Seriously, is this Milo’s way of saying he doesn’t want me to go to the hospital? Is this his method of coping?
I woke up this morning and shook off my crappy night of dream-riddled sleep. My husband and I attempted to have a calm, normal morning (which is a bit of a farce the last few days) for the kids. But I think they were fine and managed to get ready for school and out the door on time. I took care of a few things I wanted to get done before tomorrow and got ready for my 10am registration appointment with the hospital. I drove there by myself sort of in a daze and realized I probably shouldn’t have pushed everyone away who offered to come with me this morning. Still on autopilot when I finally arrived, I pulled in the skunky old parking garage and began circling for a spot. If I wasn’t anxious enough about the whole situation, the fact that the ceilings seemed to be only five feet high finished me off. I drive a Honda Pilot, not an overly tall vehicle but not a small one either. And in any garage with low ceilings, I have that cringing feeling whenever I drive under a concrete beam that it’s going to nail the roof of my car. Or least take off the luggage rack. This garage was so old that the beams looked to be covered in stalactites, or at least those free-form Biscuit drop biscuits we all ate as kids. Long story short, it was gross. But I trudged on, nailed nothing with my car, parked it and took the elevator to the first floor.
When I got there, I checked in with the receptionist and she told me to take a separate elevator to the fifth floor. Naturally, I walked into the elevator and pressed the ’6′ button. I stare at the keypad as it started to ascend and realized my mistake in time to avoid extra elevator travel. When I got out on the fifth floor, I checked in with the receptionist and waited for their insurance person to get me registered. After we were done, there was more waiting. Next, I was called by the staff person who was responsible for explaining all of my surgical instructions as well as the terrifying consent forms. She asked where my husband was as he was required for this part. Crap, I had told him not to come. A quick phone call remedied that problem and he was there about fifteen minutes later. I don’t know what I was thinking. I should’ve had him there from the beginning. There’s just so much to go over and remember.
We signed everything mindlessly until we got to the Thorascopy/Thoracotomy Risk form. I found some of the information listed here to be a little frightening and others interesting. Here I share with you some of line items that jumped off the page at me.
10-15% of thorascopies are unpredictably converted to thoracotomies. Come on, 85-90%!
Nerves are always compressed between the ribs during chest surgery and will cause pain or numbness for four to eight weeks post-operatively. Crap. Four to eight WEEKS?
Chest tubes are necessary to drain the air space left in your chest and must remain until all air leaks have stopped, and only then can you be discharged, normally 6-10 days. My husband and I both did a spit take on this one, which was weird because neither of us was actually drinking anything. NORMALLY 6-10 days? When we asked about it, we were told that this “normal” range typically applies to older patients who are not in the good health that I am in. At this stage of the game, they are hoping and expecting that I will be able to have the chest tube removed earlier than this “normal” prediction. Crossing fingers on this one.
The overall risk of death is 1 to 3% when removing lung wedges, lung lobes and other chest masses. Well, yes, that number is very low but, you know, it would have grabbed your attention, too.
We glossed over everything else about possible hemorrhaging, infection, respiratory and pulmonary failure, nerve damage, chronic pain, fluid leakage, renal failure, myocardial infarction, stroke, paralysis and coma like champs. Once we were done, there was more waiting … this time for the anesthesiologist … or maybe it was the nurse anesthetist. I have no idea. Like everyone before her, she asked a million questions about my medical history in an effort to avoid any problems tomorrow. She explained that I will be given anti-nausea medication as soon as I arrive (at 5am!) and they will begin prepping me for surgery. She said the procedure takes about four and a half hours and that, once it was over, they will bring me to ICU and attempt to wake me, at least a little, as soon as I get there. Things like when I leave ICU for a regular room, have the chest tube removed, get to go home, etc. all depend on what type of surgery is performed (which will be decided on the table) as well as how I’m doing afterwards. All signs now indicate that things will be textbook case and I will be fine. I like those signs. They are my friends.
After we finished with the anesthesiology consultation, there was more waiting … this time for my lab work. They asked me what I’ve had done lately. I figured my response of “blood work, chest x-ray, EKG, CAT scan and MRI, all in the last two weeks” would have been enough to dismiss me and enable to go home … but no such luck. The blood work and the chest x-ray both need to have been done in the last seven days. So, off we went to see the nurse who couldn’t have been nicer but provided me with the most painful blood extraction of my lifetime. I know I had previously awarded this title to my MRI tech but this one topped it. The problem seemed to be my “tiny, rolling veins.” We tried … and tried …. and tried … and finally got the vein. But then, she needed to call in an extra nurse to push on the vein because it was draining too slowly and she was afraid she wasn’t going to get enough blood. By the time it was done, I was, too. And I told my husband that I would likely be taking a little anti-anxiety medication later today. (I don’t know why I’ve been fighting it really.) After the blood work, I had only to take a few more chest x-rays. Sure, all of these x-rays are slowly killing us but they sure are a walk in the park compared to the needles.
Now wound up like a top, I walked back to my car with my husband, thrilled to be leaving but as anxious as I’ve been since all of this mess started. And very happy that my wonderful friends were literally waiting for me with a cheese tray at a friend’s house to eat and dish and just chill out for the rest of the afternoon. (Thanks, ladies. It was both delightfully relaxing and delicious.)
It’s now the witching hour. The kids are home and toiling through homework. Dinner is looming and I still have to pack my bag. (Does anyone have any suggestions on what I should pack?) And there are several other little details I want to take care of before tomorrow. And, yet, somehow I feel this post still isn’t the last you’ll hear from me today. Writing not only chronicles everything for me but it also provides the greatest relaxation I’ve found so far. I think it forces me to process everything systematically and sensibly. And I need as much sanity as I can get my hands on right now. Though as the clock ticks and the meds permeate, you can likely expect typos, word misuse and other craziness in my ramblings. Enjoy the rawness.
Last night was one of the most dream-filled nights in my sleeping career. I went to dinner with friends and had only one glass of wine (the last I’m allowing myself before surgery) so that I would be still be able to take my sleep/chill out aid. Then, I forgot to take it.
Consequently, my sleep was sketchy and, by the time I realized my mistake, I was afraid it was too late and would tamper with my morning if I took anything. So, I powered through a truckload of crazy dreams. I actually think they were all strung together and so that’s how I’m reporting them here.
The dream started with me in an airport. Of course, it was not any airport that I’ve ever been in before. Initially, I was alone but, after a bit or wandering aimlessly through this enormous structure, I found myself now traveling on and off with various others. Among them were my husband, my two kids, my parents, and a married couple we’ve been friends with for years.
I remember I kept thinking about how pretty the airport was. Very open and full of windows. I thought it looked just like the airport from “Up in the Air,” a movie that I have never seen (consciously or unconsciously) so I have no idea why it would have been such a significant point of reference to me in my dream.
The airport was crowded and there was a sizeable cash transfer taking place between two parties while we were there. I have absolutely no idea how I was privy to this confidential information but at this point all the above characters in my dream assembled together and decided collectively that we were going to heist that money. ??? So, we immediately began hatching our very complex plan to get our hands on these funds. This segment of my dream was modeled closely after “Ocean’s 11,” another movie that I haven’t seen. And, coincidentally, another movie with George Clooney. (Maybe I have a subconscious crush on him. ??? Repeated Johnny Deep references would have made much more sense to me.)
Anyway, unfortunately, I don’t recall all the intricate details of the sting but, suffice it to say, it worked and we somehow managed to snag the cash. And then we spread out to different areas of the airport to avoid getting caught. My friends spent the next few hours planning how their portion would be used. At this point, my dream started to have a few strands of reality woven into it. Like the fact that it took place during Christmas season. So, my friends’ proposed expenditures included things like iPod touches, iPads and game systems. (How ridiculous is it that we had enough money to buy a Carribbean island and they were worrying about kiddie electronics?)
My son and I were together on another end of the airport. And he kept asking me why we stole the money. And how I could possibly explain that it was the right thing to do. Another strand of reality seeped in again. He and I recently read ‘The Tell-tale Heart’ together (in my waking state) and all I could think about in the dream was the sound of that deafening heartbeat torturing me and admonishing me to remove myself from this terrible situation.
I was so hysterical about everything that my brother called my cell to calm me down. (How did he even know I was upset? Maybe my virtual mom told him.) He told me to try to relax and said it would help if I listened to his friend sing. So, she got on the phone and began singing ‘My Funny Valentine.’ It did not help and now I was thinking of Elvis Costello’s version of that song which reminded me I hadn’t talked to my husband in all of this insanity.
Which, of course, made him instantly appear. My mom somehow materialized right after he did and and we all began talking about the mess we’d gotten ourselves into and how we could get out of it. Never mind the fact that, apparently without the hundreds of millions we had stolen with others, we had not a dime to our names. We decided it didn’t matter and that we were going to find a way to dump the portion of the money we had back into the right hands (anonymously) and then flee the whole scene.
So, my husband grabbed the small suitcase I’d been carrying around with me but it fell open when he did. And inside were the two library books I am reading (right now … in reality) along with everything I’m bringing to the hospital tomorrow for my surgery (again … in reality).
There was a jolt in my dream that let me know that everything that happened prior to that moment wasn’t real. And that I needed to zip up my suitcase and get to the hospital before I missed my surgery.
And then I woke up, a little panicked but at least relieved to know I wasn’t headed to jail.
* * * * * * * * * *
My brain is swimming today. I expect I’ll be writing more. Thanks for “listening.”
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(1) Find the box that says ‘OldDogNewTits on Facebook’ and click ‘Like.’ I manually update this page for new posts and there are sometimes comments and other things that get posted here that can’t be found elsewhere.
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Thanks to everyone for coming out to play.
My friend, Vanessa, texted me yesterday about the ‘Barbie’ post. She was actually one of the girls at the beach with me the weekend before last. And she knows things like the names ‘Stavros’ and ‘Pavlina’ were lifted from the TLC show ‘Say Yes to the Dress‘ which I watched for the first time on the trip. Her one text turned into a fun activity for the whole afternoon. And Vanessa demonstrated that she could go head to head with me or anyone else on a Barbie & Friends Playdate for Grown-ups.
(To understand and appreciate this post, you have to go back and read the ‘Barbie’ post first. And, if you’re disturbed at the idea of two grown women exchanging tremendously fanciful Barbie texts for a few hours, then you might want to just go back and read about the Naked Mole Rats again.)
Vanessa: I feel bad for Stavros. The foreign exchange program. No family here. I feel like I can really relate.
Me: You and Stavros always clicked. Honestly Pavlina was always a little jealous of you two. Which was kinda weird. … OMG! Don’t tell her I said that!
Vanessa: She wants to hate me but she’s having trouble because I’m a genuinely nice person. This really bothers her …
Me: I keep telling you to take her out for a corn dog. Seriously, that bitch can eat.
Vanessa: I saw a bottle of Adderall in her purse. She claims to have ‘Adult ADHD.’ I also happen to know it keeps you in a double zero no matter how much food you consume. Have you ever noticed her twitch? Side effect from the meds.
Me: Crap. Are you serious? Should we tell Stavros??
Vanessa: I’ve actually seen her slip him a few. He wears women’s super skinny GAP jeans. Hello?
Me: I can’t believe they left me in the dark here. You know, Bianca tried to tell me last week but I just threw my Orange Julius in her face and ran off crying.
Vanessa: They both wear Spanx under their jeans. Nobody is that flawless without some sort of assistance! And wait … an Orange Julius? Oh, no you didn’t!
Me: Damn it! I just figured it was their European upbringing.
Vanessa: My grandmother was European and she was short and stout with huge double D boobs. This is just very suspicious … Oh, and I am really sick of them listening to Gino Vannelli all the time.
Me: Well, Stavros thinks he’s related to Gino … his uncle or something … so that explains his obsession. But Pavlina? What the hell?
Vanessa: She just copies whatever Stavros does. … Okay, I feel kind of two-faced. She’s supposed to be our friend.
Me: OMG! Me, too. Let’s go take her to Corn Dog 7 to pig out. I am so getting the jalapeño poppers this time. Last time, I couldn’t because Tiffany and I were sharing and she said they were way too spicy for her. Whatev!
Vanessa: Yeah. Whatev is right. Call her up and see what she says. Tell her it’s our treat. Don’t tell anyone about the Adderall. It anyone finds out, our friendship is so over.
Me: I’m on it. And your secret is safe with me, girlfriend.
Vanessa: Thanks, sistah!
I got my hair done yesterday. For whatever reason, it was one of the painfully non-essential things I decided was very essential that I must take care of before Thursday. Really, how embarrassing would it be for me to be lying there on the table with an inch of roots not to mention split ends and major unevenness in my layering because I impulsively took a stab at trimming it myself last week? (Please. I am nothing if not civilized.) So … I called my favorite husband and wife hair rescue team (Hi, B & N, if you’re reading!) and they were able to work me into their always busy schedules.
I should point out that, while I truly have no issues with grey (yet!), I do color my hair … prolifically. Yesterday, we took out numerous pink streaks and went for more of an all-over red. Well, two all-over reds, really. A brighter, Sangria-ish one on top and a plummy Burgundy one underneath. My hair is my palette and, unlike a tattoo, no craziness I do to it will ever be permanent. Anyway, just as I was wrapping up with B, he mentioned that I should avoid all white towels around my hair for a while. Having colored my hair on and off since I was a teenager, I am no stranger to the staining effects that hair color, especially RED, can have on light-colored towels, sheets, necklines of clothing, etc.
But I bet not everyone at the hospital knows about this mysterious phenomenon.
What if my freshly-colored tresses leach out onto my hospital pillowcase? And what if it doesn’t happen until the surgery is underway and I can’t speak for myself? And then one of the nurses spots the red discoloration on the pillow … and mistakes it for blood … and thinks that my brain is hemorrhaging. And then the doctor yells out “Code Blue! Get me a neurologist. Stat!” … who of course will not be able to explain the ‘bleeding’ … and will announce that he needs to “take over this OR” for his surgical team. And then the two doctors will start arguing over “whose damned OR it is.” And, by then, my anesthesia will likely have worn off … just as one or both of them start coming at me with a scalpel. And I’ll be all “Wait, dudes! It’s not blood. It’s plummy Sangria hair dye!” And they’d be like “You don’t know what you’re talking about, crazy woman! Your brain is bleeding.” At which point, I’ll have to try to make a run for it to flee the lunacy of the OR and a very unwanted brain surgery. But, knowing me, I’ll trip over my loose gown ties that I cavalierly left undone earlier that morning thinking “What am I afraid of … that I might try to jump up from the table and run out of the OR? Sheesh!” Which, ironically, is exactly the story I’ll have to tell the next doctor I now need to see to tend to the injuries I sustained from the whole flight-from-the-OR-over-a-blood/hair-dye-mix-up.
Maybe I should just wash my hair a few times before Thursday to cut down on the possibility of the above catastrophe becoming a reality.
What?!!? It could happen.
* * * * * * * * * *
My husband laughed a lot but was also a little concerned when he finished reading this post tonight. Sure, my grown-up imagination can still totally hang with its childhood counterpart. Or maybe it’s the large Cajun Eggnog daiquiri talking. Either way, it was fun while it lasted. Oh, and if anyone asks … yes, I’d love one of these guys for Christmas.
Because we’ve been hearing about different stories regarding my health flying around our children’s school, we decided to go ahead and tell them what I was having done on December 1st. We had planned to wait until after Thanksgiving but were starting to get concerned that they might learn it from someone else first. Totally uncool.
So, I decided to let my husband take the reins and do the explaining while I sat nearby in the room wearing a pleasant smile all the while. My mom was there, too, and we both thought my husband did a great job laying it all out for them. If anything, his vocal inflection almost sounded like he was telling a fairy tale so you couldn’t help but listen and feel comforted by his words. My kids seemed to focus on everything pretty intently and the first comments we got were from my daughter. When she heard that my chest x-ray revealed that something was inside of me, she jumped to her feet excitedly and shouted, “A baby? You have a baby in your stomach?!!?”
Sigh. Not really the reaction I was expecting. And it took a few minutes for us to convince her that there was no way that a baby had crawled from my abdomen to the top of my chest cavity, which was her explanation as well as her desperate hope. My son didn’t say much and the topic of discussion quickly changed to his NFL Fantasy Football team and her TV preferences for the night.
I was a little surprised they weren’t a bit more shaken … but then I mentally slapped myself across the face and realized how lucky I was that they were so relaxed about the whole thing. I took the ‘good mom’ high ground and decided to enjoy the calm of my happy family. Until later that night …
Everyone had stepped out except my daughter and I who were busily readying her for bed when she said, out of the blue, “Mommy, I don’t want you to think that I don’t care since I’m not acting sad. I’m just trying not to think about it.” I sat on the bed with her and gave her a big hug and told her she had nothing to worry about … but she insisted, “I’m afraid surgery is going to hurt you. Isn’t it going to hurt?” I explained that I would be asleep and wouldn’t feel a thing. (No. Of course, I didn’t mention the aftermath.) And then she added, nervously, “When my friend’s mom had surgery, she caught cancer. And I don’t want you to catch cancer, too.”
You just never know what your little people are thinking until you finally get it out of them. My poor girl. I was so happy to be able to tell her that you can’t catch cancer. And that her friend’s mom already had cancer and that the surgery had cured her. Finally smiling, she hugged me back and promised to share any other concerns she had about me with us so we could help her.
The subject didn’t come up again with my son until last night, after we returned home from our Thanksgiving festivities. My daughter stayed over at my parents’ house last night so my husband and I had our boy to ourselves for a change. Later in the evening, he and I were hanging out watching TV together when he suddenly turned to me and asked, “Mom, do you have cancer?”
Blindsided for the umpteenth time this week, I simply and instinctively answered “No” and doled out the hugs again. Has he been working up the nerve to ask me this question for a week now? And does he even really understand what cancer means?
God, I love those kids. Everyone’s been asking what they can do for me … because you’re all awesome, by the way … and here’s my answer. Help me keep this week (and this holiday season, for that matter) as completely normal for them as possible. And maybe say a little prayer for them that their fears be quelled and nerves settled.
Me? I will be fine. I promised both of my kids so I have to do it now.
I thought I was done with Naked Mole Rats with yesterday’s post but clearly I had just opened the door to today’s addiction. So, in an effort to avoid Black Friday shopping and appear busy at my house, I embarked on a quest to learn all things Naked Mole Rat. And then to tweet every little factoid I could find to the mostly never-met-me-before strangers who foolishly elected to ‘follow’ me on Twitter. Poor, unsuspecting tweeters … twitterers … nerds … whatever we’re calling ourselves these days.
(Oh, yeah. And I attached a picture to nearly every tweet – always one of the two from yesterday’s post, unless I included a different one here.)
So, here are today’s Naked Mole Rat tweets … in chronological order:
I plan to use this yucky fella in several tweets today until he scores us some retweets. Think he’s up to the task?
He & Mr. Bigglesworth could co-star in the new nauseating version of ‘Tom & Jerry.’
Naked Mole Rats – It’s like holding a warm ziploc of tiny bones.
The only two food sources I find for Naked Mole Rats are tubers & their own feces. As if their lives weren’t sad enough.
Throngs of shoppers are out killing themselves for Black Friday. I’m home googling facts about Naked Mole Rats. I ask you – Who’s the idiot?
Eating feces not enough? Naked Mole Rats also ‘wear’ it as a means of identifying other members of the same colony.
I think HUMAN gangs should be required to adhere to the same ritual.
WAY boring until 1:30 when it shifts gears to play the most AWESOME Naked Mole Rat anthem you’ve ever heard. (This video can be found at the end of this post.)
This is Eric’s pet & the MAIN reason he gave Bill the creeps. Still, they both got invited to the taco party.
Naked Mole Rats look an awful lot like raw sausage. Which is now officially dead to me as a food choice.
Surely, I’m not the only one who can see their resemblance to sausage? And, no! This is NOT a picture of sausage!)
As promised, the youtube video with the Naked Mole Rat Anthem is below. Please remember that this catchy blues tune doesn’t begin until 1:30. The content before that will very likely lull you into a coma. Also, don’t blame me if you suddenly find yourselves singing this haunting melody in the shower, the car or even on the job. Personally, I’m saving it for my daughter’s wedding dance. If she were marrying today at age 9, she’d completely agree. We’ll see what happens in the future. Crossing fingers …
Okay. I think I am finally done with these icky little guys.
Thanks for listening while I got it all out of my system.
Happy Thanksgiving, ODNT citizens. I can think of nothing more appropriate for today’s blog post than this motivational message recently shared with me by my mother. She, along with all of my family and friends, is just trying to keep me calm and happy (a 24/7/365 feat as it is) in the days leading up to my surgery. Enter this curiously funny little message. Sure, it’s probably a viral email that some of you might have already seen … but I have not … so it’s what I’m serving up today.
This little creature hails from North Africa and is called the Naked Mole Rat. I’m sure he serves many valuable purposes in life but to me his message is simple.
Whenever you’re having a bad day and feeling down about life, remember you could look like a wrinkly old penis with buck teeth.
Message received, my stomach-turning little friend. Message received.
I really hope there aren’t any naked mole rats reading this post. God, I would feel like such a jerk.