Hernia Surgery – Part Two

I was rabid when they wheeled me to a non CF-Floor. Tasmanian Devil, I was.

The “normal-people” floor meant I’d be forced to explain my meds and condition to a nursing staff lacking in CF experience, which is a pain worse than surgery. It’s one thing to be a mutant, another to have to explain it to others.

And being admitted late on a Friday night? God, no, not the back-up staff.

Having not anticipated the overnight stay, I was missing my med list and usual survival pack of enzymes, nebulizers, and other meds it takes the hospital a couple of days to get me.

The Universe spoke: “Let’s see how you do when I drop you into the middle of Hell with just an iPad mini, five bucks in your pocket, and a catheter in your bladder. Have fun.”

Survival mode entered. Not because I thought the hospital would kill me overnight, but because of what it might give me in the short time I was there. Or, what I like to call a medical “parting gift,” like C Diff or a blood clot. Or a new exotic bacteria. Or a virus. MERS anyone?

My mind swirled with the possibilities of what an open, oozing wound would earn me this time. Flesh-eating bacteria? Staph? MRSA?

Nurse, can you get me some scuba gear, a wet suit, and a spear gun, please?

Early that morning, they removed the catheter and gave me a window of six hours to urinate. If I didn’t, my pal Foley was going back in. Hell no.

I started drinking bottle after bottle of water, one after another, filling up. If another catheter was in my future, I was going to make sure that when they tapped me it was a Yellowstone geyser, not a trickle.

Luckily, the floodgate opened within the first hour and opened and opened and opened again, making me regret drinking so much.

Then it took another 5 hours to discharge me because once the hospital has me in its clutches, it doesn’t want to let me go. I’m one of its favorite patients.

*      *      *

It’s been two weeks since the surgery. I went back to work on the Monday after the surgery and learned why some people get a week off, which I declined. It was a grind of a week and each afternoon ended in a face-down nap.

I think I tore the outer incision a bit because it’s been oozing and I have to place gauze over it daily. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t become an infection.

I’ve been very happy since the surgery. And it’s not because of the giant supply of painkillers they gifted me – I’ve taken two. No, it’s something else.

It’s shockingly clear image of the man across from me who had cancer and a blood pressure so low I can’t believe he was living. And the person next to me who had cancer. And the woman in the waiting room whose husband had cancer.

I’ve been really happy just to be alive since then. Every day is a gift. Sometimes the Universe reminds me of that in the strangest of ways. But the signs are always there.

 

 

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Hernia surgery – part one

The least exciting picture I've ever placed on my blog. Cork in a swollen tummy.

The least exciting picture I’ve ever placed on my blog. I call it, Cork in a blowhole. (I forget why the doctor in training wrote something on my stomach before the surgery. It’s not like I have a left and right belly button.)

Hernia surgery rule I didn’t know: you must be able to pee before they’ll let you go home.

Surprise.

So, for about four hours or so – time was a blur – I walked the floor of post-op, now completely void of other patients, and visited bathroom after bathroom, where I’d turn on the hot and cold water in the sink, then flush the toilet over and over, and hope to wake my bladder from its medicine-induced slumber.

At one point, while looking down at my left hospital-sock covered feet, a large puddle of water approached. The sink had overflowed and filled the bathroom. Oops. I blame the painkiller shot they gave me after surgery.

Hanging over me was the threat of a catheter insertion and overnight stay in the hospital.

Thus, with the clock ticking and the staff filtering out for their weekends away from patients with cancer and other surgery-required aliments, which made me once again realize how thin the thread of life and good health is, I drank bottles of water and juice boxes and talked to my bladder as if it were God, begging it to come through in the clutch and save me from having a rubber hose inserted in my penis.

Luckily, I had a heroic nurse who stayed after hours to give me a fighting chance. But despite that good luck, there was the opposite, like the fear tactics a less sympathetic nurse thought would help, like telling me how thick the rubber hose of the catheter was, and the giant poster in the bathroom stating how catheters are one of the leading causes of hospital infections.

In the end, I could not pee.

Urine fail.

Commercial Break: [Announcer Voiceover] “Say “hello” to Foley, the rubber snake plumbing pal you’ll wish you never met. He’ll enter what you always thought was a one-way pipe. You’re going to wish you were still asleep on the operating table because no amount of lube is going to help you ignore Foley’s presence in your most sensitive of body parts. You’ll scream like a baby every inch of the way.”

Yes, put down “Foley insertion” on my list of least favorite medical procedures – and the one that made me cry out loud.

But, best of all, thanks to my buddy Foley, I earned a night in the hospital, my favorite place in the entire world.

Thanks, Foley.

(Foley: You’re welcome, Jackass.)

To be continued.