You hear stories. You watch the news. You read the ad campaigns. You think “this will never happen to me.” Until it does, and then your immediate reaction is usually, “MOTHERFUCKER!” Over the loudspeaker in your head, you hear the flight attendant announce: “We will now begin our gradual descent down the Great Black Wormhole (i.e.: the Internet). Please buckle your safety belts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride down.” As you are wheeled down the green mile towards the surgery room, in a sedated stupor, you are still cognizant enough to recount imagines you’ve unearthed and blurbs you’ve read, knowing what is just through those double doors ahead.
With a small addition to my normal bedtime routine, I’m in the bathroom unpinning my JP Drains (feel free go “Google” JP Drains for more than you could ever want to know) from my surgical bra so I can unplug them, and then dump the blood, goo and lymphatic fluid into a measuring cup to document. Like most bathrooms across America, mine has vanity lighting with the brightness of ten-thousand suns. This is the first time since the surgery that I really took a good look. A good long look with my glasses on. I mean yeah… Lefty’s gone, and in its place are the scarred, bruised, tube ‘infested’ remains. I tried to look at it with an unbiased eye; really staring at my torso. It’s not bad. Honestly. I felt compelled to take a picture, which I promptly sent to a few of my closest friends. All of whom responded with the same sort of casualness I’d expect, which is why they are part of my ‘inner circle’. “Righty looks pretty great for 42-years old and Lefty’s not bad either.”
I know what you’re thinking, “but what about the horrific, searing pain?” Thanks to the surgeon who uses a “continuous peripheral nerve blocker” (you’ll have to Google it); my hospital stay was relatively painless and constipation-inducing morphine-free. With the promise of doctor’s orders on the way at 9:45am, I was finally checked out of the hospital at 3pm, gifted the following horse-pill prescriptions: antibiotics, opiates of varying strengths, 800mg ibuprofen (at my request) and the obligatory stool softener. The first night at home, although I lamented the loss of a mechanical bed, an ibuprofen and a healthy serving of Nyquil did the trick. The first real day at home, with my 3 ½ year old who vibrates with “Melissa 2.0” high-strung energy, I admit that I was a little nervous as I pealed myself out of bed very slowly, assessing the pain level with each micro-movement. Everything from the waist up hurt; I’m not going to lie, but it is tolerable. The biggest problem is the stupid, pain-in-the-ass, dangling JP Drains. They’re gross, and when there is even the littlest ‘tug’ on the tubing attach in my skin, well let’s just say… not the most comfortable sensation. This might be more psychosomatic than actual pain; regardless, it totally freaks me out.