Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Like the beach, only worse

Eyes fluttered open.  Pain.  Which means I'm alive.  But I'm in pain and immobile and flat on my back.  I lay there in recovery, not moving, waiting for a nurse to come over.  She asks me what my pain level is, and I tell her it's a 9.  She says that's too high and I have to wait for it to come down.  Eyes close again.

I wake, not sure how much longer later.  I notice I have not one but two i.v.s, one in my right hand and one on my left arm.  The nurse stops by again, asks my pain level.  I again, tell her it's a 9.  She again tells me it's too high, though she informs me that my hair looks amazing.  I'm not kidding.  She tells me that it looks like I could walk out and go to a club, and that hair never looks that good post op.  Not caring, I pass back out.

When I wake the third time, I again get seen by the nurse.  I ask how soon I can get out of recovery and up to my room to see my family, and she says, "..when your pain level decreases," at which point she asks it.  I tell her it's a 6 (it was still a 9) just so I could get transferred up to a room.  She calls for transport, and I'm on the move.

As I get wheeled on my bed into the elevator, I notice we are headed to the fifth floor.  Normally I've been on the second floor when I've had surgery with Dr. Lee, and I'm not quite sure why we're headed that much further up.  Once on the floor, I'm wheeled into a room much like Surgical Step Down at Vassar, with a nurses station in the center, 24 hour care, and 5 or 6 bed slots.  As I'm being wheeled in the door, I feel my catheter bag get caught on the door, so I let out a bit of a yelp.  The guy wheeling me asks what's going on, and I told him, and he rearranges my bed and tells me not to worry, that it wouldn't really have pulled out.  Easy for him to say, he didn't feel the tug of the line as it got caught on the door frame.  But I got placed into slot 4, and soon thereafter, in walk Mom, Dad, Aunt Donna, and Joe.  What a welcome sight.

All ask how I'm doing, and are happy to see I've come out of it okay.  I ask where I am, and I'm told by my nurse Rich that I'm in the spinal trauma unit.  Normally if I was on a different pain medication, I'd be on a different floor, but since they had me on ketamine and phentanol, the ketamine had to have continuous monitoring for the first 24 hours that it's being put into my veins.  My 'neighbor' in bed slot #5 is Amish.  His parents came in from Michigan because of his spinal injury.  He was a new father, and his wife was there with their 2 week old baby.  Apparently, his horse acted up and he ended up having an accident and broke the tendons/ligaments in his neck, and if I remember correctly, he broke his back as well, so again, when everyone thinks I've gone through the ringer, remember him in prayer.  He's looking at a 6 month recovery with a brand new baby and young wife.  He'll have some obstacle to overcome.  His family took him home after only 48 hours because his mom said he'd recover better at home, and I have no doubt she's correct.

So Mom tells me my surgery went well.  It was shorter than anticipated because, well, it ended up being a different surgery than originally anticipated.  Dr. Polynice had drawn a diagram thingie to show Mom and Dad what happened instead of what was planned.  Originally, I was supposed to have the gracilis muscle taken from my thigh, but when Dr. Lee opened me up, they solved the answer to one of the problems I've been having.  Wait for it, wait for it.....my uterus had tipped over!!!!!  Yes, that is worthy of five exclamation points.  Apparently, where my large intestine used to be was a large empty void (kind of like my head on most nights) and my uterus decided to be lazy and take a nice long nap.  It laid down in the hole where my intestine used to be and was kinda stuck to the pelvic floor next to the sinus tract that needed to be removed.  When Dr. Polynice saw this, he realized it needed to be propped back up, and my gracilis muscles weren't going to be sufficient enough to do it, so they took one of my abdominal muscles instead.  Everyone has two rectus abdominus muscles, better known as the 6 pack muscles.  The left one of mine (the side under my heart) helps to support my stoma, so they detached the right hand one at the top and flipped it upside down, threading it behind my uterus, and eventually stuffing it down into the sinus tract area of the rectal spot that wasn't healing.  Technically, they killed two birds with one stone, or rather, filled two holes with one muscle.  Dr. Polynice filled the now missing muscle space on the right side of my abdomen with some sterilized pork tissue stuff.  Does this mean when I sweat I'll smell like bacon?  Boy, that'll get me a husband in no time!  And the further good news in all of this?  My value for black market spare body parts has decreased that much more. 

Okay, so back to post op.  Within five minutes of being in the room and getting settled, they bring in a new bed, but it's not just any bed.  Oh no, it's some special fancy schmancy bed that all of the nursing staff seems to be in envy over for me.  Apparently, the bed is called a cavillon or something like that, and it's filled with sand and is hard as a rock, but the minute they plug it in, it becomes like a sandstorm under your body, 'gently cradling it and promoting healing.'  They told me it's like experiencing a water bed.  I protested being transferred, but they insisted and before too many more minutes had passed, a moving crew had passed me from my air bed into this sand bed.  I was in too much pain to notice, but soon I'd find out.  The bed was like the beach, only worse....

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