you will never remember but that make or break the surgery experience from the perspective of helping you not feel anything, not remember anything, and above all wake with nothing but a smile and a desire to be done.
So my get happy people today – first I was greeted by “Austin” who it turns out was a trainee – I call him this – he is actually doing residency things right now to wrap up his training. He is also from Seattle – a fact I heard him later discussing with the nurses outside the room – thin thin walls. He had a great smile in his eyes. We hit it off, and when his “somewhat IDk what else to call her, and its not an appropriate title” boss, Karen came in because “I was talking too much and making him take too long” — We started over. I’ve taken to telling these people that I am their difficult patient of the day – mostly because its true – — when I went to schedule a surgery last year this time, the anesthesiologist for the other hospital called me to ask if I knew I had a 2 page document about the challenge to keep/get me copacetic – I didn’t know this then, but I make a point to share it, to help try and set appropriate expectations with these people at the beginning. Always, everytime, they think I’m just being hard on myself – and I heard Karen holler at Austin for giving me this title – which he xplained I had given myself … bet she still didn’t’ believe him — bet she does now.
So we, the three of us talked a bit, I explained the Vimpat situation, and the cause of it, I explained the “no I didn’t take ativan, but I probably should have” situation – I confirmed about the two drugs Jennifer had given me. I summeroized to the best of my “invisible” knowledge about “why” I would be a difficult patient – not from a conscious perspective – and I looked Karen in the eye, and told her … when I was difficult, and she was having to “fix something” to talk to my seemingly fast asleep ass and tell me what she needed. So that I could help… and not keep trying to fight against the borg invading my body. “resistance is futile, you will be assimilated” (hell no, I’m a win one for the gipper) … but I digress.
Karen and Austin rounded up there questions, or atleast I hope they did, I did ask them twice if they had any more questions… and I noticed that Austin had forgotten to get a signature from me…. one he mentioned he would need at his intro… but thats okay he got Jennifer to bring it in and get me to sign … so before his boss and Karen’s boss noticed. No harm no foul.
Next came the waiting. wait wait– wait wait….. I did quite a few meditations. This room was surprisingly good for this, but then its probably the distant/time warp reiki I had done the couple days before to send myself love, light and healing to this space.
Eventually my favorite nurse of this experience “Quo” as she called herself, or “Quoessha” showed up to introduce herself, and check my BP again as it was “still high” — Note to self, pizza probably not the best pre-op food the night before, as its high in sodium – and while my BP wasn’t in the “danger zone” it was higher than they liked, and no amount of me “calling it down” was working when there was just too bloody much sodium in my system. Thanks Mr, Rogers, it was a beautiful day in my neighborhood -but I could have used some advice to not eat the comfort foods to help with the emotional worry of the day, only to cause the physical worry of the next.
Quo talked a little and made herself human for me …. All of the nurses did this, and I think its part of why I call them superheroes, its not just that they have the job, wear the uniform, deal with the fires…. its the fact that they are real, and human and they will share with you – if you just ask, just show interest…. and bluntly – atleast for me, this is the most emotionally calming thing …. hearing and relating to someone else as a human with the same problems — all be it different in the moment. Problems I have….. Life goes on.
Quo finished her check in — verifying the access Jennifer had given – they weren’t able to use my port…. No idea why… and Jennifer had used one of my … least desirable points, crock of my right elbow — its one of my best veins but it is always one that I move too much and then end up with a golf ball to heal…. “yes body, I know we have an XYZ that we are doing .. as well as yeah the C stuff … but could you take a few minutes with this bruise that I did to myself … by … wiggling? ” ….. Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle wiggle wiggle…. I tried to stay ultra still and tried to immobilize my body — this is something I’ve had alot of training in … Acupuncture again to the rescue…. but its still a challenge being that this is my dominant hand, and in the worst possible place.
The boss of Karen and Austin popped in to just check if I had any questions…. I smiled at him, and confirmed he was there boss. I told him how wonderful they were, and I asked him if he had any questions? He smiled back, and he thanked me for my feedback. I confirmed that he would not be in the OR with me, and he let me know that as soon as the surgeon showed up, we would get the show on the road. I thanked him again. I don’t recall his name, he was a nice, cute and friendly man.
Around 8, Dr Fisher magically appeared outside and had a conversation with some nurses that sort of set my mind a worry – as it was a dejavu of the conversation about MY surgery with the breast reconstruction — a patient had “signed” about a breast removal – where the paperwork said two breasts, but the surgery was only for one. …. Scary scary delta, and apparently a common thing? ….
Dr F pooped in – she was NOT in scrubs yet. We checked in, I asked her if she had worked out today, because I know this is her “go to” for less stress, she thanked me for checking in on her, and said “no” today was a sleeping day instead. I told her I understood this was hard times. I willed her an incredible day, starting with my surgery which would be fast and easy. She told me she was thinking she might need to do a drain. She quickly explained… but more, she mentally sent me the picture of “why” and it made sense…. not a pleasant thing but the best hope for the best outcome. A drain would allow her more access to “get the crap” … without being overly invasive to my body. I told her I trusted her, and to make it so, if she felt it was what she needed. She relaxed a bit, and nodded her head.
She left the room, and Karen, Austin and Quo outside got me into Rock and Rolling. I don’t remember the rest of what happened until i was in the recovery.
“Mickey” who is actually Michella in the recovery room, was super great. As soon as my eyes popped open – oh Karen and Austin had remembered to remove/return my glasses (I am pretty bat style blind without them) so I was able to see!! A blessed unexpected thing that….. I asked her to call my husband and let him know I was done – she did this post haste. I’ve never had a nurse call from my bedside like this – and I voiced to Phil, I’m done, come get me. She stiffled a laugh.
I spent the next little bit with her, and she was just delightful. Physically I was in and out and the pain was bouncing up and down the scale like a ping pong ball — I blame the wound vac.
So a wound vac, is what they put on surgery sites to keep it — air/toxin free, while helping encourage demandingly your own body to prioritize this spot. My body typically doesn’t need this type of thing – but Dr F is an A type so there would never have been a world where this wasn’t the way we went. … the Wound vac itself is an R2D2 style device, about the size of an original cell phone – or 6x4x3 inches in size– that quacks like donald duck…. when its “removing air” from the wound. They seal the wound up like fort knox and the tube coming out of it to this device is the only opening. its packed inside with the best possible outcome of stuff, and you can’t shower with – only sponge baths (so avoid me like the plague for stinky for the next week or 2 depending on when they free me) and its basically a piece of noisy hardware attached to your body…. the “drain” yeah we went that way… is small and seems relatively neat and clean – and will in most likely events be gone before the wound vac – which is both odd and predictable – go figure — my body “yeah we do what we want” —
Tell my body to heal X first, and my body is GOING to be that rebellious teenager and X will be healed last…. I can encourage otherwise, cajole and otherwise spank into submission … but healing is going on either way, and bluntly while Donald will become annoying, right now, drain that i will require P assistance to manage is alot more annoying.
So M and I talked alot – she is trying to get into the doctor about some issues – which I got to hear about because she was talking to the nurse across…. the Patient in the next bed kept “forgetting”? to breath – or rather just nto breathing — her o2 kept dropping. So M would remind her politely — I finally intercede and got her talking about her kids. Go figure a momma talking about her kids is never going forget to breath …
And after what seemed like a lifetime – she finally got a BP reading low enough to send me back to 28 and Kaitlyn – to get de-accessed, dressed, and wheeled out to P. Kaitlyn is the first person in my life to actually look like a Kaitlyn! I never knew what a Kaitlyn looked like until today. She was kind, pleasant, and above all ready to do whatever I needed to help me reach my goal of GTFO.
P and I stopped at Starbucks for coffee — mmmm coffee. and life is good.
I’m good, tired but not sleepy – and of course the RX they sent didn'[ get to walgreens – Rachel with Dr F office really needs another job. She is a good data person, but a horrible working with humans person, and she is too self (career, comfort, body — a thing I’m working on learning) focused to do the things like “wow lets call in RX for the patient we finished, before we go into “the next patient” …. so I’m sure she will call in RX after they finish all the surgery for the day…. too bad we are already home, so no more pain meds for me until tomorrow — Thanks Rachel for treating me like a data point instead of a human being. I wish you a better job where people interactions are NOT part of the position. I also wish Dr. F more people like the other assistants in her office, that are so people focused that they are always a joy to have around.
Mostly I’m blessed to have this experience in the rear view. Thank you P for chauffeuring me again — thank you to all the Super Heroes in my life. Thank you for learning and growing experiences, and thank you universe for providing me with quiet and insanely helpful intuitions in my life. I’m certain they were always there, but I’m blessed to have the volume around 8 instead of around 2.
Today I felt like a vip gold star traveler…. at St Davids in down town Austin. A little far to travel, but so worth the journey.