Adventures in Cholecystectomy Land – Part 2

Argh. Survived. Recovering. Also caught a cold, so that makes it extra fun.

Maunderings on Facebook and elsewhere, before, during (sort of) and after:

After my cholecystectomy tomorrow, I expect to make medical history by being the first person ever to suffer the gallbladder version of PLP (phantom limb pain).

A few hours sleep, then up early for surgery, something new and scary in my life. Dang it, wish I could talk to my Dad. I really am a little bit scared, and he’d tell me “You’re gonna be just fine, Hank.”

No food or drink for 12 hours before surgery? That means you always go into it hungry and thirsty. If there was really a God, we’d only go into the operating room after a 4-course feast with lots of wine and some sort of really rich dessert.

And away we go! Up so early, and so cold, it sort of feels like a hunting trip. As we left the house I paraphrased Elmer Fudd: “Be vewwy vewwy quiet. I’m huntin’ gawbwadduhs!” At the hospital. They put one of those medical wristbands on me. My first, I realize. Waiting room. TV talking about guns, guns, more fucking guns! I pull a book out of my bag, show it to my friend. “In case I get bored during surgery.” We laugh.

The nurses are nice. I wanted to humanize myself with all my surgical staff, so I made a point of telling them my name, and asking theirs. I tossed in a joke, which was generally well received: “In the pre-surgical paperwork, I checked the boxes for ‘Full head of hair,’ ‘Well-endowed’ and ‘Tall,’ so I’m eager to see how good a job everybody does!”

Wheeled into the surgery, a very large room filled with a bewildering array of machines. Before I can study them, consciousness ends. I wake up on a gurney, propped up and with my friend Carl there.

After surgery, I discover this: For a sick introvert, the hospital environment is a continuous wave of pressury incursions. Everything seems loud and bright and sudden.

I have to stay there until I’m able to pee. No sweat, I think, we old guys are champs at peeing! But when I stagger to the bathroom with my wheeled IV tower and do the internal things that always results in pee, nothing happens! Gah! They’ve taken away my pee-power! I try three more times over the next hour or so, finally get about a tablespoon’s worth. The Doc says I can go.

Worst part of the whole experience? They have to wheel you to your car in a wheelchair. You’re NOT allowed to walk. To the post-surgical body, that wheelchair ride feels like ten miles of broken concrete and speed bumps.

Back home resting. Abdominal surgery: The amazing adventure that the patient never gets to consciously experience. Admittedly a good thing, but still … Ah. The courier has just arrived with the drugs. Later.

The pain drug, Lortab, I think it is, hydrocodone and acetaminophen, gives me weird microdreams – freaky shit that lasts only seconds, but wakes me up each time – so I stop taking it after two pills.

Post-surgery stomach did NOT want chicken soup. Lucky I only ate 4 spoons of it. But then again, I got some good ad copy out of it: Campbell’s Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup – Tastes as Chickeny Coming Up as It Does Going Down!

Atheism is a triumph of reason over emotion, but so is this:
1) You have a horror of the helpless inevitability of vomiting.
2) You know that if you eat anything right now, you’re going to toss it up 15 minutes later.
3) You know your body has to have some sort of nutrition in order to get better.
4) You eat.
5) You throw up.
6) Repeat, 10 times, throughout the day and night.

A mere 1G acceleration applied to your head, even resting on the softest pillow, will give you an awesome headache after 12 hours or so.

Post-surgical victory Saturday morning! I’ve eaten two whole meals without throwing up. ‘Course both “meals” consisted of one-fourth of a slice of dry toast and about 3 ounces of watery juice, but hey … IT STAYED DOWN. Getting some normal gut noises too.

It’s funny – you hear about people having surgery or recovering from accidents, and the stories always focus on the happy milestones of recovery. Nobody ever tells you what it’s like from the inside, that it’s this slow-moving horror train of pain, thirst, exhaustion and nausea, accompanied by a desperate desire to just feel normal again. Heh. Now I’m wondering if childbirth is like this. If one of the solutions to the population problem might be young women getting the full story from their experienced sisters.

NSFL (not safe for ladies) joke ahead. This is for the guy tribe only. Ladies, please do not give each other those knowing looks, or if you do, at least have the grace not to snicker and make cruel “one-inch” gestures which might wound the masculine pride. Ahem: My doctor told me I wasn’t to lift any heavy weights for two weeks after surgery. I said, “But how am I supposed to take a leak?” HAW, HAW, HAW!! (I get to blame that on post-anesthesia haze. But my dad would have laughed WITH me and AT me about it, and it would have been one of those forever memories.)

Still more post-anesthesia haze: If there are any Space Aliens secretly orbiting Earth and tapped into Facebook as a way to learn about us, I’d just like to extend an invitation for you to meet an Earthling face to face. I’m open-minded, kind, compassionate, and I’m a lifelong science fiction fan, so I promise not to be turned off by your no-doubt-beautiful physical appearance. Unless you look like giant spiders, in which case, fuck off, chitinous space scum, I’ve got a gun.

DAVID BRIN (!!!) posts an answer: “This exact scenario is described in my “Invitation to ET” page, which is expanded and makes up part of my novel EXISTENCE.”

A good laugh on Facebook, when I post “If we had evolved from canines, it would be perfectly acceptable to snarl when other people’s children approached us unasked,” and friend Raymond Dickey answers, “I don’t see why lack of suitable ancestry should stop us.” I clutch my stitchy belly and promise him a beer someday.

Saturday’s post-surgery menu: Jello, lemonade, green tea, half a baked potato. Taz would sneer. But it all stayed down. Surgery veterans … how long should one wait for that first BM? 54 hours and counting here. I feel like a 2 year old sitting on the potty, waiting for it to happen so I can go play.

And that reminds me of Sonny Leger, rodeo clown and bullrider, one of those legendary people you meet and never forget: Here’s Sonny in typical form, coming out of the bathroom “God DAMN! I just shit out a full-growed brangus bull, horns and all! Sumbitch tried to come out SIDEWAYS!” This was at a wedding reception.

Two items of apparel I would never have even considered buying when I was younger, but can highly recommend now: There is nothing more convenient or comfortable after surgery than a thick terrycloth robe and fuzzy slippers.

Sleeping lousy. Up EVERY DAMNED HOUR to pee. What’s up with that?

Sunday’s menu-so-far. Large bowl of Cheerios and Life, serving of Jello. Thinking of the joke in The Talisman where one character promises another, “Richard, if we survive this, I’ll buy you two chili dogs at Dairy Queen.” To which Richard replies “Barf me OUT!”

Today, Sunday I’m thinking about going for a walk outside, but it’s 24 degrees out there, and I’m not sure I want to shower and dress.

I have lost more than 10 pounds. I’m guessing less than one of those was the removed organ. I also finished A Game of Thrones, have just started A Clash of Kings, and my friend Bill is coming over later to bring me the DVDs of the mini-series. I think I’ll be feeling close to normal in another day or so. The head cold is annoying, but not really hellish. I’m off work for a week, and hoping to get something done on my BraynDrops book.

I get an occasional sharp little twinge where the holes are, but other than that, I’m fatigued, achy, sort of blah. But alive.

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  • Maureen Brian

    Well done. Good to hear you sound so cheery.

  • Karen Locke

    Hank, you’ve done well. It doesn’t FEEL like it just yet; keeping down just soft food, having an unhappy digestive system and overactive liquid plumbing… they all suck. It doesn’t help that other people have gone through all this; it matters that you’re going through it now, and it sucks. But things will gradually get better, as your body discovers normalcy again. Meanwhile, rest is the best healer, so don’t push yourself to do the things you “should” be doing. Fluids will help. Any excuse you can find to snooze will help. And if you feel alone and sorry for yourself, remember you have a fan base out here rooting for you.

  • sheila

    It get’s better every day. Give yourself time.

    I was really looking forward to eating all the stuff I hadn’t been able to eat before my op, and I was very disappointed when the surgeon told me how long I had to wait, and what tiny portions I had to have to begin with. But I loved my first (miniature) English breakfast. The “plate” is actually the saucer from a coffee cup.

    • Hank Fox

      Sheila, what were the instructions you got? My surgeon said “Eat light today, eat regular tomorrow.”

      I’ve had several people say things about “giving your body time to adapt,” or even warning me about what could happen — bad, permanent changes are suggested — if I don’t.

      • sheila

        I was told to stay on the very, very low fat diet for 2 weeks, and then introduce fat again gradually. The mini English breakfast was after about a month.

        The pre op diet was very boring: nothing fried, no egg yolks, no fatty meat, no cheese, no avocados, no bananas, no beans or lentils, nothing spicy, no tobacco (not a problem) no alcohol (pity), no coffee, nothing liable to give me gas.

        I remember coming home hungry from a party with a buffett where I couldn’t eat a damn thing, and moaning to my son, “I just want to make myself a cheese sandwich. Is that so much to ask?”

        He said, “You can make one Mum. You just can’t eat it, that’s all.”

        The good bit was that I lost weight.

  • http://peopleofpublictransport.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend!

    • Woof

      On the mend? I thought Hank was on the shitter…

  • Gwen

    Hank, good to hear your cranky voice. Every day above ground is a good day.
    I’m just another amused member of the fan base.

  • http://ratcavemediacenter.blogspot.com/ The St. Dr. Oscar

    Welcome to the club! I was turning yellow by the time they wheeled me in. I’d been sick for over a week (the pain was so bad that I had to sit in a chair for five days) and with the pain gone I ate like a horse. I was pretty looped by the painkillers the first couple of days. No urinary or bowel problems. I guess everyone is different.

  • http://ratcavemediacenter.blogspot.com/ The St. Dr. Oscar

    Forgot to metion: I have some cool scars that look like the work of aliens.

  • MG Myers

    Hank – I’m glad you still have your sense of humor. Wishing you the best!

  • Randomfactor

    Good to hear you beat the robot. How’s the full head of hair sitting? I guess I don’t NEED a gall bladder, if that’s one of the options.

    Extra co-payment, I assume?

  • Crudely Wrott

    I’ll just echo Zinc Avenger up at number four. I’ve always liked that phrase. My father used it a lot and I always felt encouraged to hear him tell me that I’d be OK seeing as I was “on the mend”.

  • Stacy

    Feel better soon, Hank.

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  • c2t2…

    Dangit! I can’t believe I didn’t see this post sooner. I’ll just pretend like I’m not a week late and take everything in order:

    ‘Full head of hair,’ ‘Well-endowed’ and ‘Tall,’ …Guys must get different paperwork than us ladyfolk *pout*. Then again, all anyone has to do is glance at my head or chest to figure out the first two. Or for the hair one, anywhere between my head and knees (Yes I’m bragging). Height, not so much.

    Bumpy as the wheelchair ride is, it was still way easier than walking. (Then again, I had dozens of broken bones at the time.)

    No idea about childbirth.

    As an obedient female, I totally skipped the paragraph you instructed me to skip. But if I had read it, I would have thought the joke was hilarious.

    “I evolved from canines” will be my excuse now and forever when I snarl at intrusive people, not just children.

    Tough to have a BM when there’s nothing in your B to M. Until the puke parade ended, you were SOL. Also explains the 10 lb drop.

    Glad things got better, and hope to read more from ya soon!

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Get well soon. :)

    PS: Oy, got some spam problems here. ‘Invisible Braces’ on part 1, and on part 2 it’s ‘email’, ‘red rugs’, ‘innovation’, & particularly the huge pile of word-vomit from ‘San Diego County Lawyer Listings’.

  • http://sciencenotes.wordpress.com/ Markita Lynda—threadrupt

    Just a late note to say I hope everything is going swimmingly.

  • rowanvt

    O_o yay spammers?

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  • http://OakleyOutlet Oakley Outlet

    Is there any sugar in the bottle? Not bad.Allow me.That is my idea about friendship.You really look sharp today.Are you mind if I take tomorrow off?And now medical care helps to keep people alive longer.She was totally exhausted.My parents want me to go abroad.Would you tell me your phone number%3


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