Okay, this past monday the 23rd I had my gall bladder removed. I had been experiencing pains which really can only be summed up as feeling like someone was jabbing a knife in-between my lower right ribs, and wiggling it around. Having had back problems before, I had assumed the minor irritations I had been having (ribs hurting plus minor nausea) was the result of some misaligned ribs, that might have been pinching some nerve causing me to feel some stomach discomfort. Well, after buckling to my knees and screaming in front of my two-year-old who kept asking daddy to ‘get up!’, I decided to call the in-laws (Julie was away on business), and rush over to the hospital.
Several hours of waiting, and an ultrasound later, they inform me that I have gall stones that that I have to have my gall bladder removed. I’m thinking — surgery? what? for this? But it shouldn’t have surprised me, since both my mom and aunt had theirs removed in their mid thirties, and both my grandmothers have had problems with their gall bladders themselves. That all went down like a month ago, and this monday I went in at 6am to the hospital to get sliced open and hacked at for fun and profit. Actually, the surgery isn’t that bad at all — it’s four incisions; two small half-inch incisions on the right side for scopes and tools, one larger one-inch incision about mid-belly, and one even yet larger (1 1/2 inch) incision right below the belly button. They insert tools and scopes, pump you full of nitrogen gas so you blow up like a balloon and they get a better visual, excise the gall bladder, which is a little sack-shaped flap of skin about the size of a small pear from the bottom of your liver, clamp down on the artery that feeds it with a titanium clip, and remove the gall bladder in a bag from the incision below your belly button. Modern medical science at its finest. I did have to down a couple vailum before coming in, because while rationally I knew that this was necessary and was pretty routine (the guy to do my surgery is called ‘Mr. Gall Bladder’ in local circles — he’s done more gall bladder removals than God), my lower brain was screaming for me to run away from the mastodon. So, some sedatives were in order. I walked in all dopey, they signed me in, put me in a wheelchair, rolled me to the operating table, which I had to get up onto myself (I was a little disappointed — I thought for sure I’d be rolled around on a metal gurney looking at the sky!), and once I got up on there, the anesthesiologist (who talked to me in the waiting room), gave me something ‘to relax me’, and next thing I remember, I wake up in the recovery room. Oh, speaking of ‘giving me something’ — let’s talk about modern IV’s. I was a little freaked out at the prospect of getting an IV. I had seen ER, I had seen family and friends in the hospital, and an IV was short for having a big metal tail pipe sticking out of your hand or wrist, waiting to send pain up your arm every time you move it. I didn’t like the idea at all. Well, turns out that they innovated the idea, and now modern IV’s are little teflon flexible tubes that are inserted into your vein via a guide needle, which is then extracted, leaving the IV in place, no metal, no needle, nothing left in your arm but this little tiny tube. Man, it was cool. they even messed up once and had to put a new one in, but I didn’t mind, because a) I was all doped up on valium, and b) it was so not painful at all.
So, recovery room. I wake up to a nice nurse who I remember seeing before, but I couldn’t place him. Probably I saw him before the surgery. Anyhow, they took off all the electrodes they had on me to watch my heart, and were doing all sorts of things to me I can’t remember. I had really high blood pressure after the surgery, so they had to give me drugs and watch me, and once I was down into normal range, they wheeled me into my room. Now comes the metal gurney and the sky views! Yes! All I remember is — I’m stiff, I’m sore, and I want to go to sleep, but I’m also really in need of pain killers. They shoot me up with morphine (which was a bit of a disappointment, because I was expecting hallucinations and white rabbits, and all it did was numb the pain), and some muscle relaxants, and off I go to sleep. Family is there to greet me, I get lots of love and visits from Julie, and my mother-in-law, but most of the time I spend trying to stay comfortable, and trying to pee. It was really important to the nurses that I pee, and I tried and tried, but evidently the apparatus didn’t want to work. Finally, about three hours before a catheder, I down two glasses of ice water, and pee out a cup. I have passed the test. That evening I stay over in the hospital, and try to not be bored by the stupid TV they have in the hospital (no friggin cable!), and trying to stay comfortable. Sleeping was difficult, and the morphine was no longer cutting it. Finally, I call for the nurse, and let her know that I want a new drug. She puts me on Vicadin, and BAM! the pain goes away. I sleep like a baby, that is — until the torrent. Evidently the morphine was keeping my bladder from functioning, and once that disappeared, it was NIAGRA FALLS. I had to pee into these containers, because they had to measure the fluids going in and fluids going out very carefully. I had sucked up 4 IV bags, plus tons of water, juice, broth, etc., and it all came out that evening. I peed so much that I overfilled their quart container, and I had to start improvising with dixie cups. I had a laugh out of that, though I don’t know if the nurse found it as funny. So, that morning, I am all set to go, they unhook the IV, and I trundle out of the hospital on foot (weren’t they supposed to wheelchair me to the door?), and go home. Vicadin is the wonder drug. Vicadin makes all pain go away. Vicadin makes you feel like you’ve fully recovered even if you haven’t. I was watering the outdoor pants little more than 24 hours after they cut me open. Well, about two days ago I decided to go off the vicadin. Gee, it does a lot to mask pain. I was not to comfortable, and I’m sore as hell, very tired, and want to sleep all the time. I guess that’s normal after abdominal surgery. Oh, and the lower incision, below the belly button has been ‘draining’ — which is a nice way to say it’s bleeding a light bloody fluid, and needs bandages changed on it multiple times a day, but I’m assured THIS IS NORMAL, as are all the blue-purple bruises surrounding my incisions. So, here I am taking it one day at a time, watching TV, hacking away at my computer, and sleeping, awaiting next week when I attempt to go back in for work. Whee.