Friday, February 23, 2007

Pops Staples

And no, my name ain't Roebuck, either.

It's a week or so later, and I'm finally back to tell the tale.

I've been plagued by gallstones for the better part of the last decade, but it wasn't until Christmas Day that I had an actual attack. Previously, the pain had been a dull, gnawing sensation in my right side, and for years I entertained the thought that I had some sort of crise de foie, or worse, a manifestation of the illness that brought my grandmother down at much too early an age. While doctor visits proved this not to be so, the pains remained pretty much a mystery, appearing now and again. But the holiday attack was like nothing I'd ever experienced, and something had to be done.

Unfortunately, nothing could be scheduled for at least a month and a half, leaving me uncomfortable and full of dread. I've discovered that the worst thing one could do was type gall bladder removal into Google. I'd come to dread websites like Citysearch and Trip Advisor due the utter amount of overly empowered semi-literates with ridiculous notions, and most of the medical sites I perused were no different. I was exposed to the very worst of scenarios every time I tried to do serious research. My doctor was pretty blase about the whole procedure, but try as I might, I just couldn't match his level of cool. At best, the past weeks have been tense. Coupled, as they were, with my yearly bout of seasonal depression, and I was not pleasant company. Least of all to myself.

Of course, the day of the operation coincided with the first snowstorm we've had all winter, and the city pretty much came to a standstill. Tim and I arrived at hospital at 5:30 AM, but my doctor was hours late. His greeted me by explaining that he felt he was still asleep in New Jersey. Pretty cold comfort, there. As the surgery was to be ambulatory, I was walked like through the early proceedings as if I was being kitted out for summer camp, handed a gown, pants and robe, then shown how to pack my personal belongings in a tagged garbage bag, not unlike a sex party. I was poked, prodded and tested, then marched into the operating suite, past all the other patients lying bloody and eviscerated on both sides of me. The anesthesiologist saw my panic and put me out quickly, as the doctor started shaving my abdomen. Good time to pass out, I thought.

I came to an hour later to see Tim working his way towards me, and my doctor mumbling something about complications. They were keeping me overnight. I stayed in the ICU for the next 11 hours, pumped full of morphine. I watched the seemingly unreal soap opera style drama going on all around me. Doctors and nurses fighting, nurses and nurses fighting, patients and nurses fighting, visitors and nurses fighting, all the while consuming boxes of chocolate. Did I mention it was Valentine's Day? A bed could not be located for me until 10:00 PM that evening. At that point I jostled through the hallways on a gurney and deposited in a teensy private room, hooked up to yet another bagful of morphine, and left to my own devices. I promptly passed out, dreaming that I was lying on the shore of a tropical isle.

I spent next day in a haze of opiates, of which I'd received a jug full. My first shower in days revitalized me, and a brisk walk through the slush threw off the dull drug haze. I was back! I realized that the worst pain I had was caused by the dressings and staples used to close me up. I removed the dressings and found four minuscule holes, with a staple or three across each one. My navel looked pierced. I could have hung some nice dangling jewelry from the staple and been quite fashionable. I discovered the doctor had shaved half my abdomen, leaving the rest of my chest hair intact. My stomach sort of resembled Cruella deVille; one side black and the other the color of fresh ham. Of course, this observation might have something to do with the drugs still in my system. I spent a couple of quiet days around the house, watching DVDs and reading, recovering.

By Sunday, I'd had a bit too much recovery and was definitely suffering from cabin fever. At the appointed hour, I through on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and headed down to the Dugout to see my friends. Tim had asked if I was ready to do this, and of course I was. He was also sure I'd show my staples to anyone who asked, and in fact I did. Even those that did not ask were treated to a view that ungodly sight. Joe was the first to arrive, delivering a Happy Gallbladder Day heart-shaped candy gram from Ed (delicious, and no gall bladder pain from eating chocolates, either) and christening me with the nickname used as the title of this piece. As the rest of our posse poured in, I was just so happy to be up, out and surrounded by my friends.

I've been back to work since Tuesday. The staples were removed yesterday and I can see that the scarring will be minimal, at best. I seem to be doing as well as can be expected, so far.

I think I'm back, kids. And as such, I hope to see y'all at our annual Blarg Hop tomorrow night!