Thursday, March 29, 2012

Bruised, Beaten and Dehydrated: my Hysterectomy

I love these 2 pictures. It's what's in these pictures.. Rather, whom. Both here at Resurrection Medical Center, my neighborhood hospital. My first peek at my only son through ultrasound. And also, below, what he wrote on the dry erase board here in my hospital room after my hysterectomy. That little fetus is now approaching teenager.

(Friends have told me that the pre-teen years are MUCH harder on kids than high school is. And college? That's the most fun you'll have in your entire life. (Though I was neither a drinker nor a drugger in either high school or college.) I just pray Luke doesn't fall into the bad behaviors his mom did at any point in his life, doesn't end up with his Dad's blood clotting disorder and that his creativity is forged, that he's able to use his many gifts to help out and love other people with his unique, quirky, brilliant, humorous personality and smarts. )

As ultrasound pictures go, some of them are hard to decipher what's what and where. I prefer this one, where you can see his alien-like head and brain (oversized) on the right, an abdomen budding with arms/hands, a torso, and tiny feet with almost unrecognizable legs on the left. This was my 13-week ultrasound. July of 1999.

At that juncture, they still couldn't hear his hearbeat on the doppler, which scared us, so my OB did an ultrasound, where they found a perfectly little tiny growing fetus. Sort of corroborated the 2 dozen home pregnancy tests I'd taken since my last period of THAT era, April 22, 1999. That's another date I'll never forget, just l won't forget that March 5th was the date of my LAST EVER menstrual period. Woot to both days!

Waited until around 9 pm for Luke to show up with Craig Monday night, which seemed like an eternity. First they had to go to Radio Shack for splitters or something else Luke is working on with electronics and engineering. Then they had to go to my house to pick up my mouse and mouse pad. THEN they came over, THEN Luke had a shitload of homework to do. Still, he didn't really want to leave, so he drew me a picture that says "Luke (heart sign) Mom and a walrus on the dry erase board in my room (see above). He was SO relieved that I was and looked ok, even though I'm not looking like Ms. America (Ms. Punk America?) and secretly agonizing that it'll take weeks to fit into my skinny jeans again, til all this swelling goes down. Enter: Sweatpants, flannel pajama bottoms, elastic, elastic, elastic. Geez, no wonder you don't leave the house during recovery! (Not that I don't go to the grocery store in my pj's regularly.)

Had a more than pleasant visit with my now-calm son and Craig, who remains to this day, 20 years later, the first on the list of people I know who can instantaneously calm ME down when *I* panic. He's so milquetoast and unassuming, yet he's a great father. We don't engage much, and it's almost always about Luke, but he is patient, calm and I think getting to be the stricter of we two parents.

I was already up and "around," if you want to call it that. Sitting in a chair to look healthier to my son than I really feel, when I'm in a lot of pain and the pharmacy downstairs still hadn't brought up my Dilaudid, which I was due for 2 hours ago at the time. I muddled through, and sent to the bathroom to pee (quite an effort). During my brief intermission, Luke took to the dry erase board and left his mark, as he does everyhwere. The mark of the WALRUS.

The hysterectomy went fine. It was laproscropic, which is easier, though I have like 5 or 6 holes in my abdomen, which freaks me out. They took my uterus and cervix out via my vagina, which is now stitched up and when I asked why, my gynecologist said, "So your intestines don't fallout." Simple enough, which freaks me out as well. There are stitches in it. And I'm bleeding a lit tle, which is normal, I guess, unless I start clotting. I'll be here not overnight again. Staying until after dinner and having my girl, Jenny, drive me home since tis better if my mom stays sort of away from me for at least the next few days or wears a mask. My ma said to stay here as long as they'll keep me, as currently, she has a bad cold she picked up from Luke, that I was spared by God. Hare Hare! Seriously, it's amazing I didn't catch the cold, given how many dirty snotrags I picked up for him, the shared space, the handling of the Benadryl cup...God clearly wanted this surgery to happen yesterday. But poor Ma, she's miserable....

Oh, Miss Thang II, for your information, I was administered the Pneumovax today, since I never get a cold. I only get severe asthmatic bronchitis or pneumonia. This should help, no?

Speaking of God, Pastor Dave and I had a wonderful visit during which he attempted to put my body jewelry BACK IN because the medical team in surgery TOOK OUT ALL OF MY EYEBROW AND CARTILAGE RINGS OUT AFTER THEY KNOCKED ME OUT AND NOW THEY ALL NEED TO BE RE--PIERCED and PUT BACK TOGETHER. That'll be pleasant and costly. In my mom's aggression over the whole situation, she was like "Fine, I'll pay for it.' That's great because I'm running out of tax refund money already and the piercing are really important to who I am. Tatus said I looked more naked last night than I ever have in front of him. (He was joking. The only times he's seen my remotely naked are during exams on top and checking for edema on my legs. Oh yeah, he has seen me in short-shorts. ANYWAY, he missed my body jewelry as much as I do.)

Blew a call into Hank, my piercing artist, who's willing to re-open the closed piercings. I asked how much that would cost. He said, "Oh honey, somewhere between $0-$20. So that's a lucky relief. When I'm up to it I'll get my head re-pierced. Putting the jewelry back in right now, with random fever, sounds a little on the iffy side. I have to wait until I'm healed more.

Anyway Pastor Dave gets not only me, as he got me from the start, but also he gets IT. We had a discussion about me being a practicing, faithful Christian who draws on the beauty and the culture and philosophy of other religions. I told him I "dabble" in them, both Hinduism and Buddhism. He didn't seem to want to ex-communicate me from the Lutheran church, so that's cool. I told him how much I want to return to the band ASAP, and given we don't play again until April 14th, I think it is, I should be back in sitting-on-a-stool-playing-a-djembe- shape. Unless we get the whole house rocking again with the addition of a potential new lead guitarist we're working with.

We talked about acts of forgiveness and penance, and how they're really kind of just a show in the Catholic church--faith by actions, not by grace itself. When we ask God for forgiveness, Pastor said, and we truly repent for our actions, we can pray and ask for forgiveness, ask the person we've wronged for their forgiveness or give it all up to God. All good things, that don't necessarily involve the minster crossing you or telling you to say 3 Hail Mary's, though I guess it can't hurt, right? We talked about the Presbyterians, as my ex-husband would always call them, "The Pre-Destination People." (His father, lest we forget, was a Presbyterian minister.) We agreed that God ultimately has a plan for all of us on Earth, that's HIS will. But we don't, as Lutherans, necessarily obsess about it. Meh, every denomination has it's quirks, but in Christianity, anyway, ultimately it's about salvation through Christ Jesus. (Craig converted to Lutheranism AFTER we got divorced, which I thought was very odd. What his late father must've thought. What his living mother must think. Eh, who cares.

Anyway, that was it with Pastor Dave. Then I got to talk to Kate at length, before receiving a gorgeous bouquet of fuschia roses and other flowers, like a hydrangea with a mysterious, unsigned card that said something like "thinking about you all the time and love you very much." I have a hunch who gave them to me, though there was no name on the card. They're gorgeous, though. Truly. So, from whence they came, thank you and bless you. A pink hydrangea is even in there! We only see those in the summertime! Pastor, when he was getting his visitors pass, told the volunteer my name, and the volunteer said, "Oh, hey, we just got flowers for her!" but Dave though it'd be a little tacky to be walking in with a random bouquet of his flock's flowers.

Tatus came to visit me in the evening to check on things, and naturally they mixed up order for my heart medication, which he had to have fixed. He was worn out and still had a buddy of his in here that he said he'd visit. A nurse came into the room, and asked if he was a doctor, or if we were family. He said "Cardiologist" and then proceeded to ask the Propranolol question. Yet, we're kind of like family too. ;) A nurse told me that Lips, another doc I used to work for, saw that I was up on the heart floor, where I always am, but didn't come to see me, which is unfortunate, seeing as he's the only other person in the practice (the 2 girls I worked with notwithstanding) I can honestly stand at this point. In any event, I texted Tatus that if I had one more hole in my abdomen, he could play 9 rounds of golf on me. Mini golf, at least, with the belly button as the whole-in-one. Or Whack-a-Mole.

So this morning, I was awakened at 3am and then 6am, for various hospital bullshit So not a complete night's rest by any stretch. Decided to call it daytime and got up at 6:15ish. Last night, they wanted me to take a walk, which wasn't until 10pm, by which time I was falling asleep, so I said, "Fuck it."

Tatus said his sister's laproscopic hysterectomy a couple weeks ago rendered her a big ball of doing zero for herself. I highly doubt that I will be that dependent on my mom. And I want friends to come over and hang out, maybe watch a flick downstairs, see my new room and I've REALLY been wanting to show Tatus the George Harrison documentary, to watch it together, instead of him loaning it from me. Knowing George's history and life as well as I do would put a unique spin on watching the documentary. Though with Spring break coming up for probably 2 of his 3 kids, we'll see how much time we get to spend together in the near future. I think he'd do better returning to the Tattoo Factory to get me re-pierced than my MOTHER would. She'd be best off looking at all the designs on the wall while I get my head re-jabbed 4 times. STILL SERIOUSLY BUMMED OUT ABOUT THAT.

(Ah. They finally brought the Dilaudid. When they actually start working in like an hour, I'll feel much better.)

They finally took the suction-contraction contraption thingys off my legs Tuesday morning. So I can get up with the IV and wander into the bathroom should the need arise, but output is scant and hurts too much to push. My girl Jenny said to run some water in the sink at the same time, that'll help things move along. Ooh, they're taking the IV out, unlike last time, when I got so fed up being there on the anniversary of my father's death, that I ripped out my own IV. Not smart. Maybe, I can wash up, wash my hair and brush my teeth.

Tooth brushing accomplished, off the IV, walked the floor, ate lunch, talked to Kate, saw my PCP, my gynecologist and I can hear Tatus' voice on the floor, his hearty giggle unmistakable. I assume he's heading my way eventually, though I'm usually his last, so he can spend the most time jibba and or jabbin'. It's become clear to me that he hasn't yet read the rest of the diatribe I wrote explaining the CD of 18 songs I gave him almost a month ago, nor has he opened the envelope with the original writing exercise I did especially for him. Surely he would've said something by now. Lazy Irish Something-or-other! Plus, OMG, Holy Week is coming and he's Catholic. I guess, unless he comes visiting while I'm eating dinner, the approximate time texted to him, I shouldn't plan on seeing him for a while. Boo to that, heavily!

Thank God I brought nicotine patches here to the hospital. Am I quitting? No, it's only been since yesterday morning since I had a smoke. I just haven't hit smoking rock bottom yet. The patches work. They help a lot. I wear them frequently when I go somewhere it's totally uncool to slip out and smoke, when I'm with staunch non-smokers (like going out w/my cardiologist, who really, surprisingly, doesn't nag me half as much as my family does).


I was let go from the hospital the next day after my surgery, Tuesday. Despite the fact I wasn't remotely healed. and in a lot of pain. Some time Tuesday night, at home, I took 2 too many Dilaudid and fell asleep at the computer. Then, as I was told, I was found unconscious on my bedroom floor, so my mom called 911 and our Pastor. I have no memory of getting to or going into the ER. They shot me up with Nar-Can and I nearly shivered to death, from it's effects. (You shake uncontrollably, much to the chagrin of the nurse trying to gather your blood. "Hold still!" she kept telling me, but I couldn't. I was admitted under 24-hour observation, put back on IV fluids (even though I'd had bag after bag of fluids, I was crazy thirsty and still dehydrated from the "bowel cleansing." My potassium was so low, that could have contributed to me falling off the chair and onto the floor. Tatus and my best friend both agree that 3 pills doesn't make an overdose. I purely took 3 Dilaudid (one at 6, one at 10 and another a 11, I was in so much pain).

The ER's great idea about my low potassium? Make me swallow a pill that was so large, they had to break it into 3's.

Yesterday, Wednesday, back in the hospital, I had no phone, no computer, and just had to SIT THERE and, according to my internist, "Tough it out." Read: The stigma against former junkies is still QUITE popular. I did get a pneumonia vaccine while I was there, and now I have this mysterious, warm to the touch hematoma on my left upper arm, where I *think* the shot was given. It's warm and red and big, as if I was allergic to something in the shot. I don't know.

Shortly before I was to go home last night, I developed a fever of 101.3. It's still at 100 now, and my nurse practitioner friend said fevers are common after a major operation. So they sent me home with a 101 fever and I was banished from having any of the narcotics that were written for me.

Tatus called. His opinion was that I should never have been released after 24 hours, but my gynecologist was adamant about getting me out of there.

I'm pumping Advil and liquids here at home, and will call the doctor again this morning to let him know I still have a fever, albeit lower now.

Praying I don't go all septic and infected on you all.

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