Friday, December 21, 2012

How I Spent the Apocalypse

So what did you do for the Mayan apocalypse?  Me, I scheduled myself for some minor surgery.

Because why not?

I’m not going to get into the details of it, because eeeewwww.  Suffice it to say that it was an outpatient procedure of sufficiently limited concern that it got postponed twice in the twelve months between the decision to have it and actual procedure itself.  When your doctor thinks your vacation plans are more important than your health issues, you’re doing well.

But today was the day.  I gave the last final exam that I had to proctor in person on Wednesday, and next semester I’m going to resume my twice-weekly 90-mile-each-way commute to Not So Far Away Campus (the joy of being an ad-hoc), so I wanted as much recovery time as possible.  And if the world ended while I was under anesthesia, well, I suppose that would not be such a bad thing.

Of course yesterday was the day Wisconsin got its first major snowstorm in nearly two years – mounds of heavy wet heart-attack-quality snow overlain by a few more inches of light blowy snow for the brief moments it took for the 45mph winds to spread it around somewhere else in huge impassable drifts and zero-visibility skies.  So there were a few anxious moments regarding scheduling, is what I’m saying.  But this morning things had calmed down, at least here in Our Little Town, and Kim took me to the hospital without incident.

Unless you count being up and moving at what felt like late last evening an incident.  And thus I learned an important lesson on this, my first experience with real (i.e. not in the doctor’s office) surgery: they want you there early.  Really, really early.

I am not a morning person.  Well, let me rephrase that – I love the wee hours, preferably between midnight and about 3am, but anything between that and 7am you can just keep.  Nobody explains this to surgeons.  But they have the knives, so they make the rules.

So there I was, sitting in the pre-op area, in that darling little robe they give you that would be considered pornographic if it were made of black leather, while trained medical personnel bustled all about me.  They measured my blood pressure several times until it declined enough to be reasonable (no stress in the pre-op area, really).  They counted my heartbeats and oxygen levels.  And they gave me an IV.

My first ever IV. 

It is a strange thing to be hooked up to a bag full of liquids that are coursing their way into your bloodstream even as you watch, particularly for someone as phobic of needles as I am.  But being a grown-up means sucking up and dealing with things, so I just closed my eyes and let them get on with it.  The nurse was nice enough to cover up the entry needle with an Ace bandage so I didn’t have to keep staring at it, which helped.

The nice part about IVs, though, is that they are vectors for happy juice.

My main plan for this operation was not to be there.  Since my physical presence was required I figured the rest of me could just go somewhere else, and the nurses and doctors were quite happy to oblige.  I remember asking the anesthesia nurse if she had turned on the sedatives and her saying yes, and the next thing I knew I was in the post-op room.  If it weren’t for the obvious physical reminders, I wouldn’t know I’d been in surgery at all.

Better living through chemistry, that is one of my many mottos.

Now, there are odd consequences that follow from such a situation.  In particular there is the fact that you end up with the memory of a goldfish until the happy juice wears off.

Apparently I spent the entire time between arriving in post-op and coming to what passed for consciousness asking Kim the same three questions, repeatedly.  1) How are the girls doing?  2) What did she do all day (while I was away)? and 3) What the hell is that thing on my arm?  And every time Kim replied, 1) they’re fine, 2) waited here in the hospital, and 3) that’s the blood pressure cuff, and yes they do indeed have to take your blood pressure every minute or so, that’s the rules.  This last one caught me by surprise every time, from what she says.

Also, while I remember being wheeled down to the exit in the standard hospital wheelchair and then climbing into the car, I only remember asking Kim once when I could get a real shower again (“Sunday”) rather than the sixty or ninety times I am told I actually asked that question on the fifteen minute drive home.

Well, it seemed important.

I spent most of the rest of the day sleeping in my own bed (my own bed!), eating (they don’t let you eat for roughly forever prior to surgery), and generally laying low with the girls for company, since both Mighty Clever Guy Middle School and Not Bad President Elementary were closed for a snow day today.  It wasn’t a bad way to spend a birthday.

Did I mention today is my birthday?  Because it is.  Happy birthday to me.

We celebrated yesterday, amid the howling snowstorm – family, presents and homemade brownies – because holidays happen when you’ve got time for them.

So I’ve had my birthday celebration.  I’m in better shape health-wise than I was this morning and won’t have to have that surgery again, one presumes.  And I’m here to type about it, Mayans notwithstanding.

Life is good.

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