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.
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My brain is swimming today. I expect I’ll be writing more. Thanks for “listening.”