November 2nd, 2007

Mortal wound

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:

Collapse )

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:

Collapse )

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.

Collapse )

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%