Sunday, July 23, 2017

Sunday, before the medication arrived, we were sitting here and I was telling P about the video of the dog who brings a carrot out to his horse. He's half listening and I'm all like okay so it's this black dog and he shoots out of his house and goes straight out to the barn, and then you don't see him for a minute and then all of a sudden, he comes out of the barn and he brings this carrot over to the horse and the horse doesn't take it right away, but the dog stands there and then the horse DOES take it and and the dog starts running back-but he gets distracted for a second and starts licking his butt and then he kinda remembers what he was doing and he starts racing back toward the house and P says, wait, the horse was licking the dogs butt? 

Laughing hurts me so much right now it's a beautiful thing. I had to sit here with a pillow across myself to keep my internal organs from flying across the room but oh mah gawd so worth it. This whole being alive thing. Fantastic. 

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Laparoscopic surgery is more painful than open surgery. This is what they told me. It doesn't make a bit of sense, does it? In this surgery, they started laparoscopically-there's two extra holes-but they switched over because I needed additional julienning. 


Crazier still. You know how I've been trrrrrrying to eat better and water aerobicize my sorry ass and all. So, so, so very glad that I did. You should see how the organic popcorn wants to blast through the paper bag. It's so much different from Orville Redenbacher and his grocery-store-shelved ilk. So, I'm there on Friday getting the hardware out of my belly(didn't hurt) and the surgeon reaches over and peels off the shiny tops of the two laparoscopic incisions. Like you'd take the top off a Yoplait. 

Super Glue. He says. The stuff that sealed the incisions is made from the exact same thing.

Shaking my head.  

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I had a-what do you call that? An epiphany-just about an hour or two ago. A big one. Bear with me.

Start with Cheryl Strayed. I got interested in her because one of the people I featured in my library Facebook feature-if you will-happened to be a professor at Loyola(everything is connected) and was just over the moon(<---understatement) about anything that came from the keyboard of Cheryl Strayed. 

I saw Wild. I remember the boots falling. Right? 

And then for some reason I happened on Dear Sugars. That's like this advice podcast that pops up on Facebook here and there. I like to read it more than I ever listened to it but Saturday, I was diddling around here doing some stuff and I decided to listen. It was an episode where they were going to answer a lot of questions all in a row and then the following episode was going to be Oprah taking about saying no. Or something. I'm paying attention and I'm not paying attention. You understand. (See paragraph one.)

Cheryl Strayed mentions her broken relationship with her father. I almost think she did it twice and I'd read about it in her super cool book and I was thinking, Jeez, ya know? Do you never resolve something like that in your head or is it just something you carry forever like an American Express card er whut?

Well, (like many other people),I have my own American Express card of familial disappointment and it just churns in my head continually like for sport. And I thought ya know, maybe if I sang it all the way through(like a song that sticks in your head) maybe then it will go away but it only churns and churns. 

I have a sibling and a nephew and a father. I believe under the current circumstances, these people would be considered my immediate family. Maybe not the nephew. I talk to my Dad every day around 1:30. We are completely cool. 

And there's been four surgeries at Loyola. 2 cancers plus the adrenal gland plus 2 hernia repairs. 

And do you know who's shown up for all of them?


This guy. 


And you know who has taken care of these things?


Yeah. Same guy. 

(You know I've only known him for a couple of years, right?) 

And for a long time, from what I'd read, the reason they say your own people don't show up for each other for these kind of life threatening kinda things is that they're too scared. And for what? A year or two now? I've been kinda jangling that idea around in my head. (She's too scared?!? What about me?)

A high school friend, Susan, died-from lung cancer nosheneversmoked-right before our very eyes on Facebook-I mean, one day she was there laughing so hard and the next day it got Too Quiet and I could not put myself in motion in the direction of her funeral. I just sat here like a maroon and felt numb but this has been Four Separate Occasions. 

Four different pairs of no-slip yellow socks as it were. No call. No card. No visit. No dog walk. No, hey I understand you don't get paid while you're down for the count here's 10 bucks.  No giant bag of delicious fruit because that came from Mary Next Door. No funny book because that came from Lindz. No cookbooks to look at because that came from Patty down the street. No hey what can I do for you/name it because that came from Amy. No I'm praying for you/Girl you look good! because that came from Carlisa pushing carts in the Jewel parking lot. And on and on and on. 


And I realize, this very evening, why Cheryl Strayed has to keep talking about cutting her father out of her life. Because you just cannot believe that something like that could possibly be true and in case the relationship rears its head again, you've got to remember why it died in the first place. 



Got it now. Moving on. 


Boom. 












Friday, July 21, 2017

Nighthawk


Did I mention that I had to get tied down in recovery? Uh huh. I guess when I was coming out of the anesthesia, I decided it was time for me to go home and the nurse told me I was fighting her and ooh, I said, sorry about that, but internally I was like, heh heh heh cool. Good to know there's some fight left inside.

I woke up to an extremely nice room. Like The Hilton or a very good Holiday Inn or something. All by myself and no god forsaken beeping from the pole. (Do you remember that from last time? When they got mad because I was shutting off the beep myself?) These nurses seriously hustled. And with one exception they were so nice and if anything I over-thanked them because that's how it should be.  


They were pretty strict about ordering breakfast like, come on. Order something. So, I exhibited Very Good Behavior and ordered spinach and mushroom omelettes with whole wheat english muffins and ate about half. 


The one cranky nurse got off on the wrong foot with me when her opener was something about how she wasn't going to let me just lay around in bed all day and that I had to get out and walk. Oh really? I thought to myself. 

But people say stupid things to ya all the time, don't they. I'm starting to notice it more and more. Maybe the thing to do is learn how to shake them off or to swing offa them until they get you to the next lily pad.  

Here's the craziest thing. Along with the cranky nurse, I seem to have been assigned a special student nurse and she was SO cool. Like the cranky nurse would be saying something random and I'd lock eyes with the student nurse and we'd both be like, uh-huh?!?!?!?!?!?

We just sort of hung out and blabbed and I did my very very best to encourage her as a person-not that she needed my help. No siree Bob. She took me for a stroll. I felt kinda extra fortunate like I got the cool tutor who takes you for ice cream or something. 

Now I'll always know the room I had. The one behind the flag.


Today is the day to get the hardware out. There are 14 big staples running down my belly. My cousin called them bling. 
: ) First, I thought there were 13 and that mystified me-if you were going for 13 why wouldn't you go for 14? But I counted bottom to top and I felt better. 

I intended on having a nice list of questions for the surgeon but I can't think of anything right now. Here's one: How do I never end up in this position again? 

How do I feel? I'm not having that screaming pain that I was getting at first when I shifted positions. After I walk, I've been using an ice pack because I still feel a sort of a burning but I stopped the official pain pills a few days ago because I don't need jet engine fuel running through me while I'm stuck here in park. 

Thanks for all the kind thoughts and stuff. Have a happy day. 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I moved back here just before my mother was scheduled for some surgery herself a long long time ago. "Aren't you so glad you were here to help her?" asked my Aunt Lois. "Uhhno.", thought me. 

I was living in the upstairs of the house of the parentals. Stripped of everything except a dog, a car, a visa bill. And kind of a huge mess. This was in Elmhurst, the surgery was set for Oak Park. Ironically-at the hospital that's just down the street from me. I wouldn't go there myself-if I had a choice-and so far I have. Knock wood. 

It was firmly established that I wasn't going along to my mother's surgery.  She knew I wasn't going to be there. I was an anxious, panicky disaster. I wouldn't add anything to the group and so, I ended that evening sweeping the floor and watching Everybody Loves Raymond which I thought was Very Funny. 

The phone rang and I was commanded to go out in the cold because my mother all of a sudden desperately needed her Own Pillow. Of course, I didn't want to go, but how would one live with oneself denying ones own mother a bit of comfort in her hour of need. Shit.


I didn't really know my way, but I drove to Oak Park in the dark and it was so late that the front entrance of the hospital was closed and in the freezing air, carrying her fancy pillow, I had to go around to the emergency entrance. If you thought I was jumpy walking around my parents home sweeping-you had to see me try and make my way through the bowels of a hospital trying to avoid sharing an elevator with any possible dead people or what have you. 

Yeesh. 


Somehow I got where I had to go. There was a hideous decorative wallpaper border on the edges of the room that made the whole thing close up even faster and ignite my flight response. 

I think my Dad finally came and then we went up to some higher floor where the all-important pillow was delivered to her room. She was asleep. It never mattered. 

Later in the week, I made soup and took her out for walks in the frosty air. She recovered and went on to have a lot more fun. 

-------
Today is one week after the surgery. 

We did one whole lot of running around on Monday collecting the list of stuff we needed to make a terrarium. (They call them 'fairy gardens' too now. I'm not really down with fairies especially. I like a nice gnome.) We got a super cool old pickle jar from the Goodwill(pink tag $1.00 off), and some activated charcoal at the pet store(That was maybe the most expensive thing($6?) but if it makes the whole thing not stink-I say it's well worth it.) A little bag of rocks from the Dollar Store. 

The inside of the thing goes: rocks, activated charcoal, dirt + plants, moss. The gnome came from Michaels as well as a box of reindeer fern that was tinted in shades of green. We were too late to get to the plant store, so we went yesterday for that and it ended up that we had plenty of stuff for two terrariums so back to the Goodwill to find another jar. P would like a monkey for the non-gnome one and I have this urge to hand craft a whole bunch of little tiny ducks. I think that would look really cool. 

Why are we doing this? asked P. 

Because we have to Mark The Occasion, said me. We kicked ass on this one. 

------

The moment I knew that everything was going to be okay was in the pre-op area. We probably met 11 new people between everyone and the chaplain came in and gave P a chance to pray aloud and we Did Not Even Laugh eventho our faces were set to 100% explosive glee. And the most exotic anesthesiologist who actually listened and believed me(!) when I told her I had spent the last post surgical week throwing up. It's extremely not cool to be heaving when you've just had your linings reinforced. And she adjusted the approach to deliver the drugs via vein as opposed to gas and that totally worked perfectly but that wasn't even it. In the midst of all this drama-they took my blood pressure and it was dead on perfect.   


Even the nurse paused to admire it. 






-------------

For the record, you should leave your best pillow at home. It's not going to make you feel like you're not in the hospital(unless you're taking some very significant drugs that I am not aware of) and when you get home, you're going to have to go hunting for a new pillow because your favorite one will have hospital cooties on it and who wants that.

Know from whom random commands may come and listen to your own heart every time.  

<3




















Sunday, July 16, 2017

They sprung me on Saturday. 

I had my Get Well balloon and my Smiley face balloon, a card from Marilyn, and half the sandwich from my lunch, and a red jello and a can of Diet Shasta Ginger Ale and some sorta stuff that's supposed to clean your hair without shampooing and one of those plastic lung clearing blowing things and instructions and 2 prescriptions. I asked the woman that was pushing my wheelchair if we could wait for my ride outside(instead of inside)and it was so funny how she maneuvered the wheelchair so that she got to sit down too. 

We got home and P grabbed all the crap and I started up the three flights. I had to stop and rest a bunch of times but I made it and Grantley was SO happy to see me she rubbed her whole self against my leg. 




I think I went straight to the bed and became one with the mattress. Then I realized there was no way I could get up. Quite a few times-in the last day or two-I've thought about upside down turtles because just for the moment I've turned into one. 

P had to come and help me figure out how to get up. Any big movement currently comes with a string of guttural grunts that I've never heard come out of me before. Sometimes it's a string of three F's but the coolest ones are when I don't realize I'm about to really hurt myself. 




With all the arsing around, P didn't leave for the pharmacy 'till 5:00. We weren't even thinking that it was Saturday and that pharmacies close early on Saturdays. SO. Saturday night? No pain pills. 

Hmmm, thought me. If I could just stay still, I'll probably be fine but you know I couldn't sleep properly because I had pain but I was trying to be realistic about it and I held on to the fact that the Jewel pharmacy opened at 9:30 and by 10:00 all would be swell, right?

Despite having the prescription handed in at 9:30ish, I didn't score the pills till way late in the afternoon. There was an issue that a resident signed the prescription instead of the attending? And to our pharmacist and the rules of the Jewel, she couldn't dispense the pills. 



I thought it was quite ridiculous. I mean, she knows us. And did she not realize that these were pills for pain that was actively happening? Cripes. But I made phone calls and I was about to make a second round of calls when my surgeon rang me up and while checking on my status, he took on the whole drama himself. He said he thinks it's the only pharmacy in the state of Illinois that follows that rule. He is Really Nice and Non-Ridiculous.

I decided to walk over there myself looking like a compete wizzlebeast and if she gave me further drama about it-well, I just didn't think that she would. So, we walked on over there. Slowly. 

And I admired my newly elevated levels of badassitude. 

Uh huh. 









Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Hello Ire, My Old Friend. 


Finally, I snapped. 


It has been an extremely long journey of chillaxified good sportsmanshipping on my end. Really, really, really I have tried. (If I had a tattoo based on the last 3 years, it might say Roll With It-altho it might say something completely different so don't quote me.) Until this morning.

I went for my pre-op rama-lama-ding-dong appointment at 10:00. Don't you want to be fifteen minutes early? asked P.? 
Nope, said me. 

The hallway is like ice. The pre-op waiting area is stuffy and crowded with people draped everywhere like New Orleans after a flood. There's a board on the wall-like at an airport. Lots of jibber jabber. Why do some people feel the need to fill the air with words? I'll never understand. 



They call me in. I have to Sign Things. They want some money paid toward my balance. That seems fair under the circumstances. I get a paper bracelet. I choose my religion. I go with 'other'. I can't remember what I picked last time. P-the man I met through a personal ad in an alternative weekly newspaper is The Chosen One which strikes me as ridiculous in the cosmic scope of things and his official designation is now 'boyfriend'. I remember last time I cared a lot about this designation. Now, not at all. 

After a bit of a wait, I get called into this weird room.Check it out. It's so poorly designed, they have to set the phone on the floor. I took this photo because they offer a regular chair and a giant chair and I never want to have to sit in the giant chair. 
As you can see, in my fabulous bag, I am packing a library book. 

A crooked man leads me in and weighs me and takes my vitals. I try to engage him in conversation about his crocs because it's just weird and awkward in this little room. When he leaves he says, Good Luck and don't worry. You're in good hands. 

Later a woman enters. I know her from the first time. She has to ask lotta, lotta questions from off the computer. The best one is, would you like the chaplain to say a prayer for you? I say, sure. (Along the lines of, would you like some fresh black pepper? only churchier) She gives me a time-which doesn't sound like the time I had imagined in my head. Get there at 8:30.  Start at 10:00. I wanted to start at 8:30. Those are my most brightest, most alert hours. I don't want to spend them being anxious, dammit. 

More, more, more waiting. In (finally) comes the nurse/anesthesiologist. I've massaged a bunch of these women. They have the magical powers of an anesthesiologist but not the paycheck. Tough gig, I think. She needs to look down my throat and check my lungs and ask me questions and oh yeah, draw my ire. Lucky her.

My phone rings. It's the hematologist's nurse. I can't really hear her, but she wants me to come Friday to talk to the hematologist. Uhhh I say, I don't think I can make it. Maybe next Friday? Yeah maybe. I'll call you. Because we are decidedly OVER the hematologist. 

Back to the nurse. Did you stop your blood thinners. Yes I stopped them Saturday night. That was too soon, she said. 




Look, said me, in my most I HAVE HAD IT WITH THIS BULLSHIT voice. The hematologist called and said "stop the blood thinners three or four days before the surgery" and "I'll call you tomorrow" and she never did. I'm really getting sick of this nonsense. 

The nurse/anesthesiologist replies. "In the report, it says one or two days."

Yeah says me? Well, that's on you. 


Silence. 


She finished her notes and left the room. Someone else came and I said I could leave. And that-as they say-was that. 

---------------



I did some fast errands(scored P some dollar store candy bars for tomorrow) and came home to a frosty bottle of what the surgeon called "Mag Citrate". I put myself on a sort of a clear liquid/tons of fluids extravaganza this afternoon because when they go for a vein tomorrow, I want them to find one. 

One of my many bosses, when I was leaving for the last time before this surgery said something really offhand like, You look like you're talking care of yourself. And I was like, uhhwhat? Not in a 'golly what a charming thing to point out' way but in a 'what is THAT supposed to mean' kind of thing but I realize, all the nonsense has served as a delightful distraction when I needed one the most. 


This was on my Chicken and Stars soup tonight. 
I think it's a positive omen. 



Thanks in advance for your positive mojo. See you soon. 









Wednesday, July 5, 2017

What I Did Instead of Surgery

Blueberries, rolled oats, banana, hemp hearts, Pom juice. Couldn't finish it. 

Went to the 9:15 water aerobics class and actually played tag while straddling a noodle in the water with a group of four women of one color and four women of another color. Delores kept getting in trouble today which was great because she has the Best Laugh and a Tendency to Misbehave. 

Nice. 

Picked up a pair of Cole Haan loafers in a sort of a navy blue offa somebodies porch in northerly Oak Park fer five bucks. WhAt? Five bucks for Cole Haan?!?! I wore them all day without socks Miami Vice style and felt ever so groovy.

From the River Forest Oak Park Virtual Garage Sale. 


Picked up my Dad and made him laugh SO hard with my most hilarious, Didja hear about the fecal matter in Starbucks? And you wondered why you always thought that coffee tasted like shit? seated stand-up comedy routine in the lobby of his dignified bank. I said something else really funny but I forgot it while I was watching him laugh so hard. 

Had a most enlightening session with a banker who actually knows my Dad's name. Isn't that most fantabulous? I must send her a thank you e right after this. Remind me. 

Raced to Portillio's and scored 2 hot dogs(See: I am The Worst Vegan Ever)and a root beer so we would be on time for the movie.

Got a supremo parking space and as we are strolling by the movie poster, we get up to the movie of my choice and I sing: WONDER WO-MANNNNNNN! And he cracks up and says: Oh Jeez.

The designated theater was less than a football fields length away. Another miracle. 

We're watching the movie. Gets to a sort of a okay-already point and an older woman opens the entrance door to the theater and yells in: JUDY? WE'RE LEAVING.

Enjoyed the show. It was loud. Does the make me old? Good. I am absolutely fine with that. 

I wondered how my life might have been different if I knew I could have grown up to be a superhero or an Amazon. Looks very strenuous, no? I couldn't have flipped backward and frozen in air with one of those dorky gym suits with all the snaps that popped open they made us wear in high school. No sireebob. Especially holding cutlery. 

The Judy hunter returns. JUDY? JUDY? WHERE ARE YOU?

More movie. Move movie. More movie. Backdoor opens again. The Judyhuntress know has a big flashlight that she's waving back and forth across the screen which is wrecking the picture quality so everybody has to turn around and look at her. Including Judy.

Judy was an older woman, seated alone with a giant purse which she clutched as she hurried toward the light. I felt sad for her. She was going to miss the end. 

The End. 
















Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Okay so. If you had told me I'd be having a big ole chat with a surgeon on a Saturday afternoon in July? Ida never believed ya. 

But I did. 

There's a flurry of phone calls that happens before a surgery. You get summoned to come over and have the anesthesiologist look down your throat and be happy that your airway is big enough. Whatever that means. You gotta talk to nurses and surgeons secretaries and in my case-the hematologist but ha ha, guess what? She was on vacation-so all of a sudden I have the substitute hematologist looking at my records and making alternative decisions and prescriptions for injectable blood thinners and oh yeah, there's that big ole chunk of fear with a dollop of anxiety. You have that too. 

(I am starting to hear whispers of other people who've had hernia repairs. I mean there's some kind of underlying shame involved in this-I guess. You're a failure at strength. Again.) 



Finally, the surgeon did catch me on the phone on a Saturday afternoon and I said, ya know what? I'm starting to think we should do this next week. And this is after consultations with Amy and Leigh Anne who (thank god) made the appropriate-this doesn't sound right-noises and the surgeon-he's clearly overloaded and making a giant effort to be accommodating but together we officially threw the brakes on and everything felt so much better. 

It'll be interesting if getting all this stuff done that I hadn't had time to get done yet-will that decrease my agitation next week or is it just something you walk in with. I can't really remember.


We did go to the beach on blueberry picking day(also Original Rainbow Cone)-we didn't make a huge deal out of it-changed into our suits in the car and just carried two towels and took turns getting into the water and when it was my turn to dive in? (It was really cold.) I plunged in while I still had the 1-2-3-Go sentence in my head. I went on 2 and then had no use for '3' and 'go' and I thought hey-hang on to that concept. You might need it.