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Surgery of the Damned - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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November 2nd, 2007


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01:46 am - Surgery of the Damned
Having finally returned to the safety of my own apartment, I can tell you guys about my surgery and recovery as well as provide pictorial evidence of my situation!

Sunday: My mom arrives, and I clean my apartment in anticipation of her staying the night. Except she changes plans on me and has us stay at my grandparents' house in Belmont instead. I take a shower and apply antibacterial gel to my shoulder, as instructed.

Monday: Again, I shower and apply more antibacterial gel to my shoulder so that I don't get an infection and die. My mom and I leave Belmont at around 5:20 in the morning to make it to Alameda by six. I check in, and after a few minutes, I register. I sign a bunch of shit that says it's not their fault if my valuables are stolen and also, I have rights as a patient! Go me! My surgery is officially called a "BANKHART [sic] SHOULDER REPAIR LEFT SHOULDER STABILIZATION." We are directed upstairs, where we wait some more until they let me into a room to change into one of those stupid hospital gowns made of paper where your ass hangs out. I lie on the hospital bed, and we watch Saved by the Bell as we wait for a nurse who comes in and asks me questions I will be asked multiple times this morning, like "What is your name?" and "What is your birthday?" (an important one, as for some reason, they had it down as 9/21 when I registered) and, most importantly, "What operation are you here for?" She marks my left shoulder like I'm a Japanese waitress. She explains the specifics of the procedure, like the fact that I'll have a tube down my mouth for breathing, and thus I might have a scratchy throat when I wake up. Later, she returns to take my blood pressure, which is normal. She hooks up my IV, which is the most painful part of the whole process, as it's a motherfucking big needle...that goes into the top of my hand, not my inner elbow as I initially presented, remembering the position for giving blood. My mom tells me I'm doing it wrong, but I don't listen to her, because that's how I roll. I start receiving intravenous fluids.

A male nurse comes in and asks me The Questions, and then I am wheeled to a pre-op room, where the anesthetist asks me The Questions again, and then someone else comes and asks me The Questions, and I'm just lying there waiting with a needle in my hand. The anesthetist scarily tells me there's some "memory loss" associated with the anesthesia, but then I realize she means you don't remember anything while you're under, not that I wouldn't remember the entire morning or something. My main concern is that I would not be able to write this post otherwise.

Then they wheel me into the operating room and I wasn't really nervous before except now the room is cold and there are monitors everywhere and big giant lights and lots of people in masks moving around quickly and I am being transferred to another bed to lie on my side and there is a Time Out where they go over The Questions one more time and the doctor asks if I have any questions but I can't really think of what to ask because it's so cold and the room is scary and before I can even figure out what's happening there's a mask over my face and I slowly breathe in the Versed breathe in breathe out breathe in breathe out breathe

I'm in an unfamiliar room, groggy, my left arm clutched to my bare chest, my shoulder tight and sore, my throat strangely scratchy. I'm in and out of consciousness for an unspecified amount of time as a nurse comes to check on me and my blood pressure, which is low. My mom feeds me juice and crackers. The nurse tells me the operation was a success; they found what they expected to find and fixed the issue. When I can finally retain consciousness for a significant amount of time, the nurse decides to see if I'm okay to go, even though my blood pressure isn't fully up to normal. She removes the needle from my hand and tapes a cottonball to the wound. As I get up, I notice that there's blood behind me. My blood. There's also a little dried blood on my left arm and hand, which shows splashes of iodine as well. I have no idea what they did to me in that room. Not a jot. The nurse asks me if I feel dizzy when I stand up; I don't know why I would, though I later remember about gravity when I think a bout of lightheadedness does hit me a few minutes later, though I don't say anything since I want to go home. I put my pants on in the bathroom, and I put my shirt on over my sling, which I did not realize was even on upon waking. The nurse wheels me out, and my mom drives us back to my grandparents' house.

I'm still fairly groggy for the rest of the afternoon, and the Vicodin doesn't help my drowsy state. Or the pain, as far as I can tell, because the slightest bit of motion hurts. Shifting my position. Moving my arm. Walking. I didn't realize it would be this bad. This is worse than post-dislocation pain, which was almost nonexistent, really.

I look like this:



Note the gigantic dressing that makes it hard to move my shoulder anyway and makes it really sore. (Also note that while it appears that my RIGHT shoulder is dressed, you are looking at a mirror image! Fix your brain!)

Tuesday: I wake up with a very tight feeling in my stomach, which confirms that Vicodin is indeed constipating, so I make sure to start taking some stool softener, even though my doctor did not officially prescribe it because he didn't think it would have that effect on a patient my age. So apparently my bowels are fifty. I'm still kind of groggy today and end up taking a nap in the afternoon. The general game plan involves alternating between Six Feet Under, The Book Thief, and sleep. The pain is getting better.

Wednesday: I have become a little worried about my hand. The first nurse said that they would likely numb my shoulder despite the general anesthetic, so there might be some lingering numbness in my hand, but said numbness was lingering for over twenty-four hours. I call the doctor's office to see if this is normal, and the nurse reports back that it is, but I should come in the next day to have it checked out. As a bonus, I get to have my dressing taken off. While it's on, I can't take a shower. I have to take a bath and make sure not to get it wet. It's annoying. On the upside, I can walk by this time. This afternoon, I still have to nap. Stupid Vicodin, getting in the way of my television watching. I'm on a schedule here.

Thursday: My mom drives me to the hospital, and we wait for about three thousand hours before the doctor finally sees me. He removes the dressing, which hurts like hell because the adhesive was pretty strong to keep it on there all this time. He checks my hand to make sure all my nerves work and then says it's fine, whatever, it'll go away if I flex my hands and let my arm out of the sling more often to allow some circulation into my hand. I do that regularly anyway to keep my arm from getting frozen. Right now, I sometimes have to push my arm down out of the locked position because my elbow is that stiff.

This is how I look with the dressing off:



I guess I might get some cool scars after all. They are twins!

Since we're in the neighborhood, my mom and I stop by my apartment, where she proceeds to clean my pots and pans and the sink and the stove and the bathroom. I think she uses magic. Meanwhile, I'm able to get online for the first time in four days.

Friday: My mom pisses me the hell off by berating me for watching Avatar: "You say you're an adult, but adults don't sit down and watch cartoons." I get my silent revenge by falling asleep during a crappy Indian movie with horrendously bad subtitles and fortuitously waking up just in time to catch the West Coast airing, escaping into my room under the guise of "Vicodin-induced drowsiness" to watch both my age-inappropriate cartoon and my age-appropriate Friday Night Lights.

Saturday: I'm forced to attend a Halloween party in Newark full of Indians I don't know. I have a craptastically boring time, as expected, and the food isn't even good.

Sunday: We spend the day at my uncle's house, where I can once again cling to my precious Internets. For dinner, we head into San Francisco to Hunan Garden...which is closed, so we try Osha, a Thai place across the street. It's good stuff; my mom has apparently only had Thai food once in her life before.

Now, the original plan (well, the original plan was for me to chill in my own apartment for the two weeks I was off work) was for me to return home once my mom left, but I made the mistake of not lying about when I was going back to work, which caused everyone to decide that I should spend the other week I had off at my uncle's house, despite the fact that I was itching to get back home. So they decided what would be in my best interest and ALL I WANTED WAS A PEPSI AND THEY WOULDN'T GIVE IT TO ME. "Fine, I'll stay, whatever!" I snap, right there in front of the restrooms, and flounce off back to the table. After we get home, my mom pulls me aside and says I can leave Thursday or something, not stay a whole week, which sounds preferable to me.

Monday: We drop my mom off at the airport, and I set up camp at my uncle's house. My uncle gives me an incredibly uncomfortable and awkward talk about how he would treat me as his own son if I gave him permission or something, but I should really buy a house right now, the end. I'm really not sure whether being able to go online regularly and catch up on LJ is worth having to sit through that.

Tuesday: I hole myself up in a room and watch Six Feet Under to avoid more interaction with my uncle. He still manages to complicate things by suggesting I stay the whole week or even longer if I want, but he isn't going to guilt-trip me, of course not, despite the fact that he "suggests" I stay longer than Thursday forty thousand times. By this point, my emotional pain far outweighs any shoulder pain, which is minimal. My left thumb continues to be numb, although the rest of my fingers are okay.

Wednesday: I teach my eleven-year-old cousin the magic of the distributive property. Later, I pass out Halloween candy. An older girl waiting on the sidewalk, presumably chaperoning siblings and their friends, yells, "What happened to your arm?"

I reply, "A werewolf bit me!"

"That's too bad," she yells back.

I like to think we were flirting. It's good for my self-esteem.

Thursday: I collect all my gifts of food and one-handedly drive home. Home! HOOOOOOOOOOOME.

And that is basically the story of my surgery and recovery.

Movies Watched:
The Invisible: Boring and pointless, along with an obsession with using rock songs instead of score, despite the fact that the songs rarely work.
The Illusionist: Boring and pointless. I greatly prefer The Prestige.
The Devil Wears Prada: Generally funny and entertaining, if pretty by-the-numbers. And speaking of pretty: Anne Hathaway.
Volver: Decent, but I don't see what all the hoopla was about. It doesn't really seem to go anywhere.
An Inconvenient Truth: Surprisingly entertaining for a PowerPoint presentation. I don't see how anyone could watch it and not believe that A) global warming is real and B) we are both the problem and the solution.
Chak De India!: An okay Indian sports movie about a women's field hockey team. There are no song-and-dance numbers. It's very Mighty Ducks. Apparently, it's been very well reviewed.

Amount of Six Feet Under watched (including three episodes pre-surgery): 69%

Amount of The Book Thief read after finishing Anansi Boys: 51%

Amount I am glad to be back in my own apartment with my own computer and my own Internet and my own DVR: 100%
Current Mood: numbnumb (in the left thumb)
Current Music: Shiny Toy Guns - Le Disko

(80 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


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From:hobviously
Date:November 2nd, 2007 09:06 am (UTC)
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Good job at surviving your ordeal, o Cow! I am glad you have done so.
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From:latropita
Date:November 2nd, 2007 09:21 am (UTC)
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Your anesthetic experience sounds both better and worse than mine: I had fairly involved dreams about flying when I had my tonsils out, but apparently I was allergic to the anesthetic they used and I spent a couple days violently sick to me stomach. So, um, congratulations?

Your scars totally could pass for werewolf bites.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 2nd, 2007 09:26 am (UTC)
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I think so. That's what I should tell everyone from now on.

I've never had any of those crazy stomach issues from going under. I just go under and come out and don't remember a goddamn thing. The space in between is just a big blank. No dreams, no thoughts, nothing.
(Deleted comment)
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From:cerulgalactus
Date:November 2nd, 2007 09:45 am (UTC)
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Be honest, you were taken by Noah Bennet, weren't you.
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From:spadada
Date:November 2nd, 2007 10:36 am (UTC)
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I thought the same thing!!!


Also, Sunil, I am pretty sure Callie performed your surgery on Grey's tonight. Shout out!
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From:miniglik
Date:November 2nd, 2007 10:51 am (UTC)
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The anesthetist scarily tells me there's some "memory loss" associated with the anesthesia, but then I realize she means you don't remember anything while you're under, not that I wouldn't remember the entire morning or something. My main concern is that I would not be able to write this post otherwise.


Hee. Icon!

I liked the chronological account. Best way to go with this story.

[User Picture]
From:spectralbovine
Date:November 2nd, 2007 04:25 pm (UTC)
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Once I finally got going, it wasn't as hard. Starting is the hardest part.
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From:wounded82
Date:November 2nd, 2007 11:56 am (UTC)
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*hug* Glad surgery went well and you are hooome (!) for your recovery. Ah, family... Sorry all your original plans for recovery went down the drain.
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From:cindywrites
Date:November 2nd, 2007 12:48 pm (UTC)
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Oh good, you're back, and the surgery fixed what it was supposed to and you're in your own place again, with INTERNETS!!!

She marks my left shoulder like I'm a Japanese waitress.


Coffee. On my monitor.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 2nd, 2007 04:28 pm (UTC)
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I'll buy you a new one, Cindy.
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From:raelee
Date:November 2nd, 2007 12:48 pm (UTC)
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Sunil! Yay!

Amount I'm glad you're back in your own apartment with your own computer and your own Internet and your own DVR: 100%
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From:tamarai
Date:November 2nd, 2007 01:04 pm (UTC)
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I'm still amazed that they send people home so soon after general anesthesia. When I had mine back in, oh, 95, they didn't tube me. Not sure why, but I'm kind of glad.

*hugs*

So glad you're home and your shoulder is all fixed and stuff. Happy November!
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From:tamarai
Date:November 2nd, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
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Oh, I just remembered I was out in '02 also. No tube then either. KILLER migraine afterward, though. One of my worst three or four, which is saying a lot.

Your scars remind me just a wee bit of Heroes...
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From:jeeperstseepers
Date:November 2nd, 2007 01:12 pm (UTC)
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She marks my left shoulder like I'm a Japanese waitress.
I have no idea what this means. Am I stupid?

My uncle gives me an incredibly uncomfortable and awkward talk about how he would treat me as his own son if I gave him permission or something, but I should really buy a house right now, the end. I'm really not sure whether being able to go online regularly and catch up on LJ is worth having to sit through that.

BWAH! Another scene straight out of a comedy.

The Illusionist: Boring and pointless.

Aw, no. It's so pretty! It's a very different kind of movie from The Prestige (which I very much enjoyed as well), that's all. It's more crafted. I absolutely love the whole look of it.

The Devil Wears Prada: Generally funny and entertaining, if pretty by-the-numbers.

BAD movie, BAD! HATE HATE HATE! Woooo, she shrinks from her perfect size 6 to a size 4 at the end! Well done! HATE.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 2nd, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
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I have no idea what this means. Am I stupid?
No, just someone who doesn't watch The Office.

BWAH! Another scene straight out of a comedy.
I promise you, it wasn't funny. Just really awkward and uncomfortable.

Woooo, she shrinks from her perfect size 6 to a size 4 at the end! Well done! HATE.
I'll admit that totally bugged me. Like, part of the story seemed to totally go against the ostensible message of the movie. Unless the message of the movie was actually a really stupid message.
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From:harper47
Date:November 2nd, 2007 01:25 pm (UTC)
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Glad you survived all the hospital stuff. Ack and ick and at least it's over. And yea - The Invisible was boring and pointless.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 2nd, 2007 04:35 pm (UTC)
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Someone else who's seen it! I mean, the previews made it look kind of cool, but it was just so bad. He wasn't trying to "solve" anything, and it takes half the goddamn movie for the whole Invisible thing to even happen, and then he spends the rest of the movie yelling at people who can't hear him, and then he's saved by the MAGICAL POWER OF LOVE FROM THE FUCKING PERSON WHO SHOT HIM IN THE FIRST PLACE WTF.
(Deleted comment)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:November 2nd, 2007 04:37 pm (UTC)
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I don't know. I was predisposed to like The Prestige because of Christopher Nolan. And the fact that it had a far more interesting twist. The twist in The Illusionist doesn't actually explain anything at all and just confirms what you basically think happened all along anyway.
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From:soundingsea
Date:November 2nd, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
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Ugh, last time I had surgery the iv-in-back-of-hand thing was the most horrible, I agree.

And waking up... elsewhere with no idea of what was done to you? Is FREAKY.

So glad things went okay and your recovery is proceeding apace. And agreed, you will have some sweet-looking scars. (Which, you know, chicks dig.:))

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