Where’s the nearest bar? (The day of surgery.)

Do you remember your first day of Kindergarten? When a strange woman ripped you from the loving arms of your mom and made you meet strange kids and sit in a strange room? When that same strange woman with too much lipstick told your mom that it was okay to leave even though you were scared and crying and didn’t want to be left alone? And you just knew your mom could read your mind and would take your hand and walk you back to the car and take you home with her but she didn’t and left anyway? And why were they both smiling so much? Because it was not fun

I don’t quite remember my first day of Kindergarten either but I have a feeling it was a lot like the day I went in for surgery. I was nervous. Like noticeably nervous. Shaking even though I wasn’t cold. Laughing even though nothing was funny. Eyes scanning everything in the room, probably looking for a way out. People were talking to me and smiling, reassuring me things were all good. And my mom was there. No one ripped me away from her because, well, I am an adult and I knew why I was there. But damn, all I wanted to do was go home. If it wasn’t for the pain, I would’ve just left and found the closest bar.

I got settled in my waiting room and dressed in the paper napkin they gave me to cover myself. Does that gown look good on anyone? The nurse handed me a pair of compression socks to help with swelling. Putting those on was probably the funniest thing that happened all day. Definitely not an easy task when you can’t bend or open your legs in a butterfly position. But with the help of my man and my mom, we got them on. 

Nurses, doctors and other strange people came by throughout the hour or so I was in my pre-op room. People gave me pills, hooked up my IVs, gave me instructions and told me things were straight-forward and not to worry. And I didn’t. I had my mom with me. Why would I worry? I had my man with me. He would protect me. So we sat and chatted and laughed. 

And then it was time. 

Oh no. I did not want to do this. I did not want to leave my family. Can I change my mind? I kept telling myself to breathe, calm down. It was fine. But my emotions were all over the place.  And I did not want to cry. Good lord - I am not that big of a weenie. So I continually blinked until the tears went away. 

I lied back onto my bed while they wheeled back into the operation room. I was alone. With all of these strange people around me. I couldn’t see anything because they took my glasses. So everything was blurry. And cold. And loud. And unknown.

I received an epidural in my spine to numb my entire bottom half. Oh lord, what if they don’t inject enough and I could still feel something? What if they missed and caused damage to another area? I had to sit on the side of the bed with my feet dangling so they could get to my spine. The nurse who had been with me since the beginning of the day was holding my hands, talking me to about when to the expect the pinch. 

All of sudden, a clipboard fell from behind me, causing a loud crash. Several people looked around and I realized no one dropped it or was standing nearby. I heard someone ask, “how did that happen?” 

I knew how it happened. “It was my dad,” I told my nurse. “He wanted me to know things were going to be okay.” And then I cried. Big, huge alligator tears. Fear. The loss of my dad. The drugs. Feeling alone. The drugs. My nurse held my hands, told me how proud she was of me and talked me through it. I don’t remember her name but I will never forget her. 

Waking up was just plain weird. I mean, seriously, I had just laid back on the table after my epidural. Great. I knew they didn’t give me enough drugs! Has it not even started yet? But wait, where was I? And why was I not surrounded by a bunch of people? And who the hell was that big hairy guy looking at me? And why can’t I move?

My doctor did NOT tell me I wouldn’t be able to move my legs. Like at all! Neither did that really nice nurse that held my hands and wiped my tears. From the waist down, I was paralyzed. My first thought, “What the hell did I just do to myself?” They missed! They gave me the wrong surgery! 

And then my surgeon appeared at my side like an angel from above. Smiling and nodding. He was completely reassuring. I suddenly felt calmer. Because if he wasn’t freaking out, I didn’t have to either. 

They moved me down some hall and through a few big doors. I didn’t really care but all of a sudden I saw my family. Oh dear lord, the relief of seeing my family! I did it! I didn’t die and everything was good! They were smiling and talking and laughing. Probably at me because I kept telling them that I couldn’t move my legs. I just didn’t understand it. And I didn’t know how long it would take to gain feeling. And they laughed. Then my son came in. And I told him. And he laughed. 

I was finally able to move my legs a few hours after the operation. I even stood up that evening and went to the restroom. Not completely on my own but how amazing is that? A total hip replacement and I was able to get up and move across the room? I had a walker and a nurse, of course, but still! Amazing! 

I spent one night in the hospital. Physical therapy came for a visit and showed me some exercises and how to go up/downstairs, get in/out of a bathtub and generally shift around. I was moving up and down the hallway like a pro! A very slow pro but still! 

All I really wanted to do was go home. Because I knew as soon I got home, I would be up moving, reading my books, cooking dinner… boy, was I wrong. 

(to be continued)

Photo by Patrick Schöpflin on Unsplash

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