When I imagined having surgery, I thought I might go about it journalistically. I thought maybe I could actually write an article about it. It seems to me that would involve some pretty anal note-taking along the lines of, "7:15 AM. Dr. Klein arrives and explains to me what a spinal anesthetic is, and how a dosage of x-10 ccs is the most beneficial. This is because the thingy-do delivers a more potent dose than the who-zee-what. After talking it over, Sweet Dub and I decide on X." But let's face it, that is not my way. And that, my friends, is why I would never make it as an investigative journalist. All the better for you, and for the rest of humanity, I'd say.
So I had surgery on Monday morning at 7:30. We'd dropped Viva off with her grandparents the night before, and that went well (i.e. no tears on either part). We arrived at the hospital at 5:10 AM, although we weren't supposed to get there until 5:30. It is amazing how quickly you can get around in LA when there is no traffic. As we got out of the car and began walking toward the hospital, I burst into tears.
Let me backtrack here a minute, since I haven't been able to blog about everything that's led up to this. When I told Viva I was going into the hospital (a week ahead of time), she burst into tears and cried hysterically for ten minutes. I mean, the full-on, face-screwed-up, veins-sticking-out-of-neck, can't-draw-breath-to-speak kind of crying. As her mother, there is some kind of switch that flips in me when I see her that hurt. It is physically painful to watch and it makes me gasp for breath and start crying too. I finally got her to explain to me that she thought I meant that very day I was going to the hospital, which was not the case. She was still not happy about it, but not as devastated as previously.
[One more aside, and I could write a whole post about this, but Sweet Dub and I debated when it would be best to tell Viva about the surgery and hospitalization. We didn't want to tell her weeks in advance, because her sense of time is not that concrete and we didn't want it looming over her for what would seem to her like months. We also didn't want to spring it on her just a few days ahead of time. Then she got a cold and had to stay home from school on the very day that I had to go to the surgeon for my pre-op prep visit, so I had to tell her. This actually worked out okay, because my surgeon has a five-year-old and was able to help me explain to Viva what exactly would be happening and what her job would be when I came home from the hospital. Said job involves kissing my tummy a lot.]
At any rate, Viva became obsessed with death in the week leading up to my surgery. She called me into her room at night and, cupping my face in her warm little hands, she said, "You know, Mama, I love you very much. And if you die, I will never forget you."
"Sweetie," I said, already dying a little inside just from that, "you know that I love you very much too. And I have no intention of dying anytime soon. I am just going to the hospital for a couple of days."
"But if you die, I will never forget you. I will always hold you in my heart, like this," she demonstrated, holding her hands over her heart and looking at me soulfully.
"Honey," I said, "I know. And that is nice to know. But you know that I am going to the hospital and then I am coming back home and you and Daddy are going to take care of me. I am not going to die."
"And if you die," she said, completely ignoring me, "I won't let Daddy forget you either."
"Okay, baby, that's nice," I said. "But I just want you to know that I am not dying. You have nothing to worry about. I love you and I will be back soon."
"Okay, Mommy," she said. "You are such a sweet little mommy." And then we would kiss and hug and she would go to bed and we would have the same conversation three more times the next day (again, you see why I didn't want to tell her more than a week in advance). My poor little pumpkin.
But you can see why I would be a little unnerved by my baby talking about death before I went into the hospital. And why I might cry a little bit in the parking lot.
Sweet Dub was comforting and said all the right things and I pulled myself together and we went inside and registered. And then after a while they took three of us from the waiting room up to the prep area. And while I was waiting in line for the bathroom to give a urine sample, I saw Sweet Dub's face light up in a smile, and he went over to hug someone, and I realized my sister Lola had arrived. And considering Lola lives 50 miles away and has 2 kids of her own and it was only 6:45 AM, it was a big deal. So I burst into tears again. And then she cried and it was all like some kind of frickin' Lifetime movie or something.
But I was glad she was there to distract Sweet Dub and keep him company, because then I had to go into serious pre-op mode. I undressed and got into my very fashionable hospital gown with my plastic hair cap. A nurse came in and did unspeakable things to me while trying to find a vein to stick my IV in (thank God I never got into heroin, I don't think it would go well). Elsewhere in pre-op, we could hear the sounds of an electric razor, and they went on and on and on. We started making whispered jokes about Sasquatch because we are all completely insensitive. Then the anesthesiologist came and explained what kind of drugs they'd be giving me. Then they wheeled me away into the OR, where they gave me the spinal, I talked to the surgeon briefly, and then I woke up in recovery.
In recovery, I discovered that I'd had 10 fibroids, and they actually showed me a Polaroid of everything they took out. It looked like a bowl of uncooked meatballs.
I now have nine staples in my bikini area. I got out of the hospital Wednesday at around lunchtime, which was none too soon if you ask me. And I feel okay. I'm not going to go out and run a marathon, but I feel way better than I expected.
Tips to anyone going through this or something similar (ahoy, Bridget!):
Bring an iPod or some other kind of music-type player with headphones. That and the Demerol will help you sleep for at least 3 hours at a stretch.
Bring a couple of pictures of your loved ones.
Bring a portable DVD player with your favorite movies (not ones that will make you laugh, because that hurts). Daytime TV is dreadful. How many episodes of Divorce Court can you watch? Honestly.
Do not, under any circumstances, be like me and forget your cell phone at the office on your last day at work. You will want to call people.
Bring your own bathrobe, your own soap and deodorant, and if you have longer hair, something to put your hair up.
There is nothing wrong with brushing your teeth in bed and spitting into a plastic cup. Desperate times and all that.
Do not expect your house to be clean when you get home.
Do not apologize to visitors for the state of your house.
Two words: stool softener. Let it be your friend.