Friday, March 6, 2015

That Doesn't Hurt, Part II.

My surgery was scheduled for the end of July. That was just a mere month before we were planing to move halfway across the country. The one thing I can say is when you know you're expecting some impending doom, you will really live up every single day before disaster strikes. Multiple trips to California, concerts, hikes through National Forests were great distractions along the way. But when it came to the night before my surgery, when there was only fear, doubt and sadness to console you now.
I had been put under before so that wasn't necessarily the scariest part of what tomorrow would bring. It was more the fear of waking up in unbearable pain and a slow recovery to simply come back to the healthy state I was on that night.
I had indulged in an over-the-top dinner and dessert, preparing for 8 hours of fasting before my surgery. I don't know about you, but I am absolutely miserable if I'm not able to eat first thing in the morning. I'm a night owl regardless, so having to wake up at 5 a.m. starving to death is my absolute idea of pure torture.
Tears ran down all of our faces from the night before to that next morning. We were all terrified and there was no hiding it. They got all the tubes and needles stuck into my arms. Stripped me naked, putting me in the wretched hospital gown. My stomach was in knots. Then the worst was approaching, that time when they bring your family in to tell you their last goodbyes.
The nurse then holds your hand and leads you into the operating room. She tells you not to cry but that only makes it worse. A team of nurses stare at you, even telling you that you look far too young to be having this type of surgery. But regardless, they're instructing you to lay down on the table in a freezing cold room with UFO shaped bright lights hovering over you. They ask you if you're okay, you shake your head no, but they must proceed anyways. Then all they want to do is put you under, which at this point you're welcoming it so you don't have to deal with your racing thoughts and blubbering emotions anymore.
"Count backwards from 100..." the anesthesiologist instructs.
My brain starts to count, "100, 99..." then I'm out.
Next thing you know your eyes are slowly blinking awake. Then you feel it. A pain like never before. You've been gutted like a fish and they have to have you wake up before they can administer pain medication. You're hearing the moaning and groaning for all the other patients too that have just awoken to all their unbearable pain. It seems like forever, until the nurse finally makes it to you. Then the most beautiful poison enters your body and heaven takes you over. God thank you for MORPHINE. Before you know it you're off to dreamland, on a white puffy cloud with dancing pink elephants, cupid with a trumpet, naked in high-school making a speech, accepting your new role of President of the United States.............
"Jo? Jo??" a familiar voice speaks to you, oh yes, it's your husband, that's right, you're in the hospital. Three nurses lift you onto the bed and the pain starts throbbing out your incision reminding you that you've been speared with a sword.
"Are you okay?" they ask me.
"No. Pain..." I mutter as the stare at me blankly.
Finally, they stick me with another shot of morphine and my beloved pink elephants come back to whisk me off to dreamland.
To be continued....

Friday, February 20, 2015

"That Doesn't Hurt" Part 1. My Journey with Chronic Pain

The doctor was finally able to see me. I'd been waiting a good forty-five minutes to hear my fate. He called me in and before I even had a chance to sit on the gushy table he directed my attention to the cat scan already hanging before its light.
"Something is wrong," my gut had been telling me for months now.
I had thrown my back out carrying a supremely heavy laundry basket up the stairs of our house. They did a simple x-ray which alarmed my primary care physician that next day. She found what looked like a puffy white cloud inside my left rib-cage. It alarmed her enough to make me want to get a cat scan with a thoracic surgeon. The crazy thing was I had absolutely no symptoms. No pain. No signs that anything could be wrong with me. Except that horrible feeling in my gut.
"The type of hernia that you have..." the thoracic surgeon started saying... then his words became nothing but vacant mumbles uttering nothing I could possibly understand. He told me what was wrong with me like he was giving a U.S. History lesson with no emotion, no shock nor special consideration. To this day I still can't believe I didn't shed a tear as he told me my looming uncontrollable fate.
"We'll need to do the surgery asap. There's a chance the hernia could reach up and strangle your heart and you'd only have six hours to live," his words become a little clearer now since I was moving past my initial shock.
We were short-selling our house in a rapidly declining real-estate market in Las Vegas. The worst it had ever seen. We were planning to move to Oklahoma City to be closer to my parents. But now the unknown was upon us and I wasn't sure if we'd be moving at all. Now my entire world was at a stand-still. My life was on the line.
The secretary of the surgeon was trying to book the date and time of my surgery but all I could hear is the blood pounding in my ears.
"Next week?" she asked me.
"Oh I don't know..." I muttered, "I'll have to call you later."
My feet somehow made it to the elevator, out the lobby to the parking lot and into my car. But it was there, that against all the resistant strength I could possibly muster, I broke down. A flood of emotions burst forth like a fire hydrant on its last legs. The pressure was insurmountable and all it can do is gush out powerful water drenching all its surroundings. I was vulnerable to my body. It had swallowed my soul whole. A mix of anger and sheer disappointment raged through me.
My shaking hands found my cellphone. Dialed my husband's number. All he could hear were my sobs. I couldn't get out one word.
"I'm coming to get you."
It felt like forever before he arrived. I collapsed in his arms. At a complete loss of how to break him the news. But I did, and to his immense credit, his remarkable courage and bravery would get me through the worst thing that ever happened to me.

To be continued....