Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Had I known....

Had I known that I was going to need to be unzipped from above my belly button down to my groin, I would've worked harder at losing weight and strengthening all my muscles to achieve that lean athletic body I've always admired on other women.

Had I known that you use that many stomach muscles just to blood breathe, I would've done yoga.

I wish I had known that you use your stomach muscles for every movement you want your body to do. No wonder it's called the core.

Other things I didn't know:

  • morphine helps to dull the pain, but it's not totally gone. 
  • morphine makes me sweat...gross, disgusting, huge amounts of sweat. I'd wake up from a doze to find myself in a puddle of cold sweat. 
  • hospitals are totally disgusting. I thought they were supposed to be bleached clean, totally pristine, totally germ free. Yeah, okay. 
  • I didn't know how quickly your modesty will disappear. You just don't give a shit when you're in that much pain and someone is poking at you every goddamned hour. By the third HOUR, you're just lifting your gown so they can see your scar and check on it, you don't care that they can see your pubic hair or your boobs or that you're coated in salty sweat and your hair is standing on end.
  • Speaking of every hour...I thought sleep was healing? WHY DO YOU NOT LET ME SLEEP?

Things I knew, but didn't expect to appreciate so much:

  • Water. Sweet, clean, glorious water. Stop with the little stupid swabs of moisture and the ice chip or two. I was such a glutton for water. 
  • Sponge baths - they suck, but if that is all I can get, I'm so happy to have it. 
  • Foam Shampoo - totally disgusting, didn't make me feel clean at all, but did de-grease my hair. 
  • Two arms -- with one arm laden with bracelets, IVs, and basically made to make me feel like a marionette and also basically useless, I've never appreciated both arms as much as I did when trying to sponge bath. 
  • Shower. I am pretty annoyed if I don't get to have a shower at least every other day. I can barely make it to a second day without a shower. I was in the hospital for FIVE. FULL. FREAKING. DAYS. The shower when I got home was the most glorious, if exhausting, thing I've done in my entire 36 years.  

I busted out of the hospital after only five days. The surgical resident team told me that my surgeon wanted me to take it slowly and stretch it out to eight days or so, but I was in a hurry to get home and get CLEAN.

Thursday: On Day One post surgery, all I did was push the hell out of my morphine button and sleep whenever I could. Not easy in a hospital when they wake you on the hour EVERY FLIPPING HOUR. And that's where your modesty disappears. Everyone wants to check your wound. Your drain. Your IV. Your catheter. Oh, but they like to call them by other names: surgical site, your JP, and your Foley. After asking and getting non answers, I just said fuck it and I didn't ask anymore, I just let them lift my gown and do what they wanted. I made mental notes of who were assholes and who were nice, fully intent on letting my surgeon know as well as the hospital during my review. 

Friday: Day Two -- I was a little more awake. And my nurse didn't really give me a choice but yanked my catheter out in the morning, forcing me to get my ass out of bed if I wanted to pee. Oh, but don't think I could pee on my own. First they brought me a commode. They'd have to help me get out of bed and then onto the commode. Bye, dignity. And then wait while I strained to urinate because, thanks to the drugs, it doesn't just flow like normal. I really just wanted to sleep. I couldn't bend over to wipe and one nurse and PCA were awesome at helping me even though I wanted to cry at the fact that I can't even wipe myself. One other PCA was a total bitch who made me feel even worse. Here I am vulnerable, in a shit ton of pain, barely able to move, and she was yelling at me to bend over or twist and wipe myself. Fucking. Bitch. I hope karma finds her. 

Spoke with my surgeon again who expressed his sympathies over and over. I told him no big deal. Just something I gotta do. My main goal is to heal from surgery, get well, and see the oncologist. We confirmed post op appts and he told me to have a good wknd.

My roommate was a pain in the ass old lady who would NOT ring for help to get up. She was on Fall Watch and so every time she got out of bed, alarms would go off. The nurses threatened to tie her down. I muttered, or knock her out so she can't move. Shit... I just want to sleep. They never did, but listening to that old lady just pissed me off. Thankfully, Mom and Dad brought me my phone, my KindleFire, and a set of earplugs. This second day, they insisted I eat three meals a day, all clear liquids. Jello and a really disgusting chicken broth. No flavor, just boiled chicken bone broth. Blech! A second day of trying to sleep, albeit unsuccessfully. 

Saturday: Day Three - Now I get liquid foods, not just clear liquid. This means mashed potatoes, pudding, milk, apple sauce, ice cream, etc. The PCA Lisa was amazing and sweet as hell. She made sure to get me popsicles and sherbet as my diet progressed. She was helpful and friendly. I went for a short walk and sat up in the chair for all of my meals and for much of the day. Just sitting up for an hour at a time was exhausting. I was sick of shots and sugar testing (I'm also a diabetic) and medications. I was using the morphine less and less. I finally got to do a sponge bath, a foam shampoo thing, and felt a little better because of it. Nothing is worse than feeling sick, in pain, and disgusting all at once. I think I would've happily stabbed someone with a fork on that day if it meant a shower. Hindered by the IVs and wires, even a sponge bath was difficult. I was encouraged to go for walks to help get my bowel moving and help promote healing. When I could pass gas, eat without throwing up or experiencing nausea, and hopefully have a bowel movement, even a tiny one, I'd be allowed to go home. Holy motivation. I walked three times this day. And crawled back into bed practicing their breathing exercises and hugging that HUG ME pillow Lisa made me like it was a life line. Surgical resident team stopped by again. They're like Grey's Anatomy, only more annoying and very cold. They let the thin asian girl be the lead voice. She's efficient but no bedside manner. One of them squeezed my drain to check on it, creating massive suction and intense pain. Asian Girl tells me to relax, it only will hurt for a few minutes. I glared at her and told her it's time for her to leave. Thirty minutes later, the pain finally dissipates. 

Late afternoon, one of my favorite nurses shows up with the handsome, sweet faced surgical resident. I'm gonna name him Sam, because who the hell knows what his name is. He announces he's there to remove my drain. Kind Nurse Nancy tells me, "It's gonna burn like hell and you're gonna wanna punch someone. So I'm gonna hug you and give you my hand. You squeeze has hard as you want." She then looked over and made a "oh my god" face. Not exactly what you want to see on your nurse's face. BURN? PAIN. All the pain! And then it was over and he slapped a bandage on me. One step closer to home. That's all I can think of. Just. Get. Home.

Sunday: Day Four - repeat of Day Three but add more walking. Surgical team is back but says my surgeon wanted me to take it slowly and hang out a few more days. My doctor's wknd replacement says, uh, no. You're good. Why wait? If you do well today, you can go home tomorrow. NP Billy, one of the most beautiful men I've ever seen, one who just radiates goodness, tells me I'm doing well and confirms wknd doctor's claim: If I continue to do well throughout the night, eat all my food (I hadn't been), and have a bowel movement, I can go home tomorrow. 

Monday: Day Five. Morning visits all go well. Surgeon is a no show (later found out he was super sick and had to call out). NP Billy tells me he'll spring me if I eat all my lunch without getting sick. I immediately called my dad and told him to show up 15 minutes past noon. When the disgusting hospital lunch arrives, I ate half of everything on the plate, said SEE I AM NOT NAUSEATED! and started packing to leave. And they let me! 

The drive home I wanted to kill the people responsible for every shitty road between my house and the hospital. Every effing bump was killer. Once home, I eased myself into bed and promptly passed out. I woke up a few hours later to shower. God that shower was glorious. Just...glorious. 

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