I had my operation yesterday and all is well.
I did barn chores at 4:45 AM, turned out all the animals into the fresh snow in the dark, mucked the stalls, raced home for a quick shower, and by 6 AM DH was driving me at 25 m.p.h. along the icy, unplowed highways to the hospital.
When I registered, the eagle-eyed receptionist pointed out that my married name was misspelled on our new insurance card. I have handed that card to umpteen doctor’s offices in the past month and never noticed. I shudder to think of all the rejected claims bound to come my way, but at least the surgery bills should be straightforward.
In my cubicle DH sat in a corner reading the New York Times on his iPad while all the friendly doctors and nurses came in and out to hook me up to various tubes and wires and have me sign releases, joking and smiling. I wondered if they were always this cheerful or if the lack of operating room traffic the day before Christmas Eve had them in an especially good mood.
I asked the anesthesiologist what drug he would be giving me.
“It will be general anesthesia,” he said.
“Yes, I know, but which one? Sodium Pentathol? I’ve had that before.”
“No, that’s not used any more. I’ll be administering Propofol.”
“Oh, great! The drug that killed Michael Jackson!”
The doctor made a face. “That’s right. But why the poor guy hired a cardiologist and not an anesthesiologist, I’ll never figure out. I can tell you, if I’d been taking care of Michael Jackson, he’d still be moonwalking!”
I told him I felt reassured.
Finally a pretty, young female nurse came in to push me down the hall on a rolling gurney.
“You seem too light and little to be pushing this heavy gurney,” I said.
“Oh, thank you!” she laughed. “That’s what every girl wants to hear.”
Really? I thought. I myself always wanted to beat the boys in arm-wrestling and throw a longer spiral pass.
I remember very little after that until waking up in recovery, where I discovered that the nurse was the sister-in-law of one of my former contractors. (Small town.) Under the lingering effects of anesthesia it seemed imperative to make clear to her that though I would never hire him again due to his problems with paperwork — despite not having worked for me since March, just last week he stopped by with a mislaid bill for $235 — he had done excellent carpentry. She patted my shoulder soothingly.
Back in my room another nurse fed me two Percocet for intense cramping. “I’d say I’m about a four,” I said, studying the pain chart.
Later, DH sighed. “I think you’re about a seven.”
The Percocet had the odd effect of seeming not to help the pain much but making me so drunk that I didn’t really care.
The nurse had brought an English muffin for me to eat with the pills, to buffer my empty stomach. The muffin was soaked with margarine. I grew up eating margarine but have not tasted it in thirty years. Though I know it is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, my confused brain fastened on the idea that it was a petroleum product. I was practically weepy, thinking I was being served a good English muffin smeared with Vaseline! But I knew I couldn’t hurt the kind nurse’s feelings. I choked down half. DH had no such qualms about the other half.
The rest of the day was long and groggy. Lucy took care of me like a champion, making me toast (fresh bread, with butter!), serving homemade chicken soup for supper, rubbing my back. The intense cramping continued for much of the day, interspersed with vomiting. Finally I realized that it was the Percocet upsetting my stomach, and discontinued it. I would far rather endure belly cramps than nausea.
Today I am sore and slightly crampy but definitely on the mend. My friend Alison did my barn chores last night and my friend D is coming out to help me this morning. Lucy will help tonight, and by then I expect to be back to normal. We should have the pathology report before the New Year and then, knock wood, this tedious health episode will be over.
The great thing is that since I had to be prepared ahead of time, almost all of the holiday tasks are done. The house is clean, the presents are stashed in closets, the food is shopped for. Today I will wrap last gifts and bake pecan pies. To keep life simple and quiet, we won’t go to the usual candle-light Christmas Eve service down in the valley but will have candles lit here, a fire in the fireplace, and my parents’ recording of the Kings College, Cambridge choir singing carols on the stereo.
Merry Christmas to all!