Our dinner stop was longer than I anticipated and I got home at 4:00am. Â My father rose at 5:00am to take me to the surgical center and I didn’t bother trying to sleep. Â As per the doctor’s instructions, I took a very long shower with an antibacterial scrubbing sponge and washed my nails and in between my toes as indicated. Â I knew my shower was long when the hot water started giving out and I dressed in lose clothing after a final rinse down. Â I packed a back of clothing I had from a past life to wear after surgery and my father drove me to the surgical center. Â It was quiet there and I extended this quietude by turning off the television. Â I posted to Facebook and changed into an examination gown. Â The doctor marked where the incisions would go with a purple marker and provided a courtesy shield so I wouldn’t see it. Â I felt like I was about to receive a tribal tattoo or face a microtome.
Me: Done this before?
Him: More than you know.
Me: Well, let’s see, you seem to be in your mid-fourties, you probably finished your surgical residency in your early thirties and you seem to operate four days a week. Â Assuming one of the two procedures I’m getting constitutes a quarter of your business that comes out to about 50 a year for say 15 years. Â You probably weren’t fully scheduled to start, so let’s say you went at full speed the last ten years and half that before. Â You’ve probably done this about 500-600 times then.
Him: Actually, I hadn’t thought about it. Â Sounds right, though. Â You’re an actuary, right?
Him: Makes sense.
Him: Makes sense.
I don’t remember the injection that knocked me out, but I woke up later and everyone was looking at my toes. Â Somehow I had stubbed my toe during surgery and it was swollen and sensitive. The doctor asked me how and I mentioned that I wasn’t awake for it. Â My abdomen hurt and I very much wanted to cough. Â I tried to do so and I was warned that it might hurt. Â I hugged a pillow and coughed. Â This probably stands out as the most painful thing I’ve ever forced myself to do. Â I felt like my insides were on cinders and that each movement of my diaphragm would rip it from my abdominal wall. Â I was told I needed a gallon of intravenous water before surgery to raise my fluid levels and suddenly the “no fluids including water” mandate of my surgical prep period seemed odd.
I was offered a wheelchair to make it to the car and I refused. Â I pivoted in the bed and tried to avoid using my abdominal muscles. It hurt like hell but I was on my feet. Â I shuffled out to my mother’s car and noticed that I was wrapped up tightly in a compression garment, a secondary compression wrap, and that I had four vacuum drainage bulbs attached to me. Â I made it to my mother’s, issued a single painful cough and planned to sleep. Â My bed needed to allow me to stay jack knifed. Â It would be a month before I could stand upright. Â Sleep Â involved bunching up pillows behind my back and beneath my knees. Â Getting in and out of bed took about 10 minutes. Â I went to sleep after taking a pain killer. Â Day one of recovery had begun.