After a few anxious days in a row, I woke up surprisingly calm the morning of my surgery. My anxiety was back in the box. I couldn’t do anything anymore about unfinished work assignments. My fate was in the hands of medical professionals and my children’s welfare in the hands of their father, their Nana, and a competent babysitter.
On this front, my husband was tested right off the bat. In the waiting area at the hospital I watched his face turn various shades of gray as the minutes ticked by, waiting for the nurse to call me up to be prepped for the operation. The surgery, which wasn’t scheduled until 2pm, kept getting pushed back. Eventually my husband was going to have to leave me in order to pick up the kids at the end of the day. We had assumed that would be well after I received the anesthesia, but four o’clock came and went and we were still waiting.
It was of course one of those times we wished we had made other arrangements, but we had no reason to think the surgery would be so late in the day. Sometime after 4 the nurse finally took me upstairs and I changed into the hospital gown and settled back into the gurney that I would be in for the next couple hours. My husband appeared at my side and said, “Goodbye, I love you, and good luck,”with worried eyes and a kiss.
I get it; I do. Boston traffic on a weeknight is a big ol’ bitch.
I was on my own to sign the last consent forms and get hooked up to the IV. Eventually I was given a local anesthesia in my hip to block the nerves. This and whatever else they gave me mellowed me out pretty damn quick. I talked all things running and fitness with the nurses and doctors who had read my chart and knew why I was there. Every last one of them appeared to be younger and more attractive than the last. I commented on a particularly beautiful engagement ring. We dished about wedding planning and the Boston Marathon. Being alone was the one thing I had really hoped to avoid, but to my surprise I was perfectly fine. I heard myself remarking aloud about my very veiny old lady hands, which are actually quite shocking to behold in contrast with the rest of me, which still looks pretty good. To the lovely anesthesiologist with the engagement ring, I stressed that if she could only see my mother’s 80 year old hands, she would know what I meant.
I leaned as close to her as the tubes and patches attached to me would permit and said in a low voice “We,” meaning my mother and I, “ have identical hands,” before she flitted away.
The last thing I remember is the green masks of the nurses and doctors looking down at me, surrounded by the sparkling sterility of the operating room. I wanted to remark on this, that this must be what it looks like to wake up on board an alien spacecraft after abduction, but I conked out before I could finish the thought. Let’s hope that my visit to a fancy operating room in a world renowned hospital overseen by alien-like medical geniuses is the closest I’ll ever get to an actual alien abduction.
I don’t remember much about the first few hours after the surgery. My husband tells me I spoke to him on the phone after the doctor called to let him know everything went according to plan. Visiting hours were long over, and it would have been pointless for him to come in, anyway. I do have evidence that I perked up around midnight, thanks to the trail of text message I sent out to friends thanking them for their well-wishes and letting them know that I was OK; but again, I have no memory of it.
I do remember feeling pretty much OK with just lying there on my back with no intention of ever moving again. Down the side of my left leg bandages concealed the incision spots. I prayed that I never needed to urinate. How on earth would that be accomplished? It was out of the question. I fell back asleep.
In the middle of the night the pain meds started wearing off and I called for the night nurse. His name was Jason, and he was a cute athletic type in his late twenties. I perked up. He’d read my chart and began to chat me up about running and racing. I quickly learned that Jason was new to the area and had moved here to be closer to his girlfriend in law school. With this information I of course made a million assumptions and inferences about his life and relationship: That their relationship is probably strained by her demanding law school schedule, that money is tight, that he may feel insecure because he moved from his home to her new city, and that she’s probably going to want to get married after she passes the bar exam. With drugs and anesthesia in my system this poor guy was left with no defenses as I prattled on without censor about his life in Boston. Then he helped me to the commode and I nearly puked all over him.
Pro tip: Take the pain meds a good 30 minutes before attempting to get out of bed for the first time after surgery. And just in case, give yourself a wide berth in case of puking. Anesthesia is no joke.
Because he’s a guy (I guess?), he stepped out of the room while I tinkled. Oh, and I had my period, so there was more than a splash of color in that commode for Jason to eventually deal with. Still, this abandonment by my night nurse was inexplicable to me, because sitting on the commode was the least comfortable position I could imagine. I wanted off. “Jason! Where’d you go, Jason?? Jaaasoon!” I was already convulsing from chills and cold sweats by the time he put me back into the bed; a sure sign that I needed more drugs, pronto. Jason delivered, and eventually they worked their magic and I conked back out, only to be awakened periodically by the horrible bouts of diarrhea my roommate was experiencing on her side of the room, which fortunately for her, was the side of the room with the bathroom. Sometimes she even made it there. It’s probably the only situation I can imagine in which spending the night next to a stranger with explosive diarrhea did not really phase me. Honestly. The poor lady.
And the story of my my mom (“The Big H”)’s Uber Adventure Fiasco! The car service is not for octogenarians, folks. Let’s put it that way.