Day surgery, a surreal experience. I slept poorly the night before but if there’s one thing I don’t need great sleep for, it’s anesthesia.
If you read here you probably know: I am terrified of medical procedures that involve being put under by narcotics. I am also terrified of needles. I mean my fears are huge. I don’t know why, and perhaps I will ever know. Today I accept these fears with a great deal of patience and kindness.
That’s all well and good, but these fears mean I have a hard time with all the minor hurts and indignities of the before-preparations. Like now: the nurse fiddles about trying to insert an IV in my left hand and instead stabs through the vein. The room fills with a small sadness as I turn my head and try not to cry. She hushes and wraps my hand and applies pressure, and tells me “sorry” several times – like about five. I am thinking this is not professional, but what is even more important and precious, I can tell she doesn’t want to hurt a patient. It is very amazing to me that some health care professionals, even after how hard they work and how much they see these things and worse, can still have that empathy over my little bit of pain. It really softens my heart.
My husband hates more than anything to see me suffering – it is kind of his Worst Thing. So even though he’s committed to being with me every moment, I know he’s uncomfortable here. I tell him he can go, I am okay. He tells me unless I request for him to leave he is going to stay because he is committed to being there for me anytime shit is rough.
The nurses come and go and now and then it’s just Ralph and I, sitting in the sunlight, both tired, both nervous. We turn and look at the cheerful placard that reads: “Tell Us What We Can Do To Make You Feel Safe!” I whisper to my husband in busted-down sotto voce, “Please stop stabbing me with needles!” He laughs but his eyes fill with tears. He jokes back, “Quit taking my clothes off and hurting me!” We implode into small fits of laughter and even though I am tired and frightened I am immensely cheered.
More procedures. More needles. I’m thinking, I will give you bastards one thousand dollars if you at least let me wear my bra and underwear under this hideous “gown”. I’ m not happy sitting here like a naked mole rat covered in thin cotton. A few specialists come by. They comment on the rarity of meeting someone on Zero medications. They tell me I am healthy, except for the reason I am here, for which I feel grateful. One specialist comes in and speaks to me in such a condescending, ridiculous fashion I gleefully store the exchange in my heart. If you know me IRL I am happy to relay an impression of this hubris to you, as it makes me laugh still. Then the final specialist: an anesthesiologist. We talk a bit and he has that efficiency and expertise of someone with the responsibility of placing another human being in death’s arms and then bringing them away again. He starts me on the medicine and begins to wheel me out the room. I tell Ralph, “Bye,” and I know I am going off to Won’t-Remember.
The morphine kicks in and it is not pleasant – I feel my body squeezed in a hot vise and I feel myself taken away to some other place, from somewhere in my chest.
Only a brief memory of the stainless steel, the friendly surgeons and other personnel, quickly and efficiently sticking sensors to my skin.
When I swim to consciousness and out of a hallucination (a twisted brick path, a nameless creature upon it) my throat feels terrible. It is sore, filled with the acrid taste of whatever lubricant they used to get me on a breathing apparatus. A kind nurse comes and helps me swab and rinse my mouth. She floats in and speaks to me with such gentleness I feel safe and cheered; she has no sadness in her body language or voice so I know I am Okay. Nevertheless, a few moments later I hear two other nurses, one of them disparaging drug addicts who come in with abscesses. I want to tell them of my dear friend who came in this way, and has now been clean and sober since this last event. But I am still muffled under fog and shifting sands and even five feet away they are not reachable.
As soon as I can speak, I ask if I’d had a stint placed. I am told, No. My mind eases a bit.
Back in day surgery my husband is given back to me and I am supplied with a small tub of high fructose corn syrup-sweetened cranberry juice. Nothing tastes better. I know I will vomit everything up again, but I am simply too thirsty not to drink it.
A wheelchair out to the car, a ride home. Vomiting and then again, and then rest.
And yes, in the evening after I slept, I pulled myself out into the world again. I participated in some work with other alcoholics – a very small meeting. I did this because I was okay to walk, and to speak, and it’s something I do if I can. And at first, I thought I was fine. But once I got home I was exhausted, and threw up again. That kind of violent even-out-the-nose vomiting.
But again, I am pretty serene. The vomiting will pass – it is the medicine, and I am sensitive to it.
I am still feeling the gratitude of being awake – and not having a bunch of needles and appliances in my body.
So today: more recovery. Trying to rest instead of working too hard. Hoping I can poop. Believe me, pooping after having morphine is like, a huge milestone of joy for me. I remember in November 2011 having a procedure, and being constipated (my first time ever) and boy by the end I was in fervent prayer.
And on that topic, my brother sent me a link. Read not one review, but several. You will be in tears by the end.