Tag Archives: IV

‘Twas a Week since my Surg’ry

‘Twas a week since my surg’ry
To take out the mass
I still can’t believe
It all happened so fast

We started out chatting
And blogging ’bout boobs
Yet somehow this week
We’re onto chest tubes

We’ve learned about mole rats
The kind with no fur
And we’ve all guessed which boobs
Go with him or with her

We’ve met lots of doctors
Who all aim to please
Some say just a lift
Some say double Ds

If you go with an implant
Then, you’ll need to choose
‘Tween saline and silicone
With both you can’t lose

But you’re not done yet
Now you must decide
If it’s under or over
the muscle inside

The scars, anesthesia,
The risks and the price
It all made my head spin
This roll of the dice

And we found a lump
in my breast on the way
But learned it was nothing

Then later an x-ray
Revealed a round mass
Attached to my lung
And we struck an impasse

So a CAT scan, a spec’list,
A loud MRI
Soon gave us to know
that a surg’ry was nigh

So I dealt with my fears
And I packed up my stuff
And I went to the hospital
‘Cause I’d had enough!

Through IVs and catheters
Chills and Code Red
I came out of it all
I’m now home in my bed

My right side’s still achy
It hurts when I cough
So I’ll rest, write & e-shop
Hey, look! That’s half-off!

My friends were amazing
My family divine
But the best thing of all
was to hear “It’s benign.”


The ODNT guide to smooth hospital living

Please continue to excuse any typos, omitted words, nonsensical lines of thoughts, hysterical rants, etc. … for as long as I’m in my recuperative blogging mode. Actual pain, strong medication, inconsistent sleep patterns and unusual typing angles from my bed are all to blame for these sometimes annoying but always entertaining idiosyncrasies.


The night before my surgery was a busy one. I took care of a lot of things so that they could sit a week without my help. I packed everything I thought I’d need at the hospital. I hugged my kids (a lot) and did a few goofy things with them like indulging my daughter’s sudden desire to dress as Santa and be videotaped filling the stockings. I locked in my guest writers for the blog while I was out of commission. I wrote my final, pre-surgery blog post, A Letter to the Lung Mass, which went up in the wee hours of 12/1/11. And I thought about writing this entry in the days soon after the surgery, knowing full well I wouldn’t be keeping any notes and would have to somehow keep it all ‘organized’ in my brain, often addled even without the help of medicine. So, here goes. In completely random order, my thoughts on hospital stays …

(1) Don’t worry about getting to sleep on time the night before your surgery. You will not sleep anyway. It is, however, a great time to catch up on emails and manage things electronically before you check out for a while.

(2) If you are ridiculous enough … cough … I mean savvy enough to have a timer set on your hot water heater, don’t forget to adjust it the night before so that you have hot water for your very irregularly-timed, morning-of-surgery shower. It’s already bad enough that the hospital will require that you use an inexplicably red alcohol-ish solution (in place of soap) for this task. I just closed my eyes and pretended I was at summer camp again.

(3) Make sure the comfy, go-the-hospital-super-early clothes you lay out the night before are fully dry. Otherwise, they’ll do little to keep you warm on a chilly morning, especially after a frigid shower (see #2). I decided to join the legions of fools who believe rain on your wedding day is good luck and labeled things like ‘no hot water’ and ‘damp clothing’ as good omens. I had already taken a Xanax at this point in the morning so anything was possible.

(4) Don’t be surprised if you have friends who are amazing and crazy enough to wake up at that hour and start texting you funny, uplifting messages before your surgery.

(5) If your parents seem completely calm and collected throughout everything, they’re not. They’re worried sick. So, just hug them. A lot. And don’t make them watch Charlie Chaplin’s Smile on youtube. (This is my second reference to the post entitled A Letter to the Lung Mass, 12/1/11. Hmmm, maybe you should read it.)

(6) Wear your hospital-issue attire with pride. They tell you to open the gown to the back and eighty-six your underwear for a reason. It’s how hospital people survive. They work their asses off and their only means of entertainment from day to day is getting to laugh at ours. Our asses, that is. I’m pretty sure mine was out there for two solid days. And now I’m crossing my fingers for no tagged Facebook pics.

(7) The OR will be freezing. (Cruel, considering #6). But you’ll only be awake for a few minutes in that meat locker. They’ll start making plans to put you under immediately. I decided I was going to focus on my kids’ faces as I drifted off. In the hopes that it would inspire happy, carefree dreams. I remember thinking, “Wow, this is taking longer for me to fall asleep than usual. Picture the kids’ faces. Picture the kids’ faces. I can’t believe I’m not …”

(8) The human body can drop its core temperature considerably without sustaining permanent damage. Just as I was starting to come to, I remember hearing someone say, “No, she’s still 91 degrees.” And all I could think was “What?!!? That’s bad, right? Shouldn’t someone be slicing open a Tauntaun’s belly and shoving me inside it for warmth?” (Okay, that could not be a nerdier reference. I have no explanation why my bleary-eyed brain would turn to Star Wars. Oh … and yes, I did have to look up the term ‘Tauntaun’ for this post.) And the staff obviously felt differently because, rather than an intergalactic snow horse, they instead opted to warm me up with the aid of a heater/blower blanket used to treat hypothermia patients. (Sidebar: When I looked up hypothermia tonight for this entry, 91 degrees is listed on some sites as ‘mild’ hypothermia and others as ‘moderate.’ In any event, it’s over now and I’m warm and cozy in my bed at home with the heater on and the cat at my feet.)

(9) When given the chance, embrace the catheter. Love the catheter. Truth be told, I wish I was cath’d right now. Once I stopped telling them I felt like I had to pee (only to have them answer patiently, “so pee!”) and I let go, it was wonderful. As a rule, I can pee on command and, thus, it was very liberating to be able to ignore this constant urge at a time when movement, of any kind, was quite painful. And considering how many tubes were attached to me and how much I was sucking down ice chips to soothe a breathing tube-induced sore throat, not to have to get up to pee every five minutes = priceless. One small note that I would have been glad to know in advance – your body does in fact get lazy and “forgets” how to pee on its own when you’re home again. I had a lot of start/stop issues until the whole pee factory was up and running again. Which … is kinda weird.

(10) Chest tubes hurt. It was the first thing I moaned about when I came around, as it was inserted through my back and I was lying on top of it at the time. It’s also the part of me that hurts the most as I type right now, again lying on my back. And it hurts just as much coming out … but that’s only because they yank it out, like a band-aid. Which means that, for only a second, it hurts like a ….

(11) Ask for the nurse button to be put in your bed. After I’d been there for hours and they’d closed my curtains and door (glass wall) and we were on our third round of nurses, one of the staff people in the room asked me where mine was. I groggily answered that I had no idea that I even had one. And then he located it on a table far off in the corner of the room. He seemed pretty disturbed about it and said that an ICU patient on her first night there, closed off from the nurses’ station, should have had access to it. I appreciated his concern and rolled back over to sleep.

(12) Never refuse pain medication. It doesn’t go to work immediately and you never know when it will be offered again.

(13) Hospital ice chips are the best in the biz. Never refuse them either. I want to get a hold of one of these machines and open up my own new-fangled snowball (not snoCONE, this is not Maryland) stand. And I expect to make millions.

(14) Feel free to pass on hospital food, especially if you’re not hungry. Which I wasn’t. You don’t need to save it for later either. There’s not a chance in hell it will taste better when it’s cold and somewhat coagulated.

(15) When you hear sirens and robotic female voices over the loudspeaker repeatedly calling for a Code Red in the middle of the night, sleep easy. It’s probably just a test. I did. Good thing my instincts were right, especially in light of #11.

(16) When packing for the hospital, you will not need a laptop … or a book … or makeup … or even your toothbrush. When you leave, you’ll put on the same clothes you arrived in and go home. I could have packed in a quart-sized ziploc.

(17) Apparently, general anesthesia, certain IV medications and/or narcotic painkillers mess with your up-close eyesight. Or so I am theorizing. No one seems to know what I’m talking about. All I know is that I needed to wear Dave’s dimestore, Drew-Careyesque reading glasses for a few days to get by. Today is the first day I’ve been able to do without them.

Anyway, that’s it for now. It’s late and Dave and I want to watch 30 Rock on Netflix. If I think of any more of these “gems,” I’ll be sure to pen a part two of these useful items. Night, all.


Tales from inside the MRI tube

I had my MRI bright and early this morning, a feat in and of itself for my mom and me to get there on time. I didn’t really know what to expect again as I’ve been a ridiculously healthy person all my life. (Thanks to those of you who attempted to prepare me verbally.) There was a little paperwork to fill out beforehand which I did mindlessly for about the dozenth time in the last few months. When I brought it back to the receptionist, I asked about the procedure and couldn’t figure out why she was staring at me as if I showed up at the medical center painted blue and walking a duck on a leash. And then I realized what I said,

When I go in for the MRI, will I be wearing only my wedding gown?

I guess I was more nervous than I thought … and maybe still a little Xanax’ed. I tried to correct myself but then the word ‘bridal’ then came out of my mouth. What the F was wrong with my brain? I finally forced my mouth to spit out the word ‘hospital’ and she smiled and said yes, probably moving her letter openers and other sharp instruments from the counter to underneath her desk as I walked away.

I sat only a few more minutes until they called my name. When I walked past my mom to go to the back with the tech, she reached up and high-fived me. ??? I was, of course, expecting a more stereotypical hug and words of encouragement from this very sentimental woman … but I think the hardwiring in her brain is a little whacked right now, too.

The tech brought me to a dressing room where I changed into my HOSPITAL gown and then moved on with her into the MRI room. I lay on the table with a wedge pillow under my knees while she put an egg crate cushion and then the brains of the whole device on my chest. She gave me a ‘panic ball’ (which looked a hell of a lot like a nasal aspirator) to hold in my left hand in case I felt the need for immediate ejection from the tube. She asked if I wanted my eyes covered to avoid feelings of claustrophobia. I said yes. And she placed the headphones on my ears. Friends told me to bring my iPod but I forgot. And I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway. Her headphones allowed her to talk with me and play music between her instructions. She asked what I wanted to listen to and my mind went blank. ‘What are my choices?’ I asked, completely spoiled by the XM radio menu in my car. “Anything FM,” she said. I rattled off the only local call letters I could think of and found myself quickly tuned into a New Orleans easy listening station. Lionel Richie. Great.

She left the room and began the LOUDspeaker communication … and starting sucking me into the tube, head first. Unfortunately, I instinctively opened my eyes and realized that I could see the ceiling of the tube, which I was pretty sure was so close that I could touch it with my tongue if I tried. And, no, I didn’t like it. She kept moving me into the tube until I was waist-deep within it. At that point, the movement stopped and she asked if I was okay. I said, “As long as you’re not taking me into this thing any further.” She said she wasn’t, so I exhaled and decided to keep my eyes closed and attempt to relax to the smooth stylings of now-playing REO Speedwagon.

Anyone who tells you that he can sleep in the tube is lying his ass off, by the way. The noise was incredible. It vacillated between loud siren sounds and jackhammers. I closed my eyes and pretended to be in my favorite hotel room in New York City. Those sounds are extremely commonplace there, and I hear them all the time from my bed while on vacation. This ‘happy place’ thinking seemed to work for me. Until I realized I had been holding my breath the whole time and I flinched when I suddenly had to draw in a quick breath to keep from fainting on the table. Which meant we had to do that round of tests again.

There was a lot of “Take a deep breath … and hold it …” until I often felt like I was going to faint during the whole process anyway. I don’t know if these repeated loudspeaker instructions are normal or if they were just required for me because an inflated lung is easier to inspect than a deflated one. I just did what I was told. Over and over and over again. Until they told me that they had to put in an IV to inject me with some substance to help enhance the images again. (Remember the CT scan?)

After a good bit of pain getting the IV in while I was still all covered on the table, the tech told me that the vein she was working with was no good so she’d need to do it again. She then gave me THE singlemost painful needle insertion I’ve ever experienced in my life. I actually apologized for the howl I let out. But at least the f-er was in now. And she said that this injectable dye would not give me the urinating sensation I got with the CT scan injectable. But I did get the mouth-full-of-turpentine, chemical taste again. (I honestly wonder about the damage I’m doing to myself with injectable dyes, multiple x-rays, CT scans which are said to equal 100 x-rays each, MRIs, etc.)

Now with this foreign chemical surging through my veins, they took another whole series of images … and friends like Michael Jackson, Norah Jones and Oasis kept me company. After about an hour, I was able to get up, get dressed and return to my mom, who kept herself busy on her iPad in the waiting area. My results are expected by Monday. Surgery is guaranteed, but there are still a lot of questions surrounding it that I’m hoping things like this MRI will help to answer.

More soon ….


I forgot to mention yesterday that I am not a smoker

It’s been a long day.  I had my CT scan this morning.  I had no idea what to expect.  Thanks, by the way, to my many new Twitter friends who tried to fill me in on the process.  In short, they put in an IV so that I could be injected with an iodine-based dye that ‘highlights’ my veins and organs for the test.  They warned me that I would likely feel a warm sensation spreading down the length of my torso and that I might feel as I though I was peeing.  It was a completely accurate description.  Plus, you feel a lot like you have a mouth full of turpentine. And pennies. But, thankfully, it only lasts a few minutes.

When I came out of my CT scan, my doctor was outside waiting for me.  I had no idea these kinds of doctors still existed.  She even had a coffee in her hand waiting for me. Or my husband. Or my dad. Whoever wanted it. A Starbucks latte she picked up on her way over.  Love her.

She set me up to see a lung specialist tomorrow.  He will be reviewing my x-rays and CT scans and hopefully letting me know what’s going on.  There are a lot of possible theories. Some I like more than others.  But, at this point, everything is merely speculation.

In the meantime, please continue sending your good vibes to my friend who is now out of surgery but still in critical condition. She is a two-time transplant patient and thus matters are that much more complicated.  At this point in the game, I am still just a question mark.  She is not.  And she needs as much positive energy as she can get.

And while I’m on that subject, please allow me to express an enormous thank you to everyone in my life who in some form contacted me today for myself, my friend or both of us.  I literally did not put my phone down for about six consecutive hours today attempting to respond to the mindboggling outpouring of concern and support.

It helps. More than you know.