[Go no further if the talk of poop and bodily functions bothers you.]
One drain out. One more to be pulled. But I wasn’t thinking about that for long because the Valium that they had given me through my IV was taking effect; very, v e r y, v e r y q u i c k l y. And then, it was drug induced nap time. When I woke up, it took me a second, I thought it was all a bad dream. One attempted inhale confirmed, my belly was still inflated beyond compare.
The fun wasn’t over. In an effort to get moving and try and encourage some of that air out of my body, Pam came back in. Bless that woman’s heart. She was unbelievably patient with me and we took things as slow as necessary. And then things changed. (You’re seeing a pattern here, right?)
Tim the brace man came back in with my new and updated brace. Now? Really?
Let’s just say that it wasn’t a pretty process. There were tears and snot and deep breaths and yelling. Things got to the point where Pam (the most wonderful physical therapist) had to bring Tim out into the hall and explain that maybe now was not the right time to be tightening a hard plastic brace around my torso. So Tim left and would return the following day to try again.
Fast forward to the next day. Over night I was bladder scanned twice, straight cathed, had another IV put in and officially made NPO. So I couldn’t have anything to eat or drink. Not even water. Awesome.
It was Friday, things just had to get better. On Fridays, Dr. Feldman and Dr. Paley have conference where the whole team of doctors, PA’s and physical therapists get together to discuss the cases for the next week. After conference, they round on all of the patients. I knew this. SO when my sweet nurse Bill walked in and informed me that I had to get an enema, yes, an enema, it was obvious to me that we would wait until after the doctors rounded. But he insisted that they would be awhile and we could be finished with the whole process by the time they came in. Fine. I believed him. So the enema happened. Not fun.
You know what else happened? About 10 minutes after getting the enema, my door opened. It wasn’t mom, it wasn’t Bill and it wasn’t Pam. It was the entire PALLI team. I know that my face went white as a ghost and I began to clench my ass cheeks harder than I ever knew possible. This was not happening. Oh yes, it was. Dr. Feldman just started talking about how I was making progress, yadda yadda… And then he lifted my shirt to reveal my pregnant looking belly. Instantly, I began to sweat, I was beyond embarrassed. My cheeks, to be clear, my butt cheeks, were being squeezed together wth so much effort that I was concerned I was just going to unconsciously lose muscle function and shit would literally hit the fan. The likelihood of this happening increased by about 75% when Dr. Feldman placed his hand on my stomach, asked how things were ‘going’ and then began to PRESS down. I w a n t e d to DIE. Looking at a few faces in the crowd at the foot of my bed, some eyes went wide. Those few knew the thoughts racing around in my head. I said nothing. To be honest, I’m not even sure what the rest of the conversation was or if there was any. As soon as the team walked out, I lost it. How was this real life??
That afternoon, Bill came back in with a rather grim expression on his face. Since I still had not peed on my own, he was going to have to put a Foley catheter back in to try and ‘retrain’ my bladder how to pee properly. Sitting on the edge on my bed with my walker, I stared at him and my eyes began to well with tears. No. This was NOT going to happen. I told him that I needed to getup and go to the bathroom which was a complete lie. After he got me settled and I had my little pull cord to let everyone know that I was ‘done’ and would need assistance back to bed, Bill closed the door. There I sat for the 38,971 time, on the toilet, trying very hard to just go. I started to cry, again.
And then I thought to myself, what would my soul sistas tell me to do in this situation? Mind over matter. Sometimes when you just stop, take a breath and sit still, the weight of the world lifts. Viola. It happened. I peed. No catheter for this girl. I was also able to convince the team that, since I lost my final IV in my arm, it would not be necessary. It seemed as though the stars were aligning…finally. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet.
There was one duty that I still needed to fulfill. The good old Code Brown. You know? Drop the kids off at the pool. Get in line for the log flume. Catch my drift? You guessed it. I needed to poop. A simple bodily function that, after 9 hours of anesthesia, had become nearly impossible.
Saturday morning. Day 5. I was over it. My gas tank was on empty. Dr. Feldman came in for his usual rounding and took a seat on the edge of my bed. Not only was this man an incredible surgeon, his bedside manor was wonderful as well. “You don’t look very happy,” he commented, genuinely concerned. “What do you want?”
What do I want? I wanted a lot of things. My stomach and bowel function to return to normal, feeling and control in my right leg, my friends teleported to my bedside, a glass of wine, the drain out of my back, phlebotomy to stop coming in at 3am to poke and prod at my withered up veins for 20 minutes, a shower and maybe some ice cream. But I managed to narrow it all down to one request. “I want to go home,” I told him. Home meaning my home away from home at the Homewood Suites.
“Ok,” he said. “You can go home.” This was not the response I expected at all. My eyes went wide. “On one condition.” Oh Lord. I knew it wasn’t going to be that easy. I looked at him, mildly concerned yet also interested. “I want you to put that nose ring back in your nose, the smile back on your face and the sass back in your attitude.” BOOM. I knew I liked this guy. With a small smile and a hug, I agreed. Before he left the room, he also reminded me that I had one other task on my plate and it needed to be done my Monday. Number two. Got it.
My nurse Theresa began the rather lengthy process of a hospital discharge. Bless her. Meanwhile, I sat in my room, shakin’ in my britches as I awaited the return of Vera, one of the PAs, so she could take my drain out. Vera and I bonded over the subject of glitter in the recovery room; instantly friends. When she finally made it in, I was so nervous I thought I was going to faint. Remember how the first drain removal went? Yeeeaaaaahh. Exactly. I couldn’t quite get that one out of my head. Vera assured me that this one would go quite differently. She was absolutely correct. A piece of cake compared to the first time. That’s not to say that I didn’t maintain a death grip on the arm of the chair the entire time. You know when you slurp a piece of spaghetti out of your pasta bowl? Imagine the drain being the piece of spaghetti and my back being the bowl full of tangled pasta. That’s the best analogy my tired mind can come up with right now. My apologies.
Anyway, the drain was out, my incision had a fresh dressing on it, and we were ready to rock and roll. Pam got me up one more time for a little jaunt around the unit with my walker. It felt good to be up and moving around and I knew things could only go up from here.