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A Lap Chol Tale–Nieces Make It Better

Ok so this post is going to be interesting. The plan is to write some today, some tomorrow before and after surgery. We’ll see how it goes. By the way Lap Chol stands for laparoscopic cholecystectomy- which I can neither say nor spell without help so I’ll stick to the abbreviation.

Thursday: Prepping for Surgery

I’ve had a running list this week of stuff I need to get done before tomorrow: laundry, change sheets, vacuum, charge electronics,  shave legs, acquire necessary post-surgery food and drink supplies, do as much yoga as possible (before I can’t for a while), try very hard not to have another bad gallbladder attack, do pre-op interview and blood work,  etc. I am also doing my IG infusion tonight as I doubt I’ll feel like doing it tomorrow.

I’m weirdly excited for tomorrow–the kind of excited I suppose a pregnant woman feels when she’s finally going into labor. No matter the pain ahead, I want this thing out of me! (Except it would be totally weird and gross if they handed it to me afterwards).
My family has joked that I should ask for my gb after the surgery–I could take it home and set it in a jar on my bookcase. They think they’re so funny. *Rolls eyes* Well I have always admired Severus Snape’s interior decorating skills. I guess now’s my chance to get
the authentic creepy-guy-in-a-dungeon look.

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Friday: Surgery Early this morning I woke up and the butterflies hit me hard. I finally gave up on sleeping and watched videos of my six-month-old niece on my phone. My older brother, sister-in-law​, younger sister and I all shared a house up at school this past year. Second semester (she was born in December) if I was really nervous or stressed about something it always helped to hold my little squishy for a bit. Since we’re separated for the summer, videos had to do today. I felt much better after watching her try to sit up and grinning as her parents squished her cheeks with kisses.

I didn’t actually get a chance to write before the surgery. I didn’t wait in pre-op very long before they brought mom back, which was totally not my experience with my other surgeries.

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Making important life decisions while waiting in pre-op

While we waited together my mom drilled me on what I want to get my masters and PhD in. I told her I figured it’d be ok if I didn’t figure that out before they took me back for surgery… We were waiting for a while.

Not long before they wheeled me back my sister sent me pics of her two little girls. My 20-months-old niece was trying to walk in her daddy’s shoes while her new little sister watched her with wide eyes from her swing. I was still smiling when they came to wheel me away.

My doc said the surgery went very smoothly. Unlike my previous surgeries, I didn’t even realize I was going under in the OR. I remember taking some deep breaths of oxygen on the operating table and then waking up to a recovery nurse telling me I needed to breathe slower. I also had a much harder time waking up from the anesthesia than I have from my previous two surgeries. I’m always very clear headed–no funny drugged stories from me sadly–but this time all my body wanted to do was go back to sleep. It was also the first surgery I’ve been in significant pain as soon as I woke up. My shoulder and back hurt really bad from the gas they had pumped into my abdomen so they could see what they were doing. I really wished I had thought to bring along some Gas-X or something. They gave me my first pain pill while I was in recovery but it didn’t do much for the gas pain. I took gas medicine as soon as I got home and within half an hour the pain was all but gone. So far the gas pain has been the only thing to come close to the pain of an attack.

I got home at about noon- having reported to the surgery center at 7:45 in the morning. I got situated in the recliner, and once the meds kicked in and my pain eased up I dozed off and on while Bones solved crimes in the background.

By this time my 20-months-old niece was up from her nap. She saw me sleeping in the recliner and thought I was playing one of her favorite games- “nigh nigh,” where you pretend to go to sleep and then pop up and squeal “wake up!” Everytime I closed my eyes I’d hear the rapid pitter patter of tiny feet come up to the side of the chair, followed by a careful pause as she stood and watched me with her big, brown eyes. Then she’d get her little curl-covered head as close to mine as she could and squeal loudly, signaling me to pop my eyes open and yell “wake up!” It hurt to laugh, but it still felt good, if that makes sense.

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I got holes in ma belly

Saturday: Day One of Recovery

Last night I didn’t get much sleep. It hurts a lot to lie my side, which is how I always sleep. When I finally did fall asleep I woke up a couple hours later because my body was complaining that it was overdue for another dose of pain medicine.

I haven’t been hungry at all. Yesterday I just drank Gatorade and ginger ale; today I forced myself to eat some Jell-O and Cheerios because I was getting a lack of food migraine, but I’m still not hungry.

I spent most of the day in the recliner watching Harry Potter and Bones and napping. My abs definitely hurt when I move, but it’s not agonizing. It feels a bit like when I put my IG needles in a bad spot on my tummy and they rub against the muscle– at least that’s how it feels as long as I keep up with the pain meds.

They put water proof bandages over the 4 incisions in my belly so I got to take a shower today. It especially felt good since I’ve been feeling itchy from the pain meds–apparently it’s a pretty common side effect of narcotics. Just another reason not to like them I guess.

Sunday: Day Two of Recovery

Last night I slept much better and today I finally felt a little hungry–so we’re making progress. Otherwise it was pretty much post-surgery business as usual: recliner, tv, naps; I was not surprised, but still a little bummed I didn’t feel like going to church.

My incision sites are more sore today and I’m beginning to see nice little bruises blooming under the edge of the bandages. So far I haven’t actually been feeling a ton of pain where my gallbladder used to be, which surprises me. But hey, I’m not complaining.

Monday: Day Three of Recovery

Last night I fell asleep about an hour before I was up for my next dose of pain meds and then I slept for a good twelve hours, so I was seriously feeling it this morning when I woke up.

Once the meds kicked in I had a small cup of cheerios with blueberries and I am seriously stuffed.

A nurse called to check on me this morning and told me I could take the water-proof bandages off. As you can see my tummy is still pretty swollen–I’m having a hard time getting all the gas out. I thought my belly button incision would hurt the most because it’s twice as large as the others, but actually the little ones on my right side have been the most painful so far. Yesterday I was also running a bit of a fever, but the doc said that’s normal as long as it’s below 101.

Ok who’s ready for a nap? I know I am.

Photo on 6-5-17 at 12.36 PM

These holes are so much smaller than they feel

When It’s All Too Much

Saturday night my gallbladder was in a bad mood. All it took was a small cup of oats and a tiny bit of chocolate chips to send it into the worst tantrum it has had so far–two hours of screaming at the top of its lungs and three more afterwards yelling and banging doors shut like a teenager. As I was laying in bed–trying and failing to sleep through the waning wrath of Mr. Gallbladder–I thought of something my sister said when I decided to start this blog: “you should write about what you do when it’s all too much.” Why would I think of that during a five hour gallbladder attack? Eh, no reason.

Honestly I do feel a little bit small, writing about when my little life is too much for me on a day we remember and reverence those who gave their lives for family, friends and country. But I’ll persevere in the simple knowledge that life is hard and no matter what our circumstance, we all have moments when it’s all too much.

The last time I had one of these moments was towards the end of February. I was sitting in French class. I was having a hard time hearing because my ears were so stuffed up; my face and head throbbed in time with my heartbeat. I had just finished the second two-week course of antibiotics I had been prescribed for this sinus infection, and my strength slumped at the realization I would need a third. There I sat in the middle of class, when all the sudden I felt I couldn’t take another second as myself. To my horror my eyes started to sting. “Mama prépare un bon dîner.” We chanted as a class. I will not cry I pled to myself. “Ma soeur Lise attend un coup de téléphone.” Not here, not now.

I made it through class. I made it to the car. I could make it no longer. I drove home with dangerously blurred eyes and when I got to my room I had a good cry.

That’s the first thing I do when it’s all too much–I cry. I don’t like crying–it makes me stuffy and gives me a headache–but sometimes there’s nothing for it. Sometimes life punches you in the gut and you just gotta cry about it.

Once my eyes were sufficiently red and swollen that the tears slowed their onslaught, I got on my knees and bowed my head. I thanked my Father in Heaven for everything I could think of; I thanked Him til my heart was as swollen as my eyes–but with gratitude instead of pain; I thanked Him til the storm inside went still.

That’s the second thing I do when it’s all too much–I choose to see all the goods things in my life that I take for granted when I get discouraged. Bit by bit I replace self-pity or self-loathing or whatever darkness I’m feeling with gratitude.

Eventually I rose from my knees. I grabbed a couple pieces of dark chocolate. I went into my sister’s room and we teased my brother’s little beagle, Bruce, by hiding his favorite ball. We laughed as he sniffed intensely at the blanket, completely oblivious to the bright orange ball sitting in plain site on the desk.

Those are the final two steps. If at all possible, eat chocolate. Then go find someone I love and goof around with them. If the world’s-worst-ball-hunter Bruce is around, well that’s a bonus.

 

Mom and Me Freezing for a HIDA

Yesterday I had my HIDA Scan. Apparently Nuclear Imaging technology can only be operated at arctic temperatures. For someone who is constantly cold in anything less than eighty degree weather (me) this easily overlooked aspect of the test was by far the most trying. It took most of the car ride home in a sun-baked car for mother dear and me to thaw.

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When I scheduled my scan they emphasized that I had to have another person there to drive me home. I did not understand why until an hour into the scan. The timer on the machine went off and the nurse walked in announcing “no gallbladder.” She told me to get up and move around for a bit and we’d try again, but if that little bugger was still hiding she’d have to give me…morphine! Suddenly the necessity of a driver made complete sense. I guess the morphine makes it easier to see the gallbladder- I’m not sure how. Luckily I didn’t have to find out because after a few minutes of pacing back and forth and doing the well known gallbladder-get-your-crap-together dance-chant combo, the tiny organ finally deigned to make an appearance. So no morphine for me. The rational part of me was extremely grateful, but my curious side was a little disappointed. I doubt–or that is I hope–I will not have a reason to be administered morphine again in my lifetime. It would have been an interesting experience to say the least.

Other than that small hiccup, my scan was by and large uneventful. I got in at 7:30 am and I walked blinking, frozen and stiff, but otherwise unharmed, into the welcome sunlight just after 10:30 am. So yeah, it took forever. Or three hours. The two are basically the same when you’re starving, thirsty  (I had to fast for it) and freezing. Still, if you have to get a HIDA scan, don’t sweat. It’s not fun, but there are definitely worse things out there–like math. Math is the worst.

fyzODLrZORdUAPlus as it turns out, the scan, unlike math, can be very useful. Mine showed that my gallbladder is functioning at 25% where the low-normal is 35%. So now I get to go talk to a surgeon Thursday about cutting the sucker out! I know surgery is never fun, but when I’m in the middle of a gallbladder “attack” there is nothing in this world I wouldn’t do to ease the pain. So all in all, I’m thrilled. For once, my body is misbehaving in a straightforward manner. Way to go body. You finally did something wrong, right.

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How to Start?…Jump Right in I Guess

I have been trying to get this blog started all year, but a combination of school, sicknesses and just normal life stuff kept me struggling to stay afloat. Body, mind and grades having survived finals- just barely I might add- I am now ready to finally get to write something that is not a paper.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of finals this semester surfaced in a trip to the ER one Sunday evening two weeks before they began. For the past year or so I’ve been experiencing weird “attacks” of severe abdominal pain that for the longest time I believed to be gas pain. Well naturally, my body decided to hop on the crazy train that is the final weeks of a semester and the attacks suddenly became much worse and much more frequent. This culminated in me laying on my bedroom floor, using my cell phone to call my brother- who was downstairs- to come help me after about an hour of some of the worst pain I have ever experienced in my life. Poor guy. Mysterious medical emergencies are not part of the typical brotherly responsibilities, but he handled it like a champ. To make matters worse, my blood pressure had gone all funky because of the pain–I almost passed out when I tried to sit up, so brother dear had to carry me to the car. I suppose it’s lucky for both of us that he is my bigger brother in more ways than age alone.

The ER, was just about as helpful as usual. That is to say they gave me some pain medicine and a saline IV for the bp, made sure I wasn’t dying right that second and sent me on my merry way. Pretty typical. I generally avoid the ER at all costs, but the look on my brothers face when he found me pale and sweaty on the floor encouraged me to accept his proposition of a trip to the hospital.

A follow up with a GI (gastroenterologist) and an abdominal ultrasound later the finish line on this one still looks to be in the distance. On the ultrasound they found gallstones in my gallbladder, but my doc is convinced that they are not the problem because I am a far cry from the typical gallstone patient (Fat, Forty, Female, Fertile). So now I am waiting to get scheduled for a HIDA scan, which looks at the functioning of the liver, gallbladder, etc. I’d like to say it’s the first time I’ve laid on a table for hours while a machine followed radioactive material through my body, but I cannot. While it’s not painful, it certainly is a pain- it takes forever, it’s boring, cold (but to be fair that is my usual state), and you have to fast for it, which is fun. Oh well, as the weird crab thing in Moana sings ,”c’est la vie, mon ami.” (That’s life my friend)

So there you go. I guess you could say I’m starting my blog En Medias Res, which as I recently learned and will soon forget, is a convention of epic literature, meaning they start in the middle. So I guess that automatically qualifies my life as epic. I knew it.