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Trick, I guess.

Spread wide and tied, I spent my Halloween on a table while two men operated on me, simultaneously, while Sydney and Margaret watched.
Nope, not some creepy porn.  (or as mother referred to an r-rated movie once; a porno). I was dans l’hopital.

I was gettin’ the candles put in my cupcakes.  The girls have party hats again.  I was awake to hear surgeon to surgeon banter as they tugged at my breasts like they were tying up boots before a hike.

My routine pre-surgery call from Jackie at Erlanger was a bit different this time.  Usually it’s the whole “don’t eat or drink after midnight...no make-up or jewelry” etc.  The last surgery in particular, she said I could eat at around 5:00 AM, but “Nuhthin’ heeeeeeeehvy…jyest uh eeeeeehggg, er uh piece uh toast er somthin’.” 

I don't mean to be mean.  My own drawl comes out sometimes, and I luuuuhv eeeyit. There is just something about these medical professionals talking to me this way that is a significant part of my experience. I want to convey the color, the twang per twinge of needle pokes.

Jackie told me this would only be local anesthetic, so I could eat whenever and would only have to be uncovered from the waste up.  Well, gee, it’s Halloween, after all. It was all I could do not to show up in my wig and lashes. But there I sat, in pre-op, with a gauzy cap, two hospital gowns, facing opposite directions, several blankets, my Anne Taylor too short but still sophisticated skirt, and spider web stockings, and even an added pair of pumpkin socks to help keep me warm.  

Nurse Sydney sat with me and began to give the run down of what to expect. I already knew that it was “local”.  I also already knew a bit about what he’d be doing in the procedure. As of about three weeks ago, I knew that I’d have to wear protective shields under my bra (welcome to my weird world) for about two weeks after the operation. I was assured this was no big deal.  As of that last visit, I had FINALLY been allowed to work out!  I got a job! Shields Schmields. Whatever, let’s just get this done!!!
But no. Now, Sydney is explaining to me the size of the “shields”.  She uses the word cones. CONES.  I am hearing Like A Virgin up in here and that makes me think I may not be able to go to work.  I may be losing my brand new job, for which I have a double shift tomorrow! Well, I was originally told I could drive myself to and home from this surgery…so how bad could it be? THAT’S why I allowed for work the next day!  She then says things like, “You’ll get a couple shots, that shouldn’t hurt too much. They usually don’t. They won’t. If they do, it won’t be too bad…”  (I’m finding her painting a disturbing picture…her picture painting disturbing)  “He always swears that nobody can feel anything…Usually nobody ever does…You’ll be fine…if you do feel anything, it won’t be anything you can’t tolerate…”

I will be given grounding. (would it were so.) A grounder. A patch to make sure I am not electrocuted as he…how did she say it…”zap zap zaps” me.  My arms will be spread out and bound so I don’t involuntarily swat at him. 

I am starting to visibly shake.  And frankly, I want to cry. I want so badly to cry.  I am lonely.  Mom is here, outside.  She'll be in soon.  But it isn't that.  I am deeply lonely.  I hear her, the nurse, talking, sort of, but I am looking at the man across the room in recovery, sitting up, exposed to me.  No one seems terribly concerned about his privacy. His dignity?  I watch him sit up, not lucid, with a sedated frown on his face.  Not sad or mad, just dosed muscles and confusion.  I have been here in this pre-op/post-op area a number of times.  Literally in this building, but hopefully never so lost as he.  I have been in other operating rooms in this town. The last time I was here they kept screwing up the IV.  But I came out of here in less pain than I had when I went in.  Today, I don’t know.  I shouldn’t want this, but I want them to put me under. Or, I want something for anxiety.  I don’t want to worry about the “tolerable” pain.  I don’t want to lose my job…my stepping-stone to moving on; Paychecks. Purpose. Routine. Social Oxygen.

"Are you cold?"
"Are you nervous?"
"Oh, no, don't be!"
  I am not usually like this before surgery.  I am usually trying to amuse or calm everyone else down.  Or there’s that knowledge that I will be asleep.  I’ll usually deal with what happens after…after.

Dr. B comes in, directly out of previous surgery.  He walks toward me and Sydney, and then stops and turns as he says "I need to get my...", and he grabs a can of soda off the counter.  He then continues towards us, holding up the can and says, "what do you call this?"    I think for a moment that maybe he doesn’t actually know the name of the drink.  But then Sydney says the name.  At this point, ironically, despite my fascination with the nuance of dialect, I just heard Sprite. But then the good doctor starts saying, comically loud, “SPRAAAAAHHHT????…SPRAAAAHHHHT”.  We all laugh.  He’s making fun of her.  She acknowledges this.  There is a Spraahht-off.  She says it her way, he says it his her way, and back and forth and back forth.  I am laughing.  And shaking. 

Curtains are closed.  As I am instructed, I get up to disrobe.  My blankets knock the Sprite to the floor.  There’s a hullabaloo.   This man who is about to cut into me again is joking about having SPRAAAAAHT on his pants.  His scrubs.

I take off my robes.  He instructs me, (I have heard this next part so many times from him but I love it), “shoulders back, put your hands on your hips like your giving me a lecture.”
I chuckle nervously every time.
He is drawing on me with a pen peeled out of the same casing they pull needles out of, but it’s basically a sharpie.  Measuring tape anchored under finger pressure at my clavicle, to NR: 20.   Mark an X.  NL; 20.   X.

I ask about working out again, cause it’s been weird getting back into it, learning my body again.  My back has been cut into, my front is different. Like, different from before, and different from side to side.  He says not to worry about my back at all.  Workout as if nothing ever happened.  In other words, I don’t have to distinguish dangerous pain from PT pain.  Good to know.  However, apparently, I am never allowed to do push ups again..."Unless you want your boobs to look weird! Hahahahahahaha!” Quoth he.

And suddenly, we’re off.
I’m walked down the hall, a vision in my robes and blankets and spider web stockings, pumpkin socks.

Into the brightly lit room, up on the bed.  It’s been warmed.  Nice.  Get comfy.  Weird laying here topless in a skirt and stockings....should be a very different scenario…significantly different lighting.

I meet Margaret. I never really hear her comments, not even her Hello.  She’s masked the whole time.

The room is so cold.  Sydney has to take down the robe to put the blood pressure cuff on.  Then the grounder is placed on my stomach.  She asks to stretch my arms out, and gently ties my them down.  I immediately get an itch on my nose.  I don’t mention it.  I hear my blood pressure being monitored, and I decide to relax.
I got this.

As Syd cleans me, though, I twitch a like crazy.  I still have that weird thing where I feel in my back when I am touched in my front.  After they cut from my left lat and wrapped it around to my left pec, when you touch my pec, I feel it in my back. It doesn’t hurt, really.  But it’s…it’s “ACK!”  is what it is. 

Paper bibs are laid all around my breasts, stomach, tucked under my sides, over my neck.  The girls, (my new ones) are lit and glowing, but I will not look down. 

Doc B comes in as beckoned upon my final prep. He brings in Doc Gerald.  Music is put on.  Is there an alternative rock that’s now just considered soft rock?  Big giant bright lights in my face.  I am introduced to Dr. Gerald Something-or-Other (or is his last name actually Gerald?) as he and Dr. Brzezienski are picking tools, standing on either side of me, at my chest level. I can feel Dr. B’s pelvis.  I can’t move.  I am calm and clenched.  He starts poking.  Oh how well I know this “Little Pinch” comment by now. 
To be perfectly honest, I never really felt any bad pain today.  But my mind was primed for it, for potential hurt.  Strapped down, alert and helpless, you feel things heightened.  Ow ow ow ow….

We joked a bit.  We talked about New York subways.  I told the story of getting mugged on the A train, but maintaining my wallet and the bottle of wine I’d just bought.  Then they talked amongst themselves. Dr. B. finished his part of one side, and then moved to the left one while Dr. Gerald was the closer on the right.  They got to a point where they were both tugging like they were tying up a tent or the straps on a trailer.

At one point, in reference to my having inquired about push-ups, Dr. B says I should try doing the Aaaahhnuuhhds.  He then enacts an arm exercise for me to try, that apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger did. This, with tiny bloody scissors in his gloved hands.

Beep Beep Beep.  Dr. B says, “That MIGHT be a beeper!”  Nurse Sydney jumps up at the hint and rushed to find it. It was indeed his beeper.  There is much discussion about the fact that he had a surgery planned for 5:00 upstairs, (tug tug, poke, pull...smoke floating up in my view from his cauterizing. zap zap zap), and that he will be on time!  I feel I am getting “wrapped up”. 

Before he leaves, the doctor says, “Well, here’s you new addition!”  I guess I should look down.  “It’ll shrink to a third that size.”  O lord, I hope so. WHAT am I looking at?
can't move my arms.

“Okey Dokey, Bye bye!” He really talks like that.
And he’s out.

I am given the protective covers that woman who are breastfeeding sometimes wear.  I am told I cannot bathe, and if I need to, I can put gauze or kotex in my bras if there is excessive bleeding.  But bleeding is a good sign.

Recall. I did already invite you into my weird world.


I am exhausted.  I am up way too late if I am to work tomorrow.  I felt earlier that I would have to quit my new job because of this.  But like so many moments in a woman’s life, with the right bra and the right attitude, (haha), maybe I can make this work. 

But I have to say, I do wish I had my friends here.  I admit it would help a lot.  I wish I had one of my nearest and dearest to look at me and help me laugh right now.
I am a little sad.  I am tired, on many levels.  But I know my blessings to count.  I know. I know.

Good Night and Happy Halloween

1 comment:

  1. Oh Jen, you are so darn brave. Wish I was there to give you a hug and admire you latest addition. I really do understand the fear of pain. I am hyper sensitive about pain now....and I haven't had half the shit you have had. I haven't done the nips...too afraid. See, you are so very brave. I can't even bring myself to make the appt for the 3-d nipple tattoos that I had decided on.
    hugs your way,