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WARNING: This entire post is pretty much TMI. I usually don’t talk about bodily functions (my momma taught me that wasn’t ladylike and for some reason it stuck) but I figured I would make an exception to tell you guys how it goes to have surgery. For me, at least.
For those of you just joining us, Here’s the Cliff Notes:
- I have cervical cancer. (This, Stage III to be specific. Carcinoma In Situ, I believe the technical term is.)
- It sucks.
- I’m just about done with people camping out in my nether regions and making hemming and hawing noises and then giving me bad news.
- I had one of these on February 1st, and have been informed that I will no longer need to have a hysterectomy, as the biopsy results came back with clean edges. (Translation: all the bad crap is gone.)
The morning of the procedure, I was the tiny dog in the old Looney Tunes commercials, hopping around Chef as he slowly got ready. I had had approximately 3 hours of fitful sleep in our lovely SCCA housing room, as I was battling the tail end of a cold and was super worried I was going to die because they told me the day before in our pre-op appointments that a cough was really bad and I could go into bronchospasms and that would be bad and I usually have all of the bad stuff they describe in the medical journals happen to me.
Plus a dead dismembered bird fell out of the sky on our car the day before surgery and I was pretty sure that was a bad omen.
So I finally get all of our stuff out of the room (hi, chronic over-packer here! Packed a full duffle bag for an overnight for two people!) and into the car and we show up an hour early for my surgery.
So I have plenty of time to talk myself into hysterics that I am going to die and the last thing I had said to my mom may or may not have been rude.
Aside: Chef deserves a party, a parade, the key to the city and possibly his own holiday for putting up with me during this.
So when they finally roll me back into the pre-op rooms, I am in a full-blown panic. Chef’s eyes are permanently stuck up in his skull from rolling them at me for a full hour and I’m pretty sure everyone thinks we’re total freaks because I’m hysterically crying and hyperventilating.
Awesome way to start out.
Luckily, my gyn-oncologist is one of the more patient and amazing people on the planet, and came in within 5 minutes of me getting settled into a bed and told me that they would give me Valium. (They never actually gave me any, unless that came after the mind-erasing drugs.)
After she left came a parade of nurses (one of them was a former roller derby girl!) and 3 anesthesiologists (2 residents and a doctor? It’s a teaching hospital. I had a lot of 12 year olds peeking at my lady parts. Awesome.) and the only part I really remember before we got into the OR was that my drug doctor knew my BFF (they went to school together) and it took SIX STABS to get a freaking IV in.
Also, I would shut up, so they gave me Versed and also I had a spinal block so I wouldn’t go into bronchospasms and die.
Versed is quite lovely. I apparently talked all the way through my surgery, which made my gyn-onc laugh pretty hard.
So after the surgery, Chef and I got to sit around in the post-op area (a bunch of curtained-off rooms) to wait for my spinal to wear off so I could pee and go home. (Those were my word-for-word instructions. Walk, then pee, then we can leave.)
We sat there for SIX HOURS.
I couldn’t have my cell phone in our tiny curtained prison, and Chef had only brought the one book…but at least he could walk out and go get food or play on the computer.
Six hours. And three attempts, one where I took out my tiny nurse who thought I was “not that big”. (Honey, I’m 100 pounds overweight. I’m “that big”.)
So after I wobbled my way to the restroom and did my business, they wheeled my happy butt out to the car for our 2+ hour drive home. I vaguely recall asking Chef to stop at a rest stop so I could stretch my legs and I fell over, but I slept most of the way home.
I was fine (read: stoned on painkillers) for three days, and then I decided to be macho and wean myself off the pills. I even drove myself (PERFECTLY SOBER) to deliver a cake to a friend’s birthday party in Seattle (90 minutes away) while trying to breathe through the pain (and stopping to throw up every 15 minutes).
I am not smart sometimes.
So Wednesday of last week, I had gotten to the point that the painkillers weren’t working. I was lying on the floor in the bathroom, dry heaving on Wednesday morning and Chef crouched down next to me, looked me in the eye and just said “Really?”
So someone (I can’t honestly remember who) drove me to the hospital and they decided that my bleeding (sorry, TMI) was their primary concern. They gave me some Dilaudid, a prescription for more painkillers, and said “Call your gynocologist in the morning”.
So they totally didn’t listen.
The Dialudid helped. Until about 10am the next morning, when I accidentally (read: on purpose, because I am an idiot) skipped a painkiller. And the pain came back and all I could do is speak in beeps, because I’m censoring myself in front of Chuck and try not to curse because I don’t want her doing what Short Stack did and saying “Fuck” in church at the age of 2.
So trip #3 to the hospital. 22 needle sticks later (including one in my THUMB for an IV…you’re welcome for that visual..and one in my NECK for a blood draw), 4 shots of Dilaudid later and one very impatient doctor, who I may/may not have informed I would beat him into submission with the watch he kept checking while I was talking, they finally figured it out.
The headache I assumed was caused by a 4 hour wait (in excruciating pain, not wholly unlike childbirth, except constant, not in waves like contractions) on the hard chairs in the ER waiting room….was actually the key.
I had a spinal fluid leak.
So they pulled some blood from my neck (the only place left they could find a vein) and jabbed it in my back (where the fluid was leaking from the spinal block they gave me for the original surgery) and voila! Less pain.
A LOT less pain. HOORAY!
Then I burned my hand on Valentine’s Day, but that’s a story for another time.